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The cultural cost of being vegetarian

Becoming a vegetarian is not about what you eat. It is not a decision that should be made based solely on what you want to keep eating and what you want to stop eating.

Vegetarianism is a lifestyle, a hobby, a second job, and the true cost is not just what you don't eat, it's in giving up certain cultural rituals that happen to involve meat.

Below is a partial list of foods which hold a particular place in western culture, which are forbidden to vegetarians, and which have no vegetarian equivalents that are acceptable in context. Please help me complete this list in the comments.

I present this list partially to indulge my tendency towards whining and asking for sympathy, but also in the hope of scaring off any potential vegetarian dilettantes who may be ignorant of the commitment. Dilettantes and flip-flopper vegetarians weaken our cause and lose us credibility in the eyes of the carnies.

Partial list of meat-based, culturally significant foods



  • Steak

  • Buffalo wings

  • Steamed blue crabs

  • Philly cheesesteaks

  • Beef jerky

  • Fried chicken

  • Bacon

  • Jell-O

  • Pepperoni pizza

  • McDonald's cheeseburger

  • Thanksgiving turkey

Only a thumb

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