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             Before we go any further I have to make a disclaimer. I am about to tell you about a harrowing experience that I had today. I don’t need any advice or recommendations. I don’t want to know how you do it or how you would have done it better. This is absolutely one area of life and growth that I am not willing to budge. You’re intrigued now, aren’t you? I must also say that I don’t need your formula or recipes for success in this matter. I am happy to languish in the decadence of my “depravity” when it comes to this particular area of my life. So now that I have said it and you are firmly back beyond the fences of trying to better me with your words and sentiment I can tell you my personal story of woe.

            Never again will I be swayed by the following phrase, “Well it is her birthday.” Today my friends, yes this very day, Matthew Aaron Walker found himself staring “straight down the barrel” of a menu…at a vegan restaurant. It was horrific and more harrowing than when I climbed over the fence to recover the dodgeball in the 5th grade and ripped my pants and my left butt cheek on the chain link.

            Travel back with me in time. 8 years ago I ate a Vegan hotdog once that I bought from a street vendor in downtown Orlando. His cart looked just like all the rest. There were no warning labels. The food was the same color as all the other hot dog accouterments I had seen before. Halfway through making the hot dog, the guy told me that he had always dreamed of running a business modeled after his beliefs and convictions. It was then that I noticed that the guy looked a bit hippy-ish, wasn’t very well groomed or showered and thought, “You opened up a hot dog stand that would represent the worst parts of the 60’s and Junior High?”   Then he said those heart wrenching words that ever red blooded American carnivore loathes to hear.

                                                “IMA VEGGGAAAAANNNNN!”

            I heard it drop off his lips and hit my ears like he was telling me I had just won a year’s supply of Organic Cow Manure.  At that moment I remember my stomach shrinking to the size of small, domestic coin and my tongue going all Mojave Desert on me. The guy must have seen the disappointment on my face, because he apologized that I didn’t know and offered to give me my money back, but in a moment of what can only be measured as blind compassion, I said,

                                                         “No. It’s fine. I’ll try it.”

            The man’s face brightened and he continued ladling all manner of meatless, tasteless, yet colorful things onto a bun that was two molecules away from straight up cardboard. I walked away holding my False Dog and a sense of adventure that was about to nosedive into Lake Eola with my first bite. You must know that I ate the entire thing. I did. I can’t remember what it tasted like. I can tell you what it didn’t taste like. I promised myself that this would NEVER, EVER happen to ole Mattiewalk again. Did I say NEVER, EVER?

            Fast forward to 2014.   Here I am, at “No Meat Town” and I find myself ordering from a selection of things like Chickun, Tofurkey and Seitan. SEITAN? That just proves that Veganism is straight outta the pit of Hell. Any dish that includes “Seitan”, prounounced SATAN, as one of the key ingredients is a dead giveaway. Of the many “beverages” available to cleanse my palate were things like Chocolate Soy Milk and Plain Almond Milk. Two questions arise: one, how in the heck do you milk an almond and two HAVE YOU EVER HAD PLAIN ALMOND MILK? A better question would be “Have you ever licked a foot?” (Wrong audience to be asking that to, anyway, I digress.) My point, and there is one, is that I was looking at this menu a little frightened and a little less open minded than I thought I would be, but open to try something new. By the end of the meal, I was full, but my taste buds were no more fooled than that one night when my driving hunger led me to eat a Dirty, Hippy HotDog on Orange Avenue.

            I learned a lot today. I will give the “Plant Pasta Land” another try for sure, but the main thing I came away with though is the lesson for the blogosphere for today.

            The restaurant I went to looked like any other restaurant. The food looked similar to food I had eaten all my life, with subtle differences here and there. There was a concerted effort to make the meat substitutes look and taste like familiar things I eat every day. As I read about things like Chickun and “burger” patties, I realized that satan, the enemy of our souls does the same things with our spiritual walk. He takes things that we have seen and done forever and puts a casual spin on them; a subtle nuance here and there that leads us just a footstep or two off the path at a time. Just like my experience with the “Hotdog”, we agree to try this new path, after all, it can’t be that bad. Before too long, our decisions have taken us farther off the path than we thought we’d ever go. The first time I tried vegan, my intense hunger led me to try something I had never tried before. Oftentimes, when we have a hunger and drive for love or connection, we are led to do things we might never do if we were fulfilled and satisfied with our lives. The bible says that a man who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even that which is bitter tastes sweet.  

            I see the same trend happening with gay “christianity” that paved the way for other false religions like Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses and other well known mainstream religions that have people so steeped in dogma and religious routine that they are convinced they are on the right path. Every life altering mistake starts with small steps in the wrong direction. I had no idea that my trip to a Vegan restaurant would spark a late night blogging session. I do know that God is always afoot.

            How do we know what is God’s plan for us and what is satan’s plan disguised as religious work? Well quite frankly the same way I knew that “Chickun” and Chicken are nothing alike; EXPERIENCE! For 35+ years my tastebuds have studied and observed the subtle nuances and texture of all things meat. The same way counterfeit specialists study real money in order to identify the fake I knew that the Seitan that I was eating wasn’t real beef, because of my knowledge of the real thing. If you read God’s word, talk to Jesus daily and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you my friend, then you won’t be fooled by false religion or by your own emotions, because you will have steeped your heart in the Wisdom of the Master. No amount of convincing or enticement on the part of the enemy will get you to trade the false for the Genuine Article.

            To gay men and women who might read this article, I have a heart to see Jesus become a reality in your life. I lived a life believing that I was born gay and that there was “no other way”.   Then I had an encounter with Jesus, where I traded my old, damaged beliefs for the promises of God.

            Christians, if your only interaction with the gay community has involved holding a sign of and not clasping your hands in prayer, you don’t have horse in this race. If you aren’t praying for revival in the gay community, but are instead labeling them the enemy, you’ve missed it. “It’s time to stop believing Google and start believing God.” He says that it is not His will that any man (or woman) should perish. Our brothers and sisters in the gay community are daily sitting down to a meal of substitutes. The real thing is only a prayer away. Before you mention their names in judgment, mention their names to the Father.

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