Eating Green and The Transformation of Tim

My friend Tim has gotten the message, had his switch flipped, and is off and running with a junk-free, sugar-free, artificial sweetener-free, meat-free, dairy-free diet. Oh my. Tim’s eating green? WOW!!

This is a guy who, when he visited me for a week nine months ago, could not be in the car for five minutes without a cold Diet Coke firmly gripped in his hot, not-so-little, masculine hand. As we meandered our way through the Napa and Sonoma valleys, we stopped at more convenience stores than wineries just to keep Tim fueled and pumped on caffeine and aspartame. This is also a guy who for years could not rein in his love of food and the restaurant dinner circuit to conform to Weight Watchers’ comparatively lenient and choice-abundant guidelines, although he did have better luck, for a limited time only, with the no carbohydrate kick–all that meat and grease was right up his alley…and ‘was’ is the operative word here.

Imagine my shock when I talked to him yesterday, after our not having communicated for six weeks or so, to hear he has transformed himself into…a vegan?! A vegan??? Tim??? Those two monikers in the same sentence do not compute–or at least they never did up until now. For years I was the one telling Tim about the wonders of going meatless and of going on/following Weight Watchers, and now he has come from behind to leapfrog over me by going vegan. WOW! again.

And now, Tim assures me, it’s a whole new era and a whole new life, and eating dead animals or even products from living animals is not part of it. What on earth could have caused this most dramatic of conversions? And why has Tim’s conversion not been a headline on the Huffington Post? This is definitely news of the I-can’t-believe-it!-sort.

The site of Tim’s conversion was New York City, where he had gone for an R&R weekend with a friend. All was going along normally, including a stop at Rizzoli’s–that wonderful NYC classic in the form of a sophisticated wood paneled bookstore, which is also right up Tim’s alley, and where the seed of his transformation was planted.

Having a sense of humor that includes a taste for the irreverent, Tim’s eye was caught by a couple of books, just by their titles, no doubt: Skinny Bitch and Skinny Bastard. He couldn’t resist having a look, and the conversion began.

From the bookstore Tim hot-footed it to a caf&eacute where he became immersed and enthralled, if horrified, to read about what he’d been putting in his mouth all his life. He couldn’t stop reading. The horror grew. A passionate animal lover, somehow the vegetarian thing had never fully impacted his thinking or his eating, but reading this book really got the message through to him, and he hasn’t been the same since. (I would never have guessed the content of these books by their titles–and maybe that was by the authors’ design and why they’ve been on the NYT best seller list…their madness might just work like magic–it did on Tim.)

Already transformed by the time he got home to Atlanta, he informed his partner upon arrival that all offensive food in the house was going to be pitched–and that included the milk, butter, eggs, cheese, and sugar that had been the backbone of many of the foods Tim loved the most–and oh yes, that also meant, of course, all meat, including chicken and turkey, as well as all diet drinks. Fortunately, Tim’s partner is a saint–the only explanation for why he didn’t immediately walk out on hearing the news. Think of how most partners, spouses, or housemates would have reacted upon being hit with a sudden unilateral earthquake of a decision that would bring a tsunami of change to the most central of functions to human existence–eating. Yikes.

A month later, and Tim–and reportedly his partner–couldn’t be happier, both with what they’re eating, and more importantly, what they’re not eating. Tim was as effusive and passionately enthusiastic as the recently reborn.

Interestingly, and very intelligently, Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, the authors of the Skinny Bitch/Skinny Bastard, series, did not let their crusade–if it is that, and I think it is–be led by an animal rights position. They appealed instead to human vanity and the obsessive desire of western culture for thinness to the point of “skinny.” Throwing in the bitch and bastard bits gives it all an edge that might not attract us all, but in addition to the vanity angle, I will bet that it’s exactly the thing that has drawn in the masses. Tim says that in Skinny Bastard, Rory and Kim sound like a couple of down and dirty jocks in a locker room just after a big win, with the language they let fly. Not my thing exactly, but hey–in this case, who cares? Whatever works.

Tim has really gotten into the what’s good/bad-for-our-bodies angle, as well as into the issue of animal abuses, which among animals raised ultimately for our consumption, I assure you, are many–both in their lives and at the ending of their lives. A very sad and shameful picture of human greed, egocentrism, and insensitivity, and apparently Rory and Kim mince no words in enlightening us to the truth of the horrors behind our food.

As for me, I’ve drifted into vegetarianism, if not veganism, over the past fifteen years, also motivated by the animal abuse factor. Up until last year I was still eating free range chicken and turkey, but no more. And as of now, I’m still eating dairy and eggs–from free-range cows and chickens, although that may end soon if I find that “free-range,” in fact, doesn’t mean what it’s supposed to.

Tim is still choking when he thinks of all, those diet drinks he was constantly pouring down his throat for longer than he can bear to admit to, now that he’s been informed on what aspartame, the artificial sweetener found in many/most diet drinks and “foods,” actually is. Do you know what it is? Google it. Here’s what I found when I did: “Aspartame is the methyl ester of a phenylalanine/aspartic acid dipeptide.” ICK!! I have little idea what all those things are, but they sure don’t sound good for any living thing. For years I’ve heard tell that diet drinks kill brain cells. Now I have an idea of why.

But in getting back to those books by Rory and Kim, they have one of recipes (Skinny Bitch in the Kitch), and some samples are posted on their website ( I’m already hooked on the Red Wine “Beef” Stew, having never stopped mourning the Boeuf Bourguignon recipe that I gave up when beef disappeared from my grocery list many moons ago.

Now, I have to get those books, especially the recipe one, for myself. Eating green has never looked so good.

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