My cousin is visiting from England and yesterday we went on a hike and took her to a nice restaurant in Genoa Bay. Naturally, their menu is seafood-based. Knowing this ahead of time, I was prepared to break my usual vegan diet. I will occasionally do that and eat seafood, eggs, or dairy, but I am less and less comfortable with those exceptions. It made me think about how my change in diet has forced other lifestyle changes. Most of them I see as a bonus, but they can definitely remind me how convenience-oriented our society has become.
So, if you decide to move to a vegan or plant-based lifestyle, be prepared to:
-Immediately recycle all the fast food sale flyers that come in your mailbox or newspaper. DO NOT look at them first! They will tell you where you can buy pounds and pounds of already cooked meats and side dishes for a few pennies. You will start to believe you can feed your family with no effort all week for the price it takes to create one plant-based meal. On a Wednesday when you have worked overtime all week and still face two more long days, you will feel even worse.
-Forget about going to fast-food chains. All you can get there are the fries, if they are not cooked in beef tallow. Salads are always vastly overpriced, and you usually you have to ask them to leave off the meat and cheese that gives them a hint of taste. You will be left with a tiny $6.00 plastic bowl of limp iceberg lettuce and a sad oil and vinegar dressing. As a bonus you get to watch and smell everyone around you nomming down on fatty animal carcasses among mounds of greasy paper wrappers. In the 60’s, my Dad used to drive us to the dump to watch coyotes and bears pick through the trash (yeah, fun times, hey?). I was reminded of it the last time I went to a fast food place.
-In regular family-style restaurants, find a dish you can always ask them to make specially for you. But get used to paying full price for meals without meat. I have found virtually every place will make you a BLT sandwich without the bacon or mayo. However, I have never had them offer to take any money off. Similarly, you will find that all of the salad selections come with sliced chicken or salmon. They will happily leave these off if you ask, but they will not reduce the price for doing so.
-You will be surprised at how few meatless (never mind vegan) meals are offered in regular restaurants. You will learn to find the vegan-friendly restaurants in any town you go to. There is usually at least one, and it can be so nice to look at a menu and see some good creative dishes.
-If you watch reality TV, realize that you could never participate on any of the shows yourself. None of the cooks on the shows can cook a meatless meal. (Which brings up the question for me- if they are supposed to be so good, why can‘t they cook decent meals without meat as a flavour crutch?) And, if you were on any of the amazing race or dare-type shows, you would have to eat some extra nasty kind of offal meat as a challenge.
You will discover some good things, though:
-If you read grocery flyers, you really only have to look at the front and back pages, since the rest of the flyer is filled with meat, dairy, and processed foods. It certainly speeds up the weekly grocery shop planning.
-At the checkout counter, it is always fun to go behind someone who clearly buys from every page of the flyer, and compare their grocery bill with yours.
What unexpected things have you discovered about changing your lifestyle?