DEAR MERCURY—As a Montana native who relocated to Portland about four years ago, I'd like to respond to Katharine Merow's idea for encouraging a vegan lifestyle in my home state ["Vegan Spread," Letters, July 3]. Two-thirds of Montana's total land area (around 70 percent) is utilized in farm and ranch operations. Cattle are extremely important to the economy as a cash crop, as are sheep and hogs. It's not exactly prime vegan activist territory. Being a vegetarian in Montana involves taking a lot of shit from people (especially ranchers) who feel genuinely offended by your decision not to consume meat—they don't see it as a step forward to a "cruelty-free food future"; they see it as you crippling their ability to provide for their families. So yes, most restaurant menus have few options for vegetarians, let alone vegan cuisine—you'll be offered a lot of iceberg lettuce wedges and very little understanding. And as the former manager of Montana's only vegetarian/vegan restaurant, I can tell you why—there aren't enough people there practicing vegetarianism/veganism to support businesses (especially restaurants) that cater to it.

The bottom line is this:  Montana is famous for its beautiful views, ridiculously huge skies, outdoor sports adventures, and Midwestern mentality, not its environmental activists and vegan cuisine. Don't get me wrong—I love Montana for providing me with a picturesque, sheltered place to grow up, and I don't think of it as a brutal, environment-be-damned, antiquated state—but I do know when to pick my battles. Animals and animal products are an essential part of the survival of Montana's economy, and loyalty to this existence runs deep. Those of us that find Montana's abundant offerings inadequate move to places like the Pacific Northwest, and to my knowledge we don't come bearing plates of steaks, so please, put down the tofu and do a little research. For those vegans who do plan to brave the state, I suggest Missoula, which has the state's greatest available variety of vegetarian and vegan food. For the rest, I suggest somewhere with a more extensive menu, and for Katharine, I offer this advice: Don't visit Montana—we're not all ignorant meat mongers, and the "few staunch omnivores" of whom you speak won't give a shit about what you have to say. 

Steaking My Territory


Have you been to lately? It's all brand new, with tons of extra features—one of which is that you can now comment on every story we've ever published... ever! Be sure to log on and join in the fun! Below is a sampling of some of the most recent (grammatically questionable) comments:


I'm so tired of this anti-Washingtonian attitude ["We Don't Want It," News, July 3]. "Why don't they stay in their own state?" For the love of god, I wish I could. Every goddamn day I wish I could stay in my state and enjoy an income tax-free life. It's not bad enough you filthy Ore-gonians steal 8 percent of my income for your retarded, crumbling understructure. Now, you are also suggesting that I pay a toll? Fine—whatever. Here is the dirty little secret—once they start tolling bridges it's not going to stop. As people drive less, they still need that money. They will find the money—from your income, make no doubt about it.

Posted by super-sweet


You've never lapped up your own jizm ["Virtual Infidelity," Savage Love, July 3]? Jeez, I guess I must be a freak. Mine is what I use as the standard of that of others. It's worked so far.

Posted by weldred


I think you're being too kind here, Erik ["A Real Violence," Film, July 3]. The movie [Hunter S. Thompson biopic Gonzo] does a lot of things right, but it spends way too much time talking about the '60s when it should be talking about Thompson. A good half of the movie is either '60s stock footage, or bits ripped from other preexisting pieces. The whole thing really felt kind of lazy and self-serving to me.

Posted by Kyle

AND... THE LETTER OF THE WEEK prize goes to Steaking My Territory for writing an actual letter with a fully articulated idea and context. A lost art? Perhaps. Steaking gets two tickets to the Laurelhurst Theater and lunch at No Fish! Go Fish!, where omnivores, carnivores, and herbivores are all served.