Saturday, April 16, 2011

Confessions of a vegetarian

Since I do not eat meat, many people make erroneous assumptions about my eating habits.

The first is that I am some kind of health nut. Part of me would like to say this is true. But the part of me that has made Doritos a staple of my diet knows that it is not. Choosing not to kill animals for my food does not mean I also choose not to kill myself with my food. Sure, I eat vegetables with every meal, but I love my fried mozzarella sticks just as much as (OK, 10 times more than) any other girl. Sure, I drink a glass of  water mixed with wheat bran every day, but that's only so that later, I can eat nothing but a slice of cheesecake for dinner and rest assured that I'll still have some fiber in my digestive tract.

People also like to jump to conclusions about my favorite foods. Upon learning that I am a vegetarian, they almost always ask, "So, do you eat a lot of tofu?" The answer is no. In fact, I never eat tofu. There was a time when I thought the stuff was Japan's gift to my stomach, but since then, I have come to the conclusion that the taste is boring, and the texture, much like institutional scrambled eggs and pureed squash, makes my teeth cringe just thinking about it. Tofu is an archaic meat substitute suitable only for those who have not yet discovered the much more appealing textured soy protein and mycoprotein. And I rarely eat those either. I'm not a health nut, after all. Why should I bother trying to get protein?

The last assumption people make is that, as a vegetarian, I love salads. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, when I'm cornered into eating a salad for an entree, I feel right disappointed. I eat vegetables all the time. I eat carrots with breakfast, cucumbers with lunch, celery with dinner. Yesterday, in an effort to eat more leafy greens and fewer starchy carrots, I tried something new and bought myself a bunch of kale (it was just as untasty as I imagined). I always eat my veggies raw and unadorned (with the exception of broccoli, which is so dry when raw and so much more palatable when blanched, that I usually cook it first), because they're just not worthy of special preparation. They're like cough syrup. They're good for you, so you choke 'em down as quickly as possible. I don't eat them because they're delicious; I eat them because they're healthful. (Even non-health nuts must make some concessions.) In addition to my boring veggies, I usually rely on something baked and fat-filled to make my meal enjoyable. A meal without this element is like a day without sunshine. Are you getting the picture? Entree salads = rainy day in my heart. Once in a great while, I feel like all I want to eat is a salad. That's usually because I'm dehydrated.


Geoff said...

You put wheat bran in your water?

Valerie said...

Just once a day.

Geoff said...

Have I told you that your bedtime story is scaring everyone?

Valerie said...

what bedtime story?

Tariq said...

There are neat things that you can do with Kale. Kale chips, for example:

My iguana liked kale. At least, she tolerated it.