Being raised Seventh-day Adventist had a great impact on the person I am now. When I say “great,” I do not mean “really cool,” but “huge.” For my family, every part of our lives had something to do with the church—Kathy and I went to SDA schools, Mom worked for the northwest headquarters, all our friends were fellow church members, Fridays were spent preparing for Sabbath, and Sabbath itself was typically Sabbath School + church + potluck + afternoon with friends + sundown worship. This is how many of our friends and fellow church members were too. The complete and total immersion in the church does absolutely nothing good for helping one live and relate to others in the real world, but some SDAs simply don’t care.
Adventists have what they call a “health message.” Part of the church doctrine is that they do not eat the unclean animals mentioned in Leviticus. Some church members take that further and are vegetarian or vegan. They say it’s for health reasons, but for a lot of them I suspect it’s just another way they can look down their noses at the worldly carnivores. Instead of eating meat, vegetarian SDAs eat a lot of Worthington-Loma Linda branded items that try to look like meat—most of them are soy-based and taste nothing like meat, but some omnivores pretend to enjoy this substitute. To call these people self-righteous is unfair; instead, I shall call them highly disillusioned and probably (hopefully) tastebud-less.
- Big Franks—“These canned vegan franks from Loma Linda resemble Polish sausage and have a spicy taste. Ideal for broiling and barbecuing!” Yes, they are ideal for barbecuing, if you don’t mind scraping most of them off the grill. They stick like you would not believe. Oh, and they might look like Polish sausage, but I assure you they taste nothing like it.
- Linketts, Veja-Links, Super-Links, Leanies—supposedly like hot dogs. They look right, but that’s where the similarities end. However, since real hot dogs are mostly pork lips and assholes, I can’t imagine these are any less healthy.
- Little Links, Saucettes, Prosage—breakfast sausage.
- Redi-Burger, Vege-Burger—dog food.
- Chili—dog food with beans.
- Tender Bits—yes, that is actually the name printed on the can. Are these the soy version of Rocky Mountain Oysters? There are also Tender Rounds.
- Skallops—these are supposed to be a substitute for sea scallops. They got the size about right, but not the color or texture or taste. Lots of people who weren’t raised on Skallops call them erasers. That’s the best description of their texture I’ve ever heard. I actually like Skallops, if they’re deep-fried and there’s plenty of tartar sauce for dipping. Or maybe it’s just the tartar sauce I like.
- Choplets—I don’t know what these are supposed to be. They’re patty-like, and come in a can.
- Fri-Chik—chicken substitute. The texture is NOTHING like chicken, and neither is the taste. I can tolerate Fri-Chik only when it’s cut very small, but I prefer not to eat it at all. I have friends who eat it straight out of the can. I know, I also cannot believe that people I love would do that.
- Prime Stakes—love the spelling on these. They’re supposed to be like Salisbury steaks, I think. There are also Stakelets and Swiss Stake. Sound delicious, don’t they? Mmmmm…
- FriPats—No idea what these are supposed to be.
- Dinner Roast—I think this is kind of like a pot roast or turkey roast. It’s frozen and comes in its own pan. Sooo convenient, it’s almost hard to resist! Ha.
- Stripples—fake bacon. These are almost identical to Morningstar Farms Breakfast Strips. They look nothing like bacon, and taste nothing like bacon. Still, I like them very much. Warning: you’ll burp them up for hours after eating.
Sadly, some Worthington-Loma Linda meat substitutes have been discontinued over the years. I think it’s because people died from the horror of what a bad idea they were.
- Bolono—if I remember right, this came in a roll that could be sliced like lunch meat.
- Wham—Ed laughed for about an hour the time I described this fake ham to him. It’s totally, completely real. Or was.
- Tuno—I remember this fake tuna fish, but did it come in a roll or can or what?
- Turkee Slices—how is this different from the other fake lunch meats?
- Nuteena—this is a weird “luncheon loaf” that I think is supposed to be mixed like tuna or chicken salad. It tastes like vomit. My sister loved it, and so did some other sane people. I don’t get that AT ALL. Kath, Worthington now makes Nut Loaf, which is the closest thing to Nuteena that’s still available. I know that makes you super-happy.
Besides fake meats, there are lots of recipes that allowed us to eat vegetarian but pretend we were eating something good. And some of them actually do taste good. SOME. For instance, walnut patties can be quite delicious. My favorite, though, always was and still is cottage cheese loaf. It has a consistency of meat loaf, maybe a little less firm. To some, the taste is similar to Thanksgiving stuffing. Here’s my mother-in-law’s recipe.
Darlene’s Cottage Cheese Roast
- ½ cube margarine or butter (melted)
- 1 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
- 6 cups Special K cereal
- 2 pkgs. G Washington broth, Golden
- ½ cup milk
- 4 eggs
Mix all ingredients together. Bake in a 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish at 350° for 45-60 minutes or until it’s golden on the top and knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Darlene’s note: I usually place eggs, milk, G Washington broth, walnuts and coarsely cut up onions in an electric blender and blend until walnuts and onions are small enough pieces. Pour the egg mixture into a bowl and add melted butter, cottage cheese and Special K in that order. Bake in a 8x8 baking dish at 350° for 45-50 minutes or until it’s golden on top and knife inserted in the middles comes out clean.
Jen’s note: In place of the G Washington Broth, you can use Lipton onion broth, or McKay’s chicken seasoning, or pretty much anything like that.
Now, the part about the SDA health message that’s such a joke is that the original idea was to eat healthfully—Garden of Eden-like—but you go into the cafeteria of just about any Adventist institution and you’ll find a LOT of food is deep-fried or covered in cheese and/or sour cream and/or gravy or full of sugar and/or oil. This goes along with other church “doctrine” inconsistencies, like:
- ADORNMENT IN THE FORM OF JEWELRY IS BAD, but pins are fine, and come to think of it, we don’t mind if your watch cost thousands of dollars because it’s functional. Decorative scarves and belts? Those are okay too.
- DIVORCE IS BAD. Unless you really want one.
- ADULTERY IS WRONG, unless you pay tithe and go on mission trips for the church, in which case we’ll look the other way.
- DANCING IS IMMORAL, unless it’s line dancing or contra dancing or something else people like doing.
- PLAYING CARDS AND COMPETITIVE SPORTS IS WRONG, but Rook and Uno and Spoons are fine.
Speaking of jokes, my mom was married to one for 23 very long years (not my dad). He was, like, fourth generation Adventist, or something like that, and his head was (is) waaaay deep up his ass. “Out of touch with reality” is putting it mildly, but what made it worse is that he was perfectly fine with that. When he and my mom first got married, she made cottage cheese loaf and he said it didn’t taste good. Oh, he liked cottage cheese loaf, he just didn’t like hers. So he said he would call his ex-wife and get her recipe, which he promised was really good. Like he was doing Mom a favor. Is it any wonder Mom doesn’t like cottage cheese loaf? She might think it tastes just fine, but from that day on, she resented cottage cheese loaf, and still resents me a little for eating it.
Sorry, Mom. I love you, but giving up cottage cheese loaf would be like giving up my fine SDA upbringing, and that would be like wearing jewelry even though I know it’s evil, or some other convenient excuse that makes no sense at all.