My mother Marti Paskal is a great role model for healthy eating and reducing cruelty to animals. She will also always be appreciated for supporting my decision at only four years old to go vegetarian, a passion that has lasted over 30 years.
Marti grew up in Ohio in the 40’s and 50’s when it was unheard of to be vegetarian. All the moms cooked meatloaf, chicken, and steaks. After her fifth grade class visited a farm, she was the only kid who refused to eat chicken for months after seeing how they were slaughtered.
When married to my father Peter Newman in the 60s, one night she sliced a grilled steak – then “Watched in horror as it bled all over the clean counter. I had an epiphany, striking with great force: I was not meant to eat this poor, dead atrocity that had once been a gentle brown-eyed cow,” said Marti.
She simultaneously stopped eating poultry — at the time considered radical — because she could not justify the cruelty to animals. A few years later, our mother was chastised about not feeding me and my sister Dana “normally.”
So she fed us bologna — the very food that created my own life-changing decision at four-years-old to never eat meat again. We lived on spaghetti, grilled cheese, pizza, fondue, lasagna, enchiladas…..and string cheese.
“Given what we now know about consuming too much dairy, I was over the top with cheese; but we loved it (and other protein/calcium options were less well known),” said Marti.
When my mom moved in with her second husband Joe Paskal in 1981, they had an agreement he would eat meat and poultry at restaurants and she couldn’t say a word; but their house was to remain meat free. That worked.
Several years later Joe had his own epiphany in England. At a lodge that took dinner orders by phone, Joe requested lamb chops. On the way they parked near a lovely pastoral scene of lakes, hills, and lazing lambs. Soon they were with their daughter Tara petting lambs and marveling at their gentleness.
At dinner, Joe took one look at his lamb chops, put down his fork and said “I can’t eat this.”
Today, with the healthy influence of Marti and Joe, several family members are vegetarian or nearly vegetarian and love visiting Marti and Joe’s Postcards Cafe on Kauai, Hawaii which has many veggie options.