Anonymous asked: a while back you wrote about creating a less radical PETA. I'm in, but just wondering, what made you turn vegetarian/vegan?
I generally try to avoid this question because it’s almost impossible to answer without sounding preachy, but you asked via the Sacred Tumblr Ask Box(TM) and vegetarianism is one of a handful of political stances I actually give a shit about, so here we are. (Why am I up this early doing this right now?, is another good question I’m currently asking myself, but that’s neither here nor there, so…)
Anyway, there are numerous reasons why I don’t eat meat and try—and often fail—to eschew other animal products. Factory farming, which yields virtually all of America’s meat, is very obviously a fucked-up enterprise. It’s bad for the environment and bad for public health etc. etc., and you can go on about this stuff forever. I’ve read a lot of Singer’s writing on this subject and I agree with much of it, and Theodor Adorno has said some things about vegetarianism that have really resonated with me. But philosophical stuff aside, mostly what my choice comes down to is that I don’t like the idea of something getting killed on my behalf.
One day when I was about 10, my friend Taylor and I were walking through this big patch of desert behind his house with his BB gun when we spotted a dove perched in a tree. Taylor had been shooting cacti and rocks all day, so now it was my turn, and we chose the dove as my target. I aimed for its head but I hit its body, and it made this strange guttural noise—not a noise you’d expect from a bird—before falling from its perch to the ground. We walked over to the tree where the dove had been sitting and it was writhing in the dirt and trying pathetically to fly away. I was freaking out, but Taylor very calmly told me to “put it out of its misery,” which is something he probably heard his hunter dad say once, and so I pumped the gun again, held the barrel directly to the dove’s head, and pulled the trigger. A quick puff of small feathers leapt into the air and the dove stopped moving. I felt sick to my stomach immediately, and that night, when I was alone in my room, I cried about what I’d done to that dumb old bird.
I didn’t eat the dove that day, of course—we just left it for the coyotes—but even if I had eaten it I’m not sure it would have made me feel any better to think it hadn’t died in vain. It is weird to kill something, and it made me feel very bad about myself. When I started reading about vegetarianism in my late teens, I thought a lot about the disconnect between feeling awful after shooting the dove but never once considering the fact that animals were being constantly slaughtered for my cheeseburgers and pork chops.
I dunno, man. I realize all this stuff sounds so super-sensitive and hippy-dippy idiotic, and I’ve spent more time writing this now than I’d intended to, but whatever. I think it’s important. We live in the most progressive time in human history, and more people than ever before will tell you that it is virtuous to consider the feelings of others, and yet very few—I think I read that vegetarians make up 2 percent of the American public—give a shit about the truly reprehensible things that happen inside slaughterhouses so that they can eat bratwurst. Nowadays it seems like many people even revel in it. Like, I will never understand the top-of-the-food-chain chest-thumping bullshit that people (mostly men) do when they sit down to a meaty dinner going, “I fuckin’ consume bacon and bourbon and steak and bone marrow, motherfucker.” Have you seen those YouTube videos where guys will wrap a steak in bacon and stuff the bacon-steak into a turkey and stuff that turkey into a pig, all while screaming at the camera? Fuck those videos.
I don’t wanna lord power over animals like that. I don’t want destitute people in slaughterhouses operating machines that cut cows’ throats just so that I can feel important and rich at a big steak dinner. I’ve always told myself that if I can ever kill, gut, and then cook a pig or steer myself, I will eat that meat. But I don’t have it in me right now, and I’m not sure I ever will.
Anonymous asked: Are you from Virginia originally or did you just go to school there?
Just for school. I’m an Arizona desert rat by birth. My placenta’s buried under a palo verde somewhere in Tucson, so I think that means I must return one day to die beneath the shade of the same tree or something.