When I was driving back to Indiana yesterday, I passed a particularly gruesome batch of roadkill, and suddenly had a memory of my father driving me back one Sunday evening to my mother’s as he did every week when I was young. We slowed down behind several cars that had stopped for no apparent reason in the road, and as I strained to make out through their headlights what was the matter, I realized that there was a raccoon in the middle of the street. It’s spine seemed to have snapped, and it was convulsing in such a way that it threw itself some six feet into the air again and again, thrashing helplessly all over the road. “Make it stop!” I yelled at my father, and as he told me as calmly as he could that there was nothing we could do, I screamed terrified nonsense at him and covered my eyes, certain my heart would shatter under the weight of so much pain.
I don’t know why it took me so long to abandon the strange practice of meat eating. I don’t know how I was able for so long to face a dinner plate that read like a memoir of death and ancient suffering.