“Doctor, I’m here because I’m a … I’m a …”

“Relax. Many people have psychological conflicts. Lay back on the couch and tell me about it.”
“OK. It’s just that I don’t know if it’s normal or something I should worry about. I’m a … vegan.”

“I see. It’s not an uncommon condition among the upwardly mobile. Something like 3 percent are afflicted at one time or another. The scientific name is dysfunctional alimentary obsessive behavior or, in layman’s terms, carniphobia.”

“When did you first notice you were eating less meat?”

“In college, I think. Most of the girls in the sorority house were concerned about their weight. And no wonder. What with the long hours, bad romances and poor eating habits. Red meat was designated the cause, so we ate lots of chicken salad and chips and pasta.”


“Are you still conscious of your weight?”
“Oh, yes. I’m always counting calories. I keep three sizes of clothes in my closet.”

“What sort of carniphobic would you consider yourself?”

“A recovering one. I still dream about spareribs and hot dogs, tri-tips and shredded beef tacos. Meat must be addictive. I sit there at the table in a fancy restaurant. My friends are eating fried chicken wings or pork fried rice or shrimp cocktail … I’m nibbling on crunchy broccoli and taking little bites of fruit compote.”

“Does it make you feel good?”
“Well, I admit that I feel a certain smugness.”

“Because I’m suffering. And they’re having the time of their life.”

“Like a martyr, maybe. What’s on your mind watching them eat?”
“Mostly that I can’t wait to get home and dig into the box of candy by my bed.”
“Do you feel better knowing no animals were killed for your meal?”

“Some, I guess. But that’s not something I lose sleep over. It all comes from the grocery store.”
“Did you have some childhood trauma that may have influenced you?”

“Not really. I ran over a cat once.”
“Cats eat meat.”
“Cows don’t.”

“Do you feel a special relationship with cows? As a fellow carniphobic, I mean?”

“No. I don’t think about cows much.”
“So you don’t eat meat, even though you apparently like it, because of your concern about your weight. Is that a fair conclusion?”

“I guess so. And the self-esteem I gain from the sacrifice.”

“Time’s about up. But my prognosis would be that your carniphobia could be fairly easily cured if you wished. However, moderation should be practiced in all eating habits. Any more questions?”

“Yes. Is tofu really good for you?”

“I would say it ranks with pickled pigs’ feet.” end mark