Friday, September 11, 2015


LIKED IT. The old “What’s My Line” television program in the 1950’s had an episode in which the celebrity panel ate soy meat. They were not told their hot dogs were really made from soy. The panelists agreed the ‘meat” was delicious and none of them guessed they were not eating real meat.

Soy meat products are indeed delicious. If they tasted good enough to fool television panelists back then, think how great they taste now, after over 60 years of improvements.

My grandfather was visiting our house that day, and I remember that he said one day only the rich people will be able to afford meat. I was a little kid, so I didn’t openly disagree with him. But silently I thought just the opposite. I didn’t like eating meat even back then. I knew where it came from and I didn’t want to eat cows, pigs and chickens.

Today nutritionists tell us that a plant based diet is healthier. Many better educated people, also have higher incomes and they are choosing plant based diets.

My grandfather was wrong. Meat actually is more popular with the lower economic classes, than with the educated elites. It is in economically depressed areas that one finds the McDonald’s and Burger Kings.

Thursday, September 10, 2015


Here’s a vegan’s confession. I didn’t become a vegetarian for health or ethical issues. I just didn’t want to eat cows, pigs or chickens.

When I was a preschooler, the neighbors had cows. My family had pet rabbits and chickens as well as the usual assortment of pet dogs and cats. As soon as I found out that beef was really cow; bacon was really pig; and chicken was chicken, I didn’t want to eat it.

I wasn’t eating dead animals. I also didn’t want to eat eggs. They came from a chicken’s butt, and in those days I didn’t understand the difference between a fertilized egg and an unfertilized egg, so I thought there was a baby chicken in there.

My mother was okay with my choices. She thought I would grow out of it. She always cooked potatoes with every meal and there was always a vegetable too. I ate pancakes and lots of breads and desserts that had egg in them. Just so long as I didn’t have to eat anything eggy or meaty. I was all right.

I did get into trouble at school. The school lunch program served what was then described by teachers and cooks as “nutritional” meals. I wouldn’t eat the meats, and sometimes if the vegetables looked runny or the potatoes were mixed with the meat in a kind of hash, I wouldn’t eat that either. I would eat peanut butter sandwiches and milk and I usually ate the desserts. It was enough to get me through the day.

The teachers considered my eating habits rebellion. Sometimes I was forced to sit in the lunch room after everyone else had left. I was told I couldn’t leave until I ate something. When no one was looking, I would cut a piece out of the meat with a knife, hide it in a napkin and then claim I ate something.

Then I could go.

I was a liar, I know, but I was not going to eat a cow, a chicken or a pig. I knew the animals were murdered for their meat; I felt that was wrong, but I was not protesting the horrors of the slaughterhouse in those days. Factory farming did not exist then.Despite living in the country and visiting farms, I knew nothing about farming. I certainly never witnessed a slaughter.

On television I saw commercials for Carnation condensed milk. It supposedly came from contented cows.

I read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books. In one book she writes that cheese is made from a calves’ brains. I gave up cheese for awhile. But kept going back to it.

My elementary school classes got more their share of lectures about how important it was to eat meat for good health. I am sure I was the student those lectures were aimed at. The teachers were bound and determined to change my eating habits.

While I loved my pets, the birds and turtles, rabbits, and chickens as well as the dogs and cats, empathy was something I learned. I was not born with it. We who have Asperger’s are often accused of not having empathy. But like good nutrition, empathy can come from a variety of sources. I am grateful I always had pets. They made great teachers, and taught me empathy despite the Asperger’s.

As I got older, I became interested in the humane movement. I volunteered at an animal shelter in Iron Mountain, Michigan and I even wrote an article way back in June 1973 for “Dog Fancy” (Now “Dogster” Magazine) on how to start a humane society.

I became a conscientious vegetarian.

I learned about the health benefits of vegetarian and vegan living. I consider that a wonderful plus. I also feel superior to all those teachers who tried to force me to eat meat, and who lectured on its benefits.

I eat vegan cheese now, not the dairy kind. I avoid dairy like its the plague.

It’s good to be healthy and kind.

Sunday, September 6, 2015


When I was growing up, I was afraid of everything. The dark. Spooky places like ship wrecks and airplane crashes,Haunted Houses. Dead bodies and snakes. I had to experience the dark every night. Snakes were a possibility, but the others were highly unlikely.

Where did all those fears come from?

We lived near a small airport, and the boys who lived near by told me the airplanes came alive at night and ate people. I was afraid those airplanes would come and get me in my sleep.

Those were the days of scary television dramas like “Twilight Zone.” I would watch an episode about a lost airplane, and I’d have nightmares for days afterward.

My mother used to get “Life” magazine. The pages were filled with graphic pictures of plane crashes, burned children and disaster aftermath. I tried to avoid looking at the pages of that magazine, but it was always there. Sometimes the magazine sitting on the coffee table would be open to the most horrible picture in the book.

When I was about eight years old, the Andrea Doria, a luxury ocean liner collided with another ship, the Stockholm. I watched the Andrea Doria sink. I had nightmares, not only then, but every time I thought about the ship. It’s in the deepest, spookiest part of the ocean, and many experienced divers have died exploring the Andrea Doria as it lies in its grave.

If there was a fear out there, it seemed ready to attach itself to me.

I remember the first time I saw a snake.

I was a preschooler sitting in the house with my parents, when the dogs outside started barking. They were making quite a ruckus. My dad was going to get up and see what it was about, but I jumped up and said, “I’ll see. I’ll see.”

I went out and saw the dogs barking at what I thought was this really pretty colorful striped cord. It looked like a jump rope. I was going to pick it up and start jumping rope. I started to approach it, but the dogs got in my way. They gently pushed me away and barked more fiercely than ever.

“What’s going on?” My parents came outside.

“See,” I pointed. I still thought it was a jump rope, but it startled me by moving.

My dad killed the snake, and then my mother said I should touch it so I wouldn’t be afraid of snakes.

The dogs went wild when I started toward the dead snake. They wouldn’t let me touch it. Thank heavens.

I am afraid of snakes. I don’t think touching it would have made a difference.

TRY THIS: Write about something you are afraid of. Why do you think you are afraid of this something? What experiences have you had real or imaginary?