It’s really amazing. This is such a learning experience even just at 5 days in. On Wednesday night I went out with my sister to get a head start on wishing America “Happy Birthday.” The drunk food at the end of the night is when I really started feeling hungry and limited. We went to Pickleman’s – known for it’s meaty sandwiches and cheesey pizzas (it’s like I’m trying to torture myself). At first glance on the menu there were maybe only 2 vegetarian options (but one of them was a pizza). We tried to ask the cashier if the bread was vegan and she just gave us an annoyed and helpless look like “Why should I know that? I only work here.” My amazing sister would not back down since she used to work at this fine establishment and made the girl at least go look. Alas she was worthless and couldn’t tell us, so I ate it anyway in blissful ignorance hoping there were no animal products involved. I did cheat and get some honey mustard dressing (really, honey counts?) since, like I said, my main goal here is the nutritional aspect, and I don’t see anything unhealthy about honey (sorry bees) and the rest of it is vegan (unlike the other creamy dressing options).
Yesterday I finally had something that filled me up for several hours – simple yet beautiful peanut butter toast with banana slices on top. For lunch I took the leftover veggies from our delicious stir-fry the night before and added them to some spaghetti sauce for my pasta. It was comforting to eat this meal since it’s something that is a normal part of my diet. For a moment, it didn’t feel like I was vegan! I had to bulk up that morning/afternoon on filling meals because I was going to be spending all day at Fair St. Louis’ 4th of July celebration under the Arch.
Yes, a Midwestern fair celebrating Independence Day – corn dogs, cheese fries, turkey legs, and funnel cakes galore. I never even eat corn dogs and found myself craving one! I did find ONE vegan option – there was a falafel stand. However, I decided to venture outside the fair grounds to find a better option. And that’s when I learned my second lesson in going out to eat. I thought I would be able to wing it and figure out my order on the spot, but it is so important to look up a restaurant ahead of time. Normally I am so flexible in what I eat and hate to cause any disturbance (my midwestern attitude at heart I guess), but I’m going to have to get a little more ballsy and annoying and check every ingredient. This is much easier done ahead of time online rather than in person in line.
I chose St. Louis Bread Co (Panera for those of you not familiar with St. Louis) since it is one of my favorites and I know they at least have some good vegetarian options. This woman (unlike at PIckleman’s) didn’t give me any grief for looking to see if the black bean soup had dairy in it. But then I got so flustered asking about that (I know, it’s stupid), that I completely forgot that the Greek salad comes with feta cheese. And I hadn’t checked their bread or dressings to see which were vegan until I was in line waiting for my food. Luckily I was good on the dressing (although apparently it contains MSG – awesome), but the bread is not! The oil they use to make it is derived from animal fat. Damn it!! I didn’t want to waste any food, so I ate the bread. And the cheese I picked around. The place was a mad house or I would have tried to edit my order. Do you know how hard it is to have cheese (and not just any cheese – feta) on your fork and have to push it to the side and throw it in the trash? I know now. Next time I will plan ahead to avoid the stress.
But I have to say, I left the fair feeling good. If I wasn’t vegan, I would have had a corn dog and crab rein goon and felt like a blob the rest of the night.
Next challenge: today we are having a 4th of July pool party/BBQ. I’m going to modify some of my favorite dishes so I don’t have to miss out on all the great food!