Pizza with Meat

Can’t You Just Pick the Meat Off? A Rant.

When I was in hospital in Canada a few years ago, I told them on Day One that I was a vegetarian. Low and behold, when the first meal was brought to me, I lifted off the plastic lid to find rice topped with vegetables… and chicken. Big chunks of fleshy, veiny, distinctly meaty chicken.

I said to the serving girl that I couldn’t eat it as I was a vegetarian and without even a pause she snapped, “Can’t you just pick the chicken off?”

Umm, no.

They brought me toast. Then for the next five days I was served rice with mashed kidney beans. For lunch and dinner.

I lost a lot of weight that week.

It’s not just grumpy hospital catering staff that hold that view that it’s okay to just pretend that the meat was never there – friends, family and colleagues (basically any non-vegos) have all been known to subscribe to this belief as well. Pepperoni pizza, chicken Caesar salad, and ham and cheese sandwiches are all food items that people have tried to make me eat by telling me to simply pick the meat off or out and all would be fine and dandy.

They don’t get that meat more than freaks me out; to me it looks gross, smells gross and leaves a gross taste, so I want my food to be completely meat free.

Image: Zazzle.co.uk

Now, this isn’t actually out of fussiness. To a vegetarian, picking meat from a food item is not quite the same as picking off, say, red pepper from your pizza because you don’t like the taste; red pepper doesn’t leave behind slimey, shiny, peppery residue. It may just leave slight dent in the cheese. Yet all I would see in the dent on the pizza where the piece of pepperoni used to be is greasy, greasy meat juices.

It’s not even all about the meat juices. I don’t want to support or be associated with an industry I don’t agree with. If you’re vegetarian because you just don’t like the taste of meat then, well, meat is just your red pepper so pick away!

But to the colleague that has been known to buy carbonara pasta packets and just pick the ham out, yet claimed to be vegetarian because she was “against the meat industry”, I say this: The meat industry doesn’t care whether the meat enters your mouth or not; they simply care that it enters your shopping bag. Whether you eat him or not, Babe has still died so that you can have that pasta lunch!

carbonara-Pasta

So next time I go to a party, picnic or restaurant, I certainly won’t be picking flesh off or out of anything, thanks.

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16 thoughts on “Can’t You Just Pick the Meat Off? A Rant.

  1. Shame on the hospital for not offering a menu to suit their patients. Healthy and respectful eating should not be foreign at a hospital. I eat meat and I often eat other people’s food that I don’t like out of politeness, but when I’m cooking for someone that is vegan or vegetarian, I always make sure that I make something they will enjoy.

    1. Yeah, it was pretty bad! Luckily I wasn’t really hungry when I was ill and my mum brought me in veggie-friendly yoghurt and fruit from the real world. ;-)

      I eat food I don’t like out of politeness too, just not when it involves meat. I bet your guests appreciate your thoughtful hosting. =)

      1. Thank goodness for mums! Whenever we have family in hospital, my mum brings them home made, easy to digest Cantonese food (we’re Cantonese) and me and my sister used to fight over the overcooked, bland Western hospital food.

        Jello was foreign to us back then and very much.

  2. It’s so annoying isn’t it. I remember a particularly unforgettable (for the wrong reasons!) birthday meal out when my pizza came topped with prosciutto., when I returned it, it simply came back with the big bits removed and the little ones remaining. Sent it back again and it returned with a pile of rocket on top, attempting to hide the remnants of meat. They got it right on the third attempt by making a new one, but it took about half an hour and a bucket load of grumpiness (and I suspect unthinkable treatment to my pizza before it was served, if you know what I mean!)

    1. That’s terrible! I hope you blacklisted that restaurant!

      It’s horrible having to send back food but giving meat to a vegetarian is a little more severe than cooking someone’s steak ‘wrong’ or forgetting the side or something. I don’t want to think about what they did to the new pizza. Haha! ;-)

  3. Well said! I’m amazed the hospital was so unprepared, and wonder if things have changed in the last few years. In Bavaria it is also tricky being a vegetarian. People almost always assume I eat fish, and bacon or chicken isn’t meat, right?! I think the UK is much better, although I was recently given a “veggie” burger that I couldn’t eat because it tasted fishy… it was fish!

    1. Yeah, the hospital was pretty bad! Well, the catering department anyway… I hope they’ve sorted out their act!

      That’s awful about the burger! I had that happen in Croatia with ‘vegetarian’ bruschetta (that had tuna hiding under the tomato) but I’m surprised that happened in the UK – some people just don’t get it! I also wrote a rant a little while ago about people assuming I eat fish. Haha!

  4. Agree! Agree! Agree! It’s so hard to explain this to non-vegetarians. I made my boyfriend crabcakes for his birthday last year and I could tell he had no idea how difficult that was for me (not the process, just handling the crab). The aversion I feel to meat is akin to the aversion felt about eating something foul and inedible.

    1. Haha, I appreciate your enthusiasm! I think that crab incident should have earned you some serious girlfriend points – I’m not sure I could handle that!

      And that’s a good way to put it – It does just seem inedible to me to. Glad to find people who understand!

  5. I have been told to pick the meat out too. My mom still makes meals with meat in them at Christmas and other gatherings. On Thanksgiving, it was cabbage rolls with bacon. We wondered why she couldn’t just not put bacon in, but she said that “It’s just a little bit of bacon” and that if we didn’t want to eat it, then we could just pick it out. I don’t think that they get it. I also hate when people say, “It just has a little bit of milk/cheese/meat.” Lucky for me after I had Serafina, the hospital provided me awesome vegan meals! I was so happy with my stay there! Great post! :)

    1. Oh, dear! I guess sometimes people are just so used to things, it’s hard to see why someone may want an alternative.

      That’s so good you got nice vegan meals in hospital! I guess I was just unlucky.

      Along the same lines of “it’s just a little bit”… when I worked in a hotel and we had staff dinners provided, it was always a meat dish, overcooked veggies and rice. It was bad enough that my ‘main’ was mushy broccoli and carrots but they ALWAYS cooked the rice in chicken stock. I asked if perhaps they could cook it in veggie stock, or just have some plain and the response was, “Oh, come on… there’s barely any chicken in chicken stock!” Sigh…

  6. Thanx for a great blog!!!! For some reason, do you know that some people still ask me when I tell them I am vegetarian: “But do you eat fish and chicken?”. My little girl, who is nine years old and has been a vegetarian all her life said to her granny once: “Gran, if it has a face and a mother – we don’t eat it.”. No more doubts after that. Bless my sweet child!!!!!!

    1. Thanks for reading!

      Aww, that’s such a cute way of putting it! I actually wrote a post called “No, I Do NOT Eat Fish” a little while ago and had a rant about that too. ;-) I occasionally get chicken as well but it’s amazing how many people assume I eat fish because “it’s not really an animal”. I think they skipped a biology lesson or two…

  7. […] “It’s not even all about the meat juices. I don’t want to support or be associated with an industry I don’t agree with. If you’re vegetarian because you just don’t like the taste of meat then, well, meat is just your red pepper so pick away! But to the colleague that has been known to buy carbonara pasta packets and just pick the ham out, yet claimed to be vegetarian because she was ‘against the meat industry’, I say this – the meat industry doesn’t care whether the meat enters your mouth or not, they simply care that it enters your shopping bag. And whether you eat him or not, Babe has still died so that you can have lunch!” – More Than Greens […]

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