Samantha Bennett: Don't drink the meat

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We interrupt this barbecue season to bring you a message about not eating meat.

If you are a vegetarian (and, while I am an omnivore, some of my best friends, etc.), have you considered whether or not your water is meatless?

The flesh content of water is not something I was aware of. It’s a problem I never, in my careless and selfish dining habits, wasted — excuse me, spent — a lot of energy on.

(Just to be clear: When I call myself an omnivore, I mean that I eat most things, or would at least consider eating most things, except — and I cannot emphasize this enough — ranch dressing. I know. I’m the only person in Western Pennsylvania who thinks ranch dressing tastes like milk that had a sell-by date in 2003. Everybody else here sucked it from bottles in their cribs and puts it on everything, including hot fudge sundaes and aspirin. But I digress.)

An Indian kitchen appliance company and a Swiss water-purification company have teamed up to launch a water purifier that promises to furnish “Pure and Vegetarian Water.”

At last! An alternative to the bacon-infused water the rest of us have been gulping. Vegetarians may now hydrate safely!

But what makes water vegetarian? Well might you ask. It sounds like snake oil, like gluten-free caramel or kosher seating. When I tell you, you’ll be chagrined. And sorry you didn’t think of a way to make money off this yourself.

How do you purify water? You kill the germs — the bacteria and viruses — in it, usually by boiling or with chemicals. This is, of course, very cruel.

Furthermore, while filtration seeks to remove unsavory particles and chemicals from water, it doesn’t get the dead carcasses of the bacteria and viruses.

That’s fine for most of us, who are just looking to our water to provide simple hydration without any kind of life-threatening infection or poison. We’re happy to drink bacterial corpses, though I prefer even gin.

But water full of dead animals is obviously not vegetarian.

This reminds me of the time I tried recipes in a vegan cookbook. I was grating parsnips and accidentally grated a few tiny shreds of my fingers into the bowl. I ate the dish anyway, so I’m not only a nonvegan, I’m also a particularly weird kind of cannibal. I’ve had to make my peace with that.

Thinking about what sort of deceased formerly living creatures might be in our water made me then wonder what was in our air — never an enjoyable exercise in the modern world. I know the air is full of microbes, because I’ve been coughed on. Don’t even get me started on dust mites. And did you know that there are microscopic parasites living in your eyelashes and nose hair?

OK, don’t think about that. No, it’s fine, really. You look great.

My point is, if you are a vegetarian and you really are worried about deceased bacteria, you may require hospitalization. Also, keep in mind that snake oil is definitely not vegetarian.

But oddly, this road hazard may be: Last weekend, the York (England) Press reported that a truck lost its load on the A64 highway, causing dangerous driving conditions in both directions. Cars were skidding, and police shut down the road to allow for removal of the overturned truck and cleanup of the spill of instant mashed potatoes.

Roll your eyes if you must, but some people just don’t know how to drive in mashed potato.

At least it wasn’t instant chicken soup. It’s hard to find a good vegetarian traffic jam.

Samantha Bennett, freelance writer: sambennett412@gmail.com.


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