I was hungover as the sun blared into the cafe. Sunday afternoon, massaging my temples and that little depression on my forehead where the “third eye” supposedly is. Throat dry, head splitting open, insides rotting, I croaked “vegan” at the waitress, eyes squarely on my water and it changed my life.
The diner was one of those “vegan-friendly” joints Portland is so proud of. The food was biscuits and gravy, the choice being between one made of mushrooms and another made of the mutilated body of a pig who had lived its entire life in confinement, terror and pain. That’s not what was on my mind when I chose the vegan. My hangover was on my mind, and a mushroom base seemed much easier on the tums than the heavy grease of dead pig.
Upon finishing the meal the sense of undeniable: The food tasted better (and, more to the point, felt better in my stomach) because I chose not to eat the aforementioned tortured pig. Vegetarian on and off since high school (mostly on, with a couple years “off the wagon” as it were), I thought to myself that I might go vegetarian again, but I didn’t really believe it. It sounded like one of those idle thoughts like “I think I’ll get a master’s degree in classical Persian literature.”
By the end of the week I was reading candy bar wrappers, shaking my fists at the heavens whenever I saw the dreaded “milkfat.”
I’m not sure what neurons connected and clashed to create this road to Damascus moment, but I can’t imagine eating animals at this point. I find the very thought disgusting. It bewilders me how anyone paying attention to their own moral compass can reconcile eating animals with being a compassionate person. Search as I might, I’ve yet to hear a convincing argument that eating animals, particularly those raised for slaughter in contemporary factory farms, is ethical in the least.
Most people, it seems, prefer to just sweep the entire matter under the rug before shoveling meat snacks into their fat faces, careening toward type II diabetes, heart disease, colon cancer and the myriad of ailments associated with eating animal corpses. Indeed, it is the great moral cognitive dissonance of our age: While a person not terribly convinced by “animal rights” activists, I nevertheless remain bewildered by the total lack of reflection most people are willing to make on the subject of animal slaughter.
It’s been four years that I’ve been vegan now and I view animals in a totally different way than I did before. I feel better, both ethically and physically. Eating is a joy, with one of my preferred benefits of veganism being the ability to stuff myself silly without feeling gross.
If you’re a person who is bothered my animal cruelty — and most of us are — I would urge you to try a vegan diet, if only for a week or a month. In the age of vegan food blogs and a veg meat industry doing billions in business, it’s easier than ever.
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