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What I gave up for love

February 8th, 2004 · 4 Comments

Vegetarianism. Well, I was never a vegetarian. But I was flirting with the fantasy of it. I liked the thought of it a lot. At the start of my sophomore year of college I took that first baby step on the path and gave up “red” meat, eating only poultry and fish.

However, I soon encountered social difficulties. At the time I was sharing dinner with friends – by this I mean a home-cooked meal, something someone had labored to make, not a cafeteria-selected option – at least two or three nights a week. One of these commitments was Tuesday Night Supper Club, where five of us took turns cooking dinner. It was hard for others, even my friends, to accommodate my no-beef no-pork requests. So I found myself in a dilemma, questioning my commitment to my diet versus my commitment to my friends. How much should I try to make them change. Or should I just swallow it.

Ted and I started dating later that fall. The man is a carnivore. He was raised to love meat. A meal without meat isn’t much of a meal for him.

We started to get serious. And I started to see that my feelings for vegetarianism were only infatuation compared to my love for Ted. It would take a lot to change his appetite. If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, trying to convert Ted to a meatless life would create severe digestive dysfunction and major emotional malfunction.

I also couldn’t see myself showing up for the fancy family Chinese ten course banquets and only nibbling on the garnishes. It just wouldn’t work well. I’d soon tire of scallions and sauces.

So I never became a vegetarian. Instead I became Mrs. Leung.

At times I am tempted by tofu or I wish I could cook a bowl of beans for dinner. When I can, I do choose less meat in my portions, or I stock up on the salad, but at this stage of life it would be a lot of effort to cook completely separate dishes. There’s also something about everyone eating the same dish at dinner. When Ted’s out of town or gone for the night, I indulge the vegetarian still inside me. I’ve got bags of TVP and barley waiting in the cupboard for his next conference trip.

I thought about all this after reading Jay’s post including his excerpt of Michael William’s post Vegetarians and Anti-TV-ites

The only people more holier-than-thou than vegetarians are people who don’t watch TV. I don’t watch a lot of TV myself, but isn’t it irritating to try talking with someone who is constantly reminding you that they “don’t waste time with that stuff” and “don’t even own a TV”?

The reason vegetarians and anti-TV-ites are so annoying is because they take pleasure in rubbing our faces in their rejection of the very fabric of our shared society.

Speaking of TV, that’s another thing I gave up for love. We both gave it up for love. When we got married, Ted and I decided we didn’t want to own a television. We wanted to begin our relationship building good habits of communication, rather than allowing the TV to become the focus. It would be too easy, we thought, to come home and watch the box rather than interact with each other. So we chose not to get a television set. We didn’t want one. We couldn’t afford one anyway. And even after we could afford one, we still didn’t want one.

For the past two years however, we’ve been able to tune in TV through our computer. The ability came along with a video card Ted had ordered. In time for the 2002 Olympics, we bought a big antenna that sits on the floor of Ted’s office. It doesn’t get great reception, but it does well with ABC, the channel that carries most of the figure skating competitions. So we do watch TV now. All we watch is ice skating.

Michael Williams wrote:

Knowing what TV shows a person likes will give you a lot of insight into their personality and can provide a lot of common ground for conversation.

Not sure what it reveals about our family that we only watch ice-skating on TV, piped in through a computer monitor at that, but perhaps it does say something. I’ll talk about TV but there are plenty of other topics I’d rather discuss. Like Love.

Tags: marriage

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 paul // Feb 9, 2004 at 6:12 am

    Yours is one of my favorite local weblogs to tune in to: some commonalities (young children and making a meaningful life).

    You point out good reasons why I turn the conversation away from the fact that we’re vegetarians and we don’t watch TV . . . it’s boring for us and the other person, and really, it’s not that important. All of us should be far more than the sum of what food choices we make or TV shows we watch.

    I find that people only have to remind others that they don’t eat meat or watch TV when that’s the only thing the other person can talk about. Substitute drinking or shoplifting as the topics: I doubt most of us have a lot of shared experience there 😉 Is TV and meat-eating that essential to American life, or is that just the limited experience of some people?

    Interestingly, my son was asked what his favorite food was last week and he said Chinese, ie, what I make that passes for it (the secret’s in the sauce). And of course, vegetarianism has deep roots in Chinese culture.

    Ted has a lengthy post about changing people’s minds which is not what I am trying to do.

  • 2 Michael Williams // Feb 9, 2004 at 4:21 pm

    Just as eating meat isn’t important in-and-of-itself, neither is television. My point was that both are a part of American culture, and it pays (socially) to eat what’s set in front of you and to be able to discuss the Simpsons.

    Thanks for the link 🙂

  • 3 Katherine // Feb 10, 2004 at 10:43 pm

    I could happily be a vegetarian 90% of the time. I usually eat all the side dishes first off my plate and then think, “Oh yeah, there’s meat too…I guess I’ll have some.” But then occasionally I really enjoy a little steak with sauce Cafe de Paris or Bearnaise…so I don’t know what I am – but like you, I married a real carnivore who doesn’t consider it a meal without meat, so I too am thrilled to be Mrs. Fedor rather than Mrs. Eggplant. And on the other issue, as you know we don’t watch TV – but I do LOVE watching movies… 😉

  • 4 Mark // Jun 14, 2004 at 11:20 am

    Have not watched anything, except the “Red Green Show” at a neighbors, for 6 months.

    I NEVER, never, NEVER push that I’m a “non-TV owner” and “don’t watch”.

    Some PEOPLE ASK ME…how I “have so much time” to do the extensive in-line skating (I compete in races, do about 1 1/2 to 2 hours every night..Cross country skiing and biking during the winter) and THEN I’ll tell them about the lack of TV.

    I also work on certain patentable inventions. (Compliment to the day job as an engineer.)

    MY LIFE IS VERY CALM these days.

    That’s all I’ll push…!