The Flaming Vegan

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What's in a Hot Dog?
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What's in a Hot Dog?

When a fellow diner says to another “are you gonna eat that?” it usually means he is hinting he’d like it for himself. But when a vegetarian says “are you gonna eat that?” the emphasis is on the “that” and the tone is accusatory instead of hopeful. We want to tell them what’s in “that” but they don’t want to hear it. We tend to lose friends sometimes that way but hey, anything for the cause, right?

The other day I had a moment that every grandmother hopes for. I was taking my two grandsons, ages 7 and 9, to the movies and we were hungry. There wasn’t time for lunch so I told them I would get them something at the movies. They wanted to know what they had there. “Oh, hot dogs, nachos, stuff like that” and they both said they’d have hot dogs.

Well, since I obviously didn’t want one, I made a quick stop at Whole Foods to get a vegan snack for myself and while we were waiting in line The Moment arrived.

“Mi-maw, what are hot dogs made of?” one of them asked. Time stood still. I was aware of people around me but all I could do was think about how happy I was that The Moment had finally arrived.

My kids are not vegetarians so naturally they don’t raise their kids to be vegetarians. There have been some heated discussions over my inability to serve them meat while they are in my care (I wasn’t really going to get them hot dogs; I was going to talk them into popcorn and candy like the good grandmother I am!)

I cleared my throat and told them the truth about hot dogs. My grandsons looked at me in horror. “I’m sorry,” I told them, but they don’t know what else to do with these parts and so they just grind ‘em up and put them in hot dogs.”

Hey, my kids told me not to preach my “veg stuff” to their kids and try to turn them into vegetarians. But if asked, I am going to give a straight answer. That’s why The Moment was so special.

It reminded me of a talk I attended many years ago given by Ingrid Newkirk, founder of Peta. She said she had been at a ball game handing out tofu dogs and people would ask “what’s in ‘em?” She would tell them about tofu and they would make a yuck face. How’s that for irony? Ask what’s in a real hot dog, then you can make the yuck face! My two grandkids made the yuck faces and declared on the spot they would never eat hot dogs again in classic Oprah Winfrey style.

At the movies, they ordered the nachos and dipped their chips in some kind of bright neon orange goo. They didn’t ask where cheese comes from; that’s for another day.

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Michelle A. Rivera is the author of several books including HOSPICE HOUNDS, Animals and Healing at the Borders of Death (Lantern Books); CANINES IN THE CLASSROOM, Raising Humane Children through Interactions with Animals;(Lantern Books) DO DOGS HAVE BELLY BUTTONS? 100 Questions and Answers about Dogs(Adams Media); THE SIMPLE LITTLE VEGAN SLOW COOKER and THE SIMPLE LITTLE VEGAN DOG BOOK(Book Publishers, Inc.) and ON DOGS AND DYING (Purdue University Press). She is also an essayist and has been published in the vegetarian essay book “Voices from the Garden.” She is a freelance writer/editor and along with her Certified Therapy Dogs, a Humane Educator and R.E.A.D tutor. Michelle is a past blogger for and a writer for several online publications including eHow, Livestrong, Rachel Ray, The Daily Puppy, USA Today, Cracked and others. She has two Certified Delta Society Therapy Dogs: Murphy, a Golden Retriever, and Tabitha, a Standard Poodle; and two cats. All are rescued animals. Michelle lives in South Florida with her husband, John, an attorney, and is the proud grandmother of three lovely children, Austin, Alexander and Adrienne.

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  1. SittieCates
    Interesting post, Michelle! The right moment counts. ;-)
  2. robertspan
    That's what I call taking advantage of a "teachable moment"! BRAVO! Well done!
  3. The K
    I remember having a similar moment with my niece maybe 20 years ago. She grew up to be an omnivore . . . oh well, we still gotta try
  4. tuckapaws
    entertaining and informative as usual.
  5. VeganMommy360
    "they ordered the nachos and dipped their chips in some kind of bright neon orange goo" LOVIN' THAT LINE!!!!!!! Ahhh, the blatant artificialness of modern day "food".
    1. alexandra bezerra


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