It’s fucking lima beans and corn, man

I stopped eating meat. And dairy.

But don’t worry. It’s OK. Cool out, man.

But, protein!

When I tell people that I no longer eat meat, I receive any number of comments, snide remarks, jokes and questions. So many questions. Leading the question pack, by a landslide, is: “What about protein?”

To be fair, this is a legitimate question. I wondered that myself. When you are eating meat, dairy, seafood, and the like, you just know that you are getting protein. Everyone knows that a cow is made up of protein. But, what does a cow eat? Vegetables! Of course.

It doesn’t necessarily follow that we should just eat the vegetables ourselves, instead of growing them for cows, and then eating the cows. But it does make sense when you really think about it. When you think about how we do not have enough land to grow the food we need to supply our demand for animals.

But, I digress. Protein.

Non-animal sources high in protein include: Vegetables! (highest in protein are spinach, kale, peas, sprouts, broccoli, mushrooms, brussels sprouts, artichokes, asparagus, corn), beans, soy, nuts/nut butters, chickpeas, quinoa, hemp, seeds, wild rice, sprouted grains.

OK? Great.


“What about untethered veal?” (I got this question once)
“I’m not sure I understand the question.”
“Well, what if they are untethered?”
“You mean, are they are treated humanely if they are untethered?”
“Uh huh.”
“I guess? At least until they are slaughtered.”

The word slaughter really says it all. It doesn’t roll nicely off the tongue. “Bessie led a wonderful life up until the slaughter.”

Emily’s Moo

My favorite book as a kid was called Emily’s Moo. Emily, a cow, didn’t know how to moo. So, she went around asking the other animals how to moo. They could not help her. Emily needed to find her own voice. The book was ahead of its time.

I hadn’t yet learned to read but I had memorized the book and would “read” it to anyone and everyone. It was fair to say that I had found my voice.

As a kid, I just liked all the pictures of animals in the book. I was too young to understand the feminist message.

The book ends with Emily finding her voice.

Maybe in the sequel she speaks out that she doesn’t want to be forcibly impregnated to produce milk for humans instead of her own child, who was ripped from her womb and the best she can hope for is that her child is untethered. Up until the slaughter.

But, vegans!

Whoa. That dreaded word – vegan. While I would argue there are just as many fanatical paleos or ketos, the word vegan is especially inciteful. It’s almost as if you said Hitler. The late Anthony Bourdain called vegans a “Hezbollah-like splinter-faction” of vegetarians. Even if I were a vegan, I would hesitate to use that label.

Yes, there are vegans who run the gamut from annoying to downright hostile, but I still don’t understand the anger around both vegetarian and vegan diets. So much anger! The reaction is akin to saying you just kicked a baby or stabbed your mother.

I’m just eating vegetables, man. Cool out.

George Carlin had a great bit on food items with strange names. One of my favorites:

“What did you call me, you fuck?”
“Hey, fucking cool out. It’s fucking lima beans and corn, man.”

But, why?

I gave up meat and dairy for my health. It started as an elimination diet, because I had a lot of GI issues. I thought I’d try it for a month and see what happened. Almost immediately I felt so much better.

From a health standpoint, it is not only encouraging and motivating to feel better, but it has also inspired me to cook more and to research recipes and try new things.

The food has been delicious. It is so much better than what we were eating. Part of that is getting out of our rut, but it’s also a whole new way of thinking about food.

When you take the meat out of the equation, you naturally open yourself up to other options you may not have even considered before. It’s been truly life-changing in that regard.

But, cheese!

Ok, yes. I was born in Wisconsin! I ate cheese every single day of my life for decades. Sometimes more than once in a day. I used to think about giving up dairy (again, to see if it would help any of my GI issues, as dairy is often a culprit) and I couldn’t fathom it, even for a couple of weeks. Because, cheese.

I do not know why I thought I could do it this time, but it just felt right. Or maybe I was just sick of feeling sick. I felt like I could at least try. And no one is more shocked than me at how easy the transition has been.

Chicken Lady

I eat eggs, mostly because we have chickens. We got them a couple of years ago. We now have three: Delta Dawn, Bakaw, and Ozzy. We had two that we named “chicken lady” after the Kids in the Hall skit. The first ended up being a rooster, and the second one died after laying her first egg. We decided against using that name again.

chickensOur chickens are adorable and surprisingly entertaining. And so many expressions come from chickens that I never really thought about before but now witness daily. Like: spread your wings, shake your tail feather, all cooped up, flew the coop, pecking order, ruffle your feathers, empty nest, and many more.

But, thankfully, at least at our house, the saying “like a chicken with its head cut off” is not literal. We treat our chickens very well, they are free range, and we will keep and care for them until they die naturally. Yes, even after they stop laying eggs.

And I must say, it was a little awkward when we used to grill chicken right in front of them. It feels so much better now when I tell them, “we don’t eat you anymore.”

Circle of life

I’ve heard this one a lot. Survival of the fittest, circle of life, etc. But, we do not have to eat animals. It is not “survival of the fittest” if we mass breed animals so we can eat them. We are not hunting for food to feed our family or we will go hungry. We are tearing down the rain forests to grow the crops we need to keep up with our relentless demand for meat.

From an environmental standpoint, what we are doing – no matter how you feel about it – is not sustainable. We are out of land.

Fake news

I’ve had people comment on the number of ingredients in veggie hot dogs, sausages, etc. and it’s true. There are a lot of ingredients, and many are unfamiliar. And while in general I try to eat real, whole foods, I do sometimes opt for convenience.

I figure, as long as the ingredients don’t include lips and anus encased in intestine, then I’m all good.

But meat tastes good!

Yes, it sure does. Many (most?) people don’t give it up because they hate the taste of it. Which is why there are so many alternatives out there that try to come as close to their animal counter-part as possible.

And that’s OK. Cool out.

It’s fucking lima beans and corn, man.

Four on the deck

“Four on the deck?” the host asks.
“Um, well, we’d rather sit inside, actually.”
“Four on the deck?” he asks again, pointedly.
“No, it’s raining and cold. And we can see lots of empty tables inside.”

We were hungry, and hung over. We were also cold and wet and exhausted. And now insecure, offended and confused. What just happened? We hung our heads and dutifully followed him outside to the lone, sad table the deck. At least it was partly under an awning. The rest of the tables had chairs flipped upside down on top of them; the deck was clearly not open. As we walked through the restaurant to our outcast table, all eyes were on us. It felt like a movie scene, where the music and talking stopped as a spotlight appeared above us.

This treatment came at the end of a short camping trip, and apparently our reputation had preceded us. The four of us had piled in Julie’s Buick Special, loaded with the essentials – an absorbent army tent, and several coolers of beer. Judging by our hairstyles, Deano had been dating Dominic (a stylist) for some time. 80’s spiral perms and processed orange highlights were replaced with slick, bold cuts and shocking color choices. We thought we were so cool.

By all accounts, we were the worst campers. We were loud, obnoxious, and intoxicated. We spent the day at the beach drinking beer and frolicking in the water. Deano was mooning us via hand stands in the water. We found some floating logs and took turns trying to sit or stand on them, to various degrees of failure. I had a moment of clarity at one point late in the day when I realized we were not the only four on the beach. It was packed with people, many of them children. When did that happen? We were in our own world, and while it was a blast for us, I’m sure the rest of the campers viewed it differently.

Back at our campsite we needed a few items. Mainly ice for the beer. Maybe a hunk of bread to soak up some alcohol. So the boys went into town. They were gone longer than we expected and had a strange look when they returned.

“What happened? Where is the ice?”
“We don’t want to talk about it.”

To this day, I am sure I don’t have the full story. They went to a local bar, made best friends with the owner and a few patrons, but then something went wrong. It had something to do with them being gay, but that is all I know.

We woke up to pouring rain and in a puddle of water in the absorbent tent and decided to head home early, stopping for breakfast on the way.

Four on the deck?

It’s easy to say this was discrimination against gays, but we have to also accept the fact that gay or straight, we were inconsiderate assholes. It could also be the case that the host at the restaurant had no idea of our previous antics and was discriminating solely based on appearance and odor.

Over the years, we have used the expression “four on the deck” countless times to describe any situation in which we feel outcast, isolated or discriminated against. Or we are seated at a bad table at a restaurant. It has become a joke, but on that day it felt real.

I grew up in a mid-sized city in central Minnesota. Of our high school graduating class of over 300, not one was “out.” I met Deano at college in the same city; we lived on the same floor of a co-ed dorm. He had a girlfriend. He and I hit it off immediately. He didn’t come out to me until years later, after he had moved to Minneapolis. We went out for drinks at Liquor Lyles. Located in Uptown, Minneapolis, Liquor Lyles had red vinyl booths, a scary back room that we called “The Accused” room (after the Jodie Foster movie) and served fried chicken, pickled herring, and a big block of government cheese for happy hour. The perfect place for such an announcement.

We all suspected he was gay at this point, but he hadn’t come out to any of us. That night he didn’t tell me until we were walking home from the bar and I pushed him into it. Later, he told me how nervous he was about it. I couldn’t understand why he didn’t trust me enough with that information and I was hurt by his lack of faith in me. But he was thinking about the city he had to leave to be himself; the city where I grew up and was still going to college. From his perspective and experience, that conversation may have ended our friendship. I say to anyone – please give the people in your life a chance to know you. The real you. You might lose some, but not the right ones. Deano and I have been friends for 28 years.

Back at school, I wrote about sodomy laws for my senior thesis (like you do.) Specifically I wrote about repealing Minnesota’s sodomy law. I majored in criminal justice and in one of my criminal law classes I read a case where a gay couple in Georgia were convicted of violating Georgia’s sodomy law (they were consenting adults, in their own home) which carried a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. (Bowers v. Hardwick, 1986.) The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, who voted 5-4 in favor of Georgia’s sodomy law. One Justice noted the length of the sentence could be considered a violation of the 8th Amendment (against cruel and unusual punishment), but still voted with the majority opinion. I was outraged. This would be my first foray into this amendment; later I became an advocate against the death penalty, which I believe also violates this amendment.

Since I hate public speaking of any kind, I was terrified on the day I had to defend my thesis. But because I was passionate about the topic, had done meticulous research on both sides of the issue, and knew I was right; the fear quickly turned to defense. I was all – bring it on! There are so many misconceptions about sodomy, and an overwhelming consensus that no one wants to even say the word. It’s like George Carlin talking about head cheese (“I can’t even look at the sign!”) If you ever want to make someone uncomfortable in any situation; I recommend using “sodomy” in a sentence. Any sentence.

Sodomy is anal or oral sex between consenting adults (same or opposite sex.) Period. If it’s not consenting, that is a violation of a different law. If it’s in public, that is a violation of a different law (why do some people think gay people only have sex in public?) The laws against sodomy have rarely been enforced against heterosexual couples. In the Bowers case the court ruled that the right to privacy specifically did not extend to consensual homosexual sex. The case was a major blow to the gay rights movement, and not in the good, sodomy way.

Fast forward almost three decades and there’s a completely opposite four on the deck situation. My husband and I are in Hawaii with his daughter and her fiancée (a woman.) This time the deck is THE place to be. It has a killer view of the ocean and it’s warm, inviting and serene. Times have changed, certainly – gay marriage is legal in many states, younger kids feel safer coming out, many public advocates are out and proud, and there are no longer any state laws against sodomy – but discrimination is still alive and well.

View from the deck. Four on the deck?

View from the deck. Four on the deck?

While I’m happy and proud of the progress so far, I look forward to the day when the universal meaning of “four on the deck” is “you are welcomed and accepted here.” Everyone.