Thursday, February 4, 2010

They Say...


Last night had a late dinner with an old friend at Nada Sushi...hmmm, could be my new favorite Sushi place. Will have to visit again. I was late, and they were closing early so my friend, who can be quite intense and no-nonsense (he once grabbed the tie of an AP reporter on Air Force One and threatened bodily harm on this particular dilettante from the 4th Estate) ordered for me. He just said, "vegan," and the dishes awaiting me were spectacular - marinated eggplant, a spinach dish, wholewheat noodles, etc.


What is the most influential body in the world today? The World Trade Organization? The NFL? Christianity? Secular Humanists? The National Rifle Association? Capitalists? Environmentalists? China? The United States? Feminists? The New York Times? CNN? Reuters? Mom’s around the world? The answer is none of the above.

The most influential body in the world is the all knowing, all being, and never seen, “THEY.” They know everything. There is not a corner in the world where when an opinion of expertise is needed, “they” are not at the ready with an answer. No mortal has ever seen, conversed, or heard “they” directly, but they are there, they are everywhere. Their opinions are both large (“They say the economy will improve by April”), and small (“They say you should taste your food before salting it.”).

Well, I have heard from many, many people since November 1st, and accordingly, “They say you break old habits after three months.” Well, I think “they” may be right, but the jury is still out.

I still crave a beer with my pistachios. I still yearn for a Lagavulin whiskey when I darken the door at P.J. Clarke’s. But, but, today while walking through the cafĂ© I spied a bowl of hard boiled eggs. I used to love eggs! Ate them almost every day – two hard boiled eggs with salt, and an English muffin with peanut butter. But today, today those eggs meant nothing to me. I walked by them and clearly the Sirens were on a coffee break because there was no pull towards the rocky shore of the once delicious eggs (read: "Sunrise Showdown" from Nov. 3rd). As far as I am concerned, eggs are my "Fredo," they're dead to me. And as far as habits, ordering food void of animal products is second nature.

Does it take three months to break old habits? I am not sure, but when it comes to food the results thus far seem promising!

It’s been over a month since I engaged in one of my favorite food habits. I went to quench that desire. I took the Shuttle to the 6 Train down to Union Square so I can lunch at The Coffee Shop for my favorite lunch – the vegan wrap! Yep, as good as I remember!

On the negative side, I popped strands of Red Vines licorice after lunch – had a terrible sweet tooth! On the positive side I was looking at myself in the mirror on the elevator and my suit jacket, and over coat are beginning to look like my father’s and I was going to my first fancy party as a 14 year old. I think I really need to start buying new clothes.

Anyone have any connections to a nice haberdashery?


Jacob Kaae said...

Hi Terrence

I have started reading your blog. I am a vegan too, though living in Denmark, Europe.

Here in Denmark “They” or the majority of the population would say that vegan food isn’t healthier than the typical Danish diet.

I disagree but then again I base my opinion on books like “The China Study” by dr. Campbell, while they base there’s on something different – tradition or something undefined…

What’s it like to be vegan in the US? Do people think that your experiment/Quest is dangerous?


Terrence said...


Thanks for reading, and for writing. Although my Last name, my Liver, and my Loquaciousness are all Irish, my Mother is all Scandinavian, mostly Danish.

I think people resistant to extreme diet change based on tradition is quite universal. Essentially, we humans have been omnivores going back to the Neanderthals, so, any charge of a herbivore diet being better for humans is met with massive resistance.

Although today’s fast food and Twinkies are totally foreign to our grandparents, eating meat and fish are not. Although veganism has its roots in vegetarianism and goes back 60 years, vegans have generally been considered in our communities over the years rather nutty people, If someone knew a vegan years ago that person was most likely a kooky librarian, and homemade crafts artisan who practiced wicca. Today that reality has radically changed, but the perceptions have only slightly improved.

Most people I know - very intelligent people, and even those in the health industry, still have no clue what veganism really is. I get a terrific charge out of educating them.

In the end, the reason behind the negative attitudes about veganism, at least in the U.S., are based on tradition - we have ate this way for centuries, for millennia even, and most every great figure in world history ate “normally.” i.e. were omnivore’s, and every family member in our family tree ate meat and veggies, and the world’s greatest athletes, as far as we know, all ate meat, so all of a sudden you say being an omnivore is not good for you? Obviously, the key to health is comparing the amount of meat (much less), and the quality of meat (not processed) that our ancestors ate compared to today. The other reason is ignorance, I have had people with advanced degrees tell me, erroneously, that you need all your protein from meat. Finally, as I mentioned before, vegans need a better PR campaign. For example:

Most everyone can empathize and even support someone who is this:
• Supports the Humane Society against cruelty to animals, supports responsible stewardship of the land to protect the environment, and supports a plant-based diet to live a healthier life.

Most people readily reject, and scorn people who are this:
• Supports a radical animals’ rights group that throws paint on little old ladies wearing fur, disrupt fashion shows, burns new housing developments to the ground, vandalize construction equipment, and calls anyone who eats meat immoral and evil.

Now the later is a tiny, tiny fraction of those who are ardent supports of animal rights, the environment, and veganism, but they are also the loudest, most profane, most anti-social, and most offensive to the average person – thus get the most publicity.

Therefore, when I was wearing a suit and tie, and looking as clean-cut as possible, and espousing politics to the right of Europe’s Social Democrats I was met with scorn and ridicule the second I said I was vegan.

Veganism, even if it is practiced only once a week, is healthier for you if you are currently a voracious carnivore. Period.

But, as long as people like Woody Harrelson, or some disaffected, anti-social Sociology student from Brown University, are the face of veganism it will be harder for the average person to embrace.

Lastly, I think veganism will become more accepted if they lead with the dietary benefits and drum into the national dialogue that that plate of food on your dinner table bares no resemblance to what your grandparents ate, even if it is called the same thing.