If my wife and I take up smoking pot, then we will officially become hippies. We have already given up meat.
Well, at least for Lent.
Yes, my wife and I are using the most holy of Catholic seasons as a “trial run” to figure out whether or not we can give up meat on a full-time basis. After all, Jesus hated meat. (He was mostly a bread and fish kind of guy…ba, dum, ching!) Almost two weeks into our endeavor, I am fairly certain that we can do this, sporadic hankerings for a bacon double cheeseburger notwithstanding. Actually, that sounds pretty good. I am not sure if we can do this.
Let me also say that the news of our quest has been met with increased skepticism, and much hatred. Upon hearing that we are aiming to become vegetarians, people that we otherwise believe to love and trust us have reacted as if we pooped in the trunk of their car, and didn’t tell them for two weeks. “What?!…Why?!” I am fairly certain that people’s disdain for our meatlessness has less to do with their concern for the dietary ambitions of my wife and myself, and more to do with how our decision ultimately affects them. I am not a psychic, but here are some thoughts that were running through the minds of several people we know upon hearing of our decision:
Mother-in-law (Italian): Oh, just great. NOW what am I going to cook? Can’t do just fish, cause the boys don’t like fish. Can’t do just meat now, cause of these two idiots. And Jill won’t eat anything. Ughhh. This is just what I need, before Easter. People are coming over here for Easter, ya’ know! And we’re HAVING meat, I’ll tell you that much!
Sister & Brother-in-law (engaged): Oh, so what – now we need a vegetarian option at the reception? We’re not paying an extra $250 for a vegetarian option so that these two will be happy. This is OUR wedding, not theirs. They can bring a can of mixed fruit, for all we care.
Steve (cousin – has not heard yet, but will react as follows): What? Are you &%$#^&* kidding me? You’re not invited to our barbeque. Bitches.
Honestly, almost every person we tell is crushed by the news, as if we are abandoning some close-knit club of meat-eaters that we never knew we were a part of. It seems as though each person we tell is immediately stricken with some false nostalgia. They look up to the sky, and in their mind plays a cloudy, slow motion montage of all the fun we’ve had in the past with meat. Together. “There we are, laughing over some delicious burgers. Oh – and there’s all of us at the “Hot Dog Eating Contest” of 2001. Man, what a day. Aunt Carol came in fifth place, and Laura was the one cheering her on. (Wiping tear.) And there’s Mike, with pulled pork on his face from that day we tailgated at the Giants game. We were so drunk that day. I think it was meat-flavored beer. I’m gonna miss those two. (Montage ends abruptly, coming back to reality) Wait, no – I HATE those two! Good riddance…sellouts! (Running hysterically out of room)”
The frustration with our decision could also be chalked up to the fact that several other people in our family – including my sister Kelly and cousin Jackie – have what is called Siliacs Disease. People with siliacs are allergic to a substance called “gluten,” which is contained in pretty much everything in the entire universe. Bread contains gluten. Pasta has gluten. Most automobiles are made exclusively of gluten. In turn, many of our family functions have started to become “gluten free,” which basically means that Kelly and Jackie aren't invited, technically making them "gluten free free" parties. It is entirely possible that peoples' dislike for the path my wife and I have chosen is solely out of fear that all family functions from now will feature only marshmallow fluff and fat-free asparagus as the viable food options.
Of course, the main thing people want to know is why. But the thing is, people don’t really want to know why, because whatever you say will be construed as some kind of recruitment for them to do the same, and THEY’RE not giving up meat, so you can just shut the hell up! It’s virtually impossible to explain our reasons for trying to give up meat without sounding like Jehovah’s Witnesses on a Saturday morning. “Do you have any idea how many steroids and chemicals are in the meat we buy at stores? REPENT!” We are only left to tell people that we have given up meat because we are scared of the bird flu. Sometimes we even have to tell people that our decision was sparked because we know someone who has the bird flu. And salmonella poisoning. And also Mad Cow disease. This person is in bad shape.
Truth be told, while I am aware that it’s only been two weeks, giving up meat hasn’t been as difficult as I had envisioned, mainly due to the realization that we never ate that much meat in the first place. The only area of the day where I used to consistently eat meat was lunch; I would always bring a ham or turkey or corned beef sandwich to work. But there are plenty of non-meat options for the guy who brown-bags it everyday. For example, I have been making myself tuna wraps for the past two weeks. But that’s not the only option available. You can also put tuna on regular sandwich bread. Sometimes, you can even make tuna on a hard roll. I think I am going to throw up.
(Maybe the only negative so far involving my own vegetarianism directly relates to the aforementioned lunch, because I am now consistently the guy at the office with the smelliest lunch. And that’s saying a lot, because some of my coworkers have been known to microwave Indian food at ten o’clock in the morning. But opening the tin foil on my tuna wrap pretty much trumps any smell in the entire office, and nothing lingers quite like the intoxicating scent of tuna fish. As yummy as tuna can be, smelling it when you have no intentions of actually eating it is not very fun. In fact, even if you are looking forward to eating tuna fish, smelling it can be somewhat of a turn off. On the contrary, the ham sandwiches I used to eat never sent people running for the exits. Of course, all this means that I have to eat lunch by myself, which is totally fine with me, so guess it’s not much of a negative after all.)
Furthermore, the nutrients we are missing by avoiding meat, such as protein, fat, and whatever else is inside meat, have been replaced by more natural options. For example, I just recently added protein shakes to my diet. My particular brand is called something like, “GNC Mega-Protein All-Natural 100% Whey Protein Maximum Bio-Whey Protein for Increased Performance in the Whey of Protein Powder,” and the flavor I chose is strawberry. It came in a container the size of one of our bedrooms, and I had to hook to the back of my truck to get it home. Between my protein shakes and never-ending supply of tuna wraps, I have so much protein in my system that getting a whiff of one of my farts is the equivalent of eating a T-bone steak.
But seriously, not eating meat has been a whirlwind of excitement. We have been shown nothing but love by our hippie brethren - a.k.a., Graham, Jason, Dan, and Louis – who have given us valuable advice as to how to go about our journey, such as “fall in love with mushrooms again,” and “don’t be scared of the fake bacon – it’s not that bad.” Our only hope – if we can actually do this permanently – is that everyone else we know will stop hating us. After all, we haven’t changed. Really! We’re not hippies – I was just kidding! We’re just trying to give up meat, that’s all.
Which reminds me, I need to go to the store and buy more tuna. And hopefully, score some pot.