Roni, a fascinating Buddhist in Budapest (I just loved typing that), asked a great question on my previous post. I thought it was an important question so, below, I post my reply to her. I have always wanted to write a post entitled “Confessions of an Ex-Vegetarian” and this post would be part of that story. So, with no further ado, here is Roni’s question:
Hi Sabio & Other Readers,
When I went back from vegetarian to meat eater at the first time (for about 3 months) I could not eat anything that looked like an animal (but no problem with minced meat, sausages etc.). I was very surprised because both becoming a vegetarian and switching back to meat were opportunistic choices of mine — not ideology of ‘not harming animals’ behind it at all.
Is it familiar to anyone? Do you have any explanations for it?
I have friends that eat eggs but won’t eat the eggs of the chickens we raise and certainly don’t want to eat the meat of our chickens. These friends feel safer buying their eggs from a nice sterile store perhaps because they feel safely isolated from the living thing. Though a few brave friends will politely try our home-grown eggs, as they eat the fried eggs their disgust is palpable.
While in China, I have eaten cat meat hidden in stew well before I had the cat placed in front of me like an uncarved turkey. Indeed intellectually knowing I am eating cat and viserally knowing I am eating cat are very different phenomena. People have trouble even with fish. In Chinese restaurants I will order a whole fish and eat all the meat from the tail to the gills — saving the eyes for desert. Westerners have a very hard time with this but they will gladly eat a plastic-wrapped filet of fish that has had the bones, head and tail neatly removed so they need not see any real trace of the original animal.
Pig roasts are too brutal for some folks too. Its tough when what you are doing is in-your-face.
We have taken our kids to see cows slaughtered. I think that it is valuable to understand your food. Heck, some folks would gladly eat lettuce from the grocery store but pulling it from our garden and washing the dirt off it themselves makes it feel dirtier and more dangerous to them.
Embrace dirt, danger and death!
Question to readers: What do you think?