We often use days on the calendar to help us make tough life decisions. “On New Year’s Day, I’m gonna quit drinking” or “On my birthday, I’m gonna finally ask for that raise” and my guess is that many of us have said, “This Monday I’m gonna start that diet.”
Well, today is Monday -Labor Day 2011 to be exact. And I have decided that I will use this day to start another attempt at changing my life.
I was watching Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN the other night and he was talking about the belief among some doctors and dietitians, that heart attacks and most cardio-vascular illnesses are "food-born" problems. That is to say, if you eat the wrong foods, you are more likely to have a heart attack, and if you eat the right foods, you are more likely to save yourself. As far as I could tell, the science behind the assertion is pretty sound, and most doctors believe that diet is at least partially responsible for heart attacks. However, here is where it gets difficult for most people to (mind the pun) swallow -the diet that most proponents of heart healthy science wish for us to adopt is vegetarianism and for the best results: you have to go vegan. Ugh!
To give you a little bit of background on why I say “ugh”, I’ll let you know that in my mid-twenties I made a solid two year effort as a vegetarian and during the midst of that little plant-based era, I was convinced that I would never have another bite of meat for the rest of my life. Though, as it so often happens, things changed. First, during my veggie-only stint, two of my close friends were also vegetarians, as was a girl that I was dating, so the support was there. However, in a span of less than a month, my two buddies left for meatier pastures, and the girl I was dating became the girl I once dated, so I was left on my own. Secondly, and perhaps the hardest part of my time as a vegetarian was that I absolutely love the taste of meat. Yup, I said it. Love it! Makes me salivate just thinking about it. Mmmm, meat.
Here is where my personal story gets interesting. Saying that I love the taste of animal flesh is a complete moral inconsistency for which I struggle each time I take a yummy bite of cow, pig, or fowl. See, I believe in the ethical treatment of animals and if you could manage the horror of what you’d see, it would take only a little bit of investigation to show the unthinkable conditions from where our food comes. I’ve done the research and believe me when I say, the things I’ve seen will stay with me forever. I can’t take it when I hear about or see unkind treatment of our animal neighbors –yes we all share a planet and we might be the only living things in the entire universe, so they are our neighbors (not my area of expertise, but some of you might check Mark 12:31 for some thoughts on neighbors). I once watched a television show on African elephants and they showed a dude shooting and killing all the adults of a herd while the calves trumpeted their tormented cries -covered in the blood of their dead family members. I was so distraught, that I thought about how I could contact the TV network that aired the show, find out who the shooter was, travel to where he lived, and give the dude an Adirondack ass whoopin’ that he would never forget. I tell that story to remind you of my struggle. I shouldn’t be a meat eater if I stand for the rights of animals. Though, I must add a quick side note: I do not begrudge those of you who are unabashed meat lovers, and I even respect the tradition of hunting –for which many thousands of families throughout our history have been sustained. I only ask for you to be aware that there are some evil occurrences when it comes to the man/animal relationship, and not to hide your head in the sand. My journey is my own and whether it works or it doesn’t work, is entirely up to me.
All that being said, I cannot continue to wrestle with my moral inconsistency. I must make a personal stand. Labor Day 2011, a Monday, will be the day that I try again to be a vegetarian. Not only because Dr. Gupta said that the vegetarian diet might save me from a heart attack, but also because my heart needed saving in another way. Now, if I could only learn to love brussel sprouts.