Well, mostly stopped.
Allow me to explain.
I was in Des Moines covering the Iowa Caucus when a commercial came on the TV at my hotel room. It was a PETA spot showing how cruelly and inhumanely we slaughter our animals. I'll spare you the gory details (literally) and just say it was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. I had been contemplating eliminating meat from my diet for some time and this was all the impetus I needed to take that step. From that moment on, I pledged to do my best to abstain from at least purchasing and preparing meat for my own consumption. I would commit to eliminating as much cruelty from life that I possibly could.
Now, I knew that it wouldn't be easy for a number of reasons. First, being of Sicilian ancestry, food was of paramount importance in our house. It was more than just sustenance. It was a way of life. Italians in general, and Sicilians in particular, virtually worship food - all kinds of food. It is said that Italians are the only ones who ask what's for dinner while they are still eating lunch. And, we were totally omnivorous - we ate EVERYTHING. In fact, our diet was so complete and healthy overall that it became a "fad" to eat this way. Known as The Mediterranean Diet, it featured a balance of virtually all of the food groups. This, of course, included at least some meat. Second, popular culture is OBSESSED with eating meat. It is SO much easier to find sumptuous meat dishes at restaurants than it is good vegan or vegetarian fare, especially when you are on the road and not familiar with your surroundings. So, it was going to be challenge - one that I was willing to at least attempt. But, I also knew that I might have to make some compromises.
This is what I came up with: I would become a Pescavegomnicarnarian.
Here's how it works:
I knew that I would need a good source of high protein to replace the meat. I felt that fish would fit that bill. I know, fish have feelings, too. But, I rationalized that, perhaps, at least not on the same level as a cow or pig. That's that pesca part. Of course, the bulk of my diet now consists of various vegetables for the veg part of the moniker. But, I also eat meat when there is no other option. That's the omnicarnarian part. In other words, I eat what's available. By that I mean if I'm invited to someone's house for dinner, they did not know that I no longer eat meat, and they have prepared a steak for me, I'm not going to throw it in the garbage! That would be an insult to my hosts and counterproductive to what I'm trying to accomplish. Work is another example. On weekends the sport's programming/production department is catered with the most wonderful food. It includes salads, vegetables and ALL kinds of meat. At the end of their broadcasting day, the "leftovers" are offered to anyone who would like to have them. If they are not used, ENTIRE TRAYS of delicious, well-prepared food are simply folded up and THROWN INTO THE GARBAGE. This, to me, is the ultimate sin: that animal (if it is meat) has already be sacrificed. To see it literally wasted by throwing it away so that the nutrition cannot be used by anyone is more than just wasteful - it is absolutely SINFUL. So, I'll take home as much as I can carry. But, I NEVER buy meat at the supermarket or order it at a restaurant.
I know you hardcore Vegans are looking down on me for my perceived weakness. They'll say that I'm rationalizing. And, perhaps, I am. But, they would be missing my point. My goal has never been to be perfect but, rather, to do the best that I can to eliminate as much cruelty in the world that I can. I believe that I do by being a Pescavegomnicarnarian. And, I implore others to find their own way (and catchy moniker) to do the same. It's not so hard and it DOES make the world a better place - one meal at a time.