Sometimes I feel like I smell the meat. It haunts me in Key Food. Isn’t it delicious to walk past the frozen food section and see the blood splattered against the clear packaging? Sexy huh? The blood glides against the butcher’s fingers, and it looks savage to me. Knife in hand, and organs splattered to find the perfect beef for one’s dinner - purely delicious... Killing an animal to me is an invitation to a V.I.P. cannibalism party. But at this point everyone would argue “its not the same thing - an animal is just an animal.”
My mind space cadets back to my first hamburger in elementary school in the
Bronx. It came in one of those silver aluminum packages with cheese-stuck- to-aluminum-foil and ketchup that melted into the bun instead of the burger. Oh boy did
they look nasty but the taste was hard to resist. Back then this was my favorite lunch
meal. To be quite honest, in fourth grade I did not know where this beef “chemical” came
from. I thought it was human made, until some smart ass fifth grader said “how’s the
animal?” Animal!? No sir, I said to myself “I’m not eating an animal, this is purely hand made in those fancy factories.” Great Nova, I’m sure you came out sounding like an idiot! But hey, everyone learns at their own pace!
My head was spinning as I sorted out this discovery. At the time I didn’t care at
all about the next victim in a butchery, I just cared about my grumbling stomach at noon.
I stayed focused on finishing that burger in five minutes before I was allowed to go to
recess with the other classes and sweat like a stallion due to the fact that I treated a game
of Tag as if it were the Olympics. After the rigorous 10 months of school and recess,
summer was arriving.
The summer days were calling and I was packing up to leave for Croatia
where I was born. But notice I said “I was packing up”- I always leave and come
back each summer alone by plane. At age 6, I had enough as they would say “balls” to go
by myself across the Atlantic Ocean to be with my grandparents for the summer. I never
cried, I guess my mom’s tears covered all of mine at the time. But man was going alone
the BEST! I’ve learned to be independent at such a young age that I think Ne-Yo the
singer wrote “Ms. Independent” for me. When it was time to transfer flights the flight
attendant led me to my favorite room - the play room! I would pass by the adults with
hooded eyes trying not to fall asleep reading the Times while I rolled my pink princess
suitcase against the cascading tiles. Free food, games, TV, movies, dolls, and even a slide
in the middle of the room pleasured my 5 hours of waiting in Heaven on Earth.
As soon as I arrived in sunny beautiful Croatia, I grabbed my bathing suit and
went straight to the beach with my grandparents. On Saturdays we would always go to
my grandpa’s farm a few hours away. I loved taking the sheep on rope out to the fields of
vast mountains to eat grass and jumping out on the chickens. Then one Saturday changed.
Right before my eyes, my grandpa’s friend came and stabbed one of the sheep in the neckwith a knife. All I saw was the blood and I heard the awful “BAAAAAAAA” as it took it’s last breath. I ran to my room crying as my grandma followed and gave me a whole speech on how “it’s the circle of life.”
My independence from the pack out shined once again and that was the
day I would never eat meat again. At age 8, I decided to turn vegetarian. My grandparents
didn’t take this news lightly. They wouldn’t stop bombarding me with the “cycle” talk.
At the end of the day, I knew my grandma’s “noodle soup” didn’t only contain noodles. I
arrived to New York, and my opinion had changed on those “best lunches” at school. My
whole diet changed; I now didn’t eat meat or fish. On the other hand my parents were
extremely supportive (they’re vegetarian as well) and I guess you could say they understood my trauma with meat now.
This is my 7th and ongoing year as a vegetarian. In the midst of this, I was raised
by both artistic parents who were recognized artists in Croatia, who taught me to be open-
minded and spiritual therefore I was open towards meat eaters on the other hand too. I
never had the personality to tell someone that eating meat is wrong- I am not a preacher, I
guess I’m only a teacher of a different lifestyle. Most people say that if they saw an
animal get killed before their eyes that they themselves would become vegetarian.
Through my process of discovery, I’ve attended quite a few PETA (People for the
Ethical Treatment of Animals.) protests. Such events just consisted of protesters holding
signs with pictures of animals getting abused and yelling “don’t think your meat has no
feelings!” The people were so passionate about fighting yet somehow I couldn’t get in
contact with my inner Jason Miller attitude. I feel these protests were useless - who am I to shove it in your face that eating meat is wrong. My mother says I was born a lawyer
because I could always see both viewpoints of the story. Do I believe in this food chain or
food cycle or whatever you would call it- yeah. I mean after all it is scientifically proven
that humans are meant to be omnivores. People always ask me “Nova how do you have
so much energy all the time? Now I joke around and say “well technically herbivores get
the most intake of energy from food since they have the highest level of biomass” - how
corny and nerdy huh? BUT yet I somehow love this awkward geeky statement. Corniness
has become my comedic relief through out the years that has taught me its better to laugh than cry.
I know how I want to function as a human being, what I want to
eat, who I want to hang out with, and who I want to be when I grow older - everyone
has their own definition of life. This is why it offends me when meat eaters are disgusted
by vegetarians and vice - versa. The Great Gatsby states, “whenever you feel like
criticizing any one, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the
advantages that you’ve had.” Great quote but I think advantages isn’t necessarily true- I’d
rather replace “advantages” with “life experiences.”