I would just like to start out by saying, its not as bad as I thought it would be. Granted, the week is not finished yet. When I first heard the assignment, I internally groaned. (‘WHAT?! How the heck are we supposed to only eat things once, and no more, in a week?’–that was pretty much the gist of what was going through my head, minus the expletives.) I thought it would be impossible. It turns out, that though it is very challenging in some areas, in others it is fairly easy.
Being a vegetarian, I am already limited when it comes to protein sources. The school does make a sincere effort to accomodate vegetarians. On one hand, the vegetarian option usually is, in my opinion, much better than the non-vegetarian option. The eggplant Parmesan is quite good, as well as the spinach-pasta casserole. Especially in comparison to the likes of hot dogs and Mexican pie. Non-vegetarians have been known to chose the vegetarian option over the “normal” selections. On the other hand, the dishes served are often redundant (Garden burgers for lunch on Tuesday, vegetarian shepherds pie (aka garden burger with mashed potatoes and corn on top of it) for lunch on Wednesday, garden burgers without the bun for dinner on Wednesday). This makes it difficult to only eat things once. Other times the vegetarian option is, to be frank, scary beyond measure. (Vegan crab cakes…..How is that even possible? However, they do make very good sculptures when mashed up.)
Still it is difficult to get protein because the vegetarian option often times doesn’t include foods high in protein. There is often a lot of pasta or simply more vegetables. I personally like the vegetables, but they aren’t great sources of protein. I am limited to eggs on the weekends and at breakfast, sunbutter at lunch, and the whims of the chef. In a typical week, I often eat the same source of protein multiple times simply because that is what is available to me. Now I can’t do that. I’m really trying to find sources of protein, and I’m definitely running out.
Most people at this point will suggest beans. I would like to dispel this misconception once and for all: beans are not the vegetarian cure-all. People think, ‘It’s a vegetable; it’s high in protein. Vegetarians must love it!’. No. Not all vegetarians love beans. Some vegetarians don’t even like them. Some even detest them with a burning passion. Yes, beans are great sources of protein and iron and all those good things from meat, with the added benefit of not having a face. I understand this. I know that they are good for me. There is just one small problem. Beans are mushy and mealy and taste like dirt. Correction, they taste worse than dirt. In the wise words of Sid the Sloth, “I’ve tried dirt. I don’t like dirt. It tastes like dirt!” I would rather eat dirt than beans. It’s not like I haven’t given them a chance. I’ve tried refried, kidney, butter, green, brown, and baked. I have tried them in stews, in tacos, on rice, in salads, even on blueberry bread. You name it; I’ve probably tried it. I’ve just had to face it: beans and I are just not meant for one another. And what is the point in eating something that revolts you? Yes, Mr. Knight, I know you are shaking you’re head and saying, “Irrelevant”, so I’ll get back on topic now.
This assignment really made me consider what I eat even more than the normal journal. (However, that does not, by any stretch of the imagination, mean that I have particularly enjoyed this assignment. I just thought I would clarify that.) Since I can only eat things once, I’ve noticed how much I tend to eat the same things over and over again. I’ve also noticed that even in different dishes, the primary ingredients are often the same. For example, macaroni and cheese versus spinach-pasta casserole. There is pasta and a cheese sauce, which makes up the body of the dish. In the second there is also a lot of vegetables. That’s it. The only difference is that the latter has vegetables.
The hardest part for me turned out to being more aware of what I had already eaten. Like tonight for instance, I got half way through a carrot stick before remembering that I had eaten carrots on Saturday. It is really rather frustrating to sit down to a meal and then only be able to eat half of it. I suppose I could just start checking my food journal before I go to eat, but when I sit down to a meal, I don’t want to be worried about what I can and can’t eat. It ruins it. It makes food just another thing to be censored, another mechanism for control.
Food is food. Don’t complicate it. Please.