That isn’t how it started of course. I didn’t just wake up one morning and become weird. It took a while.
It began, you see, with a combination of two things; desperation and a book. A book that said ‘hey you blood type A you, vegetable – good, carbs – good, meat – bad.”
And so on January 2, 2005, I summoned the culinary goddess in me and created what was to be my last meat dish – lamb kalderata. I spared nothing. Choice lamb cuts stewed to a creamy-tomatoey-spicy perfection and I had it for breakfast, lunch, merienda, dinner and midnight snack.
I never had anything that walks, swims or flies since.
In fairness to the principle behind the book, I did lose some weight in the first two months. But on the 3rd and 4th month, the extra carbs I took to ease my meatless existence began to take its toll and before I could stop it, I was well on my way to Hipsville, Illinois once again.
I think it was on the 5th month that I had to re-evaluate what I was doing and why exactly I was doing it. You see, before then, when people asked me if I was doing it for animal rights I would answer brusquely “No! The only animal I’m doing this for is this one (sabay turo sa akin.)” But when it became painfully obvious that this animal was no longer benefiting from being a vegetarian, and not eager to jump off it just yet, I had to find another reason.
First, I took the “pity naman the animals” road.
I thought that being a dog-lover would automatically make me an any-kind-of-animal-lover. It does not apparently follow. I googled images of animals being slaughtered and read websites about them being tortured and I waited for the wave of emotion, the overwhelming guilt, the flood of tears to come - none did. I saw them as I always have - juicy pork chops, succulent racks of lamb, melt-in-your-mouth steak.
This was clearly not the route for me.
Then one after, Carmen and I were talking about bigotry and discrimination and that the greatest problem in the world today is man’s blatant lack of respect for everything he does not understand. Cultural, political and religious differences have spurred hostility and hatred because, instead of trying to understand and perhaps even appreciate other beliefs, men focus too much on attacking what is not theirs and defending what is. Man’s innate and unfounded sense of superiority over what he does not understand, that combination of arrogance and stupidity, makes him very dangerous.
It is this same sense of superiority that makes him believe that he is greater than other species. This that gives him the “right” to make a pig’s sole reason for living is be his bacon. A calf is taken right from his mothers womb, restricted to a confined space, force-fed beer and massaged everyday with sake until he is slaughtered and served as kobe. A ridiculous amount of food is pumped into a duck’s or a goose’s stomach through a metal pipe that is shoved down their throats to intentionally make them sick and make their livers swell up to ten times its normal size so we can have our foie gras. (God I miss foie gras)
Hunting down a baboyramo in the wild to make him adobo is one thing but breeding them specifically for the sole purpose of roasting them or sautéing their liver is another.
Here is where I get a little weird.
Just because I do not understand a cow’s moo or a duck’s quack doesn’t mean I have the right to quarantine them to keep their meat tender to the bite, feed them not what tastes good to them but what would make them taste good to me, and decide when they will be butchered.
They have as much right to life as I do. And, more importantly, they have a right to the same quality of life that every living creature should enjoy.
Here is where I get a lot weird.
Kasi what if aliens come to our planet one day and see these cute little earthlings whose tagalog sounds a bit like quacking to them, what will stop them from fattening us up and have our kidneys for lunch.
And so, hoping that aliens will allot me the same degree of respect I give other creatures, I remain a vegetarian.