Thursday, November 19, 2009
What Kind of Creatures Have You Created Us, Adonai?
Two evenings ago I found myself preparing something akin to the delectable sweet-and-sour cabbage rolls my grandmother used to make. While draining the fat from my sauteed kosher hamburger, I prayed the prayer I always offer up when I eat meat. Actually, the prayer comes across more like one of those respectful grillings Tevya in "Fiddler on the Roof" puts God through, whenever he is puzzling out the latest challenge the Lord has handed his family. One of those "Just what is your purpose here, anyway?" kind of discussions. I always pray, "You have confused me, Adonai, by creating creatures who take life in order to live." I have puzzled over the possible reasons our Creator could have fashioned our world in this manner, but I will not bore you with that here. Instead, I want to report that each time I engage in this dialogue with God, it crosses my mind that I could choose to be a vegetarian. It crosses my mind in the same fuzzy way it crosses my mind that I could write children's books if I wanted to. I just haven't gotten around to it yet.
I should mention that I was, for two short years at the frontish end of my life, a vegetarian. I worked briefly during college at a vegetarian restaurant in Lawrence, Kansas, where I was more or less brainwashed into changing my eating habits. They made a nutrition monster out of me. Although I returned to a meat-eating lifestyle a couple of years later, meat no longer holds the place it held in my childhood - centerpiece of every meal - even if it was only a crowning meatball on top of a mountain of spaghetti. Don't sneeze. And the nutrition monster still resides deep in my heart.
Perhaps we were not always such nonchalant murderers. Perhaps when we were closer to the killing of the animals - when we raised the cow or knew the butcher or the butcher was us - we may not have been so nonchalant. It is something, but not much, of a comfort that these animals are kosher, slaughtered under the watchful guidance of trained rabbis in the sacred and (more) humane manner that makes each of them a sacrifice to the Lord of sorts. And maybe it's the fact that I've never encountered a turkey substitute that appealed to my taste buds, and after all Adonai surely created my tastebuds as part of the survival mechanism.
I know some of you are vegetarian. You are better people than I.
Maybe some of you, dear readers, are like me. Baffled but carnivorous.
But maybe some of you are betwixt and between myself and my vegetarian readers. Maybe, when you eat meat, you are more gutterally appalled by the trade-off of life for meat than as of yet I am. Maybe you are leaning in the direction of a new kill-free commitment.
Whichever you are, if you are willing, I would like to hear from you. I rarely ask that, but I am interested in the ethical, social and religious implications beyond my own thoughts. I hope you'll communicate with me here in the comments section - not on facebook, for those of you who come this way by that portal, but here.
A tasting of four meatless “turkeys” for the holiday table Grist. To go with it, here is Amy, discussing her positive experience with a fake bird product. The picture to the upper-left is Amy's fake bird, complete with real stuffing. http://www.deitchley.com/blog/2007/11/25/480/. The second Bendrick article is for carnivores, and published last year. In it, he offers advice on greening up your turkey selection. http://www.grist.org/article/checkout-line-talk-turkey-to-me/.
And if you happen to be Jewish and curious, or just curious, I've included a couple of websites that ponder God's reasons for requiring animal sacrifice, and why it is that the pleasing smell of the sacrifice is so important to God that it is mentioned multiple times in the Torah. I hasten to say I have not adopted or rejected the views in these articles. I simply wander through them, Jew that I am, looking for answers.
There is much to be thankful for, so long as you are not a turkey.