Author Rachel Whitaker says that when people find out that she’s a vegetarian, they usually have lots of questions. Here’s a typical conversation.
Friend: Would you like to try some dried octopus tentacles? They’re a Japanese delicacy.
Rachel: No thanks, I’m a vegetarian. [To herself: What a convenient excuse!]
F: Really? Do you eat fish and chicken?
R: No. I don’t eat animals. Period. No cows, no chickens, no fish, no insects.
F: But where do you get protein?
R: Beans, nuts, soy products—even whole grains have lots of protein.
F: Wow. How long have you been a vegetarian?
R: My whole life.
F: So you’ve never eaten a hamburger?
R: That’s right.
F: But . . . what if you were stranded on a deserted island with nothing but rats and lizards? Would you eat meat?
R: [Pictures herself clubbing a flea-ridden rat and gnawing on its raw flesh.] Well . . . since the thought of eating meat grosses me out, if I did eat it, I’d probably throw up afterward, and then I’d be in even worse shape than before. So I’m going to say . . . no.