Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The meat of the whole thing.

Playing in the background: An episode of "South Park"
Meters swum today: Zilch. I'm banned from the pool until Friday, or until I get over this cold, whichever comes first.

Okay, let's not beat around the bush here. Let's just have out with it. I eat meat.

Yep. Chickens, too. Even fish.

Yeah, well, so what? I live in the United States with the rest of the carnivores, right? Well, so, most Buddhists are vegetarians, that's what. One of the Big Five Precepts us lay folk take involves not killing anything. It's kind of hard to eat meat without killing anything, unless you're at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe with Douglas Adams and the cow of the evening is coming by to ask what part of him you'd like to devour. Even so, I think the cow gets killed sooner or later. Doug doesn't tell us. He's a keeper of secrets, is Doug.

In my case, I have a Sanctioned Medical Excuse; I have both pernicious anemia and hypoglycemia, and there's nothing that'll make that combination worse, than eating lots of plants. And what the hell are they? (Not the plants, the two lofty-sounding medical conditions.) Well, anemia is not having enough iron in your blood, and hypoglycemia is like diabetes only not so much. You get the lows of blood sugar without the highs, which is great for long term survival but lousy if you, I dunno, wanna stay conscious while driving. I'm just kidding, I've never lost consciousness while driving. I have, however, lost my temper.

Yes, I take iron supplements. Yes, I also eat lots of green leafy vegetables. Raw spinach is a particular favorite. But the best thing for keeping anemia in check is eating red meat. Yes, I eat every couple of hours. Yes, I try to avoid stuff with lots of sugar in it so as to avoid all those wild fluctuations in blood sugar that are so much fun for the people around me. But the best thing for keeping my blood sugar from zooming around is eating...lean meat. It doesn't have to be red, though. White will do. (Cat: The other white meat.)

Do I feel bad about eating aminals? Well, yeah, sometimes. Back when I had an aquarium, I used to hate having to eat fish. Fish are friends, after all. I've always felt sort of mildly bad about eating chickens. Chickens are cute and intelligent, come when they're called, like having their ears skritched (if they had ears). I think the big regret, though, is that these animals I chow down on lead such wretched lives before they show up on my dinner plate.

Back a hundred or so years ago, many people raised their own animals. They saw them through their life cycle, cared for them, and when they did get around to killing them, they did it pretty quick with an ax. Nobody on a 1900s era farm would think stuffing a chicken in a cage with a hundred other chickens was a good idea. Or that cows should be fed a weird mix of meat that included, among other things, cows. Cows ate grass. Everybody knew that. Chickens ran around and kept your yard free of bugs. Why would you stick them in a cage? That would be stupid. And mean. And bad for the chicken. Which would be bad for the meat. Which would be bad for you, the eventual diner. Injecting them with antibiotics? Forget it. They hadn't been invented yet, for one thing. Antibiotics, I mean.

So that's my dilemma. I'm more or less over the fact that I have to eat meat, especially after ending up in the hospital and having my periods stop for most of a year during my wild flings at "I'm going to be a vegetarian if it kills me" (clearly it might). But I think the animals I'm eventually gonna eat deserve a decent life before they get the ax. Short of raising them myself, which is kind of not an option inside the Dallas city limits, how do I do this? How do I find chickens that ran around eating insects while they were alive and cows that would never think that cow-containing "protein cakes" were a nice tasty snack?

One of the options we're investigating: An outfit in Denton that buys locally-grown meat. I gotta tell you, though, the 45-mile drive to and from will completely negate the whole "locally grown" part. But I might be able to live with that.

Confidential to Mike: Please don't fall down the stairs. Please oh please.

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