One of my favorite restaurants in Brooklyn is Red Bamboo. It’s in Fort Greene, about five miles from our neighborhood as the crow flies-which is irrelevant to getting anywhere in Brooklyn unless you’re a crow.

It’s completely vegetarian (the restaurant, not the crow).

I’m a vegetarian-technically, an ovo-lacto vegetarian: I don’t eat meat or fish, but I don’t sneak into barns to set cows free from grasping nipple-kneaders.

I did not grow up vegetarian. Turning away steak in the 50s and 60s was considered a mortal sin in Indiana, even for non-Catholics. Still is, in some towns.

When I used to go back there in the days when my mother still lived at home, she began every visit with, “You still don’t eat meat?”

“I still don’t,” I’d say.

She’d say, “Well, I’ve got some green beans in the freezer. Help yourself.”

She was serious.

To be fair, I’ve only been veg for twenty years. One day I realized that my love for animals seemed at odds with my desire to eat them. By then, luckily, there were cookbooks and magazines dedicated to vegetarianism, and that law about always eating beans with rice had been repealed.

Progress continues to be made. Even some Indiana restaurants now offer pasta primavera. Which, in Indiana, can be pretty scary.

I wasn’t a vegetarian when we served in the Peace Corps, thank the gods. In Venezuela, in the 70s, I would’ve had only arepas with yellow or white cheese to eat. My veins would’ve gelled to a halt.

Here in Flatbush, nearly every hole-in-the-wall serves veggies. I can eat just about anywhere but the jerk chicken joints and that Dominican place where they simmer pork in their beans and serve meat, meat, meat. Pakistanis serve good vegetarian fare. So do Israelis, Afghanis, Greeks; even our neighborhood Mexican places. Some restaurants, like Red Bamboo, baffle me with choices from a full vegetarian menu.

Traveling beyond Brooklyn can still be problematic.

My husband and I traveled to Viet Nam in 1999 with a bicycle tour. I can’t speak Vietnamese, and had to rely on our interpreters, who couldn’t comprehend why I wouldn’t eat meat.

Finally, one beamed. “Ah. You Buddhist, right?”

Well…if it means vegetables, I’m Buddhist.

So every time we stepped into a restaurant, the interpreter proudly explained that my eggrolls should be vegetable because I was Buddhist.

Most restaurants, even in countries where vegetarians are considered weird, will work with me. They will take the soup back and assiduously remove the beef. They’ll serve me veggies over dumplings made with animal fat. “Is vegetarian,” they’ll insist, “No meat.” And, hey, I’ll eat it; I respect their confusion and appreciate their efforts. My vegetarianism is a kind of pacifism; it’s a bit incongruous to spark a war over it.

There is one place, however, where my eating preferences unwittingly draw their own nasty little line in the sand. That’s Russia.

Last summer, Paul and I took a river boat tour from Moscow to St. Petersburg. Ours was a utilitarian craft, not luxurious but decent enough. But the food on board was awful, even for carnivores. Whenever we could, Paul and I ate ashore.

I can usually make up for language deficits by smiling and miming a lot. In Russia, this isn’t enough. In Russia, speaking English is a terrorist activity.

Who can blame the Russians? In Soviet times, the Good Russian’s duty was to harass foreigners. Now, those same citizens are supposed to embrace us. I’d be confused, too.

So I had to labor for my blinis. And sometimes, patience, diligence and good humor didn’t work.

Take that day we trooped through the Hermitage, then repaired with our fellow boaters for lunch to an assigned Tourist Restaurant in St. Petersburg.

It was a house remodeled with schlocky opulence, staffed by waiters in Royal Guard costumes. One brought me a chunk of chicken with a side of rice.

I told him I didn’t eat meat. He glared at me. I motioned our interpreter over, and asked, quite civilly, if they could maybe find me a salad.

She interpreted. The waiter sniffed and grabbed the plate away.

Ten minutes later, he brought it back, and banged it in down front of me. “Is all we have,” he huffed.

I ate the rice.

The cold, smirking rice.