Thursday, August 03, 2006

Body and Soul

Its because of Ian. I was 16 and he had just moved into the city and he was SOOO cool and so nice and so attractive and so Mormon. Being all of the above plus a faithful follower of his religion (is anything more attractive than that?) I took note of the ways he lived his life.
The year before I had taken issue with the amount of meat my family was eating. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints live by a health code which mentions eating meat sparingly, specifically in times of cold, famine, winter. Growing up in Arizona in the 1990s I didn't see much of any of those things. At fifteen I decided to give up red meat in an effort to live that counsel in specific ways. It was also an effort of will, I really loved a good hamburger, and what would I possibly do without eating my favorite beef stroganoff? However I found that it was really quite easy, and that there was always plenty to eat without consuming red meat.
Then Ian came along. Ian the soccer playing guitar strumming hymn singing eyes twinkling double dimpled vegetarian. Before you could say Salisbury Steak I, too, had become a vegetarian.
A trite beginning to a glorious life of vegetarianism? Possibly. Although I know that people come into our lives for reasons. I had contemplated the leap before that point; Ian's charismatic place in my life helped me make the jump. Even though he moved only a short time later, hisinfluence in that matter has made a lasting impact on me (one that he doesn't know
Being a vegetarian has become one of those issues where I learn more about why I should do it as I live it. First of all, I don't claim to be as informed about it as most. I am not a vigilante, I am just quietly trying to live what I feel good about.

I feel good, being a vegetarian. I feel energetic, healthy, light. I don't suffer from weight issues (although I know there are a lot of factors behind that as well) and I feel the absence of that sort of meat-heaviness helps me to crave foods that are healthy for the body. I don't remember all of the health stats that proclaim why and how a vegetarian lifestyle is beneficial; I usually read them, think "oh yeah, I experience that!" and forget what I have read. I want to be a more conscious vegetarian, learning concrete ways this menu choice affects my physical health. But for now, mostly I can just day that I love the way my vegetarian body feels.

I got an email from a friend who described an incident where he was expected to kill the crab that he was going to eat for dinner. He said that it made him want to never eat meat again to have to see a living, crawling, life-ful creature turn lifeless, for his benefit. He called himself a "wus", I couldn't disagree any more wholeheartedly. Such a reaction, I felt, was the result of an intense respect for life. This young man was serving a mission, a time of spiritual development and working relationship with the Savior Jesus Christ. The love he felt for that small, animal life was simply a manifestation of the love he had been gaining as he served the Lord's children. We are told that even a sparrow doesn't fall from the sky without God being aware of it. He loves all of his creations.
It is my own personal belief that we will all end up being vegetarians anyways. Nothing really doctrinal to support that, just my own thoughts and conclusions. If Zion and the millenial reign of the Savior on the earth (both of which I believe in) are times of perfect peace and no death, it makes me think that the same will apply in the animal kingdom. That, of course is hinted at in Isaiah and throughout the scriptures. Why would the lamb lay down with the lion, only to be eaten by the human?
I feel that if my heart and mind stumble upon a higher truth, even if it is not yet generally expected of us, I should do my best to live it. And even if all of my philosophical reasons for not eating meat turn out to be wrong, I feel that this vegetarian living has made me a more gentle human being, loving of all God's creations. (except cockroaches. please don't call me on the cockroaches thing.)

One last thing. Like many principles, true or not, I believe each individual comes to it at his/her own time in his/her own way. I am not interested in forcing vegetarianism on anyone, or even guilting others for different lifestyles. I don't feel that there is anything wrong with eating meat, only that there is something very right about not eating it.


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