I came to vegetarianism late in life when I finally decided to stop being a hypocrit. I always said that I supported animal rights, even contributed to charities and attended a rally or two, but then I would stop by Mickie D's on my way home and wolf down a cowburger or two. On December 28, 2005 I decided, for my New Year's resolution, that I would stop consuming other sentient beings. The thing about that decision was, once I made it, I couldn't wait until New Year's Day...how could I justify my actions to the animals I would be responsible for killing over the next 3 days? So I quit!
It took awhile to learn all the tricky ways manufacturers have of slipping animal parts into seemingly innocuous foods...and with the FDA having a minimum acceptible limit of rat parts in all food anyways, I came up with a prayer that I say before every meal in hopes that I may be absolved of guilt for unknowingly participating in the slaughter of another helpless creature:
"I apologize to the souls of any animals that may have given up their lives to sustain mine. I appreciate your sacrifice and pray for your forgiveness."
I am not overly religious but I do believe that every living being with a brain stem is aware of its own existence and has a soul. I just hope the countless beings that I share responsibility for murdering over the first 42 years of my life can forgive me for my heinous acts.