Step 1- So, it's a typical conversation, and like most typical conversations, the topic eventually drifts to food.
Maybe you've heard of a really good restaurant for X kind of meat with X kind of flavor and oh man, it's so good I should totally try it. "No thanks", I say, "I don't eat meat."
"Really? Since when?"
Step 1a - Ahhhh, and there's the problem. I've had this conversation more times than I can remember, and it's the same story every time. So, in general, I don't eat meat. It's not that I have some sort of ethical bias or opinion about it - it's not that I think killing animals is cruel or that meat is terrible for you. I mean, I used to, but over time I've stopped really caring about, well, caring. Excuses aside, it's been over 5 years since I ate meat regularly.
Step 2 - So, why don't I eat meat? Well, first, let me clarify: I do eat meat, but not like normal people do. See, I just don't like most meat. I don't like the flavor, it makes my stomach hurt, honestly it's just an uncomfortable experience. I like fish though. Heck, I love fish - I cook it at least once a week. Great flavor, easy to work with, in general it's a positive experience.
Step 3 - But now you're thinking "Oh, he says he doesn't eat meat, but he eats fish..."
See, now you're calling into question my integrity and my consistency. I have a problem with that. People assume I have to either be entirely vegetarian or not vegetarian at all. I can't stand this! I try to explain to people that I just don't like meat, and they think I'm crazy.
The issue is that everybody assumes that when I say "Oh, I don't eat meat", I'm saying "Oh, I'm a vegetarian." It locks me into an expectation that I have no intention of keeping in the first place.
Step 4 - So here we are, at the full and final explanation:
1. Most meat - don't eat it. I don't care how marvelous or life-changing you think this or that particular meal is, I know myself better and I know that in general it will just be an unpleasant experience.
2. Fish - Love fish, always have. I eat tons and nothing you can do will stop me.
3. Two or three kinds of meat - So, there are some really reeeeeally tasty things that are worth the uncomfortable experience. I usually only eat them once or twice a month or so.
4. Shabbat Dinner - So most of the people in Hillel (the Jewish group on my campus) assume I eat meat, since I always have it at Shabbat dinner, but most of the time it's just because I don't want to be a burden.
So yeah, /Rant End. I feel like I had a better sense of where I was going with this when I started.