By Jack Edwards
It all started when my friend, a normal friend, told me he stopped eating meat. When I say normal friend, I mean normal person, as opposed to a few friends I have who are not normal. (This should be sufficient explanation for those of you who are normal. If you are confused or upset by this explanation, I hate to be the one to drop the 411, but you are probably not normal. I say “probably” to spare your feelings.) This friend, who I will refer to as “Chris,” because his name is Chris, told me that he had watched this movie called Forks Over Knives, and the movie convinced him to stop eating meat. So, of course, I couldn’t believe it, and I told him that I couldn’t believe it, and that should have been the end of it. Only it wasn’t. Three weeks later, I realized that Forks Over Knives was on Netflix. The real mystery is how this void in the entertainment universe emerged and swallowed up every other thing which might have caught my fancy. It doesn’t take much to entertain me (e.g. I occasionally watch CSPAN. Yeah…I know.), but alas, Forks Over Knives miraculously stood alone.
The movie is a documentary about these two skinny doctors who do a bunch of complicated studies using graphs and statistics, and this is the mind blowing part – even look at historical data. They conclude with very serious faces that if you don’t become a vegan, you’re going to die immediately. Possibly by the end of the movie. I know this sounds crazy, but they’re very convincing, kind of like that guy at the fair who sells the slicer-dicer. If the slicer-dicer guy used a bunch of graphs.
So anyway, about two thirds of the way through the movie, I say to myself, “Jack, in the unlikely event given your non-vegan ways that you live to see the end of this movie, you’re going to start eating a ‘plant-based diet.’” See, that’s what they call it, a “plant-based diet.” But it’s really a vegan diet. I figure they just changed the name to appeal to more people and not sound like a bunch of crackpots, like when Philip Morris changed its name to Altria. The long and the short is that I jumped into the deep end of the pool. If it had parents, or came from something that had parents, it was off the menu. Even stupid parents, like fish, which I always considered more like vegetables without roots. Plus anything that was highly processed or contained refined sugar. Unfortunately, I discovered that if you take all those things literally off the table, what you’ve got left is grass. Nonetheless I put my head down and marched forward. The whole time I’m thinking, ‘How am I going to get enough protein?’ According to some random website on my iPhone, I needed 56 grams of protein per day. Was I supposed to eat tofu every day? (My iPhone said that too much tofu was toxic). One of the skinny guys on the show ramble on about how everything has protein in it, even potatoes. Beans supposedly have a lot of protein. But I did the math, I was going to have to eat like fifty pounds of beans a day. I’d be creating enough gas to light a small municipality. Nonetheless, I struggled forward, week after week. I even spent a few days in Oklahoma visiting my daughter. Oklahoma! That state’s official motto is: “We eat red meat three times a day, and sometimes we even cook it.” Do you have any idea what it’s like to order a veggie burger in Oklahoma? I’m one of the few who’s lived to tell about it. And that’s only because I confessed that I was visiting from a liberal commie part of the country and I would be leaving forthwith.
At week nine, I hit the vegan wall. I wasn’t hungry, I was exhausted from trying to eat enough protein without swallowing a wheelbarrow of beans and quinoa (pronounced “keen-wa”) every day. I majored in Language Arts Education in college not nutrition. I just didn’t have the ganas (or desire, as Edward James Olmos would say). I was unable to Stand and Deliver. So I yanked the plug. I wished the two old skinny guys the best, and went back to my previous diet, the one I now call Knives Over Forks.