Case History: How We Suddenly Became Vegetarians by Arthur S. Harris, Jr.(A didactic word on vegetarianism)
For forty-nine years I ate meat the way most Americans do—without questioning the practice from any point of view—health, aesthetics, ecology. You might say I had been indoctrinated into meat-eating by society. But four years ago at the age of fifty I gave up meat completely; my wife followed the next month and one of our sons a year later.
A six month's trip to Mexico changed everything. On a tight budget, we drove down to Oaxaca and then to Puerto Angel living as inexpensively as we could. In Puerto Angel, we rented an adobe house for $16 a month and lived surrounded by Mexicans who slaughtered animals in the early dawn. Agonizing cries of animals in their last moments of life would pierce the predawn darkness. Then, not thirty yards from our hammocks, meat would be cut up. Suddenly we were confronted with the fact that meat comes from a corpse. In our naivete we had allowed ourselves to think meat came attractively wrapped from the A&P meat counter. Going to the nearby dusty town of Pochutla didn't help. Here chunks of meat hung on hooks in open air stores with flies buzzing around.
We had been jolted out of our innocence. We stopped eating meat and made do with fantastically inexpensive vegetables and fruits, supplemented by dairy products.
Back in more civilized Oaxaca, we ate one or two American-style hamburgers but found them hard to get down. Visions of an animal being killed with a machete to the throat kept interfering.
Now, into Oaxaca flow a steady stream of young, knap-sacked Americans who sip capuccino on the zocolo and talk of cosmic consciousness, Mexican police, Vedic studies, and the Allman brothers. We picked up with a young couple into nutrition and spent days learning from them. They were, of course, vegetarians, but they expanded our awareness beyond health to point out that meat-eating consumed vast amounts of protein in a world with a protein shortage. They made us realize that an animal is a protein factory in reverse, consuming tons of protein-rich grains and soybeans to produce mere pounds of chemically-injected animal protein. By the time we left Mexico to return to New York, we were no longer meat eaters. Within a year we gave up fish and chicken, then Phyllis gave up eggs. Technically, I suppose we can be catalogued as lacto-vegetarians.
We are astonished when people ask us if we don't feel weaker. They ask how we possibly get enough protein without good, red meat. When we tell our questioners that we feel better, cleaner, healthier and stronger than ever, we get those glazed-eye looks which say, "Veggies are brainwashed nuts!" But we know better and we know who the brainwashed really are—American meat-eaters who've never once questioned the practice of eating animal flesh as the mainstay of their diet.
Home > Lesson 32 - Why We Should Not Eat Meat
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