The Vegetarian Within Me

One of the outcomes of Shakira’s death is that I have not been able to eat meat in the last 3 weeks.  The very thought of biting into animal flesh is pretty much repulsive to me.  I realize this is an emotional, psychological response to a stressful event, but it also reflects a decision toward which I have been moving for several years, including several flawed forays into the world of vegetarianism.

I have decided to give up animal flesh as a part of my diet.  I can see the eyes rolling, now, and that is okay.  This is a personal decision that I’ve made for myself – not for anyone else.  I have come to the conclusion that I am no longer comfortable with killing flesh and blood animals to acquire my sustenance.  I don’t expect anyone else to follow suit – that is up to each individual and their own comfort zone.

Part of this comes as a result of several years of studying Buddhism, but mostly it comes as a result of my deep and abiding love of animals.  The most humane way of killing an animal for food still results in pain and death for a living creature.  Buddha said, “Even the least of animals fears death.”  I no longer want to contribute to that fear, that pain, or that death.

I know one person who contends the argument about not killing animals for food breaks down when brought to its logical conclusion because it is necessary to kill plants to create food, thus ending the life of a living entity.  Fruitarians aside, that is true.  However, I’ve yet to find a cabbage plant that nuzzles me affectionately, returns my affection, or expresses affection to other cabbage plants – let alone other plants of a different type.  Animals do (rats are among the most affectionate pets I’ve ever had), and risking the accusations of anthropromorphizing, animals express a cognizance that can’t be found in the plant world. 

Certainly, the line is arbitrary.  But, each of us has a comfort point for that line.  Most of us in Amercia wouldn’t kill our cats or dogs so we can have something tasty on the table when guests come over on Saturday night, but dog is a delicacy in parts of the world.  I have decided to extend that arbitrary line further and include all animals in my prohibition.

I am not a vegan.  I like cheese, eggs, ice cream and honey a bit too much.  I will continue to wear the leather products I own.   I can’t go back and save the life of the associated animal by tossing out my hiking boots and belts.  However, I probably will consider their replacements a bit more assiduously when the time comes.  No one needs to worry about me trying to convert them to being a vegetarian; as I’ve indicated previously, it’s an individual decision.  Besides, I don’t much like evangelists of any stripe.  However, while I will be as polite as possible, I will have to turn down fleshy fare offered to me, and I will abstain from preparing such fare, too.

Yes, the time may come when I decide that I am once again comfortable with eating or cooking flesh or I am forced by circumstances to stave off starvation by eating flesh.  However, today, at this moment, I can’t do it, and I don’t need to do so.  I think this time something pretty significant will have to occur to cause a change of my mind. 


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