Dangerous Compassions

why I’m a vegetarian abridged

We stopped by Naan Stop for some Indian food.  The veggie rice bowl is $6.  Ming got tofu saag, while I got the channa.  I never ever order that.  But the worker was giving samples.  The garbanzo beans were impossibly soft and super delicious.  Cooked from dry vs out of a can, they’re like two different foods.

“What’s the dish on the end?” I asked.

“Veggie xxxx,” the worker said.

“Veggie what?” I asked.

“Veggie curry,” he said.  “We call it curry, but there’s no curry in it.”

Basically I felt it was a made up dish with no name.  No problem.  He dished me samples in very small plastic cups.  It was fun to try everything.

“Are you vegetarian?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said.

“Why?” he asked, in a strange combative tone.

I paused with surprise.  “For the environment,” I said.

“For the animals,” he answered for me, backing down.  His “why?” wasn’t a real question, more of a challenge.  He didn’t really want to hear my reason, believing he already knew it.

He had a little girl he was trying to take care of while working.  He seemed intellectual, feisty, and maybe cranky.  Not sure about him.

In actually I think meat is kind of gross.  I don’t wanna eat blood, fat, skin, or muscle, or encounter bone or any worse stuff I will not even mention to you.  If a mammal, that animal was carried and birthed by its mother, loved by her, probably nursed and licked, nudged, encouraged, cherished.  I don’t think I have more of a right to live than a mammal.  I feel the same as them.  They can’t talk, but they can do other cool things.

As for birds, I used to think they were pretty different from mammals.  But crows are smarter than some people.  I don’t think people are valuable based on how smart they are.  But it seems twisted.  They have personalities, form alliances, hold grudges.  I don’t want to kill birds.

Fish and shrimp, I don’t relate to them, much.  But it seems unnecessary to eat them.  I don’t want to see a dead fish and know it died for me.  I don’t wanna kill anything.  Except mosquitoes.  Some bugs are about it.

And I feel like if I wouldn’t do it myself, I wouldn’t want to pass it off to anyone and make them do my dirty work for me.  An uncle used to work in a slaughterhouse.  He didn’t like it, but he was trying to stick around for the retirement.  He told me some terrible tales I’ll spare you.  I could never do that.  No way it’s worth it.

We took the food to go.  Ming left some donated books in the little free library in front of the co-op.  We drove downtown to the public library.  We sat outside for a long time.  I enjoyed the eucalyptus trees. 

I ate some channa and rice.  It was too spicy, so Ming and I traded.  I ate almost all of his tofu and some of his saag, so delicious–soft, slippery, salty, tender, green, intense, warming, complex, satisfying.  And the channa was way hotter than the saag.  Ming liked it.

Then we were at the library–I was trying to email a friend, but I got distracted reading about an iceman mummy.  I needed to be distracted, so that’s ok.

Then Ming went to get the minivan out of the parking structure, but it had a flat tire.  He seemed upset when he finally picked me up.  I think he was scared because a tow truck couldn’t get into a parking structure.

Too many things are going wrong.  It makes me want to stay home.  Life is pretty damn risky.  But, I guess risk is unavoidable.  “A boat is safe in harbor, but that’s not what boats are made for.”

All this is an introduction to the picture.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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