New Thing #6: A vegetarian week

In which I am unjustly taunted by a package of vegan tacos.

Because I was too busy to get to the grocery store, I had to limp along the first couple days of my vegetarian week, eating whatever was on hand in the pantry. I had salad two days in a row for lunch, and for the first night’s dinner I had makeshift black bean burritos (topped with leftover Taco Bell sauce packets). Midweek, I finally had an opportunity to browse the natural food aisle at Kroger, where I found quite an array of weird vegetarian and vegan concoctions.  I bought some Morningstar Farms spicy black bean burgers (which I’ve had before), some fake buffalo chicken patties (never tried but I’ve had the faux nuggets and they’re pretty tasty), and the pièce de résistance, Carla Lee’s Nut Tacos (see pic). For some reason, “Nut Tacos” just really cracked me up, and I felt I had to try them, if only for the novelty of seeing the words “Nut Tacos” every time I opened the freezer.  It sounded more like a creative insult than a food (“Learn how to drive, you Nut Taco!” *HONK*). Either that, or a fast food invented for an animated movie about squirrels.

The vegetarian days went pretty smoothly. One night I made homemade marinara sauce for pasta. Another night we had a hash brown casserole made with Greek yogurt and gruyere cheese, topped with sunny-side up eggs (I took leftovers for lunch).

Thursday was my designated Vegan Day. It wasn’t horrible, but I did take comfort knowing I could have cheese the next day. The day started off with a snag when I couldn’t have any half-and-half in my coffee, which made me crabby. Word to the wise: almond milk does not cut it as a coffee creamer.  Things got better at lunch: Nut Tacos to the rescue!  They were far tastier than I would have imagined. I did find it irritating that the package told you to garnish them with cheese.  I felt like Carla Lee was just taunting me, dangling the forbidden food in front of me when I had done the right thing by choosing the vegan tacos.

For dinner, my daughter made some delicious Asian lettuce wraps with tofu, which tasted just like the chicken lettuce wraps from P.F. Chang’s. I had several servings.

Here’s what I learned from my vegetarian week: it is not that hard to be a vegetarian (for me, anyway), but being a vegan takes a lot more work. For instance, I love baked goods (who doesn’t?), but I realized that most sweet baked goods (cookies, brownies, cupcakes, and other things that make life worthwhile) contain eggs. Sure, you could use some vegan substitute in your own creations, but that won’t help you when someone at work brings in their famous chocolate-caramel cake with coconut topping, and you have to resist it all day, sternly reminding yourself of persecuted chickens.

Speaking of baked goods, here’s another thing I learned: being a vegetarian is not automatically healthy. Halfway through my week, a media rep brought in free donuts, and as I was passing them it dawned on me: donuts are vegetarian! So naturally I had one. Or maybe two.

Since my vegetarian week, I haven’t eaten much meat.  Most of the meat I’ve eaten since then has been accessory meat — pepperoni on pizza, a few shrimps in my pad thai, etc.  I could live without it.  Just back off my cheese, you Nut Tacos.

The next New Thing: Writing a song

To be forthright, I must admit I have written songs before. But the last one was in the ’80s, so I feel like anything I have not done in thirty years still qualifies as a New Thing (my blog, my rules).

I’ve always wanted to try writing a funny song – satire, parody, weird novelty song – so that’s my goal for the week ahead. As proof of my success, I will record my new creation and post it on the next blog


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