Saturday, December 26, 2009

Omnivorous Vegetarian

Okay, so I am being a bit facetious. As the title of this blog implies, I eat nearly anything that does not walk, fly, crawl, swim, slither or slide across the land, water or air. For that matter, I do not eat the products of such: eggs, milk, etc. My one exception that proves the rule is honey.

I’ve found that contrary to common belief, a vegan eats a much greater variety of food than do most omnivores and carnivores. We also consume a larger amount of concentrated protein. Many Olympic athletes also ascribe to the vegan/vegetarian diet due to the increased stamina it provides over that of other diets. (One such study can be found at . But that is not the focus of this blog.

One of the most difficult things for a vegan is eating out or at a friends’ home. It is not that there is a lack of consciousness regarding those who choose such a diet, it is that there is little comprehension of what effects even a slight amount of animal fat causes a vegan.
Take, for instance, a large restaurant change offers a black-bean burger as a replacement for their beef burger for their diet conscious customers. This is a wonderful recent addition to many menus. However, if it is fried on the same grill on which a meat product was previously cooked, often the residues from the meat get soaked up into the vegetable patty.

The problem occurs in the digestive tract of the vegan. As they do not have the enzymes necessary to digest the animal products, this quickly results in a severe case of the ‘Runs’, often before the meal is finished. This can also be the case when an animal (or fish) stock is used in soups and sauces or even with potatoes cooked in the same fryer as chicken or fish.
Then there are the many dishes where meat products are added as a seasoning or garnish. Potato salad, vegetables, green salad, macaroni salad, vegetable soup, etc. all can contain meat.

I have been told to ‘Just take the meat out and it will be vegetarian.’ That does not work as the residues send my system into an overdrive rejection. No, it is not a psychosomatic response. Even when I am completely unaware of animal products in my food, my body responds in the same manner.

My belief is that you should eat whatever you desire. I am not on a crusade and in my books, most characters are omnivores. However, I do take issue with the manner in which most of animals we consume are treated. Their quality of life is abysmal and, add to that the hormones, drugs, and even cannibal feeds they receive, it is surprising that more of us are not sick.

What I like the least is that we do not honor the creatures that provide sustenance for us. Most people never hunt, slaughter or prepare the animals that they eat. There is no real connection to the klo of the creature. In fact, many people do not want to know how their food was raised, killed, butchered and stored as it would detract from their consumptive pleasure.

I do not limit the quality of life argument to the animal kingdom. I also believe that organic, natural, non-bioengineered, raised without the use of pesticides fruits, grains, vegetables and nuts are the ultimate, healthy diet. But if one does choose to consume animals, it should be done with full knowledge of their sacrifice and with rèterís.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Warp and Weave

The other evening four of us went out on a double date to a very nice restaurant, one where they expect you to spend three hours on dinner. As is often the case when we get together, our conversations become animated and cover topics that most others never discuss. As an empath, if I do not shield from those around me, I spend most of my time processing other people's emotions. So I usually erect an 'energy shield of water' around our table to deflect the incoming feelings.

Dinner was no exception and when our conversation turned to power exchange within relationships over an exquisite spinach artichoke cheese fondue appetizer, I was unaware of the cessation of talking at nearby tables until Matt suggested that we speak more softly.

I glanced around and then responded. “You know, if what we are saying is so much more interesting than what is going on at their tables, and if they wish to eavesdrop, why should I limit my freedom of speech just because they might overhear something that offends their sensibilities?” In the past I would have censored my comments but this time I realized that the only rudeness here would be if a stranger criticized me for something overheard.

This got me to thinking about the similarities between those who go to a movie or read a book, go all the way through it, and then complain about the fantasy being presented because it conflicts with their personal morality or view of reality. If they do not like it, why do they spend so much time on it?

Susan shared one possibility. It is that many people's beliefs are not founded on personal experience, but on unconfirmed theories, and the only way to validate what is 'right' in their view of life is to have everyone else agree with them. Those who are secure in their understanding of consensual reality, at least what it means to them, do not see alternate points of view as a challenge, but simply another skein feeding into the warp and weave of reality, creating a more interesting and strong fabric.

Perhaps the best response that I can give to those who are threatened by compelling ideas in conversations, books, movies and music is: “If you don't like it, you can't have any!” And then just walk away.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Writer’s Sellout

“You are the spawn of Satan and your writings his tool!” Sharon of Knoxville screamed in her email to me. Jacky from Atlanta said, “It is clear that you have never known true love or you would never have written that Eliseyan [sic] enjoyed sex with anyone else but her husband.” “Your book has no basis in reality.” Claimed John from Salt Lake City.

When I first received these and other emails of a similar vein, I was hurt. And then, I realized that the story I shared had made an impact on another. I wondered. If they hated my book so much, why did they bother to comment on it? It must have struck a chord within them, one that did not harmonize with their view of reality. But, what difference would that make? This is a fantasy novel and its setting is not even here on Earth let alone the culture of their homes. With that in mind, I looked to other authors’ writings, those of whom inspired me, and I noticed a pattern.

The first few books written by these authors are edgy and cause the reader to rethink their preconceptions and values. This is what hooks them in the first place. But, it seems that as an author becomes more popular, their writings become more mainstream. This is most likely due to the drive to sell more books because, in part, in our society, quantity is the definitive measure of success.

In one series in particular, in the first three books the main character (a female) is bisexual, has multiple partners and defines her own life. This series developed a cult following among the alternative young adult crowd which gradually spilled over into the mainstream market. There was a hiatus of over five years between the third and fourth books. I suspect that it was due to the pressures of the author needing to earn a living. When the next book in the series was published, the heroine becomes more conservative.

By book number six, all of the proclivities of the ‘younger’ character had been marginalized and portrayed as the foolishness of youth. The woman/girl/lady that I had found so compelling, now espoused the norm of this culture. I did not continue reading the series. It had become boring. Why do I want to read about the way things are here? I wondered aloud to a friend over lunch one day.

His response startled me. “Have you noticed how those who were the most radical in your high school are now the most conservative?”

I sat in silence for several minutes. He was right! “So, are you saying that as we age we buy into the status quo?”

“Who runs the world today?” he asked quietly and then answered his own question. “It was the hippies of the sixties… and they certainly do not want the younger generations to experience the freedoms that they did because it would threaten their situation.”

I thrashed his opinions in my head. I thought that those who had lived in defiance of authority would honor their heritage by encouraging others to follow in their footsteps. Instead, the opposite had occurred because they knew how to suppress the very same actions they had done.

I come back now to the topic of my blog, ‘Writer’s Sellout’. I believe that authors begin to bow to their audience in an attempt to be popular, to make the fans happy. This results in greater sales of their books while their stories no longer hold true. That is the reason I lost interest in a number of series! I realized.

The books I write are not about this planet or any society that exists here. Vastly different physical, cultural and spiritual laws apply. The stories are those of the characters and are not subject to the limitations that popular opinion may hold. If I acquiesced to that norm, I would be doing them a disservice. No, I would be making their lives a lie. I hope that I never fall to writer’s sellout. I share stories to take one out of this space and to, for a brief time, allow one to live a life with a different set of rules.