by Julie Dupuis
A hybrid travelogue and memoir that pieces together the fragmented recollections of one woman’s rocky journey toward vegetarianism. From her rural upbringing in francophone Northeastern Ontario to exotic locations, outlandish adventures, and bizarre meals, Julie relives her struggle to make the right food choices for herself and examines the consequences of her decisions.
WHY SOY SUCKS
I DON’T EAT SOY if I can help it. It’s one of the primary causes of deforestation in the Amazonian rainforest. Moreover, entire communities are getting sick from the chemicals used on the fields. I may not eat meat, but I refuse to get my nutrients from an equally harmful source simply because it’s plant-based.
I’m certainly not a typical vegetarian. Unfortunately, it’s hard to escape soy in South Korea. It’s everywhere, especially in non-meat dishes. Well, if there’s no other option, fine. I’ll eat soy. I won’t seek it out, though.
IT’S OKAY TO KILL animals so long as it’s for food,” says my father. “Killing them for sport is unforgivable.”
“So, then . . . What about poachers? They kill for food.”
I’m young but full of ideas.
“Around here, yes. But there are poachers in other parts of the world with different motives. Most of the ones around here—and there aren’t all that many—I don’t have much of a problem with them. They’re usually not wasting the animal. In fact, the government should grant local hunters leniency because we’re not sport hunters. We hunt for food and buy less beef because of it.”
Yes, my father really talks like that. But actually, I’m not sure he said all of that. I got the gist of it, but may have confused some of his ideas with my own. I don’t think I was a teenager yet when we had this conversation.
I think I remember.
I was so young, how can I possibly remember?
Maybe I’m confusing memory with stories and pictures. But I feel like I remember . . .
I’m having a hard time sitting still in the boat. My sister is so much more patient than me. The sun’s out and I want to play. Nothing’s happened in a long time. I tug at my life jacket, squirming away from it, trying to get it off my sticky back.
“I have one! Get the net!”
My sister and I rush to watch my father reel in while my mother stands ready. My brother smiles from his seat, calmly looking on. Or maybe he’s not even there; maybe he wasn’t born yet.
“Oh, boy, it’s a tough one! Get ready, it’s coming!”
“Wow, Dad! Is that a monster?” Any one of us kids could have said that, if any one of us did say it in the first place.
Working together, my parents get the pike aboard. It’s huge, thrashing on the bottom of the boat. My father works over it to remove the hook, blocking my view.
“Argh! Shit! Shit, shit, shit!”
Once our dad starts, so do we.
“Dad, you’re bleeding!”
My brother starts to cry. Right?
“It bit me! Get me a towel.”
“Daddyyyyy!” We’re all crying by then.
“It’s okay. You’re dad’s gonna be fine,” my mom tries to soothe us.
We continue to snivel the whole way back to shore, the whole drive back to the village. My parents drop us off at my grandparents’ house and leave.
Hours later, they return.
“Daddy! Daddyyyyy! Daddy!”
We jump around him, our hero threatened.
“Look, stitches! Isn’t that cool? Let’s count them.”
The next day we eat the pike and it’s delicious.
about the author
JULIE DUPUIS holds an M.A. in English literature from the University of Toronto and did post-graduate work in Creative Book Publishing at Humber College. She is an avid hiker and traveller, and has been working as a writer since 2006. Her website is www.JulieDupuis-NaturalNomad.com.
from the library
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— Barbara Gowdy, author of Helpless and The White Bone
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