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>It was rather surreal as I was seated across from an Indian programmer
>I had never met who turned out to be vegetarian
>(can you think of a more carnivourous meal than ribs).
>He was incredibly good about the whole event.
>Funny moment was when he graciously declined
>a meal explaining he was vegetarian,
>and the waitress replied "well we have fish"... :-)
Chiming in a little late in defence of the waitress, I would argue that the waitress probably thought my compatriot was a "fish-eating vegetarian". Oxymoronic as I thought that description certainly was, I nevertheless trolled Google for any hits just to be sure. Lo and behold I caught a few (681, to be precise) although most of them ridiculed the concept.
But among the interesting hits was a report filed back in 2004 by the London Correspondent of the Hindu, one of India's leading national newspapers.
The report titled "Labels that mislead vegetarians" quotes the British Liberal Democrat MP, Norman Baker, as calling himself a "fish-eating vegetarian."
The report concludes with this curious observation:
It is estimated that there are nearly four million vegetarians in Britain. The market for vegetarian food products is worth over £500 million. But manufacturers argue that there is no single definition of vegetarianism. Some vegetarians eat egg but not fish, and some eat fish but no egg - and so on.
So cut that waitress some slack; she's probably a lot more tuned into the culinary and semantic preferences/idiosyncrasies of her clientele than we're willing to give her credit for. She probably made that statement advisedly in hopes that the gracious Indian gentleman that she was waiting on was a "fish-eating vegetarian" who would run up the food bill and her tips.
Okay, I'm maybe cutting her way too much slack. :)
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