I have been abstaining from eating meat for sometime. Often I am asked why I am doing such a thing and the best answer I can come up with is “because I feel like it.” I wish there was a political, spiritual or dietary motivation for my decision to abstain from ingesting flesh but I am unable to resonate with any of these motivators. I did have a conversation with a very thin vegan a few months back who told me that ever since he stopped eating meat his hair began to thicken and he continually was experiencing a unbearable lightness of being. Maybe this is what motivated me most- the idea that the weight of the world that I carry around could be lessened by not eating meat. My hair has also been thinning and the idea that I could have a second chance at a full head of thick hair I assume also tempted me into abstaining from eating meat.
I have never been any good at pushing away the temporary delights that most temptations offer. Like my dog I have a tendency to indulge without taking into consideration the consequences. I tell myself that life is for the living and in these moments when I give way to temptation I am well aware that it is often the experience of gastronomical pleasure that I live for. So I have no better excuse for the massive amounts of meat that I ate last night other than I was in the wrong place at the right time. A friend of mine, who is a daily red meat-eater and a rancher, was having a labor day weekend barbecue and even though I do not often engage in social events I felt like some mindless fun could be a good antidote for my blues. If I am being honest with myself I have to realize that social gatherings in the form of barbecues are for me an opportunity to eat free food and medicate my social anxieties with large amounts of booze. It’s a kind of group ritual since usually I am not getting drunk alone but am instead imbibing with a group of strangers who seem to become better friends the more we drink. So I longed for this intoxicated sense of community and I went to the barbecue with a personal vow to not eat any meat.
But there was only meat to eat. The carcass of a slaughtered cow was being ingested by an army of flies while its inner flesh sat slowly grilling on top of a large barbecue pit. besides the cow’s but, thigh and chest meat were the small fowl that once roamed the fields with it. There was chicken, duck and buffalo meat all grilling away to the sounds of crackling charcoal. As disinterested as I was by the idea of eating the meat that filled my friends large backyard with a smell that made me salivate I felt a longing for protein that made me shake. In my mind I convinced myself that the cause of my fatigue, low sex drive and weakness over the past few months was the result of not getting enough protein. I told myself that the meat that was filling my nostrils with the smell of its juices could serve as not only my food but also my medicine. I can talk myself into or out of anything and I do this on a daily basis. When my friend yelled out “meat is ready come and get it” I am embarrassed to admit that I was the first person in line.
I am also embarrassed to admit that I behaved just like my dog with a flesh filled bone in its mouth. I took the one pound new york cut of steak that sat on my paper plate and went into a solitary corner so that I could eat alone. I did not want to be bothered with meat in my mouth. I regressed to a primal like state in which the meat was the most precious object in my life and I did not want to have to worry about others stealing it while I was eating it. I know that this is an irrational fear but meat does strange things to man and as much as I often try to deny it I am as much apart of the human animal race as everyone else.
I ate my steak in a state of bliss. I ate quickly but contentedly. I chewed well so as not to choke to death on the meat. I sipped my red wine and used my hands. I tore the flesh with my teeth and felt a certain manhood slowly return to my body that I had not felt since I stopped eating meat. I returned to the grill for some chicken and I wanted to try the duck. My friend giggled as he placed a few pounds of meat on my paper dish and said “you eat like a man.” I know he was drunk but there was a deep feel of approval that I felt coming from this rugged cowboy as he nodded his head at me and said “well done.” I felt again like a part of a club, a mans club in which the only thing I had to do to prove myself was eat a lot of meat. I took my paper plate filled with a small hill of meat back into my private corner but as soon as I arrived I was joined by other men who also had their plates filled with meat. Together we ate with our hands, chewed ferociously and I no longer felt threatened that another predator was going to steal my meat. I was relaxed. I laughed as I ate. I talked freely to the other men. This was unusual behavior for me but it felt good. The meat was making my testosterone move and I could literally feel the muscles forming in my chest.
“You ok man?” one of the men asked me. I looked at him and with a mouthful of chewed meat. I said “yeah I am fine, why?” All the men in the group were standing around looking strangely at me. “Your drenched in sweat,” one of the men said surprised that I was unaware of the sweat that had caused me to look as if I had just gotten out of a pool. All of a sudden I returned to my body. I felt the rumblings in my stomach and the stench of burnt meat in the back of my throat. I looked down at my shirt and then I ran my hand through my hair. I was drenched in sweat. Suddenly I started to feel weak and began to fear for my life. Had I been poisoned from eating the meat I wondered. My anxiety became visible as I put down my paper plate and gulped down my glass that was filled with red wine. My mind was racing with anxiety and I felt the primal need to flee. But thankfully I had enough sense to realize that I was standing around with a group of men. If I suddenly panicked I would forever be seen as a fool. My heterosexuality would be questioned. So I stood strong in my dread and with a palpable feeling of desperation in my tone I said, “I do not understand what is wrong with me.” One of the men with a cowboy hat on looked at me and started to laugh. He looked at the other men who all also started to laugh. He then took off his cowboy hat to show me his head and hair which was dripping with sweat. I looked at the other men and noticed that they too were covered in sweat. The cowboy looked me in the eyes and said with a giggle in his voice, “dude you ate too much meat and got yourself a case of the meat sweats!”