It’s Not Easy Being Meat-Free

Some days remind you that it’s hard having special dietary needs. While I’ve overall enjoyed being meat free in 2012 (OK, nearly meat free if we include a couple of cheats and the seafood eating), it can sometimes be a pain.

Exhibit A: On Thursday, I attended a guest speaker’s talk and luncheon in our department. I was reasonably confident of veggie options since my department is actually pretty good about this. Indeed, they did order in some vegetarian sandwiches, but I was really bummed out to grab some pasta salad only to find when I bit into it that there was chicken in it. So unnecessary. I mean, in a pasta salad?

Exhibit B: I got roundly harassed by a friend on Friday at dinner for both not drinking and not eating meat. We were out for pizza but I’d already had dinner and was just out for the company, so it’s not like I was causing an inconvenience to anyone. However, it amazes me how certain male friends and relatives in my life directly associate masculinity and eating meat. How primitive can you get? Guys, veggies are food too. But, if I’m not going out of my way to hassle you about avoiding an entire food group, maybe you should lay off too.

Exhibit C: Yesterday I attended the inaugural Tucson Taco Festival, and event I had high hopes for. I got a Groupon for half-price entry, and before purchasing I went to the festival Web site to ensure the availability of tacos I could eat. The event page clearly notes that seafood tacos would be available. When I went online last week I also saw the promise of veggie tacos, though it seems that has either been removed from the Web site or is less prominently noted. At any rate, when my friend and I went yesterday (and when we made it through the traffic chaos and sloooow entrance lines), I was extremely disappointed with the selection. I found only one vendor in the entire festival selling veggie tacos, and it was a disappointment. I had to wait while they got clean tongs, because they realized they were using the same tongs for meat and veggies–ack! Then it turned out that all I got was a spoonful of stewed peppers, onions, and mushrooms plopped on a tortilla. No greens, no salsa, no option to add cheese, and not much flavor. The fact that I bit into a hunk of onion peel just rounded out the disappointment.

The seafood taco scene was equally as bad. I saw three vendors advertising seafood tacos, but only one was actually selling them. At one vendor, I waited in line 20 minutes before being told they were sold out. Another vendor told me they weren’t ready yet (three hours into the festival???) and told me twice to “come back in half an hour.” By the time I got to the third vendor and was actually able to get a shrimp taco, it seemed like the most excellent taco I’d ever had. In all, I spent my $10 worth of food tickets mostly on water, chips, and salsa. Mind you, no one really needs two orders of chips and salsa… unless you have nonrefundable food tickets and there’s nothing else you can eat. Ugh. A $5 cover for two lame tacos? Not really worth the price of admission.

Times like this can make a person question their life decisions. So why stick with the veggie lifestyle? Well, in response to that I can say that I’m down 28 pounds since last Christmas. I’m also having great runs. A sub-30 3 miler earlier this week, and a satisfying 5 miles earlier today. I’m even signed up for my next race: The Fast and the Furriest 10K in Rochester, NY in June, while I’m in town visiting family and attending a wedding. Feeling good, looking good, and helping animals have a better life. Isn’t that worth the occasional inconvenience?