03 May 2010

Dear Continental Airlines

Dear Continental Airlines,

Vegetarians do not eat turkey. There, I said it.

When I bought my tickets from New Orleans to Columbus, I requested a vegetarian dining option. You gave me a turkey sandwich.

There is terminology for part-time vegetarians of all different persuasions.
Pescetarians eat fish. Flexitarians often eat vegetarian meals, but sometimes consume dishes containing meat or meaty ingredients. I am a full-time lacto-/ovo-vegetarian (I will explain the tenets of veganism at a later time when I see that you are able to comprehend the differences between a vegetarian and a flexitarian).

See, you gave me a turkey sandwich. And I'm a vegetarian.

Vegetarians don't eat turkeys, or pigs, or cattle. They don't eat sea creatures. Some (like me) won't eat gelatin because it is made from cow bones.

Apparently I need to come up with a better way of explaining vegetarianism to you. You could have relied on
answers.yahoo.com to find out if vegetarians eat turkey, and the interwebs would have told you that turkey is no good for vegetarians. But I want to create a better definition of vegetarianism for you on the off chance that you get another vegetarian flying with you now that you are the largest airliner in America.

One of the more clever ways I've seen to understand the requirements of the vegetarian diet is that a vegetarian
doesn't eat anything with a face. This seems simple enough for Continental to understand.

However, vegetarian dining to me seems simple to understand, and you brought me a turkey sandwich. I'm afraid that you will interpret the no-faces mantra to mean that a vegetarian will eat worms and sea cucumbers. And they won't. See the earlier entries on
pescetarians and flexitarians for details. Or watch any show with Andrew Zimmern or Anthony Bourdain if you want to see video of people eating worms or sea cucumbers.

So now I have to go to the scientific concept of
taxonomy in order to get your head around vegetarian dietary requirements. Your average diner decides that they will eat members of the animal kingdom, thus cutting their dietary choices off at the genus level. This decision, combined with social norms and legal restrictions, keeps people from eating other people with the exception of the book and movie Alive and a few other moments in history, while still allowing them to eat baby cows and baby sheep without conscious guilt.

Vegetarians, however, move up the ladder of taxonomy and choose not to eat things by
kingdom, in the upper echelon of biological taxonomy. This concept would exclude turkey, worms and sea cucumbers from my tray table the next time I fly Continental. Just don't bring me any members of the animal kingdom. No salmon, no bison, and definitely no turkey.

I hope that my angry diatribe will help you help vegetarians who fly Continental Airlines in the future. Luckily enough, the flight was only two hours, and I travel with enough food to nourish a small band of travelling minstrels. However, I don't want the next vegetarian flying Continental to starve because they don't travel with my moveable feast and you bring them turkey sandwiches.

-- Yours truly


Mike Kaizar said...

Thank you. Someone had to say it.

stacie said...

Love this post! Very well said.