The Birth of a Bean Freak

Nearly 48 years ago, my parents brought me home from the hospital, wrecking my sister’s run as an only child. I’ve been wrecking shaking things up for her ever since. Poor thing.

Don’t shed a tear! She gets hers, lemme tell you. She’s hardly helpless. In fact, I might even go so far as to say that she set me on my current path to becoming a complete bean freak. See, here’s how it started (and how I’m totally blaming her):

In her 20s, Chele spent a few years living in Germany where they were huge into recycling – even in the 80s. She really got into it – both in deed and in spirit. She got used to “reduce, reuse, recycle” and brought the ideas home with her. Once stateside, it was tough to recycle anything much more than aluminum cans; but, until there were actual recycling programs, she continued her mission to reduce and reuse. And was she ever an evangelist about it! I’m pretty sure that there were times I threw things away that resulted in some discourse ending in, “Can I get an AMEN!”

You see, unlike my sister, I was still a giant, spoiled, American baby. I bought things. I used them. I threw them away. Disposable anything was just fine with me. I gave no thought to excess plastic or packaging. I went to Kroger, bought what I needed, consumed it, then threw the remains in the landfill, never giving it a second thought. Well, not a second thought until the Earth Queen got ahold of me, anyway. This went on for years – her fussing, me ignoring – until I lived in New Orleans where the city had a recycling program. Since it was not big deal for me, I separated my plastic containers and put them in the bin. I started recycling in the laziest of ways. Still, I started.

After Katrina, we moved to Tennessee where I met my friend Sean who is also an advocate of recycling. He didn’t really give me grief about it, though. He just told me where I could take it and how easily we could set up collection bins on my back porch. Before I knew it, I had bins for plastic, steel cans, cardboard, aluminum, glass and paper. The truth is, I’m not entirely sure I set these up. It’s possible that he did it while I wasn’t looking. Still, nearly ten years later, I still recycle everything but plain paper (they don’t take that anymore, but sometimes I shred it and add it to my compost pile).

So, you see? It’s totally their fault! Between Chele and Sean, I began to be aware of the environment and the impact on it my choices have. This made me fertile ground for the vegan message, particularly after becoming such a fan of veggies during the Big Reduction. Even realizing that they all have their own agendas, films like Fat,Sick and Nearly Dead, Vegucate, Forks Over Knives, Fed Up and Food, Inc. found a willing convert in this nascent Bean Freak.

So, it’s been nine months since I started my vegetarian experiment – nine months with a total of maybe six servings of meat. Eggs and dairy have fallen by the wayside in the last couple of months – except when they are in something processed. (I’m not turning down a slice of cake to avoid a little egg.) And, as I’ve told you (and my sister, ad nauseum), I feel better than ever.

My sister, who is visiting me this week, is getting the full-on vegan treatment (Except for that cow’s milk she insists on drinking in her tea) whether she likes it or not. We’ve had black bean burgers, wild mushrooms, portobellos in peanut sauce, Jamaican Black Beans with pineapple chutney, cashew and almond milk frozen desserts. It’s all good stuff! Can I get an AMEN!

(I work tonight. Watch for her at the Wendy’s drive-thru as soon as I leave.)


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