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“But here’s my question. Why do the companies that sell ‘not meat’ — Frankenfoods made from plant cells and/or vegetable cocktails — spend millions of dollars to make it look exactly like meat? Wouldn’t that be a contradiction in vegetarian philosophy? ‘I’ve decided to chew leaves the rest of my life, but I want all the leaves to look like hot dogs.'” – Joe Bob Briggs
I am a vegan this week – and next. Voluntarily, although I hate it. Why? Because I believe God expects it from me. I am an Orthodox Christian. As @skipsul can explain, Orthodox are in the middle of the two-week Dormition Fast, observing the death of Mary, mother of Jesus. It is one of four fast periods for the devout Orthodox observer, where we forgo meat and dairy (and usually fish).
It is not fun, especially for me. It is not intended to be fun. Fasts are intend to make those participating focus on God. To remind us of Him and to remind those fasting that ultimately we return to Him. It is kind of a day-long poking at you.
What makes it worse (at least for me) is that it is voluntary. I could have that cheeseburger if I want to. And yet, despite desperately wanting to, I abstain. Why? Because I was asked to. According to the teachings of my church, because God has asked me to. I guess I cannot turn down a polite request like that.
Yet, I generally avoid the Frankenfoods Joe Bob Briggs calls out. Sure, I will order a veggieburger when I travel and cannot find another substitute. At home, I generally have food that is vegetarian – beans, tofu, soup, pasta with tomato sauce and textured-vegetable protein. Except near the end of a fast I try to avoid meat-tasting stuff. It never tastes very good. (It makes me appreciate meat more when I go back to it.)
I suspect the intermittent veganism is good for me. I definitely lose weight during fasts (mainly because I like the food I eat a whole lot less than during non-fast periods). It keeps me away from too much meat and dairy. But I see no particular virtue in avoiding meat and dairy for the sake of avoiding meat and dairy. (Or forcing others to. If I have guests over for meals during fast periods I generally have meat and dairy on hand for them.)
In fact, most fasts are preceded and followed by a fast-free week where meat and dairy can be eaten every day. According to Orthodox tradition, these weeks serve as a foretaste of heaven. If meat is good enough for the table in heaven, it has to be here as well.
And yet Briggs is right. Many secular vegetarians crave meat-tasting stuff. I wonder why that is?