Yesterday Glen had taken the day off to drive up the valley with me. We took his mother to lunch and visited for the afternoon, then headed over to the UFV to watch the graduate show for their fashion design students. Great show by the way! On the way out, this catch phrase of mine came up. I can't believe I never shared it with him and realized I wanted to write a blog on it. So here we go.
Growing up I was what one might call a natural vegetarian. It had nothing to do with religion, the environment or health. I remember the day the seed was planted. My dad was a minister in a fairly small town and as a result our family finances were what could best be described as "humble." One farmer decided to help out by giving us 3 live chickens. Dad had to kill them in the back yard and then mom cleaned them on the antique sink's washboard. That moment was when the realization hit me that I was actually eating an animal. Wow! I know, I know, how could I not have realized that before. I guess kids in general are really removed from where food comes from and just never think about it.
I struggled with this internal dilemma for many years. There really wasn't the option to choose to eat differently. Our limited budget meant what we had was it. At university I ate in the school cafeteria where options were pretty limited as well. Being a vegetarianism was still outside the mainstream. It was only when I moved into my own place and had to cook that I began to eat more meatless meals. I never was comfortable inflicting my preferences on others - this was personal to me - so it really was about the choices I made privately. When dining at the home of others, I did my very best to be as accommodating as possible. I know this is not how a lot of people feel about being a vegetarian (or other dietary choice), but it was what I felt the right choice for me.
Then came marriage and I made a very hard decision. Growing up I never was comfortable with my parent's religion and felt horrible that I let them down when I chose to walk away. I made a vow when I married and had children, I would do my best to give everyone wide options and let them listen to their own inner voice, let them follow their own path. Meal time became more traditional, BUT I threw in vegetarian meals as well. Iver the years I occasionally shared my decision, how I felt about it all and let that become a part of their inner voice. I trust them to listen to their own heart and gave them full permission to follow it.
Through it all, I still struggle with my feelings about where meat comes from and know there are just some lines I cannot cross. The day a couple invited us over for the first time and I turned to see them putting live lobsters in a pot of boiling water, I realized I need to be a little more vocal. The sight of everyone twisting those poor things apart in front of me was more than I could bear and I could not eat the lobster they had so graciously spent a lot of money on. So I came up with the line, "No face, no blood, no bugs in houses." What that means is I can cope except in these cases: a whole fish or fully roasted animal laid out on the dinner table in front of me; meat that is still red inside, especially if it is bleeding onto the plate (I need my meat well-done even if it is burnt); and last of all no shrimp, lobster, clams and other seafood in their shells. If the meat is taken out of the shell and used in a dish I can deal. In the shell they look like they are a live creature and I cannot get past that.
So short and sweet - one line that says it all. I don't like being a picky eater, so do my best to fit into a host's plans in as easy a way as possible. I am perfectly happy eating salad and bread while the rest dine on more, but if I feel I'm watching carnivores devouring living things, the meal truly can be difficult to keep that smile on my face. So it's all about compromise and balance.
“Your mind knows only some things. Your inner voice, your instinct, knows everything. If you listen to what you know instinctively, it will always lead you down the right path.”
Whatever your feelings about this issue, it is absolutely important to let each person follow their heart. I believe that our inner voice will guide us if we can just be quiet enough to listen. I have also learnt over the years that every inner voice's message is very personal. It is thankfully not the same for everyone. Wouldn't that be boring?