Plight of the modern vegetarian

My one month (25 days) of experimental vegetarianism* is over, and I couldn’t be happier. For me it comes down to one simple, hard-to-overcome obstacle – lifestyle.

The sad truth is that I eat out way too much. Trying to navigate a vegetarian diet in modern fast food is rather difficult, and seldom satisfying.

Almost every time somebody wanted to go out to eat, the first thing I did was google “<restaurant name> vegetarian”, which usually brought me to a handful of websites that list acceptable vegetarian dishes. Those websites were extremely helpful to me, and are invaluable for modern vegetarians and vegans.

*After a while I stopped calling my experiment vegetarian, and used the more appropriate term “meat-less.” The big difference lies within food preparation. Since I have no ethical or dietary restriction on animal products, I wasn’t concerned with how the food was prepared, only that the final product didn’t include meat. Two examples during the expirment:

  1. Sour cream – one of Taco Bell’s acceptable dishes includes the delicious Seven-Layer Burrito sans sour cream (apparently it contains animal-derived rennet), but sour cream is generally too delicious for me to pass up.
  2. Chipotle’s pinto beans – as a true fan of Chipotle I had remembered reading their pinto beans were flavored (possibly prepared) with bacon. After trying a vegetarian burrito with black beans, I wanted to try one with the pinto beans despite what I knew—I’m glad I did, I thought it was much better.

A true vegetarian would have passed on both of those options, but I’m not a true vegetarian – I just play one on the Internet.

Seriously though, I honestly feel bad for vegetarians and vegans because they have so few options in fast food. (Apparently, Taco Bell is a relatively safe choice with bean substitutions and even a fresco menu.)

The second iteration of this experiment proved two things to me:

  1. I can do it
  2. it’s not for me

I do think this experiment opened my eyes (wider) to the difficulty, almost segregation, of vegetarians. Of course it’s probably substantially easier to follow with mostly home-cooked meals, but life happens.

To those with vegetarian, vegan or any combination of strict diets—good luck! I think I’ll stick with my double Bacon Deluxe and deal with those consequences in the gym. Mmmm bacon.

Just an aside, but I thoroughly enjoyed Chipotle’s vegetarian burrito with fajitas, pinto beans, green chili salsa, corn salsa, sour cream and guacamole. It ranks almost as high (if not the same) as my usual chicken variation (minus the pinto beans and guac).