Yes, it's true, being a vegetarian is the worst thing in the world. I would rather have to alphabetize the Sears catalog, that's how much I hate it. And yet I am one. Which causes my friends to say, "Why? What the hell is wrong with you? Did you fall recently? Did you bump your head on an ironing board or maybe suffer a prolonged fever?"
Nope, I am of sound mind and body and I choose to be a vegetarian, and the reason why? Cats. I have cats.
A year and a half ago I decided to cut red meat from my diet. It wasn't under the advice of a physician, but close: I read an AMA journal article about red meat and mortality in adults, where they found increased mortality rates (9.3% in men and 7.6% in women) for those who ate more than .5 servings of red meat a day. Wow. That really got to me. That next day was my first day where I consciously avoided red meat, and I went a year without another bite. As I celebrated my one year anniversary, some friends mentioned vegetarianism. Even my son went meat-free for a semester. And I got to thinking about it, about what it meant to participate in the eating of other animals, of beings with psyches, of beings who have an existence unto themselves. I twirled that around my brain for quite some time. The night of May 3rd, as I lie down in bed, my cats, Albus and Anderson, lay down next to me, one on one side, one on the other. And as I looked at them, I realized that I just couldn't do it anymore, that I couldn't sleep knowing that I took part in an animal suffering. And that was that. The next day, May 4th, Star Wars Day, was my first day as a vegetarian.
And that's Vegetarian, not Vegan. I still drink milk and eat cheese and eggs. That inconveniences the animal, but I'm ok with that. I'm like Muhammad Ali. He took a stand. He said, "I'll beat people up, but I won't kill 'em." And the government said, "Well, if you won't kill 'em, we won't let you beat 'em up!" ... That's a George Carlin line, and I don't really liken myself to Mr. Ali, it just made me think of that joke. 'Cause I think that I make a funny distinction for myself, that I'll bother the cow for milk, as long as she gets breaks and is kept on a nice farm somewhere, without being killed. Really, I see that dichotomy, I just don't have the courage to go all the way. I mean, I can barely handle not eating meat as it is. It's really awful.
I miss meat. I miss it so very much. I miss all kinds of meat, in all kinds of ways. And all of those ways get reduced to one common denominator: taste. TASTE! OMG, the taste of meat, with all those wonderfully tasty fat molecules being smashed against the G protein-coupled receptors in my tongue. Science proves it, meat is quantifiably delicious. I'm not knocking vegetables or fruit or grains, but there's no fat in them, so there's no 'there' there. Ever eat a bag of carrots? They're a fine snack or meal replacement, but there's also no etherialness to them. I have to cook something incredibly complex with vegetarian-based ingredients in order to come close to the simple joy of a good steak. I make a veggie wrap with just the right amount of red and green peppers and radishes and onions and it's still nowhere near as delicious as a single strip of bacon. That's just science.
And that's why I think being a vegetarian is the worst thing in the world. I'm still gonna do it, because, y'know, cats. But I'm also still gonna hate it, and I'm still gonna complain about it, and I'm still gonna warn my friends: Don't do it. Don't become a vegetarian. It's worse than having to pass a statistics class being taught by a capuchin monkey whose teaching assistant is Michele Bachmann.