I used to think that writers existed on burnt coffee, stale chips, and moldy candy bars. The long-suffering writer routine wasn’t my cup of tea, but I liked the visual.
During my first years living in Boston, I rarely ate at home. Instead, I frequented seafood restaurants for lobster rolls, broiled scallops, and baked stuffed shrimp with melted butter. I dined on escargot and coq au vin at DuBarry’s, prime rib at Durgin-Park, and lived for The European Restaurant’s veal parmigiana, pasta, and fresh Italian bread. Fantastico!
Secretly, I wanted to become a vegetarian but I didn’t know any at the time and I didn’t want anyone to think I was weird. (Okay, weirder.). Still, I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do, but I struggled to make the change, blaming it on a family tree with branches shaking with chest-thumping carnivores.
I had been raised on a greasy diet of cheeseburgers, hotdogs, ribs, bacon, sausages, bologna, liverwurst, pork chops, and the occasional steak. French fries were my vegetable of choice and anything green, yellow or orange which somehow found its way to my plate was immediately ignored.
When I got to high school and took Home Ec, I learned about good table manners, how to bake biscuits from scratch, and the best way to prepare cherries flambé without setting the kitchen on fire. While it was suggested that some fruits and vegetables be included on a daily basis, a meal wasn't considered well-balanced unless it included a dead slab of something from the big, bad Meat group.
I was first introduced to vegetarianism when I was 20, while living in a roach-infested studio apartment in Boston. At the time, my cooking repertoire consisted of Tuna Helper on my hotplate, so I chose to eat at least one meal a day in a Back Bay restaurant. I had heard about a Hare Krishna group who offered free meals to the public. Since I didn't live far from them, my boxer boyfriend and I thought we would check it out. Surprisingly, it was one of the best meals I ever ate—completely vegetarian and delicious—with absolutely no religious hassle.
I spent the next 10 years or so developing a taste for fine cuisine. As a carefree single woman (and dedicated disco diva), I enjoyed countless candlelight dinners sitting in a gourmet restaurant at a table with a white or pink tablecloth.
One day I was shopping for some granola at a Cambridge health food store when I received some serious meatfree nudges. I purchased The Gradual Vegetarian by Lisa Tracy, and within a few months I had achieved the coveted, plant-based Stage 3. I was eating a rainbow diet of fruits and vegetables and I was so proud of myself!
I didn't crave "anything with a face" until the day I reunited with an old boyfriend at a Washington, D.C. hotel. He had known me during my carnivore days and teased me about becoming a vegetarian. This man had always held a seductive power over me and persuaded me to "just try" a slice of shrimp pizza. I ate more than one slice and before I knew it I was right back to eating flesh and gristle.
One day I was prompted to purchase a book by Doreen Virtue and Becky Prelitz, called Eating in the Light. The vegetarian philosophy still made sense to me, but did I really have the willpower to go all the way?
If I became a vegetarian, how would I survive the holidays? Thanksgiving meant turkey and the Christmas dinner entree had to be a gorgeous honey-baked ham with brown sugar-glazed pineapple rings and maraschino cherries. And what about those summertime barbecues with paper plates toppling with fatty pork ribs, succulent hamburgers, and potato salad with crispy bacon bits, and hard-boiled eggs?
No, there was no way I could give up the meat.
Not long after the blessed menopause appeared, I struggled to lose weight. I purchased a book about the Blood Type diet, which encouraged my blood type "O" to eat plenty of red meat. Yet, whenever I chomped into a burger or ribs, I still saw the face of a cow or pig. I still felt guilty.
I knew the Universe was instructing me to stop my meat madness but I ignored it because of that gosh darn Blood Type diet.
"The book says I'm an 'O', so it's okay to eat meat," I excused myself. "I have to do it!"
On the other hand, I knew full well that eating meat lowered my vibrations, so it was ludicrous to call myself a spiritual person when there I was eating mindlessly, stuffing my face with the animal's energy of fear and death.
One day some friends suggested I go to the supermarket and pick up a package of ground beef and study it. But instead of thinking of a cow, I should imagine that the meat (and every meat in the store) was actually a dead human. I was horrified. I couldn't get that image out of my brain and from that point on, I went "cold turkey" and stopped eating meat, poultry, and seafood altogether.
These days raw foods comprise 50%-60% of my nourishment and one of my most surprising discoveries was a craving for kale and tomato salads with falafel and hummus dressing. As a bonus, I don't feel stuffed or bloated (or even sick) after a meal like I used to and I can actually taste the flavors of fruits and vegetables without needing to smother them in hollandaise or some other rich sauce to disguise their presence.
It took me nearly 60 years to become a vegetarian. It’s not for everybody but it was the conscious and correct choice for me because I want to nurture my body with Love and Light and evolve to a higher place. This is one of the benefits of eating in the Light—you are closer to ascending with a lovely Rainbow Body that can easily transition back into physical form, instead of the traditional manner of death.
Should I ever feel I'm missing out on the fine dining experience, I'll just stick a soy candle in the middle of my gourmet vegetarian entrée!