Five years ago, just before Thanksgiving, I was sitting outside in back of my little house at the edge of the woods. A flock of wild turkeys were pecking at the grass, pushing the leaves aside to find food, cautiously aware of me but not running away. Their gait, like that of most large fowl, seemed both ungainly and stately. As I watched, the two males moved slowly to the front of the flock between me and the smaller females. They stopped eating, fanned out their tails, and paraded about, watchfully. The females continued to eat, and would stop to look up at me or to look over at each other. When one of them strayed a bit far, the others called her back. Some were eating less, accompanying the others and grooming them occasionally. Awkwardness aside, bald head, reptile faces and all, they had me entranced. I could not stop watching them.

Later that day, I went to the store to get everything I needed for Thanksgiving dinner. In the meat cases, hundreds of neatly wrapped turkey carcasses, frozen in several bins, fresh in a few more. I already felt a strong sense of resistance to what I was about to do. But tradition seemed like it would prevail. I picked up one of the fresh turkeys by its nylon mesh handle, and realized that it was soaked in a cold, bloody juice. I put the carcass back down, wiped my pink-stained hands on my pants, and walked out of the store without buying anything.

When I got back home, I went straight to the basement, took off my jeans, and washed them. After the wash was done, I took them out of the machine, and threw them in the garbage. My road to Damascus was paved with beaks, blood, and offal. I have not eaten meat since.