I am not a big “label” person; nor am I the sort who requires many definitions for who I am or what I represent. In fact, I like to not know who I am and lean more toward embracing who I am becoming because I am a growing and evolving human being, not some statue that never changes, except for the occasional pigeon poop on my shoulder or head. Lately, however, I have noticed a slight shift in my usage of labels. I feel the need to explain things more, especially in certain circumstances, which is odd and new to me and it all started on May 16, 2015.
On May 16, 2015, I embarked on a journey to eliminate all animal products from my diet. My decision was made over the preceding month and was not one easily made, nor was it made out of any sense of responsibility for animal cruelty, environmental impact, my footprint, or any other such moral ideology. My decision, quite simply, was 100% selfish and self-centered around the sleepless nights, pain, and inflammation that entered my life in 1989 along with a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and the chronic nature of those particular malaises. Within 4 days of discontinuing life as a carnivore, my life was forever changed…the sleepless nights turned into 6-8 hours of gloriously long and uninterrupted sleep per night; the bratwurst that once clung to the ends of my hands (others call them fingers) were now beautifully manicured mirrors of my own mother’s loving hands; the joints that were once triggers of acute, stabbing, hot, fiery pain, were quiet and nimble. My world was painless and sleep was improving my disposition.
I decided to continue to maintain the non-animal product lifestyle and I needed to figure out what to call what I was doing because I was constantly being asked about the new changes in my life. At this time, I still maintained a Facebook profile, so I was constantly posting pictures of my new “plant based” recipes (see my prior blogs) which, by and large, are really tasty and satisfying, and I was posting pictures of activities that I was involved in that I had not had the pleasure of being involved in since 1989. Life was good. Until, that is, I made the grave error of stating that I was a “Vegan.”
(((Let me enter a special note here…I am a very real person, I have very real opinions, I have seriously strange self-talk and I only share approximately 9% of what was is going on in my head out loud, as I don’t want to thrust it into the world at large – unedited. I do this because I don’t want to go to jail and I don’t want to see the shocked and aghast opened mouths of the person with whom I may be speaking. I have a warped sense of being. While I do speak my mind and I do so quite bluntly, often pausing to see if I can be truthful AND kind, and mostly dismissing that ideology for just being truthful, I only give up about 9% of the inner monologue in order to preserve my position outside of the asylum.))) Now back to the story…
After saying that I was a “vegan” what followed was priceless. The look of contempt was…well, you read the special note, so I will give you the current 3% now…the look of contempt was amusing to me and I thought “Well, hell, that wasn’t my finger in your ass, was it? Why the “OH” face?” but instead, I said “I’m sorry, what is the problem, I don’t eat any animal products.” It was then that I was schooled on the facts that I continue to wear leather products, shoes, handbags, belts, and, therefore, I was NOT a Vegan…I was a plant based EATER (((said with vitriol and spittle gathering at the corners of the lips while the eyes bug out a la the closet Jesus from the original Carrie movie with Sissy Spacek – whatever happened to her any way…and Robbie Benson…where is he???))).
Well hell, let’s be even more honest here, if it weren’t for the fact that the United States permits the use of GMOs, steroids, antibiotics, hormones, and whatever other toxic substances into the food chain here, I would be eating beef, pork, poultry, dairy, and every other kind of animal product known to man and some not yet discovered as edible, as well as wearing the skins. You see, I LOVE meat. I don’t just like it. I LOVE IT. It isn’t that I am not an animal lover, it is absolutely because, just like every other American, I do not lead the fatted calf to slaughter and then chop it to pieces to cook over an awaiting bon fire in the fields that I just tilled with an anemic horse and plow. I go to the butcher or the supermarket and I buy my chemical ridden prescription drug addicted carrion and put it in a pan! But I digress…
So folks, I am a Plant Based Eater. I eat no animal products. I only eat plant based foods, which is a huge distinction from foods made in a plant, (that’s a whole other story) and I do so without animal products and my health is beautiful. And yet, I find it interesting that the “vegan community” takes such exception to me borrowing from their label yet they turn their militaristic bullshit outward…they are hypocritical…in fact, the hypocrisy is downright revolting! *GASP* They actually use carnivorous words themselves, while hoarding their labels and clutching them protectively to their bosom as if they were clutching an orphaned babe left in the wild! They borrow from the carnivore world.
Do you know how insidious it has been to make this discovery? I am on the eve of my one year PLANT BASED EATING LIFESTYLE and I discover this after much culinary experimentation, living through lie after lie and recipe fail after recipe fail…it comes to me all at once and the pressure mounts, I feel my eyes bugging (see closet Jesus reference above) and the spittle forming…as truth descends upon me like an acme safe on Wile E. Coyote…that the ONLY thing that can possibly taste like bacon is, in fact, BACON. Why have I tried 14 recipes using eggplant, tofu, saetan, and a myriad of other plant proteins to make bacon??? Why did I bother? Each and every one was as limp as Bob in the Levitra commercials and dammit, no little blue pill was going to make ANY of those plant based products firm and crispy like bacon. Do you know why? Because bacon is pork, it isn’t eggplant, it isn’t tofu…its pork. And, again, nothing can taste like bacon any better than or more than bacon. So VEGANS, stop lying to me through your Pinterest recipes about eggplant being pork! You can’t use that any more. I’m taking bacon back and returning it to it rightful owner – the pig farmers!
The lies continue though. Bacon, while important, is not the only culprit; it is not the only carnivorous label being slung around like a dirty wet rag! They are also touting the likes of various and sundry “burgers” being made from legumes, sweet potatoes, and eggplant when, in fact, every failed attempt at these lies has resulted in nothing more than dense mush on a bun! STOP IT, PLEASE! Do not tempt me any longer with the jargon of a bygone era wherein bacon and cheddar married atop sirloin mountain, honeymooning on a bed of romaine and mayo in the city of Vidalia!!!! For the love of all that is culinary holiness (and honesty) just call it what it is…a sad bean mush sandwich…and I will still try it, just not with the same gusto, vim, and vigor with which I pursued a flame broiled sirloin burger!
And this now brings me to the coup de gras…BBQ Pulled Pork…
As a woman raised in the south, in particular, a Georgia Peach, BBQ Pulled Pork is in my veins. When I embarked on my journey as a plant based eater (read: NOT A VEGAN) I knew that it would be a long row to hoe for me to visit my family and not imbibe in the culinary delicacies of my childhood such as low country boils, chicken legs on the grill, crawdaddies, shrimp and grits and – GASP – BBQ Pulled Pork.
Imagine my complete and utter surprise and enjoyment to discover countless recipes on Pinterest and on Facebook and even a friend who dabbles in being a plant based eater who all exclaim that the “Vegan world has replacement for BBQ pulled pork!” I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I searched high and low for the secret ingredient that, in each and every photograph, in each and every recipe, and in each and every fucking comment made on Pinterest, Facebook, and that fell out of the mouth of my friend, promised to be the answer to the universe!
Get jackfruit, they said. Make BBQ Pulled Pork, they said. You won’t be disappointed, they said. It pulls just like pork, they said. Tastes just like the real thing, they said. Wanna know something? “THEY” lie. They are insidious, lying, tormenting, buttholes…this “they” who proclaim, attest, comment, promise, sing accolades…this “they” who give the sense of false hope. I guarantee that this “they” are responsible for the death of Santa and the toothfairy!
After months, of searching at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and every other crunchy hippy market in my area, I finally turned to the internet and found jackfruit on Amazon Prime. I ordered it. It arrived. I scoured Pinterest for recipes, pinning them as the drool trickled down my chin. I read them and reread them as the anticipation (which, by the way, is actually greater than the actual act in this instance) mounted and rose to the level of near orgasm. I entered my kitchen with a renewed confidence that this time…this time…”they” were telling me the truth.
I began to amass my ingredients, I lined up my utensils, I was readying my psyche for greatness. My palate was quivering with excitement. My nostrils flaring…surely this was to be a momentous moment in my plant based life and finally I was to be satisfied by a recipe instead of becoming just another Pinterest fail! Life could not be this unkind. I was prepared to forgive the masses for countless burger flops, the bacon fiasco of 2015, and even the mass murder of the turnip tater tots. Surely, this one would be as promised.
I drained the fruit, I rinsed it, and excitedly placed all of the ingredients on the stove top. Glory Hallelujah! It smelled like BBQ in my house. After 20 minutes, LORD HAVE MERCY ON MY SOUL…the jackfruit was shredding and taking on the apparent consistency of BBQ Pulled Freakin’ Pork!!!! Life was good! The dark clouds of plants were gently parting as the glorious world of meats was reopening to me…and then it happened…
I opened my mouth, dribbling down my chin like a two year old cutting her first incisors, I gently closed my gaping mouth, biting gingerly into the culinary goodness before me and just as I was tearing away the alleged and previously acclaimed faux BBQ pulled pork, synapses fired, the spark crossed and connected, my palate was met with the tactile realization of the most vile of goo that has ever congealed on this, or any other planet! I put my head back and the most primal and pained cry emitting from the depths of my gullet “THHHHHHEEEEEEEEEYYYYY! I hate you THEY!!!!!!”
I cannot express in enough words the betrayal that I felt in that particular moment of culinary trickery that I perpetrated against myself. Yes! Against myself! I am the hopeful, eternal, naïve, optimist that each and every time I review Pinterest or I see a new plant based recipe bragging about being a burger, or an egg, or bacon, or…for the love of all that is holy…BBQ Pulled Pork…I can feel the excitement rising in me like a child taking their first trip to Disney! Then the realization dawns that life is not as it seems. Not here. Not in the land of lies. Not in the Pinterest stories about how beautiful life is without bacon and BBQ Pulled Pork. Don’t get me wrong, life is still good, but let’s be real here, the only thing that is going to taste “JUST LIKE BACON” is, well, bacon.
I would like it a whole lot if the Vegans would forgive me the occasional use of their label so that I can forego explaining that a “plant based eater” is not some Godzilla-like creature that runs amok in a city devouring the local power plant. Yet I understand their need to preserve their label for the righteous moral works that they do to prevent animal cruelty, so I vow never to use their label again. I shall be mindful of my leather goods and shall respect their path toward non-use of any animal products whatsoever. It is sacred to them. But, I would like it a whole lot more if THEY could stop using the words “bacon” and “BBQ Pulled Pork” at all. Ever. For any reason.