Collected by Jon Bjornstad.
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These many words echo in my head in a kind of musical refrain. They are like a personal written constitution that guide my choices. Why so many words? Choosing a healthful veg*an diet in current day America does lead to a certain alienation from the dominant culture even in veg*n friendly California. For me, this alienation tends to foster a constant self-justification. Many people have written entire books that are, in essence, a very long self-justification for the choice they have made to not subscribe to the status quo foodwise. These are the words that I live by; everyone has their own. A subtitle for this could be "Reflections on Being At Odds with the Status Quo for 37 years".
First is a collection of short, pithy quotes and sayings in no particular order. Then come longer stories and essays and excerpts from novels and lectures.
Enjoy. I hope you find them tasty.
Reading this will take about half an hour. This is not the typical web page where you can click here and click there, skim this, gaze quickly at the pictures, and then click again. This is more like a novel that requires and (hopefully) merits your sustained attention. There are some pictures here and even an audio file for your multimedia pleasure.
Why so many words? It is not surprising, actually, considering how central food is in our lives. Socially, several times every day (unless we are fasting - but that's another story), medical implications, political, environmental impact (if one takes the time to actually look), fuel for all of our activity, psychologicall - from birth.
What sections? Famous people quotes. Jon quotes. - or arrange quotes by topic, Animal Rights, Environmental, Health - although arranging it by topic enables one to focus only on what one is comfortable with - better, I think, to mix it up. Anecdotes, Book excerpts.
Publish as a blurb book? With an introductory quote from Thoreau about the personal (if completely honest) being the universal - the holographic view of the universe.
In any discussion of health benefits I hasten to add that there is no guarantee. No matter how we live there is no guarantee that we will be protected from the vississitudes of the world. One saying that I heard from a chiropractor: "Stay close to Mother Nature and she will protect you with her eternal laws."
There are many rituals in our lives - many that deal with food. One friend had an elaborate ritual around eating an orange. He would peel the orange by first biting it and then peeling it in such a careful way that the peel came off in one piece. Then he would separate each section and eat them one at a time. Then he would eat the peel! (which is likely not physiological because of the bitter natural pesticides in the peel - but we do enjoy orange and lemon zest don't we?). Archie Bunker had fixed ideas about how one should eat. In one "All In The Family" episode he gave Michael a lecture. Hilarious! ??? reference it on youtube???
Cancer is the final stage of a long decline in health status (quote from Airola's pamphlet?). Its detection is not the start. Determining cause is often impossible in individual cases but epidemiologists can study entire populations.
At one Thanksgiving meal I was asked by a person who did not know me well: "So you can't have any of the turkey?" I said that I can eat whatever I want to. I choose not to have the turkey. There is no desire. There is no sacrifice. When I went to family meals I would tell my Mom, "I will thoroughly enjoy everything - except the turkey". In the end she was, in a way, proud of me that I had taken a different path in life.
A common question: "What meat do you miss the most?". There is no desire. It dropped years ago - about a month after my first experiment in being vegetarian. The change came easily for me. When getting hungry I no longer imagined eating a steak - instead a baked potato came to mind. It is not always so easy for others. Once the "meat hunger" goes away meat, fish and fowl are viewed as "inedibles" - why in heaven's name would I put that in my mouth? In the same way I simply do not even consider putting a napkin or a credit card in my mouth.
"Meat-eating is cannibalism with its heroic dish omitted."
A pointed response to a meat-eater: "All I ask is that you don't take a bite out of my arm."
One restaurant has a menu with two facing pages - the headings read: Plant Eaters and Meat Eaters. I imagined a restaurant where there were two different sections - one for the vegetarians and one for meat eaters. There was a time when the maitre'd would ask smoking or non-smoking. Such bifurcations are sad, somehow. I remember a cartoon where a driver came to a fork in the road and two large signs said "Smoking" and "Non-Smoking". Airports have Departures and Arrivals. Some restaurants have a special menu just for vegetarians. Others will mark vegetarian options with a little 'v'. Indian restaurants that serve meat will label the sections "Vegetarian Curries" and "Non-Veg Curries". I like this - it is saying that vegetarian is the normal and non-veg is the abnormal. Whenever the word 'vegetarian' (or 'vegan') appears on a menu it makes me feel welcome. I went to a cafe in Ennis, Montana and didn't expect to find much to eat - that I would need to make some compromise - eggs or cheese. Sadly, there was actually nothing for me to eat! I had to go elsewhere.
Once you start with do nots and don'ts, it seems like everything goes wrong then. That's a hard way to go about life. - Matt Cain, pitcher for the SF Giants related to Ade: One cannot secure contentment by the mere avoidance of anything.
??? put this near the cajun turkey episode??? Point Of View Thanksgiving dinner's sad and thankless Christmas dinner's dark and blue When you stop and try to see it From the turkey's point of view. Sunday dinner isn't sunny Easter feasts are just bad luck When you see it from the viewpoint Of a chicken or a duck. Oh how I once loved tuna salad Pork and lobsters, lamb chops too 'Til I stopped and looked at dinner From the dinner's point of view. Shel Silverstein
Julia's poached chicken. With that kind of lavish attention one could take an old shoe and make it delicious! Describe the recipe in some detail.
Everyone is alienated in some way. Non-vegetarians can, at least, have SOMEthing to eat in most restaurants. Alienation by race, marital status, ethnicity, religion (or lack of it), etc. etc.
Yes, it's nice to know that various famous and smart people are/were vegetarian. But there are many wonderful, accomplished, inspiring people who were not. Like Beethoven - who produced works of the most sublime supreme beauty.
Scott Nearing - I don't know if Jesus Christ ate meat or not. That was a long time ago in a different age. In this age and time I choose to not eat meat for a multitude of reasons.
Abortion is a (hopefully) once in a lifetime decision. Eatint meat is a 3 times a day act. If one is to be truly pro-life one has to be a vegan. That it is actually a healthier choice for our human body is a sweet happenstance. (Include the picture of Go Veg protester that Audhild and I saw on first coming out of the BART - Practice non-violence every day.).
In my lexicon the word 'potluck' is about sharing. Tell the story of Eric and the other (Sharon?) who wouldn't eat my offering (or any other) at the vegan potluck. I had a childish outburst that I regretted later when I said, exasperatedly, "I grew the green beans myself!".
One time I babysat two kids - aged 4 and 5. The family was vegetarian and I was to make dinner for the children. I asked them what should we have for dinner? They looked a bit confused and then, in unison, said "Macaroni and Cheese!" - this was as if to say, "What else would anyone ever want?". So we had macaroni and cheese that day. Another day the parents said that that night we were to have veggie burgers. So I prepared them and the buns and the fixings. The boy put lots of ketchup on the burger before putting the bun on top - and of course it squirted out all over the plate. The girl did the same - to great hilarity. The burger with top and bottom bun and fixings was rather tall and was difficult to fit in one's mouth. I demonstrated how to press down on the top bun and make it shorter and easier to eat. Of course, they both really got into the act of pressing down. They aimed to make the burger as thin as possible and they did a very good job of that. In the end, as expected, the burgers ended up being half-eaten. This was okay. When the parents returned I let them know that I had taught their kids an important lesson: "If you can't eat your food the next best thing is to play with it."
Charlie - Reeses is food not candy. In 1976 when I first became truly aware that some common foods were not health-promoting I had a mentor at my work who I great honored. He was a chain smoker and quite addicted to candy - he preferred hard candy the red and green kind you find at Christmas. I told him briefly about my new diet and how I avoid refined sugar. I confessed that I did miss Reeses Peanut Butter Cups - that wonderful marriage of chocolate and peanut butter. He said that he regarded those as food not candy.
My grandmother liked vanilla ice cream. She would scoop it out and then would stir it up to the point where it was like soup. My mother found that quite odd.
My aunt's father-in-law liked his coffee served quite hot. He would cool it down to drinking temperature by pouring it into the saucer from which he would drink it.
The utensils that are used to eat vary widely in different cultures. (show the picture that Aruna shared). Oriental cultures (Japan, China, Korea) use chopsticks. There are variations of the type of chopstick used - some thinner some longer. Thai people sometimes use a fork and spoon - but only use the fork to get the food onto the spoon. In many subcultures in India they eat entirely with their right hand. Some even have sambar (vegetable soup) running down their forearms. They don't seem to mind. Europeans keep the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right to cut. Americans do the cutting with the knife in the right hand but then put the knife down, transfer the fork to the right hand and then eat the food they have cut. Europeans find this odd. There are social class implications in how a fork is used. 1 - With the pinky finger raised. 2 - "normally" - with the hand underneath. 3 - Using the fork like a scoop in the fist - to shovel food in the mouth.
I once had dinner with two friends at an expensive, fancy, gourmet vegan restaurant. Truly the meals were designed, prepared, and presented with great art. My two friends were intent on sharing - which is normally a worthy thing. We all ordered something different and when the plates were delivered they immediately set out to trisect everything and move two of the thirds onto the other plates. I resisted. I wanted to first appreciate the beauty of the presentation and the carefully chosen mix of flavors and textures. One of my friends even put food on my plate without asking! All of this annoyed me. One might as well just stir it all up in one big messy goulash and quickly shovel it in the mouth!
A few months after I made the switch to a vegetarian diet a friend asked me if I was still doing the vegetarian thing. I noted that the word 'diet' has a temporal quality to it - you go on a diet and then at some point you go off of it. In this sense the vegetarian diet is really a lifestyle not a diet. I'd like to see some statistics on how many people have adopted the vegetarian way and then change their mind. For me it is rather unthinkable and would be quite the revolution.
My desire for a pure, simple, elegant diet was becoming clear my freshman year in college - long before the vegetarian years began. Friday night in the dorm cafeteria was always Steak and Sundae night. (How does the word sundae relate to Sunday?) Several flavors of ice cream and toppings were set out and we each put our own together. I always chose 2 scoops of vanilla with chocolate sauce. This was quite enough for me. Many of my fellow students enjoyed a very elaborate and complex affair. 3 different flavors of ice cream with nuts on top and a banana and butterscotch sauce on one end and marshmallow in the middle and chocolate at the other end. Yeah. Yummm. (Did you ever notice that the only word you can pronounce with your mouth closed is Mmmmm? In the American culture this indicates the food is yummy, good, and tasty.)
Slow eating is often touted as a good thing. I may have taken this to a pathological extreme. If there is an interesting conversation at the table I find that I can't eat. Somehow I can't listen and eat at the same time. When I was young my mother would often say, "Jon, for Pete's sake pick up your fork and start eating." I became a connoisseur of cold mashed potatoes. As we age we generally become more and more like ourselves. Will I eat slower and slower? What is this about? Is this one way to assert control in a world that I find chaotic?
Jayanti's mother Peg - Alzheimer's - she was not there but she could chew. Chew. Chew. Archetypal - along with suck. Chewing becomes important to one who is fasting - because there's nothing to chew!
Hiker lady - disappointed that I was not a vegetarian because of animal rights and welfare and love.
Alfredo - those who are vegan for health reasons are very selfish. I do it for the animals - I rescued two cats with leukemia.
Cheryl - she rescued 100 chickens and built an entire coop and system for them.
An argument for adhering to the status quo, for staying on the path, for strict orthodoxy: If you eat a typical, standard American diet you will develop typical, standard American diseases - for which there are typical, standard American remedies. If you take the road less traveled, if you march to the beat of a different drummer, you will likely develop ailments that are atypical, NON-standard and for which no cures have been found!
I read that carob was a healthier alternative to chocolate (which has a small amount of caffeine). (It IS a good alternative but it is not the same - A favorite saying is: "If it's different it's not the same" - the same would apply to gluten free bread or soy sausage). I got in the habit of going to the natural food store and getting a bag of carob almonds. They were so tasty and satisfying that I couldn't resist and would munch on them as I drove home. I would often finish the entire bag before I got home! The mass of carob almonds took a while to digest and they sat in my stomach and made me uncomfortable. At one point I acknowledged that this was not good and that I had to make a change. Rather than try to go "cold turkey" (What is the origin of that phrase? Is there a vegetarian alternative?) I chose a different path. The next time I went to the store I chose carob almonds from the bulk bin and got exactly 14. I decided that for the subsequent week I would have only two carob almonds each day. The first day I enjoyed them after dinner. The second day I looked forward to them all day. The third day I almost forgot to have them and ended up eating them before bedtime to keep my promise to myself. By the fourth day I was becoming quite aware of the carob almonds and realized that the almonds were actually toasted and not raw. I did finish out the week but the next time I went to the store I was not compelled to buy the carob almonds at all. This success story has served as a model for conquering other habits that I didn't want to continue.
Vegetarian alternatives for common sayings.
Feeling lousy. Wandered aisle looking. BBQ chips, chocolate covered peanuts for dinner. Woke cured. Miracle cure! Different for everyone.
My food choices are just habit at this point not constant conscious choice. Habit is not "tapas" (a virtuous austerity). If someone asks why I am a veg*n I could honestly say that it is just my habit - that there is no high-minded ethical, ecological, or physiological reason.
What reasons DO people have for not being vegetarian when there are SO many reasons for it? Convenience, habit, tradition, taste (per Gary Yurosky). I would add that many simply do not want to an alien in their own culture. There is a strong need to "fit in", to be "normal", to not have an "impedance mismatch" or be "out of synch" with the world around you. When one makes the leap to not conform to the status quo you "lose your daddy" - no longer is the world a sane and safe and beneficient place. Some would just say "I like it" - how can you argue with that? On asking a very carnivorous friend (who thinks he needs lots of meat to control his tendency to diabetes) if he'd like to see the film 'Earthlings' - he said, "Why would I want to see that? It would only upset me. Isn't ignorance bliss?" How can you argue with that?
One family Thanksgiving the turkey was being cooked on the barbeque. It caught fire - twice. It was charred. There were jokes about this being a "cajun" thanksgiving. Ha ha ha. I sat quietly. I was quite tempted to quote George Bernard Shaw - "A man of my spiritual intensity does not eat scorched corpses." and leave the table to take a walk.
To be fully present in your environment one somehow has to eat SOMEthing from it. When attending a gathering/celebration of some sort and there is nearly nothing at all for you to eat it is good to find SOMEthing to put in your mouth. Otherwise you feel disconnected from everyone (or, rather, even more disconnected).
A company Christmas celebration was held at the Chinese restaurant where there were a sequence of courses. First the beef, then the chicken, then the duck, then the shrimp. I sat eating rice with soy sauce the whole time. Eventually there were some mixed vegetables. Everyone was uncomfortable that I was not joining in. In retrospect I should have piped up and said, "Hey... I'm special.". The manager who arranged the dinner likely knew of the sequence and should have taken care of me - but in truth it is my responsibility.
Hari Dass on breatharianism and the food sheath. "I've never seen it. We can eat less". He is one that knows - he lived for 2-3 years on one glass of goat's milk each day as a yogic austerity to reduce desire.
Weigh gain/loss in relation to alcoholism. We can't not eat. Alcoholics CAN stop. Eaters can't stop. It's like a recovering alcoholic HAVING to take 1 ounce of vodka every day and no more.
Mutton in Iceland - and Mom's reply. I yielded to a higher principle - that of kindness. I also learned to be sure to inform any new hosts of my food needs.
Why not be a vegetarian? Many think it is not possible - that they need meat to be well. Once I realized that it was not necessary, all the other reasons made sense - before, the words fell on deaf ears - as they do (apparently) for other non-vegetarians. If one thinks (even on a sub-conscious level) that meat/fish/fowl is required for one's medical/physical well-being it is hard to argue against it.
Turkey en espan~ol. Pork/pig, beef/cow - give the historical context - Normans, Saxons - look it up so it is accurate.
Sourdough rye bread fiasco.
Watching a friend eat ice cream after a shared North Indian meal. It seemed like he had not yet been weaned. Dairy is everywhere. Plopped on top here and there as if that will make it better.
Airola on ethical vegetarianism and therapeutic oyster shell calcium supplements - Awwwwwwwwwwww.
The human digestive system is incredibly adaptable. (See story below by George Ade). Unfortunately, humans CAN digest animal flesh. There are taboos that differ between cultures - some animals are eaten there but not here.
Books that I have benefited from: ... with short reviews. Movie reviews as well. Animal rights films plus mainstream films that have a food related theme - like Tampopo or Mostly Martha.
7/4/1976 - Looking at a half-eaten hotdog and bun on the Washington Monument grounds after the Bicentennial celebration and asking myself "What IS that?". Seeing it as if for the first time.
Is veg*ism just an easy way to be different and feel superior and self-righteous? If a majority became veg*n would I settle into mainstream bliss or would I go raw?
Eric and Desire'e - two hardcore vegans who were so glad to have found each other. They split up 6 months later. On asking a mutual friend why the two parted they said, "the only thing they had in common was their veganism".
I don't like being labelled. No one does. Vegan, vegetarian, faw foodist, etc. It is not a binary thing - or doesn't have to be. It is also a limiting thing - a la the Olympic gymnast Dan Millman. Better to label meals or individual food items. "IF" a label is applied to a person it should be a complex one - like I AM a "mostly vegan but always lacto-ovo vegetarian who sometimes eats refined sugars and flours (but it is a matter of daily practice not policy or absolutist vow)." There... that's the kind of "label" I would accept. I find this to be pragmatic in the current American culture that I find myself in. Being stricly vegan in a decidely non-vegan world is like being unwilling to step on a crack when walking on a sidewalk - it becomes another manifestation of a obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD - or more correctly CDO - alphabetized like it should be).
Shaw's quote about animals at his funeral.
Picture in Herbivore's bathroom about "the animals now have true cause for celebration having been removed from the 4 basic food groups".
The mock meat article - Peter H. Steeves. A quote from it and a link to the complete story.
Article in ~1977 VegNews about the heirarchy of eaters - from breatharians, to fruitarians, to vegans, to vegetarians, to pescetarians, ... all the way down to those scum who eat meat, fish, and fowl - those scum who happen to be the vast majority of our brothers and sisters. I'd like to find that article again. It gives one a perspective of acceptance and tolerance.
With some people we each would starve in each other's kitchens. Sad, huh?
Read "Are You Confused?" again and take quotes that inspired you. The one about humans love complexity and how they deify science. Tell the story about how you found Are You Confused, lecture by Nearings. quote from Airola about how protein is so important that a wise creator (or evolution) made it part of every living thing, every natural whole food.
2007, Brian Herbert, Kevin J Anderson, Sandworms of Dune: People strive to achieve perfection - ostensibly an honorable goal - but complete perfection is dangerous. To be imperfect, but human, is far preferable.
Picture of pink cupcake - "First sugar she has had. Not too hyper. Picture of Rory and face smeared (on purpose pushed by Marissa) with the requisite amount chocolate frosting. My wife made them from scratch - except for the M&Ms, that is. If he hadn't said 'she' I could have deduced it. I took one and congratulated Mom and Dad on reaching the milestone. A rite of passage for the child (and parents) into the world of refined foods. I will have a 'ceremonial bite'.
Quote Peter Singer in "Animal Liberation" from the introduction where animal lovers talk about how they love their dogs and cats while they eat ham sandwiches. My view is - let them be. Don't expoit, don't eat, don't adopt as pets, etc.
Many of us have very rigid food habits. When we go to restaurants we have the same tried and true thing every time. I like it. Why risk trying something new?
When one goes the veg*n route and decides to not conform to the status quo (and as Thoreau said, "march to the beat of a different drummer") there WILL be issues - unless you have very narrow life and a very restricted social circle you will confront you will come right up against the issues of breaking with tradition and you will need to deal with it.
Being a vegan police is not helpful. You're trying to change people. The raw foodist woman who used her words very precisly and deemed me not worthy of the word vegan. In retrospect I should have said, "I also use words very precisely and I would call you a hardcore, obsessive-compulsive, raw foodist, cranky vegan asshole".
Airola - leave us normal humans alone - you go live on the mountain in your ivory tower and dwell in your perfection.
We humans can be well and happy without eating meat, fish,
or fowl (or milk or eggs). In fact, there is an abundance
of evidence that we actually can be healthier without them.
We can choose.
Eat Food. Mostly Plants. Not too much.
If you claim to be an environmentalist, food should be very important to you.
It is the part of the environment that goes inside of you!
Do as little as possible to your food between the ground and the tummy.
I don’t eat anything that anyone has told me I shouldn’t eat.
What you eat or drink today will have no effect at all on your health.
It is the pattern of what you eat every day that matters.
The best way to vegucate children is to vegucate the parents.
Choose a simple diet of whole foods and then forget about food.
There are many much more important things in life.
It’s always good to inquire about the ‘prequences’ (a word I coin - like antecedent)
of the food we eat. What did it take to put this on my plate?
Trace it all the way back.
In your choosing, you are assuming responsibility for all of it.
You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse
is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.
Making (even growing) your own food (or a portion of it)
is somehow more nutritious. If you only eat what others
prepare you will eventually lack some new kind of vitamin – Vitamin O or M or Z.
Homemade food is better than store-bought, even when it isn't.
There is a special ingredient (love?) in it that is simply not available to buy.
One of the first things I learned about cooking (in 1972) is
that if you put an extra carrot in beef stew it will
not turn it into a peanut butter and jelly sandwich – just
a bit more carroty stew.
It is better to eat junk foods and exercise a lot
than it is to eat health foods and not exercise at all.
Eat to please thyself. Dress to please others.
Our preferences and tastes change over time – influenced
by many factors. If you don’t think they change just ask
any food advertiser. Since they do change we should examine
in what direction they are changing and ensure that it is
healthful and not harmful.
Break the rules now and then.