Food. Intensive. Trip. All I could think about was that it would be a road trip, it would be intense, and it would be about food. After it all, I can definitely say that these were fully accomplished. Fierce, overwhelming feelings of complication, disorganization and self conflicting thoughts would be the way I experienced my “intensity.”
It seemed quite evident as the trip went on that there was an ongoing and confused war between the mind and the heart, and I was quickly being challenged. I was well on my journey to discovering what my own beliefs and thoughts were on potentially becoming a serious vegetarian. I figured, “Yeah, of course I would want to be vegetarian, I love animals and I love them alive.” Well, that initial thought was definitely challenged to its highest degree.
When we arrived at the slaughter house, my first thought was, “Holy crap! Tell me they don’t kill the horses too.” Oh. the irony of having horses grazing so perfectly stable and content as groups of pigs and lambs get hauled in to be slaughtered a couple feet away! As we dawdled closer alongside where they shoot the animals in the head to kill them, my mind flooded with instantaneous and rapid conflicting thoughts. “Oh my sweet goodness, how can this be happening in our world today? These animals can feel can’t they? Physically and emotionally? I’m sure they are scared. Gosh, I just want to save them all!”
In addition to that whirlwind of a thought, my mind guided me back to my past. I grew up eating meat, and it was always the central part of the meal. I thought, “How could I have possibly been eating these animals all my life when this has to happen in order for me to have those meals every night!” Here in the vegetarian community of Woolman, I have come to question if it is necessary to consume meat in order for our day to day survival.
As we then entered the area in which they clean and butcher the animals, it became evident that I could not physically handle the energy within the space. Therefore, I walked out along with another student. I didn’t foresee myself walking out, but I surely thought there was a chance that I might. In doing so, it gave me time to come to a true and well thought out conclusion, that I, Chloe Liana Johnson, would forever commit to being vegetarian. There! I had stated it aloud!
Next thing I know, Graeme, a fellow Woolmanite, wandered along half voicing due to his active munching, that the tour guide had given us all free jerky! Can you guess the next train my mind hopped to in that very moment? “Yes! It’s jerky!” Wow. I just remember catching myself and wondering what in the world I was going to do about my passionate vegetarian vow I had just made a minute ago. I was experiencing guilt, the ultimate frustration, and a sense of dishonesty towards myself. What does one do from there? So, in the car rides to our upcoming destinations, I simply gave in. Graeme offered me a piece, and I hesitated, but went with it and chewed away. I have to admit, it was tasty, but I couldn’t stop thinking of a pig, or a lamb, or a cow in my mind’s eye. The perfect and exceptional tasting jerky then turned into a dreadful experience. The next day, I became weak and my mouth began to water to the sight of it lying there. I gave in to that jerky once more, which I now saw as feeding into my war of “heart” and “mind.” Do I give into my childhood established desire for meat, or perhaps do I follow what my heart is telling me and “live what I believe?”
At the end of our trip, I purely existed as an undecided, unsettled, and unsatisfied person regard to being a vegetarian or non-vegetarian. The trip to the slaughter house brought up the desire to protect and respect all animals. So I indeed continue to experience conflicting thoughts as I settle back into Woolman society. I continue to ruminate on if my internal war will ever subside and come to a peace.
Editing Credit : Aaron (Intern), Tess, Lucy
Blog Writing Advice Credit: Cece (Intern)