Sometimes, we make snap decisions. These course changes can happen without warning. One such life-changing moment occurred recently in my livingroom.
I’m done!” my sweetie pie exclaimed.
I almost jumped from my chair. “Done!”
“Yep, I’m never eating meat again.”
I gulped. We had just watched a program that pointed out, in no uncertain terms, that meat is our enemy and any foodstuffs associated with animals are just as bad. “What about eggs and cheese?”
He shook his head.
My head spun. This proclamation came from one of the world’s most avowed carnivores. A guy who can think of no greater joy than standing over the smoker in the yard, one that routinely drenches our neighborhood in irrestible, meaty aromas. A man who – love me though he does – once announced that if I ever became a vegetarian, he’d leave me. (Interestingly, he has since rescinded that statement and now claims he never meant it in the first place.)
I have long struggled with the meat question, because of the treatment of animals in factory farms. Over the years, I have given up lamb and veal. I will not patronize restaurants that serve fois gras. I don’t eat much red meat. But, every once in a while, I find myself craving a big fat cheese burger with a short stack of crisp bacon. I also like beefy chili and Thai Pad Prik King with a bit of spicy cow.
So, I struggled with Ryan’s pronouncement.
“Not sure I can give up eggs and cheese.” Our eyes met.
“You don’t have to give up anything,” he said.
“I think this should be a family effort,” I said, mostly to be polite.
And so, we went to the grocery store, where we stood staring at a small, tucked-away selection of manufactured- meat substitutes. I rotated my head looking for Terry, wondering how we would explain our sudden conversion.
“I don’t think he’s here,” I whispered.
Ryan didn’t respond, as he studied a package of faux meat. Though, I’m sure he didn’t want to face our favorite butcher, a man who has been saving Ry special cuts of meat for over a decade.
Still, for the last few weeks, we have remained on course, though the parameters have changed. We determined that eggs and cheese and chicken would remain on the familial menu, for now. We eat more fish and are trying to expand our vegetable choices. Chicken sausage was a hit, though we are still struggling with ground-beef substitute, which both looks and smells like dog food. Tofu is on the to-do list.
However, it’s awfully hard to banish the carnivor. We do have those four, pointy canines for a reason. Nature gave us those little daggers, in part, to rip meat into swallowable chunks.
There is no denying that the mostly meatless diet is better for us. Ry lost ten pounds in two weeks. But the cravings remain.
Yesterday, as we left Petsmart, pushing a cart loaded with cat and dog food, Ryan paused and stood motionless in the parking lot. He stared into the sky and took a deep breath. The smell wafted over us: mouth-watering smoke that eminated from a nearby IN-N-OUT BURGER.
For a moment, I thought my big, tough guy might be weeping.
“Want a burger?” I asked.
“I do.” He enhaled deeply again. “I do.”
“Then get one. No one said we had to do this.”
But he shook his head and just stared at that enticing red and yellow sign. Then he turned away, looking like a broken-hearted lover.
And so our quest continues. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Blank Slate Press/Amphorae Publishing Group
Price: $16.95 Paperback, $9.99 eBook
As a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper descends into the throes of mental illness, he latches onto a lonely pregnant teenager and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon. When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil. As the search for the saboteurs heats up, the authorities uncover more questions than answers. And then the girl vanishes. As the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born in the wilderness.