My cat, Ebullience, had a slightly less heavy duplicate. I was attempting to put both of these cats on top of laid out aluminum foil in my oven. In dream logic this was a process we repeated often. I cooked and ate them and they somehow remained living among me, but for some reason they weren’t cooperating, this time. I finally got them both in and the door shut. The oven was a small fire that lit up as soon as I turned the knob. Then I peeked in and saw the two cats had moved into the opposite back corners trying to escape the heat of the flames. I still didn’t get why they were so resistant to this perfectly usual occurrence, but the sight broke my heart and I let them out and the dream ended.
Such a surreal dream but the meaning seems clear. I’m conflicted with having a cat I care for, feed, cuddle with, and live with, while at the same time bringing other animals home from the store and cooking and eating them. Now this blog isn’t going to become an attack on meat eaters. I have leftover drumsticks in my fridge I’ll be eating probably between the time I write this and the time it posts. There’s nothing inherently wrong with humans eating meat. We’ve been doing it since we came to exist. There is, however, a difference between hunting and eating animals foraging for themselves and what we do today, which is raise animals with the intention of eating them. The first is a matter of survival, the second is largely a matter of taste. The amount of food a cow requires to reach the age of slaughter has to be more than the amount of food it gives in meat.
I’ve been mildly conflicted about eating meat since reading The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell, back in 1999, a sci-fi novel where a group of explorers travel to a planet where two self-aware species of life co-exist, one feeding on the other. It made me ponder that line of what mixture of animal intelligence and social custom makes one acceptable to eat and another not? And how much does what I want affect where I draw that line? Then I had a friend in Seattle who discussed a book she read in school about how animals we eat are treated. It inspired her to become a vegetarian. I did next to nothing with this information. What I did was I spent three days as a vegetarian, but as I was subsisting on non-meat foods, I was snacking on crackers sprayed with cheese from a can. On the third day I saw that bacon was one of the ingredients in the cheese. Well, that was the end of that.
I have vegetarian friends who made a commitment to stop eating meat and feel rightfully proud for the sacrifices that entailed. Other vegetarians seem to have naturally gravitated toward a low-meat diet until they eventually decided to stop eating it altogether. Humans probably vary considerably in how much they enjoy or crave meat in their diet. I still ate the drumsticks mentioned above, but that dream was speaking to me and I’m going to listen. If it becomes a recurring nightmare, and I decide consuming meat is no longer for me, I hope I’d have the courage to give eating meat up and become a vegetarian. I hope I’d be one of those vegetarians that quietly follows their personal conviction without standing in judgment of people who choose to live differently, which in my experience, is the vast majority of them.