Get A Grip: Transition to vegetarianism difficult

As I stood in front of the stove, prepared to nestle my just-cooked kosher hot dog into its bun, I heard the "thunk" of the mail being dropped in the box on the porch.

Taking a big, greasy bite of my lunch, I went to inspect the day's delivery.

Bill.

Bill.

Bill.

Overdue notice.

Bill.

Bank statement.

Small package.

What? A small package?

I looked at the return address.

PETA.

Omigosh, I thought as I finished off my dog.

It's here at last.

My vegetarian starter kit.

Let me back up here a minute.

I am the last person likely to ever become a vegetarian.

But for some reason, all of my life people have assumed that that's just what I am.

Unfortunately for my health, not only do I enjoy eating meat and fish, I also despise nearly every fruit and vegetable known to man.

One of my earliest memories is of my mother chasing me around the house with an apple.

I eventually dove under my bed and stayed there until she gave up the chase.

In college, many of my friends were vegetarian and vegan (vegans eschew all animal products).

I understood their philosophy and admired their health but when I stopped eating meat I generally became bone thin because I just didn't eat.

One year I read "Diet For A New America," an amazing book that caused me to avoid meat for months.

But eventually, I went back to my old ways.

After college I had a roommate who was a strict vegetarian who would fly into a rage if I cooked bacon in the house.

One day she 'borrowed' my bike without asking and when I needed my wheels.

That night I cooked up a whole package of bacon.

In the ensuing years I've added more and more meat to my diet.

But then, one day in late December, a press release came across my desk.

It was from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), an activist animal rights group.

The release urged readers to address the national obesity problem by embracing vegetarianism.

Included in the release was a top ten list of reasons to go vegetarian.

I think the list was supposed to be funny, a la David Letterman's top ten lists, but I'm not sure.

I'll reproduce it for you here:

10.

You'll be able to defend your SUV habit by pointing out that producing a single hamburger patty takes enough fossil fuel to drive a small car 20 miles and enough water for 17 showers.

9.

You'll cut your risk of heart attack by more than half, so you won't have to spend six weeks in bed watching "Survivor."

8.

No guilt at the realization that your food used to have a mom.

7.

E.

coli, salmonella and mad cow disease will all be things of "Christmas Past."

6.

No more plus-size shops, meal-replacement drinks and thighs with their own zoning laws.

The American Dietetic Association states that "vegetarians, especially vegans, often have weights that are closer to desirable weights than do non vegetarians."

5.

No need to worry about chicken heads (or other body parts) showing up in your take-out order.

4.

Grilled Portobello mushrooms.

3.

Your libido will take on massive proportions.

Eating meat can cause impotence, because it clogs the arteries going to all your organs, not just your heart.

2.

Whose team do you want to be on – Dave "I found the beef and it's in my coronary artery" Thomas', or vegetarian tennis great Martina Navratilova's?

1.

Two words: Head cheese.

The press release ended with an offer for a free vegetarian starter kit.

Despite the stupid top ten list, I decided to call and see what on earth a vegetarian starter kit would include and if it could help me at least start to limit my carnivorous activities for the sake of better health.

And so, a month later, the mailman delivered my package.

Excited, I ripped open the package and beheld the following: a small, glossy magazine-style publication called "Vegetarian Starter Kit," a photocopied list of holiday recipes (including wheatmeat roulade with chestnut 'sausage' stuffing), and a small pamphlet asking for a donation to PETA.

I read the wheatmeat roulade recipe (yuk) and opened the magazine.

The first thing I saw was a big picture of Pamela Anderson (yuk).

I put down the magazine and went back to the kitchen to make myself another hot dog.

I haven't given up, but this is clearly going to be a difficult transition.

Abbie Gripman is the Miner's copy editor.