As Vegan as I Wanna Be

veggies fruit

My adult niece, who has been staying with us for a few days, attached an interesting label to me today.  She called me a vegan.

Immediately, my wife sought confirmation.  “Are you a vegan now?” she called out to me from the next room.

I paused for a few beats before answering this one.  Have I really crossed that line?

“Semi-vegan,” I called out in response.

“He’ll eat an egg once in a while,” she explained to my niece.

I don’t really eat eggs anymore (I love the way the girl responding to Andrew Jones in Violet’s Veg*n e-comics refers to them as “things that come out of chickens’ butts”), but I must be honest and admit that I did eat an omelette to avoid looking totally foolish that time my boss took me out to lunch at a place that never heard of vegetarians, much less vegans.  Funny how I don’t mind sharing my vegan tendencies with all the world in this forum, but I did not feel comfortable explaining to my boss about the humane treatment of animals and what meat processing is doing to our environment.  Hmm, perhaps I should have discussed the debeaking of hens or maybe I could have gotten graphic about how male chicks are often ground up into pet food while they are still alive.  I’ll hazard a guess that she might have lost her appetite at that point.

Now that I am unemployed and have time to click around the blogosphere, I accidentally discovered that Tuesday was World Vegetarian Day.  I hadn’t a clue.  So perhaps this is as auspicious a time as any to “come out.”

Yes, I am a vegan.  Sort of.

I shop carefully and am fairly rigorous about what I eat at home.  Having grown up kosher, I am no stranger to reading product labels.  And I am slowly learning that many products touted as “vegetarian” or that have “veggie” in their cutesy names are not even close to being vegan.

For my protein needs, I am most grateful for those of Boca’s burgers and “chicken” patties and Yves’ textured vegetable protein (TVP) products (particularly their “deli slices”) that are vegan.  My wife humors me and regularly prepares some of my favorite meals, such as beefless stew, roasted vegetables, tofu with fried onions, and a zillion different potato dishes.  Thanks to her keen eye in the supermarket, I recently discovered tempeh and have found that I enjoy it despite its decidedly funky flavor.

Like most of my choices in life, however, I try to remain as low-key as possible about my conversion to veganism.  If my wife surprises me with one of those tiny sugar-free blueberry pies, or if I am offered a slice of cake at a family birthday party, I don’t say no even though those items certainly contain dairy products.  And when my mother makes potato lakes for Hanukkah next month, I am not going to turn up my nose even though I know that an egg went into the batter.  I figure that if I stand for kindness to animals, the least I can do is manage kindness toward the humans whom I love.

We dine out often, which I am finding comes with certain challenges.  Let’s face it:  You don’t really know what restaurants put in your food.  You certainly can ask, but you’re not likely to obtain very accurate answers from a clueless server or a cook that uses a lot of pre-packaged ingredients.  Just because the restaurant doesn’t add any meat or dairy products to the dish you are thinking about ordering doesn’t mean that none of the prepared ingredients are similarly endowed.

When we are on the road, I will often settle for a veggie burger dressed up with as much produce as possible at chains like Denny’s, Chili’s, Applebee’s or even Burger King.  Of those mentioned, only Applebee’s has a veggie burger that is vegan, and even then only if you substitute a Boca burger.  There is always the plain salad and plain baked potato option, but that can get boring after a while if you travel a lot.  Even the bread or rolls that the restaurant brings to your table — almost certainly made with dairy products.  The only way around it all is to bring your own food in an ice chest.  Again, not too much fun, and guaranteed to peg you as a party pooper and an insufferable bore.

So I suppose “semi-vegan” really is the best label to describe my eating habits.  I’m vegan for the most part, but I’m definitely not ascetic about it.  I’m as vegan as I wanna be.


9 thoughts on “As Vegan as I Wanna Be

  1. That works. My mum had the same kind of thing with vegetarianism for years, but after five- six years she did start reminding her friends that she was veg so not to roast a chicken for her. I, on the other hand, am of the view that in restaurants at least, the more we ask for what we want the more likely we are to get it in future.

    • You may well be right about that! Restaurants will offer what they think they can sell. I think it’s time for me to start being more vocal! Thanks so much for your awesome comment. 🙂

  2. Pingback: The Happy Hypocrite Vegan | A Map of California

  3. Love boca burgers! I am vegetarian leaning toward veganism….but, it just hasn’t happened yet. I live in the south and there aren’t exactly a million places for food opportunities. In fact some of the supermarkets have such a small selection of produce its hard to get a variety of foods at all!

  4. Hi there, and thanks so much for stopping by! It must be very hard not being able to obtain a variety of produce locally. I am originally from the east coast, and one of my favorite things about California is the availability of fresh produce all year round. Bocas are pretty good, although not as flavorful as other brands of (non-vegan) “veggie” burgers I used to buy. I do like the Bocas with lots of mustard, tomato and guacamole. You might like to look at the website. Yves makes some excellent veggie dogs as well as several styles of vegan soy “lunch meat” that they call “deli slices.” I hope to see you around the blog often!

  5. Funny I just saw this post because i had a friend staying with me the past three days, and we were talking about this very thing. She considers herself “semi-vegan” as well, meaning she is pretty much vegan at home (aside from her occasional craving for goat cheese), but makes concessions outside her home. I love one of the reasons you give for this, ” I figure that if I stand for kindness to animals, the least I can do is manage kindness toward the humans whom I love.” That was so brilliant.

    My husband and I have drastically cut back the amount of meat we eat. We are nowhere near vegan…maybe we can call ourselves semi-vegetarian 🙂

    • Oh, yes! Many people approach vegetarianism in steps. As I described in another post, it is a “journey.” People ask me all the time whether I miss hamburgers. I haven’t had one in more than twenty years and I can honestly say that I don’t miss it at all. Certainly not when there are wonderful vegan burgers out there! I think the less you eat meat the less necessary it becomes in your life. It is also good to think about where your food comes from, and that (at least to me) makes meat less than appetizing. Thank you so much for visiting! I hope you enjoy my blog as much as I have been enjoying yours. 🙂

  6. Pingback: Find vegan protein | Vegan Diet FAQ

  7. Pingback: Dealing With Family | A Map of California

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s