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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarian Essays/Vegan Essays

This month we introduce Jenna Johnson who has been a vegetarian all her life. Jenna shares her story of vegetarianism as a principal focus in her life and the role it has played in the health and philosophy of her husband James after he decided to become vegan.

A Vegetarian Romance

By Jenna Johnson

My name is Jenna Johnson. I am 38 years old and have grown up vegetarian. I was raised in North Vancouver BC, Canada. When I was a kid, there were not many vegetarians around where I lived. In fact, I was the only one at our school that I know of.

Everyone thought that our family was strange and that you couldn't possibly be healthy if you did not eat meat. I even thought that. It didn't make me want to eat meat, but I thought, "How could we be right and everyone else be wrong." I hated arguing with anyone about our choice of foods, but it felt right in my heart.

My older brother and sister bowed to peer pressure, and for a time went to eating meat, but not in our home, because my Mom wouldn't have it. My brother used to be called "Rabbit," and he hated that. I think being a girl vegetarian at my school was easier because I didn't have to prove I was macho.

We also were never vaccinated. They thought my mom was crazy. However, I never had any childhood diseases, despite being exposed to most of them. People then told me that I must be a carrier.

Teachers would ask me, "What do you eat?" They were amazed that I was breathing and could actually come to school. I would answer, "Everything you eat, except the meat." Jenna & James Johnson

My mom was a single parent with strong ideals and morals. She is the one that showed true compassion to all, and when I was faced with challenging situations, she would ask me what my heart told me, and I would go with that.

I didn't meet James until I was 35. I was at a baseball tournament in Vernon BC. I had been split up with my boyfriend of 17 years for about 3 years. I definitely did not want any relationship. Then I saw James. We had just finished our game and were gathered in the beer gardens where there was entertainment. He looked quite young, and I thought, "He is way too young for me." Our eyes locked and my heart jumped. It was very strange. I was briefly introduced and then thought that I had better get home.

I was bothered by my thoughts and felt I should just forget him. So I did until a year later when I saw James again. We were at the same tournament and after our game, we headed to the beer gardens where all the teams headed. My team was a bunch of drunks, but they were a good group. I have always been a bit of a homebody, so for me to get out was unusual. I wasn't expecting to find anyone that would interest me at the drunken fest, because my idea of a good time was hiking the mountains or riding my horse.

Anyway, there he was again, this very handsome young guy. I thought, "What the heck, I'm going to get to know him." So we spent the whole evening talking. It was 5 in the morning and the sun was coming up before we actually said goodnight. I found out that he was 26. Yikes, I was 36. He couldn't believe that I was 36. He said that I looked so young. I told him it was due to my diet and that I had been a vegetarian all my life. He told me he could never give up eating meat and asked me if I had ever had a hamburger. It was amazing to him that I said, "No, never!"

I then went on to tell him I had three children who were all vegetarians and very healthy. I thought our relationship might be over when he heard I had three children. Being ten years older was one hurdle, but three kids surely would send him running. We definitely had some stronger connection. Our friendship grew, and we ended up falling in love and getting married, despite strong objections from our parents.

Since meeting me, James's meat intake started to decrease. I questioned him on his food choices, and being an intelligent man, he started to read. He would read everything on health. He would take masses of books and videos out at the library. All the good health books told of the health hazards of animal products and concentrated on the whole grains, fruits and vegetables for maintaining a healthy body.

James was raised on refined foods, white bread, sugar drinks, milk, meat, and potatoes. He had tubes in his ears as a kid. He was overweight, got strep throat every fall, and found that he had to be on antibiotics to get rid of it. He and his brother would suffer massive headaches if they didn't eat on time or went too long between meals. His brother had severe stomach problems and was rushed to the hospital on numerous occasions as a child. His older sister battled weight issues her whole life. Now that he was reading about health, things started to make sense. He could understand why he was so sick as a kid. Everything he ate was like poison.

The change had begun. His headaches disappeared and he lost 20 lbs. His blood pressure was 135/90, which the doctors say is high normal. Now that he has changed his diet and is a complete vegan, amazingly enough his blood pressure is 110 / 70, and he feels fantastic. He has convinced his two sisters to stop eating meat; however, his brother, an ironman athlete, thinks that animal protein is good. James is still working on him.

It is not only for health reasons that he discovered a person should change what they are eating. After watching a program on the conditions the animals have to endure to get food to our table, he was convinced, without a doubt, that he did not want to take part in the needless killing of so many humble creatures. He became aware of the huge impact that it has on our environment and that being a vegan helps the whole planet. James is writing his own book and hopes his story will help make this planet one of compassion and hope, not of death and destruction.

We live in Armstrong BC, Canada on a 20-acre farm where we run a bed and breakfast and, of course, only offer vegan meals. Come visit us if you are ever up in Canada at http://www.cozycountryestate.com. We would love to be your hosts. James is a professional entertainer and speaker and you can check him out at http://www.rubberspace.com

Click here for past Words from Other Birds Articles

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