90% Vegetarian, By Accident (Part Two)

As I had mentioned in the first part of my story of accidentally becoming 90% vegetarian, things went really well for the first day or two of Lent.

Really, eating at home and making some lunches was easy and exciting with a whole new realm of recipes and ingredients to try.

(Spoiler: I live close enough to my office to walk home for lunch if I want… yes, I know I am spoiled.)

Kale and Quinoa and Edamame, Oh MY!” I felt like a new age Dorothy, discovering Vegetarian OZ.

But it wasn’t all a stroll along a tofu brick road. (Or in the park. Whichever metaphor works better for ya.)

Via: ceuweekly.blogspot.com
Via: ceuweekly.blogspot.com

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RESTAURANTS HATE ME:

My new veggie mellow was severely harshed when I discovered that one of my previous favorite activities, that of trying a new restaurant and getting some tasty tasty grub with friends, was suddenly tainted. Eating out as a vegetarian was trickier than I had anticipated. It was, frankly, super difficult.

Other than the rays of sunshine you will find at many Asian cuisine or pizza places, veggie choices are fairly limited.  For a vegetarian, at a standard restaurant in America, (Denver in my case, and yes… mostly pubs and such) menus are a depressing thing.

Options often include such appealing options such as:

  • Some Sort of Fried Vegetable or Cheese App (mmm…  grease…)
  • Salads (Though seriously, this one is shaky ground… more on salads later.)
  • Dessert (Watch out for bacon-infusions, though. They are everywhere.)

AWESOME! So on a given menu, my choices were something meant as a starter and most definitely deep-fried, a plain bowl of lettuce, or giving myself over to the fact that I would be eating cheesecake and chocolate mousse exclusively for meals now. Actually, not the worst idea ever…

I thought being a vegetarian would be simple. Before you go down this route, you think to yourself that there are tons and tons of options on menus. But when you aren’t consuming meat, (and I was going the no seafood, no anything route), sneaky meat seems to pop up everywhere. I also just enjoy saying sneaky meat. It makes me giggle.

  • Ohhh, that artichoke dip sounds lovely! Wait, it has bacon.
  • Maybe I am in the mood for a sandwich today… oh, maybe a BLT, hold the bacon?
  • Wraps are healthy… they should have a veggie option right? Wait, more bacon?

(Look, I don’t have anything against bacon personally, I just don’t think it NEEDS to be in everything. Go ahead, hate away.)

  • How about this tasty looking salad? Wait… just kidding, that ALSO has meat in it. Or at least bacon.

(That last note was just to make the bacon-obsessed extra snarky in the comments. XOXO.)

I challenge you to go to any pub or standard american restaurant, look at the entrees, and find me one item, just one, that is truly vegetarian and a complete meal.

It. Does. Not. (Often.) Exist.

Hummus and french fries it is then, I guess. Again.

joyreactor

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A RANT REGARDING SALADS:  

I actually adore salads. Always have, as a vegetable lover. So this isn’t a rant about how salads are lame. They are not! They can be a delicious smorgasbord of veggies and flavors and textures and seasons. Go salads!

However, I do not understand this absolute obsession with having to put meat in or on absolutely all salads for them to be called an entree. Don’t people understand that it is possible to have a complete meal, with protein and everything, without slapping some chicken or steak on top of it?

This became one of my biggest frustrations in the whole vegetarian endeavor.

This discovering of all this “unnecessary meat” that I found to be in any and all things. Salads, Pastas, Stir-fry, Wraps often included the obligatory traditional protein, which many times I found didn’t add any real flavor or texture or anything.

Why was it there then? Why did we need to add grilled chicken breast to everything?

I suppose it just wouldn’t be considered a complete meal without meat, in your mainstream restaurants.

This is close-minded and sad. (And quite boring, culinary-speaking) I suddenly realized I had probably been eating more meat that I was aware of, without ever really enjoying, realizing or wanting it. It has simply been part of the mix.

Via: ragreynolds.net
Via: ragreynolds.net

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DREAMS OF BURGERS:

So yes, restaurants were a bit of a sticky point for me, but I found ways to navigate around it. I did a better job vetting menus before leaving the house or office. I found options where I could just be the difficult patron and ask for them to leave the meat off. I also discovered a handful of pretty wonderful and amazing restaurants that featured any vegetarian items even in my tiny metropolis in Colorado.

Even in the wild west, where the cows come from, my eyes were opened and I was quite impressed by all the really extraordinary cuisine offerings that were friendly to a meat-free diet. (Disclaimer: I do not know that cows come from here at all. That might be a bald-faced lie and simply reinforcing bad stereotypes about us all being horse-riding cowboys out here in the west. Please ignore, if offended.)

There was just one problem…. I am a burger girl.

So yes, for forty days and forty nights, I longed for, nay, I craved a burger. A big, juicy buffalo burger, medium rare. I didn’t miss that ubiquitous chicken breast previously mentioned, but my mouth longed for a hamburger.

The days ticked by, and I held strong. But I will admit, there were days walking by my local pub, or even driving past Wendy’s where that smell of fried and beef or even just the thought of a hamburger ruled my mind. I am not proud. But this is a safe place to share, I believe.

But the day DID pass, and I was released from my self-imposed restrictions. I was free to get back on the meat train!

I had waited, I had wanted, I had held out and remained strong as people consumed delicious burgers around me.

But Lent was over!

It was burger time…

Via: gamesdbase.com

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(To be continued, and wrapped up I promise, in Part Three)

Part One can be found here, if you really want to catch up. It’s some riveting stuff. (ha).

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2 thoughts on “90% Vegetarian, By Accident (Part Two)

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