It is quite possible to imagine, though rare, a couple of folks who live in Eastern NC who do not eat pigs, cows, chickens, nor any other animal.
Having been vegetarian now for almost 7 years, we have had our fair share of conversations with people who cannot fathom the thought of not eating animals, but never has it been more of an issue since we moved to the eastern part of North Carolina. We aren’t shocked; the fact that eastern NC is “hog country”, the “BBQ hub” of the state, pigs out number the population of our entire state. As equal as the frustration of the lifestyle of not having a lot of options at events, functions, and many restaurants on this side of the state, is the sadness of seeing so many trucks on the daily, pass us with pigs going to slaughter.
Soon after moving here, I (Shannon) was driving slow up to a traffic light, only to have a truck pull up beside me with hundreds of baby pigs in it. I rolled down my window to tell them how sorry I was for what was to come. So many of them crowded to the side to look at me, as if they were listening to every word I said. It was one of the saddest things I have ever seen. I bawled like a baby on the way to work that day. I cursed those terrible pig “farms” aka, slaughterhouses, and the people who eat what comes of them.
When I tell people about that incident, they cringe, but then have no problem eating a pork sandwich for their next meal. I guess I was once like that, sad at the stories I would hear about the slaughter of animals, but then would put it out of my mind and eat some poor animal flesh, as if it wasn’t really an animal. I think the animal advocates who shove it down people’s throats though, are as annoying as someone who is shoving their religion on others. I think people have to come to their own conclusion as to what is right and wrong, but a little decency and understanding, and maybe some thoughtfulness would be nice sometimes.
Common things we deal with, here in eastern NC, being a vegetarian:
- Work or group functions with no non-meat options. The most common comment about this, “well, just eat the sides”, or “just eat around the ham hock”.
- At those same events, if there are veggie options, everyone eats them before you can get to them- even when meat options are available for them.
- Comments like, “what do you eat, then?” or “I bet you eat a lot of salads”. Note- there are a lot of foods that do not come from a living thing: veggies, beans, fruit, lentils, tofu, plant based alternative meats, such as Impossible and Beyond Burgers, Morningstar and Boca brands, etc.
- When a pepperoni pizza is ordered, and someone says, “just pick off the meat”. No, I don’t want animal flesh grease on my food.
- A pig on every sign, for almost every restaurant, on almost every corner.
- “How do you get your protein?” SMH!
There are so many more issues that we encounter here, that we do not experience in other parts of our state, or the US. At most restaurants, you can at least ask for their “vegetarian offering”, but in eastern NC, that is usually answered with, “we have chicken and turkey instead”. This is a state that supports animal abuse as a tradition for goodness sake, so we shouldn’t expect anything different I guess.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a ton of things I love about living down east in North Carolina: the slow pace, the ocean breeze, southern hospitality (that doesn’t give you shit when you turn down their hot dogs or patties of cow), the wildlife, the alive and beautiful wildlife that we should protect, the historical aspect of the outer banks, and the surrounding area, and probably the most important aspect, thankfully, there are no animals harmed in the making of NC wine and beer.