We were eating homemade ribs, when he said it.
He was eating his second plate of ribs: sauce dripping down his chin and pooling on top of the mashed potatoes and french bread. I was feeding shreds of meat to our one-year-old, thinking about what I was going to make for breakfast the next morning.
You never know when your life is going to take a sharp turn.
“I want to go vegan” he said.
I stopped, mid-bite, and stared at my husband as he polished off another half a dozen ribs.
“Vegan?” I repeated.
English is my husband’s second language, and he sometimes gets words wrong. We’ve laughed many a time about him saying “talking about Satan” instead of “speak of the devil” or “cheap steak” instead of “cheapskate”.
Thinking he might be using the word incorrectly, I repeated–“you mean eat no animal products?”
“Yes, ” he replied cheerfully “I think I need a reset. A cleanse. I want to go vegan”
There was that troublesome word again. I pondered, fretfully, a life without butter, cheese, chicken, beef, and every other delicious thing. What would be left? An abyss of sorrow and despair?
I had finally just figured out how to keep us well-fed. I was in a good rhythm of roasted veggies, spaghetti, crock pot meals, and the like. I had even snuck in several meatless meals. I was feeling, for perhaps the first time in our married life, on top of meal planning. We were eating a big skillet of sautéed veggies and eggs for breakfast, leftovers for lunch, and a big ol’ meal for dinner usually consisting of meat and veggies. I had also, finally succeeded at keeping our food budget in check. I had culled our food budget down: spending 1/3 per month what we used to.
What do vegans eat for protein? I wondered, listlessly. Saia wasn’t a huge fan of beans. Only a month ago, I had asked him not to look quite so despondent when he came home, and found out we were having beans and rice for supper. The sadness on his face was palpable any time I said we were having fish or bean burritos or beans and rice or tortilla pizzas–anything that sounded like less than a big hunk of meat. After I called him on it, he took my words to heart and from then on anytime I served a smaller or less protein-heavy meal he would say “What? Bean burritos?! Yes!”. His enthusiasm knew no bounds, but I still knew that deep down he preferred his meat and potatoes.
My husband is a former-All-American-heavyweight wrestler, and current two-hundred pound rock toting mason. He is very muscular, and likes his meat and potatoes as much as the next guy. I don’t believe I ever thought of him going vegan.
Yet he persisted. Over the next few days he chatted happily away about going vegan, I pressed him for a time limit, how long was he planning on going vegan for? We agreed on two weeks.
We went to Wal-Mart, and strolled around the store. I tossed massive quantities of veggies and fruit in the cart. We swung by the frozen food aisle to load up on broccoli, cauliflower and peas (an excellent protein source as I found out). We eschewed the meat section, and passed by all the various cheeses and dairy products without even a sideways glance. After putting what looked like fifty pounds of dried beans and lentils in our cart, we strolled to the checkout line. Aglow with our newfound vegan-ness.
This is our third day of being vegan. We’ve eaten smothered bean burritos, oatmeal, and curry lentils with rice. I have chickpeas soaking for hummus, and we’ve been juicing.
We are vegan, for now, for this moment in time. And it has honestly been a lot easier than I thought it would be. Vegan foods are actually incredibly delicious, and it has been a whole lot easier to eat more fruits and veggies. It definitely isn’t a lifestyle I want to continue after a couple weeks (I love my cheese and chicken and…), but for now it is working for us.
Pass the lentils.