Monday, June 12

The CDP's Guide To Vegetarianism.

Here Comes The Preachy-Preach.

Hello. My name is the CDP, and I'm a vegetarian.

Hold on, don't leave! We've got to talk; me and you. It's important. It's about the age-old debate between carnivores and herbivores. You know, if the dinosaurs would have just sat down and talked about their differences like rational beasts, they might still be around today. Hell, we might have even had a Brontosaurus as President. Sweet.

I offer today's post as a public service to carnivores, vegans and everyone in between. By shedding some insight into what shapes people's beliefs, you have a better understanding of what shapes the world around you, and what causes people to make certain life choices. Also, I fancy talking about myself, and I'm quite skilled at it.

First off, there are some things you need to know about me:

Moo Snoot.

1. I've been a vegetarian for 5 years now. After trying and failing a few times, I finally gave up meat for good when I found myself sitting alone in a Culvers booth, sneaking in a bacon cheeseburger while my wife was at school. This troubled me, as I was now faced with the truth that I felt guilty about eating meat, so much to the point of actually hiding it from the Missus. I didn't give up meat because of the Missus, mind you. I gave it up for many reasons I'll explain later, culminating with the depressing Culvers epiphany.

2. I'm not trying to convert anyone to vegetarianism. In fact, I'd rather you didn't convert, because it would make us herbivores much less of a novelty; therefore, much less cool.

3. I loathe hippies; cannot stand them one damn bit. I don't do drugs, I don't own tie-dye and I don't participate in any marches, regardless of the cause. If you are standing in between me and what I want, chances are that I don't like you.

4. I hate PETA with a blistering passion. Their marketing campaigns and tactics have done nothing but turn people off of a vegetarian lifestyle, and caused a lot of meat-eaters to get a very negative view of vegetarians. They should be using their donated money towards better things than naked protests at circuses and throwing paint on supermodels. Screw you, PETA; you're ruining it for everybody.

5. I grew up in a meat-eating household. My dad was (and still is) an avid hunter, trapper and fisherman. I've been hunting on many occasions, and participated in the murdering, cleaning and gutting of many deer and small mammals. In my youth, I killed many pigeons and vermin for the fun of it. I also spent most of my childhood on a dairy farm, which cares about cows only as a source of revenue and profit. I've seen some nasty things concerning these animals, but I don't look at any of those things as ethically wrong. Business is business, and dairy farmers are only doing the job they were raised to do. I'm just trying to hammer the point home that the meat-eating and country lifestyle are not lost on me; that was my life for 19 years.

6. I'm not anti-meat, nor am I anti-hunting. I'm not an idiot; I know that steak tastes good, and many people refuse to deprive themselves of such a luxury. Fair enough. I also refuse to deprive myself of a lot of things that I enjoy, but some people find evil and wrong (such as television, gambling, alcohol consumption, death metal and snuff films).

Growing up in rural Wisconsin, I also know that deer hunting is an almost vital and necessary tool in controlling and re-populating forest areas. However, when deer hunting, I believe that your kill should be used for something other than sport; I.E., you should eat the meat or donate it to food pantries. If you have the balls to kill, clean and serve an animal to your family, you deserve to eat it, and we all wouldn't be here today if that wasn't the case.

7. When I was a teenager, I experimented with different diets to see how they would affect my health. One week, I ate nothing but chocolate-themed items. Another week, I only took in things that were the color green. Yet another week, I ate nothing but foods containing meat (it damn near killed me). In my blue-haired punk days, I spoke against vegetarianism, boasting my position at the top of the food chain.

Clearly, I'm not your stereotypical vegetarian. So, why don't I eat meat?

Chick Box.

Well, for vegetarians, there are three main reasons why you avoid meat. They are:

1. Moral/Ethical
2. Health
3. Religion

I consider myself a little of all three.

Morally, I no longer place humans above animals in the dominant chain. This is either because I've grown to love and appreciate animals more, or my disdain for human life is growing stronger. Show me a cow that's minding his or her own business, and I'll show you something that's not bothering me. I now know that you don't need to eat meat to live a healthy life, and I'm not down with the concept of mass murder, human, chicken or otherwise. The treatments, business and sanitation procedures involved in the process of getting a hamburger to my plate is about as corrupted as a stream of Barry Bonds' urine, and I refuse to be a part of it.

I care for and respect animals, and I've done enough bad things in my life without having more guilt on my conscience. More important than my love for animals, however, is my disdain for greedy people. For me, avoiding corporations like ConAgra foods is the same as me avoiding a Wal-Mart. If you're against what someone does, you disassociate with them, and that's what I do to protest.

As a side note, I always find it funny when I see some punk or anti-establishment person smoking a cigarette. Here's this person who refuses to be a cog in the corporate machine, yet he's puffing on a product manufactured by one of the largest and most vile conglomerates on the planet. In my opinion, you might as well be wearing Nike shoes and spooning with Sam Walton's corpse, because you're an idiot.

Health-wise, eating meat isn't all that great for your body. We all know that, but we don't really like to bring it up. True, things like fish and poultry are far healthier and beneficial than red meat, but it's not like we're comparing apples to lard, here; it's all filler. Eating red meat causes heart disease, slows your body down and clogs damn near everything in your chest. Vegetarians are far less-likely to get heart disease, certain cancers and many other serious illnesses. Now, I don't have the exact numbers and percentages on hand, but please look them up if you think I'm way off. I'm not.

Religion-wise, I'm not down with murder; plain and simple. When I look at my cats, I see animals that are pretty much without sin. I don't see cats cutting me off in traffic. I don't see puppies taking forever in line at the bank. I also believe that Heaven isn't just for humans, and you're going to have some pretty awkward afterlife moments when you run into all those animals you killed.

I know what you're thinking. "But we don't eat cats and dogs! Everyone knows that's wrong!" Obviously, that's not true for the rest of the planet. The animals we choose to civilize are the same animals that other ethnicities dine on, and vice versa. Who are we to pick and choose what animals deserve to be spared and which ones require worship? Sure, you may think that eating a cow is more ethically sound than eating a cat, but the billion-plus population of India would tell you otherwise.

We see this all the time in the media, as well. Whenever there's a story where a domesticated animal dies, people put more emotional stock into it than if it were a human life. Meanwhile, millions of other animals are being fed to the woodchipper without so much as a whimper from the dog and cat loving Americans.

Finally, I'd be lying to you if I didn't say that my wife was a factor in the equation. She wasn't a big factor, but certainly someone who made me realize how big of a hypocrite I was being to myself. She's got this knack for making me feel crappy about myself, which in tune instigates a huge change inside of me for the better. I'd have divorced her a long time ago if she wasn't totally right most of the time. She's been a vegetarian for longer than me, and she was responsible in opening my eyes to all of the things you don't see when it comes to getting a hamburger. I'm not one to be easily manipulated, but when someone dangles the honest and raw truth in your face, it's hard to contest it.

I mean, I knew that it was wrong; I could feel it deep down inside, but I kept shutting it up for fear I would have know... do something about it (much like a lot of meat-eaters on the verge of changing). It was that lonely night at Culvers that changed me for good. I came to the obvious realization that I wasn't being honest with myself, and needed to mature to the point of making difficult decisions for the greater good of living with some honor.

So I went home and committed ritual seppuku. Gutted myself like a fish and died, right then and there.

Now, I know that a lot of my readers are meat-eaters, and perhaps some of you are considering making the Big Switch. Here then, a starters guide to vegetarianism: How to start, why to start, what to eat and how to deal with your relatives.

Fresh Off The Wing.

1. You don't need meat to live.

This is the big thing people need to know. It seems foolish that anyone would actually think this, but sometimes it needs to be spelled out to remind you. Meat is a food group, yes, but it's not vital. There is nothing in meat that you can't get in other foods (or, at the very least, supplements). That being said, don't obey the food groups. Anything institutionalized by the government in the 50's and never updated cannot be what's best for you.

Case in point; I'm doing just fine. I've been off of meat for almost 5 years, and I'm in the best shape of my life. I look and feel better, I've participated in distance running and greatly expanded the amount of healthy things I put into my body. When I ate meat, I was sluggish and needed caffeine to function (I've actually been away from caffeine longer than I've been away from meat). I got sick more and needed more sleep to feel rested. I had slight asthma problems and couldn't breathe deeply. That's all changed now, and it's not because I'm a tremendously healthy eater.

Remember, this is just my own personal story and results, but it's all true. Except for that ritual suicide thing.

2. Stop looking away.

Most meat-eaters don't want to know how their food is prepared. They don't want to know how it gets to their plate, pressed into a nice circle with fake grill-marks on the patty. They don't want to know because they do know it's a nasty process, and if they did know they'd have to do something about it. People are ignorant and lazy in general (we all are), and feel that if something is out of sight, it's out of mind. Never mind the slaughterhouse kill-floors, never mind the holocaust-style feed lots, never mind the legal allowable amount of feces contained in the burger you're eating. Hell, if you knew all that, you'd probably spoil your appetite.


Quick Tidbit: If you took all the farmland that was being used to simply house the cows we eat, we could grow enough vegetables and crops there to feed almost everyone on the damn planet. Imagine that. If you truly want Bono to shut up once and for all, stop eating beef.

Did you know that the burger you ate last night wasn't just one cow? Nope, it was essentially scooped from a conglomerate vat of usable cow meat, and when you eat a burger at McDonalds, you could in theory be taking in the meat of over 50 cows. Trust me, not all of them were healthy and clean when they got killed in the rendering plant. In fact, I bet that a few of them were rather unpleasant looking.

Also, there are legal standards as to how much animal feces and rat hair can be contained in your food, and trust me, it's not zero percent. I'm not trying to freak you out with scare tactics or anything, it's just the truth. Believe me when I tell you that when you eat a hamburger from a fast-food chain, you're taking in feces, among other things you wouldn't even see on Fear Factor.

People tend to ignore things when they bother them or make them feel bad. It's the same reason we turn the channel when a commercial comes on for the Christian Children's Fund. It's the same reason nobody watches the Jerry Lewis Telethon. As long as you stay uninformed about what you eat, you don't have to question what your morals and ethics are, and everything stays normal for another day. Why change? It's much easier to stay in the dark about it.

You're probably getting agitated and annoyed right about now. Antsy. Squirmy. You probably want to stop reading. That's exactly what I'm talking about. It's how I felt at Culvers. It sucks.

3. There's plenty of food out there.

Oh, man. "What do you eat?" I get this all the time. My answer? "What don't I eat?" Listen, meat is just a small percentage of what you should be putting into your body, so if you eat meat exclusively, you've got bigger problems than what I can help you with. Remember, I tried that diet and almost went belly-up at age 17.

For just about any meat product you can think of, there is a soy and veggie alternative that tastes really good. Trust me, I'm a notoriously picky eater, and I'd tell you if something tasted like crap. Companies like Boca, Gardenburger and Morningstar Farms make meatless equivalents of practically everything that's in your freezer right now (depending on if you have human body parts in your freezer, which is entirely possible, I suppose). Here's what's been in mine over the years:

Gardenburger Chicken Patties
Morningstar Farms Breaded Chicken Breast
Morningstar Farms Sausage Patties
Boca Sausage Links
Boca Chicken Nuggets
Boca Lasagna
Gardenburger Burgers
Gardenburger Ribs
Morningstar Farms Meatballs
Morningstar Farms Hot Dogs
Morningstar Farms Corn Dogs
Morningstar Farms Sloppy Joe Mix
Morningstar Farms Veggie Burgers
Morningstar Farms Spicy Black Bean Veggie Burger
Morningstar Farms Tomato and Basil Pizza Veggie Burger
Morningstar Farms Fajita Burgers Veggie Burger
Morningstar Farms Philly Cheese Steak Veggie Burger
Morningstar Farms Cheddar Burger
Morningstar Farms Mushroom Lovers Burger
Morningstar Farms Bacon

These are just 20 of the many meatless products you can use to transition into vegetarianism. I can assure you that all of these products taste quite good, look and smell just like the real deal. Only these are full of soy and proteins, they don't harm animals and they contain all the healthy parts of real meat, without the bad stuff. They can be microwaved, grilled or put in the oven, used as a side or a main course. My freezer is chock-full of these things on any given day.

Quick Tidbit: Critics will tell you that veggie and soy substitutes are higher-priced than raw meats. In my shopping, I've noticed little to no change, seriously. Furthermore, if you could instantly improve your health and ethical mindset for pennies a day, wouldn't you do it?

Also, Tofu sucks. Whoever started the smear campaign that said vegetarians only eat tofu and rice was an ass. I've had it on about a dozen occasions, and I've probably been impressed once. It's all in the preparation and can pretty much taste like whatever you're making it with, but don't think you have to eat it to survive. Nope. Not even a little bit.

You don't need to eat salads and green vegetables every day, either. Personally, I still don't like green vegetables all that much. Obviously, with all these vegetarian substitutes, your diet doesn't need to change very much at all. If you want a burger, you can eat a veggie burger. If you want tacos, you can use the shredded veggie hamburger as a base, and it tastes exactly the same. Same goes for ribs, chicken, sausage and bacon. Don't be afraid to make the switch because you're afraid you won't have anything to eat; you can eat everything you're eating now. In fact, your diet will expand to include things you never realized you enjoyed. Like beer.


4. What's the best way to do it? What do I tell Mom?

If you finally want to get off the meat wagon and make the Big Switch, I would recommend doing it in stages, taking baby steps. For starters, rid yourself of the meats that you eat the least. For example, if you only eat fish once a month, drop that first. You won't miss it too much, and you'll still have other meat items to chow down on. After a couple weeks of that, drop another type of meat. Then another, until you're done. While you're doing this, continue to substitute what you're getting rid of with their vegetarian equivalents. After a month or two of this, you'll realize how easy it was, how smooth the transition was, how much you don't miss real meat, and kick yourself for not doing it sooner.

That's another thing. You won't miss it. Really, you won't. You think you will, but you won't.

In recent years, I've seen celebrities like Drew Barrymore and Julia Stiles talk about falling off the vegetarian wagon and going back to meat, describing the transition as 'orgasmic.' Not only does this set a horrible example for those trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle, it also paints these people as weak, moral-less losers who only gave up meat because it was trendy in the 90's. It's not like you're giving up meth or anything. You won't be convulsing on the floor or begging people on the street for bacon, I swear it.

Honestly, the most annoying part about being a vegetarian is the conversations you have with ignorant people who should know better (which is sort of why I'm doing this post). Normally, I don't bring this up unless I absolutely have to, and 8 times out of 10 I get some sort of crap for it. These people think they are clever to wave a steak in front of your face and ask you if you're jealous, not knowing that they're about the brazillionth damn person to do that to you. The trick is to keep your cool, answer their questions without exposing them for the shallow turd they are, and make them realize that not all vegetarians are pansy, bleeding-heart fools. Pity them, for meat has driven them mad and rendered them sterile.

(It should be noted that I'm in no way calling meat-eaters idiots. It's when you start mocking non-meat-eaters when you start looking foolish. In fact, whenever you start mocking anything you don't understand, you run the risk of exposing yourself as a fraud.)

5. Don't preach.

Okay, so this entire post has been preaching. However, like I stated before, I don't care if you switch or not, I'm just helping out those who want to switch.

If and when you decide to go vegetarian, don't go around flaunting it over anyone's head. They will resent you and take you off the Christmas card list, and you'll deserve it. You don't want to come off like an angry young man or woman at a pride parade, sporting a sign that says "We're here, we're meatless, get used to it!" because that will only turn people off to the cause and make them squirmy. Be classy about it, try to only bring it up when asked or when discussed in conversation. It's not like you have to keep a secret or anything, just don't be annoying.

Quick Tidbit: In my five years as a vegetarian, I've been able to find a decent meal at every restaurant I've eaten at, with the exception of one. This includes literally hundreds of eateries, including steakhouses. Darn near every burger joint on the planet offers a veggie burger substitute, and you can order just about everything to be cooked to your specifications (potato skins without bacon, pasta dishes minus chicken, etc.). When those around me choose where to eat, I never fret and neither should you; you'll find something good.

In conclusion, I think this post has been a long time coming. If you're already a vegetarian, I hope that this reaffirmed your cause. For those on the fence, I hope that this convinced you to make the dive. For those of you who continue to support the meat-eating lifestyle, good for you. Seriously. Don't let anyone tell you what's good for you, but make sure to always listen to your brain and heart before you listen to your stomach.

Questions? Concerns? Arguments? Anything I left out? Sound off in the comments section, or e-mail me at I'll be leaving this up for a few days, because I think it's sort of interesting and I want as many people to read it as possible. If you have something to day, please say it; either in the comments section or via e-mail. Peace.

Very nicely done. I've tried to go veg several times and it never quite stuck. You've inspired me to give it another (better) try.

(PETA! Bah! They couldn't do a worse job of promoting animal welfare if they were run by crackpot Dharma scientists!)
Actioncat, that's fantastic! I tried and failed a few times myself, but once you get over the 1-week hump, it's no longer even a thought. Keep me posted on your progress!

Dharma is to Lost as Peta is to Earth. They have decent ideas and a good goal in mind, but their tactics and mindgames do them in every time. In fact, I think the Dharma people are better people than the PETA people.

People, people, people.
Nicely put. I haven't so much as thought about eating meat for over a year and a half, and I don't see myself changing back ever. The thought of it just kind of grosses me out, especially when there are plenty of substitutes that are much healthier for you and taste just as good (if not better).

And I think your wife had a lot more to do with you becoming vegetarian than you give her credit for. I can't imagine the kind of torment you would have gotten from her if you were eating meat in front of her. If it wasn't for her, you probably would have never even considered it. But being married to someone who doesn't eat meat would make a meat-eater change their ways quite a bit, because if you're going to be eating meals together it doesn't make any sense to be making separate dinners every night to accomodate. Especially with someone as opinionated as "the missus."

It's sad because my dad is the avid hunter/meat-lover, but I'm pretty sure it would help him out a lot in the long run to eat less meat and more of the substitutes made by Boca/Morningstar. It's just so much better for you...

But yeah. PETA kind of sucks. Make the decision for yourself and don't preach about it. I think the "don't preach" thing should go for any personal opinion that others may not share.
The big point I was trying to make with the Missus was that she didn't make me give up meat. At the time of the Big Switch, people naturally assumed I was doing it to appease her, or because I was some spineless dude who couldn't make my own decisions. True, she was a big positive factor in terms of knowledge and support, but it's not like she laid down the gauntlet or anything.

You're right about the dining options, though. When your spouse is a vegetarian, chances are you're going to have to become one, like it or not. It just makes sense.

Like I said, my dad is a big hunter-type as well, as he'll always be that way, because that's what he believes in. I'm not against it, I just don't choose to follow it. When my dad finally has his heart attack, it won't be because of the meat, but the years of Budweiser and Marlboro smoke. What're ya gunna do?

There are people who talk about vegetarianism like they are bragging; they act like they're better than you because they've given up something. That annoys me to no end. You shouldn't make a positive change in your life for the sole purpose of hanging it over someone's head. Those are the people that will be the first to give it up when it's no longer cool.
And I think your wife had a lot more to do with you becoming vegetarian than you give her credit for. I can't imagine the kind of torment you would have gotten from her if you were eating meat in front of her.

I wasn't going to be the one to say it... :)
Er...I'm trying to defend you, here.

Was going vegetarian a sacrifice I made for the good of the relationship? Possibly, but like I said, it was about 4th on a long list of reasons. we're not eating cats and dogs now?

*whistles and slowly backs away*

Anyway, interesting post. The only thing you left out was when you're invited over to someone else's house: if they don't know you're a vegetarian, do you always tell them upfront? Do you ever feel awkward that you're making them cook types of meals that they traditionally don't like to eat? Just curious

Also, is there a reason that you're not full-on vegan, other than the fact that they tend to be completely insane?
I often fantisize about eating my cats when they finally pass on to the Great Litter Box in the Sky, but I assume that their meat is very stringy.

In all the cases I've been invited to someone's house for dinner, they knew up front that I was a vegetarian, so they already had the menu planned out. If someone invited me over without knowing my position, I'd tactfully let them know I didn't eat meat, just as a FYI. I certainly don't want them making extra accommodations for me, especially considering they are already inviting me over for dinner, but I haven't had a problem yet. Normally with people I know, we just hit a restaurant instead.

I'm not a vegan because you don't have to kill a cow to get milk from them. I also see a difference between store-bought eggs and living chickens, although meat-eaters always like to bust me on that. I'm assuming your beliefs concerning if an egg is a living thing cross over into your religion and politics, so that's everyone's individual decision to make.

However, I don't eat gelatin and rennet, which are two ingredients that normally only vegans avoid. I've adopted this trait simply because gelatin is sometimes processed from the skin and bones of animals, and rennet is comprised of cow's stomach linings (really). The gelatin thing is a downer, because I don't eat Jell-O or marshmallows.

Most vegans are way more annoying than vegetarians, because they were probably plenty annoying before they changed their diet. I respect them because it's not easy to avoid all of that stuff, but it's not my bag. I've got my own reasons, and I'm satisfied.
Is it bad that I have no idea what rennet is? Mmmmm...stomach linings...

Also, you are completely wrong when you say you see no evil in animals, and then site that you own cats. If you haven't noticed by now that cats are demonic and are constantly looking for ways to kill you -- or at the very least start feasting on your body if you so much take a long nap, then I can't help you.

And I would highly doubt that anyone would have a religious conviction that eggs are living. Usually you hear that when Christians say that all fetuses are human beings...but remember -- those are fertilized eggs, not just the eggs themselves. Who knows, though...maybe somebody out there thinks an unfertilized chicken egg is the same thing as a living chicken...
If it makes any difference, rennet usually comes from the cow's fourth stomach, which is probably the most delicious of the four.

You might be right about the cats. The Missus is convinced that one of ours is trying to steal her soul. Tell you what; if the cat succeeds, I'll buy you a burger after the funeral.

That's what I was talking about with the eggs. It's totally different, but there's always someone out there that likes to get all wonky on you. That being said, I only eat eggs about twice a month.

Why, just yesterday I saw a 'Save The Yolks!' protest come right down my street. Madison's a crazy city, anyhow.
"I'll buy you a burger after the funeral"

I know you don't mean it, but that was very funny.
Yeah, but who will be laughing when your cat ingests the soul of the Missus?


And I still don't know what rennet is.
Rennet is a coagulating enzyme:

The most common source of rennet is the abomasum (fourth stomach) of slaughtered, milk-fed new-born cow calves or other young ruminants, such as camels or goats.

Traditionally, rennet was prepared by washing and salting the stomachs of animals shortly after slaughter. The rennet was then hung up and dried until needed.

Now you know. Hooray!

I think my cat is spiritually powerful enough to suck the soul from someone's body. I thought I saw her do it once, but I was pretty tipsy at the time. Now that I think about it, I suppose she was just kicking her ears.

I'm sorry I even brought that up.
It still freaks me out how people figure some stuff out. Like what was the flowchart of the first dude that figured out that if you grind up horse hooves and cow hide you make gelatin? Why was there a need for that? Why would you even think of that? How many other animal parts did they grind up before they figured out the horse hooves worked? It's all very mysterious to me...
I agree. I've always wondered what it must have been like for the first guy that ever threw up. That must have been terrifying. Especially for anyone who happened to be in the room at the time.
"Aarrgghhh! My soul has turned to liquid and is trying to escape! Also, it takes like Wooly Mammoth!!!"

"Hey Grok, remember that thing we just ate? Well, get the hell over here!"
"P.S., Grok. I wish I could quit you."


At T.G.I. Friday's, they removed the Gardenburger from the menu, much to my dismay this weekend. In a city like Madison, where a huge amount of the population is meatless, why would you alienate business like that?

Me and the Missus used to go to Damon's all the time, just for the awesome potato skins and veggie burgers (and atmosphere), but they pulled the burgers from the menu. Unlike Friday's, they didn't replace it with anything, so we have no reason to go there anymore. Smooth move, ya' rib-peddlin' jackasses.

This post got enough comments on Monday to earn another day on the main page. Can it last another?
This post got enough comments on Monday to earn another day on the main page. Can it last another?

Now you're just being lazy. Either you have a new post or you don't, you jackass.
I think this post is fairly important and worthy of another day or two on the main page.

I'm always working on like, five posts at a time; everyone knows I'm one of the hardest working bloggers in the blog business. In fact, Post #400 is right around the corner. Mark yer' calendars.
I didn't say this wasn't important and I didn't say you weren't a hard-working blogger. I haven't updated in like three weeks and I have all sorts of free time on weeknights. All I was saying is you probably have another post ready to go and you're holding on to it.

Back to the vegetarian thing, there's this place a half a block away from my place that has the most amazing black bean burger I ever had in my life. You guys should really come hang out here one night. Milwaukee's not that bad.
As long as you don't call me a jackass anymore, I'll be there. I'm waiting patiently for your 'Welcome To Milwaukee' post.

Me and the Missus have a busy weekend schedule for the rest of the month, but there might be a weekend in July where we can come on down. Also, there's rumors of yet another Sun Prairie gathering on the horizon; I'll keep everyone posted.

Black Bean Burgers are pretty good; the Missus loves them. Chili's actually makes a mean one, but it's messy as all get out.
Best Black Bean Burger=Market Street Diner in Sun Prairie

Best Red Pepper Burger=Flat Iron Tavern in Madison

Todd, to answer your question, we are not vegans because I am a terrible cook. I cannot make anything that does not come directly out of a box. Therefore, our ability to make fresh, wholesome meals is greatly inhibited. It's sad, really. We were thinking of taking a veggie/vegan cooking class if we could find one!
Oh, and about Tinker. I know she is really trying to steal my soul because she tried to steal Sherry's, too. If she wasn't currently on vacation I assure you that she would vouch for that fact.
Yes, our cooking skills greatly hinder our vegan lifestyle. Our microwave does the cooking.
I don't even think it's really possible to be a true vegan. I mean, my wife is lactose intolerant, and it's crazy how much even something like lactose shows up -- it's even used on lettuce at restaurants as a preservative. Avoiding meat seems relatively easy; avoiding anything that comes from an animals seems practically impossible...
That's a good point. As a vegetarian, once you realize what contains meat products and what doesn't, you're pretty much set. As a vegan, you have to constantly be on the lookout for invading undesirables. That's why so many of them are truly insane.
I'm leaving this up for one more day.
You might as well. I'm sure it's bringing in the Losties like crazy.
If that was supposed to be an insult, it made little to no sense.
I don't even know anymore.
Yeah, being a vegan and not screwing up like 3x per day must be hard. Things like "enzymes" and "glycerin" on packaging can mean anything. It's so open-ended that you'd have to avoid anything you may even THINK contains something. That being said, I think I could do it. :)
When vague terminology like that pops up, you can do one of two things:

1. Avoid it, even though it might be vegan-friendly, or...

2. Pretend it's vegan-friendly until someone ruins it for you. I've done this a few times.
That's just too much work for me. As long is it's not "meat," I'm pretty much ok with it. But I also play the ignorance card and don't look into things like that because then I'll become paranoid about everything I eat. And I don't need that.
Let me just say that Tinker is very capable of stealing anyone's soul.

Ryan, I thought that your post was very well-thought-out and intelligently put. Thank you!

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