Friday, November 5, 2010

Bacon Had a Mom

The other day someone offered to feed our little service group dinner.
I immediately thought to myself...Very nice but I better eat a big lunch
cause chances are there won't be much I can eat! Most of us vegetarians
think similar thoughts when we attend parties or are invited to dinners.
Pot-lucks are a little easier since there is usually such a wide variety
of foods. But, as I entered the door the hostess said to me "There is no meat
in the soup. I put the bacon on the side". How sweet and thoughtful of her
to remember! And the potato soup was indeed delicious! Not all hosts are
as attentive and gracious, but I am more aware of it these days and try
to be a considerate hostess myself. When we have company over we do grill
meats. I believe it is the polite thing to do. I do not feel it is a breach
of my ethics to serve meat, only a breach of my personal discipline to
eat it. Similar considerations might be allergies, or people who consume
a gluten-free diet. We are very grateful when our friends and family are
mindful of our limits. Everybody likes to be respected and remembered!

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Most vegetarians are extraordinary cooks. This seemed true before I became
vegetarian and holds true today. Most of the vegetarians I know really are amazing
cooks, and, they seem to enjoy cooking. Perhaps one does have to be a bit more
creative to prepare tasty dishes without the use of meat, however,I want to dispell
the myth that being a chef is a requirement! I have never been an excellent cook
and am just barely passable to this day. There are about 6-8 entrees I can cook
well and hardly anything I can bake. My husband is a much better cook than I. He
regularly makes homemade pesto, hummus, pat-thai and blueberry pancakes. A good
deal of the articles I read regarding vegetarianism are basically recipe and/or
cooking articles. But if this has never been your passion, it is not necessary
to start now (unless of course you want to). Even people who are great cooks
have a few simple staple things they eat when they are in a hurry or don't feel
like cooking. You just need to find some of these things for yourself. For example,
some of the default foods which I can always eat if I don't want to fix something,
or, if I am someplace where everything on the table appears to contain meat, is a
peanut butter and jelly sandwich and tomato soup. Maybe for you its a grilled
cheese sandwich or nachos. Veggie pizza is another option. All I'm saying is that its a good idea to find a few simple, readily available vegetarian options that
you can eat in a pinch. It might save you a relapse!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Woo Hoo! Lets Go To The Grocery Store!

No, really, I'm not being sarcastic! I think grocery stores are awesome and I am
very very grateful we have them. Just think, we can go into Ingles or Food Lion
and buy fresh blueberries in the middle of winter. We can buy Sea Bass flown in
from South America and coffee beans from Africa. Then we can walk only a few
meters of clean air-conditioned aisles to the meat section and pick up a chicken
(if you eat such things) already cleaned and cut up. You don't have to wring its
neck, pluck the feathers or gut the innards! How convenient is that?! And, you
can even buy quality-controlled aspirin tablets in the same store. We don't have
to go peel the bark off a willow tree and pound some kind of concoction into
a paste. Heck no, we can dash through the whole place in 30 minutes and load
up with stuff from 5 different countries if that's what we want. Of course, it's also
wonderful to take the time and love to plant our own vegetables and raise our own
chickens, but lots of people either don't have the space or the desire to do so.
And that is totally OK. People shouldn't feel like they are pressured into gardening
or canning etc. It is a healthy and green activity but only for those who enjoy it.
So the next time you go grocery shopping, instead of thinking about all those articles
you have read about additives and junk food, look around and breathe a sigh of thanks.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Guerilla Gardening

Once upon a time the town of Todmorden in West Yorkshire, England
was a thriving community. However, decades of industrial cotton milling
and opencast mining have left the area in economic decline, its buildings
covered with soot, and a large percentage of its residents unemployed,
living in government assisted housing. Two summers ago a revival of
greenery broke out in Todmorden, an outbreak of guerrilla gardening.
Todmorden revitalized its food economy through a grow-your-own
initiative that uses publicly owned spaces for raising fruits and vegetables.
Vegetables, fruit trees and herbs have been planted on the abandoned
demolition site in the center of town, from heaps of spoil, and outside the
railway station and bus stops. Not only are individuals feeding their own
families, they are selling produce to local shops and restaurants. Today,
Todmorden's three local schools serve only locally grown vegetables and
locally raised meats, and its restaurants draw tourists from all over Great
Britain. Is this a model that could work in our/your community?
Think globally--Act locally... Homegrown is a good thing!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

One Small Thing

This morning we went to the Appalachian Growers Festival at Monteith Park
in Dillsboro. There were bunches of people there selling herbs, garden plants,
seeds and other farming/gardening/flowering stuff. One hippie looking dude
had eggs for sale, lots of eggs. We asked him how many chickens he owned.
He said 60 laying hens. Then he said this--I love raising chickens. Sometimes
at night I'll go into the barn and just listen to them. They make a soft almost
cooing sound at night when they roost.
I thought that was so cool. I thought--Thats the kind of food I want to eat.
Food raised by farmers that go into their barns at night just to listen.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Soup

I came home from my evening class a few nights ago and my husband met
me at the door, "I did something today and as soon as I did it I felt bad. It
was kind of stupid and I realized as soon as I did it, I shouldn't have. I
considered not telling you but decided no to go that route." Of course, my
mind immediately started to run though the possibilities... "You bought
something expensive on ebay?" was my first inquiry. "No" he replied.
"You invited somebody to come stay with us for 2 weeks?" I asked.
"No, I put this in the soup" he responded, holding up a very small carton
in his right hand. I leaned forward to read the writing on the box--chicken
broth. "Oh". "I made a pot of butternut squash soup and used 2 cartons
of vegetable broth, a carton of heavy cream, then added this without
thinking". "Oh" I repeated.
He had made one of my favorite homemade soups, cream of butternut squash.
He had chopped up two large squash, onion, garlic, 1/2 a jalapeno pepper,
cooked it all then run it though the blender. The huge pot was still on the stove,
a beautiful shade of baby-plooey orange.
Vegetarianism is, by definition, a protocol of rules, an adherence to boundaries,
a self-imposed regulation. However, it need not be an obsession. We need not
be Pharisees, placing the rules themselves above the substance behind them.
I ate the soup, and kissed my husband for being sweet enough make it, and
thoughtful enough to tell me the truth.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dear Abby

The following letter appeared in Dear Abby's advice column a couple weeks ago...
Dear Abby,
I am 27 and have been a vegetarian for five years. I am trying to develop a thick
skin when it comes to people who question or make fun of my choice, but I'm
tired of laughing and letting the comments "roll off" my back.
When my grandfather sits near me at a family event, he will analyze my plate,
look at me in disgust and then tell me, "Carrots have feelings too."
When I go to a well-known sandwich shop, I order a basic and "boring" sandwich,
which I really enjoy. The sandwich makers give me funny looks and ask,
"That's all?" or, "You're spending five bucks on THIS?"
I am tired of people questioning what I eat or what kind of sandwich I choose to
spend my money on. What is the best response to people who are so rude?--
Herbivore by Choice in New York
Dear Herb,
Sorry, there is no one-size-fits-all snappy one-liner. But take comfort in the fact
that a growing number of people are choosing to avoid meat and poultry not
only for ethical reasons, but also because they prefer to avoid the hormones and
antibiotics used in their production.
When someone comments or questions you, it's important to consider the source
as well as the intent behind the remarks. Your grandfather may be trying to be
humorous--or he may be showing concern because he comes from a generation
that didn't learn there can be benefits from a vegetarian diet.
As to the sandwich shop employee--the person may be trying to "sell you up."
I completely agree that ridiculing a customer is not only bad manners but also
bad for business. The next time it happens, complain about it to the manager.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


The following is an excerpt from a short-story written in 1964 by John Updike called
The Christian Roommates:

In these months there was often a debate about the subject posed under their eyes:
Hub's vegetarianism. There he would sit, hus tray heaped high with a steaming double
helping of squash and lima beans, while Fitch would try to locate the exact point at
which vegetarianism became inconsistent. "You eat eggs," he said.
"Yes," Hub said.
"You realize that every egg, from the chicken's point of reference, is a newborn baby?"
"But in fact it is not unless it has been fertilized by a rooster."
"But suppose," Fitch pursued, "as sometimes happens--which I happen to know, from
working in my uncle's henhouse in Maine--an egg that should be sterile has in fact been
fertilized and contains an embryo?"
"If I see it, I naturally don't eat that particular egg." Hub said, his lips making that
satisfied concluding snap.
Fitch pounced triumphantly, spilling a fork to the floor with a lurch of his hand.
"But why?" The hen feels the same pain on being parted from an egg whether sterile
or fertile. The embryo is unconscious--a vegetable. As a vegetarian, you should eat it
with special relish." He tipped back in his chair so hard he had to grab the table edge
to keep from toppling over.
"It seems to me," Dawson said, frowning darkly--these discussions, clogging some
twist of his ego, often spilled him into a vile temper--"that psychoanalysis of hens is
hardly relevant."
"On the contrary," Kern said lightly, clearing his throat and narrowing his pink,
infected eyes, "it seems to me that there, in the tiny, dim mind of the hen--the
minimal mind, as it were--is where the tragedy of the universe achieves a pinpoint
focus. Picture the emotional life of a hen. What does she know of companionship? A
flock of pecking, harsh-voiced gossips. Of shelter? A few dung-bespattered slats.
Of food? Some flecks of mash and grit insolently tossed on the ground. Of love?
The casual assault of a polygamous cock--cock in the biblical sense. Then, into this
heartless world, there suddenly arrives, as if by magic, an egg. An egg of her own.
An egg, it must seem to her, that she and Gog have made. How she must cherish it,
its beautiful baldness, its gentle luster, its firm yet somehow fragile, softly swaying
Carter had broken up. He bent above his tray, his eyes tight shut, his dark face
contorted joyfully. "Puhleese," he gasped at last. "You're making my stomach
"Ah, Carter," Kern said softly, "if that were only the worst of it. For then, one day,
while the innocent hen sits cradling this strange, faceless, oval child, its little weight
swaying softly in her wings"--he glanced hopefully at Carter, but the colored boy
bit his lower lip and withstood the jab--"an enormous man, smelling of beer and
manure, comes and tears the egg from her grasp. And why? Because he"--Kern
pointed, arm fully extended, across the table, so that his index finger, orange with
nicotine, almost touched Hub's nose--"he, Saint Henry Palamountain, wants more
eggs to eat. 'More eggs!' he cries voraciously, so that the brutal steers and faithless
pigs can continue to menace the children of American mothers!"
Dawson slammed his silver down, got up from the table, and slouched out of the
dining room. Kern blushed. In the silence, Peterson put a folded slice of roast beef
in his mouth and said, chewing, "Jesus, Hub, if somebody else kills the animals you
might as well eat 'em. They don't give a damn anymore."
"You understand nothing," Hub said simply.