This short piece was originally written on September 4, 2017 for academic purposes.
One could say that I was shocked. But since no electrical impulses ever struck me, I submit that I was simply betrayed. My trust in the humanity of professors had taken a definite blow. The words of our professor sounded in mine ears as heresy, causing me to reconsider previous philosophical decisions.
“The cow looked at me, and in that moment, I considered becoming a vegetarian.”
That single sentence nearly chilled my Baptist blood. I try to take all Scripture to heart. Some Scripture is easier. In Acts 10, the Lord told Peter to eat of forbidden or “unclean” animals. The Lord ushered in a new era with all people acceptable for the gospel. I knew that my choice to eat meat was biblical. I shuddered to consider the consequences of my professor leading the life of a vegetarian.
I selfishly argue that some people cannot survive without meat. Consider the happier life that we live—a fuller life—with burgers, steaks, fajitas, and tacos. The look of a dying cow means less to me than the look of my despairing father beholding vegetables on his meatless, bare plate. After a hard day’s work, my father deserves more than vegetables and a fake veggie burger: he deserves the satisfaction of devouring a delicious, juicy burger or sliding a succulent slice of crispy, Baptist bacon into his mouth.
When I considered my father’s face, a light bulb snapped on. Faces affect me. I see their eyes, expressions, and notice a few stray hairs. In my father’s case, I remember his fading gray hairs. But I am not looking at myself; I am looking at another individual. I am considering someone else. When my professor saw the cow, he was not really considering himself or his love for bacon: he considered a cow.
Maybe my professor’s pity was more humane after all. For selfish reasons, namely my love of bacon, I would not become a vegetarian. But it would be humane and Christ-like to put aside my preferences for someone else. Many of us will choose whether or not we will compromise with someone else to maintain peace with them. We do not want to personally slay a cow. Although we want to take care of ourselves, we must make a choice: slay our cow of friendship or harbor our own devotion for bacon. Maybe becoming a vegetarian is not such a dreadful thing—if it forces me to consider someone or something bigger than myself.