At The Cost Of An Animal

A few weeks back, someone asked for stories about how people came to become vegetarians. As many people might know, I stopped eating meat a few years before I got fully involved with hardcore. I often tell a story about refusing to eat for a week because no one believed me (it still seems so strange to me that people think it is WEIRD not to eat meat) and another one about standing up to my parents on one of the, mercifully, few vacations we ever went on.

The seeds of this came a little bit before that. If you’ll remember back to the first Iraq War for a moment in the early nineties. I was only a little sixth grade outcast, but I was already not really feeling the yellow ribbon fever that had taken over the nation. My middle school years were spent getting beat up, spit on, depantsed, and seriously fucked up with in some pretty disturbing ways that I don’t want to go into here. I dug my grave further during sixth grade when I began to vocally talk about not being too psyched on The War.

We would watch briefings every morning (I never figured out why) during first and second period. My biggest problem with the whole situation was that there seemed to be a lot of not only innocents being killed (“collateral damage,” a barbaric term) but holy sites were being destroyed. Now, by sixth grade the whole higher power thing wasn’t really my thing already, I wouldn’t officially refer to myself as an atheist until a year or two later, but it seemed pretty disturbing that the so-called good guys would bomb thousands of years old holy shrines.

I had a guidance counselor I used to talk to while we waited to go into school every morning. We both loved the New York Rangers and would discuss the previous night’s game. Once in awhile I would bring up my concerns about not only innocent humans but innocent landmarks being destroyed. He would listen, eager for a troubled child to open up, and try to walk me through why I would feel this way. Critically thinking about this led me to decide that not only was war the wrong but so was the death and destruction that came with it.

This led me to start thinking about what else was wrong. A television show I watched at the time had a teenage protagonist who became a vegetarian during the show’s run. I thought back to Operation Desert Storm. If bombing countries into oblivion for a non-sustainable (I was also OBSESSED with solar power at this time) energy source (I remember the six am news each morning where they would drearily announce that oil had reach thirty dollars a barrel. Doh.) was wrong, isn’t killing animals when you don’t really have to also wrong? Why do we eat meat? Why does our diet have to have so much collateral damage?

A year later, we moved to southern New Jersey to get away from the hellish nightmare my childhood was becoming. The first day of school, I sat down in period eight and introduced myself to the long haired kid who sat across from me. It turned out, he liked punk rock and was a vegetarian.

Ah ha!

We would talk in class about animal rights and what I would soon come to know as hardcore bands. I didn’t get serious about either until the next year, but all the pieces of the puzzle came together. If it weren’t for a lot of those early bands I heard like M.D.C., Youth Of Today, Gorilla Biscuits, Nausea, etc I wouldn’t have stuck with hardcore probably.