Why do vegetarians love bacon?

April 28, 2012 by

An essential ingredient in vegetarianism is… bacon??

I just have to make a comment about this ‘phenomenon’ that I keep encountering…

I’ve been doing a lot of research into vegetarianism, veganism and non-meat eating in general in preparation for Meatless May. I keep coming across the same thought echoed throughout some of the discussions – “I’m a vegetarian, but the smell of bacon still gets to me!” My coworkers have said it, I’ve read articles mentioning it, and even a Google search revealed that I am not the only one who ponders the question…

Why do vegetarians love the smell of bacon so much?

I find this so interesting because bacon is actually one of the meats I would find extremely easy to give up. I’ve been following a low-salt diet, and bacon is just too full of it for me to eat. I also find that nothing makes me want to throw up more than the smell of bacon and eggs, especially as they start to get cold, or the smell of the remnants of breakfast on someone’s plate.

Fortunately for us, the phenomenon is so widespread that someone has actually done a little bit of research into it, and touts bacon as the gateway meat for vegetarians. Apparently it has to do with primal urges for calories (mmm, bacon will definitely help you store fat for the winter!) as well as the social experience we have with lazy weekend breakfast rituals. Many vegetarians have said that if they were to resume eating meat, they would start with bacon, or bacon would be the meat that tips them over the meat-eating edge.

One thing I’ve always disliked about vegetarianism is that it so completely ties you to a value set that you may find difficult to uphold, or not even be certain about why you’re trying to uphold it, but once you’ve labelled yourself, it’s hard to escape. Some people are very certain in their belief system, and that’s wonderful, and I applaud those people – after all, there’s nothing wrong with having morals and values. When people decide (especially for environmental or health reasons, not so much ethical) to “go vegetarian”, it shouldn’t be about recruiting you into a kind of cult-like group where you are banned from eating certain foods, and feel morally corrupt if you have a piece of roast beef at Christmas.

If you don’t want to eat meat, why not just say “I don’t eat meat”, like I say “I don’t eat seafood, mushrooms, lentils, pumpkin, coriander, mushrooms, beans, tofu, pulses, artichokes, duck, rhubarb, sushi…..”?? I have met a few vegetarians who say “Oh I’m a vegetarian, but I eat fish”, or “but I eat chicken”. Why call yourself anything at all? I don’t eat a lot of things for health reasons, but that doesn’t mean I have to identify myself as being part of a group. I’m not saying that if you are 100% fully committed to the cause you shouldn’t do so, but if you’re only on the edge, you don’t need to be a card-carrying vego.

That way, if you find yourself craving a greasy bit of bacon, you can eat it without feeling like you’ve broken a vow of silence, and noone makes a big deal out of it by yelling “OH MY GOD YOU’RE EATING MEAT!!!!!”. I firmly believe there’s an inbetween point we can reach that doesn’t require a label, where individuals can simply choose not to eat meat but don’t have to align themselves with a movement.

I really enjoyed this post that provides tips for how to transition to a vegetarian diet, but also notes that if you slip up and eat meat, it’s no big deal. The importance is on the long term effects, rather than whether or not you’re religious about your diet.

Are you a vegetarian who loves bacon? If so, you can buy yourself a nice t-shirt and tell the world.


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