A week ago today I officially became a vegetarian (of sorts). I’ve been thinking about becoming one off and on for a couple of years; I finally decided to start living up to my convictions.

A couple of weeks ago, a video clip of abuses at an auction circulated around the net. It depicted a “downer cow” that was unable to walk being hoisted with a forklift and repeatedly electrocuted with a prod. I read some complaints about the abuse of the cow; other people pointed out the problem with processing meat from an animal that was clearly ill. Here’s a longer version of the original video that I saw:

This video crystallized some of the things that I had already been thinking. I’m sure this will make me sound ridiculous, but it made me think about my cats. I’m sure cats are much smarter than cows, chickens, turkeys, pigs, etc., but seeing Marlowe’s and Paisley’s very different personalities and intelligences has made me wonder if other “stupid” animals deserve a little better from us humans. To see that cow’s shaking throughout much of that ordeal and imagining just how freaked out and in pain she must have been, made me ask the question that had been in my head for a while: do I really want to be a part of this system?

I also feel like I’ve been bombarded with images about vegetarianism lately. There’s a great scene in August: Osage County about it, and even Torchwood recently had an episode about the meat industry. There have been other images too, but you get the point — if Broadway plans and British sci-fi shows are starting to convince me that vegetarianism is the way to go, then I’ve probably already made up my mind.

The way I’m thinking about this change is that I’m opting out of the system — out of the slaughtering of countless animals each day in rather brutal ways. I don’t feel particularly political or radical about it. I just don’t want to participate any more. I’m opting out.

While I’ve cut out mammals and poultry, I am still eating fish and seafood. I don’t know where fish fits into my ethics, but I immediately realized that I just couldn’t give up sushi. Sushi is like crack to me. I’m addicted and I can’t imagine living in a world where I couldn’t eat it. Maybe someday I’ll eliminate that too, but for the moment I’m just sort of a vegetarian.

My biggest concern with becoming sort of a vegetarian is PJ’s response. He’s not interested in becoming one too, and, since we alternate responsibility for providing dinner — this quarter he has Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, I have Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, and we alternate Fridays — I worried about whether he would be willing to give up cooking beef or chicken or whatever. It’s only been a week, but so far he’s been great about it. The fact that I’m still eating fish has helped. He even made a vegetarian ratatouille, which was delicious, last week. His willingness to accommodate my new lifestyle has really made me love and appreciate him even more. I clearly have the best partner in the world — not that there was ever much question about that before!

PJ and I spent a month as vegetarians while we were in grad school. It was really tough, but we’re better equipped to live this way now than we were then. It won’t always be easy, but I feel that it’s the right thing for me at this point in my life. Tonight we’re having tabbouleh tacos with guacamole and (vegetarian) refried beans on the side. And to reward PJ for his support thus far, I might even make him that chocolate pie I’ve been promising for weeks! Bon Appétit!