9.1 / January 2014

The Vegetarian Eats the Vegan: Five Scenarios

1. The expected: The vegetarian and the vegan are forced into isolation and are starving. Maybe it’s a plane crash in the Andes. A shipwreck on a deserted island. A desert crossing gone awry. When supplies run out, one of them has got to eat the other, and by process of elimination, or perhaps common sense, it’s going to be the vegetarian who eats the vegan. Faced with this situation of starving to death versus eating someone who’s going to die, anyway, the average vegetarian will bend; this conclusion is based on the same reasoning in which they, vegetarians, allow themselves to consume milk, cheese, and eggs, vegans making no such concessions. The vegan’s conviction, so impressive, will lead to the ultimate sacrifice, as well as a healthy, lean meal for his or her friend, a friend who has committed but partially to the cause.

2. The vegetarian accidentally eats the vegan: A multitude of ways exist in which someone can eat someone else without knowing they’re that eating someone else; neither vegetarians nor vegans are excluded from these someones. There’s the more mythic accidents, the vegan falling into a meatless sausage vat unbeknownst to anyone, a la Sinclair, though this scenario has been mostly eradicated by today’s FDA standards. Perhaps a small part of the vegan, such as a fingernail or, in extreme cases, an entire finger, falls onto the vegetarian’s plate, perhaps at a restaurant or a cookout, the vegetarian none the wiser, the vegan consumed in that way. Cases also exist when people in proximity to the vegetarian are eating the vegan and small bits of the vegan may end up in the vegetarian’s mouth, perhaps through sloppy eating, a sneeze, even a kiss, remnants of the vegan in the eater’s teeth pre-engagement. While none of these cases are common, they do occur, and more often than one might think.*

3. The vegan asks to be eaten and the vegetarian obliges: Perhaps the vegan has an odd cannibalism fetish, places an ad on Craig’s List, and the vegetarian answers. Nobody can explain why a vegetarian, of all people, would be the one to respond to this ad, but it’s possible—more so in Germany than in other places—and therefore, on this list.

4. Forced eating: Unlike Scenario Number 2, where the vegetarian is unaware of the consumption of the vegan, this possibility describes instances where the vegetarian unwittingly eats the vegan, though is well aware. Perhaps the vegetarian is kidnapped, his or her mouth held open by wires, the kidnapper force-feeding the vegan to the vegetarian as he or she struggles. Perhaps parts of the vegan are cooked into the vegetarian’s food by someone who just wants to see a vegetarian eat a vegan, the word “vegan” openly used in conversation pertaining to the recipe and preparation. Maybe the vegetarian has been hypnotized, the mesmerizer bent on a vegetarian eating a vegan. Someone could shoot vegan into the vegetarian’s mouth with a straw or slingshot. The vegan could insert his or her flesh into the vegetarian’s mouth while the vegetarian is yawning. Tiny pieces of the vegan could be stashed in the vegetarian’s toothpaste, mouthwash, or bottle of antacid. Though rare, these are the most likely sub-possibilities falling under this scenario, and future editions of this list may include sub-possibilities to the sub-possibilities (and of course, future future lists, sub-possibilities to the sub-possibilities of the original sub-possibilities; and so on).

5. The vegan is buried in a field where crops are grown and the vegetarian eats the crops: Long has this been fiercely debated, whether or not this scenario should count, but since all avenues are being explored, it has to be listed, if for no other reason than to let everyone know that it’s been considered. The newer, more progressive generation of scholars on the subject have made strong arguments for it belonging on the list, fending off the stubbornness of their traditionalist counterparts, their squabbles dubbing this scenario The Crop Paradox. While the proverbial Man on the Street is not willing to concede to such an idea, that attitude shifts, continues to shift every day. It’s the circle of life, after all, and isn’t that, when it comes down to it, what we’re really talking about here?

* It has yet been undecided if a blood transfusion—vegan blood into vegetarian vein—counts. Organ transplants fall under this category of uncertainty, though donation of the hair of a vegan to a wig worn by a vegetarian has been ruled out: It surely does NOT count, even in the case of hair plug or transplant.

Michael Czyzniejewski is the author of two collections of stories, Chicago Stories: 40 Dramatic Fictions (Curbside Splendor, 2012) and Elephants in Our Bedroom (Dzanc Books, 2009), as well as the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in 2010. He is an assistant professor at Missouri State University, as well as Editor of Moon City Review.
9.1 / January 2014