Vegetarianism 101” is a term I use to describe bizarre and obsessive symptoms I displayed some 30 years ago as a newly converted vegetarian and sometimes apply to others who are working their way through the same behaviour. Of course, at the time, none of it seemed at all strange or funny to me, but in hindsight, I am staggered and quite amused by the amount of time and effort I invested in turning food into a cause, and a tasteless one at that. So I thought I’d rewind and then fast forward through about six years to describe some of the highlights of my exploration.

First Phase

Second Phase

  • I made my own bread
  • It was very brown, very flat, and very gritty
  • I ground my own wheat
  • I destroyed my countertops grinding my own wheat with the wheat-grinding contraption (it was not electric, of course)
  • I grew kefir brain-pod things on my counter
  • I had all manner of things sprouting in jars under my sink
  • I chewed soup a hundred times
  • I looked with disdain and disgust at what other people put in their shopping carts (it WAS my business!)
  • I put carrots in Miso shiru
  • And onion (!) (forgive me sensei)
  • I stopped eating at other people's houses.

Right Over the Top

  • I wore shoes made out of old tires from South America though there were fewer cars there than in my own city
  • I pretended carob tasted good
  • I gave my mother carob candies instead of chocolates on Mothers’ Day
  • I was offended that she was offended
  • Even though I occasionally hid a KitKat bar under the mattress of the baby carriage
  • I chanted “Om” at the dinner table with a straight face
  • And asked people to link hands
  • I put more grated cheese on everything
  • I disavowed cheese after reading another book
  • So I threw out the cheese and the yogurt
  • I put soy cheese on everything
  • I stopped using any soap that might possibly have cleaned anything…
  • So I scrubbed floors for hours still trying to get that spot out
  • I made my own tofu
  • And it was horrible…
  • But it was mine…
  • So I didn’t care
  • I figured out that the soy cheese made me throw up
  • So I reinstated dairy products
  • And made my own yogurt
  • And it was horrible…
  • And the kids got sick

So I decided I’d better redouble my efforts to understand vegetarianism and entered into “vegetarianism 102” which landed me with 300 pounds of miso in the attic..but that's another story.

All this worry over what food does to the body sometimes leaves out the question of what the worrying does to the head.

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