I went with friends to see Anthony in Sacramento last night with excitement and a bit of trepidation, knowing his views on vegetarians. Yes, I am a fan of his show, and I know that's like Debbie Gibson saying she's a fan of Marilyn Manson, but I'll admit, it's true. I like his snarky banter and love to see where he travels and the cultural foods.
The show began with him jumping into his witty and snarkalicious self, as he joked about the various Food Network personalities, "What's a 40 year old doing with a pair of sunglasses permanently attached to the back of his head?" (about Guy Fieri- hilarious!). Then he talked about his experience on Top Chef and how it wasn't fixed (good to know!). He talked about traveling, and the fact that he's only gotten sick twice in all the years he's been doing the show (impressive).
And then it came to the time that I was dreading. He began by saying that he had some good tips if you're going to travel: You're stupid to go to Starbuck's, Hard Rock Cafe, or if you come back with a "Planet Hollywood, Rome" T-shirt; dress appropriately and not like a tourist, and don't go to a mosque wearing Daisy Duke's; Don't go to the restaurant where the tour bus from Sacramento is parked, and eat every cultural food in sight.
Why, he said, would you not want to experience all that a new culture is offering you? People take great pride in the food from their region, and many times will make something with their own two hands that was a preparation passed down from generations of tradition- just to share it with you. Again, how can you not eat everything in sight? "...which is why I don't understand vegetarians..." (Oh, no- here it comes!)
He went on to basically say that you should denounce your vegetarianism when you travel so you can experience all that culture has to offer... even if it's a plate full of dead puppy heads (gasp!). Otherwise, "it's just rude." He continued by saying personal ethics (when it comes to being vegetarian) should be thrown out the window, with the exception of religious beliefs.
Now I don't know about the rest of you, but my choice of being vegan is not a mere preference. The reason I'm vegan is rooted in some very emotional and spiritual feelings about animals and my relationship with them. When I see meat on my plate, I think about my involvement in killing that animal, and I literally get a knot in my stomach. Does that not liken veganism/vegetarianism to the conviction and spirituality of a religion?
On the other hand, what Anthony said did make me think. There would be situations while experiencing different countries, and being respectful to their cultures that would persuade me to sample an animal product for the sake of not only the culinary experience, but the culture's deep appreciation of that food and where it came from. It would require some serious deliberation on my part, but I think there could be exceptions made.
But, I'm sorry Anthony- there's no way in hell I'd eat a puppy, even if a 100 year-old great grandmother and queen of a remote village prepared it, and was sitting there amongst all the other villagers, huddled around me and anxiously awaiting my first bite. I think I would rather offend them all and run like hell. There's gotta be a line drawn somewhere!