By now most know Lee’s and my love for animals. For much of my life, that meant domestic animals such as dogs and cats, and the occasional iguana or hamster, but for the most part dogs and cats and horses.
I had surmised by the time I was ten or so that I may be the biggest animal-lover in the world, thanks to my late friend Dickey Randolph who, though six years older than me, took the time to teach me about dog care. I got my first Irish Setter from him. And though I will never forget Dickey’s kindness and goodwill (we stayed friends until his untimely death several years back), I know now it was dogs and cats I loved.
I mention that as, I’d never had anyone explain anything that important to me in detail, that stuck with me throughout my lifetime, and became one of the most important parts of who I am; and most likely began my quest as being a vegan as I am now too.
Part of that “memorable miracle” with Dickey was that I was a disabled, but not diagnosed child with Autism (and now of course an adult with autism). I was quite hyper, didn’t make good eye-contact, and my attention-span was dismal.
He didn’t care, nor did it bother him in the least when he returned from Viet Nam, a multi-decorated hero, and very good man. His guidance led me to the curiosity of nature and animals, and Lee took me to further explorations into the forest to see it in all its glory and how animals behave. I never get bored with that and it has a very healing nature, very similar to the dog I got from Dickey, “Rusty”.
I didn’t hate cows, pigs, sheep and chickens, but I dined on them. Along with overcooked veggies that was my staple until college, at which time McDonald’s took over as “the family kitchen”. I look back and wonder how I ever lived through that, and in reality, almost didn’t. I was still 35 years away and two major heart attacks from “seeing the cruelty” in what I was doing.
Having owned one of the first health food stores in Ms. with a $10K loan from the now defunct (like my health food store) Bank Of Hattiesburg, with a preacher from Glendale, Ms. who was later bought out by an ex-math professor at USM, I had an early curiosity of health foods, yoga, running etc. It never occurred to me that something as simple as animal protein (including dairy and eggs) was not only holding me back, but eventually killing me, and how I didn’t die on at least 4 occasions has stumped all my surgical specialists. I am a blessed and grateful man.
I went full-fledged into that business. Most of my “education” came from salespersons with high-school degrees and books written by outdated writers. Food science was moving forward as fast as one could turn a page. The animal sciences were not far behind. I was dedicated to trying to eat right, take the right herbs and vitamins, run marathons, and you name it.
I have since learned that cooked vitamins might as well go in the toilet. To my knowledge there is only one firm that makes 100% organic vegan raw vitamins and that is “Garden Of Life” which we buy in powder form from Amazon or Ebay. It is amazing and one can tell the difference immediately from the ones we see advertised on tv often which have had all/or most of the nutrients and more importantly live enzymes cooked out of them, so they are useless.
I learned that herbal tinctures, in most cases are far better than the tablets or capsules as far as potency. I also learned that organic and wildcrafted are every bit as important. In addition I learned that “organic” in China would not pass for edible in the U.S. (for herbs and vitamins). There’s still much more to be learned. Not all of it works. Some of it is nothing less than miraculous. More learning. It’s neverending.
Enter Walmart, a new “box store” to the town and exit my store, an old overpriced relic. I sadly closed my doors in 1981
So I spent some time educating myself regarding food sciences and animal science.
I was married in June 2010 to my beloved wife Lee Hiller-London (Lee Hiller of Hike Our Planet)who became a vegan one year later. I had already read the health benefits and how it helped the planet but that still wasn’t, for whatever reason enough for me. However I did go mainly vegetarian for a year before my conversion to veganism.
It was impossible to watch Lee’s positive changes and not want that for myself. I didn’t know if it could happen but I was surely willing to try. She’d lost about 90 or so pounds and about 20 years of age. I was astounded and still am. But that was not her goal. It just happened.
She was very patient with me as my evolution kept going with at least some dairy or cheese and finally I said, “I’ve had it”. I thought she’d be surprised but she was not in the least. She said, we’d both cook alternate days and eat as much raw as we could, and that is just what we did. I had no idea I would not only actually like it, but crave it, and the thought of my old “food” never even crosses my mind. I truly don’t think my body could absorb it. Lee kept looking and feeling better and her mood became very kind. It was not an act. I’ve seen lots of acts. This was a natural evolution. I wanted that too. (Still working on it LOL).
The life changes are dramatic. Forget the goodness to the planet, and though I am tickled to death that it happens, there is nothing that would take me back to my old eating lifestyle. I say that because there is no such thing, really, as a vegan diet. Veganism is more of a learning/lifestyle philosophy.
Well, Lee retained the good looks, common sense and brains, and I got to feel human maybe for the first time.
Because nobody gets it perfect (I was told that would happen by Ed Begley, Jr.) on Twitter….. (It’s a long story)….I’ve decided not to become a militant vegan, and that fits me well. While I would love the planet to all turn vegan, I also know as Ed told me, “It ain’t gonna happen”. I would love to live the rest of my life on the planet not killing any animals, but again, it’s not going to happen. Even in the making of my computer animals are killed. Lee and I kill insects for instance on our hikes, our ride to the grocery, etc. but not on purpose of course.
So I wish the Gandhi-wannabes good luck, and let me know how that turns out. When curious persons are ready, they usually ask us questions. Lee has come up with the idea to have them start with a Meatless Monday which is now a worldwide movement.
As time goes by and they are still interested, I often direct people to YouTube to watch Sir Paul McCartney’s “Glass Walls”. Any time I’ve growled or gotten snarly, they ran they other way and ate more meat, with guilt, more meat, nevertheless. They didn’t want to be much like me and who was I to blame them. So I changed, and hopefully so did they.
Meantime I’ve put together a collection of my favorite animal cartoon gifts and tees and I have a lot more in the store collection. A percentage of each sale benefits various animal and/or vegan causes.
Also for yet even more entertainment, there’s plenty on my cartoon website.
Happy laughing…and eating….and hopefully shopping!
Rick London is an author, songwriter, designer and cartoonist. He is best known for launching Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts from an abandoned tin warehouse in rural Ms. He is married to his best friend and hiking buddy, his beloved bride Lee Hiller-London who owns the nature photography blog Hike Our Planet. Though of course cetaceans are animals (Dolphins, Orcas etc.) Rick keeps a separate section for his ocean mammal friends (gifts).