I loved meat. I especially loved meats stuffed or topped with other meats. Chili cheese dogs, chicken embryos scrambled and folded over chickens, crab stuffed cows, I would have eaten ostrich stuffed manatee if it were offered to me; however, what I now believe will take me to the end of my life with no such dish. I believe that not only is almost anyone capable of becoming a vegetarian, but that it is a moral thing to do so.
My carnivorous behavior was called into question when I started dating the woman who would be my wife. She gently guided me towards meat alternatives and passively asked me to question why it is okay to eat animals. Meat, as with all other foods has certain qualities such as flavor, aroma, texture, cost, convenience, and nutritional value, amongst others. I could logically say that if I have two things that were in all ways steak, except one of them was not made from cow, I would have to choose the non-meat steak, providing my desire in eating the steak was not to kill the cow that provided it. This being true for me, a food being non-meat should be considered a positive quality food can have. After weighing all qualities, I could pick a dish that reflected how I felt about a restaurants vegetarian options compared to the less animal friendly options. For example I like Chicken Alfredo, but Fettuccini Alfredo minus the chicken is nearly as good in flavor, usually costs a little less, and is friendlier to chickens… an easy sell. I still got a meal I enjoyed and it didn’t produce that extra demand for the bird.
This philosophy was comfortable for a while, but as time marched on I started to acquire more of a taste for non-meat things, and arguments I had maintained to continue eating some meat, concerning human’s superiority to animals and the consumption of animals being natural, were starting to wear a little thin. It’s hard to discuss maintaining the right to eat something because you’re smarter than it, while trying to avoid uncomfortable conversations that the sentiment might elicit, like how great is the difference really between the smartest animals and the dumbest people. It‘s even more difficult to argue there being anything resembling nature with the way we grow and harvest our prey. Environmental impacts of the things I eat only further swayed my eating habits.
The final strike to my consumption of animals occurred during a particularly horrible day of work in the middle of which a gigantic mosquito flew directly in my ear. In panic I swatted at it as hard as I could sending it to the ground. The mosquito was dazed but trying to regain flight and I was still mad as hell. I reached down, grabbed it by it’s wings and held it two inches from my face. the mosquito froze and I started to feel both horribly guilty and a little silly. There it was… this tiny stupid thing was absolutely terrified. It’s wing was torn. A couple of it’s legs had broken off. I don’t know enough about mosquitoes to determine whether or not it was in pain but I suspect there were other places it would rather be. I dropped it to the floor and stepped on it. I felt sick to my stomach the rest of the night thinking “how many things more intelligent than a mosquito have had that moment of terror right before death because of me. Not because I was hungry, but because I wanted something to taste just right… to excite my pallet… when something else might have been just as good.” The answer is a lot. Many things have been bred, tortured and then destroyed because of the demand I helped create. One could argue that I am assigning to beings emotions that may not exist. I’d argue that the ability to assign those emotions or empathize is, if not completely unique to humans, unique to things that aren’t part of our balanced breakfast
You might ask with all my self-righteousness, why am I not vegan. Well you see… I’m also a hypocrite. Something else Uniquely Human.
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