I’m a strict vegetarian … except for meat.

I’m a strict vegetarian … except for meat.

Do you break your own rules? When is that OK? Or is it?

I suppose if you ask an drug addict when it’s OK to just have “a little bit” of meth, you might get something of a biased answer depending on if he’s using at the time or not. But when is it OK for you to break the rules you set for yourself? It depends on when and why you set them.

If you’re always breaking your rules, the diehard (stickler/math teacher/conservative/father, etc.) is going to ask why you have rules at all. If you ask the policeman why he gave you a ticket for going through the stop sign while you were only on your bike, he might ask back where do the boundaries of the law sit? Is there a strict boundary? What if you go over? What if you’re your own policeman? Then what? Just a warning this time and next time it’ll be for real? What about the next next time? Does it start over again? Who makes the rules? Who do the rules truly benefit? Was there a 312-page study on the subject? At least a discussion? Maybe a thought process?

Rules are Meant to be Broken

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean the law–not the kinds of things that can get you in jail. But perhaps on a less rigid scale: if the path is from A to B, break the rules and go to C. You might know this, but I’m a total goodie-goodie: I really won’t break the law unless I have to. Maybe that high school incident when I was read my rights steered me clear from any jail time … ever. Tone it down. Take travel writing: they don’t write about how it all went to plan. They write about the mishaps, the disasters, the drama, what happens when things didn’t go according to plan. Breaking the rules and not doing what the plan is–the happy medium is somewhere in there.

[box type=”alert”]Warning: food porn ahead! With a little math … [/box]

We’re in Spain. I’m a foodie. I’m something of a purist. I’m also terribly nostalgic. A beautiful taste is one that’s not smothered in others. So many foods are buried alive in sauces, creams, and spices. If you take just a thin slice of only that one ingredient, let’s do the math: the surface area of the most thinly sliced food is increased exponentially as compared to a chunky block of the same food. When it reaches your tongue, every little crevice of taste hits each tiny pore of your taste buds and it’s a bit like those civil war films when 2,000 soldiers are about to clash with 2,000 other soldiers and they just go head on, full blast, basta. It’s eye-closing, sigh-inducing, head-rolling culinary ecstasy. And what was it?

[quote]A fresh baguette with a smidgen of butter and thinly sliced Iberia chorizo.[/quote]

It has just a tang of spice, just enough flavor to remind you what it is, where you are, and to stop you in your tracks and remind you the last time you had this particular flavor in this certain way

[Valencia, Spain with high school friend DECADES ago]. If the taste and the memory are strong enough, it’s time travel. It’s worth it. Thinly-sliced chorizo on a fresh baguette hands over my vegetarian membership card. The veggie board of directors might slowly shake their heads in disapproval, but I’m floating away in a taste they don’t know. I’m a rebel, I know.

So when is it worth it and when is it not? I’m convinced that you can convince yourself of pretty much anything because, well, you’re both parties in the debate. But also because you’re both parties in the debate, it’s up to you–and only you. Who’s at stake? You. Who’s going to get hurt? Who’s going to benefit? Who cares? You.

  • Possible: Do whatever you want.
  • Impossible: Enforce your rules like the best of tyrants.
  • Repossible: Make exceptions when they are … exceptional.
I'm a vegetarian ... except when I'm not. [Chorizo in Almeria, Spain]

I’m a vegetarian … except when I’m not. [Chorizo in Almeria, Spain]

What’s a rule I won’t break? Write every day. I’m a stickler, a diehard, a conservative, no excuses, I don’t care how, I’m going to make it happen. It’s important, it’s mine, it’s my rule to break–I don’t want to break it. It’s not worth breaking, there’s no benefit I see for now. That’s the difference.
By |2017-05-24T13:28:07+00:00June 19th, 2013|Perspective|3 Comments

About the Author:

Bradley Charbonneau was sitting with his 8-year old reading a bad children's book when he said to his son, "We can do better than this ... and you're going to help me." Then they did it. He hasn't stopped since.


  1. Write Every Day Challenge June 19, 2013 at 1:46 pm - Reply

    […] I’m a strict vegetarian … except for meat. (Jun 19) […]

  2. Linda Esposito (@TalkTherapyBiz) June 28, 2013 at 9:48 am - Reply

    Interesting opening, Bradley. I’ve literally been sitting on my ass for the past five days watching every season of “Breaking Bad.” So yeah, the meth analogy was powerful. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the series, but it begs interesting interpretations of moral boundaries when live-or-death decisions must be made.

    I like your summary–in the end if you break your rule, then you’re the judge and you’re the jury. The beauty of boundaries is they’re permeable when they need to be…Yes there’s limits. Like the law–but usually boundaries we set aren’t below the law.

    Ah–the food of España–to die for. I’m not a strict vegetarian, but it can be a hard line to tow. I don’t eat beef or pork, so why is it okay to kill and consume chickens and turkey?

    To this day the best meal of my life was a seafood paella with Spanish white, a baguette (with copious amounts of butter), and a salad of avocado, olive oil, onion and tomato.

    I enjoyed savoring your words today. Thank you.

    • Bradley Charbonneau July 3, 2013 at 3:26 am - Reply

      I haven’t gotten into Breaking Bad, but we’re here in Holland now and even here people talk about it, so I look forward to getting into it when we return. Especially now that you talk about the actual content of the series, I want to see it even more–thanks for the summary!

      The law (police), rules (authority), etc., it doesn’t really matter. We’re our only judges at the end of the day. Well, I suppose criminals wouldn’t agree, but I think maybe I’m not writing for criminals … or maybe I am?

      Oh wow, it’s early morning here and your description of your best meal of your life is … killing me. Although anything that mentions ” … a baguette (with copious amounts of butter)” is pretty much deadly for me. I also like the exercise of, “What was the best meal of your life?” Would be fun to hear what people have to say and how they remember it, why, where it was, when, how long ago.

      On that note, we’re going to see friends we see every year and every single time we get Indonesian around the corner. It’s become a fantastic tradition that I’m not going to break today.

      Thanks so much for stopping by.

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