It’s been 8 years since my last blog post. Wow does time fly!! So much has happened- ups and downs of all kinds, lost a house… built a house, I parted with my little turquoise stove… and I’m cooking in a whole new kitchen! A few close friends went to heaven… heaven sent me a nephew and soon to be niece! We lost our big brown dog, Tidey, it was awful… adopted the cutest beagle! Switched from night shift to day shift after 13 years! Other than that, I’m still here… I’m still cooking… and I’ve travelled A TON!!
They say travel changes you and I couldn’t agree more. There’s a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald:
“It’s a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what’s changed is you .”
Well, brace yourselves for this- <anxiously bites nails> …I’ve become a Vegetarian.
After a few experiences I’ve had while traveling abroad, I was moved to do it. Four years ago, in Thailand, I saw an advertisement for an elephant sanctuary. It was a day excursion and boasted about how this organization rescued elephants and offered tourists a 1 hour ride through a Thai jungle. The price was 900 Baht (about 30 bucks US) and thought “why not.” Upon entering the “sanctuary” there was an elephant feeding area where I purchased a bucket of bananas to feed an elephant, not so bad. This elephant was beautiful, nourished, at peace. We were then lead to another area and up to a platform where we were finally to mount a different elephant for the hour long jungle trek. This elephant looked different. Jimmy and I were urged into a metal seat strapped atop the elephants back. It was a seat like you would sit in on an amusement park ride. Metal and heavy, I could see it was uncomfortably digging in to the elephant’s sides causing calluses to form. There were chains around its legs from front to back limiting its stride and I came to realize this was to impede the animals ability to run. A Thai boy sat ON the elephant’s head with a icepick-like spear and started jabbing between its ears. The elephant began walking. We were about 3 minutes into the jungle when I started having a panic attack. Deep down, I knew this was not right. I motioned to the Thai boy that I wanted off, turn back! We dismounted the elephant and I B-lined towards the exit with tears in my eyes. I couldn’t support this form of animal cruelty a moment longer. A Thai lady approached me and just as I was thinking she was going to ask if I was ok, she began hassleing me to buy the photo she took of us as we first set out on the elephant. There was a language barrier evident but my look of disgust at her was obvious and I only hoped it was enough to get my point across. I wished I could speak Thai for that one split second so I could have told her how embarrassed I would be to upload that despicable picture to Instagram- the poor tortured animal, skin and bones, shackled up with one of his captors visibly spearing him into submission. I wanted to rip that picture up, mic drop the pieces, and spit in her face. I kept my cool that day, but over time that experience has haunted me.
Then came Africa. We visited Pilanesburg National Park, a 141,300 acre refuge, containing all types of animals living amongst each other in their own free habitat. It was amazing to see zebras grazing in lush pastures, a cougar protecting her cubs in thick brush, lionesses hunting for their pack’s next meal, and especially the elephants, who in this situation, were healthy, happy, and free from captivity. I thought to myself “This is what God intended.” I knew in that moment I would never ever in a million years visit a zoo, like EVER again. Animals shouldn’t be captured and caged for the sake of a human’s entertainment. It too is wrong. If some force of nature put a Trump-style wall around New Jersey and I could never get out, never travel, never experience life beyond its borders, I know, I for one, would go completely and totally in sane. I would be tortured.
I started doing some research on animal cruelty in America and it turns out most of the beef, pork, and poultry we buy at the supermarket comes from factories where animals are forced to live in awful conditions, confined to cages that are no bigger than their bodies, living in their own filth and being force-fed unnatural substances. The more I read, the more I realized this is just the tip of an iceberg. There’s geese that are plucked alive for down comforters. Sheep are skinned for Uggs. Dogs are specimens for testing cosmetics. And the most common dog breed is, get this, Beagles!! I’m sorry to say the list goes on and on.
Anyway, I decided then to make a change. Now before you close this window on your browser and disregard my blog forever, I will promise you that you won’t find me picketing in front of the capital building with PETA anytime soon. I am not becoming one of those preachy vegan freaks. But I am going to make a conscious effort to avoid eating meat that was raised and killed inhumanely.
Last weekend I had a vegan dinner party and here are some of the dishes I made.