Guest Post by Jim the Reluctant Vegetarian

Christmas 1982


Jim asked if he could do a guest post for VeganMoFo, so here it is. I chose a couple of photos from us back in the early ’80s to go with it. Yes, those really are matching shirts in the top photo! In the one with the rainbow shirt (my favorite shirt forever and ever) you can see all the grains in jars in our kitchen. Jim is an amazing person, but he is prone to exaggeration.

Here’s Jim!

This is actually a story of how I started out a reluctant vegetarian thirty years ago.I met Tami in college, which was soon and abruptly followed in an unfortunate attempt to be a rock star. We were living together, eighteen years old, giving families heart attacks and hives, and we were poor, super-lucky and in the moment. Pretty much younger versions of who we are now, except we’re not poor.

Tami got into all sorts of cool hippie stuff in very strong streaks (the hippie descriptor works because this was 1980); astrology, philosophy, and then vegetarianism. Later macrobiotics, environmental issues, yoga, the list goes on and on. Each interest became temporarily all-consuming in a cool, exploratory way.

I had come from one of the earlier two-career, me-first families, and my brother and I were on a meat and potatoes diet at whatever time and in whatever form it was presented. When allowed on my own time to choose food, it would either be subs or pizza, since I spent grades 7 through 12 gainfully employed in either bars or pizza joints.

So like most omnivores, I never questioned what I was eating, where it came from, what part of an animal it was, due to my conditioning. So when meeting Tami, and really and truly falling soulmate-crazy in love at eighteen, I was introduced into this question-everything, what the hell are we here for and doing vibe. Very intriguing stuff. So Tam started shaking the tree, getting us away from meat over the period of a few months.

I would grumble, but in retrospect it was not wanting to let go of bad habits, as well as my over-conditioned brain fighting common sense. In my experience in either kicking bad habits or watching friends kick bad habits, besides chemical, this seems to be the lowest common denominator.

Thirty years ago Tami was into the Farm Cookbook, Diet for a Small Planet, the Book of Tempeh and Tofu Cookery (it was a while ago, my publication dates might be a little off). She was into grain-to-meat ratios and the problems of methane gas. We were incubating tempeh in a homemade incubator, Tami was making homemade soymilk. We used to have these crazy tofu-strawberry pies.

Absolutely wild stuff for kids who were flat broke. But I would whine, as much as I whine which isn’t really whining but more of a foot-stomping, petulant thing. The final meat meal was a sandwich from KFC, and I am serious, Tam took one bite and it was half-skin, half-meat. Really disgusting. She spit it out and said that was it. Now here it is: I was knocked out that Tami had a fixed mind, fixed because of an understanding of the facts. I was amazed at Tami’s level of compassion and even though I didn’t really get it, I was pretty awed. It took me years to get to that mindset that Tami was at at eighteen. But I followed along and slowly figured it out. It’s wasn’t easy, but it was fun and I really lucked out that Tami was a great motivator.

So for those who are starting out or on the fence, just stick with it. It’s like doing scales on an instrument, it might take a while to come together but when it does its a very cool thing. You are what you eat, and I deal with people everyday that are cow-people, slow and cud-chewing. Watch ’em, you’ll see what I mean. I am very thankful for having spent all these years with my best friend who is an absolutely wild kitchen cook with her far-out interests and amazing understanding.

That’s the story and I’m sticking to it. Thanks for reading my mofo guest post.

Still to come for MoFo:

The after-Thanksgiving post and another contest. We’re on the home-stretch now!

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  1. Posted November 28, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    What a great guest post, and just let me say, I can relate — same cookbooks, same food in jars, same macrobiotics. And still vegan after all these years.

  2. Posted November 28, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    I love those photos, and that story. It’s fabulous.

  3. Posted November 28, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Hi Tami and Jim, this is my first visit to your blog and what a great post this is as an introduction! I love hearing about people’s vegan epiphanies and transitions, it’s always inspiring.

    Love the photos, too… I was 18 in 1980 but was still many years away from having a clue. I wish I’d had a friend like Tami way back then! I’d like to think I would have paid attention. :-)

  4. Posted November 28, 2010 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    my most favorite pics and blog post, ever. much love to you both!

  5. Posted November 28, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    What great photos, even with the matching shirts! That’s a great story. It’s amazing how one person’s interests can change our perspective.

  6. Posted November 28, 2010 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    This was so amazingly cute!!!!! I hope in 30 years, my husband still looks at me like that! With only food activism and a lending of a Peter singer book, my military, body-building dude went from eating lamb in front of me to hugging them. So happy for you guys!

  7. Posted November 28, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Great post! I became a vegetarian in the fall 1981 (to the horrified disbelief of my parents), and had/did/read many of those same things; I totally want to hang out with you guys!

  8. Posted November 28, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful guest post by Jim! Your story mirrors our own, right down to the astrology and other cool hippie stuff (but without the incubating tempeh). Very fun to read — you guys are terrific! Love those matching shirts…

  9. Posted November 28, 2010 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for your post and insight into your thoughts. My husband is at the “Gee, meat and dairy make me feel like crap, but I still want to eat them” stage. I’m hoping that 2011 will be his 1980.

  10. Posted November 28, 2010 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    Love this! You guys are the sweetest. Thanks for blazing the trail with all that homemade soymilk and bulk jars so that my generation had good vegan role models. :)

  11. Posted November 28, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    Love this post!

  12. Posted November 28, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    Andrea, it’s great to know there are more of us who made it. Given the protein deficiency issues and all. 😉

    Liz, it was fun digging out the old photos. I can’t believe how young we were!

    Laloofah, you’re our age! We all come to veganism when we’re meant to. You’re here now!

    Celine, you are so sweet. Thanks.

    Jessica, we got those shirts for Christmas that year. Jim’s grandmother sent them down to us and we obviously didn’t wait to open them.

    HD, that’s a remarkable change! Good for you and your husband. Hope you have many, many years of happy married life.

    Desdemona, anytime, lady! I know we’d get along great! Maybe next time we’re in New England?

    Robin, isn’t it funny how we shared some of the same interests, even way back when?

    Jackie, it could happen! Sending you patience until it does.

    Vegan Burnout, ha! Thanks for your kind words. We did a lot of things kind of wacky but then, but we had a lot of fun. Role models? Maybe not so much.

    Cardamom, thanks, :)

  13. Posted November 28, 2010 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    Really sweet post, Tami and Jim. You guys were too cute! And wow, you’re making me feel actually young 😛 ’cause I never got into macrobiotics, and came to veganism fairly late, but I do remember the days of recipes for whole soybeans in casseroles and such. Such a virtuous feeling as we (okay, I, no one else would try it) chewed and chewed and chewed. Before the days of tofu in grocery stores, seitan (at all), tempeh (what?). You were pioneers, to whom the rest of us really do owe a lot.

  14. Posted November 29, 2010 at 1:59 am | Permalink

    Cow people, slow and cud-chewing. haha!

  15. Posted November 29, 2010 at 4:45 am | Permalink

    What a sweet post!

  16. Posted November 29, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Aww. Can you guys adopt me? Please and thank you.

  17. Posted November 29, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Kelly, consider it done! Now please come bake for us.

    Zoa, you’re so right.. chewing and chewing!

    Bert, they are everywhere!

    Thanks, Katie. :)

  18. Posted November 29, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Best post ever! Seriously. You two are incredible people who are having one of the most incredible journeys. I feel lucky to know you.

  19. Lee Ann
    Posted November 29, 2010 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    Love the photos & the post.
    Thanks for sharing.

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