On Being Vegetarian

When I started practicing hot yoga a few years ago, I noticed I had to change my diet wildly to combat some heat/exercise induced migraines. Unlike running or other cardio activities, I almost always needed to eat right before I did a hot yoga class, or otherwise I was guaranteed to get a pounding migraine. The problem with needing to eat, I’d often feel way too stuffed to get into a lot of the spine/abdomen compressing poses, and then there was the whole “don’t eat six hours before a class” as Mr. Bikram himself recommends. So in an effort to better my yoga practice, I decided to try to eat vegetarian. As a college student, this was actually pretty easy to do. Cooking meat was always so time consuming, nor did I have the proper means, patience, or seasoning to adequately cook decent (read: quality and expensive) meat. I realized I was pretty much already eating vegetarian most of the time. So I just started calling myself a vegetarian. And ya know what? Ya, I thought I seemed cooler sans meat. As pretentious as “oh…I can’t eat that, I’m a vegetarian” sounded, I kinda liked it. I admit it.

It’s been a long time coming…but my friends and family will be pleased to hear I have decided to stop posing as a vegetarian.

It’s hard to grip reality and admit that I don’t think I ever really was one. Even in the midst of some hard core six day stints where everything I ate was the color green, I still found myself heating up “Chicken Club Ranch Panini” Lean Cuisines during those days. Mid-bite I’d realize that there was in fact chicken on my sandwich, but I justified it – telling myself it wasn’t REAL meat. It was definitely fake meat. Ya…fake meat.

Then the weekend would roll around and it was 2 AM on Friday (Saturday?) and I was gorging on deluxe supreme Jack’s cardboard pizza. But the “fake meat” argument worked well there too.

Until it was Sunday and I realized I was utterly starving from eating rabbit food all week and when the roomies asked where we should go for Hungover Sunday Brunch, I was always the first to say CULVERS!!!!!!!!!! BUTTER BURGER!!!!!!!!!!! DOUBLE BUTTER BURGER OM NOM NOM NOM WITH CHILI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And so came about the “vegetarian during the week” thing.

My go-to staple vegetarian meal was always Jimmy John’s #6. The classic vegetarian. Plenty of mayo and guac on that baby to make up for whatever calories the lack of meat provided. The JJ men would always ask me if I wanted bacon on my #6. And I’d always act appalled. Of course I don’t want bacon on my VEGGIE sub! WHO DO YOU THINK I AM?! I can’t eat bacon as a vegetarian!

And then I started getting bacon on my veggie sub.

Satisfaction rating doubled and there was one less place on campus that I was safe as a vegetarian.

I’d tell people I tried to eat vegetarian 90% of the time. When in fact, I really tried to eat vegetarian about 70% of the time and actually only ate vegetarian 50% of the time.

That 50% is probably a direct result of the Dandelion Food Cart. Thank you Dandelion, you were the only one I could trust. Even though you made mushrooms and pumpkin taste like Pork – and that alone is reason to not trust you…

As a vegetarian, I dined at Full of Bull Roast Beef House, picked up many beef sticks at the Mobil Mini Mart, indulged in plenty of $1 Chasers Meat Tacos on Wednesdays, and crock potted quite a few beef briskets, white chicken chilis, and pork chili verdes. You could say I was having my meat and eating it, too.

So here is to accepting defeat. Or maybe acknowledging that I never ever really took on the challenge. What was it about saying I was vegetarian that made me feel like I was super duper cool? What is it about being vegetarian that makes people more intriguing? Why is that as a girl, I feel awkward saying “I LOVE MEAT” and ordering the 32 oz sirloin while out to eat? How have I tricked myself into believing I really could be a vegetarian for three years when in reality I was not being a vegetarian at all?

I think my final straw in accepting my complete and utter failure as a vegetarian was this last Sunday at brunch at the Old Fashioned. My friend Brandon was serving my table and I told him “I don’t really eat meat anymore….but between the Steak and Eggs or the Country Fried Steak, which is better?”

I was and still am the worst vegetarian ever.

You win meat, you win.

A memorial will be held this Saturday for “Vegetarian Melissa” before the Badger game. As a final act to commemorate the short life of Meat-less Melissa, we will be disposing of the Costco veggie burgers purchased mistakenly in bulk (and now rotting in freezer burn) and consuming brats by the fist full instead.


About Melissa Faulkner

1. If I blog, someone will eventually discover me. 2. If someone eventually discovers me, I will become rich and famous. 3. If I blog, I will become rich and famous. Follow me for shorter, daily doses! @melisslyss
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