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The Essential Vegetarian

By Katie Jeffreys

I have approached a new facet of vegetarianism in the past week which I had not previously considered deeply. People often assume, rightly so, that vegetarians are for the most part female. Several events have led me to question why this is. The first was a meal at Hooters, the second is a book I have been reading.

The book is called The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol J. Adams. Published in 1990, it addresses the historical significance meat has played in men’s lives. This is to say that the conquest and virility associated with meat are specifically patriarchal. She addresses the fact that men are typically served meat before women or children, sometimes exclusively. Concurrently, vegetables are viewed as effeminate and therefore, like women, a lesser entity.

Adams uses “texts of meat” to demonstrate her points. Tales from the Greek myths of Zeus to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein demonstrate that the range of literary opinion on the subject ranges from objectifying animals and women to sympathizing with their plight. She also connects the violence of killing animals to warfare. She quotes Medieval scholar Grace Knole in The James Joyce Murders, who wrote “I expect after you have many times seen a deer or woodchuck blown to bits, the thought of a human being blown to bits is that much less impossible to conceive.”

The perspective this work offers is certainly refreshing: it also explains why Hooters is so successful.

I was with a group of a dozen people in Manhattan on Friday, of which only two, myself included, were female. After exploring our options for dinner fare, we decided that Hooters would be most interesting and inexpensive. “We” includes myself and the other female, for we were interested to see what went on behind those friendly owl eyes.

Needless to say, I have never seen friendlier service. Our waitress, though not as well endowed as the stereotype led us to expect, made up for this with prompt attentive service. Almost too attentive, as she tended to touch and lean on us as we placed our orders, and called everyone (females included) by pet names such as “Baby” and “Honey.”

This all plays an important role when considering the menu. Aside from french fries and perhaps a salad, the only vegetarian option was grilled cheese. I must add, however, that it was a delightful grilled cheese. Available with tomatoes or mushrooms, and served on extra thick bread, it was a surprisingly good meal. Reassuring, as there wasn’t another option.

The atmosphere of Hooters was much brighter than I anticipated. It was not a packed, dim, smoky bar like many grills; in fact, it was almost sterile. The clientele was mixed, with groups of friends, sketchy men, and a young group out celebrating an 18th birthday.

The nearest Hooters is at 222 Friend St. in Boston, just across the river from the Science Museum.

All this explains why Dan Katz, a man among men, cannot tolerate my vegetarianism. Perhaps some day he will be in tune with his feminine side, and will not objectify animals, and likewise, women.

In light of the fact that I have recently reviewed several “greasy spoon” establishments, I will share a recipe a meal that might be found on such a menu. I recommend experimenting with vegetables, adding peppers or flavored tempeh strips, available at Star Market.

Marvellous Greasy Spoon Fry-up

6 or 8 vegan (soy) sausages

4 medium tomatoes (halved)

1 medium onion (chopped into thin rings and dusted with flour)

1/2 pound button mushrooms (sliced)

1 can vegetarian baked beans

4 thin strips of thawed tempeh

4 small potatoes (diced)

Butter or Margarine

Melt a pat of margarine in a frying pan, then add potatoes and onion and fry gently over medium heat for about five minutes. Add mushrooms and tempeh/rashers. After another few minutes, add tomatoes to onions and potatoes.

Put sausages under grill (medium heat).

Keep an eye on everything, turning as necessary. Heat beans.

When potatoes and onion have been cooking about 20 minutes, everything should be done. Cook longer if preferred.