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Going Vegan

“You need therapy,” my son said over the phone. I’d told him I’d gone vegan, saying vee-guhn as it’s pronounced at dictionary.com when you click the little speaker.

Then, when he visited and was cramming smoked salmon down his pie trap, as I nibbled on lettuce leaves and drank kombucha, he offered this condemnation: “Mom, eighty-year-olds don’t become vegans.”  Funny, huh?

A week before, I’d seen the documentary, Forks Over Knives, selected for me by whatever tracks my previous choices at Netflix.  Often, this “whatever” is correct. I watched and was amazed that people with serious illnesses reversed their diagnoses by adopting a whole-food, plant-based diet. One man, a diabetic (type 2) on multiple medications, including injections, began the “plan” and was able to eliminate medicines entirely.

Maybe I could benefit.  Maybe the diet could mitigate my obsessive compulsivity. Or would it become just another fixation, among many?  Okay, I know that’s a leap.  Seriously, I was thinking about the number of colonoscopies I’ve endured—not the mental drama.

I was jazzed.  So much so that I began proselytizing. To sister Laura and her partner Erma.  And, soon, they were proselytizing.  They cleaned out their fridge.  I made a sweep of mine.  Within a few days, we had replaced all offenders with plant-based goodies.

Nothing with eyes would pass our lips.

And I ordered cookbooks.  But before they arrived, I was on the Internet, searching recipes and creating my own, steaming kale with lemon juice, fresh ginger, almonds, and walnuts to serve with brown rice and black beans.  Resurrecting a merger of ingredients invented by a friend years ago, I simmered chunks of firm tofu in marinara sauce to spoon over whole-grain pasta.  As the aroma wafted through the apartment, I remembered the anchovies that added rich flavor. I was tempted to search the pantry for a can I’d overlooked during the culling. But anchovies have eyes, or did, prior to entering the tin. I took Nancy Reagan’s advice, using her antidrug slogan, and just said no.

Now, to recapitulate:  The documentary challenges conventional medical professionals and the use of chemicals to control conditions like heart disease, diabetes, even cancer.  And although I have none of these problems, I know people who do, and I couldn’t endorse (insist) that they start “the diet” if I were unwilling.

My resolve remains.

For multiple reasons.

One is “pink slime”.  That stuff, you know, that sounds, uh, so pink, slimy, and yucky.

Another is that Americans are eating themselves to morbid obesity by consuming choices like “two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame-seed bun.”  Plus fries and more fries and fried ice cream and funnel cakes and anything smothered in gravy.

With that said, I offer apologies to my children for allowing them to eat this stuff when they were young and I was picking them up and chauffeuring them to some school-mandated activity, wherever they were invited, or because “Mom, I just wanna.”

Apologies for not having a mouth like Delores Claiborne and saying, “Now, you listen to me, Mr. Grand High Poobah of Upper Buttcrack, I’m just about half-past give a shit with your fun and games,” as I pointed the car towards home and accelerated, instead of being their “friend” and entering the drive-thru of any fast-food restaurant because they really didn’t like my cooking, anyway.

I recall this particular whine:  “You’ve made that awful eggplant, again.”

Disgusted by memories of weakness years ago, I’m appalled even more by the monstrosity of agribusiness, Big Pharma, and the USDA’s dishonest nutrition “guidelines” for a menu that sustains the profit system over quality and good health. In other words, by feeding your temple an animal-based blowout, you’re not only encouraging illness, you’re also supporting Big Greed.

Moreover, when you eliminate red meat and other farm animals from the banquet, you’re reducing your carbon footprint and protecting the environment. There’s a world of science to bolster this.  Hit the Google and research it, because, right now, I have a fierce craving for steamed cauliflower, and I’m planning to spend the next hour in the kitchen, experimenting with vegetables and seasonings.

Okay, okay, I’ll assist.  Here’s a little tease:

More that one third of all fossil fuels produced in the United States go towards animal agriculture. According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the production of one calorie of animal protein requires more than ten times the fossil fuel input as a calorie of plant protein. This means that ten times the amount of carbon dioxide is emitted as well. So, where does all this waste occur?

Each animal that is slaughtered for food must be fed with grains, soy and other crops. The production of these crops requires energy consumption. This feed must then be harvested and transported to feedlots. From the feedlots, animals are then transported to a slaughterhouse, the carcasses are often taken (in refrigerated trucks – another energy consumer) to yet another processing plant before the meat is ready to be transported to a grocery store.

You can check this and more here.

Bon Appétit et bonne santé.

Missy Beattie doesn’t want to live forever.  She just hopes to avoid certain diagnoses.  Email:  missybeat@gmail.com

More articles by:

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

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