Monday, December 28, 2015

Homeless by Choice Part 2: Hoboveganism

Did you ever meet a guy who was homeless AND vegan?

Ha ha ha... well, you missed your chance, if you didn't know me as a homeless guy.


Veganism and homelessness are two things that, separately, are both indicative of some level of departure from the norm, but when combined, could easily be considered certifiably insane. That, or they will get you labeled as a hippie treehugger cowlover (at least in some circles) which is why I kept both things hidden from those who did not need to know. I eat plants because I'm trying to stay healthy-ish and take care of my body, not because I think it is morally wrong to eat animal products. (Jesus ate a fish and honeycomb after he got resurrected, folks. Both of those are animal products. Pretty sure it's okay to eat animals.)

Here is one of my favorite hobovegan recipes, as an example.

BEAN SAMMITCH FOOTLONG
Ingredients:
1 16oz can of refried beans, lard free
1 loaf Italian or French bread from the discount bakery rack (day old is still good, but cheaper. Whole wheat is ideal.)
seasoning or spice of choice (I like hot sauce, because it often doesn't need refrigeration)

Using a knife, slice the bread. Pretend you're a sandwich artist at Subway. There is a specific way they do it - next time you go, watch the angle that they cut the bread at. It's an angle - it isn't parallel to the table. It'll keep your fillin' from spillin'. If you have no knife, just tear it with your hands.

Open your can of refried beans with a dollar-store can opener (an indispensable piece of equipment.) But if you're desperate, and you have no can opener, use a knife you don't care much about, because nothing ruins a knife edge like opening a can with it.

Spread the beans over the bottom half of the bread, using your knife, or using a piece of plasticware taken from the deli of the store you bought the bread at. Then sprinkle, spread, or slather your seasoning of choice over the beans. 

Close it up... and your Bean Sammich Footlong is ready to eat!

Cold? Yup. It's better hot, but not bad cold. I ate this cold for breakfast in my car a lot. It's easy. Fast. No prior refrigeration required. And cheap. You can sometimes get a discount loaf for less than fifty cents, and even full price they're only about a dollar. Beans are cheap too. They always have been. 

This sandwich can be messy, especially when heated. Eat it outside, if you like, or do like me and use the bread bag you bought the loaf in to catch the crumbs and drips of beans. 

Now, there are people who would be grossed out by the very idea of this sandwich, and feel bad for me that I had to eat things like this. :) But... you know, this is far from poverty. Poverty is having no food, and no money with which to buy it. Poverty is not having the choice whether or not to eat the bean footlong, because there is no bean footlong to eat. 

"But what about foodstamps?" you may ask.

Yes, I probably could have gotten foodstamps, I guess. But I never tried.

We are wealthy, here in America. Unfathomably wealthy, compared to the vast majority of humanity, past and present. We have so much food, and to spare. Yes, there is hunger. And there are people who legitimately cannot feed themselves - the very old and the very young, the sick and the infirm. This is a reality that I have seen, with my own eyes, and tried to comfort, when I could, with my own hands. 

But I also know that there are a great many people who, if they learned and chose differently, could feed themselves, without resorting to welfare.

There are a great many among those people who could choose to feed themselves, who will not, simply because it is easier to let the welfare system do it for them. I worked at a grocery store once, and about 1 in 3 customers I served used a foodstamp card. And they didn't all have to - I would venture to say that the majority did not. 

There was one woman who came through with a cart full of meat - easily fifty pounds worth of meat, prime cuts, and lobster. She was throwing a barbecue for her friends. And she paid for her party with my tax dollars. via an EBT card.

Another woman came through buying a huge case of Rockstar Energy Drinks. With foodstamps. I got to fuel that woman's completely non-necessary caffeine addiction with my minimum wage job.

Another woman came through talking about an extravagant party she had just thrown for her children and their friends - it involved four-wheeler races. And then paid for her groceries with money that came out of my paycheck, via (you guessed it) foodstamps.

I have more stories like that, but I think you understand.

So... when I became homeless, as a single, strong, young man in good health who could still work and give for a living, I fed myself, even after six months of unemployment, and never applied for foodstamps, although I am certain I could have qualified (and with the medical records I have of my history of major depressive disorder, I could probably get SSI-DIB and never work again if I played my cards right). 

But I won't. Because I can stand on my own two feet. Because I WANT to stand on my own two feet.

'Sides, when you're hungry, really hungry, everything tastes good. :)