A few killjoy items about eating came across my radar today. First, there was a feature in the Times‘s Dining section (which was altogether extremely dull) about how couples often come apart over food issues–generally when one is a meat eater and the other isn’t. I was a strict vegetarian (but never a vegan–I love cheese and eggs too much) for about six years, but I was never uptight about it in the sense of giving other people a hard time. To be honest, the main reason for my meatless existence was poverty–a grocery budget of $20 per week, as mine was for most of that time, forces you to make certain sacrifices. Steak was out, lentils were in. Cheese was my splurge food. But I always felt bad telling people that I didn’t eat meat because they immediately became defensive, expecting that I would scold them for their more varied diets. Now I’m one of those defensive (or at least antagonistic) people–I immediately tense up around vegans, even though I often cook meals that are entirely plant-based. Even my signature chocolate cake is vegan, but I still want to tear into a hunk of raw veal every time someone sanctimoniously declares they won’t even consume honey (think of the enslavement of those poor little bees! who advocates for the beeeees?).

Then this evening, as I attended a new (to me) knitting group at a local bookstore, a fellow knitter was telling me about how she’s trying to break into food writing and was frustrated about an assignment she had had from a food editor who wanted a feature about New Year’s resolution diets. This girl wanted to write about the fun of eating, and she was being told to preach deprivation–in the dining section of a newspaper! She tried to sneak in a bit about indulging in chocolate pig-outs, to no avail. Apparently her story was edited down to a ghost of itself. Too bad; food guilt is such a waste of energy.