Vegans, Flexatarians and Sustainability

My wife began a one month experiment with eating a vegan diet almost 2 years ago. As a native Texan, raised on an All-American diet, I naturally responded with a combination of horror and shock at the idea. Heck, I'm not only a native Texan, but my heritage is Czech. Since time immemorial, my people have been making sausage out of anything that stood still long enough.

For various reasons including health and morals, my wife has kept her vegan experiment going. I try hard to lead a sustainable existence but have struggled greatly with changing my diet. Eating a vegan diet is estimated to lower a persons carbon footprint more than any other change they can make. But even knowing that, I just couldn't imagine a life void of cheeseburgers.

So what is a weak-willed but well-intended, sustainably-motivated person to do? The answer, compromise and add lots of spices. The thought of eating plain carrots and peas is a non-starter for me. So we started experimenting with spices we never knew existed and that opened up possibilities I never even considered. A lot of people think of a vegan meal as a couple of raw vegetables and a piece of processed soy in the shape of a pork chop but with the flavor of a shoebox. I am here to tell you how wrong you are. If you have ever eaten at the Spiral Diner, you know that vegans like to eat and like to eat well. Now armed with a spice drawer that has tripled in size, we have converted our kitchen into a factory for meals exploding with flavors from all over the world. Curry powder, New Mexico chiles, lemongrass, garam masala, adobo chiles, and galangal can turn a pan of sauteed vegetables into an experience that will leave your taste buds exhausted but happy.

So two years into this unintended journey I have successfully conquered my meataholism and can honestly describe myself as a flexatarian with strong vegan tendencies. I know it is still pretty pathetic, but it is an improvement. I wish I could say that I have conquered my weakness for the bleu cheeseburger at Fred's Cafe, but I can report that those trips are few and far between. I can also say with confidence that I have never enjoyed eating more than I do now.

If you are looking for a sustainable New Year's resolution, consider getting a copy of “The Vegan Girl's Guide to Life” or “The Vegan's Daily Companion” and give it a try.

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