Today my son, my daughter, and I decided we would try being vegetarians. We've talked about it before, and we've tried it before—especially my son and I—but we always end up back in Meat Land, undone by a need for ham and cheese pizza or a mad craving for steak.
But recently, we've been talking about it more and more, and today we drove past some cows. Cows happily munching on grass, kiddie cows hanging out, and one sweet cow scratching its chin on a fence post.
“Ah,” I said. “I think I want to be vegetarian.”
Instantly my son said, “Me too!”
And my daughter said, “Me too!”
Right. It was decided—we would be vegetarians. But we'd start slowly and keep eating tuna, partly because today I'd packed tuna sandwiches for our day out, not realising we'd be making a Momentous Decision on the drive.
“And I'll still have bacon,” said my son.
“That's a pig,” I said. “Did you know their brains are almost as big as ours? They're really smart.”
(Because I don't try to influence my kids at all.)
“Ah,” said my son. “Okay. No bacon. No ham.”
“We can eat cheese pizza!” declared my daughter.
Now we got into the nitty gritty, because my son said, “But we're going to J's house for dinner on Saturday. We'll have to tell them we're vegetarian now.” (As of exactly 3 minutes ago.)
“That might be rude,” I said, “Seeing as we're going there in two days. Perhaps we can just eat what's given us, this time round.”
“Like the Buddhists!” said my son, delighted.
Now this was funny and fascinating, seeing as it was some time ago I told my son not all Buddhists were vegetarian. I had discovered that Buddhist monks “of old” used to beg for alms by the side of a road, holding out a bowl and eating whatever they received. So if they were given meat, they ate meat. The idea, then, for certain Buddhists (and please forgive me if I am over-simplifying, and/or getting this wrong) is that as long as you do not harm an animal yourself, you can eat a no-longer-alive animal—especially if the meal is a gift. How interesting, I thought, and told my son.
I don't remember when I told him. It might have been 6 months ago or longer. I certainly never “taught” him the information. Somewhere he'd stored it, kept it in his noggin for when it had some relationship to his own life, and now here it was: flashing bright and beautiful from the cozy confines of his mind. Cool.
Anyway, here begins our vegetarian adventure! I don't know how long we'll last, but I hope we do. We have the intentions, which are good. We have the desire, which is great. We have the motivation, which is for each one of us complicated and personal. And we have our tummies, which are fickle. I wonder when the first steak craving will hit. I hope I'll be strong.