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Brown paper packages

I work at a whole foods in customer service. In every shift I spend some time bagging groceries. It’s an enjoyable task moving up and down the line chatting with customers and fellow cashiers. The part I like the least is bagging meat. I stand at the end of the lane with the belt moving groceries into my reach. Most of our meat comes freshly packaged from the meat department in anonymous brown wrapping. I lift each package to put into a sack. They are cold and heavy. And sad. I imagine that just recently this animal was warm and covered with fur or feathers. Most likely a female, she liked the sun on her back, running and playing, and rolling on the ground. She loved her mom and hopefully got to spend some time with her before the system forced them apart. I delight at the non meat orders and thankfully there are many. When I see familiar brands of meat substitutes or just good old beans and rice I think about the animals that didn’t have to suffer for those particular meals. I read that meat consumption in the U.S. is going down from its worldwide high. Not because of the economy, with gov’t subsidized crap feed and factory farmed animals poor quality meat is one of our most affordable foods, though calling it food is a stretch. People are learning about the horrors that go into producing low quality meats which is what’s in most of our stores and restaurants. So try a meal or two without the meat and be sure and look for my line.

Checking in again

Fans of my blog, all 3 of them, have complained that I don’t write anymore. So with some upcoming time on my hands I’m going to have at it again. My friend Lynn says there’s a woman who was a vegetarian who married a Texas rancher and then totally embraced a meat eating, meat producing life. She started blogging about it. Her blog became a hit. Now she’s rich. It was explained to me briefly and I might have left something out. I don’t anticipate any corporate sponsor checks coming in the mail and I’m quite certain there won’t be a meat eating twist in my story. But if anyone reading this gives up meat for a while or even a meal, please post that in a comment and I will consider that worthy payment for my efforts here.  It’s nice to be back.

You are what you eat

The human body is a miracle machine programmed to be healthy. Cancer, heart disease and diabetes, the big 3, are not our natural course, but we accept them as common ailments we hope we are “lucky enough” to avoid. It’s not about luck, or even genetics. When we eat an organic plant based diet of a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and whole grains, and avoid the fats, hormones and toxins of animal products, and pesticides on plants, we give our body all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals it needs to stay healthy. When we give our body what it needs it does all the work. Our digestive track is an efficient distribution center breaking down and then sending the proper nutrients to our organs and systems. What isn’t immediately used is stored in fat and tissue for later. Toxins, which the body can’t identify, are stored indefinitely and are re-digested with the same result. The regulatory system controls our pH by balancing our intake of acids and alkaline. People come to Whole Foods for test strips and alkaline products to try to tip the balance against cancer which thrives on an acidic system yet they’re eating acidic animal proteins. Our immune system stands guard over it all fighting the toxins we breathe and ingest. The standard American diet (SAD) is a one, two punch for bad health. It is loaded with fat, salt, sugar, and toxins and void of life promoting nutrients, vitamins and minerals. When our bodies lack the phytonutrients needed for healthy cells in body and mind, and the assault of chemicals tax our immune system fighting the very food we put in our body, over time it gives up and gives out allowing the big 3 diseases to thrive.

Got Milk?

Humans are the only animal that drinks another species’ milk and the only animal that drinks milk past infancy.

Factory farmed dairy cows are typically impregnated once a year. Their gestation period is 9 months long and they are milked an average of 10 months a year, usually twice a day thanks to a nifty injection that increases milk production. The farther into pregnancy the more hormones they produce, and you consume.

Cow’s milk (regular and organic) has 59 active hormones, scores of allergens, fat and cholesterol. Most milk has measurable quantities of herbicides, pesticides, dioxins, antibiotics, blood, pus, feces, bacteria and viruses, basically traces of anything the cow ate. Cheese is approximately 10 times the concentration of milk. While dairy contains calcium, it is lacking in sufficient levels of magnesium needed for absorption so we only absorb approximately 11% of the amount listed.  It also contains protein, but animal protein unlike plant protein is acidic. Our bodies actually take calcium from our bones to neutralize the excessive acid. It becomes a Catch 22 that the more milk we consume the more we need. Worldwide people that consume the most meat and dairy have the highest rates of osteoporosis. In a study by the American Heart Association, people eating a plant based diet absorb and retain more calcium from their diets than those who consume meat and milk.

Great Dairy Substitutes:

Milk: almond, coconut, rice, soy, hemp                                                                                                                      I use Whole Foods unsweetened organic almond milk on my cereal, in smoothies and protein shakes and even to drink. I love it! For a richer texture I use soy creamer in mashed potatoes and gravies.

Ice cream: There are many brands using rice, soy and coconut milk. Coconut milk actually produces a creamier texture than cow’s milk, it has a slight coconut flavor which it good or bad depending on your preference. You can find great substitutes for bars and ice cream sandwiches as well.

Coffee Creamers: Coconut and soy. I use So Delicious coconut coffee creamer, regular and hazelnut. Coffee houses always have soy available.

Cheese: I’m not gonna lie, this is the tough one. Daiya, made from tapioca is decent, it melts nicely, I even nibble it straight from the package while cooking with it. I use it as a cheesy garnish, not as a main ingredient.

Beef and Chemicals…..it’s what’s for dinner

A Cow’s natural diet is grass. We see cows around our east bay hills grazing on grass with plenty of space to roam. I can’t bear the thought of what ultimately happens to them but on the hills they’re a happy sight to see roaming and romping and munching grass. Factory farmed cattle, approximately 95% of our beef, spend their lives crammed into small spaces and stalls with little room to move or even turn around. They stand on packed earth in their own waste. They are fed corn which is not their natural diet, they can’t digest it properly, and it makes them sick. As a result they are given a steady dose of anti-biotics to combat the intestinal parasites from the poor digestion from their bad diet. This is on top of receiving growth hormones so they get bigger fatter faster. And if that’s not bad enough the corn they’re given (that’s also used in our corn syrup and shelf foods) is genetically modified (GMO) or engineered (GE). GMO’s are Franken seeds created to withstand the poisons used on crops. The long term effects are still unknown but GE foods are suspected in our steep increase in food allergies, even autism and cancers. We just don’t know enough. The bottom line is the meat we eat has all the crap in it that the animal was given. They lived their lives sick, scared, in pain, and got no exercise. In addition to artificial growth hormones animals produce their own hormones naturally including high levels of cortisol the stress hormone. And we eat it all.

Cats

My step daughter Amanda, my best blog follower to date, has requested more pictures. She finally said, “At least put one on of the damn cats.” I wasn’t sure how that related to the topic at hand but I decided to try so Amanda, this one’s for you.

I have always loved cats and will live and die owning one….or more. At present we have 4 which admittedly is too many but I believe pet acquisition is a permanent commitment. They each have their own unique personality and love their home and routine and us. They are funny, quirky, beautiful creatures. They are art in motion and I am fascinated by the show. I’m not alone. Most of the people I know have and love a pet, and mourn for years the ones that are gone. It’s a paradox that we can love our pets so passionately and ignore what happens to the animals we eat. It’s fair to prefer cats and dogs over cows, pigs and chickens, we aren’t in a situation to get to know those animals the same way. But where we are wrong is in telling ourselves those animals don’t know any better, therefore don’t suffer as much. No animal gets comfortable with a lifetime of suffering. Food animals suffer terribly in life, and their death is neither quick or painless. Our demand for huge quantities and portions of meat has driven up production of livestock. And with that demand more animals are raised in less space, filthy conditions,  sometimes crammed into cages. If people would even eat less meat, in both frequency and portion size the demand would come down, more land could be used for crops and less animals would be born to suffer.

Now you’re cooking

At this point, one year later, everyone who knows me has been briefed as to this other world I occupy. But I like to imagine that anyone I had over for dinner that didn’t know the menu is vegan wouldn’t suspect anything because the food is just so……normal, and filling, and, I’m told, good. It’s not that I don’t want people to know, on the contrary I want them to know how easy it is to eat this way. Meat was always the guest of honor on the plate. The onions, celery, carrots, potatoes, and tomatoes were merely co-stars in a supporting role. But on their own they compliment each other in a wonderful vegetable chorus. You just can’t get a bad combination. I start almost every dish sautéing onion and celery for their flavor and crunch. Potatoes add substance, and their starch becomes a thickener for the surrounding sauce. Carrots and peas are a sweet and colorful duo. Vegetable broth and canned tomatoes form the liquid of soups, and the sauces in chili, curry, and any number of unnamed vegetable concoctions formed in a skillet with whatever I have on hand. Soy sauce, curry powder, coconut milk, and chili powder, are the defining touches that add flavor or an ethnic flair. Serve almost everything over or next to brown rice, add a salad and you’ve got a great and filling meal. Give it a try!