Either/Or

Ambivalence is a cruel and relentless mistress. Without the passion to choose one path, every road is ahead of you, but none seems worth the bother of starting down.

Elizabeth DeVita-Raeburn, writing on MSNBC’s website, has a bad case of ambivalence … about eating meat. Eating in a restaurant is torturous to her:

I squirm, caught between moral horror, my taste buds and a desire not to be the ‘weird’ vegetarian. I’m 38, and I have been engaged in this internal war, off and on, for nearly 20 years. I have been a vegetarian, semivegetarian and old-fashioned carnivore. Right now, I eat everything — but with a pervasive sense of unease.

DeVita-Raeburn’s vegetarianism hits all the standard highs and lows. She was a VUG in college—Vegetarian Until Graduation. Her family worried over what she would eat on Thanksgiving. A boyfriend (Italian, natch) awakened her senses to conscious eating and the joys of meat. Later, she comes to understand that animals are more sentient than we like to think:

I couldn’t help but empathize with them. Because wouldn’t I, too, feel hysteria if I knew my seconds were numbered? What made me so different from these animals? I wondered.

But despite her awakening, she still is an ambivalent vegetarian, riddled with guilt, yet unable to make a clean break with meat-eating. Doesn’t she know that kind of stress while eating can lead to a whole other kind of diet?

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