For at least since 1991, I have skewed my eating habits toward the vegetarian side of the fence. I can only describe the looks received when making the reluctant proclamation about my dietary relationship with veggies and other non-animal death products in this way: my grandmother thought I was in some sort of cult. My grandmother is from the Pacific Northwest as well. I've had it easy being a vegetarian back in the Northwest. At least only some folks from the homeland merely thought suspiciously of me. But I also knew that there were many others who had made a similar dietary choice as me.
Sioux Falls, South Dakota has been rated by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals--aka in SD--"People Eating Tasty Animals") as the least vegetarian friendly city in the United States. My observations are anecdotal, but to not eat meat does not merely create suspicious looks...but it becomes an offensive statement to residents of this region. So I only try to stay away from meat. I am reminded of this hostility when I drive west on Interstate 90. A billboard by the side of the road reads "In South Dakota, we REJECT animal activists." On that drive I might see a bumper sticker that reads: "Eat Beef--The West Wasn't Won On Salad."
I wouldn't consider myself an animal rights activist--I've just found that it is the best health choice for me, and I believe it to be good stewardship.
I found it interesting that my daughter put away about a half pound of taco flavored beef tonight. She ate it like she was a vulture. Her eyes were fixed as if she was stocking up her body for hibernation or waiting for the next kill. I wasn't offended. I was in awe. This growing girl needs food. She may become Miss Beef America--I'd be okay with that. Regardless of how our diets my diverge, I was still in awe of the consumption I saw.
Now I am starting to understand what my parents saw when they watched their refrigerator empty in front of their eyes at the hands and mouths of my brothers and me.