What Would the Vegetable Be?

“We are always portrayed as villains.  Either savage killing machines or cold-blooded murderers.  Both couldn’t be more wrong.  We are simply people, going through our lives.”

“But you do kill.”

“Not out of malice.  And we don’t seek to frighten.  Indeed, our saliva naturally contains a blend of intoxicants that I understand makes the experience quite pleasant.  I suppose there may be some sadists among our numbers, but every group has its…  extreme members.  You bore no ill-will towards the animal that provided your meal this evening.  It is the same with us.”

“Cows are different than humans.  We have intelligence, society.  Your analogy is flawed.”

“Cows feel pain.  Show connection with their off-spring.  And they certainly have a sort of intelligence.”

“It’s not the same at all.”

“I suspect it is to the cow.”

“So why not just become a vegetarian?  I mean, if I am convinced by your argument about the cow, I could just give up eating meat.  Why don’t you?”

“You misunderstand.  I was not arguing against your eating the flesh of other animals.  I was simply pointing out that our attitude towards your kind simply mirrors your attitude towards the animals you eat.  As for becoming a vegetarian, while that is possible for an omnivore such as yourself, I do not have that luxury.  My diet is very restrictive.  My biology can only derive nutrition from a single source.  It is the biggest failing – developmentally speaking – of my kind.”

“So why not get it from a hospital or some such?  That’s how the good ones on TV or in the movies do it.”

“Ah yes.  Humanity’s attempts to romanticize us.  I wonder if it is fascination or merely reassurance that motivates such portrayals.  How would you do with spoiled meat and moldy bread for your meals?  Would you survive?  Perhaps.  But no human would voluntarily choose such a meal.  Outside of the human body, blood immediately begins to break down and lose its nutritional value.  Refrigeration speeds that process.  So it is not really a viable option.”

“Oh.  I didn’t realize.”

“No reason you should.  My people are generally not included in biology textbooks.”

“So what now?  I am the animal for your meal?”

“Dear me, is that what you thought?  No.  Do you sit and talk with the cow before eating her?  No, no.  You are more like a pet.  I enjoy our time together far too much to squander it in such an impulsive act.  You are an excellent verbal sparring partner.  One does not let such a find go so easily.  But you must excuse me.  Our conversation has only sharpened my hunger.  I would not ask you to witness my meal, so I must take my leave.  I will see you again.”