I am moving away from consuming meat. And the reason may surprise you. 

It’s not because we have daughters who are vegetarian and pescatarian. Sure, they’ve made me think about things – but their decisions are theirs. And while I appreciate that their decisions have made me think about things, it’s not the reason.

The idea of moving away from meat is also not for my health. I love the taste of meat and am in pretty good shape. Outside of the rogue cancer a couple years back, my systems are pretty solid for an old guy. 

Moving away from meat isn’t even for the planet – which, frankly, should be motivation enough. Rain forests are the lungs of the earth. They shouldn’t be cleared for pastureland to sate a global appetite for meat. Capitalism is only so sustainable. 

All of these would be perfectly valid reasons for a move away from a dietary staple I’ve enjoyed for almost 60 years. But it’s none of these reasons. 

As a writer, I visualize words. In everything around me. And all the words hold distinct meaning. 

One day last year, I was browsing some red meat at the market when it dawned on me – this was not some fancy-branded consumer product. It wasn’t a “ribeye” or a “porterhouse.” It was a skinned and butchered animal. It was flesh. 

Flesh. That one word freaked me out right there in the market. I immediately saw things differently. I once heard someone say, “Once the mind expands on thought, it never regresses to its original state.” When you know something, you can’t pretend you don’t.

Again, I love meat. But I only really crave beef. And even that is mostly for ground flesh formed into round patties. Burgers. That’s what I crave. And don’t give me the veggie option and call that a burger. Bean burger will never satisfy me like a beef burger, and I’ll always be disappointed – I’m not even willing to pretend. 

I have always loved animals. And now that I think about meat as flesh, I have a hard time ripping them apart and swallowing them. I also don’t think I could ever survive on plants alone. Not happily. Which is why we’ve shifted our meal rotation to include a lot of seafood. Like, 4 to 5 nights per week. Yes, I know it’s still flesh. And fish are animals. But we have to draw the line somewhere, right? And besides, if there’s one thing I crave more than ground mammal – it’s seafood. So that bodes well.  

A while back, we had friends over for chicken and ribs. As I prepped and cooked, I thought about it. All of it. The food was delicious, of course, but I could only manage to eat a little. It wasn’t even red meat, but it was still flesh. 

Yeah, I think meat is coming to an end for me. I can’t not think about what it is anymore and how we come about it. 

Being a writer is no picnic. Certainly not a picnic with meatball subs. 

Jim

Barbie is All That

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.

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