Friday, April 25, 2014

Vegetarian Writers


V is for Vegetarian Writers

Hi, I am a vegetarian. Nice to meet you!

Although vegetarianism is becoming more popular and more people are embracing it, when some people hear that I don’t eat meat their typical reaction is to raise their eyebrows as if I just said something shocking. I have been asked countless times (by friends and family members) why I don’t eat meat and the simple answer is, I just don’t like it. I never really liked the taste of meat even when I was a child, so one day I decided to stop eating it. That was five years ago. Even after explaining this,  they still can’t seem to fathom my decision. It’s not complicated. Really.

Once, in my unpublished series, my heroine says, “I’m a vegetarian, not an alien!” I created that line because at one point I felt this.

Another thing people find odd is that I have no problem cooking meat. Yes, I’ll cook a steak if you want it. And as a writer, I let my characters eat all the meat they want. I even describe the taste and texture. You would never know from my descriptions that I am a vegetarian. And that's my goal!

If you are vegan or vegetarian, your characters don’t have to share your dietary restrictions. Be flexible, open and realistic; there are more meat-eaters in the world than vegetarians.
TIP #1: Recall food you ate before your lifestyle change. I remember the crispiness of bacon and the tough feel of steak between my teeth. 
TIP #2: Ask family and friends to describe what it’s like to eat certain foods: cheeseburgers, lobster, polish sausage. Get them to go into detail about the flavors, textures, and colors. 
TIP #3: Read cookbooks. Many of them will include details of the flavors. They also provide excellent pictures to help with your descriptions.
Also, if you do eat meat, consider writing about a character who is a vegetarian. It's not hard! And doesn't require much research. :)  

Now for fun here’s a list of Vegetarian Writers (whether known or disputed):

Alice Walker
Charlotte Brontë
Henry David Thoreau
H. G. Wells
Leo Tolstoy
Louisa May Alcott
Lord Byron
Mark Twain
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Voltaire
William Shakespeare


SHARE: Do you know a vegetarian author? Tell me and I’ll add their name to my list. :)




59 comments:

  1. That's something I've never really thought about! I haven't read too many books where the characters were vegetarian/vegan...although I did read a very interesting book where the young character lost weight on that caveman diet. It intrigued me enough to research what it was. As a children's writer, covering such a topic could actually lead young readers to consider other dietary possibilities...

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    1. I don't ever recall reading a book with a vegetarian character. And when I was creating the heroine in my series, I wanted her to be different in every way so she became a vegetarian and she didn't complain. ;)

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  2. I rarely eat red meat, but I wouldn't call that vegetarian. Never thought of adding one to my stories.

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    1. Not eating red meat is a good start. :D

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  3. I'm not a vegetarian but I don't eat a HEAP of meat, and quite often people ask me "Are you a vegetarian?" based on what they see me eating.

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    1. It is funny that people jump that conclusion just because someone doesn't eat meat all the time.

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  4. Never eat red meat at my sea, just chicken and have to stay away from gluten and diary, so fun fun.

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    1. For me, I don't even eat chicken. But I do still eat diary. I understand why people have to cut out gluten and diary for health reasons, and it's not easy.

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  5. I love that line: I'm a vegetarian, not an alien. I try not to eat meat very often, maybe once or twice a week. I have weeks upon weeks when I don't eat it, but that doesn't last. Interesting to read about all the authors on the list.
    Silvia @
    SilviaWrites

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    1. I'm glad you like that line. It's one of my favorite quotes from my heroine. :)

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  6. I wrote a vegetarian! I do love me some meat, but it's pricy. I'm certainly more into my veggies now than when I was younger. :)

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    1. Yay! I'm so happy you wrote about a vegetarian character. :D

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  7. I was vegetarian for almost a year. Now, I only eat chicken maybe 2x per week, no beef or pork. I eat seafood too so I can't call myself vegetarian anymore. I hadn't really thought of this aspect for my characters. I have some favorite foods and drinks for some of them but not special dietary considerations. It would certainly make the characters very realistic. Thanks, Chrys!

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    1. Well, you could say your half-vegetarian. ;) It would indeed make the characters more realistic as dietary restrictions is so common.

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  8. Chrys...I'm an ethical vegan. For me, Veganism is sort of like a religion. I feel strongly about how cruelly animals are treated in the factory farms. I haven't eaten meat since the 80s (yes, I'm old) and have been off any animal products since the late 90s.

    I've written several vegetarian characters, but not exclusively (I even have a whole vegetarian society in one series). It just depends on who the character is as to whether they eat meat or not, just like in the real world. I don't want to ram anything down someone's throat (HA...including meat), so I try to write what is true for my characters.

    Thanks for the Vegetarian Post. It's nice to see that there are more of us out there, even if for different reasons.

    Leanne Ross ( readfaced.wordpress.com & @LeanneRossRF )

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    1. I support everyone's views on veganism/vegetarianism. Although I didn't become a vegetarian because of animal cruelty, and I can cook meat for others, I do hate animal cruelty with every fiber of my being.

      I think it's so neat that you have a series with a whole vegetarian colony. I completely agree that it is up the character whether he/she is a vegetarian or not.

      Thank you for your comment, Leanne. It's nice to know you're a vegan. :D

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  9. I'm not a vegetarian but I grew up on a farm where we had beef for many meals. Now I hardly ever eat beef. I just don't like it. I've had some characters who were vegetarians and it was fun writing their horror when they learned some people at meat.

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    1. It can be quite funny when a vegetarians finds out he/she is surrounded by carnivores. I'm actually the only vegetarian in my family. So I'm out numbered. haha

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  10. I'm not a vegetarian, but I certainly empathise. There aren't a lot of meats that I actually like to eat - I love bacon and sausages, but I'm finicky with just about every other meat. It drives my mum crazy, but I can't help it - I just don't like the taste.

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    1. Although I'm a vegetarian, I can say that the smell of bacon still gets to me.

      It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who doesn't like the taste of meat. Have you ever tried Morningstar? They have many great no-meat alternatives from ribs to corn dogs and chicken patties.

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  11. Hi Chrys, looks like all the great writers were vegetarians. I am not a vegetarian, I don't eat lots of meat, just occasionally. The characters in my MG books are foodies like me.

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    1. Many great writers were vegetarians. Although I don't eat meat, I still consider myself a foodie. :)

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  12. About five years ago that's how I felt about home schooling. We'd tell people that's what we were doing and the reaction was: "What? You mean you don't want to have a socially normalized kid?" After which I'd explain that we attended church activities, scouts, sports and other group events...but the stigma was still there. It's kind of funny how we get stuck in a perception, eh?

    True Heroes from A to Z

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    1. I love that you home school your kids! It's something I want to do when I have kids.

      It is funny how much society gets stuck in a certain perception. I have my GED, I'm a vegetarian, and I'll home school my kids. Watch out world! haha

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  13. I'm not a vegetarian but it's something I'm interested in becoming. I have some dietary restrictions that might make it more complicated but I want to explore it. Interesting to read the list!

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    1. Vegetarianism may not be for everyone, but it is something worth exploring. :)

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  14. My only issue with vegetarianism is that it is, essentially, a first world privilege. And that's fine. I mean, if you want to take advantage of something you are able to choose to do, go for it. Don't then, however, try to tell me how morally superior you are to me because you actually just have a wider range of choices (and I'm not talking about -you-, but I live out here in area of morally superior vegans, and I get more than a little tired of it).

    So here's an example of what I'm talking about:
    My sister-in-law used to be a vegetarian, then she moved to Alaska. She quickly discovered that the choice to be a vegetarian no longer existed for her, not if she wanted to be able to eat. And that's how it is for most people in most of the world: They what's available to them.

    I'm not really thinking that a lot of vegetarians/vegans would hold onto their "it's wrong to eat animals" mantra if put into a situation where they had to choose to eat meat or not eat at all.

    (Again, none of this is in reference to you, Chrys; these are just the majority of (mostly) vegans that I know (and this area of CA is full of them).

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    1. Plenty of Indians from India and not, are vegetarians.

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    2. I respect your opinion, Andrew. I understand how annoying it can be when someone acts morally superior to others, and I get what you're saying.

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  15. I confess – I have no willpower. The only time I had challenged myself not to eat meat is when my mouth was still full of novocaine after a visit to the dentist.
    Deb@ http://debioneille.blogspot.com

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    1. lol That's fine, Debi! My mom is the same. She HAS to have her meat. :P

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  16. I'm not a vegetarian, although I'm very used to catering for them, because quite a few of my friends are vegetarian and when we get together en masse there's always a mixture of stuff for carnivores and herbivores :). We've discussed why we are and aren't vegetarian amongst ourselves lots of times and my veggie friends have introduced me to some dishes I wouldn't have thought of eating otherwise.

    I am way too fussy about veg to stop eating meat, though ;P
    Sophie
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles - A to Z Ghosts
    Fantasy Boys XXX - A to Z Drabblerotic

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    1. It's always really nice when people accommodate both carnivores and herbivores. :) I guess it's a good thing I love all vegetables (except mushrooms) because it made becoming a vegetarian a no-brainer. :)

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  17. Interesting post. I have a love/hate relationship with meat. I'll go long periods of not eating meat. Then I'll start again, and I start because I like the taste of some of it. I grew up on a small farm and we lived from the farm. We ate what we raised. But I watched cows being killed and butchered, and pigs, and had to help wrap the meat for the freezer. And I had to help butcher chickens. Farm life does something to a kid. It makes them hard, or it makes them really soft. Somewhere in my teens, I rebelled. I couldn't watch an animal die. Yet I was so deeply ingrained by that time with the diet I'd been raised on, that it was hard to quit eating meat. And in a home with 8 children, you knew, you either ate what was served or you went hungry. Even now, I watch calves romping in fields in the spring. And I know how intelligent pigs are. And chickens can be pretty decent pets. It bothers me. That's why I go for long periods without eating meat.

    We all draw arbitrary lines on what we eat. And the lines drawn on meat types are the most arbitrary of all. I'd never eat a lamb, a goat, a dog, a cat. So I have to respect vegetarians and vegans for how straight their lines are.

    That brings me back to something that happened 25 years ago. I worked at a small division of a large company. One of the things the contracted food service company did as a thank you to the employees was for Thanksgiving, provide a turkey dinner with the trimmings for a dirt cheap price. The problem was, they were doing it at the location with a thousand employees, not at our location with 10 employees. One of our managers, a vegan--the first I'd ever met in my whole life (yeah, the locals kind of thought he was an alien) volunteered to drive to the other location and pick up our turkey dinners for us. When he got back, as we helped him unload the car and carry the dinners into the lunchroom, one of my coworkers commented that his car smelled so good, "It must have been like heaven driving back with all those dinners inside." He said it actually wasn't so pleasant. My coworker, after realizing what she'd said and to whom she'd said it, asked, "How can you go through Thanksgiving without a turkey for dinner." He smiled at her and sad, "How about I invite you to my house. Let's make it for a holiday dinner. Guess what we're having?" She said, "Turkey." His eyes actually twinkled when he replied, "Nope. We're having roasted, stuffed rat with gravy." Her face twisted and she said, "Yuck! No thank you." lol. He said, "We all draw arbitrary lines about what we'll eat. It's just really simple for me. If it walked, swam, or flew...I'm not going to eat it."

    I aspire to tht, but keep falling short. :-)

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    1. I'm so surprised that this post, out of all of my posts for this challenge, has inspired such long comments. :D

      I always liked the thought of living on a farm, but I couldn't do it. I could see the animals get butchered and help to wrap the meat. I'm getting chills just thinking about it. I completely respect farmers who eat what they raise, but I couldn't do it. Your childhood sounds like a real struggle.

      See, I was right with my alien line! Some (not all) people do think that way because they were brought up on eating meat, so they think people who don't are weird.

      Stuffed rat? That's hilarious!

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  18. I'm 100% vegan, but I've never made any of my characters vegetarian.

    I don't mind touching meat, either. Thanksgiving is fun, as I make my husband's turkey dance across the counter after I've cleaned it.

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    1. I'm so glad I did this post, because I had no idea you were 100% vegan. It's neat finding out that a lot of other bloggers I've gotten to know are either vegetarian and vegan.

      When I read that I could picture you dancing the turkey across the counter. hahaha

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  19. Chys, I can't believe our similarities. It must be fate that we met through Shewrites and this blogger's challenge. I started being vegetarian way back in college. We didn't have vegetarian options in our cafeteria so I got permission, along with a small group of students, to cook and serve them. That was the late 70"s I'm sure we'd have more of a challenge doing it now. I also cook meat for my family. Like you, I don't have a problem cooking it. I am on a diet so there are lots of things I cook that I don't eat. I watch the Food Network and Cooking Channel quite regularly and my husband always asks me if meat dishes look good. Sometimes I agree with him and sometimes I don't. I have incorporated Alternative Spirituality in my characters but never considered incorporating my diet as well. My characters so far have been carnivores. I will consider diet more as I progress. Meanwhile, it was refreshing to read your post and see all the authors that are vegetarians that I didn't know were.

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    1. I truly believe things happen for a reason. :) I'm glad I've gotten to know you through our blogs because I find all the things you post about so fascinating.

      I'm not ashamed to say something with meat in it looks good. I did eat meat most of my life, I just didn't like it much. That doesn't mean it doesn't look good. lol

      I'm finding it so interesting that many writers (who are vegan/vegetarian) haven't given their characters these same diets. What's funny is that when I became a vegetarian, I immediately made the heroine in my series one too because it seemed to just make sense, as she was so different. :)

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  20. I'm not a vegetarian, but usually only eat chicken. I have gone meatless a few times and its been okay enough. I just never gave it a thought. Either way, now I want to add a vegetarian in my story lol (and nothing weird with it!) I like the “I’m a vegetarian, not an alien!” line :D

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    1. I love that you want to add a vegetarian into your story now. :D

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  21. I gave up meat for the first time in late '96/early '97, when I was newly seventeen, but not fish. In late '98 went back to eating poultry (kosher only), and gave up non-kosher fish. Shrimp was the thing I missed most, but now it doesn't even tempt me. I also used to love clam chowder, but I'd been losing my taste for it even before I went kosher. In 2007, I had a bowl of chicken soup after Yom Kippur, and that was my last taste of meat ever since, except the times when I've accidentally bitted into or swallowed something I didn't know was meat. I always spit it out or dig it out of my mouth if I realise what I've eaten. I initially gave up fish at the same time, but on Shavuot 2008, I cracked and had some lox, believing fish would help my eczema. I gave up fish again this past September or October, and would ideally like to someday become vegan. As it is, I rarely eat dairy and eggs anymore, and never liked dairy milk or a lot of cheese even before I became interested in veganism.

    One must be careful when making a historical character a vegetarian, considering how difficult it was in much of the world until a few decades ago, and the attitudes towards vegetarians. One of the letters in A Bintel Brief was from "concerned" parents in the 1940s, whose son had stopped eating meat. The editor told them to take him to a shrink, with the attitude that vegetarianism was a form of mental illness, and suggested they take him to a restaurant so he could see "everyone" eats meat. Thankfully, they published a response from the chairman of some past Jewish vegetarian group, chiding the editor for the insulting, misinformed response.

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    1. I remember when I first became a vegetarian, that Thanksgiving I had an alternative to Turkey, but for lunch I accidentally ate two little sausages in sauce because for some reason I thought they were vegetarian, which is silly because my mom made it and she is a carnivore. When I realized what I ate I said, "Oh my God!" And my whole family cracked up.

      I can see how a vegetarian character in a historical story wouldn't work since eating meat was the norm. But I did not know that it was looked on as a form of mental illness. How bizarre!

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  22. For moral reasons, I wish I could be a vegetarian, but I'm realistic enough to know I could never adapt that lifestyle. One, I love meat - bacon, hamburgers, fried chicken - it's all delicious. But knowing the cruelty that happens, I'd still give it up, however ... I hate vegetable. A lot. Can't stand them. I choke down a few as side dishes to get the vitamins and minerals, but there's no way I could survive on veggies alone. And don't even get me started on tofu - gag. So for now I'll have to stick with being a hypocrite.

    Hope you’re having fun with the A to Z challenge,
    Jocelyn

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    1. Vegetarianism is not for everyone, and that's fine. I understand it and don't try to push it on anyone. :) I can tell you that the smell of bacon still gets to me and fried chicken does still look yummy. lol

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  23. Not a vegetarian myself, but I do understand the appeal.

    I tried it for a bit, but it didn't work for me.

    --
    Timothy S. Brannan
    The Other Side, April Blog Challenge: The A to Z of Witches

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    1. I don't push it on anyone, but I think it's cool that so many people have tried it. It's just not for everyone. :)

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  24. The comments are just as interesting as the post! I think your reason for not eating meat is the best one--that you just don't like it. Listening to your body and what it knows is best for it. I was a vegetarian for 8 years because of animal issues and I still ate really unhealthily--too much sugar and processed foods...and I was so tortured because I really still wanted meat. I imposed some external idea of right and wrong on my body and ignored what it wanted and didn't want.

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    1. I was quite surprised at the amount of comments I've received for this one and the lengths. I love that everyone is telling me about their diets and experiences with food. :)

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  25. When I visit my vegetarian friend for a period of time, I'm happily willing to eat that way. Left to my own devices, I eat mostly vegetarian. However, sometimes the people we live with don't share our preferences. And since my husband is helping me out by taking over most of the household chores, including shopping and cooking, I don't begrudge him his meat. I've noticed, happily, that he seems to be buying less of it lately. My latest victory was suggesting that we pick up some Chinese eggplant, and while he didn't really care for it in stir fry, it made a great vegetarian pasta sauce. WIN! :-)

    You're character's line, "I'm a vegetarian, not an alien!" is a great line, because it is so damn true. I have never understood why people are so shocked by someone making a choice to be vegetarian. But beyond that, I truly don't get why people "claim" not to understand someone's reasons for it. It's not a decision that hurts anyone else, and yet, there are many carnivores who see it as a life mission to convert vegetarians back to the meat-eating fold. What's up with that? I know that some vegans and vegetarians can be a little zealous about their choices, but I do not find that nearly as objectionable as the "majority" element challenging those who make a lifestyle decision that doesn't effect them.

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    1. I also live with a carnivore but we get along pretty well. haha We just cook our separate meals and try to match the meat with non-meat. Like if they eat BBQ, I'll eat the Morningstar ribs.

      I'm so glad many of you enjoy my vegetarian alien line. I understand exactly what you're saying. I don't think someone's decision to eat or not eat something should be anyone else's business but that persons.

      When I first became a vegetarian several of my family and friends asked, "Well can you eat this, that?" "It wouldn't hurt you to eat this piece of chicken. Would it?" And so on. They just wouldn't accept my decision and let me be. It's easier now though. They take my diet into account whenever we eat together, which is nice.

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  26. I had no idea Mark Twain was a vegetarian! I suspect he became one later in life as I can't imagine working on a riverboat in that era and NOT eating meat. As for me, I don't eat much meat in the least. I'm always tempted to just stop to see how/if it improves my health.

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    1. Mark Twain could be one of those authors who are disputed. It is awfully hard to prove whether some of them were really vegetarians or not.

      Many do cut out meat for health reasons and they say they feel better without it. :)

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  27. I'm not a vegetarian, but I don't eat a lot of meat. I can go weeks without eating it. Now, if I could only say the same about carbs and cheese….

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    1. I could never give up carbs and cheese. ;)

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  28. These are great tips, Chrys! You can always ask others how things taste and smell if you don't like certain foods. The cook book reference is a good one too.
    I'm not a vegetarian. I don't think I could ever be one because I enjoy all kinds of meat and sushi. I've read there are many benefits to being a vegetarian though. Felix's mother is a vegetarian and her skin is GORGEOUS! She is 68 years old and looks like she is in her late 40s or maybe early 50s. Must be why you are always glowing=)

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    1. Really? Then I hope when I'm in my sixties that I look twenty years younger. ;)

      Aw! Thank you! :D

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  29. I could never be a vegan - I'm addicted to cheese :), but I'm pretty sure I could do vegetarian if I put my mind to it. I have lots of cookbooks with some great veggie recipes because I have several vegetarian friends and like to have options for when they visit. However, being a meat eater does seem a whole lot easier, even with our more enlightened era. I also like some meat, especially slow cooked, but it's not a must like for some people I know - they don't seem to think they've eaten unless meat is on the plate :).
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings - AtoZ (Vampires)
    FB3X - AtoZ (Erotic Drabbles)

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    1. I could never be vegan either. I do love my cheese and dairy. :) It is a little more tough to find things to eat or meals to cook with all the various meats not as an option, but I don't mind because I have Morningstar and great alternative. :D

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