How I Saved a Cow

Well, not really.

Before I became a vegetarian in 1978, I firmly believed that beef was a twice-each-day requirement. I ate lots of beef and more rare was more better. Steaks should be singed on the outside and bloody in the middle. Roasts were cooked rare and red. Hamburgers were warmed through, never completely cooked, which may have been a good thing for me as I couldn’t eat the standard fast food burgers.

Breakfast was pork: thick sliced bacon, heavily seasoned sausage, or thick salty ham were eaten for that first meal of the day, no matter what time.

For a while, I worked at a radio station that was a country music, audience-share-through-the-roof, top-dollar-for-advertising powerhouse. In addition, it was to be a state-of-the-art showplace as well. The owners bought a newish building, handed the chief engineer a nearly blank check, and said to make it happen by this date.

We worked 16–20 hours a day. The budget was never an issue but the deadline to move in was a hard date. Overtime was not questioned: 80 hours one week followed by 100 hours the next was no problem. Make the deadline.

The chief’s wife brought us meals: if we ordered out, she would fetch the food from wherever, but other times, this wonderful woman would fix our meals and bring them to us. She and the chief were vegetarians. What came from their kitchen was tasty, creative, really satisfying, and meat-free.

We made the deadline. The station was a showplace. We engineers went back to having lives beyond wiring, routing, lacing, crimping, etc. I was, again, eating my own food.

The first Saturday in November 1978, my girlfriend made breakfast as a special treat. I was always the breakfast-maker and cooked almost all meals, so waking to the smell of coffee and toast was unusual but pleasant. But whatever the meat was that day really made me feel ill. I remembered how good the vegetarian meals had been while we built the new radio station.

I became a vegetarian that morning.

The girlfriend moved on. The chief engineer became an astrophysicist. The other staff engineer, Al, works at three radio stations. I am still a vegetarian.

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