Call me the Uneager Vegan.
This morning I sat down to a breakfast that was nearly unrecognizable…well, for a breakfast. It looked more like a snack than a meal. I ate half an orange bell pepper and five thick slices of zucchini. I dipped my earthen fare in hummus for added fats and to help me feel like I’d eaten something of substance. Because I’m a big boy, this breakfast was my decision. Because I’m a glutton, it was not my idea.
Here’s What Happened
My wonderful wife has decided to adopt a fully vegan lifestyle. Our refrigerator currently contains no cheese, no meat, and no eggs. The only “violations” you would see are a gallon of whole milk and a few Chobani yogurt cups. Both are reserved for our 21-month-old picky eater who is just now contemplating the abandonment of bottled milk. And, yes, the milk is also available for when I want a row of Oreos or Chips Ahoy! cookies.
When breakfast rolled around this morning I was about to hop in the car and head for my nearest Bojangles or Waffle House. Two of my favorite fast food breakfast options and the source of a significant portion of my wife’s eye rolling.
(For the record, both of those fine southern dining establishments offer vegan options)
We moved to a state with its own entirely unique style of barbeque sauce. Smoked meats are as ubiquitous as the advertisements that so lovingly call my name. Butter biscuits represent my second favorite food group. So, why, am I writing about being a vegan? Because, depending on how you define “vegan,” I think I technically am one… suddenly.
Two Types of Vegan
As I see it, there are only two different types of vegans. Those who believe in supporting locally grown food, refusing to support a decidedly unscrupulous (if not outrightly amoral) food industry, and paying meticulous attention to what exactly is going into their bodies. This group has splintered into two factions where one group is concerned with living a healthier life while passively hoping the aforementioned corporations will lose enough money to change their ways. The other group stages breakouts for mistreated farm animals and proudly declare their lifestyle by displaying an oddly large selection of esoteric bumper stickers aimed at making someone feel guilty.
The second principal group of vegans are far less concerned with animal rights but still want to live a healthy life. Their decisions are centered around the consumption of whole foods while abstaining from eating processed and packaged selections inevitably filled with ingredients you need advanced degrees to pronounce and fully interpret.
Since you asked, Tiffani fits the former of the two groups.
Whether or not you’re at all concerned with the ethics of animal cruelty, these two groups still self-identify as vegan based on their shared beliefs about what they will and will not eat. So, where am I supposed to fit into this definition?
Where Do I Fit In?
Right now, 90% of what I consume is in-line with any other vegan. That is because I eat 90% of my meals at home. But, when I eat out, I don’t concern myself with ethics, morals, or guilt-inducing bumper stickers. I worry about what will make me feel good and what will not. Sometimes that decision has more to do with the people I’m with or the situation in which I find myself. Let me give you an example.
Never has there been a culinary association so powerful as hot dogs and baseball. It’s bigger than turkey at Thanksgiving. It’s bigger than Santa Claus’s untouched cookies and milk. The only other connection that’s even on the same level is beer at a baseball game. When I go to a baseball game, I want to eat a hot dog. It’s just what I do. Even the shittiest hot dog on the planet tastes better while sitting in the stands, along the first base line, about five rows up from the dugout.
When my wife announced her decision to adopt a vegan lifestyle I tried to take it in stride. I mean, I really don’t even like bumper stickers and we only have one car. She explained her reasons and she made it clear that this was going to be her decision. There was no subtext or underlying expectation that I would jump on this (admittedly very lush) wagon. I’ve since tested her invitation in many ways but, most importantly, I decided to give her decision a chance. Tiffani is adamant about the ethical and the dietary implications of a diet including animal products. That is why our refrigerator and freezer are void of former staples. Since this transition began, I’ve compartmentalized my eating habits into “meals at home” and “meals away.”
Here’s What I’m Going to Do
In this series of blog posts, I plan to lay out my initially uneager foray into this vegan lifestyle thing. I can’t promise that I’ll fall in love with the ideals or the way it makes me feel. I don’t know what it will do in terms of weight loss or weight gain. Who knows? Maybe I’ll give up hot dogs altogether; baseball, or not. What I can promise is honesty. What I can promise is an unwavering support of my wife. I believe the best support comes via empathy. I can’t support my wife unless I have some understanding of what she is learning, feeling, and experiencing. So I will read, and watch, and listen, and eat rabbit food, and drink Sugar-Free Redbull (for now) and I will see where this takes me.