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For the Love of Meat
by Robert Lynn

Life is full of little ironies. On the same day I am to meet my girlfriend Rebecca's all-vegetarian family, my doctor tells me I have to give up meat if I wish to continue living.

So, that evening, I sat with a plate of vegetables staring at me, daring me to eat them, as Rebecca's parents, brother, two sisters, three grandparents, aunt, uncle, and dog looked on.

I squinted at the brain-looking plant, better known as cauliflower. I have a special dislike for cauliflower for two reasons: It tastes like grass, and it's not meat. Were I a grazing animal, I might appreciate its flavor. Being what I am, I would much rather eat the grazing animal than what it grazes on. Although the Ferguson's might not have heard of it, it's called a food chain, and I don't want to eliminate the mooing middle man.

I put a forkful of something green in my mouth. My digestive system immediately screamed for a full-scale mutiny. I lurched forward, spitting the "food" back onto the plate, and coughing wildly. Twenty-three eyes instantly turned to me. (Grandpa Ferguson lost an eye in the Big War.)

"Are you all right?" Rebecca said, slapping my back.

"Did something go down the wrong pipe?" Grandma McFadden asked.

As far as I was concerned, there was no right pipe for this dreck to go down, except the one connected to the garbage disposal.

"I'm fine," I lied. I started to sweat. If I didn't eat this stuff, the Ferguson's would be insulted, Rebecca would be humiliated, and our relationship would fall apart, like a tender piece of prime rib.

"Oh. I almost forgot the meat loaf," said Mrs. Ferguson, springing to her feet.

Omnia vincit meatus, I thought. Meat conquers all. Apparently, my meat loaf rapture had me thinking in Latin. I asked for two big, juicy slices. As Rebecca passed me the plate, her words hit me like a punch in the throat.

"You're gonna love my mom's vegetarian meat loaf."

The sweating returned. Tremors followed. My vision narrowed to pinpoints. Then, what has become known as "Meat Madness," set in.

"This is not food! Carrots, broccoli, turnips. What am I, a mule? I don't mean to sound pedantic, but you can't have meatloaf without meat. It doesn't work that way. Vegetarian meatloaf is an oxymoron. In fact, you're all oxymorons for eating this crap and pretending it tastes like food!"

I took a piece of the vegetable loaf and, walking to the nearby bathroom, flung it into the toilet, thus ending my manic episode, and, as I soon realized, my relationship with Rebecca.

I eventually apologized to Rebecca and her parents, though it was too late to salvage our relationship. It's too bad. Painful as it was, I eventually cut meat out of my diet.

Though the cholesterol is gone, what remains is great sorrow, knowing that in my heart, I will always be a carnivore.