Lessons from My Dad: An Open Letter to Jo
Last summer my father died of a heart attack. He had been a lifelong
alcoholic and compulsive overeater. Along the way he developed high
blood pressure, diabetes, pancreatitis, and a whole host of other health
problems. He was probably over 300 pounds. When he died, I went to his
place (I live out of state) and what I found in his house was
unbelievable. In addition to the giant mass of empty beer cans littering
the living room, there was rotting food all over the place, namely empty
The kitchen was sickening. There was so much grease, on the walls and
floors and counters that I had to put a towel down to keep from
slipping. He had cooked sausages, bacon (extra thick), corned beef hash,
you name it. There were four large jars and cans full of saved meat
grease (something they did in the Depression) on his stove. Needless to
say, I was grossed out. No matter what cleaning product I used, I
couldn’t get all the grease up. I threw out everything I could. It was
sad, very sad. He mainly died of alcoholism, but the rest of the poor
diet, which he believed to be good for him, added to it for sure.
You see, my dad didn’t like what he called “rabbit food.” Wouldn’t eat
salads. Loved the greasy spoon diners, burgers, milkshakes, and fries.
His “diet” consisted of beer, frozen dinners from 7-11, like Hungry Man,
Dinty Moore Beef Stew, anything canned and processed. Oh yes, and he
always made sure to drink three glasses of milk a day. His doctor tried
to tell him about his health, so did everyone around him who loved him,
but for some reason he just didn’t follow it.
That next fall, I started getting repulsed first by eggs, then milk, and
finally around Thanksgiving I was revolted completely by most meats. I
had no intention of becoming vegan. It just made me sick preparing the
carcass of a turkey. I started investigating vegetarianism, mainly as a
diet. For years I have tried one diet after another, tried to stay off
refined sugars, but to no avail. In 12-step programs they say you need a
spiritual awakening to recover. Well, after researching many sites on
vegetarianism and vegans, I decided to go for it. I felt like I have had
a long-overdue awakening--the realization that not only am I harming my
body, but my soul.
My main thinking was to lose weight at first, but after discovering the
horrors of what really goes into our foods today, I’ve become a vegan
for life. I don’t want my fate to be the same as my father’s. I loved
him dearly. But he was stubborn and no one knew all the pain and abuse
he was doing to himself. By turning away from meat and dairy and
embracing this profound, simple, but powerful lifestyle, I hope my
children never have to find me like that, and I hope to help others in
my life, too.
--Suzie B., San Diego
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