Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Vegetarians

I've been a vegetarian now for well over 10 years. To be perfectly specific, I'm a pescatarian. That is I do eat fish and seafood, so in some respects I can see both sides of the coin. It's probably also worth mentioning that I'm not really an ethical vegetarian. I think the way that meat is processed these days is pretty disgusting, but I don't get disgusted by the meat itself. You can eat your cow or lamb or chicken or whatever and I'm not going to preach to you about the feelings of the animals. It's just not a part of my agenda or my belief. I don't eat meat, but I respect that humans are omnivores and can adequately digest animal protein to live and grow. I personally can't quite accomplish that due to some probable enzyme deficiency and a tendency to have indigestion problems when I drop pork or red meat into my belly.

I'm also not a fast food lover by any means, but I can understand the convenience. And while I love Taco Bell(most specifically that yummy volcano cheese), I seldom eat at that type of restaurant. I do watch television, read magazines and browse the internets frequently so like everyone else I'm bombarded by the advertisements of Arby's, McDonald's, Wendy's, etc. And I appreciate that as a burger joint, it's your benefit to promote your product in the way you think will lead millions to crave, desire and regularly purchase that product. I don't understand though, why many advertisers feel the necessity to blast a vegetarian as somehow retarded for not just loving beef any chance they get.

Take a case in point, Carl's Jr. Now recently that company has been on the shit list of a site I enjoy called feministing.com for using women as sex objects(see Paris Hilton washing a car enjoying a burger or the more recent ads with Padme Lakshmi from Top Chef) to promote their burgers with the tagline "not just a piece of meat". The irony there being that the women in these ads are portrayed as the meat while the burger is the featured player. Sexisim aside, and not because I don't support that argument, there's been a recent change to the tagline on some of the Padme ads. "What do you get when you mix a vegetarian with a western bacon burger? An ex-vegetarian". WTF Carl's Jr.? First it's annoying as hell that you don't have a vegetarian burger option and in fact the only sandwich I could even consider would be a fishwich, but then to claim that somehow your greasy shit is going to make me suddenly want to eat that because you've got a hot chick chowing down is really really insulting.

I've already had to boycott Wendy's on a regular basis since they just don't get it that when I order a salad I don't want bacon and chicken and chili meat slathered all over it. Now I've got a mind to slap Carl's Jr. with floods of email suggesting that as a vegetarian I not only feel disenfranchised by their lack of a product for me, but insulted that they would assume something that I haven't even wanted for over a decade would somehow give me impetus to change my diet or my standards.

I guess the bottom line of this rant is simple. Vegetarians exist and they are consumers. Blatantly advertising against them is not a way to get more customers. Getting more customers is accomplished by ensuring that your menu gives everyone a choice regardless of diet. Have they considered the millions of Americans that don't eat beef at all because of religion? Have they considered the mutiltudes of people with food allergies? Diabetics? People with heart conditions? Not at all. They're intent is to keep America fat and disgusting. And for that, anytime someone even suggest their food, I'm not buying and I assure you I will encourage my meat eating friends to go elsewhere. Currently on the shit list for the record, these are the restaurants that I will never eat food from unless they make drastic changes in their menu, their advertising and their opinion of potential customers that don't want their greasy bacon and shitty beef:

Wendy's (so sad too, an Ohio based company that I used to enjoy regularly. They stopped serving the only full sized fast food salad in the industry that didn't come with meat. The final straw, even the side salad has bacon and it's not in a little packet anymore, it's all over the fuckin' thing)
Carl's Jr. (sexism, anti-vegetarian menu, anti-vegetarian ads, and while it shouldn't factor into this list, I almost booked a commercial for this company, the shoot wound up being broken up by AFTRA because the producer on the spot tried to get scantily clad women to do somer really disturbing things to each other on camera)
McDonald's (on this one, I might waver in a pinch. I think everything they have is disgusting, but at least they were a pioneer in offering a vegetarian burger, although how they fucked up a GardenBurger is beyond me)
Arby's (Meat cooked for 24 hours, sounds like bacteria to me. Arby's has never even considered making a vegetarian choice. If you want something to eat there, it's going to be a series of side dishes and not a single good for you one at that.)

On the good side, these vendors are still pushing the meat market, but don't discourage not meat eaters from my perspective:
Taco Bell (Big Kudos to this restaurant. The only changes in food in the past several years have been to increase quality. Yes a lot of the food is cooked in a bag, but hey, the French do that in groumet cooking all of the time. Anyhow, the beans are vegetarian and can be substituted for meat in all cases. It's possible to get the latest and greatest product without feeling slighted and you can get a complete meal with many choices.)
Burger King (Their garden burger is made by MorningStar Farms. Who have had some problems with their food in the past, but regardless is one of my staple brands when I buy mock meat products. Burger King's veggie burger is tasty and made to order.)
Fatburger (Another burger joint with a real veggie burger option. The first time I had one I was really worried because it actually tasted like a real burger with all of the fixins. I'm sad the closest one closed due to poor location)
Red Robin (Ok, this last one isn't really a fast food joint, but it's a burger joint with a great attitude. At Red Robin there are two veggie burger options and they can be made up like any of the gourmet burgers on the menu. Unlimited fries makes this not the healthiest choice around, but definitely a quality restaurant chain.)

I'm sure there are places I missed on either side, but this list is off the top of my head. I don't want to rattle on too long or you might miss the post below about our release of the extended version of "Prey For Me". Our submission to this year's 48 Hour Film Project in Cleveland.

What's your opinion? Vegetarian or otherwise? Am I just being stupid? As a consumer I feel my opinion should matter, am I wrong?

2 comments:

Kate said...

I absolutely agree that you are entitled to some niche marketing just as well as all the rest of us consumers. And, that Carl's Jr are a bunch of douche bags.

On a side note, I think you should add Panera Bread to your list of options, with significant props to their Mediterranean Veggie sandwich. Just had it for lunch... mmmmmmm!!

Dr 4LOM said...

Panera is pretty sweet. I agree. Good choices, healthy food and when they don't mess up the order, it's fantastic!