I was just watching a series called TedTalks: Chew on This. I love nothing more than a good documentary on food…except maybe eating food. I am a vegetarian. I have no interest in what other people put in their mouths, but lots of folks are interested in what goes in mine. They are downright offended that I don’t eat meat. It is fucking mind blowing to quite a few people. Never was this clearer to me than when I was in the Army. A Major in my unit overheard me asking about vegetarian options at a restaurant and said “What is wrong with you? You are going to be in a world of shit if we go to war.” My response was “Sir, I’m already in a world of shit…I’m used to it.” I was activated for 6 months during Hurricane Andrew. We got Shoney’s for breakfast and Sonny’s Barbecue Pit for lunch and dinner every day. I ate nothing but french fries and french toast sticks the entire time. I MAY have gained a few lbs during that time. Be all you can be! And I was… a little extra.
So why am I a vegetarian anyway you might ask? Well obviously because it’s the lesbian thing to do, that’s why. It is how my people eat. Actually, it happened when I took a trip to China to run in the Junior Olympics when I was 14. There were several incidents that drove me into a life without meat.
One morning, we were on a training run. We ran under this dark overpass. I couldn't see shit. I came to an abrupt stop when I tripped INTO a pile of dead goats that were laying on the street. They were nice and warm and stinky. It took me several hours to get the smell of death out of my nose. I tell you what, the surge of adrenaline was awesome. I jumped out of that pile of meat like I was shot out of a cannon!
The second incident and clearly the most scarring was when we walked through a meat market. I’m not sure what my coaches were thinking when they paraded us through there. One thing about China...at least the part we were in, is that the majority of people were extremely poor. They ate anything they could catch and I don’t blame them. I would eat anything to survive…except maybe those coagulated blood balls I saw on Fear Factor once. Deeeeeelish! Every animal you could imagine was alive in a cage or dead on a hook…head and all. There were puppies, snakes, owls…you name it. There were goats and dogs hanging completely intact, but they had no skin except on their heads and their testicles were draped around their necks like a fancy scarf. Refrigeration was not an option, so the whole street smelled like rotting flesh. I just put my head down and cried. Those images and smells are tattooed on my brain. It really makes being a vegetarian effortless for me. It never even crosses my mind until somebody else reminds me.
As I get older and more educated, I realize that there are a lot of really good reasons not to eat meat. Diabetes, heart disease and some cancers are a result of our diet. 10 billion animals are slaughtered every year in the United States for consumption. Because of this, after energy production, livestock is the second greatest contributor to global warming. Transportation is number 3. Half the antibiotics administered in this country are given to animals, not people…until we eat them that is. But hey…I ain’t your mama. I understand the food chain and that animals were put on this earth solely for us to eat. If you want to eat flesh and bones and cartilage, knock yourself out. Nothing is more delicious than biting into a chicken a sandwich and having a tubular vein snap back into the sandwich. I’ll take two please!
You worry about your mouth and I’ll worry about mine and we’ll all get along just fine.