I wonder if our nation will ever elect a vegetarian president? I suppose it’s possible, but I bet there would be some opposition from the livestock and poultry producers. And how could a candidate graciously turn down a Texas barbecue or a Philly cheese steak during a campaign stop?
Anyway, I was just wondering that as I sat listening to a Public Radio newscaster talking about how the Republicans will have to appeal to more minorities. Now, vegetarians are a really unrecognized and unappreciated minority.
Can you imagine the vegetarian president pardoning a soybean field instead of the traditional turkey? And if he or she were a true vegan, the Easter egg hunt might have to be replaced with the tofu search.
I got into the vegetarian scene about 35 years ago, long before I had ever heard of Boca Burger or Morning Star. Those were the real dark ages back then. There were no frozen vegetarian meals or bags of textured soy protein.
I even had trouble finding whole grain bread in the store. The nearest thing to it was Roman Meal bread. I ate a lot of that.
But my main protein source for years was peanut butter and other leguminous foods. A peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole wheat bread is about as nutritious as you can get, although it’s a little calorie laden. At least I don’t fry my sandwiches like Elvis did.
At the time I decided to become a vegetarian, I didn’t do it for any particular religious or animal rights thing. Of course, the animal concern is now what keeps me avoiding meat.
The day I decided to become a vegetarian, I was in Boone, N.C., reporting on a multiple murder. After the day’s work was over, I saw where comedian Dick Gregory was going to be appearing that night at Appalachian State University. I attended and was interested in his remarks about being a vegetarian. I decided to try it and just never gave it up.
I have to admit that I haven’t always been a very strict and dedicated vegetarian. In the early days, I included fish and poultry in my diet, just skipping the red meat. Later, I dropped the poultry. I still eat fish some because I hate to give up the nutrition and health benefits of salmon.
Also, I know that some people (perish the thought) put some meat into their vegetables when they cook them. I would never do that, but I don’t go running chemical analyses on everything I eat.
But mostly, I eat vegetables. It’s easy for me to be a vegetarian since I love all vegetables and fruits. I can’t think of a single one I don’t like. Broccoli? I love it. Turnips? Nothing better. Asparagus? I could eat it all day.
So when Thanksgiving rolls around, I’m content with dressing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie and the other good trimmings. You can keep your bird and your giblet gravy.
Someday, when we least expect it, we’ll have a vegetarian presidential candidate, maybe a woman vegetarian candidate. I hope it won’t matter to the voters that the campaign has no meat in it. And we won’t have any TV ads asking, “Where’s the beef?”
Oh, by the way. No animals were harmed in the preparation of this column. However, I did slice up a tomato fairly viciously for my hummus sandwich.
Jones is a Carrollton resident and reporter for the Times-Georgian.