Monday, November 24, 2008

Eating Meat

Growing up we had meat at least once a day-- sometimes it was in the form of bologna, hotdogs, or the tiny morsels of chicken in some Campbell’s chicken noodle soup—but it was always there.

And I remember once, when I was about 5 years old, when my Grandpa Johnson butchered some chickens in his back yard while we were visiting. The chickens really DO dance around after their head is cut off. They sprayed blood around the weeds and chopping stump, as Grandpa stood with the head in one hand and the hatchet in the other. He was a professional--he once worked as a butcher. It wasn’t scary or disgusting to me. It was fascinating.

Years later, in biology lab at college, we were dissecting various formaldehyde marinated creatures, layer by layer. At lunch, I got a leg of chicken and as I “dissected” it with my knife and fork I saw the familiar structures of muscles, tendons, and ligaments attached to the bone. Maybe it was the unconscious connection to the formaldehyde or the influence of hippiedom, but after that I was a vegetarian for over 12 years. Yet somehow the smell of roasting animal flesh continued to make my mouth water.

Then my brother from Minnesota came to visit us in the land of Boulder. To help overcome our life of deprivation he bought my son & I a TV set (our first ever) and plopped a whole ham in our refrigerator. That ham was as hypnotizing as the TV. Every time I opened the refrigerator, it called to me, glowing with the aura of refrigerator light. I craved it badly. It seemed to be my destiny to eat some of it. Finally I gave in. Mmmm-nothing works like cured pork to break my vegetarian lifestyle. After that, fish and poultry came easily.

Truth be told, I was probably protein depleted by that time—depressed, low-immune system, and sleep problems. Meat may have saved my life. I connected to the earth more and grew stronger. My Scandinavian heritage contributed to a metabolism used to plenty of fish and meat, little grains & veggies. I can’t digest beans well and dairy clogged my sinuses & coated my tongue. A diet based on nuts and seeds didn’t provide what I needed to build my form and keep my chemical systems going.

I don’t apologize for eating meat any more. I do what I can to eat meat that comes from humanely treated animals. I thank them for sacrificing for my well being. May animals be treated with more & more consciousness and kindness. May humans control our numbers and our consumption to share the earth. May our nutrients return to the food chain when we die. May we be worthy of the sacrifice of animal and plant lives by bringing more love, beauty, tolerance, and truth into the world.
-by Terra Rafael

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