I am an omvivore. I joke “if it is edible and digestible I probably not only eat it but enjoy the act thereof.”
It’s very true, the only food I don’t eat is ‘the color purple.’
“What about breakfast? We’ve had one, yes. What about second breakfast? What about elevenses? Luncheon? Afternoon tea? Dinner? Supper? – Cinematographic adaptation of JRR Tolkien text
Truth be told though, most days I am a vegetarian to the point where the longest running joke in my office has to do with my actual non-vegetarian status. Every single meal we have as an office gathering someone will check in with me (before the actual vegetarian in the office, mind you) to see how they can accommodate me. I chuckle can casually tell them I can work around their selection, I’m used to it, only to watch their horrified face as I load up my plate with meaty goodness.
It’s true though, I do eat an awful lot of vegetarian, or moreso a vegan, for the majority of my meals despite my self-proclaimed omnivore status. Recently I started seeing a bunch of articles documenting this same behavior, including one touting VB6 (Vegan Before 6 PM) in the New York Times.
Although the majority of animals at some point in their life cycle display omnivorous behavior, Humans are among a select few animals that qualify as truly omnivore, meaning they are neither strictly carnivore nor herbivore in dietary specializations. Other infamous omnivores include some of our favorite human proxies such as pigs and rodents like rats and mice as well as most bears, some birds, some reptiles (like my pet turtles) and some fish happen to be as well (as anyone who’s targeted catfish will attest). One thing they have in common though is despite their mostly opportunistic nature in acquiring food from both sources the majority of them are herbivore first, carnivore second in their preferred intake.
Even before I feel in love with a woman who was vegetarian with raw, vegan tendencies I was more-or-less already leaning pescitarian-to-vegetarian anyhow. It really had nothing to do with the food industry’s detestable treatment of animals or any PETA-inspired fake sympathy for them. It had very little to do with the health effects either despite again, the food industry’s insistence of overusing all kinds of pathogens to produce more meat products (and then having the audacity to lie about it to us). It had very little to even do with the cost difference between most animal proteins and that of other sources of replacement nutrients. Those are all very good reasons for making the switch and mostly I applaud anyone who does it for any of those reasons…
No, for me I reduced the influence of my carnivore self because I followed my tongue. I really enjoy the herbivore cuisines. Despite the cliche, it’s absolutely not all just rabbit salads and bland tofu crap and because I have both an open mind and an empty stomach I’ll try just about anything making the intake of vegetarian options in all their diverse glory a culinary adventure of truly epic proportions.
I’ll admit, I am someone who hung onto my heritage foods like a baby’s blanket because I adored the flavors … but even in those it was few and far between ingestion. I crave choriço and linguiça like nobody’s business, love making bolo de bacalha around the holidays and frango português e arroz avó as a comfort food and having paella in every restaurant it’s ever offered. My dad’s Steak Dianne recipe, the family meatloaf recipe and a handful of others hold special places in my heart too but really I don’t get a good bowl of el tazon de rojo con carne or Delta Gumbo or crawfish Étouffée or pulled pork (any style) really all that often. That’s part of what makes the dishes so special, they aren’t daily dinners.
The truth of the matter is I eat what I like and what I like consists mostly of what are considered responsible choices. I’m blessed in a way that I don’t have a sweet tooth so mostly I drink water during the day instead of sodas or sugar-laden packaged fruit juices and am satisfied by all natural peanut butter and plain Greek-style yogurt as snacks. I make bad food choices too, I’m sure, but I’d reckon most of it is pretty healthy which should make for having children down the road pretty interesting considering the plethora of external influences designed to make them into “fat American slobs” so-to-speak.
Being a successful omnivore is a lifestyle truly of balance (somewhere along the line of what Michael Pollan espouses in In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto). It requires respect for what food is … that food is more than just a calorie source (the single biggest mistake modern Western culture has made when making food decisions) and needs to be ingested and digested in such a way that promotes both 1) personal heath of both a physiological and psychological and b) social well being in both the health of our relationships with others and food and that of food sources and the planet’s health.
I wouldn’t trade my omnivore lifestyle for the world as it produces a bountiful experience of flavors and textures and aromas that tantalize my senses and offers a diverse experience to be shard with family and friends of all beliefs and ethnicity. And, it makes for really good office chatter when I go for the big pile of meat on the table after someone respectfully found a vegetarian or vegan alternative. (and, for the record that vegetarian meal almost always is the first to be finished too.)