Sunday, May 10, 2009

Joyless Eating: Confessions of a meat eater 1

I ate meat for 24 years. There! I admitted it. I did, I did, I did. But during many of these years I did so reluctantly. Moreover, eating for me was more or less a chore until I became a vegan.

You see, as a child, I hated mom's cooking. I did not like her food in part because it always contained meat, and I felt that the meat was often undercooked. I hated the taste of rawish meat.

I hated mom's cooking also because she hated it too, and she hated to cook in general. It was strange, because mom cooked beef and fish for the family, even though she did not eat it herself. Her dietary restrictions was based on religious tradition (cow), and personal preference (fish). After she learned that fish eat people who drown in the river, she decided they were not for her.

Well, as a child, I must have picked up on this right away to get out of eating altogether. The contradictions were too glaring for me to ignore. Hey, if she didn't eat it, why was she forcing me to eat it? "Mom, I want what you are having only, and you can let the rest of the family eat that other stuff you made." Hey, you know, this just may well have been the origin of that infamous critical outlook of mine. You think?

Unfortunately, mom did not take kindly to me adopting her diet, and as a result, a large part of my childhood was spent fighting mom and her contradictions. It was pure hell, let me tell you. We fought over every meal, with her standing over me with a whip, me in tears for hours, and eventually throwing up in my plate, which occurred far too many times in my life. When it did, she would force me to eat from the part of the plate without vomit.

When I said I hated mom's food, I wasn't kidding. Eating was torture for me. Literally, every day.

Mom only liked chicken. Buying live chickens from the market was a weekly routine. When she got home, mom would be rushed for time since she needed to kill the chicken, boil the creature to remove its feathers, chop it up, and then cook it. There are few things in the world worst smelling that boiled chicken, and I usually flee the house to get away from that smell. Her chopping of the bird would lead to bits of flesh and blood splattering everywhere. Disgusting to children and adults alike.

When I was seven or so, mom started to force me to kill the live chickens she brought at the market. This was the most detestable thing I've ever done in my entire life. I could not bring myself to look at a harmless, active creature and then decide to take its life. But killing was men's work, and cooking was hers.

More fighting with mom resulted in me holding down the creature, and attempting to cut its neck with a blunt knife, but making little effort. All the while, I would be bawling. As I was watching fear increase in the creature's eyes, hearing its sad cry, feeling its body react to death, and seeing life ebb from its severed head, I felt I was dying along with it. Sometimes I got halfway and stopped after collapsing in tears. Someone else had to finish the killing while the creature screamed in pain. After a few times of this horror, I must have convinced mom, and thankfully she never asked me to perform this unbearable task again. She either did it herself or asked another brother.

Having said that, at times, I will admit to having enjoyed the smell and taste of burnt flesh. But I did not really seek bbq or any other form of meat out. I hated most prepared food. I enjoyed fruits and nuts, and I often ate fruit as a whole meal. Anything to avoid fighting with mom over eating her food.

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