This past week Oprah had her friend Gayle King traverse the country in
search of her favorite sandwich. Gayle had been recruited a couple of years
ago to find the best pizza. We, in Cleveland this past week, would have called Papa John's Pizza the best in the land --at least this week. Why? They were selling their one topping pizzas for 23 cents in apology for offending Cavalier fans because of a faux pas in Boston during the basketball playoffs.
If memory serves me correctly-- one Papa John's franchise in Boston passed out unflattering t-shirts making fun of LeBron James and insinuating that he was a cry baby. Well, from my perspective, he is not only a great player but a class act. Am I prejudiced? Probably not. I like to think that I do appreciate the truth as far as I can ascertain it. On the other hand, I have met some people who see things only through their usually very narrow perspective. I don't believe I am one of them because I find myself accepting the truth even if it hurts me personally.
Re the "best sandwich" quest, I was disappointed because all of the sandwiches --with the exception of one specially prepared grilled cheese sandwich, were meat or fish-based. One chef even featured a "sloppy joe" catfish sandwich. Some of the others were made with lobster which I was glad to hear was not Gayle's favorite ingredient. I personally find the way lobsters are killed revolting and cruel. On one 20/20 ABC segment years ago this topic was addressed, and I got the impression that dunking live lobsters in a pot of boiling water was not considered inhumane. I thought
of only one question for that reporter - If she were a lobster, would she feel the same? (One Cleveland chef showed on a TV cooking show how he pierced the lobster's brain killing it before the boiling water procedure. I don't know if this is the best we can do. Hopefully, it is less painful to the lobster than the direct hot water immersion.)
Maybe the areas of sensation in a lobster are not as developed as ours, but I feel that they do suffer pain. I believe all killing is painful --though of course, some deaths are more painful than others. I also believe that we would be a gentler people if we tried to become more aware of the pain we cause and try to lesson it as much as possible to both animals AND humans.
I even dare hope that compassion and health concerns will find more people becoming vegetarian. A pie-in-the-sky dream? Maybe, but I find that more and more people are entertaining this desire as they learn about the cruel ways we raise our animals in the farm factories from "hell" which were ushered in during the Reagon administration in the 80's. (I don't think I will ever vote Republican again.) A visit to a slaughterhouse too, I guarantee would convert the sensitive and compassionate, though even a reading of
Gail Eiznitz' "Slaughterhouse" would convert many I'm sure.
Recently, many of us saw on national TV how cruelly men treated the downed cows in El Chino, California --poking them in the eyes or other sensitve parts - shoving, jabbing -- you name it-- man can be and is often cruel to animals. This cannot be what God envisioned of his "stewards." And I shall never ever forget reading of the horrible death of some mother
cows who went through the slaughtering line alive because of a failure to stun them properly. Those poor unfortunate cows were skinned alive and their legs were cut off. My God, what brutes we can be and all because of the almighty dollar which steaks and hamburgers bring to the owners. The least these dear mother cows deserve is a compassionate death. For their whole lives their only purpose was to provide us with milk, butter and cream- never anymore enjoying the companionship of each other or the fresh outdoors in the warm sun. They spend their lives in airless barns for years until their final "reward" - the slaughterhouse. I don't believe in incarnation, but if I did, I would wish that the people who treated animals in this way would come back to earth as the animal they mistreated.
We all look forward to retirement. There is no retirement for dairy cows, but in my opinion there should be. My belief is that a loving God would require us to give them some respite and time in an open bright pasture in the company of their own. My God is kind and compassionate to all His creatures. Why aren't we?
And sadly, cows are not the only ones mistreated. Chickens are raised in confining battery cages all their lives until they are dispatched to the slaughter house where they are sometimes handled inhumanely by callous workers who kick them, wring their necks, or toss them around indifferently. What kind of people do that? Mercy for Animals has a UTube expose of this cruelty for anyone interested in seeing for themselves how these poor chickens are mistreated.
I watched as Gayle, Oprah, and another guest chef tasted and evaluated these sandwiches made from dead animals or dead fish. Describing the sandwiches this way probably makes them less palatable, but maybe if we view them in this truthful way, we may be more apt to realize that there is something to becoming vegetarian. Can I even dare hope that one day
there may be a contest for the best VEGAN sandwich instead. If so, my "compassionate" sandwich--though simply made with simple ingredients should be entered.
I sauteed two slices of faux baloney with garlic slices in Canola oil and topped them with an American Soy cheese slice in a parve hamburger bun. Even I was surprised how good it tasted. Normally, I would just make a faux baloney sandwich with tomatoe, lettuce, and onion on wheat bread slathered with vegan mayonaize. But this new "recipe" in my opinion
needs even less ingredients and is simple and delicious. I savored every bite.
Almost everything vegan is delicious to me because no animal is killed to please my palate and no cow need ever spend her life in a milk line to provide the cheese for my sandwich which is made from soy.
When my cousin stopped over, I asked her if she wanted to taste my vegan sandwich which I had just made. Surprisingly, she wanted to know what was in it. I was dumb-founded and thought--would she ask that question if I gave her a meat sandwich? I wanted to say --what does it matter what it is made of because we vegans use everything which is PLANT-BASED,
WHOLESOME, AND CRUELTY-FREE.
I was pleasantly surprised though when she asked where I bought the ingredients. I guess this was a left-handed compliment and meant she liked it! However, I had to tell her that faux baloney is more expensive than real baloney and ditto for the vegan American cheese counterpart. Well, the reasons are obvious. It's a matter of supply and demand. The demand
is not great enough to bring down the costs for the relatively small vegan community. I even have to pay $5.65 for a quart of delicious soy ice cream. However, despite the financial drain on my food budget, I thank God every day that I don't have to kill animals to satisfy my palate.
And by the way, for those in the northern clime- on a winter's day I love to make my "stone" soup. The story goes that the villagers were hungry until someone came up with the idea of making a huge pot of stone soup. I don't know if the large pot of water had a stone in it but everyone was invited to put whatever they could in the communal pot. It was a success
and everyone's hunger was assuaged.
My "stone" soup is something like their soup -with ingredients which are easily procured and requiring little work. I basically fill a 2 quart pot with water and then add: a soup packet, 3/4 cup of barley, a frozen package of soup veggies, a can of rinsed kidney beans, a can of tomatoes, and some parsley. Later tasting may mean adding some salt and pepper and even some squirts of ketchup. Remember this is a "stone" soup and the ingredients are those which are usually on hand. I love my stone soup on a cold winter's night but enjoy it year round as well.
And for those who say they can't even boil water, once you learn that "art" then the rest is just "throwing" in the above ingredients and letting them simmer until you look in the pot an hour or more later - and vola-delicious, cruelty-free vegetable soup!