26 Sep 2009

Turkey Empathy

Posted by Teapots Happen

February 2008

Below is a copy of an email I sent to Adrea, a Vegan friend of mine, as part of our discussion about how she wound up Vegan, and how I had recently found myself changing my long-standing, unapologetic meat-loving ways, toward a much more vegetarian diet.

Date: Feb 16, 2008 10:37 AM

When my sister was in town last weekend, I was helping her and my mom make a traditional turkey soup. This involved a huge whole turkey.

As you know, I”ve been doing the “wtf is up with meat” thing lately, and the sight of the naked turkey lying there immediately brought it all up in my head. The physiological analogues between our bodies were unavoidable. When my sister started cutting off the skin/fat, it was reminiscent of a human autopsy.

Then when it was time to get the turkey down into chunks for simmering in the broth, my sister was unable to get the wings off.


the correct way to separate a turkey shoulder


Now I know that this is a job for a knife, but I didn’t know that then. So I grabbed hold of the slippery carcass and started twisting and wrenching the wings out of the shoulder sockets. Tendons snapped and ligaments popped and gristle gristled – and quickly found out that a wing wasn’t an easy thing to remove.

I couldn’t help but feel the similarities between the joint I was tearing apart and the human shoulder joint – and the combination of sounds and sensations as I tore it apart made me imagine similar damage to my own shoulder joint. (I mentioned this to my sister, unaware that I was foreshadowing.)


Anyway, the turkey limbs got mostly ripped off, and then finished with a knife and the soup was made.

… and the next day, I could barely lift a cup of coffee with my right arm, due to the pain in my shoulder.

See, the previous night, after my mom had gone back to her house, my sister and I had drank at the house with several mutual friends.

And at some point I’d picked up the free weights that are kicking around the living room lately, and tried to use them to do some stretching out of my shoulders. Bad idea when drinking … I have faint memories of having the weights back up and behind my head, and bouncing them up and down against perceived inflexibilities.

Well, I don’t know exactly¬† what I ripped in there doing that, but my right shoulder was fucked up for the next several days – painful to hold up anything, sometimes even just the weight of the arm. And a few times a day the nerves of that arm would go haywire, causing the muscles in my inner arm to spasm and jump.

It took a few days for me to get (or invent) the message. Recall how when I’d been struggling with the question of whether or not to trust some kind of mystical intuition/faith, the universe said ‘yes,’ through the intuition-based teapot coincidence?

Well now lately I’ve been struggling with questions about eating meat – so was the sympathetic shoulder injury a response to my question (from either a conscious universe or my own unconscious, it doesn’t matter to me, those lines are blurred anyway?

I’m not sure, but I havent’ eaten any meat since – not as part of a new framework or meta belief, but just case-by-case-by-case decisions to choose ‘nonmeated’ options.

I don’t know if it was a message or if I’ve turned a corner, really. Only time will tell. Interesting, anyway.

(Well, as it turned out, I did not become a full-on Vegetarian. However, I have become a very committed “Eat-less-meat-atarian,” which basically consists of choosing vegetarian options whenever possible, except for when I intuitively crave meat – and then I seek out meat from animals that had lived decently. I’m currently cutting back on dairy in a similar manner, and cannot rule out going further down the vegetarian path in the future.)


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5 Responses to “Turkey Empathy”

  1. Hey, thanks for your kind comments on my post. The whole concept is so fascinating, and makes me wish I could devote more time to these sorts of things. I was very impressed with your “about me” story here. If you feel like continuing a dialogue – that would be cool.


    Mary K. Williams

  2. Good one!


    Trish MacGregor

  3. well well… wanna read my blog about pondering stopping being a committed vege…i have included my blog address – just look up “squeezing through the pigeon hole”…is this an anti teapot moment?? ;-))


    jane aka faerian

  4. Nope, not anti-teapot at all … in fact, Adrea emailed me after I posted this to let me know she was no longer a Vegan – she occasionally enjoys some dairy now.

    So we’re all three committed Eat-Less-Suffering-atarians, it seems!

    I really think there is much to be said for “ethical omnivorism” (which might be a slightly catchier phrase) …


    teapots happen

  5. ethical omnivore works for me!!!


    jane aka faerian