I became a vegetarian during the Thanksgiving holidays and that has worked well so far, except that I realize that now I have a new "rule" to follow. Here is what happened.
While I was briefly home during Chistmas, Sophie, Roger and I went to eat at a favorite small, family-owned Thai-Japanese restaurant. Thai and Japanese foods are not readily available in Barnesville--though a Japanese restaurant is coming to St. Clairsville--so this outing was a treat.
I was on the brink of ordering Tum Ka (?), a soup I always eat there, when I realized: it contains shrimp! Oh no! I can't have shrimp. There were certainly vegetarian options on the menu. But I ordered the soup because it's what I always do. I decided that --for the evening--I was a vegaquarian, as a seafood-eating friend labels herself. Then I felt guilty. What am I doing? I can't bend the rules! What's the use of taking a stand if you abandon it as soon as it's inconvenient?
In my defense, I am in the stage of getting used to a new way of eating--and thus far, hadn't fallen off the wagon. My biggest problem are the meals I automatically order. Auto-pilot habits can be the hardest to change, because they allow you not to pay attention For instance, I was in the IKEA in Pittsburgh before Christmas, and I went to eat lunch, which means--absolute auto-pilot ... Swedish meatballs. I caught myself in time, and bought a cold and soggy vegetarian wrap ... but I could have as easily found myself eating ... meatballs. I wondered: could I become a vegaquarianSwedishmeatballian?
I now have a new insight into how a rule can create a monstrous tangle of legalisms. I started wondering if becoming a vegetarian was a good idea or if it was merely adding a new layer of guilt to my life.
But I decided it was worthwhile to take a stand (such as it is) and that it's important to stay focused on the spirit of the rule. In other words, why am I doing this? Mostly, because I'm concerned about animal abuse. That's worthy ... even if I'm working my way up to getting rid of commercial milk and eggs ... which I can do, living near the Amish, but, again, it's not always ... convenient. I'm working on it. But without the "rule," there's no focus and no goal to work towards.
On the other hand, having been in the situation myself, I don't ever want people who are in circumstances in which vegetarianism is a luxury they can't afford to feel pressured about what they eat.
Bill Samuel posted on Facebook a copy of a pro-vegetarian statement that included a comment by Tolstoy positing a connection between eating animals --slaughterhouses--and war. Tolstoy argued that if we got rid of the one, we'd get rid of the other. Tolstoy could be completely over-the-top in so many ways, but as I started thinking about this, I saw a definite connection between how we today, in U.S. culture, are largely removed from both our wars and our meat production, leasing both out to a small class of people and then more or less "shutting out" both. So maybe there is more of a connection than we think. Do you think so? Or is this more "over the top" thinking?
What about legalisms? Does becoming a vegetarian, vegaquarian, a vegaquarianSwedishmeatballian or a vegan, create too many rules? How do we navigate this?