Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Adventures in Vegetarianism - No Meat in Middle America

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of visiting a small town in the mid west on business. When I say small, I mean that the town has less than 2000 people. (I know, small). This is my second time traveling out there and this experience was even better than the last trip. Everyone out there is very welcoming and friendly and down-to-earth. Overall, I had an incredible time.

That being said, being a vegetarian out there was incredibly difficult. The town is on the Canadian border and the temperature can drop well below zero. (I checked and the today's low was -22). For this reason, I am assuming, they like a lot of stick-to-your-ribs meals. Every meal has two staples - meat and potatoes. Potatoes come with everything. I ordered macaroni and cheese there and it came with french fries.

For some reason, I still have a hard time explaining my vegetarianism to people - especially around a lot of meat eaters. It is easy to feel strange when you are at a table of 15 - all of whom are eating red meat - and you are the only one who is different. To make matters worse, there were not many alternatives. We went out to one restaurant where the entire menu is as follows:

  1. Fillet
  2. Prime Rib
  3. Chicken
  4. Shrimp
  5. Fish
So what did I have? A baked potato. Yup that is it. It is hard to feel like one of the group when everyone has a large piece of meat, a big plate, and takes 15 minutes to eat - and all I could have was one potato on a very small plate. I know that I shouldn't let it bother me, but I can't help but feel different from everyone else - I don't even know why that is important to me. These particular challenges may seem petty, but I cannot help but feel separate.

I managed to get through the trip and two giant bags of trail mix. Vegetarianism is a challenge, and I considered this week to be a test. I got through it and am proud of myself. I suppose my work now is to be ok with it.

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