All of a sudden, I flashed on a much different scene, involuntarily imagining we were inside a slaughterhouse, as in, we were being led to slaughter. And I remembered reading somewhere that “the animals know” what’s going on up ahead of them. I looked at my girlfriend and thought, “God, what if we were like this, side by side, and we knew?”
Then I was aware of my friend asking me if I was okay. And without going into the details of what I’d just envisioned, I said, “I don’t think I’ll ever eat meat again.” He responded with, “I give you two weeks.”
That was the early eighties and I haven’t eaten meat since. No big deal, there. But here’s an odd thing I do—I go overboard in trying not to use the word “vegetarian.” I tend to bend over backward in the effort to avoid evangelizing in any way whatsoever about vegetarianism. And I’ve noticed others doing the same thing. It’s almost like we’re apologetic to the meat eaters all around us.
So, let me just say, not in a pushy way, and totally aside from the whole love-of-animals aspect that totally makes some people want to gag, that vegetarianism is great for the planet. Why? Because the cost of eating an animal includes all the resources that ever went into that doomed creature – every bite of hay, each mouthful of grain, each drink of water. From his first teetering baby steps to his final breath in the abattoir, that animal required food to fuel each trot across the pasture (if he was lucky enough to be free range), every wing flutter, every yawn, each flick of the ear. And all those accumulated resources are invested in the meat an animal renders. No amount of personal recycling could possibly make up for the environmental drain that is a meat eater.
Practicing the V-word also improves health and probably increases longevity. But since we’re the ones polluting the air, poisoning the waters, raping the rainforests and killing off species right and left, I’m not so sure there’s all that much environmental advantage in extending our lifetimes. Everything’s a tradeoff.