I am an unrepentant lover and devoted consumer of animal products. This is not to say I haven't often wondered what it might be like to live like The Other Half (well, more like .2 percent), those disciplined folks who strive to follow a vegan lifestyle for ethical, political, and/or medical reasons.
Well, I must be cosmically connected to Katherine Shilcutt because just when she posted about eating vegan during her non-working meals, I had also decided to take the plunge. But I didn't have the guts (or the discipline) to make a semi-permanent lifestyle change like Katherine, so I limited Vegan DreamQuest (as I dubbed my project) to just three days. While this venture obviously wouldn't acquaint me with all that goes into living sans animal products in the long term, it would perhaps give me a taste (no pun intended) for a life that didn't involve eating furry friends.
Along for the ride was my friend and colleague, Kattie, who has been vegetarian for the past two years and therefore would probably not miss burgers as much as me. (Cheese was another story.)
I cleaned out my refrigerator of animal-derived foods and conducted a similar raid of my pantry. I did not, however, go through my closet as I decided to focus on veganism as it relates to food consumption, which meant I got to keep my collection of fur coats and alligator purses. Just kidding.
Although I live within a stone's throw of Field of Green's, I had never visited. Many online reviews pegged the food as bland, and in light of the handful of delicious vegan entrees I have tasted (compliments of a good friend/chef in college) and the raves about Radical Eats, I figured there were better options.
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But Vegan DreamQuest was about branching out, potentially clearing my mind (and my arteries)...so, why not try a new place even if it might be a dud?
Whatever people claim is bland on the menu at Field of Green's, it can't be the vegan burrito. Comprising an extra-large whole wheat tortilla overflowing with a mixture of carrots, zucchini, soy, beans, and brown rice, the vegan burrito is a monster of a Mexican dinner. At some vegetarian/vegan restaurants, extra salt is often added to replace the savory flavors of meats and cheese. Field of Green's seems to take seasoning their vegetable protein with things other than sodium seriously, because the ground soy meat sang of garlic and paprika and cumin. And with a generous dollop of chunky guacamole and some sprinkles of vegan cheddar cheese (which I wouldn't have known wasn't the real thing unless I requested it specifically myself) for some creaminess, I didn't even mourn the absence of queso, sour cream, and other dairy dressings.
I enjoyed my dinner so much that I had to remind myself that 1) I hadn't cheated (yet), and 2) animal-friendly cuisine can be diverse, delicious, and extremely satisfying. Eating vegan would definitely prove harder for me in the next 72 hours but for now I was resting comfortably.
So, cheers to the vegan burrito at Field of Green's. Stay tuned for more posts from Vegan DreamQuest 2011.