Friday, November 04, 2005

And yes, we'll be enjoying our Tofurky at Thanksgiving

Last night while eating our dinner of Boca Original Chik'n Nuggets (go ahead, say it with me..."chick nnnn nuggets"...we crack up every time!), it struck me that I really haven't spoken much about my vegetarianism and how I am an absolute FREAK when it comes to sensitivity to animals.

Now watch out...the high horse is saddled-up and ready to be ridden. I feel pretty damn strongly about this topic.

When I first met Mr. Blogger, I could NOT believe my luck in finding a man I not only adored, but who was also a veggie! Well, he does eat fish, which I don't ("nothing with a face or a parent" is my motto), but I could handle that.

Neither of my other husbands were vegetarians. You try eating a half "Meat Lovers" / half veggie pizza. It isn't easy. The meat keeps wanting to move over to your side.

Plus I HATE the smell of meat cooking, so previous hubby #2 had to become very good at barbecuing OUTSIDE...and fast. And then there was the time my half-sister came to visit with her then-husband and daughter and they decided to wake up early and COOK STEAK FOR BREAKFAST. Which they promptly burnt. Which set off my smoke alarm. Which woke me up from a deep sleep. The whole thing was NOT a pretty picture.

I have been an animal-lover and activist for as long as I can remember (and before I knew enough to call it an activist). I remember BEGGING my mother not to wear fur. I must have been no more than five or so, but it just seemed WRONG.

And everyone in my family has learned to say "DON'T LOOK!" or "TURN THE CHANNEL!" if there was a dead animal in the road, or on a TV nature show, or only play-acting in Ol' Yeller. Yes, I know he's just a little doggie actor. But I don't care...he looks like he's been hurt so that's all the same to me. I would FREAK OUT.

I still do. Oh man...please do not ever tell me of the story when your cat/dog/pet iguana had some horrible mishap. Not unless you want to see me run out of the room screaming, "Don'ttellmedon'ttellmedon'ttellme!!!!" I have MB pretty well trained on making sure I don't have to hear or see anything of the sort. I am, yet again, such a pain in the ass to live with. Let me count the ways...

I don't know why I've always had such a strong affinity for animals. I can't explain it. It's as though I FEEL what they feel. Animals can't tell us what's wrong, or if they're in pain, and that just kills me. Mom often tells my I'm very similar to my grandmother or great grandmother in that respect. All of us could always tell what our pets were thinking, feeling, etc. We were more than sympathetic; we were empathetic. I know it sounds like I'm some kind of whack job here, but I've experienced it enough times to know that animals and I (and I mean ALL KINDS of animals) have some sort of bond.

A few years ago I was going through a particularly bad spell with my depression and wouldn't you know, I was watching the news where they proceeded to report on an ANIMAL SHELTER THAT HAD CAUGHT ON FIRE. I can barely even type about it as we speak.

I would literally cry my eyes out for weeks afterwards. It physically hurt to think about it.

But I wasn't always a vegetarian. I used to love turkey on Thanksgiving, and the occasional good burger joint, but about 15 years ago I just suddenly thought, "What am I doing here?".

Talk about a hypocrite. I would quite literally lay my life down for my pets, but it's somehow ok for me to eat the cute little cow or pig? (When I went to see Babe, I went through a BOX of tissues...I was forewarned and forearmed, but I don't know what I was thinking even going to see that movie!)

So I just stopped eating meat of any kind. The next day. Cold turkey (if you'll pardon the expression).

No chicken, no turkey, no pork, no red nothing. It took about another two years before I stopped fish, which really I only ate tuna salad 'cause I was never that big a fish fan to begin with. And even that ended because this time my internal dialogue asked, "So what makes you think a fish is any less valuable than other beings?" That was the end of that.

People love to challenge me when they hear I'm a vegetarian and ask why I still eat dairy if that also came from a cow. Well, I never said I was a vegan. (They ask lots and lots of other stupid questions as well and love to make jokes about how plants have feelings learn to tune it out.)

But it amazes me to see how often I'll sit down to eat at some group event, and people feel they have the right to interrogate me. (By the way, my friends don't do this...just random idiots.) I have always been very careful not to make others feel uncomfortable around me, and I never spout off on the virtues of being a veggie. I was never that was a decision I MADE. And the right one for me. I realize that not everyone feels the same. I force it on no one.

But whenever you're different, or have something that makes you stand out, the general public just has a problem with that, I guess. I have NO OTHER vegetarians in my family and I can only think of one friend who is. And MB is the first man I ever even dated that was. I have never expected everyone to follow my lead. I'm realistic enough to know it won't happen unless the person chooses it for their own reasons.

But in the meantime I can't tell you how wonderful it is to have my freezer packed with Boca products, knowing that I have a husband who will actually join me in eating them! I don't have to make two separate dinners, and I only ever have to complain over the occasional smell of a salmon steak. (But since we got the new barbecue, even that's not much of a problem anymore.)

Mom still teases me over my Tuno sandwiches, and that's perfectly ok. Even I realize it sounds pretty funny.

But I feel good about the choice I've made. It feels right and in synch with my love for "all creatures great and small". I wouldn't have it any other way.


Blogger G/\R*E said...

Something tells me "Pet Cemetery" isn't your first choice for a Friday night block buster. (sorry had to throw that in there)

Now as far as the veggie thing goes, I hope you didn't think I was part of that "idiot" group when I use to ask you questions about your choice of cuisine. Like mock duck and tuno, or tofu turkey jerky. I wasn't trying to judge your eating style, I just thought it was interesting and wanted to understand it. Not that I totally thought you were thinking that or anything, I just wanted to clarify that.

The tofu turkey jerky was good...

10:24 AM  
Blogger Brooke said...

Oh no Gar...I so don't mind curiosity! You were genuinely interested, not rude and confrontational. Let me go on the record again to say that NONE of my friends or family have made me feel uncomfortable.
I'll share my jerky with you anytime!
(And Pet Cemetary!)

10:32 AM  
Blogger emily said...

when i was veggie i got harassed ALL THE TIME. the biggest one was "well do you still wear leather?" and of course i was in high school and wearing my letterman's jacket. GOD that was irritating!

gary, shouldn't you be sleeping?

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Auntie Ellene wants you to know that she agrees totally, as does Sam.

Good for you! Ilove the way you stick up for yourself. Still, that Tofurky doesn't quite do it as a substitute.

Guess who climbed up and over the newly-built fence which was specificaly put in place to prevent just such an incident! Twice! We three were having breakfast on the patio when she did the deed. I don't know if she was showing off for her godmother or what.

10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm never "publishing" again without previewing. Spelling mistakes (only the ones I make) drive me mad: specifically, specificaly.

Ellene wants me to include that she nearly had a heart attack over P's incident. She's the one who had to retrieve her.

10:50 AM  
Blogger sit-slake-stir said...

I became a Vegetarian after visiting an Asian restaurant when I was 15 and walking into the kitchen instead of the toilet and seeing the chef hammer down through a chicken's neck and- Oh, sorry. I forgot.

Anyway. Vego all the way for me. Then a couple years ago I started the gradual ascent (though some people like to think of it as a descent) to becomming a Vegan.

I've never looked back. There's so many wonderful things out there for us herbivores nowadays.

Enjoy your Tofurky.


9:16 PM  
Blogger John said...

Sometimes I debate about going vegetarian. Getting all the red meat and what not out of your system is a great thing and helps you get in great shape. Go watch this cartoon my professor pointed out to us in class.
It's a cartoon, so it isn't graphic really.
Anyways, there are 2 reasons I haven't gone veggie.
1. It's everywhere, and I don't think I could resist.
2. Eating healthy in this country is hard! Organic, tofu related food etc.
So until the day...I'll be in the food court.

12:07 AM  
Blogger John said...

oh i forgot...the cartoon is about what the meat industry does to pump out all the meat they do. this coupled with supersize me...i didnt eat fast food for about 3-4 months. while at college. thats impressive.

12:09 AM  
Anonymous M-I-L said...

Brooke, I so admire you for having the courage of your convictions! I am as 'soft' as you about animals, and I know if I was required to kill an animal myself in order to eat I would become vegetarian instantly. I admit that I am therefore a hypocrite to eat meat.

But I'm lazy, and it's easy to ignore the fact that the nice processed meat you buy from the supermarket was once alive, and so I - knowing I should be a vegetarian - continue to eat meat. :-(

However, we have evolved from meat-eating animals and our bodies therefore still require the proteins and minerals which are found in meat. It is very important for good health for vegetarians to replace these with alternatives found in vegetable sources or, where that is not possible, from artificial sources. So many vegetarians, particularly young girls, amongst whom vegetarianism is 'fashionable', don't do this. They just suddenly stop eating meat and as a result suffer from various deficiencies!

Fortunately these days alternatives such as your Tofurky are becoming more widely available, but I'm afraid here in the UK we are still far behind (as usual) you folk in the US!

12:28 AM  
Blogger kiwi said...

You always have good vegie sidedishes and it makes me feel like I'm eating healthy when I'm at your house. Well, except for the candy and chips and guacomole.

9:50 PM  

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