I want something to put a pickle on.
That’s my whine every night as I ride home on the crowded #3 bus. At least it is ever since Jeff and I decided to eat vegan. I’ve never said it out loud, this pickle prayer, but if I did, it would sound ridiculous.
Why are you eating vegan? That’s the question everyone asks. If I had a better answer to that, then this whole thing would be going better.
Animal rights? Um, nope. It’s shameful, but I don’t particularly care about animals. No, I don’t gun the gas when I see a broken-winged bird in the street. But I can’t pretend that my vegan experiment stems from a crystallizing moment when I stared into the eyes of a gorilla at the zoo and just knew. Actually, the fact that I willingly visit zoos probably points away from a deep communion with the animal kingdom, Amiright?
Health benefits? Another great answer, but also false. I’m fairly reckless with my health. Exhibit A: I run home in pitch dark during the winter. Exhibit B: I don’t always wear sunscreen because GREASY. I think the China Study is compelling and believe that animal products spell big problems for our hearts and the size of our asses, but none of that is as compelling as a tasty hunk of brie or milk chocolate.
So, basically, I agreed to go vegan for all the wrong reasons.
First, I wanted to beat Jeff. I knew he’d be more moderate in his approach. I, knowing nothing of moderation, planned to out-vegan my husband and raise my fists in victory. On day four he caved at a business meeting while I was home eating quinoa and asparagus. Victory was mine in less than 96 hours.
Second, I love talking about food. And of all the conversations I’ve started about food– including ones with an opening salvo about my anorexic and bulimic past– nothing gets people more riled up than talking about plant-based eating. Ooooh eeeeeh, I’ve heard some mouthfuls on this. Vegan enthusiasts at work stopped by to give me tips on new ways to eat beans. Ardent champions of meat stopped by with their sausage McMuffins to taunt me and describe their grandma’s thick-cut bacon. Friends expressed their concern when I posted a picture of vegan cheese on Facebook:
(I was trying to make nachos.) I liked the attention. I liked the discussion about the ethics of eating, mindfulness about food, and the health benefits of food choices. It was enjoyable to watch other people froth at the mouth in defense of their own food choices.
(For the record, I’m not judging others. I’m too busy grieving the loss of cheese in my life.)
Third, I’d been in a rut for a while with the chopped/cobb/Caesar salad routine, so it was a novelty to order the hummus with pita toast points and carrots. I started eating an avocado every single day. I replaced my afternoon yogurt with nuts and a mango. I wept with joy when I found something called Soy Chorizo at Trader Joe’s. Now of course I’m in a vegan rut. I’ve eaten a criminal portion of beans over the past twenty eight days. Lentils now remind me of the mushy hairballs I’ve pulled from the pipes in my sink. I had a crisis of faith when all the avocados at the store were rock hard.
I’ve put pickles on the black-bean-and-corn “burgers” that Jeff has perfected. Folks, it’s not the same. Think about putting a pickle on a loosely packed pile of beans and corn. See? Not appetizing.
I’m willing to stick with vegan eating for all kinds of morally muddy reasons. But please, someone, help me find something to put a pickle on.