Out driving today, Animal from The Muppet Show snapped this shot of wild turkeys roaming around Ithaca. (Okay, maybe it was me in an Animal T-shirt.) Click the image for more detail.
11 months ago, I watched five turkeys traipse through my backyard in a V formation, the leader in front, the others a step behind and fanning out to the sides. Prior to that day, my primary experience with turkey had been Thanksgiving related, but I was struck by what beautiful creatures they are roaming out in the wild.
Though I'd flirted with vegetarianism/vegaquarianism in the past, I'd never committed to it, and yet upon seeing the turkeys out on patrol I made a promise to myself to cut all beef, pork and poultry from my diet for a year.
One trip around the sun mammal and fowl free. Just to find out what that would feel like.
Happily for all involved, it's been a really positive experience. I feel great, I've lost weight, and the longstanding sense of guilt I feel for munching animals is now confined just to seafood. For better or worse, I've discovered that my sensation of guilt directly correlates with the intelligence of the animal--it's difficult for me to get too worked up about eating a tuna, but pigs are as clever as a three-year-old child and if I wouldn't eat the child, why the pig?
Whalers, poachers and cannibals aside, I really don't begrudge anyone eating whatever they want. We're each of us on a different path and there are sometimes very good reasons to be a carnivore (recently, for example, I was chatting up a waitress who'd been a lifelong vegetarian until she became pregnant and her doctor advised her to add animal protein to her diet for health reasons.) So I'm not preaching; I'm just celebrating a personal decision that's given me more than I thought it would.
Now I'm a little concerned about mercury from the seafood in my diet, so after the year is up I might go back to chicken now and again--weekends, maybe, inspired by Graham Hill's weekday veg proposal.
But I don't think I'm ever going back to beef or pork or turkey, and for that I have the turkeys to thank.