Whenever I was eating meat with a vegetarian at the table I’d get defensive and ask questions, like, “why did you give up meat?”, “how long has it been?”, “do you miss meat?”, “where do you get your protein from?”, and so on….
I never realized the subconscious at play, the idea that I was feeling guilty, or judged, or bad for eating the dead animal on my plate while another was choosing not to.
But now that I am the one getting these questions, I know why people ask; I know why people seem to feel uncomfortable around others who aren’t playing on their team of meatheads, pun intended.
I remember clear as day the moment I decided never to eat meat again. I had had a ton of meat that month, I was dating a new guy and we had been out to eat a lot. I had recently eaten an undercooked burger I had made him swap with me because his was the more cooked one, albeit still too pink for my tastes but I ate it anyway and felt gross about it.
Still feeling grossed out about eating that burger, a few days later I watched a video on social media of a fox getting shocked to death for its fur. It was clearly a video from somewhere in Asia - the woman nonchalantly noosed the (alive) fox from it’s cage (from a sea of hundreds of cages), brought it over to the electric mechanism and proceeded to shock it to death. It’s body became instantly rigid as the current drove through it. She did it so unaffected it was as if she was roasting a marshmallow. It was vile. The casual air of the whole operation horrified me and I couldn’t get it out of my head for days, weeks, even years later now.
So after eating all that meat, seeing Food Inc and other socially conscious food movies years prior, watching viral videos over the years and other segments on the poor operations of farms, etc… It all caught up to me in a second after over 3 decades of eating meat. It was then I gazed at the Sandia Mountains from my office window in Albuquerque, New Mexico and I knew in my soul that I could never ever eat animals again.
And that was it.
3.5 years later and I’ve never looked back.
It is hard to explain when people ask me why. It wasn’t for my health. It wasn’t for a new dogma or religion. It wasn’t because my friends/bf/family was doing it (heck I am still one of the very few non-meat eaters I know). It wasn’t because it was trendy or because it was the new ice-bucket challenge. It was a very personal, very long-time coming decision. It was MY realization, MY decision.
It was an awakening of sorts I suppose, that is the only way I can describe it. I honestly think it was because by nature I am a compassionate person. Over the years this compassion has become stronger and more intense, especially for animals. I could not ignore the fact that for years, what I was using to “nourish” my body (animal flesh) was causing other living beings a great deal of suffering. An entire life of suffering. These beings sole existence is to be raised to be eaten by humans. Gah! Sometimes I wonder how I ever ate meat for over 3 decades. I guess it is better I’ve awakened late to the cruelty-free party than never to have awoke. Right?
I still eat fish though, so I am technically Pescatarian, but I predict that will go away eventually as I am already eating less and less fish, finding it less and less appealing. Even a recent trip to Uchi couldn’t sway me to fall in love with fish again; for now it is just a booty-call. Soon I’ll never call it again.
To answer those initial questions up above: I don't eat meat because I awakened (sounds kooky I know, but that is the only way I can describe it). Why? I am compassionate and I love animals. How long has it been? I haven’t eaten meat in 3.5 years. Yes, I do miss it at times. Yes, it smells good. Yes, it tasted good when I was eating it back then. No, I don’t judge you or care that you eat animals. Where do I get my protein from? I get my protein from beans/fish/eggs, etc. Very rarely, I’ll still have a single bite of meat if someone dances on and on about how spectacular it is, and yes I’ll most likely like the sample bite. But as far as a full meal of meat goes, no way! I cannot consciously contribute to an industry of greed & cruelty toward innocent living beings. The thought of ingesting something so selfishly produced turns my stomach. I have such a love for food now that I didn’t have when I was eating meat. It is truly strange. Maybe I’ll understand it all some day. I don’t really need to now.