A reader contacted me not long ago to rehash an old argument that will likely be rekindled this fall. A vegetarian, this reader was offended that Roy Brown, when confronted in 2008 with a rumor that he was vegetarian, angrily denounced and denied it. You see, this reader was offended that Roy was offended, that Roy would become so irate at the mere suggestion that he, Roy, a Republican, could stoop to such a foul level of humanity as to eat no meat. This made the reader feel bad, feel almost persecuted, by Vegephobia, as if a hate crime had been perpetrated.
Incidentally, for those of you that haven’t heard, Montana Tofu-gate was even profiled in the New Yorker, in a good tongue and cheek piece about Brown, Schweitzer, Republicans and the beef vote. Although I doubt Roy is a reader of the New Yorker—now that would be a scandal.
At any rate, the thing his reader wanted to emphasize was the two-faced nastiness of Roy in responding to the vegetarian allegation. After denouncing the blasphemy, he then admitted that he “didn’t eat meat products” for a year. That’s at a minimum, because, remember, Pat Etchart, a Billings pillar of the community, swore on her Bible that she a) has an iron memory for things people tell her, and b) that Roy and his wife both told her directly that they are vegetarian.
So in other words, Roy made fun of something, then admitted he was one, a la Larry Craig and Ted Haggart.
In addition, I don’t know whether Roy is still a vegetarian, but I do know that the question is far more complicated than whether he is or isn’t. We’ve been looking at this whole thing in far too simplistic a way. There are as many as six things he could be. Let’s examine some of them.
Roy could be a true vegetarian, meaning no animals, but eggs and milk are ok. Since he is anti-death penalty, this would be logical. He could be a vegan, meaning no animal products at all (For that matter, Roy could also be a freegan, meaning he survives by living on reused items that people throw away, living out of dumpsters and the like. But he has a nice house, so probably not.) He could be a pescetarian, meaning fish but no other animal products (and we know Roy fishes, even if he holds them upside down when he poses for his campaign-lit photo). He could be a fruitarian, meaning only fruit, nothing else. He could be a raw foodist, meaning nothing cooked (very little sushi in Billings so this would be tough.) Or finally, he could be a paleotarian, meaning only a caveman’s diet. This actually includes meat so it doesn’t fit. And while Roy does vote like a caveman, I can’t really see him foraging or hunting.
At any rate, regardless of which one of these he is (or was), he shouldn’t act as if there is something wrong with it. He should embrace it and be proud of it. Heck, had he been more open about it, he might have stolen some votes from Schweitzer in Missoula when he ran for Governor.