Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart


beginner’s heart and piggies, all the way home ~

I have a complicated relationship w/ vegetarianism. I’ve been vegetarian at several times during my life, sometimes for as long as a year or more. But my best beloved is a die-hard meat eater (Lady GaGa is lucky there wasn’t a grill nearby, is all I can say), and he is my best beloved.

Pretty  much I gave up complete vegetarianism when I had my first child (who’s getting married next month to a wonderful woman — that’s another story…:)). It was too hard, and I had too many other things on my mind.

But I’ve always felt there’s too much death in the world to contribute more than I need to. I don’t eat huge quantities of meat, and I’m careful to buy only from sources I know: humanely raised, organic and/or local. Still, there’s no getting around the fact that meat means a conscious being — an animal w/ a life — died to feed me. And I go back & forth on that sacrifice, and its relevance to beginner’s heart.

Don’t get me wrong: I have no problems w/ anyone else eating meat. It’s almost as personal a decision as who you love :). Besides, I agree w/ Barbara Kingsolver, in her wonderful book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: she argues that domestic livestock — cattle, pigs and most sheep — won’t last very long in a vegetarian culture. Sheep fare best, as they offer wool. But pigs & cattle? They eat too much for most folks to keep them as pets. Their entire raison d’être is as food. So I’m still ambivalent about no meat at all.

But I know there won’t be pork any more. At least not for a long long time. The universe (and a hundred+ fearful little piggy faces) has spoken…

See the livestock truck above? Imagine each of the perforations framing a piggy face, like the one on the left. Imagine the little pinky-white snouts pushed all the way through the round ‘windows,’ and ears flying in the wind created by 80 mph highway speeds. Young Yorkshires or American Landraces or Chester Whites — as smart as dogs, pigs are. and obviously frantic…

Now put yourself in my little blue car, pacing the pig truck for miles — more than 50 of them. Watching as the squealing, terrified pigs stuck their noses and ears and rumps against the metal walls of the truck, jostled by speed and each other.

One of those memorable moments when you can’t help but think the universe is talking to you. And it’s saying — Enough already w/ the pork. Eat more veggies…or fruit.. .or…:)

I hope it waits a bit before I have to cut out chicken…



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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment R

    As someone who has only ever been vegetarian, my view of the conundrum is slightly twisted. All through school, I became very tired of telling people I was vegetarian because of my faith – I got all kinds of idiot jokes about how illogical it all was (my faith and vegetarianism. After I had kids, I did not want them to face the same challenge so I had to think about why I was vegetarian and why I wanted my kids to be vegetarian. My current reasoning (and what I have taught my kids) is that I can’t bring myself to kill another life and while plants have life too, I can’t survive without eating so I inflict the most minimal pain I can. Not a great answer but that’s as far as I have been able to go. :)

    • Britton Gildersleeve

      Rama, I think these are the BEST reasons to be a vegetarian: concern for lives. It is indeed a GREAT answer. :)

  • http://www.joyfulshepherd.com Joyful Shepherd

    Besides compassion for the animal, better physical health, and a cleaner environment, another reason for eating less meat is altruism toward the poor (humans). When we eat meat, it is like we are eating twice. We are eating the animal and all the grain which that animal required to be raised. Grain, farmland, and water resources that could have been used to feed hungry people around the world.
    Just another thing to ponder… :)

    • brittongildersleeve

      I like this — and I do know this… It’s just too often convenient to ignore…

    • Britton Gildersleeve

      Absolutely. Years ago, there was a book — Diet for a Small Planet. It laid this all out succinctly. I’ve never felt the same way about meat since. Thanks for reminding me!

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