I stopped eating meat in July. I’d just come back from a yoga weekend of almost-vegan living, and it simply made sense to use the momentum. It wasn’t a reaction to the terrible crimes of industrial farming, nor was it done out of fear of karmic retribution. I just liked the energy it gave me, and I felt like there were a lot of things to eat in the world besides meat so why not expand my definition of lunch? I dug out my Mark Bittman book and began buying chard. Jack, a deeply committed carnivore, backed me up 100%. No, really. He didn’t make fun of me once. “Who are you and what have you done with my husband?” I asked him the night he deep fried a block of tofu. We both lost five pounds.
After a few weeks of falafel and weird quiche experiments, he said, “Can we eat some fish once in awhile?” So we made a fish compromise and Friday night sushi resumed. I made seafood risotto, then fashioned a little conga line of uneaten shrimp around the edge of my plate. “They’re dead anyway, throwing them out makes their sacrifice meaningless,” Jack reasoned.
Whose karma would take the hit, the person who accepted their lives to sustain his own, or the person who poked at them in disgust and then threw them out? I threw them out.
A month later Jack said, “I think I need to eat a steak.” In the interest of marital harmony I bought a steak and he ate it. I had more blood on my hands than I could ever wash off, anyway.
Then Jackson took me aside. “Dad says he can’t wait until you’re done with this goddamn vegetarian shit.”
“First of all, watch your mouth.”
“But Dad said it!”
“Second of all, I’ll be done when I’m good and ready. It may be tomorrow, it may be never.”
“Mom, can I have McDonald’s for dinner?”
“Can we move into a McDonald’s? I love McDonald’s.”
“I’m going to force-feed you a kale smoothie.”
“So what do we do about Thanksgiving?” Jack asked. “Jackson really wants a turkey.”
“Then Jackson should have a turkey,” I said.
“What about you?”
“Oh, hell, I don’t know.” I flashed back to a Thanksgiving at my parents’ house when I’d given up meat in my twenties. I got a plate of Potato Buds and stuffing. “Maybe I’ll just give up giving up meat for the holidays. Prime rib is on sale at Shalhoob. Let’s have some veal, while we’re at it. Rack of lamb. Get an entire tenderloin and cover it in foie gras and caviar. Fuck it.”
Jack looked at me warily. “I don’t know if your body could take any of that.”
“I’ll just drink heavily. It will be okay.”
“Maybe you should go back to yoga.”
Maybe I should go back to yoga.