- people who were irrationally personally offended by my choice (my father, for example, decided that my vegetarianism was a substitute for God in my life),
- those who even in the face of a profound lack of evidence immediately assumed that I was an Evangelical Vegetarian (and these folks would then launch a preemptive assault much in the style of the Bush Administration's Iraq policy),
- those who were just plain stupid and were trying, and failing, to understand (“Ok, so, like, what if you were, like, stranded on a desert island, and the only things on the island was you and a great big, juicy t-bone steak?”)
The reasoning behind my decision was fairly simple. If animals don't need to die for me to get through life, they shouldn't. (While I do believe that others should also follow this basic ethic, I understand it's not my place to try to force these choices on others, just as I don't want fundamentalist xtians trying to force me to live by their ethical schema.) I do have a somewhat hierarchical concept of the value of life, based largely on concepts of personhood. My dog is a person. A worm is less so. A fish is somewhere in between. I understand that this is, in the grand scheme of things, a fairly arbitrary way of dividing up the world, but it is as it is.
So I gave up eating meat, (mostly) in the order that fit the personhood hierarchy. First I gave up pork and red meat. Then I gave up poultry. Then fish. Then bacon (yes, I'm fully aware of the porkness of bacon).* I extended this to clothes as well. Any new clothes I bought were animal-free: I had (still have) a vast collection of Converse All-Stars. I wore those, or went barefoot.** I bought non-leather belts. I never did the leather jacket thing (or the tight leather pants thing – probably the real reason why I never became a rock star), so that wasn't a terribly big deal. Shoes, though – there really weren't a lot of options there.
In 1993 I got hit by a truck, which fucked up my left arm pretty good (it's still bent; it still hurts). I was in a brace and a sling for a long time, as in, when winter was approaching I was still in a sling. The D&D crew and associated others took a trip up to Vermont, where Charlie's mom had a house. We got up there and there was ice, and I realized that if I fell, my arm would re-shatter. And there was a good chance that I'd fall.
'Cause Chucks have no tread to speak of. (...of which to speak?)
So we ended up at the Timberland outlet store and I bought myself my first pair of leather shoes in years. They were tan leather workboots, fairly heavy, good tread, reasonably comfortable once they got broken in. I wore them when the weather required, or when the activity required.
I called them my Meat-Shoes.
Today, as I was tearing out the mildewed walls in the basement***, my Meat-Shoes exploded. They've been showing a bit of wear lately, but nothing a bit of tape couldn't fix. Alas, I fear that tape shall not suffice this time.
Rest in Peace, dear Meat-Shoes. You have earned your rest.
* Strangely enough, when I'm not getting enough protein, I find myself craving Original Recipe Kentucky Fried Chicken.
** One time, the security guard at the mall came up to me and said, “Excuse me, sir, do you have shoes?” “Yes,” I said, truthfully. “Do you have shoes here?” I looked down at my feet, looked back up at him. “No, I don't think so.” I don't think that was the answer he was expecting. He told me I should have shoes. I told him I hadn't brought shoes, so if I had shoes, someone else would be missing theirs. Eventually, he just asked me not to go on the escalator.
*** 6 contractor bags full of wet, mildewed drywall. 1 large pile of wood to be dealt with later. 1 small but heavy pile of tile fragments. Next will be pulling the crap out of the cabinets and deciding what is trash and what ain't, and then ripping the cabinets out. Today I wore a mask, because Linda and Krys will beat me if I don't. Wait. That might be fun. Hmm. Thanks to Mare for helping me realize that it's not quite as awful as I'd feared.