Lara’s Christmas among Meat Eaters (3)

The table had been beautifully set. A discreetly embroidered tablecloth had been lying on it, accompanied by the matching serviettes and a service that was tailored to it. Candles were burning and it could all have been beautiful if it wasn’t for the dead animal on it. Lara suddenly had to swallow, even down her tears. „The festival of love is a festival of death, actually,“ she had thought, but not said it as she took her seat. „Very nice,“ she had heard her father say, „Now let’s say grace and then eat this wonderful bird together, which God in his wisdom gave us for food.“ Automatically everyone had folded their hands and lowered their eyes, while the master of the house said prayer. „Well, let’s start then,“ he explained and took over the carving, „Lara, you’ll have to eat that too, because we don’t have any extra sausages.“

“Plus, it’s terribly unhealthy, no meat. It’s almost against the divine order and makes you ill,“ he had further explained, „Why are you doing this at all?“ „Because I’ve seen how the animals suffer and I don’t want them to have to suffer because of me,“ had Lara simply replied, „I don’t want a single living being to be exploited or killed because of me.“ She hadn’t said more, but she had seen her father’s lips tighten, his eyes narrowed and his face flushed with anger. „But I, I take part in it. You accuse me of causing suffering and tormenting and whatnot,” he had shouted at her, “What’s going on in your sick, vegan-crazy brain.” It was an attack and Lara would have preferred to hide. Then he had loosened his tie button theatrically, which Lara had used to interject that she hadn’t said that, just stated her reasons. „But at least you won’t get any of this mush today, unless you only eat red cabbage, because the dumplings are definitely not vegan,“ he remarked maliciously. He sat down, still panting with anger. „The dumplings have always been vegan,“ Sophie had now explained, „And I made extra vegan roasts for both of us, Lara and I.“ Only then did the father realize that next to the plate on which the dead goose lying, there had been a smaller one, on which there had been a kind of roast. „You’re welcome to taste it,“ Lara’s mother explained, and Lara noticed that she had been trying hard to suppress a laugh. „Didn’t I expressly explain to you that you’re not allowed to cook for her under any circumstances?“ the father asked, snorting. „You certainly have, my dear,“ the mother had replied dryly, „but I didn’t cook especially for Lara, but for Lara and me, because I’ve also done some research and now, I agree with her, I don’t want to do it anymore be involved in the exploitation.” “So, I will betray you in my own house!”, the father slipped out, “Then you no longer belong under my roof.” “It should be fine with me,” Sophie explained succinctly, „I get along very well without you. The only question is whether you can do it too. Your despotic ways have long been a thorn in my side. Come on, Lara, let’s go.” With that, the mother folded the serviette neatly and left the room with Lara, while the men watched what was going on with open mouths.

From one moment to the next, Lara’s family broke up. „I didn’t want that,“ Lara explained to her mother when they sat on the train to Graz, carrying the essentials with them. „I know, but this was long overdue. It showed me how little respect your father has for us and probably also love. Maybe he can’t help it, but I won’t spend the rest of my life with him, not if he’s like this,“ Sophie had explained. „I don’t know if he understands, but if he doesn’t, there’s nothing I can do.“ That’s how Christmas went, and Lara was still deeply sad. It was about saying goodbye to her childhood for good, and that includes enduring the pain of realizing that you have completely different views of life, and one side isn’t willing to take that into account. Would it really have been that difficult to accept her views as hers? Would it have been so absurd to take your own daughter as she is? Would it have been so impossible to love unconditionally?

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