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.

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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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