Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Animal Sensitivity

It happened in this past year. It was a day that would change my life forever...a day that would change every aspect of my life permanently. Everything I had ever known flew out the window as I started my new life anew. 

Wedding? Oh yeah, that was pretty wild too. But I am talking about the day last January that I decided to stop eating meat. And yes sir/ma'am, that technically makes me a vegetarian. 

I prefer not to use that word though. I would like people to label me by my eating habits with something not as derogatory like herbivore, or lean, green, plant-eating machine. As soon as you say that word around here, the funny eyes come out. You know, the judgmental rolling of the eyes and then the interrogation that follows. That word seems to be cryptic and hateful to some people. Then there's the debate that follows that turns into a screaming match. Before you know it, there's a referee, and you're pulling one of your closest friends by their hair and saying, "And I'm thinking about being a vegan too!! How do you like that?"

Well, I almost think it's impossible to be a vegan right now so don't worry about that. I love sweets and custard and real cinnamon rolls too much. Not to mention cheese, my drug of choice. I'm addicted. And there's nothing like fresh eggs (I've got plans for a chicken coop in our side yard). But there's something about not eating meat that either slightly irritates people, or just plain ticks them off. 

If you find someone else who doesn't eat meat, you embrace each other in a big vegetarian hug. They know our pain. At restaurants, in stores, at homes, and all around you the smell of bacon and sausage, cheeseburgers and steaks. And oh the ridicule! The judgment! 

But it's everyone's choice. If you like eating meat, good. I know how you feel because I loved meat. I could eat a cheeseburger faster than you could order yours. A sausage biscuit was my favorite thing in the world. If it was a pretty one (perfectly greasy and cooked well with a flaky, buttery, big biscuit sandwiching) I would stare at it for a little bit and admire it, get a little emotional before I gobbled it up in a world-record. The smell of bacon would and still does make me drool at the mouth like my dog. Don't even get me started on enjoying a BLT on a wonderful summer's day: ripe, red tomatoes with some crispy chopped bacon, with homemade mayo seasoned with Cavender's, adorned with basil leaves and a little green lettuce. Oh my goodness, why did I do this to myself? 

But you get my drift. I loved it like the best of us. My husband said that the first time he saw me eat a hamburger, he knew he wanted to marry me. Yikes. Thank goodness he didn't change his mind when I opted for the ravioli at our rehearsal dinner. 

Why did you make this crazy choice, you ask? Simply put: I found out some stuff I didn't know before. I was rolling my eyes in condemnation at my roommate and close friend last January. How could you give up meat? I started bucking up for the famous carnivore's debate with the plant-eater. MBC, being the non-confrontational pal she is, handed me a book: Skinny Bitch. Oh God! Not that book! Really? You're going to take advice from a book that is calling you a bitch?!

But I read it. And then I cried. Then I did some research. And then I cried some more. There was no going back. To make matters worse, my instinct told me these people were right. Those skinny bitches!

They made some good points that I don't feel like getting into: how our bodies and digestive systems work as humans, how the meat and milk industries operate, research that has been done on the effects of eating mass-produced animal, the fear in the animals.

And here's another tidbit: I am really health-conscious. Nutrition and how it works is my thing. I love to feel good because of what I ate. So I realized there are two equal kinds of people in this world--those who are going to enjoy the taste of what they eat and eat it no matter what they know about it because they love it so much (they're thinking life is short, and eating should be fun and tasty), and those that are in it for what it does, the feeling afterwards, the energy and longevity it brings. And that's okay--both kinds of people are both loved by God and are equal in deserving the fun of life. Obviously, the best thing is to find ways to combine both of these things, taste and health.

As a flabbergasting surprise, this decision has affected much more than just my meals. All of a sudden, I don't prefer to wear leather or hunt. I know hunting is a sport. It's a sport that my husband loves with a passionate intensity. I've seen him run out of our house at 6:30 in the morning with only his gun and a thin pair of boxers in 30-degree weather because he thought he saw "a huge buck, trying to get out of here before I make a kill!" 

And then when he did make a kill, all I could think of was the deer I used to know in Percy Warner Park in Nashville, the family of them at Radner Lake, my other peaceful place for walking. The deer would walk up to me, I would wave at it and smile as I stared at its beauty. It seemed to smile back at me. I would walk toward it. It would walk toward me. I would be a little freaked out because it was so close. Then it would start eating again. I would start singing a bright and cheery song in the woods in a really high-pitched voice like Snow White. Then the squirrels were dancing around, and birds were landing on my hands and shoulders. A beaver comes out of the water to do a little solo. The frogs are backing me up in this happy little song about where my prince has gone. Too much?

Anyway, WT and I like to go hunting together. I don't go deer hunting. My Snow White memories will not allow me. But I like to go with him duck hunting. He loves it and enjoys it so much. The point is that it brings him joy. And deer, supposedly, are overpopulated around here, which brings chances of widespread disease apparently. As for the ducks, it's a quick kill--there's no fear or torture I don't think--and he's as giddy and sweet as Glinda the Good Witch afterwards. That's what he likes the most. His main hobby. Although, I can't go out and admire his bloody, dead deer, I do enjoy getting up before sunrise and getting that fresh air. I like to listen to everything wake up. It's fun to watch ducks and geese fly in on a gorgeous, sunny morning. Not to mention watching my husband have a great time. And I think it's fun to shoot a gun every now and then. 

I guess my animal sensitivity worsened when I fell in love for good with the animal of my life. We are closer than two peas in a pod now, out here on the farm. When you're in love with one animal, you have become an animal person. I am exactly that now. I adore this big boy:

Now is as good a time as any to introduce you to this handsome fellow who transformed me into a dog lover. This is a picture of him from last August after I moved in. That's his summer cut. This is not the last time you'll be hearing about Jackson (Jacksey Poo) I'm sure. He is the other love in my life so there's no doubt he'll be making appearances in these posts. 

So, ladies and gents, the point is that it's all about standards and compromise. I live in a world where both of those things are more than necessary. But one thing is for sure: every little thing is for your joy. Just make sure you're having fun. And your way of having fun might not be someone else's. And that's all right.

Have a fun day!

Liza Jane

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