I come in peace.
This open letter is for you, and if you know other meat-eaters, is for them too. I know, you are busy, and already quite suspicious of my tone, but before you move on to more important things, please give me a few minutes of your attention, because you may find what I have to tell you useful. Bear with me, and you will see.
From the way I just addressed you, you may think I am not a meat-eater myself, but that’s not true. I am also a meat-eater. I have eaten meat from birds, mammals, fish, and other creatures, like you. I have eaten beef, pork, chicken, lamb, salmon, tuna, and seafood, and unless you have followed a religion from birth that prohibits any of these, you probably also have.
I am also a plant-eater, by the way. I have eaten many plants, like you. I have eaten fruits, legumes, grains, vegetables, and seeds. Every time you and I have eaten a beef burger — and I have eaten many in my life — we have eaten the grains that made the bun, the sesame seeds that cover it, the vegetables that made the garnish and the ketchup, and the potatoes that make the chips — or fries if you are American. So, we are both meat-eaters and plant-eaters, and this is why I feel I am entitled to write to you as equal.
I think — rather, I know — that you and I are basically the same. We are both human beings born in the mix of an effervescent modern world. We are both the multilayer products of millions of years of relentless evolution and thousands of years of unforgiving civilisation. We are peers, you and I, so we share many things — even, perhaps, similar memories.
Remember the enticing smell of recently fried bacon on a sunny morning? Remember the taste of the best turkey cut you got on that anticipated homely family reunion? Remember how tuna melted in your mouth when you were sharing it with your love interest those first weeks of your exciting romance? Remember the feeling of the celebration hotdog when your team won after many disappointing attempts? What about that seafood platter you were treated with on that memorable vacation far from home? Or, simpler still, that cheeseburger you devoured after you had not eaten for a few days because you could not afford it? What memories, right? Difficult to forget, are they not? I still remember similar memories, still bubbling in my mind, after all this time.
Memories tell us something. They tell us about discovery, about adventure, about loss; they tell us about innocence, about growth, about time. They tell us about change. Several decades have passed since I first carved my first memory in my mind, and I have changed quite a bit since. I had many fears, and they turned out to be unfounded. I had persisting doubts, and they finally evaporated. I had wrong preconceptions, and they were eventually corrected.
Some things have not changed, though. I am still as disgusted with the idea of drinking fresh blood or chewing raw flesh as you are; the thought of eating dogs, cats, horses, or even people, has never crossed my mind, as never crossed yours; and I am just as fooled as you are by those whose job is to disguise where food comes from.
But some things have changed. I just don’t crave it anymore, I just don’t need it anymore, I just don’t find it appetising anymore, I just don’t think of it as food anymore. I moved on from it, and I don’t miss it. When I thought I would never change, or that I could never change, I did, and for what is worth, the change felt easy, natural, and right, and that is something that doesn’t happen often.
I know it may seem to you that it is a matter of choice because this is how I used to think. But now I think that, at least in my case, it was the inevitable logical conclusion. It was right for me to leave it behind, and that decision paid out generously in all aspects of my life. Finally, I struck the right balance, everything fell into place, and I found what I was looking for, even if I did not know I was looking for anything. That’s why I wrote this letter because I wish I had read it many years ago, and perhaps it would have notched me in the right direction and made me reconsider my options much sooner.
There may be nothing in this letter that you can relate to, and that’s OK. You can scroll down or click somewhere else, and move on. You would not be scarred by having read it, and your life will not be transformed. But if there is something that resonates with you that made you read until the end, then use it. If it helps you, use it. If it inspires you, use it. If it comforts you, use it. It’s just a letter, but it’s a real one, from a real person like you who is living a real life.
Before you go, though, there is something important I must tell you: I am not better than you. I do not deserve any more praise than you. I am not wiser or even more awakened. Forgive me if I sound patronising, but even though I don’t know you, I bet that there is nothing wrong with you. I bet that everything that is right, is in you.
I am a meat-eater — someone who has eaten meat — turned vegan more than 20 years ago. Not once I fell off the wagon, but like the case of alcoholics, like it or not, once a meat-eater, always a meat-eater. I know — and I have known for quite some time now — that I am essentially you. You, from another time perhaps, but still you; you, in a different stage of recovery, but still you.
I came in peace, and I will go in peace.
You can do it too.