I live in Kansas. Its #1 farm commodity is cattle. Everyone either grew up on a farm or moved here because of the military. Of course, I am exaggerating, but let me make plain that I live in the midst of meat-loving, gun-toting conservatives. I know that there are vegans out there, but I'm not too sure how many within a 60 mile radius. Living on the doorstep of a military base, I will venture to say there are as many vegans as pacifists. Needless to say, there's no Vegan Meet-up at Chipotle next week.
This was brought to the fore front of my mind on Friday night when the Bees went to our first rodeo.
When our friends invited us, I asked Little B if she'd like to go. I am always up for providing opportunities for new experiences for my daughter. I figured we had to be in or near the rodeo mecca anyway. It seemed to me that skipping out on a Kansas Rodeo would be like skipping the Golden Gate Bridge while in San Fransico, the Statue of Liberty while in NYC or the giant FREE stamp in Cleveland. Okay, so I am stretching it a bit on that last one. Whatever the case - we were going.
Little B gagged almost unnecessarily as we entered the doors of Weiber Hall on the campus of Kansas State University. I was weirded out by the fact it looked like I was walking into a high school, only to have the hall open up to a dirt-filled arena. And it smelled like crap, which sort of reminded me of my couch.
We found seats front and center and waited for the madness to begin. Our friends, the Hamms, filled us in on what events we would be watching. Little B's eyes almost popped out of her head when a cowboy was bucked off a bronco just a few feet from our butt-numbing bleachers. She didn't venture from our laps after that little incident.
We got to see all the main events. Broncos, roping, team roping, and all the other ones I can't remember. I don't think I can bring myself to describe them in detail. It's too...difficult.
I didn't set out on this vegan journey as a champion of animal rights or for their ethical treatment, but the past six months have changed me and I didn't realize to what extent until Friday night.
See, many vegans don't support any type of business or event that treats animals in an unethical manner - especially ones that house animals (like zoos) or harm animals in any way (like tethering a goat to a rod so women can jump off a horse and tie its legs together). At one point, Mr. B leaned over and said, "I'm really surprised you wanted to come to this and even more shocked that you paid money to see it." (Let's not tell him I paid an extra $2.50 at the ATM to get the cash either.) My friend, Jayci said that I was being a good open-minded vegan. Imagine me, a noble, vegan pioneer leading the way for acceptance of all herbivores...
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and animals are created equal."
I have a dream that one day in the Flint Hills of the Midwest the sons of former cowboys and the sons of former hippies will be able to sit down together at the table of veganhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Kansas, a state sweltering with the heat of grills, sweltering with the heat of smokers, will be transformed into an oasis of kale and tofu.
I have a dream that my Little B will one day go to a school where she will not be excluded becuase of the the allergen-laden lunch she must avoid, but by the content of what she can consume.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, one day right here, little vegan boys and vegan girls will be able to join hands with little omnivore boys and omnivore girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh (but not the kind we eat) shall see it together.
Who am I kidding? I'd probably be better off streaking.
Even with an open mind, I still had a hard time watching it. I tried hootin' and hollerin' to get into it, but I couldn't keep it up. I think I need to move out west to see if there is some small, conservative bone left in my body. Right now it doesn't seem likely.
As soon as I got home, I put on my hemp jammies, drank some tea, and braided daisies into my hair. And since an impromptu vacation to Portland is out of the question, I retreated to my kitchen for the creation some good vegan wholesomeness.
Cherry & Walnut Cookies
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. oil
1/2 t. vanilla
4 T. water
2 T. ground flax seed
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. baking soda
dash of salt
1 1/2 c. raisin bran cereal
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/3 c. walnut pieces
1/3 c. dries cherries
Beat the sugar, oil and vanilla together. In a small bowl, whisk together the water and flax until frothy and sticky. Add to the sugar and oil mixture, along with the cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Add the cereal and flour. Stir in nuts and cherries.
Drop by tablespoons onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350* for 11 minutes. Let sit on the cookie sheet for five minutes before removing to cooling rack.
This recipe was inspired by one I saw on the side of a POST Raisin Bran Cereal Box. They are delish. The water and flax serve as the egg substitute. I have also used Ener-G egg replacer, which works just as well.
I hope you try them and soothe your inner-liberal hippie, if you will even admit you have one.