So whatever happened to my attempt at being vegetarian on my trip? I did it. Mostly. I did sneak in that Japanese breakfast that had salmon, but how often do you get to choose that from room service? And of course, there were two meals where I got food that I thought would not have meat, but did, like the potato salad or egg drop soup. I promptly stopped eating them, but they were on the plate.
I have to say that I feel for every vegetarian and vegan out there who do this every day, because they choose a different way of eating and are in the minority, their options while out can be vastly limited. I found that if I was lucky, the restaurant would have one token vegetarian option. If I was super lucky it would be something I would actually want to eat. Were I trying to be vegan, many of those options were full of cheese or cream and wouldn’t work. And this was in LA!! Of course, a highly touristy part catering to outsiders, but still.
The buffets at the class and training were worse. Only one day included a meal with a dominant vegetarian entree–veggie lasagna. The rest of the meals provided were predominately meat and I had to make do with rice, salad, and if I was lucky, beans. Let me tell you, the lack of protein options was tough.
Here’s the thing that restaurants, conferences, office parties, etc. don’t understand. It doesn’t have to be that tough to provide for vegetarians and vegans. Beans, lentils, nuts, soy, quinoa, tempeh, vegetables, pasta, brown rice, etc. are out there and easy to incorporate into a menu. Granted, not all are cheap, but some can be quite cost effective. If your only option is going to be a salad then at least provide a salad that has some, pardon the pun, meat to it. A lettuce, tomato, and onion salad with sprinkled cheese and maybe one lone cucumber just won’t cut it. Provide options for people.
Look at McDonalds. I don’t know of one straightforward vegetarian option on the list. I can get a paltry salad with no chicken, but then what’s left? Cheese, lettuce, maybe two tomatoes? You could get the apples with walnuts and possibly mix the two. If that’s the case, why can’t McDonalds do that and offer it as a meal? At least Burger King has that horrible veggie burger that some how sucks the life out of every sandwich I get. All McDonalds needs to do is make a black bean/soy burger or a salad that is built for vegetarians in mind, with beans, nuts, or dare I say more veggies. And I don’t mean to pick on McDonalds specifically. Wendy’s has similarly limited options (would it kill you to have a vegetarian chili?). And while Burger King has a veggie burger, it’s pretty mediocre and not much else on the menu.
I am actually quite lucky. I did the week as a vegetarian on a whim, to see if I could do it. If there was nothing for me to eat, I could always fall back to meat. Not everyone is so lucky. I decided to try my social experiment, because I’m on that precipice where I’m not ready to give up meat, but I’m flirting with giving it up. What I found was that I missed meat. I did decided to make more of an effort to cut back on it again, but not give it up completely. I am fortunate that I live in an area with many great restaurants and stores with many great options for a vegetarian and vegan lifestyle, and I’m going to do my best to support them.