Mon 21 May 2012
We have been talking to our eldest child about the differences between herbivores and carnivores, but from a brief look into things, it seems there are a whole stack of different -vores. There’s the insectivore (eats only insects), piscivore (eats fish), fungivore (eats fungi), and even folivore (eats leaves). Of course, humans seem to fall into the category of omnivore (eating everything), except of course when they don’t.
It appears that the proportion of the US adult population that is vegetarian is of the order of 3% (according to a 2009 online survey). A similar survey in Australia found that around 2% of the population was vegetarian. Of course, there are a range of different types of vegetarian diet followed within that population, so not everyone there is following exactly the same rules.
While vegetarianism is perhaps the most well-known type of human variance from “true omnivore”, there is a lot of diversity out there. For instance, there are also people who are pollotarians (eat anything but meat from mammals), pescetarians (eat anything but meat from mammals or poultry) and freegans (eat anything that’s been discarded by someone else). People are able to construct a variety of viable diets around a set of self-imposed rules. There’s probably also a large section of the population following a diet consisting of anything but peas and Brussels sprouts.
However, I’ve discovered that I’m none of the above. I’m your typical omnivore, but I really don’t eat anything looks like the animal it came from. If it’s meat, it needs to be anonymous meat. There doesn’t seem to be a name for this, so I propose “anonyvore”.
I used to think that I just didn’t like shellfish. I don’t want to crack open the carapace of a crab and suck out its fresh. I don’t want to peel a prawn. I don’t want to open an oyster and slurp down its contents. It really just revolts me.
But then, on a trip to Spain, we visited the pretty town of Segovia. Sitting around the Plaza Mayor for lunch, I ordered from one of the restaurants the local delicacy – roast suckling pig. The pork leg that arrived on my plate still had the trotter, and I discovered that this one additional detail made eating the meat close to impossible.
I realised that it wasn’t just crustaceans! It was food that was so honest about its origins that the diner knew exactly which limb they were eating. I’d be happier if my food lied.
When I was a kid, my mum would disguise the foods that I didn’t want to eat within foods that I did want to eat. You know the sort of thing I mean – the “meat” loaf that was more vegetable than animal protein. I’ve gradually come to respect this. There’s merit in ticking the box marked “I don’t know”. I don’t know if ignorance is bliss, but it sure tastes better.