Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Title text: I won't eat invertebrates, because I can fight a skeleton, but I have no idea what kind of spooky warrior a squid leaves behind.
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There are various vegetarian diets which restrict certain foods for ethical concerns. A pescatarian diet omits most sources of meat, but still allows for fish. One rationale for this choice is that fish have a less complex nervous system, and thus experience a narrower range of suffering when farmed. An ovo-lacto vegetarian will not eat meat, but may consume animal byproducts such as milk, egg, cheese, and honey. A vegan diet excludes all animal products entirely. Some vegetarians choose to summarize their eating habits in one sentence, like eating "nothing that once had a heartbeat", "nothing that can have children", "nothing with eyes" or "nothing with a face" - this last example being the subject of the comic.
Randall presents two rules about what can be eaten, one in the caption below the frame comic and one in the title text. He also presents a list of allowed and forbidden foods but not all of the forbidden foods matches both rules.
Randall is willing to eat food disregarding if it once had a face or not. But his rule in the caption states that he will not eat any food if he needs to use Google to figure out whether it came from something who had a face or not. While it's clear, at least to Randall, that a cow has a face and an apple does not, some beings are harder to classify into one of these categories. For example, the squid has eyes and mouth, but it would be hard to tell whether that counts as a face. This would be a problem for the vegetarian standard rule of "nothing with a face" and thus openly mocks the vegetarian rule of "nothing with a face".
The three omissions are explained by the rule given in the title text. This rule is about not eating invertebrates. The first four items on the list are meat from four different animals of the type vertebrates and the last three items are from plants. These are all OK to eat. But the middle three items are three different animals of the type invertebrates. Randall does not eat these!
These animals do not have any skeleton. Randall is joking about how the animals he eats might come back to haunt him, and in the case of a cow or fish (or any other vertebrates - with skeletons), he imagines that they would come back as an animated skeletal structure. Any undead creature that returns as a skeleton he believes he will be able to fight. But since he has no idea how an undead squid or oyster (or any other invertebrate) would look, he feels unprepared to fight such a spooky creature and thus declines from eating them.
Randall has previously mentioned his dislike of certain foods (namely lobster) in 1268: Alternate Universe.
Items on the list
Here is a list with explanation for each item:
- Red meat, includes meat from most adult mammals, but many people will probably think of beefsteak from cattle.
- Pork, is meat from from pigs. As this is actually a type of red meat this supports that Randall was thinking of beef, when mentioning red meat above.
- Poultry are domesticated birds, most people will think of chicken.
- Fish covers a very large group of animals, most of them are not eaten on a regular basis, but a large group of fish are used as food.
- Shrimp is used to refer to ten-footed Crustacean and some of these are used for food. In the UK they often go under the name Prawns.
- Oysters refers to a family of mollusca within the class bivalvia (i.e. body enclosed in shells consisting of two hinged parts). Most people will probably think of the true oysters specifically the edible oyster. Note that Pearl oyster is not a true oyster.
- Squid are cephalopods (also of the mollusca family ) with eight arms arranged in pairs and two longer tentacles. They are related to cuttlefish and octopuses.
- Fruit is a part of a flowering plant. Common fruits are apples, oranges, bananas and pears. But in principle anything that comes from a flower is a fruit, including grains. Although in a culinary sense there is a distinction between vegetables and fruit, any part of a flower is actually a vegetable. See below and also see 388: Fuck Grapefruit.
- Vegetables are any kind of plant. But in everyday it refers to any part of a plant that is consumed by humans as food as part of a savoury meal. Thus excluding both fruit, nuts and cereal grains. For instance a tomato would be seen as a vegetable due to its taste and as a fruit botanically – see the Venn diagram here.
- Grains are small, hard, dry seeds. Usually when mentioning these people will think of breakfast cereal grains. Typical grains are corn, rice and wheat. As mentioned above grains are botanically a fruit.
- [There is a caption above a list of food with indication whether it is OK or not to eat. Below is another caption.]
- My food rule:
| Red meat
- I won't eat something if I have to Google to figure out whether or not it has a face.
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