Proud to be Vegetarian

Come this August, I’ll have been a dedicated Vegetarian for 5 years. One of the most common questions I get asked by family and friends is, ‘Do you miss meat?’ My question has been from the beginning: No. And it’s 100% true – I don’t. Why not? My body feels better, for one, though I still have weight to lose to make myself healthier. I’m not clogging up arteries as much or weighing my gut down with undigested and tainted meats. I feel better emotionally, for not eating cows, goats, chickens, ducks, lambs, fish, etc…But above all, I feel more like a whole person, and that I’m making a difference in saving the lives of animals…and my children are here to see all of this.

Other questions I’ve been asked more than once:
Is being a Vegetarian hard?
Do you only eat salads?
How do you eat out?
Isn’t buying Organic more expensive?
Why are you raising your kids Vegetarian?
Do you ever ‘cheat’?
When will this diet phase end – you’ll eat meat again, won’t you?
(And my all-time favorite to hate) But, where do you get your protein?

Well, I’ll answer those for you…

  • For me, no, being a Vegetarian is not hard. I made the choice for the right reasons (for animal rights, environmental reasons, and of course, my health). Any choice we make in life is easy to live with if you made it for the right reasons.
  • I love salads – it’s a fantastic way to pack in a bunch of fresh veggies and fruits (as well as nuts, too!) into one dish. But no, I don’t only eat salads. A plant-based diet means you can eat any veggie, fruit, grain, legume, nut, or meat-replacement. I eat colorfully and with variety.
  • I eat out like I would eat at home – with the exception that if I go somewhere new, I ask about what their foods are cooked in (lard for example, is a no-no…as are oils that have animal products in them like oyster sauce). If I eat Mexican, I usually omit the rice and beans, as often times they are cooked with chicken stock. But I have my favorite places to eat that are Vegan, like The Loving Hut.
  • Yes, buying Organic CAN be more expensive…but if you find the right places to shop and take advantage of local markets, you can find great deals on organic foods.
  • Some parents freak out and look at me as if I’m a monster when I explain that my son has never had meat and my daughter has been a Vegetarian for half of her life. She was 5 when I made the choice for myself, and I did ask her what she wanted to do. In all reality, if a child understood that an egg would grow up to be a baby chicken, and that their burgers from McD’s are actually made from ground up cow parts…most kids would be appalled and refuse to eat such things. Children are more compassionate and innocent than adults. My daughter made the choice herself, and she wants to be a full-blown Vegan for the rest of her life. As for my son, he was only 1yr old and didn’t have much of a choice. But he also understands it now, and doesn’t see why some kids eat chickens and turkeys and baby goats. He doesn’t ‘get it’ because he’s been raised slightly differently than most kids his age.
  • I don’t ever cheat on meats, though there have been times when we were served something that had meat by accident, in which instinctively spit out (recently my hubby brought home rolled tacos stuffed with a vegetarian potato filling…and one of the rolled tacos had beef in it). There have been other times when we’ve refused to eat something simply because I didn’t know what the ingredients were. Some might find this anal – I call it being aware and conscientious of what I put in my body.
  • As for my diet being a phase – it’s not. This is my lifestyle and nope, I won’t be eating meat down the road. I feel very certain and passionate about that. Once the connection is made between animal and food, I can’t go back – nor would I want to.
  • Where do we get our protein? Bwahahahahahahah! Look up your favorite vegetables and fruits online some time – and you’ll see that many are PACKED with protein. I’m not kidding…having a full serving of broccoli is like having a serving of lean meat. Most of us are not raised with a nutritional degree, so this is something I had to learn myself, when making the switch to a Vegetarian lifestyle. I suggest those who truly think a Vegetarian or Vegan don’t get enough protein in their diets research the topic thoroughly. Another thing to remember is that (especially in the USA) people eat more protein than they actually need.

On top of what I put inside my body – just as important is what I put on my body. We do our best to ensure our clothing, shoes, accessories, etc…are man-made with synthetic or natural fibers. No leather. No suede. No products that are tested on animals. I keep our house clean of this stuff. I’m comfortable in my own skin – and want animals wearing theirs. And if you know anything about animal-testing, you know how awful the industry is. I don’t want any part of it. And neither do my kids. Last time I was in a particular store, we were walking through the rug section and my five-year old son noticed a cowhide hanging on display. I didn’t say anything to him about what it was, other than to honestly answer his question of ‘Is that real cow fur, mommy?’ He was appalled and confused that someone would want cow skin as a rug in their home.I don’t lie to my kids about the world. I protect them from the worst parts, but I also want them to know the truth about it when they do ask.

Is it really wrong for my son to grow up respecting animals and their right to live beside us without fear of being tortured, eaten, or skinned alive?

Is it really wrong for my children to look at me as an adult who has compassion for animals that suffer and die at the hands of humans?

Is it really wrong for people to know more about what they eat and what they wear, and the truth about what the process entails?

My answer to those three questions is a big and fat NO. It’s not wrong. It’s about awareness. That’s what it is. Be aware of what you eat, of where it came from and the process it took to get to you. Be it meats, dairy, vegetables or fruits. I just ask for people to open their eyes…and see.

I don’t want people to see me as a hippie freak – I want them to see why I’m proud of being a Vegetarian.

vegetarian-plate

Kurtuku and Goom-jigi!

Every once in a while I go through older things I’ve written, and today I came across this email I sent out about five years ago to family and friends. I had to share it, as it brought one of those ridiculously goofy smiles to my face. Shanti.

In my daily endeavors to teach acceptance, diversity and peace to my children I stumbled upon a children’s book called “Can you say Peace” by Karen Katz. It’s a book my children enjoyed from the first read. The pictures portray children of different Countries around the world and the many ways to say ‘Peace’ in their languages.
 
My daughter and her 5 year old memory took on a certain liking of the Peace words ‘Kurtuku’ – from the Warnman people of Austrailia and ‘Goom-jigi’ – from the Buli people of Ghana. For days it was ‘goom-jee-jee’ this and ‘kur-TU-ku’ that, with the random Japanese version, ‘Heiwa’ or ‘hey-wah’ and the Bolivian ‘Mojjsa kamana’ (moh-khash ka-mah-neeah). We took a few trips out that week. To the grocery store, my 5 year old greeted a confused child with ‘Kurtuku!’ and at Home Depot while I was searching for window locks, she made up a song ‘la la la laaa laaaa, kurtuku and goom-jigi, goom-jigi, goom-jigi, kurtuku! la la la la laaa laaaa laaaaaaaaaa…’. Needless to say, tho I loved the hidden meaning of her words, everyone around us had confused and almost sympathetic expressions on their faces. I could almost imagine what they were thinking, ‘That poor child, maybe she is autistic, such a happy yet, incoherent, girl…’ but I kept a smile on my face and answered my daughter with ‘Mir!’ (Russia’s take on Peace) and ‘He ping!’ (from China).
 
As we neared the self-checkout counter I began riffling thru my purchases and my daughter walked up to the teller who was on duty, and very clearly and loudly said to her ‘Goom-jigi!’ when the teller nervously smiled at her and glanced away, my daughter then added, ‘It means PEACE in Ghana, did you know that??’ The teller’s countenance went from a passive and indifferent look to one of suprise and interest. ‘No, I did not know that’, she said to my daughter and looked up at me with a sly smile. My smart little 5 year old continuted without pause, ‘And Kurtuku to you too! Do you know what that means?’ When the teller just smiled at her, I knew she was waiting for my daughter to explain, and she did…’it’s Austria’s way to say PEACE, Kurtuku!’ Without looking at her, but smiling, I gently corrected her and said ‘Australia, sweety, not Austria.’
 
As I finished with my items and bagged them, I kissed my son’s toes, who was sitting in the front of the shopping cart and told my daughter it was time to go. She was in such a happy mood, singing her made up song about Peace in two different languages. I smiled at the teller, said thanks and passed by her, then my daughter turned around and ran back to her and hugged her without permission. The teller was at first surprised, then quickly hugged her back and told her she was such a beautiful young girl and asked me what her name was so I told her.
 
My daughter beamed up at her with inner pride and said ‘Goom-jigi!’ to her. The teller, who looked refreshed and suddenly happy to be at work, bent down and said to her with a big smile, ‘Kurtuku, Rory’.

Pulling the Introvert out of a Writer

I think writers all need a bit of isolation to finish a project. Or at least to finish a project worth reading. I’ve met many authors who are borderline introverts, and even though I wouldn’t consider myself one, I find it easy to slip into my own little bubble at times. Surely we all do this – writer or not – when our personal lives get busy, or work, family and children demand our constant attention. It’s called Life. We all have one, even writers.

The problem I’m having lately is that I can create an entire fantasy world on my computer, and develop characters and roller coaster plot lines, but I can’t get my four-year old to pick up his toys, or my nine-year old to finish reading the same book she’s had in her room for three weeks now. Parenting is tough, being a writer with children (especially homeschooled children) is not only hard but it’s exhausting! And my writing is suffering. There simply aren’t enough pieces of me to keep the ball rolling smoothly without help from my family and organization from myself. Writing from the seat of my pants whenever I feel like it doesn’t work anymore. I do have a schedule, and I try my best to follow it but children aren’t predictable! Being bogged down with work and home responsibilities has pulled me into my own shell and I’ve become, shockingly to me, an introvert! Weeks have passed since I’ve spoken to or seen some of my best friends, and the other day, I sat down and tried to think of when I had all of my girlfriends over for the evening. I couldn’t remember. There was a black spot in my brain where entertainment and socializing used to be. There might be cobwebs in there. It’s way dark too, and the black-out curtains definitely need to go.

So my point of this mini-rant is for those of you that write – don’t forget to live. In fact, DO live and live well, because without life propelling us along and holding our hand through the ups and downs, our stories have no substance. A true introvert is not experiencing life in color – but black and white, losing the details along the way. The creative streams in our brains will run dry and then all the time we’ve spent pushing life aside will come flooding back in and we’ll realize our children have grown and our friends get together often – to talk about us. Who we used to be. Who we wanted to be. Not the empty shell we’ve created by allowing so much time to pass before running through life with joy – like a naked person in the rain.

If you don’t think running through the rain naked is freeing, perhaps you should try it. Just be warned, I take no responsibility for your actions and no, I will not bail you out of jail. If you’d rather keep your clothes on and stay dry – then start with baby steps, and schedule your writing time this week, ALSO scheduling in at least one meeting with a friend and two other phone calls to people who are important to you. Don’t forget to hug your kids, take them to the park even though the wood chips ALWAYS get stuck in their socks, cave and grab them an ice cream at the end of the week, read them a book or watch one of their favorite movies together. Maybe I’m being nostalgic because my ‘baby’ is turning ten years old next month, I don’t know. But I want to remember her being nine, right this moment.

So while she works on math practice sheets and grumbles about how word problems ‘suck’, I’ll crank out what I can on my WIP, and then explain to her again, that math word problems matter when you are an adult. They become Life Problems. See the cycle we are a part of? Everything comes back to us, if only we let ourselves see it.

 

Happy Thursday, Everyone!

What NOT to do if you are a writer, with kids.

Hello Parents Who Write!! 😀

I’m still new at managing my time between writing and being a parent. So I have little advice on how to make your days perfect if you happen to have a current writing project under way and small children under foot. But I’m an EXPERT now at what NOT to do. How about I give you some suggestions so that you may laugh along with me? Laughing by myself always makes my eight year old nervous. Just a disclaimer – I will not confirm nor deny that the following has or has not happened in my house:

  1. Prepare snacks and meals ahead of time. It never fails that the moment you sit down at your computer, someone will be dying of hunger or thirst.
  2. If you haven’t seen your pets in say…the last thirty minutes, go look for them. Chances are they’re being held against their will by your preschooler who thinks that doll top would look FABULOUS on Mr. Kitty. Or just for practice, the kids could have locked poor Fido in the bathroom. You know, for potty training of course.
  3. Lock up all permanent markers. This needs no explanation.
  4. Lock up all lotions, toothpastes and anything else that can be squished from a tube. This also needs no explanation.
  5. If the 3 year old blames the cat and the cat rolls her eyes at the 3 year old and then casually begins bathing itself – blame them both for the entire roll of toilet paper that is now draped across your living room floor, furniture and light fixtures.
  6. Don’t let anyone under 10 years old outside to play without you. Even if you have an amazingly child-proofed backyard and sit at the window to write while they play. Someone will get hurt, always. It’s the best time for your son to think he’s superman and attempt to fly by climbing to the top of the tool shed. Or your daughter may think this is a great time to finally scale the lemon tree, and fall out backside-first.
  7. If he says ‘I did wipe my butt!’ check anyway, even if you are in the middle of writing an intense sci-fi action scene. There are some things you just DO NOT want to have to scrub out of your living room sofa at the end of the day. And if it smells bad – don’t wait…track down the offending child and change them immediately. Again – there are some things you do not want to scrub out of the sofa at the end of the day.
  8. Matchbox cars are like landmines – DO NOT ALLOW THEM INTO YOUR OFFICE. They will end up under the cushion of your chair – unpleasant. Or beneath the wheels of your chair – dangerous. Or scattered around the room waiting for that moment when the kid screams like a finger just got cut off and you bolt across the room not looking at the floor…remember – landmines.
  9. Be careful with this statement and use it only when another adult is in the house: “Leave me alone unless someone’s bleeding or stops breathing.” This opens up many opportunities for children to explore other possible ways to destroy your home.
  10. Last but most important. Suddenly you can concentrate and you’re on a roll, having pumped out 500, maybe 1000 words without one single interruption. Because it’s quiet…too quiet. Children that are too quiet are either hiding because they broke something, or they are sitting under the dining room table popping Children’s Vitamins like candy, perhaps they are giving the dog a haircut – or using the cat de-shedder to make bangs on their own head. They may be drinking the sippy cup they found under the sofa from last Tuesday, dumping everything from your closet to get to the ‘good’ dress-up clothes, seeing how far a battery goes up a toddler nose, or they may not be breathing at all. Unless you have an infant who is sleeping in a bassinet at your left elbow while you work, assume that silence is dangerous.

And yes, that’s dental floss. Call it simple mummy curiosity.