So the subject of vegetarianism has come up in the comments, in response to the crazy idea of a vampire facing the dilemma of wanting to be vegetarian as seen in this week’s 4 part poem in MythTickle. I always thought this was a funny idea- well, maybe not always, really just since I became vegetarian myself about 3 and a half years ago. I’m usually kind of cautious about talking about it because this is usually what happens; Instant resentment. For some reason people get really pissed when you say that you’re vegetarian. Maybe they think I’m preaching. I don’t preach about it and I don’t try to convert anyone. What the hell do I care if people eat meat? I’m pro-choice. I’ve merely made a choice that is right for me.
Now, I’m about to write why I made this choice. If you think that an explanation is “preaching” then read no further. I’m not trying to convert you, I’m just explaining. I’ll preach at the very end and I’ll warn you again when it’s coming, OK? Great.
It came on gradually for me. I grew up on a horse ranch kind of place in the Arizona desert and we had chickens, ducks, a goat, a dog, cats, horses, all kinds of stuff running around. The neighbor lady used to butcher chickens right in front of me when I was little and I always felt a little bad about that. I loved chicken but was always aware of what part of the living creature I was eating. I’d kind of mentally piece together that part of flesh with the image of the chicken running and flailing about helpless in the orchard, squirting blood all over me, my dog, and he ground. Talking about eating the fruit of knowledge! This piecing-together began to occur with beef eventually and in high school I began getting really freaked at eating chicken on a bone. I was getting increasingly disturbed to be rending animal muscle from bones and I just couldn’t do it any more. Meat had to be completely removed from its natural setting before I could eat it. Hamburgers, chicken fillets, even boneless steak were fine and I ate one of those every day from then on. No problem.
That is to say ‘no problem’ until about 5 years ago when it started to become more and more difficult to do that ‘creative disassociation’ of meat and flesh. I began to start finding disturbing things in the hamburgers and chicken filets I was eating, like weird yellowy heart ventricles and bone chips that kept finding their way in between my teeth. One day while eating a taco from Jack-In-The-Box, I bit down on a little screw! I guess it came off of the fryer or something, who knows. Maybe it came from the factory, but that was it for Jack-In-The-Box. I quit my favorite fast-food restaurant cold turkey. (That was amazingly hard because I really grew up on that place. It was always my favorite fast food joint and when I was living back in New York, I knew exactly where the closest Jack-In-The-Box was so that when I drove home to Arizona each year I’d drive right to it in one marathon day of driving. It was in East St. Louis by the way.)
I was starting to get really shkeeved by meat in general, and when I discovered my corn allergy (as droned-on about in an earlier blog entry) I started reading how cows and chickens are fed corn in massive amounts now. All that meat is now laden with corn. I began thinking, ‘NOW what do, I do I can’t give up meat. I grew up in “cowboy-ville”, how could I possibly survive not eating anything with corn in it AND meat?’ I was really wondering what to do.
Then one day outside the Charles Schulz museum I had a great conversation with Dan Piraro, the genius who does the comic Bizarro. He had come by for a visit and we sat down and talked about my ‘issues’ for a good long while and he put my mind at ease. Dan is a die-hard vegan and activist, and while I couldn’t see the practicality of going full vegan at this time, I decided to quit being a wuss, suck it up, and take charge and do what I felt was right for myself. Since that day I haven’t eaten any meat or anything with meat protein in it- at least not on purpose. Sometimes a little meat grease will get on something and I get sick as a dog for about half a day. That’s just something you have to deal with sometimes. Ya’ try to be as careful as you can to avid that. I don’t make my wife go vegetarian, she’s happy to help me with it and makes whatever I want. My kids are not vegetarian, they eat meat every night at the table and it doesn’t bother me at all. As I said, I’m pro-choice like that.
I must point out here that technically I am not full vegetarian, but a pescetarian since I eat fish. I have to. I know, I know, there’s mercury in that. But I have to eat fish and seafood occasionally because I go to Japan every year for business (I’m going again next week in fact) and if I don’t eat fish there,… I don’t eat. I have to maintain. I know this is probably just more ‘creative disassociation’, but I have no moral nausea at eating fish because I just don’t feel like they are that close to me as a creature on the Earth. At least not close enough to feel grossed-out about eating an air-breathing brother like dolphin, canary, or cow.
So finally, here’s the tiny bit of preaching. You’ve been warned. Don’t say vegetarians are a-holes who want to tell me stuff I don’t want to hear because I told you this was coming.
It is better for the Earth and everyone who lives here if you eat a salad in a Hum-vee, than a cheeseburger in a Prius. What? Why? What does one thing have to do with another? Emissions. Meat farms and stockyards inject much more methane gas into the atmosphere than chloroflourocarbons do.
They don’t tell you that, do they? Meat is a huge industry, much bigger than the auto industry and probably as big or bigger than the oil industry.
Think about that at the drive-thru.
So that’s why.