Part I: Brian Alexander
Brian David Alexander is an internationally recognized lecturer and trainer in the fields of Communication and Rapport, Personal Growth and Development, Education, and Counseling and Personal Coaching. He is a Master Trainer and Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming.
Brian has studied with the founders and leading experts of Neuro-Linguistics and has gone on to pioneer new discoveries and developments in the field. He currently teaches courses at Hamsa College covering such areas as Human Communication and Relationship Skills (Certified Practitioner in NLP) Levels I & II, Advanced Therapeutic Techniques in Neuro-Linguistic Counseling, Ericksonian Hypnosis Levels I & II, Education and Learning Skills, and Belief Systems and Health.
Brian works not only with the mind but the entire mind/body system and the energy body system. He has studied, practiced and taught courses in Reiki, Chi Kung and general Energy Medicine and medical intuition for over 20 years. The mind and body are part of the same cybernetic system and so what affects one affects the other. The body energy systems are an equal part of the whole and working with these can have a profound effect on healing.
Part II – Vance Lehmkuhl
Vance Lehmkuhl writes “V for Veg,” the vegan food column in the Philadelphia Daily News, and is the founder and producer of Vegcast, a popular podcast on vegan and vegetarian issues. A cartoonist, he is the author of a collection of vegetarian cartoons, “The Joy of Soy” (Laugh Lines Press, 1997) and is also a founding member of the eco-conscious pop band “Green Beings.” The band’s Lehmkuhl-penned patter song “Leftovers,” listing all the foods available after eliminating meat and dairy, is a favorite at venues such as Vegetarian Summerfest, and has been played multiple times on Dr. Demento’s radio show. Vance went vegetarian in 1985 and has been vegan since 2000.
TRANSCRIPTION PART I:
Hello I’m Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. Hello and how are you today? I’m good, thanks for asking. You know I love to talk about food and today we’re going to kind of expand the notion of food I think and talk about what we feed our minds and how we deal with our mind and food actually is energy, right? And let’s get down to basics: What energy is and how we can use it to heal and learn. We’re going to learn a lot in this first half hour and I’m going to bring on my guest Brian David Alexander is an internationally recognized lecturer and trainer in the fields of Communication and Rapport, Personal Growth and Development, Education, and Counseling and Personal Coaching. He is a Master Trainer and Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Brian has studied with the founders Brian has studied with the founders and leading experts of Neuro-Linguistics and has gone on to pioneer new discoveries and developments in the field. He currently teaches courses at Hamsa College covering such areas as Human Communication and Relationship Skills Levels I & II, Advanced Therapeutic Techniques in Neuro-Linguistic Counseling, Ericksonian Hypnosis Levels I & II, Education and Learning Skills, and Belief Systems and Health. Brian works not only with the mind but the entire mind/body system and the energy body system. He has studied, practiced and taught courses in Reiki, Chi Kung and general Energy Medicine and medical intuition for over 20 years. The mind and body are part of the same cybernetic system and so what affects one affects the other. The body energy systems are an equal part of the whole and working with these can have a profound effect on healing. And I can’t wait to hear more on that. Welcome to It’s All About Food Brian.
BA: Hello Caryn. It’s a pleasure to be here with you.
CH: I’ve been wanting to talk to you about these subjects for a really, really long time so I’m finally glad we were able to schedule this time.
BA: I’m looking forward to it.
CH: So, let’s just get right to it. My first question is how did you get started in this field of neuro-linguistics and mind/body systems and energy/body systems.
BA: Well there’s two different paths that you’re talking about. The neuro-lingustics, I was introduced to it probably about twenty-five years ago by a practitioner and I just fell in love with it. It was like I came home.
CH: Hmm, that’s a wonderful feeling.
BA: I started practicing it and discovered that I was able to do so many wonderful things. I was able to help so many people through different problems that they were having. Then I just continued to study and study and came further and further home.
CH: I like the way that sounds. Well I just read my first book on neuro-linguistic programming. It was really interesting and I have the guests on my program a few weeks ago. I learned a lot and it’s really intriguing to me. I haven’t had a chance to do any of the exercises that are in the book yet because it does take some time and focus but they seem so obvious. It seems like commonsense but it does take some skill, some technique.
BA: Well neuro-linguistics basically came about when a couple people said what is excellence? And how is it that some people can excel in one area and other people in another? They began to study what we call subjective experience. An attempt to learn these things and the question was, can it be copied, can it be duplicated? The answer is yes. Most of what people do well is somewhat intuitive, as what you said, it seems natural. It was a matter of neuro-linguistics, or NLP, really evolved from that simple question and concept. So NLP really is not what most people think it is. Truly what NLP is, is the studying of human experience to learn how we do what we do.
CH: The name, if you’re not familiar with what it is, it sounds nothing like what I understand it to be. It sounds almost scary.
BA: Well I guess it is.
CH: Neuro-programming is like some kind of brainwashing, right?
BA: Well, yes but they’re talking about the programs that already exist, those ones that are there by nature.
BA: And the ones that are there by nurture.
CH: Well what’s fascinating about the little that I read is how much you can understand about yourself, about the people that are in your life, about your business, your co-workers, people that bother you, people that you enjoy. It really lays out why things work for you and why things don’t and, I haven’t tried it yet, but it seems like there are some pretty good techniques to help you get to where you want to be.
BA: Well, as I said, neuro-linguistics is the study of the processes of our mind/body system. So that’s how we store a process and use information. When you understand that the world opens up. You can accomplish so much for yourself and for others. Unfortunately however, NLP has been so effective there’s many of what I call cookbook recipes for how to achieve behavioral change. And while the recipes are fine in the hands of a good chef, for a lot of people these recipes just lead to other problems and confusion.
CH: That is such a good example, a good analogy. You give a recipe to a good chef you get great food. You give it to somebody else and it could be a disaster. And I’ve seen that so often. We see that in so many fields. There are good doctors there are bad doctors. There are good practitioners there are bad ones.
BA: That certainly applies in the field of neuro-linguistics. There is a strategy for getting rid of phobias, usually requires one session. The fastest I’ve ever gotten rid of a phobia was about seven minutes.
CH: Really? Wow.
BA: The process is very simple. There’s a simple cookbook recipe that allows you to do that. The trick is how do you make sure it doesn’t regenerate itself? How do you deal with other aspects and issues in a person’s life that might cause it to come back or cause other problems to occur in its place?
CH: Can you give a brief example of how it works? Or how you might work with someone?
BA: For a phobia?
CH: Yes, for a phobia. Sure.
BA: Interestingly, a phobia is very much the same as any other traumatic experience in the system. Trauma is one of those insidious things. When it gets inside it likes to dig itself in deep. So examples of trauma, aside from a phobia, rape or abuse is an example, anxiety disorders are very similar to that. All of those disorders that our war vets experience when they come back. They’re all very similar. So it’s a very similar process to remove them. The process is to separate one from the experience. It’s an understanding of how our mind processes information. So when you have a traumatic event it roots itself inside and every time your memory comes up to that event, it’s like playing a tape loop. It plays the same loop over. You re-experience the same thing.
BA: You can’t stop it in the middle. It’s like your computer. When you double-click on an icon to start up a program, there’s no way to stop that program from starting up, short of pulling the plug on your computer.
CH: Right you watch that little thing spinning until it’s up.
BA: And then you can shut it down, you can stop it afterwards. But when you’re in the middle of any traumatic experience…you can’t really shut it down in the middle. It has to play itself out. So that the best way is to stop it from ever starting again. So what we have to do is separate one, disassociate one, from the emotions of the experience. In other words, break what we call the semantic response, the time-based loop that occurs in the mind that re-creates this experience. So, if you think about it, in your mind you’re going to have a picture, a actually a moving picture, of an experience and there’s going to be several emotions that are attached to that experience. What you want to do is take those emotions out in such a way that they can’t get back. You’re going to separate the two. So then it just becomes an experience.
CH: Right. Well it’s quite magical and, if done right, it can really take care of a problem so quickly. You know, we create computers and some people, religious people like to say that God created man in his image and I like to think that we create computers in our image because we function like computers, we are living computers and, like you said, there are all these processes that go on within our mind. When we understand them we can modify them.
BA: There’s two different, what I call types of the unconscious mind, the unconscious and the subconscious. One of them is the mechanistic unconscious, that is the simple routines that occur, the beliefs, the values. When you first start out in life, you’re an open book, you have no conscious mind it’s strictly unconscious. There’s no filter that allow you to say, I don’t believe that, I don’t like that, I’m not going to accept that in my system. So as children every thing we’re told to be true, we accept as being true. So many of our beliefs and values that we hold now came from then. As well as many health issues or other problems that we have in life, they also come from that period.
CH: It’s really amazing how much we give to our choices or our understanding when we were so young but it’s our foundation.
BA: Well, it is. And when you start talking about man being created in some image. I’d like to say that our unconscious mind has, basically like our bodies, there’s a normality to our bodies. We look at it. We know what’s normal—two hands, five fingers on each and so on. The same thing happens in the mind. There’s a certain set of processes that are normal for everybody but everybody may access them a little differently.
CH: Have you used this approach to help people with any kind of eating problems? I like to always relate back to food because I’m always talking about food. There’s so much in our early history that’s associated with food and people who want to change what they’re eating have such difficulty because it’s programmed inside of them.
BA: It’s almost like an addiction.
CH: Yeah, absolutely.
BA: I’ve worked with a great many people over a great many different types of issues, a lot of health issues, eating disorders directly. It really depends on what the person is coming to see me about. I can’t think just off the top of my head of a specific type of eating disorder I’ve worked with somebody on. There’s been so many different types of things.
CH: OK, let’s talk about, we may get back to NLP but I wanted to talk a little bit about energy and there’s a lot of people out there that practice Reiki and just like we were mentioning before there are some that are good at what they do and some that aren’t. This is a field that is gaining some momentum in some areas. Some people still are saying that there’s nothing that supports its impact. We don’t have enough clinical evidence to show that it really has an effect but some people have experienced benefits. How did you get interested in Reiki? And actually general energy medicine and what is it?
BA: This is the other path. When we started out I said there were two separate paths. I began, I suppose I’ve always been interested in it to some extent and I’ve done martial arts for a great many years so I began to study, about 25 years or ago or so, tai chi and other energy work and from there I became interested in the aspects of energy and the human body. Our bodies are energy systems, we’re electrochemical and electromechanical devices. We generate an energy field. And we can all use it. We all have it, we all use it. If you bang your shin, the first thing you do is grab it with your hand. You bang your elbow you grab it with your hand because there are areas in our palms that are really great for transmitting energy. So this is a natural function with us. A young child when he hurts himself goes running to mommy because he or she knows it intuitively that mommy’s energy is much stronger. So when mommy puts her hand over it, it’ll provide better healing.
CH: Mmmm. I like that.
BA: Of course mommy can kiss it better because mommy’s saliva is probably good too.
CH: You know I’m getting a little more understanding of this. I’ve seen the technique, I don’t really understand what’s going on where people will put their hands over their food.
BA: Oh, yes.
CH: What is that and what’s supposed to be happening?
BA: Well I said that our bodies create an energy field. I have different tests that I do with people to demonstrate. You can feel this field for quite a distance off, several feet. And all life has an energy field around it, every living thing. When you begin to talk about energy and food, if your food is alive it has its own energy field. You’re mixing your energy field with the food’s energy field to enhance it, to improve it, to strengthen it. My first teacher in chi kung a great many years back, told me of something he’d seen with his own Chinese chi kung master. What happened was there were two petri dishes filled with bacteria. The master held his hands over one, the bacteria began to grow and multiply. Then he held his hands over the other and the bacteria began to die off. He called it healing chi and killing chi.
CH: That’s amazing.
BA: The explanation is in Chinese the saying Yi leads Chi or mind leads energy. So where we focus our energy, where we center our energy, is where it goes. If you put your hands over your food, as in a prayer if you will, you’re not just asking the food to provide nourishment for you, you are nourishing the food. By nourishing that living food it in turn provides more nourishment and health benefits for you.
CH: But doesn’t that drain from us when we focus it on the food?
BA: You have a universal supply. Yes, you can use your own energy…
CH: I see it sort of focuses it like a conduit.
BA: Yes. The amount of energy you’re giving to the food to strengthen it is very small compared to what the food will give back to you, if the food itself is healthy…I was going to say, and that brings up an interesting thing, there are some foods that give energy to us, there are some foods that take energy from us.
CH: Anything specific or…?
BA: The more life, the more vital, your food is, the more energy it can give back.
CH: And how do we know if it’s vital?
BA: Ah, if your food is already dead, it’s not going to be giving anything to you, it could be taking something away from you.
CH: And what defines dead?
BA: Well, other animals for example.
CH: Right, they’re dead. So when we eat plant foods that have just been harvested or harvested not too long ago, they still have life in them.
CH: But cooked foods aren’t alive. They have some nutrition in them.
BA: Yes. And there’s a lot of foods that are neutral as well. Well, they don’t give or take.
CH: They don’t take. I see.
BA: So there’s going to be some neutral foods. Your body can get something out of everything and the more you cook a food, the more you can drain the energy out of it. And you can test it, there are ways to test these things on your body to find out what the effects are, whether they are going to give to you or take from you.
CH: OK. I like that. I like this idea of focusing the energy into my food. Is there any specific way to do that? Can we do it without really knowing what we’re doing?
BA: Oh yes. There are many different rituals people have developed for giving energy to food. I’ve read of several that can become very complex. You can call on spirits and gods and energy to help the food but the reality is holding your hands over the food for just a few moments with your mental concentration saying, “I’m revitalizing this food, I’m giving it health and life and energy” and that’s enough. You’ve created your own personal ritual for energizing your food.
CH: OK, well I started doing it recently and I’m going to just continue doing it because why not? Can’t hurt and it can do a lot of good.
BA: The potential for good is far greater than the potential for hurt is. So you might as well just keep doing it and as you said, you certainly aren’t going to lose anything by it.
CH: Right. Well I think there’s so much that we don’t know. I mean, I know there’s so much that we don’t know and when it comes to energy I think that this is really going to be the next field where we start really exploding with knowledge and information. We’re just like starting to understand it and maybe we’ll have some tools in the future where we can actually measure and verify and “see” what we’re working with.
BA: Well we have to be open to these concepts, I mean as a people we have to be open to it. I’m always amazed even when I do energy work with people and they see some of the results. But a lot of times people say well it’s just the placebo effect or something. I had a friend with a couple of elderly dogs and one was very sick, it wouldn’t go up the stairs any more, just basically lay down and stayed there. And I went over for a few minutes and put my hands over the dog and she was quite amazed. She said it’s the first time the dog hasn’t snapped at anybody when they got near it. And for the next week she told me the dog was able to go up and down the stairs. And the dog didn’t know anything about placebos.
CH: (laughs) That’s right, not that we know of unless this dog had been reading up on things.
BA: I don’t know what it was doing in its spare time but I saw the actual effects of the energy on it so there is something to this.
CH: As a scientist I know that things happen that are good and things that happen that are bad with respect to medical care and sometimes people survive things and sometimes people don’t and it’s not happenstance or reasons and just because we don’t know what those reasons are doesn’t mean they don’t exist. We need to look further and it’s always frustrating that the medical community doesn’t focus enough on those spontaneous remissions or those magical healings and they just fluff them aside but those are where the answers are.
BA: Well I’ve had more than one example where I’ve done an energy treatment with a person before they went in for an operation and they told me later that everybody was amazed at how well they went through the operation.
CH: Well I can say that I might be one of them. I’ve had good fortune to work with you and I had great success afterwards and I am very grateful about that…because I’m here years later to talk about it. And that’s a good thing.
BA: There are many others of us that are grateful as well that you’re here.
CH: Oh thank you. We have a little bit more time left and I just wanted to detour a little bit and talk about some other things that you’ve been working on now. You wrote a fictional story, a book, a few years ago called The God Matrix. And I enjoyed reading that book and it incorporated a lot of, I think, of your personal beliefs in the story. And I realize now, in hindsight, there was a lot of this energy, medicine and energy concepts in it that lent themselves so nice to the story and made it really interesting but also made it feel like, even though you were talking about aliens that came from a more intelligent, more profound, place, it made sense. It just made sense. It just seemed right. Like yes, this could be possible.
BA: Well yes, I talked about energy and I talked a little bit about eating and a little bit of what we were talking about earlier, neuro-linguistic programming. So I incorporated many of these concepts into my fictional book, maybe not quite as fictional as I originally thought it was.
CH: And where can people find this book?
BA: Well, it’s available through Amazon or Barnes and Noble or any of the online stores. Or you can go directly to the author’s website thegodmatrix.com.
CH: OK. Well, I really enjoyed that book and if anybody wants a good read it’s a good one. I would like to know that there are good aliens out there, well I don’t want to tell the whole story but…enough said. It’s a nice story and just shows that we have a lot of work to do here on this planet, but there’s always hope to make things better. We can start with ourselves and if we have issues that we want to work on, no matter what they are, issues within ourselves or with other people or people that we work with, here are some really good techniques that are worth looking into. You’re in Canada but if people wanted to work with you is there a way to contact you?
BA: Well if they go to my website that’s a good start. They can learn a little bit more about what I do there. My own personal website is briandalexander.com.
CH: OK. Well thank you so much for joining me on It’s All About Food and for all the great work you are doing. Can you, I just want to ask everyone, can you feel his energy? Whenever I talk to Brian I just feel you have this control of energy–it just kind of pops out of the phone. A great conduit for energy.
BA: Thank you Caryn
Transcribed by Suzanne Kelly, 6/3/2013
TRANSCRIPTION PART II:
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, everybody, I’m back. I’m Caryn Hartglass. You are listening to It’s All About Food. Now, we’re just going to relax and have a good time and talk more about my favorite, food, because it really can be fun.
And I’m going to bring on my next guest, Vance Lehmkuhl, who writes V for Veg vegan food column in the Philadelphia Daily News. He’s the founder and producer of VegCast, a popular podcast on vegan and vegetarian issues. A cartoonist, he’s the author of a collection of vegetarian cartoons, The Joy of Soy, and is also a founding member of the eco-conscious top band, Green Beings. The band’s Lehmkuhl- pend patter song, Leftovers, listing all the foods available after eliminating meat and dairy is a favorite avenue such as vegetarian summer fests and has been played multiple times on Dr. Demento’s radio show. Vance went vegetarian in 1985 and has been vegan since 2000.
Welcome, Mr. Vance Lehmkuhl, to It’s All About Food!
Vance Lehmkuhl: Hello, Caryn!
Caryn Hartglass: Hey! How are you?
Vance Lehmkuhl: I’m pretty good today. How are you?
Caryn Hartglass: I’m very good. I can’t remember when I met you, it was at some Summerfest long ago and I haven’t seen you for quite some while but …
Vance Lehmkuhl: We got to get you back to support that.
Caryn Hartglass: I know. There’s just too many things to do.
Vance Lehmkuhl: Yeah. I know how it is.
Caryn Hartglass: Too many things. You probably experience this too and I say this from time to time but I used to think I knew all the vegans and I don’t anymore. There’s so many of them.
Vance Lehmkuhl: There’s too many of them. They’re proliferating like mad.
Caryn Hartglass: There’s so many of them and some of them are making them, making more of them. There’s certainly not enough but we’re increasing and that’s a good thing.
Vance Lehmkuhl: Yeah. I used to say this about vegan restaurants in Philadelphia or vegan-oriented restaurants in Philadelphia, that I would know about them 6 months before they came out and lately I’m hearing, “Hey, did you hear about this new one?” I’m a vegan food columnist. I’m finding out from other vegans because they’re just so many of them cropping up and it’s great there’s too many of those to keep track of.
Caryn Hartglass: I know. I certainly feel the same way here in New York City. There are many that I have not been to, which I cannot believe because 20 years ago if there was a vegetarian restaurant that popped up I had to be there. It was such an amazing thing. It’s still an amazing but they’re everywhere and they’re good.
Vance Lehmkuhl: Yeah. It’s an embarrassment of riches.
Caryn Hartglass: Exactly. Well, whenever I think of you or see your name pop up on the Internet when your column comes up in philly.com, I always have a smile on my face because you always bring out the best or the fun things in the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle.
Vance Lehmkuhl: Well, thank you. That’s, I guess … it’s kind of my role. I try to bring the fun.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, it’s important because if we really focus on why we do what we do, it’s not fun.
Vance Lehmkuhl: Well, no.
Caryn Hartglass: And the world has a lot of ugliness to it: a lot of pain, a lot of suffering, a lot of exploitation. And it can be hard to just be done with life, get up every morning out of bed but we wouldn’t be experiencing life the way we should if stayed on the dark side and it’s really important to see the humor, humorous healing. Humor can energize and I thank you for doing that.
Vance Lehmkuhl: Well, sure. I should give a shout out to Dan Piraro, who I had a talk about this with on VegCast, this very topic of how you take something that is just intrinsically not funny and find humor in it. I did my book in 1997, The Joy of Soy, which I was just vegetarian at the time so some of the cartoons are flawed, from my perspective now. But Dan’s continued to crank out Bizarro, and he very often do another vegan-oriented cartoon and he keeps on coming up with new angles to both amuse people and yet make them think for a second what they’re reading on their daily newspapers. He’s a great master of that.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, that’s the idea: to get people to think. And as we know, most people are sleepwalking through life, for the most part. And many of us are marketed through life to live and react and shop and consume the way corporations would like us to. And wow, what kind of power would we get if we start to think?
Vance Lehmkuhl: Yeah. Well, that’s true. It’s a double-edged sword because people shield themselves from the kind of stuff that is troubling to think about. And when you do think about it, at first if you just let that be something that remains troubling, you can be either troubled by it by shutting it out but if you start doing something about it, it becomes more of an impetus to do more and to get out there and make an impact.
Caryn Hartglass: Now, of course cartoons are visual. But could you describe some of yours, maybe some that have really gotten … that you’ve heard a lot about or gotten a lot of great responses to?
Vance Lehmkuhl: I’ll just tell you about two cartoons. One was in The Joy of Soy. It’s my favorite cartoon, The Joy of Soy. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the musical Sweeney Todd or the story of Sweeney Todd …
Caryn Hartglass: Oh yeah. I performed in Sweeney Todd several times. I’m just going to plug myself here but I was in it with Jean Stapleton in one production.
Vance Lehmkuhl: Wow, now that’s … I can’t really… All I did was try to … I re-drew the iconic poster image that has this kind of 19th century cartoon of Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett, with him with his hands in the air and looking like he’s shouting and I have Mrs. Lovett coming to him saying, “ A guy out there wants to know if we have any vegetarian pies?” and Sweeney Todd saying, “He’s in luck; a vegetarian just came in this morning.” So I always thought that was a pretty funny cartoon, although it’s not one of those that really, I think, isn’t going to convert anybody.
And the other cartoon that I have to mention, just because I keep on seeing it all over the place, is one that I just drew basically as an exercise using Flash, the application, using the drawing portion of it when I was learning how to use that software. And I drew a bunch of overweight and unhealthy-looking people asking a bunch of thin people, who were obviously vegans because they had T-shirts on that said, “Meat is murder” or whatever. And the unhealthy people are eating drumsticks and ice cream and saying, asking the vegans, “Where do you get your protein?” And this has now been picked up and had a caption added to it about obesity in America, which I did not have actually on the original cartoon but I’ve seen this now dozens of times around the Internet and some people get upset saying, “It’s possible to be vegan and be obese and blah, blah, blah. You can’t be tarring people with this brush.” So I’m actually just mentioning that to … trying to explain I did not put that caption on the cartoon and is now seems out of my control. It’s one of the Internet means that goes around and flares up every now and then so maybe … I don’t know. That was not meant to be the professionally released cartoon. I just put it up on my webpage as a type of exercise. It does resonate with some people.
Caryn Hartglass: And where can we see that?
Vance Lehmkuhl: I don’t actually have that.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, you don’t have that. Okay, great.
Vance Lehmkuhl: You can Google the images “where do you get your protein?” and it will probably come up somewhere there. It was on my, back when I was a cartoonist for the Philadelphia City Paper, they gave me a webpage where I promoted some of the Joy of Soy stuff but that is not there anymore because I haven’t done any cartooning for them about 10 years now. So that was back in the day.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. Back in the day. It’s funny you brought up Sweeney Todd; it’s, I think, one of my favorites. There were a number of things … I always wonder sometimes when people see things, if they get some of the messages and I don’t even know if some of the messages were intended the way I interpret them. But the funny thing, the creepy thing about that particular show, if people aren’t familiar with it, is this man who was a barber comes back to his town in London to seek vengeance for sometime he was very wronged for. And he is working above a pie shop and it’s during the Industrial Revolution. And he’s poor and the woman and the pie shop can’t afford to buy meat and they end up putting dead bodies into meat pies. It’s really economical and they’re recycling and most of the bodies that the barber kills are people that are lonely and alone. Okay. But people get this reaction like, “Oh, my God, people in pies!” And certainly, we shouldn’t be cannibals but it’s not that far a stretch from all the somebodies that we’re putting in all our food products: the cows, the pigs. They’re not its; they’re someones.
Vance Lehmkuhl: Right. The thing about it is it’s very much like the whole horsemeat scandal.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh, gosh! Can we talk about that crazy thing for a minute?
Vance Lehmkuhl: Yeah. I’m kind of intrigued by this whole … the horror that people have, realizing… the same way that a lot of people in Sweeney Todd realized those meat pies have people in it, and saying, “By the way, you’ve been eating horse.” And they were perfectly happy when they thought they were just eating cows but horse, that’s a whole other thing because there’s this whole cultural division. It doesn’t even extend across the Channel, in France but in England and America, generally we just think of that as equivalent to eating the family dog or the family cat. It’s all a question of how you’re seeing it. You’re doing the same wrong and it’s the same kind of abomination. The point I would just like be sure to remind people is that’s the price we pay, for those of us who are eating meat, for trying to shut it out, try to shut out the facts of what’s going on and try to not look at what’s going on. The meat industries around the world flourishes with all kinds of deceptive and corrupt practices because consumers, generally, just want to get the meat and not know anything about where it came from or how because that kind of thought is just troubling. So we have that kind of vacuum of knowledge and it’s almost inevitable that things like these are going to kind of go on because there’s no light being shined on them. So I think it’s a phenomenon that people should, as consumers, be aware of, that when you support the meat industry with your dollars, you’re basically paying it to mistreat with you and it might be … rather than advocating for better labeling or anything like that, it might be better if you just opted out of that hole.
Caryn Hartglass: Well, why is it okay to eat a cow or a pig but not eat a horse. I mean, just really simply? Or why is it okay to eat a cow’s side but cringe at eating their brains. It’s doesn’t make any sense at all because it doesn’t make sense.
Vance Lehmkuhl: Well, I can’t argue with that.
Caryn Hartglass: And yeah, you made such a good point, where people, so many people don’t know what’s in their food. They don’t care what’s in their food until the media tells them something to care about and then everybody gets all hysterical. One of the best examples, recently, is the whole pink slime thing, which just made me laugh because yeah, it sounds pretty gross, pink slime, but the meta industry is just trying to get as much protein out of their raw materials as they can and you have no idea what else they’re doing.
Vance Lehmkuhl: Right.
Caryn Hartglass: That’s the tip of the iceberg, okay? A little ammonia to make this slop usable in hamburger.
Vance Lehmkuhl: Right. Yeah. Everybody got outraged about pink slime but what might be called brown slime or brown …
Caryn Hartglass: How about the excrement that’s allowed in food? How about that?
Vance Lehmkuhl: I mean, there’s all kinds of … We can name any number of things that are unsavory to talk about …
Caryn Hartglass: Right. Or the pus in milk?
Vance Lehmkuhl: … that are standard in these products but I guess maybe that’s in the calendar for later this year or next year, to have a little blowup about some other component but people seem to think if we can just eliminate this or make this tweak to the system, then we can continue to do this thing we know is not right but which we happen to enjoy the flavor of. Really is, the only real solution is to eliminate it, in my opinion.
Caryn Hartglass: Yes, just get rid of it. My dad always said, “If you can’t solve the problem, just eliminate the problem” and that’s how you do it. Eat plants. Everybody eat plants.
Vance Lehmkuhl: Yup.
Caryn Hartglass: I like putting messages out through art. And I think that you do that to a large degree. You are also a musician.
Vance Lehmkuhl: Right.
Caryn Hartglass: You still doing your Green Beings?
Vance Lehmkuhl: Yeah. Our most recent album was Electric Green that had a bunch of songs. I have a new … I don’t want to necessarily talk about what’s happening this year until I have it nailed down but there’s a song that I really enjoy, that I’m trying to get a good studio recording of. Sarah Schleuter Eisman, George Eisman’s daughter, sang at the summer fest a couple of years ago, which is set to a lyric by a blind Arab poet from the 11th century named Al Mari, which got some of the most entrenchment observations on how humans feel from the animal world for no good reason. It’s eye-opening that somebody was writing this stuff a millennium ago. I set that to music and I think that came out pretty well so that’s going to be on the next thing we put out.
But yeah, trying to get things across in whatever way, either music or humor-induced share the aspect. If you can kind of get into somebody’s brain in a way that they’re already predisposed to enjoy something aesthetically, then you bring the message along with that and usually, I think, they’re in a little better frame of mind to evaluate the message, where when you’re just talking to them and presenting things that are logical and factual they’re used to seeing that coming, and trying to put up defenses against it.
Caryn Hartglass: We were talking about energy in the first part of this program and there’s a whole mystery behind energy. But I think people are a lot more receptive to understanding certain concepts at a different level and we’re communicating in a different level through music. And I love connecting with people and knowing that I touched them somehow in some moment. It’s one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever had and I know that we don’t really understand what’s going on but something is going on.
Vance Lehmkuhl: Yeah. And I hope you’re still … I remember you have a great singing voice and I hope you’re bringing that to people around wherever you go.
Caryn Hartglass: Thank you. We actually have some big plans. I’m not going to be specific about that right now but it involves vegetables and music.
Vance Lehmkuhl: Cool. That’s great. I look forward to that.
Caryn Hartglass: Yeah. You have a podcast, VegCast. And part of it you feature music. And one of the musicians at least has to be a vegetarian. Is that the rule?
Vance Lehmkuhl: Yeah. If it’s a solo artist, either the solo artist himself or if it’s a band, at least one member of the band has to be at least vegetarian. That’s the rule I’ve had from the beginning. The only other rule is I have to have the permission from the artist, to actually have the right to give me permission to play the song permanently online on vegcast.com so I’ve been able to get from some people, some high profile people like Moby, and Nelly McKay, Jim James. There are a lot of vegetarian and vegan musicians out there that kind of don’t have a lot of showcase so I’m able to showcase some of them. So if people are listening to this and you are a musician, you can contact me at email@example.com and we can see about finding a slot there.
Caryn Hartglass: Okay, I’m going to send my brother to you.
Vance Lehmkuhl: Okay. Beautiful! That’s great.
Caryn Hartglass: My brother is a vegan and he has a jazz band called Batik. You can go to batikjazz.com to get a taste of some of his music.
Vance Lehmkuhl: Great! We like to try to let people find out about the bands and other ones we’ve had one VegCast. I’m hearing about them from other places and they’re starting to get reputations. I don’t want to say, “Go on VegCast” and that’s your ticket to stardom; there are other people that hasn’t happened to.
Caryn Hartglass: Oh yeah, just a few.
Vance Lehmkuhl: It is part of the mission of VegCast to kind of try to disperse and spread information that is out there that people might not encounter otherwise. And I should also allow that we do also tend to play a lot of Green Beings on VegCast because I can.
Caryn Hartglass: Obviously. Of course. And what is a green being, anyway?
Vance Lehmkuhl: Well, the concept of the band really is just encompassing the whole green aspect with… Another songwriter in the band, Paul Norquist, who has flirted with vegetarianism but is more emphasizing the environmental aspect. He’s a great pop song writer. He’s written a bunch of songs. I tend to write songs more about the food aspect or about the animal justice aspect. But the overall concept of the band is to take kind of these concepts that have to do with social responsibility or ethics or these kinds of serious topics and treat them in a lighthearted way that hopefully still carry a little bit of message in them but also allows people to tap their toes and hum along. So that’s the basic concept.
Caryn Hartglass: It’s a good one. So we just have a few more minutes left and I want to wrap it up talking about food, the good part of food. So earlier, you were talking about the restaurants in Philadelphia and when new ones pop up, you’re not the first one to know about it. I haven’t been to Philly in a while. What are some of the good restaurants, vegan restaurants that are there?
Vance Lehmkuhl: Oh, we have a good many now. The most important one, historically, has been Horizons, which has been in Philadelphia from 2006-2011 and then they closed and re-opened. The owners of Horizons re-opened as a new restaurant with a similar emphasis called Vedge, where they actually have been doing more with just vegetables and moving away from trying to imitate the kind of meat dish, where you have a big hunk of protein in the middle and then garnish it with sides. They are actually doing creative and exciting things with vegetables in a fine-dining environment. It’s a hugely popular restaurant in town. And at the other end, in terms of just upscale or downscale, Blackbird Pizza, which is just a basic kind of pizza joint that has great … The pizzas are all vegan. They have daiya cheese and they also have some cheese-less pizzas. They have cheesesteaks and things that are all vegan. I’ve mentioned Horizons because this restaurant as well as another one called Hip City Veg, which is kind of fast food vegan and two other places recently opened, all come from people who trained at Horizons. They all started out as line cooks or other things at Horizons and they’ve gone off and started their own places. One thing that they all share is the ethic of veganism. It’s not just people who decided they wanted to cash in on a trend or doing something and offering a couple of vegan dishes. These are people who are vegans and who basically want to share this food with as many people as possible.
Caryn Hartglass: I have to say that I love that and I don’t think it’s completely true in the restaurant industry. I know that a lot of people get into it because they have a passion for food and it’s a great feeling to feed people but I really think, with vegan restaurants, it’s more true: we’re the owners, we’re the chefs. It’s more than food. It’s a complete message: health, environment, animals. It’s a beautiful thing.
Well, Vance, thanks for joining me on It’s All About Food.
Vance Lehmkuhl: Yes. Okay, thank you!
Caryn Hartglass: Okay. And check out V for Veg and VegCast and look for those great cartoons from The Joy of Soy.
Al right, I’m Caryn Hartglass. You’ve been listening to It’s All About Food. Please visit my website, responsibleeatingandliving.com, and we’ll be back for more next week. Have a delicious one.
Transcribed by Diane O’Reilly, 4/21/2013