Eric D. Snider

Vegging Out

Snide Remarks #675

"Vegging Out"

by Eric D. Snider

Published on November 13, 2012

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I recently became a vegetarian because I lost a bet, which I assume is the only reason anyone becomes a vegetarian. This was not a permanent lifestyle adjustment, but it did last 61 days, enough time for my blood-gravy levels to fall dangerously low.

The wager was with Jeff Bayer, a tall friend of mine who is also my cohost on the "Movie B.S. with Bayer and Snider" podcast. (He plays the role of "Bayer"; I play "Snider.") We each chose nine films being released this summer and bet on whose list of movies would have the highest total opening-weekend box office. The stakes were these: If I won, Jeff wouldn't be allowed to drink alcohol until his wife, Lisa, had their baby, which was due Nov. 10. If Jeff won, I wouldn't be allowed to eat meat until the baby was born. You'll notice that in our arrangement, the winner didn't "win" anything other than the satisfaction of seeing his friend suffer. This is the basis of our friendship.

Well, I lost. There's no sense in pointing fingers, but too many of you saw "The Avengers" and not enough of you saw "The Dark Knight Rises." Those are the choices you made, and I had to live with the consequences. The results were tallied in mid-August, but we agreed not to start my forced vegetarianism until Aug. 27, the day after my birthday, because birthdays are a celebration of life, and what point is there in living if you can't eat meat?

Once my vow of meat celibacy had begun, I regularly encountered a few misconceptions. One was people thinking that "vegetarian" meant "vegan." I was not a vegan. Vegetarians don't eat the flesh of animals; vegans don't eat ANY animal products, including eggs, milk, tusks, or feathers. You know how sometimes for a snack you'll take a chicken head and just gnaw on it until the skull is gleaming white and all the marrow has been sucked out? Vegans don't even do that. My bet with Jeff didn't obligate me to be a vegan. I don't think that's actually even a "thing." Live for two months without eating any animal products? Oh, sure! And then I'll live as a wizard for two months, and fly around the world on my magical broomstick! COME ON.

On the other hand, some vegetarians eat fish, because for some reason a fish's body isn't made out of meat? It's made out of fish, which I guess is different from meat? I don't know how it works. Anyway, I was NOT allowed to eat fish. Our version of vegetarianism meant forsaking all chunks of all animals' bodies, whether those bodies were previously covered in fur, feathers, or scales. Would I have been permitted to eat oysters? That's a gray area. A gray, slimy, mucus-y area that I wouldn't have wanted to eat anyway.

Another common misconception was that people thought being a vegetarian would cause me to lose weight and be healthier. "Do you notice any ... changes?" people would ask, their voices filled with hope. But it turns out you can abstain from meat and still be REALLY unhealthy. "Vegetarian" doesn't mean you only eat vegetables, any more than "veterinarian" means you only eat veterans. Ice cream, candy, pizza, French fries, fistfuls of granulated sugar, methamphetamine, entire bottles of maple syrup -- these are just a few of the delicious meat-free dinner entrees that will keep you fat and unsavory during a period of enforced vegetarianism.

But I did see some changes. For example, it only took a few days of being a vegetarian before I felt an increased sense of smugness. "I'm a vegetarian!" I would say to myself. "Good for me!" Soon I was making plans to get rid of my TV so that I could tell everyone I didn't own a TV. Why, I almost started composting! (I got as far as thinking, "I wonder what composting is?")

Because of the public nature of the bet, my friends and associates knew that I was not allowed to eat meat as long as Lisa still had a baby inside of her. I was therefore surrounded by an army of witnesses and potential tattlers, which staved off any temptation I might have had to cheat. Then there were the enablers, the friends who would say, "Go ahead and have a burger. We won't tell Jeff! It will just be our little secret!" Though I did not succumb to their devilish wiles this time, it is reassuring to know that I have friends who are willing to enter into conspiracies with me.

In truth, the experience wasn't as great a hardship as I thought it would be, and certainly not as great as Jeff hoped it would be. The only thing I didn't like about being a vegetarian was not being able to eat meat. Other than that, it was fine. But I did miss my chicken sandwiches and bacon cheeseburgers and buckets of raw sheep parts, and I was eager for Lisa to pop that baby out so I could once again know the taste of flesh. I didn't want her to give birth TOO early, of course, because I guess that's "bad" or whatever, but once she had passed the point where the baby was done cooking and could safely come out any time, I fervently hoped she would go into labor immediately. Jeff, the terror of imminent fatherhood having descended upon him, wanted the opposite.

It's fun to joke about making a pregnant lady go into labor by having her lie on her back while you bounce on her belly like an exercise ball, but this is not something you should do. It is much more effective to simply push her down some stairs.

No! Do not push pregnant women down stairs, either. If anyone had a good reason to induce labor it was me, and I took the high road and let nature take its course. At last my meat deprivation ended on Oct. 27, when a healthy, beautiful baby boy came sliding out of Lisa's baby hole, two full weeks before the due date. It was a Christmas miracle! I was very happy for my friends, and I would like to publicly apologize here and now for eating their baby.

Eric D. Snider and Dylan James Bayer (last known photograph).

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This item has 27 comments

  1. annz says:

    Even more hilarious than usual, Eric. I've been a fan of you for years, you never disappoint!

    The 'Last known photograph' just makes it.

    Now excuse me while I go link this page to everyone I know :D

  2. Niall says:

    I've been vegetarian for 11 years. You look better for it - stay at it! It's the way forward. And only eat tofu-based baby substitute in future ;)

  3. Linda says:

    You'd probably make a great babysitter if it weren't for that whole meat eating thing.

    Great article!

  4. Melissa A White says:

    Love this!! I think to each his own but I have to say that I have never been healthier now that I eat meat regularly. I was a vegetarian for a year and then got pregnant. I didn't want to eat my baby, mind you, but if I hadn't started eating meat again while pregnant who knows what could've happened. I thought I'd be like Phoebe in Friends and only eat meat while I was pregnant then go back to being veg. Didn't work. I like bacon too much. And chicken. And steak. I have very unhealthy friends who are veg and I have very healthy, fit friends who are veg. Same goes for those of us who eat meat. This post was so spot on and hysterical. Glad the baby lived at least long enough to get his picture taken.

  5. Katya says:

    He plays the role of “Bayer”; I play “Snider.”

    Would you be willing to switch roles for just one episode?

  6. Randy Tayler says:

    I did "pescatarian" for a month this year. That's the technical term for vegetarians who still eat fish, but I found it required more explanation than just saying "vegetarian, but I can still eat fish."

    Had a lot of sushi that month. And not many vegetables.

    They should probably invent a word for somebody who eats lots of fruits and vegetables, but I guess we can't be bothered to name ALL mythical creatures.

  7. Sarah says:

    As a conscientious meat eater, rib eye, NY strip, shell, etc I sympathize but next time don't make such a ridiculous bet, the movie going public has hideous taste and you should have bet that the worst films would have the biggest box office draws.

  8. Braden says:

    Did you know that half the dinosaurs could only eat cumin, sage, paprika, and a handful of other herbs? No wonder they went extinct.

  9. BeeDub says:

    "Fish: for sport only, not for meat. Fish meat is practically a vegetable." - Ron Swanson

  10. FHL says:

    What's interesting about this article is that you don't actually spell out what you did eat, only what you could eat and still be massively unhealthy. I guess salads aren't funny enough?

    If you're tempted to try it out, get a veggie sandwich at Subway's. You won't even notice the missing turkey.

    You live in Portland, how can you not know what composting is? Have you never been to Burgerville? They have some tasty vegetarian options, too. (At least, that's what my wife says.) Oh, right, we're going for humor. =)

  11. J64 says:

    I was a vegetarian for a short period. It was the worst afternoon of my life.

    And FHL, salads aren't funny. Even as the punchline to a joke about epilepsy (also, not funny). Vegetarianism, however, is rife with opportunities for humor . . . and Snider serves these up nicely. As noted above, "last known photograph" was fantastic.

  12. Val says:

    In my experience as a vegetarian of 11 years, I frequently encounter people who are confused about what I do and don't eat when it comes to not-meat animal products, especially eggs. But the sad part is, it's not usually that they don't understand the distinction between vegetarian and vegan, it's that most of them seem to think eggs are unborn chickens. No joke.

  13. Gary says:

    How can you even choose a favorite line from this one? Brilliant.

  14. Another Eric says:

    It's too bad you lost the bet, but in a way it was better. Unless Bayer also has the gift for funny writing, who knows how much sadder his column about going alcohol-free would have been compared to this?

  15. Tom says:

    What about a cow on life support? Can you eat that?

  16. ohnoes says:

    Why is FHL so butthurt? Did a comedy writer spit in his boring salad today or something?

  17. Traci says:

    As a freshman at BYU back in 1990, a group of us attempted to eat vegetarian for week at the dorm cafeteria. That turned out to be really really hard. We all looked forward to the potato bar night with great anticipation. Other nights, many bowls of breakfast cereal were consumed.

  18. Dave says:

    Eating vegetarian in Portland is zero challenge. Looking at the BYU menus, it looks like Traci took a challenge that is still tough today: eating vegetarian at the commons at BYU. Oddly, my alma mater completely changed their menu to accommodate vegetarians, despite being in a similar kind of city.

    My final comment is that the breakfast menu at BYU has 18 kinds of donut, so perhaps it would be easy to be a rather overweight vegetarian.

  19. Larry says:

    For what it's worth, I saw Dark Knight but not Avengers, so I unwittingly supported your cause.

  20. Momma Snider says:

    Dave, do they have bacon maple bars? Vegetarian Eric passed on that one at Voodoo Donuts, but I tried it. Strangely not too bad.

  21. Braden says:

    Momma Snider, on behalf of humanity, I apologize for your son committing a great affront to our very cultural foundations in refusing a bacon-maple donut. There is no excuse that is quite adequate for such immoral decisions, but restitution is requisite.

    Please, take the only proper motherly path and call your son. Tell him that you love him, and though it may take years to fully forgive him for this outrage, he may one day achieve restitution through hard work, penance, and countless tears. Or by a really good Snide remarks attacking PETA - those always seem to work.

    Also, tell him to take you back to Voodoo and try again. A bacon-maple donut experience not shared is a bacon-maple donut experience not experienced.

  22. Momma Snider says:

    What's sad, Braden, is that I liked the bacon and the maple okay, but I don't especially like donuts. Now THAT's inhuman, or at least un-American. We had all these donuts passing around between nine of us, and I only ate a total of less than one complete donut, with bites of this and that.

  23. Ms. Jack says:

    "On the other hand, some vegetarians eat fish, because for some reason a fish’s body isn’t made out of meat?"

    It's called pescetarian (mashing up the Italian word for fish, pesce, with the English vegetarian), and I've found that vegetarians tend to get pissy with us if we self-identify as vegetarians.

    OTOH, #6 Randy is right. Most people have no idea what a pescetarian is, so sometimes it's just easier to say, "It's like I'm a vegetarian, except I eat fish." And since you can't eat fish products at every single meal unless you want to die of mercury poisoning, pescetarians do wind up spending about 5/6ths of their meals as vegetarians. Maybe less if you live in a port town with ample seafood options.

  24. Sean says:

    This column about unhealthy ways to be a vegetarian is suddenly very timely, now that Twinkies are off the menu. Curse you, Unions and/or Greedy Executives!

  25. Jacob says:

    I like how folks think Eric D. doesn't really know what a pescetarian is. . . .

    Also, Dave & Tracy, I was veg at BYU for a while. It's really not *that* hard, even with Open Door (which I don't think they even have any longer). You can get meat-free options at all the other campus facilities, even Taco Bell and the Grill.

  26. Big Drew says:

    "Vegans don’t eat ANY animal products, including eggs, milk, tusks, or feathers."

    Classic line from a classic Snide Remarks.

  27. SilverRain says:

    Try explaining flexitarianism. I'm not even sure why there's a word for it. Isn't easier just to say "I don't eat much meat?" More fricatives and opportunity for dramatic pauses.

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