Today I came acorss this article on the NY Times’ website. The article was called, “Meatless in the Midwest: A Tale of Survival”. Definitely worth reading through if you have the chance – veg or not. For me, a long time vegeterian, I felt comforted in reading of another veg’s struggle in finding food that can be considered an acceptable part of our diet. For a non-veg, maybe it will give you a little insight as to what it’s like trying to find something on the menu that can fit your needs.
I live in New York, so you would think that there are bajillions of vegetarian restaurants on every street, but since I don’t live in the big city, this is far from the truth. As a matter of fact, about a month ago I had a mini-meltdown over the fact that everytime we decide to get takeout as a family I’m stuck getting a salad. And as Sulzberger says in her article, contrary to popular belief, the last thing a vegeterian wants is a salad.
In addition to the few options that are out there for good vegeterian fare in my area, another obstacle that I struggle with is that I’m the one and only vegeterian anywhere in my family, or the Hubs’ family, or out of any of our friends. Being that everyone else enjoys meaty things, I’m often forgotten about, and on holidays or at get-togethers, left to pick on the side dishes (or, more accurately, pick the meat off the vegetables in the side dishes), or I have to cook something for myself which often ends up to be a veggie burger.
For a long time it didn’t bother me at all that all I could eat were the side dishes, or that at a barbeque I’d have to put just lettuce and tomato on a bun and call it a day. But finally, I began to be bothered. I was never angry at anyone – ever – for not thinking of me. I was just frustrated at my lack of options. So, finally last year (in my 9th year of vegeterianism) I began to bring my own things. If we were barbequing at someone’s house, I’d bring tofu to throw on the grill – or an eggplant! If we were having pasta with meat on a Sunday, I’d bring a salad, or a vegetable that I could sautee up for everyone else to enjoy as well. At first I think it made me feel a little uncomfortable to be demanding something different than everyone else, instead of just going with what was there and hardly getting to eat, but after a while it didn’t bother me at all. And as a matter of fact, on a couple of occassions, I’ve gotten some really skeptical family members (like my Husband) to try some tofu or some grilled eggplant — and they liked it!
On the same hand, being that my take-out choices were always very limited to salads, recently I’ve made an effort to make myself more aware of the few vegeterian options that are available from the places we like to order from. I’ve found some new, great options that I never knew existed, but I had to do a little extra digging.
So, no – I don’t think that I’ll ever be in the majority – especially in my Italian family, or here in my neighborhood – but I can certainly make it more comfortable for myself by taking a little initiative. Even though it takes a little extra effort, and might make people look at me, I don’t have to pick the bacon off of the brussel sprouts, I can always bring my own!