Every book has a preface and I have no idea how many people read it. I know that I usually skip right past it and get to the meat(tofu) of the book, however, if I really like it then I have a tendency to go back and read the preface and find out a little bit more about the author and what makes he or she tick. So if you’ve gotten this far or if you’ve come back I hope that this will not disappoint. I realize this is not a book, but hey if I ever get off my ass maybe it will happen someday.
I was born in 1967 to a 17-year-old unwed mother who came to Southern Illinois to take care of a “sick aunt” for exactly 9 months. I was little orphan jimmy for six weeks (actually I don’t know what they called me) until a home was found for me with Richard and Judith Stice. I came home to an adopted brother Ronald. I had more information here until I was told to take as much down as possible to avoid scam artists.
I had a relatively normal mid-western childhood upbringing when it comes to diet. I won’t go into all of the shit that nobody wants to hear and is frankly none of your business anyway. I was raised on meat and potatoes, was very super picky and would refuse to eat most vegetables. I think green beans was my vegetable of choice. Whatever meat, some type of potatoes, baked, boiled, or mashed, and then green beans. Being a poor family we didn’t have rolls or French bread or anything like that. Our bread was half a loaf of sandwich bread on a plate in the middle of a table. I remember well grabbing a piece of bread, buttering it up, then using it as the scoop between that and my fork to shovel the food in my mouth.
The flour gravy–some call it milk gravy and others call it chicken gravy–was my favorite. I would pour a bucket of it, if I could, on my mashed potatoes. When there was any leftover after dinner I would lap it up with whatever remaining bread there was. To this day Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because I load up on Trader Joe’s Vegan gravy. There are 3 tubs still in my refrigerator. I remember not being fond of meat from a very young age. I would hoard it in my mouth then be excused to the bathroom where I would spit it in the toilet.
It’s a wonder that I was so skinny when I entered high school. I weighed 86 pounds and the reason I remember this is because I went out for the wrestling team and the lowest weight class was 98 pounds. The wrestling coach would get onto all of the other guys to cut weight telling them to stop eating all the pies, cakes, Twinkies, dingdongs, and cookies, then he would turn to me and tell me to eat everything he just told them not to. I also turned into a bible thumper, as they called us in school. Hardcore Christian. This part will make sense later.
I graduated high school at about 105 pounds and I went directly into the military. After losing my best friend whilst serving I developed a strong hatred for God. I proudly called myself an atheist, However, today I have come to realize that one cannot hate something they do not believe exists. I returned home a married man with a pregnant wife. I started working as a nurse straight away. However, the only thing that was open for nurses at the time was nursing homes. That is some grueling work, physically and mentally.
My wife left my son and I when he was merely 5 months old. She ran off and joined the Army and never looked back. (pause for tears). I don’t blame her any longer, I get that whatever choices we make are choices that we feel will make us safe or whole.
Now as a single parent I needed a good job with health benefits so I got picked up by the state of Illinois to work for the mental health hospital in Alton Illinois. I did that from 1990 until about the year 2000. And this is where I found my love for the mentally ill.
Here’s where it gets interesting: circa 1992 I went to Sally’s beauty supply in Wood River Illinois with my girlfriend and she bought a couple of supplies and I picked up some of “The conditioner” by Paul Mitchell. I was reading it while we drove away and it said, “we never test on animals” and there was a little rabbit on the bottle. I said to my girlfriend, “why should we care if they use the conditioner on the rabbit’s hair to see if it works or not? How is that really harming them?” My girlfriend responded, “no dumbass, they put the rabbits in cages with just their head sticking out and shove chemicals in their eyes because they can’t blink or tear, then it shows what damage certain chemicals can do to the eyes of the rabbit.”
I couldn’t believe that shit. I was devastated. What the fuck was wrong with people. Why not shove it in a human’s eye? What cruelty in this world. I think we had chicken Parmesan that night.
I was telling the story to my friend and he said. “Oh my God, you sound like this lady I work with. She’s in a PETA (I had no idea what that meant). He gave me her phone number and I called her because this was all still very early in the computer age and google wasn’t around.
I called her and we talked and I got numbers to PETA and found out it was an acronym for “People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.” They sent me brochures and information and I went all in vegetarian, of course not vegan because at that time we were led to believe that dairy cows were there to produce milk for us and if they didn’t their poor boobs would get all sore and we were just doing them a favor. I’m not sure what amazes me more, the fact that I was so ignorant back then to what happened or now that all of the information is out and still people seemingly don’t care.
My parents were just thrilled, sarcasm intended. My mother never missed an opportunity to remind me that I wasn’t raised ‘that way’. My father by this time had suffered probably 4 heart attacks. He had open-heart surgery twice, medication, but he finally got on a healthy diet eating mostly chicken and turkey. Geez.
I had no idea how to be a vegetarian, so of course,
I ate fries and cheese pizzas for about a year until I stumbled upon a restaurant called Govinda’s Vegetarian restaurant in St. Louis Missouri. It was only about 22 minutes from where I lived in Illinois. Remember I am a mid-west boy. The furthest country that I had food from was Italy and that was out of a can. Also, I grew up poor so we didn’t eat out, save once or twice a year.
I tasted the Indian food thinking I can choke down just this one meal. I already paid for the buffet. I could eat Indian food every day now. OMG, it was so amazing. I wanted to move in. (Actually, I did, but that’s further down) I ate and ate, and came back often.
My daughter was born and was very ill. I told my girlfriend that if she pulled through that I would search for God. And she did, but I didn’t say where I would search. It just so happens that amazing vegetarian restaurant with Indian food is in the International Society for Krsna Consciousness or ISKCON. I became a full-on Hare Krsna, ponytail and all. I didn’t move in at this time, but I did take a month off work and stay there to learn. And to eat lots of food.
I was told that the reason I was so attracted to the food was that God was showing me mercy and the more you eat, the more endearing you become to God. I moved into the temple after my relationship failed and lived there for over a year. I was tired of the movement. I was tired of what I thought was the hypocrisy of using butter and dairy from tortured animals but saying that was okay because it was under Krsna’s orders. When I questioned Vitamin D in milk being fish oil I was called an idiot. When I noted that Lord Siva sat on a deerskin, I was called a blasphemer. I just wanted to get away from the movement, take the good I learned and leave the bad. So I ran away and the first person I met in California is a Hare Krsna devotee. He is a member of the IF group. Anyway, those days are long past, I am a happy theological non-cognitivist.
Later on down the line, I saw Earthlings., a documentary that you have to watch in stages. It is a rough watch, but I force myself to watch it at least once a year to renew my faith in this path. These days we have so many reasons to be vegan. You can’t be a vegan and not an environmentalist, nor the other way. And all the amazing food.
So to round this up. I became a vegan. Then Veganism exploded by 600% over a five year period. Then startup companies started making vegan meats and eggs and cheese. I got fat. Real fat for me. Top weight. 213 pounds, 96.6 Kilograms, 15.2 stone.
I googled vegan diet and found Intermittent Fasting. That was circa May 2018. I joined a Facebook group that had a few thousand members and the admin asked me if I wanted to help: then they all left. The rest is as they say history, wait, no the future, damnit it’s happening right now. Go find a nice salad.,