Last Enchilada on LaBrea, or, How Might I Eat Flesh? • 9 November 2007

Tonight someone whose view of me matters a lot asked, and not for the first time, that I please eat six ounces of salmon.

If there’s a window when I could do that and savor it, I’m in it right now. I’ve built a great deal of muscle very quickly, am feeling the sudden chill of Los Angeles’ version of "winter," and ate a pint of yogurt in the past three days. (Usually I find dairy a little gross.) On Monday and Tuesday, I ate swiss cheese, and not a small amount. Instead of making me ill, it tasted amazing and made me feel strong.

“Hide it from yourself! Put it in a salad slathered with vegenaise!” This was my dear lady’s soft-sell.

But no. I think that if it happens I want to be ritual about it. Like, maybe to a corny degree.

I haven’t ingested red meat in 13 years. I didn’t even notice that I was suddenly being liberated from beef, when I drove away from the Ranch where my folks have two freezers for animal parts out in the garage and put flesh on the table twice a day. When I was small, my dad and a friend would go out to the herd which grazed out our back window, choose a cow, and then butcher it up together and split the food. Friends who had even less money would live much of the year on venison, mooseburgers, and duck. I never questioned meat before I left, but the day I had other socially-acceptable options, I quit.

Chicken and fish stayed around longer. But five years ago after a dinner I regretted at my adviser’s house, I stopped accepting them even when served by loved ones. That choice was much more difficult to make, but I felt to shitty to do anything else after that last heavy enchilada on the Miracle Mile.

I do not have an ideology of vegetarianism. None. I don’t refrain for ethical reasons; and for cultural reasons it would be much easier if I did not refrain.

This is not about an idea. I don’t even need to moralize because my viscera get to run the show on this one. We are talking about a strong physical revulsion, one that’s probably grown stronger as the habit of non-partaking reinforces itself.

Ok. Great. But I’m clearly craving animal protein for the first time in more than a decade. That might be significant. And I’m being asked by others to take some. And hell. It is a new moon.

I don’t know how to go about this. And I’m not completely committed to doing it. On the level of my mouth, the whole prospect still feels disgusting. But my mouth might be lying. I don’t know.

I don’t want advice on whether I should or I shouldn’t. That is my decision and what I am working out.

But I would love to know if anyone out there has broken a long term of vegetarianism because your body seemed to want it. (I am less interested in people who have flipped back and forth for reasons of social influence or general dietary experimentalism, which of course I see all the time).

How did you do it? What was it like? What were your emotions about the experience? Were you thankful you did it? Will you do it again?

Thanks sincerely to anyone who can help as I try to sort my intuitions from my reflex mentality on this one.