By ROBERT ST. JOHN
Last September I lived for 30 days as a vegetarian. During that time, Ingrid Newkirk, the president of PETA, challenged me to take it one step further and go vegan. This year I did.
A quick recap: Lacto-ovo vegetarians don’t eat anything that – at one time – had a face or a tail (some break it down to “Nothing with eyes” and, save your breath, oysters don’t count). Vegans are vegetarians who don’t even eat anything that came from an animal. Vegans don’t eat eggs or dairy.
Notes from My Life As A Vegan – Week One:
• 1. I miss bread. I miss bread. I miss bread. Three small words that – on their own – seem insignificant and commonplace. “I” is about as short as it gets in the word world. Obviously, “miss” might have some melancholy meaning when paired with other words, or it could refer to an unmarried young woman. “Bread” could mean cash in the 1960s sense, or just plain old baked wheat as in “give us this day our daily bread.” Though that would not be correct in the vegan sense, because I cannot get any daily bread. String the three words together, and “I miss bread,” is a sad, distressful and gut-wrenching statement.
Granted, it has been only a week, but you don’t know how much I love bread. It’s very hard to find bread without milk or eggs in the recipe. Bagels are lifesavers. I was already a good customer at my favorite downtown bagel shop. I have now moved from “regular patron.” to “fixture” at the counter. I even brought my own olive oil and had them stash it behind the counter.
Pita bread is another lifesaver. Without pita, bagels and English muffins, I would be toast. There would be no way I could make it a month.
Actually, now that I see those three options in writing, it appears that I have more options than I first thought. I can live for a month using pita, bagels and English muffins for my bread choices. Chalk one up to veganism.
Speaking of chalk, can anyone recommend a soy milk that doesn’t taste like a multi-vitamin?
• 2. Does anything smell better than bacon cooking in the morning? It’s intoxicating. They ought to make a ladies perfume that smells like bacon frying in a cast iron skillet. I would buy a case of that stuff right now. Bacon is sexy. Who knew?
• 3. A friend pointed out that I am driving around in a truck with leather seats. Tough.
• 4. I can understand the vegetarians thought process when they state they “don’t want to eat anything with a face or a tail,” or “anything with eyes.” But this vegan thing, I don’t know. A chicken loses nothing by laying an egg, other than relieving the discomfort of having a relatively large hard-shelled orb out of its belly. A cow is probably thankful when milk is emptied from its udders. So I will now petition the leader of the vegan movement to rethink this whole milk-egg thing and render a summary judgment to quickly change the vegan rules before the month runs out.
Also, honey should not be included in this whole vegan thing. I think I could win back honey on an appeal to the Vegan Supreme Court. I own beehives. I’ve studied bees extensively. Bees are going to make honey whether we build hives or not. We’re only being polite when we eat the fruits of their labors.
• 5. Veganism has made me stupid. Granted, there wasn’t much to work with from the start. Some might say the stupidity was evident in the beginning when I decided to do this 30-day lifestyle change in the first place.
Seriously. I have become very scatterbrained. My recall is not up to snuff. There is probably a physiological explanation that deals with synapses in the brain and stuff like that, but when the soy hits the bean at the end of the day, I’m having a hard time with my memory.
• 6. There was going to be a number six, but I can’t remember what it was.
Robert St. John is a restaurateur, chef and author of the newly released “Dispatches From My South.”