Wednesday, October 7, 2009


People ask me, now and then, why I turned to vegetarianism (next month it will be eighteen years), and it’s not always asked in an entirely friendly way. There’s an edge, at times, to the question; some people regard vegetarians as being somehow alien. I usually mention, when asked, that my decision did not have to do with health concerns, but that it was because of the animal issue.

I think my favorite response to questions about vegetarianism came from the Nobel Prize-winning writer Isaac Bashevis Singer. I have read different versions of the story. One of the versions, roughly, is this: Singer was at a dinner, and was asked if he had declined to eat the chicken which was being served “for health reasons.” Yes, he said—for the health of the chicken.