Disclaimer: I just want to say from the get-go: the following stream-of-consciousness ramblings are not intended to offend anyone be they vegetarian, vegan, sympathetic omnivore or hard-core carnivore. These are just some weird thoughts I've had running through my head.
When I was about ten years of age I decided to become a vegetarian. I can't recall my specific reasons but I think it must have had something to do with my love of and gift for attracting animals. I've always had a gift for putting animals at ease, especially scared animals stuck up a tree, or hiding under the house/bed, etc. And animals love me. Of course, I'm speaking of typical pets like dogs, cats, ferrets, hamsters, ya know, small mammals. They love me. I don't think I've ever met a single furry critter that didn't love me like magnets love the refrigerator door. I can't tell you how many times I've had people, whose homes I was visiting for the first time, express amazement that their extremely anti-social critter was curled up in my lap. Now, to be honest, I've lived in the country for a large part of my life and so my shoes will naturally have great smells attached to them. I understand that to a city animal the scent of a raccoon or possum is fascinating. But even without that particular nose candy I've always had a knack for the furry critters of the world. And when I hit puberty around 9-10 years of age I became conscious of the link between the 10 dogs and cats in my bedroom and the hundred cows out in the fields. So, I decided to quit eating meat.
I think it lasted 3 months. The lure of barbecued hamburgers was just too strong for me to resist. Like my initial decision to give up meat I don't remember the specific thought process that went into the decision. I just remember craving a good, grilled burger. Now that 20 years have passed I think the fact that really decided me was that cats, dogs, etc., were/are small, affectionate and familiar. Cows, chickens, turkeys, pigs and fish were/are unfamiliar and, as far as I've ever seen since then, completely uncaring about human companionship. I think my ten-year-old mind figured that if they didn't care for me then I had no reason to care for them. Does that make sense?
Now that I'm older and I, along with most of the world, am much world environmentally conscious I think about how the overall meat and poultry industries are affecting our planet. Being that I'm from cattle country I'll bring up cow flatulence. Strange as it may seem, I've been thinking about it a lot lately. Does it really hurt the atmosphere? I can't help but think it does. Sure, one group in one field doesn't mean much. But there are millions upon millions of cattle the world over; that's gotta add up to a helluva lot of methane. And, lest we forget, in many parts of the world acres and acres of oxygen-producing, animal habitat-providing forests are obliterated for the sake of cattle raising. So that's two big strikes against cows.
Where am I going with this? I don't know, as usual. I'm not going to declare myself a vegetarian. But I have cut back on my meat consumption. To be honest, it's not been that hard for me. I've never been a lusty carnivore. If it's there, and it's cooked right and I'm in the mood for it I'll eat it. It's a hit-or-miss affair with me. I'm usually much more interested in grains, vegetables and anything with a disgusting amount of sugar in it. Still, I'm left with a lingering, nagging sense of doubt about the meat consumed in my home. Back in the days of pre-history early humans had to eat meat, it's what we did to survive. Our teeth, and the teeth of animals the world over, are proof of this. But now? Ummm, not so much. We don't need to eat meat anymore. It's no longer required. Our mastery of agriculture has provided us with all the food we will ever need. There are plenty of protein-rich foods that negate the need to ingest meat of any kind. So, I'm left with a big question: are those of us who continue, for whatever reason, to eat meat fighting a battle that we will inevitably, if slowly, lose?