“So you’re a vegetarian vampire,” I said.
“Vegan,” he corrected me gently.
“How does that work?”
He smiled showing the points of his upper canine teeth.
“Better than you would think,” he said. “My dietary needs are obviously different than they were when I was a baseline human, which just leaves me with the moral and ecological components of veganism… although in my mind it’s all a matter of morality, as it is immoral to render the earth uninhabitable for everyone in order to feed one’s appetite.”
He spoke smoothly and evenly, and slowly enough that I could get much of his answer down on my tablet before he’d stopped speaking. Normally I used a digital recorder when I did interviews, but vampires didn’t show up on recordings any more than they did in mirrors. It was one of the peskier details for those who still clung to the idea that the undead condition was nothing more than some kind of virus we didn’t understand yet.
“But plants don’t have blood,” I said. “I’m not trying be smart-alecky, but you can’t survive on tomato juice, or by biting a maple tree…. can you?”
“No,” he said with a laugh. “Although it’s funny that you should raise such possibilities. It was a book about a vegetable-draining rabbit that first got me interested in a vegetarian diet as a child… and that same silly story stirred my interest in darker subjects, as well. I couldn’t live on vegetables, but the whole course of my existence is the confluence of two paths that book started me down.”
“So how do you feed?”
“Well, again, we come to the moral component of veganism,” he said. “It is wrong to kill an animal for food and it is wrong to take the product of another being’s labor without consent. To feed my blood thirst, I need do neither. I take my sustenance from willing and sentient volunteers. To spend precious resources feeding a cow and then eat that cow is wasteful and destructive compared to using the same resources to simply feed ourselves—-excuse me, I mean living humans—-but those who I feed through need only increase their iron and glucose intake slightly. Collectively, our footprint is actually slightly smaller than it would be if I were consuming the same sort of food they do.”
“And it doesn’t bother you to drink blood, after so many years without meat?”
“The thought of meat still makes me ill, but… my biology, if it can be called that, is different,” he said. “I felt a bit of what you might call apprehension before my earliest feedings, but it was more the fear that I would be repulsed than actual revulsion. I credit these vestigial misgivings with helping me maintain control at an age where I might have easily lost it.”
“So there are control issues?”
“Oh, of course there are,” he said. “This wouldn’t be something I’d want to put out there as part of the face of modern vampirism, but: blood is delicious and we are predators by nature. The heat and flush of life excites us, as does the hunt and the struggle at the end of it. But as beings with a human mind at our core, we are gifted with the ability to moderate our instincts and operate according to the callings of our higher nature rather than our baser urges.”
“So then… forgive me, but I have to ask this… you’ve never killed anyone?”
“No one I did not intend to,” he said.
“What do you mean?”
“Well… being fed by vegan friends slakes the bloodthirst, but not what we might term the ‘bloodlust’,” he said. “My morals do offer me an out there, though. Feeding a cow and then killing it food is wasteful, but killing someone who feeds on cows helps end the cycle of waste. Taking sustenance from a creature that has not consented is immoral, but a person who subscribes to the notion that occupying a higher place on the food chain is a license to kill has clearly consented to being hunted by their biological superiors.”
He laughed. It was a deep, rich, and somehow chilling sound.
“Not that I subscribe to such a hierarchical view of things myself,” he said. “But why argue with people who are so certain of their place in the world that they’re willing to kill because of it?”
“Listen,” I said, putting my tablet aside. “When you agreed to this interview…”
“I like to get to know my meals,” he said. “One should always know where one’s food comes from.”
“You said you enjoy the hunt…” I said, hoping for at least a head start.
His red eyes bored into me. He showed his teeth again, though this time it looked less like a smile.
“Sometimes,” he said. “But while I try to keep an active afterlifestyle, sometimes I don’t feel like running.”