*Warning: There are sad bits in this post; I talk about my two kitties who died a while back and I don't want that to be a tear-jerker to anyone who innocently reads it (like it was to me as I was writing it). Okay, carry on...
August 3, 2007 is an important date to me right now. I don't know if it will stay significant to me for a long time, but right now it's pretty big.
Because that's the last time I ate meat.
Months and months ago, Punkin (my youngest and now only cat) caught a bird one day when she was outside in our fenced-in backyard. I wasn't sure she was the one who caught it at the time; she was certainly in the vicinity of the body but I didn't see her bring it up onto the porch and drop it by the back door. It was so soft, the bird, and it occurred to me that Punkin wanted us to eat the bird. Then I thought that my daily diet was pretty much like that; I expected others to kill animals for me to eat and I never really thought much about it. This was a small seed that planted itself in my brain then. I didn't stop eating meat at that time nor did I really consider the dead bird anymore.
As time passed, I started being concerned about my health. Then I had the skin cancer thing. I think that procedure truly made me understand more about being a living creature. I was so terrified, while they were cutting into my scalp and removing the skin cancer, that I thought I was going to pass out. I have never experienced fear to such an extent before; I mean, I knew that I was safe in a doctor's office and I have every confidence that they were doing things correctly and as gently as they could, but I seriously thought that I was going to lose it. I should have said something, I guess, but what could they have done? They couldn't very well stop the procedure. I certainly didn't want to keep the cancer on my head. So I lay there, eyes closed and teeth clenched, and endured the procedure. I felt like a zombie for two days afterwards. And I knew what it was like to be under the complete control of someone else, someone who had a knife and was cutting me with it.
A week after this procedure, I came home to find Rory (my older female cat) dead. Seeing her body made me think of the bird. Sadly, hers was not soft and peaceful. I do not think she had a calm death and that will haunt me forever. I wish I could have been there for her, I wish she hadn't died alone like that. As I was helping dig her grave, I accidentally hit my hand against the tree we buried her close to and skinned my knuckles. I think I was in shock and the blood on my hand brought me back to earth a little. That blood was a reminder to me, a reminder that I was still alive. When I had to have Macavity (my older male cat) put to sleep about three weeks later, I held him as they put him down. He was soft, like the bird. His grave was easier to dig, inasmuch as graves are never easy to dig. I thought often of both of my kitties and of their bodies there in those graves.
Meanwhile, Punkin the Killer continued to drop the very occasional bird on the back doorstep. I couldn't bring myself to be stern with her; she was always so proud of her quarry. I did have to draw the line at her bringing them into the house like she wanted to but other than that I praised her as sincerely as I could while I was horrified at the corpse waiting outside the door.
And somewhere between then and now, I started thinking about earthworms.
When I am walking down the sidewalk, if I see an earthworm who is struggling to cross the concrete, I will pick him up and place him back into the dewy grass or earth on the other side of the sidewalk. I don't want the earthworm to struggle like that only to end up all dried out and possibly eaten by ants. And I finally started to put everything together. I finally wondered how the life of that earthworm was any more valuable than the life of the cow who died to make my hamburger or the chicken who died to make my supper more protein-filled so that my evening workout could be better. I remembered things that happened when I was growing up on a farm. I remembered being on that table having my scalp cut open. I remembered Rory and Macavity and those birds and then, it happened:
Thinking about eating meat made me sick.
And that's pretty much where I am.
And I am totally not starving right now.
I am figuring out the vegetarian thing little by little and, if anything, I have gained weight over the last ten days. I am still eating dairy, I don't know about eggs, though. (Yeah, I'm thinking the eggs are probably a "NO" from the feeling I got in my tummy as I typed about them.) I don't know how long this will last. I hope it lasts for a while, though, because I feel better about myself now that I'm not eating meat. This doesn't mean I am judging anyone who eats meat. I don't care if other people eat meat (right now, anyway). I just can't do it anymore.
I am not uneasy with my new diet but I am just overwhelmed at this most recent fundamental change I am going through. I am changing so much lately that I am starting to wonder if I am at all the same person I used to be thirty years ago, or ten years ago, or ten days ago. But, there's this one quiet part of me that suspects I am just finally becoming the person I wanted to be during all those times. And that's a really nice thought...