My youngest daughter has always been socially conscious but she loves her food so she eats joyously virtually anything, like the rest of us in the family.
And she loves her beef. Beef Rendang was her Achilles Heel.
So when she told me one day she thinks the world is eating too much meat for our own good and we are destroying our environment, I knew that this came from a place deep inside.
I contemplated whether to tell her about this book I read a long time ago. I knew this book would open her eyes to what she was already feeling, and lead her on a certain path divergent from my own.
But she has a mind of her own which I am very proud of. The truth is out there and I’m not about to muzzle it.
The book is a fascinating read even if you don’t subscribe to everything they try to evangelise. And of course there is an agenda like most animal activists trumpet. And some of it is written from a very biased perspective and involves the taking of liberties with some dramatic overtures.
But a lot of it is the raw naked truth which a lot of us can’t or don’t want to internalise. It is a damn compelling and eye opening read.
So a few days before she went for her 2 months church camp (in which she emerged with a deep newfound and beautiful relationship with God), I gave her the book and told her something to the effect “have a read with an open mind but with a pinch of salt also”.
So I handed her a brand new copy of ” Diet for a new America” by John Robbins.
Diet for a New America is a 1987 bestselling book by John Robbins. The book discusses the benefits of vegetarianism, the ills and environmental impact of factory farming and animal rights.
It tells, chapter by chapter, of the horrors of harvesting foie gras, the bleating agonised cries of veal, the poison of diary, insane cows and PTSD chickens. The mercurial after taste of infested fish. Nothing we can eat on this earth except “it who must not be named “.
Robbins is the son of Irma Robbins and Irv Robbins, co-founder of The famous ice cream chain Baskin-Robbins.
John Robbins graduated from the University of California Berkeley in 1969, and received a master’s degree from Antioch College in 1976.
He turned his back on inheriting the empire his Father had built and decided to follow a different destiny – from ice cream to vegetarianism.
His book was on the best sellers list for many years and received dramatic, if not controversial, and at times critical acclaim:
“Much of what Mr. Robbins has to say about diet in this country is unremarkable: we eat too much meat and dairy products. Much of what Mr. Robbins has to say about the inhumane treatment of animals on factory farms is correct. But Mr. Robbins undermines his case by exaggerating; facts mix with factoids and anecdotes”
Marian Burros (December 2, 1992). “Eating Well”. The New York Times.
My hardly evolved meat chomping friends
My friends are meat chomping man whores like me and vegetables is enigma to us. It is commonly referred to as “vegetation” or “that thing”.
When one of us forgets and tries to order a vegetable dish during lunch:
“Hmm shall we have the fried bean sprouts or the deep fried brinjal with black bean sauce ……?”
First there will be the icy cold silence.
Winter is coming.
Crickets are sneering and chirping with incredulity.
Some will try to clarify.
“Wait wtf did you just suggest we order grass ?
Then consternation and genuine concern sets in:
“Dude everything ok ? Kids ok ?
How’s everything at home ?
Wife not giving you sex ? Don’t be proud. We all beg.
Wait, do you have hemorrhoids?
So yes. Being a member of this elite group, one has a certain delightful predisposition.
So how did the book affect me?
It could just be gas. But it could be something.
But I am a deeply flawed human being. I hugged my dog and tried to think.
“You are a flawed bastard. And you look hideous. But I still love you” my dog licked me appreciatively.
Dogs are the best.
I have tried. I really have. And certainly, I eat less of some things but most times, I just shed silent tears.
I shed a silent tear when I chomped into my moo moo and remember the happy cows grazing happily in green sunshine meadows, while being sensuously massaged in Asahi beer on Wednesdays by polite Japanese men.
I am choked (pun intended) with emotion when I eat foie gras and taste the saltiness of the tears rolling down my cheek (so remember not to over-salt your foie gras)
I cry like a baby removed from his mother’s teat when I nibble on the tender delights of veal (Hmmm – needs more salt or iron).
I bleat sadly when I bite into frisky spring lamb (remember pan fry no more than 1-2 minutes on each side with butter and a sprig of rosemary for that beautiful pinkish hue)
I plunge into the ocean of despair when I taste sharks fin at wedding dinners (I blame weddings)
Like I said, deeply deeply flawed.
God has built an express bullet lift to hell just for me, with just enough space for lawyers and Trump (what gel does he use on that beautiful orange mane ? I need to ask him)
So I wasn’t surprised when Megan returned and told me calmly that with immediate effect, she was pescatarian and she will inch slowly towards vegetarianism one day.
This bulldog understood and resolved to be supportive.
Patrick “Pat” O’Reilly Brown, (born 1954) is chief executive and founder of Impossible Foods Inc. and professor emeritus in the department of biochemistry at Stanford University.
Brown recruited a small team of scientists to determine precisely why meat smells, handles, cooks and tastes like meat. Brown said he had a “hunch” that the key to meat’s unique taste was its high abundance of heme, an iron-containing molecule in blood that carries oxygen and is found in all living organisms. Brown theorized that, if he could generate large amounts of heme from plant sources, he could recreate the taste of animal meat.
Brown obtained funding and in 2011 Impossible Funds was born. In 2016, the Impossible Burger found its way to the restaurants.
Impossible Foods is also working on plant based pork, chicken, fish and diary products made without any animals.
There are currently some restaurants in singapore which showcase Impossible Foods.
So the Ong pack, with a burgeoning vegetarian in the horizon, decided to try out this new gastronomic horror this weekend.
We went to Park Bench Deli at Telok Ayer Street.
A hot favourite amongst hipster millennials, my suggestion to go there was met with meaty enthusiasm.
We arrived shortly after noon and the place was already buzzing.
The idea was to get a couple of faux meat sandwiches so that we could all try what the excitement was, but of course we would also have real food.
This was what we ordered.
IMPOSSIBLE PATTY MELT
Megan said because she hasn’t had meat for two months, her first mouthful felt weird . But otherwise, she felt that it tasted like meat and it was a great sandwich.
Impossible Foods – great start and I can’t wait to taste the “chicken” and “pork” in the future.