Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Accidental Vegetarian, XI

image linked from

Thus, thriving as a vegetarian in this civilized place, this quiet, peaceful mecca at the edge of the great prairie where the Commanche and Cheyenne once hunted the buffalo. I turn on the television, and I am transported into the Amazon jungle, there to watch a father show his sons how to catch a tarantula and roast him in the lodge fire coals, and I know that my choice, my vegetarianism, my purposeful elimination of meat from my diet, is a conceit of the industrialized world. It is a thing much easier to choose and then embrace wholeheartedly when ample nourishing food is as near as the local health food store, the farmers' market, or chain supermarket.

But I feel better physically, which improvement may simply be a quirk of my singular metabolism – and take a measure of quiet satisfaction that I am not a terminal for the bizarre and somewhat brutal factory assembly line that converts living creatures into meat products, but I will not claim I am right, that I earn some measure more than a family gathered around a kettle of chicken and rice in a thatch hut in some far away jungle highlands.

Karma being what it is, we act, and we gain or lose. I chose to give up meat, in a sacrifice both studied and casual. And from that decision, I've grown quieter, healthier, more clear about my appetites, sharper in my perceptions, stumbling awkwardly "to step in into the stream which leads to nirvana."

To be continued.


Carter Jefferson said...

Your vegetarian choice is interesting, and worthy of emulation. When I was a kid we kept chickens and ate their eggs, and then roasted them when they quit laying. My father killed them with a hatchet, but Aunt Minnie, who was not a really nice lady, twisted their necks. They would run around the yard headless, which fascinated me. But all that was cruel, no doubt about it.

You're surely right that vast numbers of people have little choice. The latest statistics I've seen say that half the world's population is hungry and undernourished. They eat whatever they can get. And that, of course, continues to get worse. Some say the population will start decreasing in a half century, but we'll just have to wait to see if that happens.

Meanwhile, you are out of the meat chain, but most of that food you buy from the health food store half a mile away travels hundreds of miles in gasoline-powered trucks that use oil just like that which is coming out of the hole in the Gulf right now or the Canadian sands that pollute the air.

And unless you pay high prices for organically grown produce, it's full of pesticides that are not good for any of us and are polluting the air we breathe. I just heard yesterday of a study that says pesticides on fresh fruit are causing the rise in autism we're blessed with.

You turn on the lights and power up your computer, just as I do, and abet the destruction of thousands of acres of land and threaten the lives of hundreds of coal miners.

You've opted out of one common practice, but we're still all in this together, and I don't see any way out. But I still admire your choice.

Jerry Waxler said...

Hmm. What about the billion Hindus, not choosing vegetarianism because they are rich but because they believe it harms the soul, and the billion people who can't afford meat because it's the more wasteful alternative. I don't know Gary. I'm thinking you might have this one backwards. I think being a vegetarian is an attempt to give up the excesses of the industrial society and return to basics.

Memory Writers Network