My sixteen year old son recently confessed to me, with some trepidation, that he thought he might be an aetheist. He added that he was reserving a small space for the slim possibility that everything is evolving according to an intelligent plan. Otherwise, he mused, it all seemed like random happenings affecting other random happenings. He concluded that either way, it was still a beautiful world and the best any of us can do is show up and be present for the wonder of it all.
I have to admit, I was a little bit stunned; not by his aetheistic ideaolgy, as he thought I might be, but rather by his heart-melting conclusion. I mean, I raised this child...be still my heart.
We drove in silence, side by side in the front seat of my mini-van, which is where all of our important conversations seem to take place. And then I told him that, for the most part, I agreed with his spiritual assesment. Now it was his turn to be a bit shocked.
I agreed that none of us really knew for certain about spirit and matter; that in the end, it was all essentially theory. I added, however, that I'd put quite alot of effort into exploring different theories and had arrived at the one that made the most sense to me. The complexities of our existense are described in such sense-making detail in the Vedas, that I'd settled on this path as a "Believer".
But, ultimately, I told him, he and I were practicioners on opposite sides of the same spectrum. While he was an "Anarchist" reserving a small space for "God" or "intelligent plan", I was a "Believer" reserving a small space for possibility of senseless random existence.
I explained that this made us agnostics, not aethiests, a term he'd clearly never heard, which bumped me up a few notches in his estimation of me as a "knower of stuff". I could tell :)
Then I shared the story of my friend, Dale. Back in my twenties, I made my living designing and sellling batik clothing at craft/art shows, jazz concerts and street fairs. I met Dale at one of these venues. He carved intricate spirals of wood that could be twisted into vessels or spun in the opposite direction to lay as flat as cutting boards. Cool stuff.
Our booths were across from one another's in a middle school gymnasium somewhere in Connecticut. We struck up a conversation and before too long, we found ourselves pontificating on death and the here-after (as one often does with a perfect stranger...or is that just me?). Standing under the fluorescent gymnasium lights with the gleaming hardwood floor harshly reflecting it back, Dale shared his view on life. "The way I see it," he said, "if there is a God, it's best to live a kind and compassionate life. And if there is no God, it's best to life a kind and compassionate life."
We stood there, me in my hippy-chick batik dress, Dale in his tie-dyed t-shirt, sipping weak coffee from styrofoam cups, listening to the hum of the overhead lights. I don't remember much else of what we shared that day. But that little nugget was more than enough. I've recounted it often. I'm not sure I ever thanked him for it. Thank you, Dale.
Going vegetarian was a super-gradual process for me. I stopped eating red meat in high school. I took decades to arrive at the almost vegan diet I follow today. To be honest, giving up dairy is hard. Everything wonderful seems to have cheese on it or be bubbling in cream sauce.
But, here's what happened to me. Shortly after I became a chicken farmer (see Judy the Transvestite Chicken), the sufferings of all those factory-farmed chicken-bodied beings became real. It was as real as the sufferings of a dear friend or a relative. You can't walk back through some doors once you've opened them. So, then the sufferings of all those cow-bodied beings and goat-bodied beings and pig-bodied beings got real. But, I was especially haunted by the suffering of baby cow-bodied beings, the victims of my cheese addiction.
These next few sentences are not for the weak of heart. So skip ahead to the * if that's you.
Baby girl cows are routinely taken from their mothers at birth. They are fed with bottles and raised away from their mothers. The mother cows often go into mourning for weeks for their lost babies. As an animal mother of three, I don't want to begin to imagine it. The fate of the boy cows makes the fate of the girl cows look like a fairytale. They are taken from their mothers, crated so as to disallow movement and muscle development, force fed an anemia producing diet and shortly thereafter, killed for veal.
*That's how I was able, more often than not, to say "No, thank you" to those bubbly, cheesy, dishes and walk toward a vegan diet.
So, for you, dear reader, a truly satisfying vegan cream sauce. I kid you not. I've served this creamy delight as a pasta sauce, a pot pie sauce and as the base of a cream soup (think corn chowder!) Its a knock-out. Add it to your arsenal of kindness to help you live a life according to Dale.
CREAM OF COMPASSION
4 TBLS. Earth Balance buttery spread
1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
2 1/2 cups unsweetened rice milk**
1 teas. salt
pinch of black pepper
pinch of nutmeg
Melt the Earth Balance in a sauce pan. Add the garbanzo bean flour and whisk into a roux. Over medium high heat, add the rice milk and continue to whisk the mixture. Continue to heat the mixture, constantly whisking, until it boils and thickens. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg.
**If you aren't concerned about fat and/or calories, you can replace half (or all!) of the rice milk with So Delicious dairy free Original Coconut Milk creamer.
***Try adding 1-2 TBLS. of nutritional yeast for a cheesy, alfredo-esque sauce.
And there you have it. A sauce to make all your creamy, vegan dreams come true!
ⓒcopywrite October 2012 Beth Beaton Mausert