Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Choice


"If we're not supposed to eat come they're made out of meat?"


With lentils, tomatoes and rice, olives and nuts and bread,
Why does a man care to gnaw a slice of something bleeding and dead?"

Henry Bailey Stevens


Several years ago, some acquaintances announced they were dropping by. It was Christmas and my kitchen looked like it was in recovery from a cornucopia explosion. There was food all over the place. Yet, panic struck as I wondered desperately about what food I would offer my company. In my Puerto Rican culture, as in most cultures, offering food is the best way to demonstrate hospitality; and the best way to compliment your host is to eat. I was determined not to forgo this important social communion just because my visitors were vegetarians.

"What can I possibly feed them.?" I asked every member of my family, who looked at me in total perplexity, as they too found the incoming visit akin to a visit from the beings that inhabit the planet Vegietar, a world not yet discovered. What kind of people don't eat pernil (roasted fresh ham), or turkey or beef stew? Though I had already embarked on my spiritual journey, which mandated that one desist from any form of judgment - I knew deep in my heart that these people were weirdos. I finally did creatively put something together, but as I served it I felt disappointed, maybe a little angry that they deprived me of an opportunity to show off my true culinary skills, all of which involved meat dishes.


What goes around comes around. Perhaps my visit is dreaded by my carnivorous friends, who see no possibilities for food consumption devoid of meat. I'm a weirdo too now, and frankly I no longer feel like I've given something up, but rather I've heightened my consciousness, increased my knowledge and probably improved my health. But that's me, and unfortunately that's not all that makes me a weirdo. (We won't go into that.)

As a vegetarian, I try to refrain from judgment of others who still chose to chew the fibrous, bloody (they say juicy - yuck, meat juice), thick flesh of a being that actually had a face, some feeling and maybe even some consciousness itself. (Okay, so there's judgment or at least some arrogance in that previous statement. Sorry carnivores.) It's an issue. Those of us who chose to focus on a vegetarian diet tend to feel superior to those who don't and vice-versa. There are T shirts and bumper stickers displayed by those not so fond of animals, that say, "I didn't claw my way up the food chain, to eat vegetables." I think I've noticed a smirk or two emanating from people who disapprove of those who only eat rabbit food and secretly think we must be some kind of radical, pinko, commie, bleeding heart, misguided, animal and tofu loving, anemic, cheap political group. The rivalry is fierce - and like in a divorce situation, where the children are the losers in the battle - I feel animals are the biggest losers here, but they may not be. It may be us. Consider how mother earth as well as our lovely bodies are being damaged by methane gas, hormones, antibiotics etc. The consequences are scary, and though I honor choice, I do think we can make choices that benefit us all.
Rachel Ray and Emeril Lagasse just announced they became vegetarians! No, just kidding. But wouldn't that be something? I digress. But there is good news. You don't have to become vegetarian, not all at once, cold turkey - so to speak. You can become a Flexitarian. That's a cool label for you and all you have to do is eat other stuff, not meat, several days a week. It's so doable and you'd be providing the Universe with such a gift. Can you try that? You protein worshiper, you. Can we meet half way?

There was an old Twilight Zone episode in which aliens came down to earth and were luring people to board space ships to go to the aliens' home planet. They had a book titled "How To Serve Man", which convinced the humans of the aliens benevolence. As the space ships took off for space, one man finally managed to decipher that the book was not a book of goodness towards humanity, it was a cookbook. The aliens were going to cook and eat the humans!
What if there is a planet out there, whose technologically and intellectually advanced inhabitants look just like cows, pigs, chickens, sheep, etc.; and they came to earth and found us to be yummy and delectable? What if they discovered that human-on-the barbie made a great tasty and nutritious snack? What if they really loved munching on a well roasted human leg as they walked around a festival.?
We must remember - what goes around...

Recommended reading:
The Food Revolution by John Robbins

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