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Veggies of the World Unite

I’d like to tell you something about myself that usually scares most red-blooded Americans. I don’t want you to think I’m going to try to brainwash you, I don’t want you to think I’m going to give you a lecture. Just brace yourself, and hear me out.
I’m a vegetarian.
Okay, okay, don’t fly off the handle, I know you think I’m some sort of wacko that’s going to throw paint at you or chain myself to a tree. I swear, no such activities ever cross my mind (except in occasional circumstances that differ greatly from saving the planet, and that’s another story for another time).
If you don’t think I’m crazy, well, thanks. But most everyone else seems to, and I honestly don’t know why. I’ve chosen to think about what I put in my mouth and why I put it there, and for that I’m considered crazy.
Here, let me explain how I got to this point.
I was travelling around the East Coast by car for New Year’s one year, I think it was three years ago. And I noticed that whenever we stopped for fast food I was eating a chicken sandwich. (Yes, this one odd little point is relevant in the story, just read on.) At one point in our trip we stopped at a hotel in the Pocinos for a night, and the hotel was a series of cabins instead of the usual high-rise. So as we were going to out room, outside, we found a cat. She had a collar on, so we knew she belonged to someone, someone probably travelling as well. She was a very friendly cat, an affectionate cat. So when we started to open the door to our hotel room, I said to the cat (why do we talk to animals anyway? It’s not like she ever would understand what I was saying), “Do you want to come in?” I thought she would stay outside and we could go into our rooms and that would be that. But she turned around and marched right into our room before us.
So we had a new visitor.
We played with the cat, we even took pictures of the cat, seeing that we had our cameras, being on vacation and all. And the cat knew humans. The cat responded to humans. The cat understood joy and pain. I could see that in what little interaction I had with the cat.
Eventually we figured we better let the cat outside, she’s going to need to go to the bathroom, and besides, her family is probably looking for her. So we let her go.
And we got in the car the next morning and started to drive home, still ten hours away.
And then we approached lunch. We were stopping at a fast-food joint, I think Burger King.
And then I made the connection.
We in America look at certain animals as thinking, and certain animals as glorified plants. But it’s really only how we’ve been raised to think of these animals, the distinctions are only in our minds. That cat I saw the night before was a living, feeling creature. And in China that cat would have been hanging in the front window of a store, considered a delicacy.
And in India the cow is sacred.
So I said, let me try to not eat meat for a little while. You know, if I feel the urge to eat meat, I can have a chicken sandwich once every two weeks.
But let me try this, to see how I feel about it.
And with every day that passed, I wanted the consumption of meant out of my life more and more. I knew I made the right decision.
It was a strange decision for me to make. I had never thought of being a vegetarian before. I don’t know why it popped into my head at that moment - why I decided to make this kind of change then. I always knew that cats and dogs were eaten in other cultures. I always knew that the cow was sacred in India. I always knew that meat was eaten the most in America - because of our global overabundance of wealth.
So I decided to try it. And I’ve never looked back.
Okay, now comes the onslaught of questions, I’m sure. So, do you try to convert others? So, do you harass hunters and people who wear fur coats?
Well, I don’t think so... Well, okay, maybe a little.
So sue me for wanting people to think morally when they make all their choices in life.

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