Thursday, July 14, 2011

Peeling Beer Labels = Sexual Frustration (or so I've heard)

Remember back in the day when peeling the label of one's beer meant they were sexually frustrated or {hopefully} going to get 'lucky'?? (There's even a Facebook Group dedicated to it see here!)  I don't know if the luck came from the perfect peel-off or the fact that guys could slap that label on some girl as if he were claiming her ('the chick with the Dos Equis label is mine fellas') but nowadays we all seem to be searching for some kind of word to help identify who we are or to which group we belong.

All of us use certain words to describe who we are...some of mine are daughter, runner, horse lover, Californian, Air Force brat, kettle bell fanatic, reader and, for some reason I've felt inclined to include wanna-be-vegan.  I was recently watching Eat, Pray, Love {again} and there was a scene in which the characters are looking for that one word that would describe themselves as well as certain cities (ie. Rome = Food).  It's just what we do when we want to try to explain the type of person we are when getting to know one another.

The problem I am having is when those descriptive words become labels and those labels somehow become negative even though I embarked on these 'earning' them on a quest to become a better person.  Or, when somehow, one feels obligated to include one of these labels because it is still perceived as 'against the main stream', such as being a vegetarian.  After all, most 'regular' folks who eat 'regular' foods don't include a "what type of food do you eat" label, "Hi I'm Bob...a lawyer who likes to hike, reads Playboy for the articles and eats fish, chicken, pork, and beef along with some vegetables and starchy foods but NOT potatoes (ewww) or peanuts (allergic), or green bell peppers (that's just gross).  Nice to meet you.".

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I am NOT 100% vegan or vegetarian but I strive to make these types of food choices MOST of the time.  I find when meeting people (and only when the food issue comes do you want to grab a burger with me??) the easiest thing for me to say is that I am a vegetarian (even though I've been known to eat a piece of fish or a few shrimp).  My other option would be to go into a lengthy diatribe of all the things I will or won't eat, which would take so long that surely one of us would starve to death.  So, for simplicity's sake I claim to be a vegetarian who strives to eat vegan.

Here's the soon as you 'claim' this title, you open yourself up to complete criticism and not only from the 'meat-eaters' but also from the true-vegans.  Weird, I know.  I mean, I am completely used to getting 'picked on' by friends and family who still think it's funny that I won't eat meat (ok, except the fish) or drink milk (truly gross) and will sometimes even try to engage me into a debate about it all.  I really try not to push my own beliefs onto people but if they ask, I'll get into it.  I don't claim to be an expert at all thing vegetarian/vegan or animal rights.  I just do what I do...and it works for me.

Except when...I get lambasted by a true (yet very judgmental) type of vegan who can only point out the things I'm doing wrong instead of the things I'm doing right.  Yes, I sometimes have energy gels when I'm running that contain honey (but NEVER gelatin) and I still own a pair of leather shoes that I've had for years and years.  But I also helped gather signatures to end the crating of veal calves, volunteered to rehabilitate injured wild animals, participated in numerous petitions for animal rights and better nutrition in schools, I've written my congressmen, senators, and others in key positions on the issues that mean a lot to me, rescued a horse from the charro rodeo, etc.

I'm not trying to pat myself on the back and I'm sure there are people who have done way more than I have in helping society.  I am simply thinking that it's high time we stop worrying about the labels and dissecting people because of them.

Some other comments I've seen or heard in the blog/twitter/real world recently that apply to what I'm trying to get to here:

1- You call yourself a weight-loss blogger yet you're not losing weight?  Why are you wasting your time with this then?

2- You say you're a runner but you do walk intervals??  So, you're not really a runner then...

3- You walked part of that marathon???  In other words you haven't run a marathon.

4- You hardly have (or have no) followers on your blog so how can you call yourself a blogger?

5- You can't claim to be a vegan and consume anything with non-vegan sugar (apparently sugar companies use bone to make the sugar fine).  {So, it's not enough even if I don't eat meat, eggs, dairy, honey...don't wear leather, fur or suede, my lotion doesn't have lanolin and my vitamins don't contain gelatin but shit...I just had a teaspoon of sugar in my coffee...I might as well just give it all up and slaughter a baby cow...veal for everyone!!}

As I write this I realize I am so guilty of this...always striving but never quite accomplishing.  Because then what??  While training for the San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon I was in the zone, now, having completed it, I am suffering the goal-setter's let down.  What I've come to realize is that there really is no finish line to self-discovery.  This is all one big journey and there will never be enough words to describe any of us fully.

Funny, but true.
While I understand we still need to use words to help define ourselves to others, I feel that it may be helpful to lighten up a little when it comes to expecting people to fit neatly into the boxes we create.  And maybe we need to ease up on using some labels we use to explain who we are since we are obviously so much more than any words could say and can often open ourselves up to negative self-talk (especially when bombarded with remarks like the ones above).

Note:  I do not mean to be critical of any person or group of people.  I have many vegan/vegetarian friends and acquaintances who are very supportive and helpful.  I am just venting on an experience I've had with a small handful of people who happened to be Vegan and were very passionate about their beliefs.


  1. Wow, I think this is a really well written post.... now why am I the first person commenting on it?! I think you make a lot of really good points, a lot that I hadn't thought that hard about before:

    1) When someone says they're vegan/vegetarian I definitely think, "Okay, they don't eat meat". But I think you're right in that someone doesn't have to be perfect 100% of the time. Now I'm not a vegetarian, and I'm sure someone would criticize me for saying it, but I think you're right that someone can occasionally have meat or fish or whatever and still say that they support the vegetarian cause, animal rights, etc.

    2) Anyone that thinks that if you walk in a marathon you're not a runner has either never run a marathon, or even a half marathon, OR they're blessed with so much stinking talent that you wish they'd just go break a leg already.

    3) The thing about the weight-loss bloggers is just silly! If someone lost a lot of weight at some point and they chose to write about it, awesome! So what happens when they finish losing weight? Do they suddenly need to become something else? That makes no sense! Of course they can still keep writing about a health lifestyle, making the right choices, etc. and helping other people reach their goals!

    I think our society likes to use labels because it's convenient, and in our minds it makes us think that we understand someone or their decisions without actually learning more about them. I call myself a runner. I've run every single day for the past 35 days, without stopping. Does that mean I think someone who doesn't run every day, or even every week, or maybe runs slower than me isn't a runner? Heck no!

    Once again, wonderful post Lynn!

  2. I've been trying to sit down for 2 days to read this post. It truly did not disappoint. All of your posts are very thoght-provoking and this one especially, can be used in many scenarios. It all comes down to the fact that 'some' people treat experiences they have like that of some religion. If you aren't doing it 'their way' then you won't be one of the lucky ones to make it into the promised land. I run into this on occasion regarding why I don't have children.
    We do the best that we can do - we are accountable for ourselves, not the person who is a 'true' vegan, nor the couple who has 6 children and wonders what's wrong with my womb.
    Being different isn't easy and we don't owe anyone any explanation for how we live our livs. Ugh! Makes me want to come over there and defend you (even though I'm sure you do that very well all by yourself!) lol
    Great post as usual, Lynn. Love the cartoons - they're spot on!


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