My college buddy Adam once ate an entire brick of processed cheese product while drunk. A recent conversation with him actually involved the line, “Well, armadillo tastes kind of like fish.” So, he truly is the last man in the world (except for maybe my brisket-loving brother) who I would have expected to go vegan for a full month—after losing a bet.
There have been a few times that I have considered the benefits of becoming vegetarian. I would no longer be part of a system that creates a considerable carbon foot print. Plus, there are the obvious health and animal welfare reasons. But as soon as I think of myself at a restaurant, all bets are off. I love eating in L.A.! If something sounds delish, I want to be able to try it. Plus, I can’t afford to eat at Real Food Daily on any kind of regular basis.
Going fully vegan on the other hand, I’ve never even considered, not even for a month. I equate giving up dairy and eggs with going on a hunger strike. But, if Man-Versus-Food-fan Adam is up to the challenge, why not me too? So, for the next month (heaven help me), consider me animal product free.
I made this proud announcement to my friends (yesterday) and immediately the challenges began to face me, starting at Starbucks. Soy milk is an extra 50 cents a drink and I am now officially that person that has a coffee order as long as a sentence. As soon as I picked up my soy latte, my friend Alison looked in disgust and told me all about how soy has natural estrogen and I shouldn’t drink it. I’d never heard that. What I had heard though, is that I should stay away from soy as much as possible because soy can interfere with thyroid function. This statement isn’t exactly precise depending on who you ask. Soy is actually known to block the absorption of synthetic thyroid hormone. But, come on, Starbucks doesn’t carry rice or almond or hemp or goat milk and I don’t think I can go a month without another latte.
But the soy challenge is a big one. It’s very difficult to find veggie “meat” not comprised mostly of soy. And many of them aren’t made with organic soy, but are still quite pricey. Plus most “veat,” if you will, is still full of all the same preservatives found in your average processed supermarket item. So are they really healthy for you?
And if they aren’t, what other options is a single vegan on a budget presented with? Buying nothing but organic and fresh fruits and veggies and pairing them with nuts, grains and seasonings would require me to get an additional job. Plus, with no preservatives, my food would go bad before I got around to eating all of it myself.
Luckily, Los Angeles boasts many vegan eateries. However, I’m seeming to have some trouble getting most of my non-vegan friends, that is to say, all of my friends, interested in patronizing them.
Maybe some of you have faced these issues as well. Over the course of the month, I plan to take a (forced) closer look and explore what works, what doesn’t and maybe find some good compromises. At the current moment, I fully expect to go back to my egg, milk and meat-eating habit at the end of the four weeks.
Hopefully I’ll make it through one…