In 2009, I spent the entire month of September as a vegetarian.
The impetus for the month-long lifestyle change was in response to a billboard campaign in Florida in which the controversial animal-rights outfit, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, posted a picture of a very large woman with the tagline, “Save the Whales, Lose the Blubber, Go Vegetarian.”
Unlike many others, the billboard didn’t offend me at all. I thought it was funny. I’m fat. I can laugh at myself. So I started thinking about what life would be like looking through the carrot-tinged glasses of a vegetarian.
I did it, and I didn’t cheat. It wasn’t easy. I am a devout carnivore. I love steak. Seriously, I really, really LOVE a big slab of charred beef, highly seasoned, grilled medium-rare, and sitting all alone on a plate right in front of me. It’s “my thing,” always has been— and probably— always will be.
Nevertheless, I took the challenge, and was successful. Though, it didn’t work out like PETA said it would, and in the end, it didn’t even work out like I thought it would.
I figured I would get four weeks of columns full of humorous material dogging out vegetarians and their way of life. What I gained, was a newfound respect for people who make that lifestyle choice.
On the other hand, I didn’t lose any weight like the PETA billboard stated I would. I actually gained three pounds living as a vegetarian. In all fairness, I became a carbotarian. I ate a lot of bread, cheese, and starchy foods. I love bread. Cinnamon rolls fit the guidelines for vegetarian eating, and so I indulged, and indulged, and indulged.
I wasn’t living up to the spirit of the lifestyle. Vegetarianism was giving me a free pass to eat a lot of stuff that I wouldn’t normally eat in my every day life. It was a free pass to eat crap, and my conscience was clear. I justified it in my mind, because I was denying myself the typical foods that I was used to eating.
The president of PETA, Ingrid Newkirk, and I became pen pals. She congratulated me on my new lifestyle, and even encouraged me to take it a step further and become a vegan. “No way,” I fired back. It was already hard enough trying to figure out what I could eat and what was forbidden.
However, I’ve had a full year to think about it, and I think that I’m ready to take Ms. Newkirk’s challenge. For the entire month of September 2010, I will live and eat as a vegan.
One year ago, I didn’t even know what a vegan was. Unfortunately, I’ve researched the matter. In a nutshell— and yes, that would be a vegan-approved nutshell— a vegan not only shuns meat, fish, or anything with a face or tail, they don’t even eat stuff that came from animals. Ouch.
I made it a month without beef, pork, and seafood, but this time I won’t be eating cheese, eggs, butter, or milk. Double ouch.
Think about all of the items that use eggs or milk as an ingredient. Go ahead, think I about it, right now. I’ll wait. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Finished? Just about everything, right? I know.
Sayonara cinnamon rolls.
And, truth be told, I have no problem going without cinnamon rolls. I could probably live without cheese for the rest of my life. But milk? That’s going to be tough. I love milk. I always have. My brother and I drank a gallon of milk everyday in our childhood. I’ve been drinking it ever since. Eggs? Most of the things that I like to eat have eggs or milk in some form or fashion in the ingredient list. Not this September.
No bread, except stuff like Ezekial Bread. No butter. Butter! I love butter. No honey. It just hit me, this very second, that one of my favorite snacks— toasted bread with butter and honey and a glass of milk— is a quadruple no-no.
The journey begins. Pray for me.
2 lbs Asparagus, fresh
1 /4 cup Olive oil
1 1 /2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
1 /4 cup Almonds, sliced and blanched
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Toss the asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on baking sheet lined with wax paper. Bake 12 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle the almonds over the asparagus. Return to the oven for an additional five minutes. Remove and serve immediately. Yield: eight servings