Look, Our Food Loves Each Other

Many years ago, there was a non-vegan vegetarian equestrian I swore I was in love with who introduced me to his horse and ruined my tolerance for all things gelatin.

Who really craves JELL-O anyway?

Perhaps it’s not odd happenstance; perhaps it’s predictably typical of my demographic (whatever that is) that for more than a decade, most of my partners have been incredibly ethical, compassionate eaters.

“You are beyond reproach,” I’ve been known to say as my companions fill up on all manner of veggie tofu dishes, and I make mental suppositions about the limited brain activity of the shrimp on my plate, to ease my guilt, you know.

Slowly, I’ve tracked subtle changes in my own eating habits.

A while back, not long after I wrote a post about my food conflicts, I adopted a surprisingly useful technique for weaning myself from chicken. I simply think of this bird.

Belina, being held by Fairuza Balk as Dorothy in Return to Oz.

The movie is not as hideous as one might imagine. Belina is pretty much the only thing I remember (other than the creepy long limbed creatures, which were a total mistake).

It’s perfect, really. Belina is held and loved by Dorothy just as if she were a little dog. No one would ever eat Toto. Now, when I see the word “chicken” on a menu, I invariably think of Belina. Chicken = Belina. Belina = adorable feathered friend, plump as our cat Lily used to be, and probably every bit as wonderful.

Belina! I can’t say her name without a hint of whine. Andy is used to this.  We’ll be at All India Cafe, where it’s tricky for me because of my vegephobia. I’ll skim the menu. He’ll say, “Get the chicken tika marsala, you love that.” I’ll say, “Bell-een-na!”  He’ll say, “It’s okay, honey.” It’s taken years and a whole lot of Belinas on my fork and tongue, but I do believe I’ve finally made the transition to preferring the tofu nirvana over the chicken.

Beef has been the last hold out. Give me a finely prepared rare cheeseburger with a glass of cabernet, and satisfaction sets in. I have, lately, come to think of each burger as a someone — or, more correctly, a ground-up part of several someones. For a while, that level of consciousness — a pause of regret prior to biting down — felt like enough of a step in the right direction.

But today I encountered this photo. Aren’t they utterly moving?  I’ve named them: Sophia and Sophie.

I won’t take credit for their names; the photo is a part of a post called “A Bovine Sophie’s Choice. The author, Holly Cheever, DVM, poses a lot of ideas about the complex reasoning of a particular cow. She takes some pretty big leaps in logic, but I won’t be the one to argue with her. I’m grateful to have encountered the story of her experience. She’s doing important work.

For me, today, the picture is working. I can’t wait to introduce these beautiful girls to Andy so that when we’re at Bar Food next, and I abstain from my usual burger with a cry of “Sophies!” he’ll know exactly who I’m talking about. Now if only they’d make the scrumptious potato puffs without butter and milk.


Update: Farm Sanctuary has posted new photos of their residents.  This is Boris.  I’m so glad they rescued him from me.

Boris: nobody’s burger.  Yay!

3 thoughts on “Look, Our Food Loves Each Other

  1. I totally remember Belina and I can totally “hear” you whining her name.

    I recently finished reading “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “Food, Inc.” Meat has not been as appetizing for me over the past few years as it once was. Specifically, I can sometimes skip meals with chicken or ground meat. Sausage almost always grosses me out now.

    Sophie and Sophia are too cute.

    Yay! Belina exists for other people, too! I’m going to offer full disclosure: I ate a cheeseburger yesterday. I thought of Boris the whole time … sigh. I guess I have a lot of work to do. ~R

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