The Church Of Vegan-Lite

Was Your Communion Wine Clarified With Fish Bladders?

If being a vegan is akin to belonging to a particular religion, then I must be Catholic-Lite Episcopalian. What? you say. Vegans are nothing like Episcopalians; they’re militant, strict, judgmental – and they’re anxious to convert carnivores. Rather, vegans are the epitome of dogmatic zealots, much like the speaking-in-tongues, snake-handling, Born Again, fire and brimstone Charismatics that pepper the deep hollers of Appalachia and star in the Super Congregations we see on Sunday morning television. And you, Miss Snarky Pants, are nothing like that.

And you would be right about one thing; I am nothing like that. Although I grew up neck deep in a Pentecostal Christian guilt so mucky I was sucked beneath its surface every time I so much as played a Hall & Oates album, I am no longer that person. To be clear, though I once believed that only the metaphorical blood and body of Jesus – aptly played during Holy Communion by Welch’s grape juice and a stale water cracker, respectively – could save my soul, deep down a part of me was always asking pesky questions:

But there’s, like, hundreds or thousands of religions. How do we know that we’re right? What if the Jews nailed it from the beginning –  they’re awfully good with money and just look what they’ve accomplished in the film industry?

Even The Kabbalah Couldn’t Help Madge’s Film Career

What kind of God would send innocent people to Hell just because they live in a third world country and have never heard of  The Bible? Is it because they have rickets?

Why would God want elderly people living on Social Security to tithe 10% of their income when they can’t afford their diabetes medication? Is God punishing them for Supersizing one time too many?

Why does God only heal people who attend church on television? And why don’t they have diseases or injuries that we can see? You know, like leprosy or missing limbs?

Thanks A Lot, Guys! You Made Following Anyone Else Impossible For Me. Oh, Could You Heal Stephen Hawking? I’d Reconsider My Agnosticism If You Pulled That Off.

Despite my early indoctrination into the Assemblies of God faith, I’ve never been much of a follower in other areas of my life. I mean, once you’ve committed yourself to serving an invisible, holey (pun most definitely intended) half-man half-diety, his oft angry dad with a penchant for dishing out natural disasters, and some sort of third-wheel ghostie, becoming a member of the drill team is a bit anticlimatic.

As it turns out, my prospects as a leader were nil. I didn’t like leaders; they were typically mean girls who were good at kickball and quick with insulting and alliterative nicknames for their victims. Though I’m sure I could have become skilled at the latter, my legs were created to bang into stationary furniture with sharp edges. Kicking a rolling ball in a particular direction was beyond my capabilities, prompting me to ask more of my pesky questions:

Why does God want me to be picked last for kickball every single day of my life? Why did He make me so smart that the other kids hate me for setting the bell curve? Why can’t I grow breasts? Does God hate me, too? 

Kickball – I Guarantee You That The Best Players On The Team Are Also Mean Girls

As I aged, my disinterest in either leading or following left me in a precarious social position. Though I was no longer unpopular, I refused to fully commit to any particular clique. One day I’d eat lunch with my Smiths and Psychedelic Furs-loving friends and the next, I’d hunker down with my buddies-of-color so that we could argue about which one of us was going to be Michael Jackson’s first ex-wife. Then there were my Journey-loving compatriots; I’ll spare you the painful images of these mullet-sporting, muscle shirt-wearing, air guitar-playing fans, all of whom wore gold eighth notes around their necks in honor of their leader, Steve Perry. Athletics were out of the question. I declined my invitation to join The National Honor Society. Drama only held my interest if I had a lead role which was, erm, never.

After law school, I experimented with multiple careers, but none – including legal practice – satisfied me in the way writing does, though all paid considerably more. I know…poor, little lawyer girl. I’d hate myself, too, but then, I’ve seen my law school debt – and you haven’t.

For Years, I Worshiped At This Altar. Sigh.

If I was a devotee of anything at all, it was cow teets. I loved dairy. Cheese was something that I could commit to – after all, it could be sweet, sour, stinky, melty, salty, chewy, stringy, sharp, mild, nutty and creamy. It was as diverse as my interests and never expected me to tithe. Until I was introduced to the chocolate martini in my mid-thirties, milk held the title as my favorite beverage. Sexy, huh? Nothing says “fuck me” like your date ordering a glass of moo juice with her filet mignon.

So when I suddenly decided to abandon the greatest love of my entire life second greatest love of my entire life (because, of course, Hubby is the first) to join the Church of Vegan, I can assure you that more than a few of my friends and family members were perplexed. After all, these are people who had, over the years, become accustomed to asking me, “What is it you do, again?” Hell, if I couldn’t dedicate myself to one career path, why should they believe that I would deliberately eschew meat and all animal products for the rest of my life just because it’s supposed to be healthier? That never stopped me from mainlining vodka.

However, as the weeks turned into months, it appeared that I had finally made a true commitment. I started cooking, posting photos of one vegan meal after another on Facebook like those people who have absolutely nothing better to do with their time. Hubby and I joined a gym. I gave up hard liquor. I became the poster child for the kind of person who had embraced a plant-based diet; a kinder, gentler Miss Snarky Pants. Through the Internet, I met other local vegans and soon I was inundated with invitations to attend one non-carnivore event after another. Vegans adore newbies. And like Pentecostals, they love to recruit. Why else would they have some kind of vegan/animal rights festival every bloody weekend?

Being vegan made me feel accepted by a closely-knit group of people who looked at the world with the same pair of eyes. Despite the fact that Hubby and I had only moved to Tampa a few months before my big conversion, new friends were practically crawling out of the woodwork, ready to hang out just because I’d abandoned many of my beloved food choices. At restaurants, I no longer had to worry that the waiter would think I was cheap if I ordered a vegetarian entrée. Nope, all I had to do was explain, “I’m vegan” and every bit of judgment on the server’s face would vanish – only to be replaced with fear. At Whole Foods, it was as if I was wearing a flashing, neon sign around my neck. As the cashier rang up my items, she would invariably ask, “Are you vegan?” Before I could do more than nod, she’d burst out into a huge smile, then whisper loudly, “Me, too! Isn’t Daiya soy-free, vegan cheese the best?”

If by best, you mean barely edible and tastes nothing at all like cheese, then yes, it’s the best!

Daiya Cheese – Yes, It Melts. So Does Plastic. Big Fucking Deal.

Gradually, I discovered that worshiping at the Church of Vegan was complicated. Initially, I thought I was giving up dairy, meat and eggs, but there’s a whole lot of small print in the Vegan Bible. Did you know that gelatin is made of horses’ hooves and other disgusting stuff? Adios, Jell-O. Sayonara, marshmallows. See ya later, candy corn and jelly beans. Don’t even think about taking that Nyquil Gel Cap. And what about animal bone char? It’s utilized to refine sugar and turn crude oil into petroleum jelly. Oh, and it’s also used in making many kinds of BEER. Did I type that loudly enough? BEER. At least six thousand newbie vegans just said, “What the fuck?”

However, as a non-beer drinker, my first what-the-fuck? moment occurred when I was informed that I could no longer eat honey. “Why?” I asked a vegan friend. “The bees are just doing their thing. Making honey is kinda like their job…and the last thing we need in this country is a higher unemployment rate.”

“The bees are enslaved,” she responded, without a hint of irony. “They’re exploited by humans.”

Suddenly, my brain was flooded with images of bees humming “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and picking cotton. I imagined them cringing in front of a white-hooded beekeeper, buzzing, “Don’t blow that smoke at me, Massa! I’ll eat mo’ nectar and vomit up mo’ honey!” It occurred to me that some vegans were more concerned about honey bees’ rights than they were about the rights of immigrant field workers – the people usually responsible for raising and harvesting the plant-based diet that sustains the vegan lifestyle.

Really, Vegans? You’re Going To Compare Honey Bees To These Guys?

Shortly after the bee incident, being vegan really hit me where it hurts the most: my liver. At a cooking party I was hosting, a guest advised me that the wine I was drinking may have been clarified with isinglass, a substance derived from fish bladders. Having given up the hard stuff, wine had become my slower, but still lovely, intoxicant. “You’ll want to go online and research the brands of wine that you enjoy. You might have to switch,” she suggested.

Seriously, God – you really hate me, right? You don’t just plant the “Become a Vegan” idea in my head, then casually – at a much later date – drop the wine bomb on me. Oh, and God, in case you’re wondering, I’m officially agnostic.

I realized that these people were serious. Veganism wasn’t a diet; it was an admirable commitment to living life in a way that doesn’t exploit animals in any manner whatsoever. Yet, as much as I respected my new friends for making this difficult, moral choice, I also recognized that I had to be true to myself…and my embossed leather Coach bags. If I didn’t opt for a more compassionate non-leather sofa, I’d soon be a hypocrite – not to mention, I’d spend every spare moment removing fur from a friggin’ cat hair magnet a cruelty-free fabric recliner. It became clear that I was not an ethical vegan, as most of my friends called themselves. I was doing this for my health – and unless the occasional teaspoon of honey was going to give me cancer or cause Bob Barker’s head to explode, I wasn’t really worried about it. Where did that leave me? Was I an unethical vegan? And, more importantly, why was I letting the word vegan define who I was and what I ate? Vegans aren’t like virgins – you can be just a little bit vegan.

If One Dog Can Shed This Much Hair, Imagine What Three Cats Can Do

Thus, in the interest of not being a vegan fraud, a hypocrite, a sober person or just plain grumpy, I’ve decided to start my own church: The Church of Vegan-Lite. With all of the health benefits, but only half the guilt and no rosary, a Vegan-Litist, as I like to think of myself, is mostly vegan, but makes exceptions here and there. For example, though I will inform food servers that I’m a vegan, I am quick to reassure them that I’m not militant about it and won’t douse them with a bucket of red paint if they suggest the steak tartare special to Hubby. Likewise, I’ve chosen to integrate certain foods back into my diet, but those foods can’t be too decadent or I’ll be required to self-flagellate like an albino monk. Thus, I’ve reintroduced egg whites to our refrigerator; after all, they’re fucking egg whites. Is there a less-offensive and healthier non-vegan food out there? Doctors practically prescribe them. Dr. Carrie Rubin, back me up here, will ya?

Is That Brie In Your Fridge? Oh, Crap! I’ll Get Out The Cat O’ Nine Tails.

I’ve also discovered that if I drink a sufficient amount of vino, I completely forget all about fish bladders and bone char. Problem solved.

The only remaining issue is my hesitancy to lead – or follow, for that matter – which is why the Church of Vegan-Lite currently has only one member. So if any of you vegans out there are just jonesin’ to spoon some honey into your mug of cruelty-free, organic green tea, go for it. I grant you permission to become the bishop of your own Vegan-Lite parish. Just promise me one thing: switch the Welch’s out for a nice cabernet sauvignon, would ya?


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If you’re an ethical vegan, please know that I respect your views (and the fact that you aren’t, apparently, tempted by cheese every moment of the day) even though I don’t necessarily agree with them fully. So don’t be a hater. I really do love you guys!


Photo credits:
Holy Trinity:
Daiya Cheese:
Dog Hair:
Albino monk:

My Mortal Enemy: The Elusive Chin Up

Why Must You Mock Me, He-Man – With Your Chin Resting On That Impossibly High Bar?

You know your workout isn’t off to a great start when your husband challenges you to do a chin up and you immediately wonder, “Which chin?”

Hey, it’s a serious question. Do I need to pull all of my body weight up towards a metal rod of random height and merely touch the tip of my chin to the bar – or do I have to haul my waddle up there too and dangle it over the other side? I bet you George Lucas wonders the same thing all the time. Do I stuff all of my waddle under my shirt collar or do I allow it to drape over like Miss Snarky Pants’ muffin top? 

Oh yeah? Well, the dialogue in Star Wars sucks. Hear that, fat man!

George Lucas And His Pet Chins – Two Are Hidden Beneath The Beard.

In my case, the issue was moot because I can’t do a single chin up. Nor could my hubby. In my defense, after six weeks of working out, Hubby is only up to four. Not four reps of ten, but four chin ups. Of course, he’s only 140 pounds soaking wet, so he doesn’t have the same, erm, challenges that I have. I’m not just pulling myself up; I’ve got a monkey on my back. Make that a full-grown gorilla. With hypothyroidism and a penchant for eating anvils.

In practical terms, imagine that you’re a person of average weight for your height, unless you already are – in which case, imagine me glaring at you because you insist upon mocking me with your perfectly fit body. However, despite the fact that you are constantly rubbing your toned abs in my face like I’m a puppy that’s pooed on the carpet, I’m still a thoughtful friend. I’ve bought you a lovely, sturdy belt for your birthday – and then, because making a point is ultimately much more important to me than your friendship, I’ve looped that belt through the handles of six, one gallon cans of paint. Though you wish I’d given you a book or maybe some earrings, you still fasten the 60+ pound belt around your waist. And when I ask you to go ahead and do a chin up, you tell me to fuck off.

“Do you realize that I’m wearing enough Sherman Williams to paint the White House?” you ask. “Inside and out?” Of course I do; welcome to my life.

When I Get Done Painting This MoFo, A Chin Up Will Be a Piece Of Cake

While researching the elusive chin up, I came across an article on which insists that “[y]our body-weight is not the problem. Strength is. If you want to get stronger at Pull-ups & Chin-ups, do them more.” Let’s see now…if I do 5 times the chin ups I’m doing now, I’ll have done, erm, zero. Great advice, douchebag.

I was surprised to discover that even my slimmer and testosterone-infused friends are similarly challenged. My friend, Evan, recently lamented to me that he can’t complete a single chin up – or pull up, depending upon your definition – unaided. The worst part is that he has to rely on the “assisted pull up machine” in the gym to train so that he can eventually accomplish this tremendous feat of strength. “As soon as you climb onto the assisted pull up machine, you’ve just announced to everyone in the gym that you are a pussy you can’t do a chin up on your own,” he complained. “Having the muscleheads know this is worse than not being able to do a damn chin up in the first place.”

Don’t Feel Bad, Evan. “Sixteen Candles'” Jake Ryan Couldn’t Do One Either.

This reminded me of when I used to work for a pharmaceutical company that formulated a little, blue pill which lifted the, erm, heads of many a man.  While I was practically assaulted in the waiting rooms of each and every doctor’s office I visited by decrepit, old codgers just dying to shoot their wad, not one of them accepted my offer of a pen or notepad with the pill’s name on it. No, they wanted samples – a request that only their doctor could fulfill – and lots of  ’em. Prescriptions were useless as they announced to everyone working in the pharmacy that Flopsy was not the name of a member of your four-legged family, but the pet name for your, erm, member.

Still, I’m perplexed by why this seemingly simple exercise is so damned difficult. By the age of six, I could complete hundreds of one-armed chin ups in a row, hang upside down from the monkey bars until all of my blood pooled in my brain, and contort myself in such a way that I once crammed my entire body into a pillowcase. Why can’t adults do something that kids can do so effortlessly?

Latissimus Dorsi – No, It’s Not The Hottest New Baby Name For 2012

I suspect the answer lies in knowledge. As children, we don’t know that we can’t do things, so we just do them. Second graders don’t know the first thing about their Latissimus Dorsi…and, frankly, neither did I until I Googled it. Apparently, it’s not the name of the roguishly handsome, but tragic hero in an Italian romance novel as I’d initially believed – and instead are big ol’ muscles in your back that make a pronated (overhand) grip pull up/chin up possible. My problem lies in the fact that I’m aware that muscles are involved in exercise, thereby making chin ups an impossibility for me. Moreover, my back muscles and I aren’t on speaking terms and haven’t been since I allowed numerous cars to plow into mine over the years.

Were I to try a supinated (underhand) grip instead, I could rely more heavily on my biceps – which is kinda like Tony Stark relying on the phrase, “Stop! I’m a rich dude” to halt criminals instead of donning his Iron Man suit and crushing them beneath his metallic red foot. However, my biceps cooperate only when alcohol is involved – and it’s simply too difficult to attempt a chin up with the stem of a wineglass clamped between your teeth.

So for now, I will celebrate the fact that I’ve lost 9 pounds (and have been placed in the Witness Protection Program so that they can’t find me again and re-staple themselves to my ass cheeks) and, thanks to the miracle of technology, I can watch Bravo on every single cardio machine in the gym. As Hubby conquers one more chin up after another, I will have to revel in the knowledge that if he brags about it and pisses me off, I can easily crush the ego out of him by merely sitting on his lap.


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Photo credits:
Chin Up:
George Lucas:
White House:
Sixteen Candles Chin Up:
Latissimus Dorsi:

Donald Trump’s Big Secret About President Obama

“Omigod, Mitt. I’ve Got This Big Secret About Obama That I’m Going To Reveal A Couple Of Days After He Wipes Up The Floor With You During The Last Debate. Trust Me, You’ll Need All The Help You Can Get!”

Unless you’ve been living in cave in North Korea, you’ve probably heard that the orange buffoon Donald Trump has a big SECRET about President Obama which he’s planning to unveil this week.  During a Monday phone call with Fox and Friends, the Trumpster said, ”It’s going to be announced probably on Wednesday. But I have something very, very big concerning the President of the United States.” When probed for more information, The Donald would only add, “It’s very big. Bigger than anybody would know.”

Having been led down the birther path by this pompous, tanorexic blowhard before, I’m hesitant to give the Trumpomatic a single inch of space on my blog. However, being a humor writer, I can’t ignore a golden opportunity to explore the possibilities. What could this important news be? Hmm. Let’s consider what we know: (a) it’s very, very big; (b) it’s about President Obama; (c) it’s coming from the least credible source since Chicken Little.

Top Ten Possible BIG Secrets About President Obama To Be Revealed By The Dumpster

1. President Obama shaved his fro down a couple inches, effectively reducing his height from 6’3″ to 6’1,” in order to avoid being labeled a “big, angry black man.”

Black Men Can Be Either Big Or Angry, But White Americans Won’t Vote For A Black Man Who’s Both

2. President Obama is actually Bill Clinton in black face and, thus, his presidency is invalid as no person may be elected to the office of the President of the United States more than twice as per the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution.

3. President Obama doesn’t meet the “natural born citizen” requirement of the Constitution because he was actually hatched – the offspring of an advanced race of seven foot tall alien bunnies who settled in the United States in the hopes of saving the world from apocalypse under the leadership of President Mittens.

Obama With His Real Mother – The All Powerful, Egg-Laying Easter Bunny

4. President Obama will appear on Celebrity Apprentice if he is not re-elected. Television execs predict that The Dumpster will be fired and the name of the show will be changed to Socialist, Muslim, African, Liberal, Gay-Loving, Fetus-Murdering Apprentice with President Obama at its helm. Democrats and repentant Republicans will tune in in record numbers.

5. President Obama’s nickname in the bedroom is “Big Barry.”

6. The reason no photos exist of the President before the age of 13 is because President Obama used to be a vampire. A complete transfusion of human blood at age 14 reversed his blood-lust symptoms.

The Dumpster Likes To Claim That This Photo Isn’t Of President Obama, But Of Sandra Bullock’s Son, Louis (But All Black People Look Alike To The Dumpster)

7. Bigfoot exists and President Obama is in possession of the only genuine photograph, contained within the president’s Book of Secrets.

8. The paperwork making Hawaii a U.S. territory and, later, the 50th state were all forged; thus, President Obama is not a natural born citizen of the United States.

9. All those emails you’ve been getting from President Obama – he didn’t really send them; his staff of sharp-fanged, winged faeries did.

10. The real reason Mitt Romney has promised to cut funding for PBS is because the part of Big Bird has secretly been played by President Obama since 1972. Yeah, he was only eleven at the time, but he was tall for his age.

Big Bird: “One Day, I’m Going To Have Your Husband’s Job, Mrs. Nixon…And Then You’ll Be In For A Real Surprise!”

What do you think? Please feel free to cast your vote for the most likely big, fat whopping lie SECRET that the Dumpster will reveal this week – or suggest your own in the Comments section below. Yes, you CAN!


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Photo credits: 
Mitt & Trump:
Obama’s Afro:
Obama With Bunny Mama:
Baby Obama:
Big Bird Obama: Wikipedia

Jon Stewart Called Stephen Colbert A What?!?

Every once in awhile, Karma smiles down upon you and grants you the opportunity of a lifetime. In my case, her gift was two tickets for a taping of The Daily Show in Tampa, Florida during the Republican National Convention. Now, some of you may be snickering or rolling your eyes because you’re complete and utter morons I think watching Jon Stewart doing his gig in person can only be surpassed by an event that involves me sipping Moët from the Holy Grail while David Sedaris reads aloud to me and Johnny Depp massages my feet. Sure, I realize his show shoots five days a week for most of the year up in Hell’s Kitchen, so you’re probably thinking that  filming The Daily Show isn’t exactly rare like, say, a sober Amanda Bynes or a pale Donatella Versace.

Donatella Versace: “I’m Not Skinny; I’m Tanorexic.”

But you would be wrong.

Shooting Comedy Central’s top–rated show in Tampa is extraordinarily unusual. And after Stewart and his team openly lambasted the city in which I reside with embarrassingly accurate observations about the heat and humidity (describing Tampa as the ideal environment for “a struggling strand of streptococcus”), the casual attire of the indigenous population (“the city where flip flops are considered evening wear”), and our fondness of clothing-optional gentlemen’s clubs (“Jon, I’m here in Tampa’s famous strip club district or as they call it here – Tampa.”), it’s unlikely that the program will ever be filmed in the Peninsula of Death again – unless a palmetto bug decides to run for President in 2016.

Continue reading “Jon Stewart Called Stephen Colbert A What?!?”