The Shame of Intolerance

                I try to be a good liberal white person. I go to graduate school. I drink fair trade coffee. I have a theoretical dislike of consumerism. And, of course, I despise intolerance. But little did I know that I was harboring, nay, nurturing intolerance in my very own home.

                That’s right, my husband, my dearest love, the father of my child, my Joe hates vegans. You know, those pasty, thin, self-righteous people who eat absolutely no meat or other animal products/by-products.  No honey, no Jell-O, no eggs, no cheese, no leather, no wool. Vegans are easily identifiable because they will tell you they’re a vegan within the first five minutes of meeting them.

Yeah, Joe hates ‘em.

                I discovered my husband’s intense aversion one afternoon about a week ago. We were discussing a friend of ours who had recently stopped eating meat. The friend had told me that the taste of meat had been turning her off in recent weeks and that she’d decided to stop eating it because why waste the time and money if you’re not going to enjoy it anyway. Well, a vegan friend of hers, in a fit of what I can only assume was seitan-induced over enthusiasm, suggested that she get rid of her leather purse while she was at it. Leather is murder too, you know.

                “You know what I would have told that guy?” my husband asked. I had an idea, but I let him continue. “Fuck you, man!”

                I mean, I agree with him (though I might have put it less, hmm, colorfully), but only because I get hugely offended by people who imply that a failure to conform to their particular worldview means that I am a bad person. Evangelical Christians jump to mind, but in recent years I’ve met quite a few very nice, very live-and-let-live Christians who seem to buck the proselytizing trend. My advice to vegans, “Be more Christ-like.”

A little rosemary, some mint-apple jelly, mmmm . . . .

A little rosemary, some mint-apple jelly, mmmm . . . .

                Anyway, the “fuck you, man” was merely a prelude to what became a ten minute diatribe against vegan-kind. Some of the choicer moments:

·         “Everything eats meat. Deer eat meat.” I look at him sideways with a touch of skepticism. “Oh yeah, if pushed to the point of starvation, deer will lick the carcass of an animal for the protein. Horses will eat meat if they’re hungry enough.”

·         “Vegans say that they’re more in touch with nature, that they’re returning to a more natural lifestyle. Do they have any idea how far our society had to progress forward to allow them to make that choice?”

·         “If I had the choice of saving a puppy or saving a vegan, I’d feed the vegan to the puppy. They’re that worthless.” This is a pretty significant statement given Joe’s intensely, hmm, pragmatic views concerning stray animal populations and euthanasia.

The good liberal in me was horrified by this display of enthusiastic intolerance. Vegans get on my nerves, sure, but I went vegetarian for about six months once, back in high school. I regularly lecture people on the evils of high fructose corn syrup. Am I any better than the preachy vegan? But that’s not really the point, is it? The point is my husband’s anti-veganism is amusing, endearing, and utterly appropriate. This is a man who, when asked what he wants for dessert, responds, “More steak.” The man who offers as his only criticism of a spaghetti and marinara dinner, “It could’ve used some meat.” The man who asked me one night, “What’s for dinner?” When I responded, “Greek salad, pita, hummous, and baba ghannouj,” he looked at me for a few seconds, his eyebrow rising slightly.

After a pause I added, laughing a little, “And grilled chicken breast.”  

“Now that’s dinner!” he said.


One response to “The Shame of Intolerance

  1. He would have _loved_ the vegan sub that was brought in for the library Welcome Back party that I accidentally grabbed. Avocado, jicama, bell peppers, lettuce, celery…CELERY. Oy, it was all wrong, wrong, wrong.

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