I thought some of you would enjoy this brief article, I know I did. My ex-fiancé, who knows firsthand how I can be when asked if I eat fish, sent it to me.
Some vegetarians are queer fish
August 4, 2005
Michael O'Reilly has a message for all you fish-eaters out there.
Most writers like to build up to the point they're trying to make, but what I've got to say is so important that I'm just going to bung it into the second paragraph so you don't miss it. Are you ready? Here goes.
Vegetarians don't eat fish.
There. I've said it. And most readers are now going, "what's the big deal, I knew that". But an annoying percentage of you are saying, "well, SOME vegetarians eat fish ..."
Sure, and some teetotallers drink beer and wine. Look it up in the Macquarie dictionary. The entry goes on about vegetable and farinaceous matter, before stating "refusing meat, fish, etc" - because, and I'll whisper it here, a fish is not a vegetable.
Now it's true that, by the dictionary's definition, the true vegetarian is a vegan, someone who eschews all animal products. Many vegos stray towards dairy or even eggs.
But a fish, which you catch with a hook, which fights to remain in its environment, and which then flaps and gasps its last in a layer of bloody water at the bottom of the boat? Not very vegetarian.
Nevertheless, vegetarians are always being asked if they eat fish. The word is becoming so debased that you can go to dinner at a friend's house, having warned them of your diet, to be told, "Oh, I made a tuna bake especially for you". It's pretty awkward having to decline, especially when your host says, in bafflement, "Well, a lot of vegetarians eat fish", as if you're just being unnecessarily unreasonable.
So who is to blame? Meat-eaters can be blamed for a lot of things (supporting animal cruelty and the destruction of Australia's fragile environment are two things that spring readily to mind), but they're in the clear on this one.
No, the fault lies with the wannabe vegetarians, the people who think it's something cool to claim, but who couldn't be bothered to go the whole hog, as it were, by forgoing the whole animal kingdom.
There are other words they can use to describe themselves. Vegaquarian is clever and catchy, or even pescatarian (peskies for short). "Dietary poseur" is perhaps too vague. Or how about just, "I don't eat meat"? Although it can be argued that fish is a meat, "meat" and "fish" are separate on most menus, so we can live with this differentiation.
But please, can we keep the fish out of vegetarian? The next thing we know, similar words and phrases will cease to have meaning.
"I'm a non-smoker, but I always puff on a cigar after dinner."
"I'm sedentary, but I go for a run every morning."
"I'm celibate, but I have sex now and again."
You see how annoying it can become? Seriously, I've had enough. Sooner or later, some waiter in a restaurant with nothing but animals on the carte is going to respond, as they so often do, to my query about vegetarian options by asking me if I eat fish, and it's going to be the last straw.
I'm a pacifist, but I might throw my menu at him.