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Saturday, June 25, 2022

You Can't Be a Vegetarian and Not Like Vegetables!


 Last Sunday, after two weeks of Singin' in the Rain training at the Holly Theater, Senia Mae announced, "My friend Sadie is a vegetarian. I think we should be, too." I knew this was coming. She is my daughter and watched me stand up for the things I am passionate about, so of course she is going to do the same. 

 In health class last year the school showed the movie, Diet For a New America, which showcases the food industry's mistreatment of animals used for human consumption. When I was in chiropractic school we watched that same film. Learning the truth about factory farming and the inhumane treatment of living creatures was appalling to me and the following day I vowed to not eat meat, which I did continue for the next twelve years until I became iron deficient in pregnancy. How could I expect my daughter to react differently? I am going to support her and help in any way I can. 

The problem? She's not a huge fan of vegetables. 

"Senia Mae," I said. "You can't be a vegetarian and not eat vegetables." She's okay with cucumbers and broccoli sometimes, but spinach is a hard pass. Asparagus, no way, and don't even come near her with any tofu or vegetarian meat replacements. 

 "Mama, those things are just disgusting. They don't taste like  hamburger," she said. I realize this and try to explain that meatless alternatives are not going to taste the same because they are not the same. I try to explain the importance of good nutrition and protein and iron for her developing twelve year old body. I'm pretty sure her ears hear me saying : Rah rah rah rah rah. 

She is going to continue to consume dairy products and seafood, which I'm thankful for. In all honesty, I feel like I was a more creative cook when I was vegetarian. I ate a more complete diet, but in general was healthier. I think having the convenience of having meat available in fast food or as a quick fix has made me more lazy in the kitchen. So, I'm kind of excited about this new adventure.

Yesterday, I made one of my old favorite recipes, Crawfish jambalaya, loaded with nutritious onions, peppers, celery,  and tomatoes. The savory smell infused the kitchen as I licked the last bit of spicy goodness off the wooden spoon before plopping it in the sink. I scooped a small portion into Senia Mae's bowl.

"Mama, you know I don't like peppers or things that are green," she says, as she's making a definitive line separating the rice and crawfish from the celery and peppers. She'll eat beans sometimes but would prefer her vegetarian diet to be mainly macaroni and cheese, shredded cheese, sliced cheese, and maybe a scrambled egg, 

"If you're going to be a vegetarian you're going to have to like vegetables!" It felt like a futile plea coming out of my mouth as I lowered my head on the table in defeat. I'm still trying to figure out the end to this story :)

Thursday, June 16, 2022

A Week Ago I stopped Recycling. Now I Feel Like A Terrible Person

So far, this has been the summer of shingles. Four words that describe shingles? Painful, grumpy, isolated, and yes, electrifying, but not in the good way. When Senia Mae heard of my malady, she said, "but Mama, that's an old person's disease and you're not even fifty!" I know that comment was intended to make me feel better. It didn't. My shingles suddenly felt more painful, and I was more grumpy, which made me want to go hide in the closet so I could isolate myself from the stress of summer. Part of that stress? Our local recycling drop-off stopped recycling due to budget cuts. 
I want to believe I will go to all ends in order to save the earth and the wellbeing of its inhabitants. Most of the time I am successful at believing the story I am telling myself, but lately life has been crazy and painful. I choose to live in the country, so recycling pickup at my home is not an option. There is a county recycling center but it is twenty five minutes in the opposite direction of my daily travels. The Catholic martyr in my head, the one who always talks down to me is saying, good people will make the effort anyway. Catholic martyr, I see you and I hear you.

The first day of non-recycling our garbage can filled up in what felt like five minutes. I peeked in the can only to witness a messy, hodgepodge of plastic Simply Lemonade containers and cardboard wrappers mixed with coffee grounds, banana peels, and every other discarded household item that was going to be dumped and forgotten in a landfill. The tightening in my jaw made the vein in my temple pulse in synch with my increased heartrate. My body can't lie just like Shakira's hips don't lie. I was lying to myself thinking I could just stop recycling without being overrun by guilt.

I remembered a 1970's television ad from my childhood in Massachusetts. An older Native American man, complete with the long braided ponytail and turquoise beaded headband, was casually walking through the woods. The camera zoomed in on his weathered, leathery skin, showing a solitary tear rolling down his wrinkled face as he speared trash with his wooden walking stick. He was crying because of thoughtless humans, specifically ones who litter. Now, I was the one making him cry. And what kind of person does that?

Going back into the garbage can, I pulled out the plastic covered in coffee grounds, rinsed it off, and set it aside in the blue recycle tote. That's enough for today. I made one step in the right direction. Then, passing through the store this morning, I spotted this. Maybe there's still hope after all!