Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Day 32

It has been 32 days since we started our experiment. In that time period I have now eaten meat three times. I have to say it has been a bit weird being off the diet. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and long weekend. I will tell you know about my experience with meat again.

Unlike Alex, I had a harder time initially with the turkey. I only had one piece, a small one at that. Part of me was worried about upsetting my stomach after a month off the meat (I can say now that this was not a problem) but a significant part of me felt it was wrong. I looked at the heaping tray of turkey and it felt off limits to me. I took my piece and passed it along, then got some mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and lefsa (a Norweigan/Minnesotan tradition, check it out, it's good stuff). I spent a great deal of time focusing on my other options, hiding the turkey under a roll. I think my first bite of the turkey was accidental. A few strands, fibers of the meat separated from my piece and made it to my potatoes, on the very bite I was about to take. I had taken off the edge. I decided I should go for it after that and ate the whole piece in two or three bites with my potatoes. I have to say it wasn't as good as I remembered it, and I actually felt wrong after eating it and maybe slightly upset in the stomach, though it was probably placebo. Needless to say, it wasn't an experience of relief or bliss to reunite with the food group. The rest of Thanksgiving was great though.

The next night, Alex and I went out with the intent of eating meat together (and having fun, too). We ended up strolling the streets of downtown Minneapolis (what a great city!) a bit with Tabitha and Tim before deciding upon the Hard Rock Cafe, as none of us could remember ever eating there. Let me say, the menu had maybe 2 veg options - a veggie burger and a salad. It was nice to not be so limited, though it made the decision making process much longer. I knew I wanted chicken, since I've missed it the most. I settled on the chicken club sandwich (so it had bacon too, which may be harder to give up than I led on.. it was quite tasty). I dug right into the sandwich when it came. I think it was easier because I hid behind the bread and didn't think about what was underneath it. Once I got going it felt pretty normal. I will agree with Alex's sentiment and say that it didn't taste any better than before, even after the hiatus. Just like it always has. Actually, I really could have done without that sandwich. It was good enough, but not necessary. The veggie burger would have been better.

Finally, my third encounter with meat was the following night, out for my Dad's birthday dinner. We went to Boca Chica in St. Paul, apparently voted the best Mexican in the Twin Cities. I have to concur. It was incredible. The smell alone was amazing. There was a mariachi band. Everything you could want. I got chicken mole enchiladas. Now I remember why I missed the chicken. My ethnic food. The enchiladas were incredible. I have to say they wouldn't have been quite as good without the chicken (though the beans, rice, and cheese are still probably the best parts).

So I guess my transition was gradual. I went from avoiding turkey at Thanksgiving and feeling guilty about it, to ignoring my guilt, digging in, and not enjoying it too much, to seeking it out and absolutely loving it. However, the next day at the airport before my flight I went to D'Amico & Sons. Instinctively I searched out the vegetarian options, of which there were two. I ordered the Caprese panini, which was tomato, fresh mozzarella, basil pesto all grilled up. However they were "out of the Caprese panini." Now I don't know about you, but I hate it when you order an item at a restaurant that has multiple parts that need to be assembled and they say we are out of the entire item. I imagine they had tomato (because I got it on another sandwich), and in reality it was just one thing they were out of. Tell me that. You can't be out of something that isn't premade. It was the same at the Mexican place - my Dad ordered a sundae and she replied "we are out of sundae." Upon prodding she said they were only out of ice cream. Say that. We can't make item "X" because we are out of ingredient "Y." Anyway, pointless pet peeve aside, I ended up getting a cold vegetarian sandwich with red peppers, tomato, and goat cheese. It was alright, but I couldn't finish it.

Where am I going with all of this. Since having meat on Saturday I haven't had any since. I haven't wanted any since. I have a plethora of vegetarian food left over (I tend to buy 2 weeks of groceries every time I go to the store, which is once a week, hence the surplus...). Last night I made fried rice with a "chicken" tofu steak. It was delicious. I haven't craved meat either. I don't need it as much. Going to the extreme of cutting it out for a month proved to me I don't need it in my diet. It didn't make me want to swear it off completely, at least not right now. But it did show me that there is plenty out there that doesn't involve it. And from my three meat experiences I think I have learned that really, what I miss, is chicken in Mexican, Chinese, Thai, and Indian food. I don't get that stuff very often, but when I do, it will be chicken (with the occasional rice, bean, and cheese burrito). Beyond that, its veggie burgers, and the occasional other meat. I think that's good for now. If nothing else, I proved that I can do it. I wasn't dying of cravings for meat at the end of it, and when I had it again, in general it wasn't amazing, and could have done without it (again minus the chicken mole enchiladas...mmmmmm..).

So I guess that's it. No overarching conclusions. It is possible to go vegetarian, no matter how much you love meat. I guess that's the conclusion. I love meat, and couldn't even imagine not eating it before we started this. The weeks leading up to it I dreaded what I was getting myself into, savoring meat every time I had it. Now, after it's done, I can tell you all that you can do it too. Give it a try, you may just find you don't need it nearly as much as you thought you did.

Thanks for reading, everybody. This blog made the experience that much richer. To involve all of you in our journey made it special. Thanks for the comments and the poll votes, and reading our thoughts that we often proclaimed with ultimate certainty and truth (even though I can assure you we admit we aren't right about everything we said; they are just ideas, thoughts to contemplate). Saying goodbye to the blog is honestly harder than anything about our experiment. Thanks again, and Alex and I are toying with the idea of starting up a general interest blog, so if you have enjoyed our musings, keep your ear to the ground and you may just hear about our next 30-day experiment, or just about what some girl did after a sprinkler drenched her on her way to class.

Adios amigos.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Rub

Welcome back from Thanksgiving break everybody. I am told my readers are getting quite restless without new material. I am sorry for keeping you in suspense, especially since this is the most interesting point in the experiment in some ways. Yes, Devin and I are eating meat again. It is stranger to write about here than to actually do, but nevertheless, strange is how I feel.

I did quite a bit of traveling to get to my first meat meal over the long weekend. But in the first half hour of my time on the road, I heard yet another timely radio broadcast. The senior political analyst for Michigan Public Radio was covering a place called Sasha Farm (www.sashafarm.org) where Turkeys and other animals go for refuge. Actually, the animals are usually brought there by people. It was an interesting piece for a political segment of a radio program. The host gave the basic info about how and why the farm operates, caring for animals who escape slaughterhouses or get captured by the police after running around the city causing trouble or fail to win the big race and almost get turned into glue. He discussed with one woman how she is a vegetarian and will be feeding turkeys on thanksgiving rather than feeding ON them. She eats a tofu loaf instead. After the basic facts were covered and interview was done, the monologue began. The tone shifted. Apparently it has been a fairly moving experience to see all those animals living happily for their own sake, never to be eaten. He went into the PETA-style factory farm lament for a bit and made an interesting observation. He said that in the modern world we human so rarely have to "meet our meat." Now that is both true, and suspiciously similar to our blog's address. I don't want say we thought of the obvious pun first, but we beat him to it by at least three weeks. He makes a good point thought. We don't even realize we eat animals anymore if we are honest. Chicken is breaded in the wild for all we know. It would be interesting to visit a place where animals that were once destined to be food are cared for and treated with extra care. Check out the farmers' blog at www.sashafarm.org/blog. You can also find the radio program there.

Then again, I am not jealous of that woman's tofu loaf. I enjoyed my turkey, and all the meat I have eaten since. So here is the scoop: I ate a modest helping of turkey for thanksgiving. It was quite uneventful. It was a lot like...well, like eating meat...not very different at all. Felt quite routine and normal. Even after all this time avoiding meat and talking about it at great length, I put it in my mouth and didn't feel strange. It also tasted as good or bad as ever. I was hoping meat would be amazing after being denied it for so long, but it was the same. My thoughts on meat remain changed by the last weeks, and my cupboards still have my vegetarian fare in them, but the physical process of eating meat is not dramatic in any way. What IS a little surprising, is how much meat I managed to eat since Thursday. Not an obscene amount, but easily about twice a day without even trying. Being on the road, in airports and generally on vacation made my diet abnormal, but still, meat found me quite quickly and I am glad I did not have to fight it. That gives me pause. I almost feel guilty for not fighting it. I am glad that I remain aware of the fact that I ate meat daily since Thanksgiving day. I would not have noticed before. But I feel like I should have done more. Sure, I got the veggie soup and salad for lunch on friday and ate Quorn chik'n nuggets for dinner last night, but still, shouldn't I be more hesitant to welcome meat back into my life rather than having it twice a day?

I am being too hard on myself, probably just because I am talking to you guys. I need to be careful though. My regained freedom needs to be responsibly restrained if this whole deal is going to stick. I am doing alright so far. No shame yet. No meat by obligation was a small, fun challenge. Less meat by choice will be a whole new game. And therein lies the rub.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Definition Please

Coming to the end of this little experiment tomorrow, I am having a lot of thoughts about what this all means to me. What change has this really promoted in my life. Was it worth it. What were my goals going into this and have they been satisfied. Why don't people use question marks when they state questions like this. I hope to answer these for myself here? (I have to work on my use of punctuation...)

As I have been saying in the past couple of posts, I hope to limit myself to chicken and fish after this is over. I can cut out red meat, that's fine. I won't miss bacon (though it smells incredible...) or ham. Turkey, duck, rabbit, guinea pig - those can be left alone (who eats guinea pig you ask? Ecuadorians. Freaks, I know. But they love it). Is that enough? On top of cutting my types of meat down from all to just two, I also think I will simply consume meat less. If I just substitute any opportunity for a hamburger with a veggie burger, is that enough? Probably not, though it is definitely a step in the right direction. If nothing else it would be a result. Going into this with only the goal of promoting some change in my dietary lifestyle, that would satisfy the goal. Tonight at dinner, looking at my brother's hamburger, pink in the middle, greasy yellow American cheese melted on top.. I actually cringed a bit. It looked gross to me. That's pretty significant. And means if nothing else I think I will opt for veggie burgers from now on. But more on that later.

So my question, implied by my title, is what is the definition of a vegetarian. For me it has always been someone who is strict, someone who doesn't eat meat, and maybe even someone who freaks out if they found out their vegetables were cut with a knife that was used last week to cut some chicken (wackos...err I mean no judging here). Regardless, a vegetarian is someone who NEVER eats meat, right? Well, if that's the definition, then according to an article I read, that comprises about 3% of US adults. However, if the definition includes someone who rarely eats meat, avoids it at almost all costs but may eat it if the situation calls for it, someone who wouldn't cook with it in their homes, but may eat it every once in a while - that definition includes about 10% of US adults, again according to the same article. Is that enough? Am I striving for 100% strict vegetarianism, and anything less is unsatisfactory? Or can their be small victories, steps in the right direction, or even inclusion of those not strictly vegetarian, but preferring that diet. Where is the line?

If I eat meat once a month - it just comes up, at a function or dinner I can't get around, there are no other options on the menu, or I slip up and eat it - am I considered a vegetarian? I think many people would say, yeah, probably. I mean, for 29 days out of the month you follow that diet, regardless of how "strict" you are overall, on any given day you are unlikely to even consider eating meat. Yes, that person is a vegetarian. But what about every 2 weeks. Ok, maybe a bit more frequent, but still 13 out of 14 days you are vegetarian, that's like 94%, pretty good. What about once a week? Twice a week? Where is the line.

I like to think that the most important thing is to be aware. Aware of where your food comes from, how it got to your plate, what it entailed for the animal or farmer, the butcher or mill worker, the packager and shipper. Who's life did your food affect. That's number one on my list. I want to be aware. Our food choices have system-wide implications, and I want to be aware. Beyond that I think any effort to change is valiant. Even if it means occasionally getting a veggie burger over a beef patty. That's still change. Or if it means swearing off meat for good; that's change. So maybe I shouldn't worry about definitions and be content cutting down my meat consumption and limiting my sources. Maybe that's good enough for now.

Tonight at Fuddrucker's with my family, my brother and Dad got regular burgers, while I convinced my Mom (an avid reader of the blog! hehe) to get a veggie burger with me (I had one yesterday in the airport too, also from Fuddrucker's). She liked it a lot. As did I of course. My brother tried it and said it was weird and gross. That's ok, maybe someday. At least he tried it, even though I gave him a hard time (thats what brothers do). Even if my Mom trying a veggie burger with me is the only change that comes from this blog, other than change for Alex and me, that's pretty cool.

Both Alex and I plan on eating turkey tomorrow. It will be weird after so long. I can't even imagine at this point how that will feel. Something that was so normal a month ago seems so.... wrong, now. Tomorrow is Alex's turn to blog, but due to the monumentous occasion of eating meat, ending the experiment, I think it's safe to say we will both be writing about that experience. I hope he gets a chance to write at some point tomorrow, even if no one is reading, but if not then await posts from both of us on Friday. Thank you all for reading as always. Comments are appreciated as this winds down.

Finally... Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! And while we all sit down and think about just how truly blessed we all are tomorrow, let us also think about where all of our food comes from. Its not enough to be thankful for the food we have if we do not consider where it came from. We are all lucky to have a place to be tomorrow, and a warm meal and great company. Let us think of those who are not so fortunate, while we contemplate our blessings.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Small Things

Have you ever stopped to enjoy the simple things in life? Those things out there that were considered wondrous long ago but somehow lost their glory. I know our friend Devin will sometimes spend hours marveling at trains. Not the machines themselves, but the routes they travel and the fact they are there to be ridden at all. As for me, I find cups to be beautiful things. Liquid can be quite unruly when it is not contained. How do you keep it off of your pants and passing into your mouth in an orderly fashion? I will tell you how it is done...with cups my friend! Cups! They are so simple, yet so powerful. Straws are good too, but they are rarely found without cups.

I also enjoy democracy. It just feels good to share your opinion with the world. You know you are right about everything, you just need to get your message out there. So when you find a way to do it, there is much satisfaction. I had an opportunity to make my voice heard the other day, and it felt even better than I thought it would. I filled out a survey from my student senate about how I want my school to change or stay the same. One question in particular was interesting to me. The question was whether or not I would like to see more vegetarian and organic options in the dining halls and other food vending areas. I normally would have marked the response indicating something like indifference, but without hesitating I marked the option indicating extreme interest instead. I was already rather impressed with what I could eat in the dining halls being a vegetarian, but there could always have been more. It was exciting to convert this experiment into voting power. Sweet, sweet voting power.

Devin and I are not the only ones doing these sorts of experiments you know. We are not clever at all. I have heard tell of some other, possibly more interesting experiments going on out there. One woman is carrying her garbage/waste around with her for a month. That will teach her to waste less I bet. (Don't worry, I am told she was allowed to use and flush toilets) The intensity of her experiment is a few notches above my own, and for that I commend her. Another man tried to go a week without using the internet. That sounds less intense, but I bet it caused more frustration overall than I have had total this last month. You might want to scoff as well, but I don't see you doing it. (In fact, you seem to be on the internet right now) On the other hand, there is a man who is trying to live entirely on the internet, relying on virtual communities to stay sane for a week. I don't know why he would do that except for kicks. I don't know of anyone who holds the virtual realm in higher esteem than the real realm, so he is not proving anything as far as I am concerned. But he is still doing a time-bound lifestyle change, so we have something in common. These little experiments are useful I think. Well, for myself I KNOW they are useful. I have learned many things, thought in very different ways and felt lasting changes instilled in me. These are the types of things we all want in our lives. I am telling you all it takes is an idea and a small amount of determination. We would ALL be wasting less if we would just carry a plastic bag around for one month. Or a week. Probably even a day.

I have recently enjoyed a few restaurant outings and social events that challenged my ability to stay meatless. I think their frequency picked up here at the end for me. But they are hardly worth mentioning because I am getting so good at them these days. I might even miss the legitimate reason to order the funky new 'boring' item instead of my usual meat items. I have so many more left to explore.

I am supposed to write again on Thanksgiving day. The day this all ends. Devin and I should probably both write about our first time back with meat, but whether or not any writing happens at all is yet to be seen. I mean, it is a holiday. I hope you all have better things to do than read this blog on a holiday. You read this at work, right? When your boss isn't around. Yeah, thats what I thought. A special thanks to those who read this in their precious personal time. But to everyone, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Alec Baldwin Does It

The wrong reason to do something. Not that I have anything against Alex Baldwin, 30 Rock is a hilarious show. But I don't take my social cues, dietary restrictions, or much of anything from him. But he is a vegetarian, and in my new "Vegetarian Starter Kit" (a 25 page pamphlet that Pamela Anderson sent me upon personal request on her answering machine. In case you want, she asked me not to give out her number, but it's 1-888-834-3663. Why she has a toll free number, don't ask me) Alec gives me an inspiring message:

"Every time we sit down to eat, we make a choice: Please choose vegetarianism. Do it for... animals. Do it for the environment and do it for your health."

Nice words Mr. Baldwin. In fact the whole first two pages are filled with other celebs that are also vegetarians, and I think PETA wants you to see their faces more than they think you will be convinced by their words. Celebrities like Sir Paul McCartney, Tobey Maguire, Casey Affleck, Natalie Portman, Common, Russel Simmons, Joaquin Phoenix, Clint Eastwood, and the Dalai Lama. Compelling reasons to go vegetarian, aren't they. Oh, I forgot to include their short messages about why they are vegetarian? I'll write it next time, but I think the names speak for themselves.

I know celebrities are cool, but they are just the wrong people to listen to for dietary choices. No one loves a preachy celeb as much as I do, but lets leave them to tell us about fashion choices, global warming, and AIDS. Well at least fashion choices. Or.. what movies to see, they can have that.

Jokes aside, this guide is alright. On the next pages it has info about how to get the protein, iron, and vitamin B12 you miss out on from cutting meat. There is information about the ills of dairy and some good substitutes. A story on raising vegan kids, and a doctor's opinion on weight loss from vegetarianism. Then PETA acts a bit more like PETA and runs a series called "Meet Your Meat." Hey! They stole our pun... Anyway, they show pictures of chickens and cows and pigs and fish being exploited and miss treated. Paul McCartney makes a pitch for the environment (the best reason by far!....err I mean they are all good.) and then there are more tips on switching. The final pages include some recipes that look pretty yummy. All in all its actual pretty helpful even though it is so skimpy. I will definitely hang onto it for the future when I decide to go 100% vegetarian. Well, maybe. Comment and let me know if I should! Hehe, we are getting pretty shameless asking for comments. But we just want to know you are reading!

Anyway, a few more days until the big day. I am excited to eat the turkey (a turducken is a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken - a John Madden creation. Every vegetarian's worst nightmare. I can just imagine an Alicia Silverstone-Madden Thanksgiving). Then I think I'll try just doing chicken and fish. We'll see how that goes. Don't think I'll blog about it so you'll have to aks me in person.

Has anyone tried a veggie burger yet?

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Remember when Devin claimed to have cheated, but was actually lying? Well, his story about mycoprotein was so intriguing to me that I had to go check it out. While I was at the grocery store I stopped by the frozen vegetarian section and looked for some fake meat made out of fungus. Sure enough, there was the little Quorn section, down on the bottom. I grabbed some of the nuggets on Devin’s recommendation and also a box of breasts. Mmmm…fungus breasts. I have to say Devin was right, that stuff is amazing. Such convincing faux chicken I have never eaten before. I cooked it in some Italian dressing and put it on a salad of ‘baby greens’, dried cranberries, slivered almonds, croutons, shaved parmesan, sunflower seeds and tomatoes. Tabitha could it eat it too because there is no soy in it! She made a barbecue cheddar fungus sandwich. I tried a bite, and it was quite good as well.

This is only the most recent of my meat substitute experiences, which are rapidly accumulating to an impressive family of vegetarian meals. I met my aunt and cousin in Lansing the other night where I was treated to a delightful Italian dinner. I ordered the eggplant parmesan. I have previously been afraid of eggplant because it so big and dark and purple. It looks like the grumpy bouncer at the vegetable club, but also probably bitter and toxic. Turns out it is none of those things. At least when it is sliced thin and fried in breading and cheese. I thought I was eating regular chicken parmesan. Amazing. Then last night I was going to the ballet with four girls (I am a pimp) and we got some dinner at a bar. My fellow vegetarian Grace was with and we were a little nervous that they would not have anything for us. What we ended up doing was getting the chicken portabella sandwich without the chicken. That was even better than when I ate portabella’s plain.

Between eggplant, faux chicken and portabellas I feel well equipped to eat vegetarian. I have realized that even when I can eat meat again, I will probably be a little less excited about it. I will be relieved to be able to accept meat samples in stores and not pass by delicious burger and steak opportunities, but I will probably look for the alternatives in restaurants before relying on the typical meat option, and I will buy less meat for my home. Tabitha told me at lunch today that the Quorn breasts revive her hope in vegetarianism as somebody who is allergic to soy. So it seems this vegetarian thing is finally working out. I am glad to see such profound results before the time is up. Four weeks has been enough time to force me into a new paradigm. Success.

This morning at church, before I realized one could purchase breasts formed from fungus, we encountered quite the humorous and timely Bible passage. The sermon was on value systems and how they often get confused. How trouble arises when we confuse our personal preferences or cultural constructs for absolute truths, especially when dealing with other people. The passage we focused on was from Romans 14. The funny part was Romans 14:2 “One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.” Weak faith? Thanks a lot Paul, way to judge me right off the bat. I guess I can never be a vegetarian again.

Posted by Alex B at 3:31PM 6 comments….Just kidding, this is not the end of the entry. Although, note the number 6 there, I would like to see that for real someday.

Seriously though, Paul was not judging vegetarians. The passage ends like this:

“Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit […] Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.”

There is a lot of back-story to these things since they were written to some people who were clearly having big debates about food, but I think you pull out the relevant themes without all the background info. So what started out as funny ended up being rather profound and surprisingly relevant to what we have discussed here in our blog over the last few weeks. Not only themes of be accepting of other diets and personal food morals, but also the idea that what you eat has bigger ramifications. You can “destroy the work of God” not only by bickering and hating people who eat meat or don’t eat meat, but also by eating so thoughtlessly that you participate in the destruction of creation. What you eat is your choice, but an important one.

So enjoy what you eat today, whether it be real breasts or fungus sculpted into breasts, and Devin and I will not be judging you.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


So we are just about four days away from the official end of our month long vegetarian experiment (however the blog will live on! well at least we'll write about Thanksgiving and a few days later... and because we figure there will be such a high demand for the continuation of our musings on food and life, there's a chance we'll shift locations and topics and keep blogging). When I think back on the last three weeks, I don't even realize that I didn't eat meat any of those days. It's so normal not to eat meat at this point. It's weird to think about eating it again. That doesn't mean I don't want it. Just yesterday in the GSU with my friend Juan we were walking into the food purchasing area when someone walked by me with mandarin and orange chicken from Panda Express... I have to say I felt physically weak after seeing and smelling it. It really caught me off guard. It was like something I hadn't thought about in weeks (the cravings and missing of meat stopped pretty soon after we started this) suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks (which evidently weighs the same as a ton of feathers! who knew?!). I was knocked back and my knees buckled a bit, and I exclaimed in agony. People around me asked me if I was ok. One kid ran to my aid and I think one student actually ran off to call someone for help. I had fallen completely to the ground, so I picked myself up off the disgusting floor in front of the burger place, gave a slight, quick, embarrassed wave to the crowd that I was ok (every single person in a 50 person radius was staring at me) and then slunk into the food area, very embarrassed. I proceeded to the pizza line, ashamed, and discouraged that this was the only line open to me, as all other options featured meat prominently. When we walked back to our seats I felt the eyes on me, and heard one kid say "what is wrong with him? why did he fall? hasn't he ever seen meat before??" I gave him a smirk but he just looked down. You ever get the feeling that when you enter a room everyone's talking about you? Try feeling that way a hundred times. I got out of there as fast as I could, and tried to resume my day.

Now those of you who read my notes from Ecuador, especially the one from the Jungle, know that I like to embellish a bit and stretch the truth... None of the above story is true, except the fact that I did actually feel physically affected by smelling the meat. Beyond that there was no embarrassment. Sorry for any confusion or concern for my well being.

Nonetheless, I miss chicken. I understand how hard that must have been for Alex smelling those three types of meats sizzling together in a dance fusion of oil and heat.

Even though I miss my favorite bird, I do have to say that when it comes time to choose from a menu, I actually do see the meat options and think that they are wrong, or completely off limits. At a restaurant last night with a friend I picked through the very small menu to find two options for me - and I actually didn't mind being limited at all. I could either get an apple-brie sandwich (consequently what my friend ordered.. never heard of an apple sangwich - she said it was good though) or a black bean burger with cheddar. Guess what I got! I love black beans, err, I mean "beetles in purplesauce." The burger was de-licious. And I think that I would, after this experiment, still order that burger over a real one. I actually prefer it. It's better for you too. But its just delicious regardless. I think I can give up red meat even after this. I don't miss it at all.

In the past few blog posts Alex and I have been challenging you the readers to make a change in your life, even if temporary, for empathy or the greater good or whatever. This challenge I propose will be much less ambitious, and thus probably more practical. Next time you go to a burger place (only for those who are not already vegetarians of our readers) find the veggie burger option and get it. I guarantee you won't be disappointed (guarantee not binding, and by that I mean I don't guarantee it, but strongly think you won't be disappointed). You will hopefully find what I've found, that they are actually preferable to a real burger. If you love it so much why don't you marry it? - is what I'll say to you when you discover how great they are. Then to me you'll say "grow up, what are you 5?" I'll probably feel bad and admit to having the maturity level of a 5 year old. But, if you do love them, make the switch, and get them every time. Just think about the difference something that small can make! I established in the very first post of this blog that 1 pound of beef uses more water than showering for 4 months! If you substitute just your burgers for veggie burgers each time, you would save SO much water - enough to up the frequency of your showers from once every four months to a bit more frequent (seriously, you stink.. this is for the good of everyone, and not for environmental reasons). If you do try this, please let me know what you think, either post a comment here about your experience, or write me a message. I will be curious to see how it goes for y'all. I await your comments!