I eat a plant-based diet for the most part. Rather then offend the true vegans out there I will avoid saying I'm "practically vegan" since it makes about as much sense as being "barely pregnant"...you either are or are not. My decision to go vegetarian happened so long ago and had more to do with an aversion to eating the same kind of muscles that I can find on my own body, that it really doesn't seem like it was a decision per se. Do you suppose it's possible to be born a vegetarian (my parents were not)? If so, that's me.
I also don't generally write about the WHY's of my eating habits, partly because as a former anorexic, I have a tendency to eat in solitude, it's like I have personal food space issues...I guess that's weird but I have problems when people look at or comment on my food. I also don't like the confrontations that seem to be common place when people find out that I don't eat meat (and am 'dangerously close' to becoming vegan). It's not really their fault. They are curious. But really, it is not a new phenomena and there are plenty of vegetarians out there...even famous ones like Alicia Silverstone, Woody Harrelson, Albert Einstein, Leonardo Divinci and Aristotle, just to name a few. Charles Darwin quite possibly was vegetarian as well, although there is some question on the matter.
So why do I bring this up now? Don't worry...I am not going to try to convince anyone to give meat (although that would be awesome). It's a personal choice and I have faith that a lot of you already take measures to leave a smaller footprint, eat local foods, and maybe even go meatless on occasion. But I do want to talk about compassion.
This morning, on my drive in to work I came across the carcass of a snake in the middle of the road. Now, I have to assume that this snake was accidentally run over even though it is a ridiculously winding road and you'd be hard pressed to get over 8 mph at the particular spot where this guy laid smushed. I felt bad for him. Here it was, the first sunny day with exceptionally warm weather that most likely drew that snake out of hibernation to do a little tanning and WHAMO...I couldn't tell if it was a rattle snake, which I doubt considering the area, but either way I'm sure he wasn't a *threat to any one at the time. But a lot of people don't care WHAT kind of snake it is...snake=terror=kill it. Even the harmless gopher snake and the amazing King snake (the only snake that will kill the rattlers) fall victim to our fear (and that little story of the serpent in Genesis that evokes strong emotions of snakes being evil doers of the devil, or the devil himself doesn't help).
Don't get me wrong, I am not a snake enthusiast. As a matter of fact, they creep me out and I can't stand to see the baby mice at the pet store labeled as snake food, but I get the whole cycle of life thing. And I understand that while not a pleasant cuddling pet, snakes still deserve a certain level of respect and compassion (as do all living things including our Mother Earth) and certainly this individual didn't deserve to die simply because someone thought he was ugly or gross (again, I am hoping it was just an accidental hit and run). You see, everything has a purpose on earth...whether we understand it or not. And some critters certainly have gotten a bad rap and seem to have become more disposable then others. If you aren't a fan of snakes, remember, they DO keep the rodent population down much like spiders keep they flies away. Left to it's own devices, nature would keep a natural balance, but we humans tend to interfere and mess it all up. And as revolting as maggots are, without them we'd probably have a bunch of carcasses laying around stinking up the place rather then being recycled and returned to the earth. Same goes with vultures...ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
I've heard the argument that turkeys are so stupid that they drown themselves when it rains (the story is that they look up at the sky and their beaks fill with water...don't ask me, but I guess that is justification to slaughter and eat them) but it has rained here for about 9 days straight and I'll be damned if there aren't about 35 wild turkeys STILL walking around in the fields on my way to work.
Let me tell you, I've seen those websites that feature the stupidity of some humans and that will NOT make me think it's now okay to slaughter to eat THEM.
Yes, I'm the chick that stops and picks up the snail in the middle of the sidewalk so it doesn't get stepped on. Call me crazy...it wouldn't be the first time.
*This is coming from someone who has never been bitten by a snake, nor have any of my friends or family members, although I've lived/hiked/biked/road horses in the Mohave Desert for 4 years and also in the snake infested areas of the valley near Redlands, Ca.). For those people who HAVE been attacked by a snake, I suppose you have a right to fear them...