Thursday, April 21, 2011

Laughing Alone with a Salad

Sometimes I just feeling like laughing alone with a salad.

Photo credit: Mike Vitalino
It’s been a month now since I decided to be a veghan, and I thought I’d use this post to reflect on how it’s been going so far. I was about to refer to it as my “progress,” but that implies some kind of end point, and I don’t really have a goal to progress toward.

The coolest (and most surprising) thing has been the support I’ve gotten from my friends, who have gone out of their way to send me vegan recipes and websites about veganism, and in some cases have even cooked me vegan food. My whole family has made a point of learning about veganism and calling me to share what they’ve learned. My roommates have come up with ideas and participated in my vegan cooking endeavors. Andrew has been totally flexible about trying vegan-friendly restaurants with me, and he's even done a good job of hiding his jealousy as I mourn my polyamorous breakup with bacon and cheese.

Photo credit: Mike Vitalino
Since I post my blog updates on Facebook, people I haven't talked to since college have been confronted with my veganhood on their newsfeeds. I'm sure most of them see my newest post and think, "Isn't that the chick who tried to take 21 shots on her 21st birthday? Nice to see she's still craving attention!" But I've received a bunch of messages from people just wanting to say that they enjoy reading about my hapless adventures as a vegan. In some cases it's turned into a little catch-up session with people I haven't seen in years.

I'm getting more comfortable identifying myself as a vegan. I'm still tempted to preface my special requests at restaurants with, "I know this is probably an annoying question, but..." because I feel guilty for being one of those customers with insane dietary restrictions. I've made a point of only asking questions when necessary. I always carefully investigate the menu to find out as much information as I can before asking for details.

But sometimes I still catch myself being obnoxious. For instance, at my friend Sasha's birthday dinner at Hollister Brewing Company the other night, I ordered a Market Salad with no cheese. It was served with some moist-looking bread, which I really wanted to eat. I asked the server, "Excuse me, what is in this bread?" She scrunched up her nose and said she'd ask in the kitchen. When she returned, she very politely explained that it was sourdough bread that the restaurant ordered from a bakery downtown, and she had no idea what was in it. Of course she didn't. Did I expect her to have baked it from scratch, so she could report its animal-product content to any obnoxiously inquisitive vegan who might ask?

Photo credit: Mike Vitalino
My anxiety about interacting with servers at restaurants has resulted in my avoiding eating out whenever possible. That's good because I can put the money I would have spent at restaurants toward vegan ingredients for cooking meals at home.

I've done a really good job of sticking to eating vegan food. My only slip-up was when I got macarooned (!) at a party a few weeks ago. Most of the time, I don't feel like I'm depriving myself of anything. I feel quite healthy and content.

Being a vegan has been isolating in some ways. Eating is often a social activity, and now I'm a little bit excluded from that experience. It might seem like those women laughing alone with salads are about to burst into tears and cry, "I'm so lonely!" as soon as the camera turns off.

But they might just be really happy about their salads.


  1. <3 the photoshoot effort and the hairpin reference!

    i want to take this opportunity to shout out (as one of the friends from college) that i feel you! in public eating situations, i pretend like i'm vegan, because i've developed an allergy to eggs. this is especially true when it comes to baked goods. i totally sympathize about the bread - those animal products can be very, very sneaky. meanwhile, i've developed an uncanny sense to judge when bread is likely to be made with egg, based on texture and sheen. these are important skills that i'm sure in time, you will foster as well, young veghan grasshopper!

    <3 sara

  2. Sara: I think you should make a graph to show the relationship between texture/sheen and likely egg/milk content! It would be very helpful to me - right now I'm just generally avoiding any breads whose ingredients I can't verify.

    <3, Young Veghan Grasshopper