“Seriously? Another fucking salad??”
This week’s blog is going to be ridiculous. You’ve been warned so feel free to leave now – but if not, I’d love to have you stick around as I complain about a delightful first-world problem.
It’s incredibly hard to be a vegetarian these days.
Read on, as I share a story explaining what I mean by that ridiculous statement.
Early Vegetarianism – It Was Tough
As I child, when I first started adopting vegetarian preferences, it wasn’t easy. Growing up with four older brothers, busy working parents, and the general Midwest rule that one must eat hamburgers, pepperoni pizza, and something carnivorous with every meal, I struggled to find myself in meat-free meal situations.
Add to the fact that my choice to go vegetarian was simply because I didn’t like meat – no animal rights, no medical reasons – people weren’t exactly eager to accommodate me.
Throughout the years, it got easier, as I became old enough to cook for myself (and by “cook” I mean I ate a lot of cereal, soup, and flour tortillas with melted cheese) and as more restaurants and people began to accept the vegetarian lifestyle.
There were still plenty of instances where I could only order a salad or pasta at a restaurant. I attended my fair share of weddings where I had to fill up on side dishes and desserts. And there weren’t many barbecues or events where I didn’t have to get by eating a bun or a cheese sandwich.
But it got better.
Oh, but that joy was short-lived.
Modern Vegetarianism – It Doesn’t Exist
Nowadays, one can’t simply be a vegetarian, at least not in public. One must be vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and who knows what else is yet to come.
I’ve noticed this at restaurants and in the presence of others. Menus now have vegan and gluten-free options – but, oddly, not much simple vegetarian. When people hear of my food preferences, they used to ask if I was one of those vegetarians who still ate chicken or fish. Now, it’s typically often followed with the assumption I also don’t eat eggs or cheese or gluten.
Sigh. Sorry to disappoint, I’m “just” a vegetarian. I just don’t want the cute and cuddly animal flesh, everything else is fair game. In fact, I love to eat all the foods.
As one can imagine, mostly by the fact I’m even writing this blog, this annoyance has been building up for awhile now.
Salad and More Salad
I was recently at a conference where my annoyance spilled out. The conference was very inclusive in terms of catering to all types of food preferences. Those of us who noted dietary preferences were told we could pick up our lunches in a special area. My badge even noted Vegetarian on it, so I was pumped, thinking I’d actually get a vegetarian meal.
As the aging but still somewhat loveable Coach Corso says, “Not so fast.”
All the “special lunches” were lumped into one. The vegetarian option was also vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free. So guess what it was, both days? A salad. Day one, a salad. Day two, another fucking salad.
Sigh. I’m back to the days of a vegetarian being offered a tired old salad. Because, when accommodating vegans, celiacs, and lactose folks, there really aren’t any other options.
Being a vegetarian no longer means I can have a sandwich with veggies and cheese. Or a breakfast burrito with eggs and avocado. Even pasta with veggies, nope that’s no longer available.
For someone who simply doesn’t like meat, yet still loves eggs, cheese, bread, pasta, and pretty much everything else, it’s tougher than ever to be a vegetarian. “Just” a vegetarian.
Any other fellow vegetarians out there? High-fives! Vegans, dairy-free, and Celiac folks, you know I’m not hating on you. If nothing else, I hope my Celiac peeps know I’ve got your back with people mistakenly thinking a gluten-free diet is nothing more than that – a diet. If only the world had space for all of us…maybe one day.
Do you eat vegetarian or vegan, need to eat dairy-free or gluten-free? What are the struggles you have with it? The comments are all yours so please leave one.