04 April 2012
essay by the beautiful Portia De Rossi in O Magazine about a new horse communicating with the cows on her farm had been rolling around in my mind for a couple of months. Like her, I've always been an animal lover. I had also seen a similar piece by actress Ginnifer Goodwin. Then I worked through Water for Elephants and the mistreatment of majestic and gentle Rosie the elephant and the other circus animals. Words have always had such power for me, so it's no surprise that it was writing that spurred my choice. But it wasn't until I made myself watch an episode of Oprah where Lisa Ling sought to show us where our food comes from. It was rerun. I couldn't face it the first time around. I just didn't want to know. Lisa Ling toured a beef processing facility and detailed the procedures without judgment or condemnation. Just illumination. The cows' knowing eyes and the word "knocker" stuck with me. And a switch flipped in my mind. No more for me.
I have not made the leap to veganism and I don't think I will be able to. I still eat cheese, drink milk and eat eggs. I am aware of the unresolved contradicitons. I still have leather shoes and purses. I never really ate fish before and don't now, but I have eaten shrimp two or three times at my favorite Japanese place in the last year. That's it though. No bacon or steak or hamburgers or chicken sandwiches... It isn't convenient, and not sharing some of our favorite meals has changed our family dynamic, but I don't find it hard to resist in the moment. Good thing I didn't make the change to become healthier, because that hasn't happened. Chips and Rotel may be meatless but they aren't nutritious! I can tell the muscle mass in my always lean legs has deteriorated without the consistent protein. Exercise would help with that... I am still a work in progress and even after a year I don't have it all figured out.
The thing is, I don't begrudge people eating whatever they want to eat. I don't feel offended or grossed out by meat and I would never comment on what someone else is eating. I never want anyone to feel like I'm out to convince people to give up animals, too, or make them feel bad for not doing so. I've tried to mostly keep it to myself actually and there are a number of my friends and family who probably have no idea. I don't want to draw attention to it, and I only write about it here because this is my blog that I use to track my life and my feelings for myself. But I've encountered a curious resistance from some people, a kind of disbelief, even annoyance. That's okay. I'm not on a crusade and I try to just embrace a live and let live outlook. And who knows what will happen down the road. Ginnifer Goodwin had a recipe for her favorite BBQ ribs or something in People not long ago so she has since changed course herself. And that is also okay with me. I'm just living day by day with the hope that I can ease a little of the suffering in this big, crazy world in my own tiny way and with the little faces of some mama's babies on my mind. My muscle mass might not be the better for it, but my heart is.