Today, I just realized, is the fifth anniversary of one of the best decisions I’ve ever made: becoming a vegetarian (I tried in high school, but failed due to incompetence and weak will).
Since I stopped eating meat, I’ve become significantly happier and healthier. I became a vegetarian for environmental reasons, but as the years have gone on I’ve come to an understanding of how blinded to the plight of animals I was when I was chomping their flesh. In the age of fast food, it’s easy to be disassociated from the process of factory farming and slaughter and that disassociation is incredibly important if you’re buying your meat from conventional sources. But now that they can count me as one of their friends and defenders, my relationships with the animals in my life have become much richer. I think they know.
I used to love meat. Right before I stopped eating it, I was in a years-long relationship with a vegetarian and even though I was learning how to prepare and enjoy vegetarian food the whole time I also vehemently defended my eating of animals. Sorry Drew; that was lame. But the lessons I learned sunk in, and perhaps my resistance to vegetarian was more of a resistance to our relationship than anything else. In any event, I became a vegetarian not long after we broke up and it shockingly easy. It seems incredibly foolish that I was once afraid of living without eating animal carcasses.
The final straw was in May of 2009 when my roommate Rand, a wonderful man who comes from New Orleans, had a crawfish boil at our house. Rand had pounds upon pounds of crawfish shipped from New Orleans, a trip that took a couple of days. And while they were packed with ice or whatever, it was inevitable that some of them would die in the journey. When they arrived, I watched my friends sorting through the crawfish and tossing aside the bodies of the ones that didn’t survive the trip… My mind made a juxtaposition; I thought about the slave trade and how that was the first thing that slavers had to do when their ships made it to America — toss aside the bodies of the ones that didn’t make it. What’s the difference?
I thought I’d need to transition slowly, but no. The next time I ate meat it grossed me out and that was that.