[Originally posted March 2011]

Veggie Alien

About the middle of last year, I came across a TED Talk that ultimately influenced some of my dietary habits.  It was a talk given by some bloke named Graham Hill.  I was intrigued initially by his name – the fact that he shares his name with one of my all-time favorite Grand Prix drivers, whose namesake is also that of my first kid.  In any case, the talk was entitled, “Why I’m a weekday vegetarian”.  Should’ve known better – right off the bat, he admits that he’s an offspring of dirty, filthy hippie parents, and that he started a website called, wait for it… Tree Hugger.  Ugh.

Anyway, regardless of my disdain for dirty hippies, I tried to distill the essence of the message.  This guy decided to go vegetarian Monday to Friday – and go completely omnivorous on the weekends (though I suspect he’s probably going 90% carnivorous to make up for all that he’s missing out during the week) – for the sake of sustainability and of course, health.  Then I got to thinking: what don’t I try and give something like this a go?  What possible harm to come to me by trying out some iteration of a veggie diet?  In the words of the great Jeremy Clarkson, how hard can it be?  Minimally, I managed to convince myself that having a meal without meat isn’t going to kill me.  ’Far as I know.

Now, first things first – I know myself, and I know that I’d NEVER in a billion years be able to pull off a five-day meat-free diet.  That is bullshit.  For starters, I’m a dude.  And going meat-free for that many days is entirely unnatural for an average dude.  Any dude who disagrees with that is a complete tool.  And a dirty, smelly hippie.  And is worthy of all the mockery you can muster up to completely shit on him for being such a total douchebag.

So this much I knew: I couldn’t do five days.  So what can I manage?  Well, I figured I could manage vegetarian on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  It made perfect sense,  I’d break up the work week that way.  Meat on, meat off, meat on, meat off, meat on, nom nom nom nomm nomm.  And… I built in room for improvement: if I could handle Tuesdays and Thursdays easily, I could possibly squeeze in Wednesday as another vegetarian day, and I’d be rocking three – THREE! – vegetarian days a week.  By my measure, I’d be a fucking rock star.  Not rock star like Lemmy of Motorhead.  This’d be a vegetarian rock star.  So a bit more like Nickelback, probably.

And now, eight months later, am I rocking this diet?  Like fuck I am.

This idiotic leafy regimen has turned into one of the most excruciating things I’ve ever done to myself – and continue to.  And it’s made me grumpier than ever.  It blows and I can’t stop.  I hate it, but I can’t not do it anymore because stopping now would mean a) I’m admitting defeat (and I don’t admit defeat EVAH! Charlie Sheen could take a few lessons from me, I’m not joking), b) I’ll actually be regressing to eating more shit that’s bad for me, and c) my fiber intake will probably be compromised.  Don’t give me grief about that last one – my ten reliable minutes on the can is one on my daily highlights.

So why is this so agonizing?  Because I can’t find a thing to eat on Tuesdays and Thursdays anymore.  ”Hey stupid, what’s wrong with a salad?”  I’ll tell you what’s wrong with a salad: it’s a fucking salad.  I hate salads.  Unless that salad consists of 98% potato, it can fuck right off.  Here’s the thing, being Chinese, I have a natural aversion to raw vegetables.  Because salads are not, have never been, and never will be part of Chinese food.  You’ll find a Greek salad, a Caesar salad, salads with French dressing, salads with Russian dressing, just about every imaginable nationality – when the fuck have you ever seen a Chinese salad?  And don’t give me that shit about salads with a couple of orange slices thrown in it, the sort you find wilting and festering in the corner of a McDonald’s (go on, I triple dog dare you to order that four-month old salad in that plastic case).  That’s about as Chinese as fortune cookies.  I’ll bet some jerkoff named Saul from Queens came up with that stupid idea.  I don’t know if that’s true, but I’m prepared to blame anyone for perpetuating the idea that there’s such a thing as a Chinese – sorry, Asian! – salad.  Fuck that.

Here’s the thing: Chinese people don’t eat salads.  It’s a heritage thing.  It probably dates back to thousands of years ago in China when everything was as sanitary as the floor of a subway car.  And if you’ve ever been to China (I have, no need to go back anytime soon, thankyouverymuch), you’ll see that not much has changed.  Back then, if you ate a raw lettuce leaf, it’d probably kill you inside of three minutes.  You think I’m kidding?  So, what was the solution then?  You cook the shit out of everything. Fire of dragons, black cauldron of smoldering oil, stirfry that motherfucker ‘til it’s barely recognizable as a vegetable.  You fry up that cucumber ‘til it looks like a walnut.  And just to be extra safe, load that shit up with tons of sodium-rich soy sauce and pork lard for added flavor!  Now, those vegetables are safe to eat.  They won’t kill you in three minutes, now they’ll kill you in three years when your heart explodes with lardy goodness.

So salads are right out.  People who eat salads will probably do very well with this vegetarian diet plan I’d drawn out for myself.  You’d go nuts on every variety of salad out there and you wouldn’t be bored for a month, I’ll bet.  Maybe two.  I get no such relief.

So what am I left with?

Pizza?  Pasta?  Roasted vegetable sandwich?  A falafel?  Saag paneer?  Veggie burger?  Is there anything more emasculating than ordering a veggie burger?  Hell, I could always go Chinese with vegetable fried rice or noodles, or the occasional vegetable stir fry.  Tofu for the win, yeah!  And how long before all of that gets old as shit?  Try doing that tiny routine for eight months and counting.  And it’s not like I’ve listed anything that’s particularly good for me either.  How healthy can a ball of deep-fried mashed chickpeas be anyway?  Topped with those insanely good red and white sauces, a falafel will probably kill you in about as much time as a raw mushroom in ancient China.

God, what a fucking dreadful diet I carved out for myself. Mired in tedious options, probably not even fully realizing any proper benefits from going veggie.  And squeezing in the Wednesday?  Like fuck, I can barely manage the two days I got going now.  I swear, sometimes I wake up on a Tuesday, immediately realize that it’s a veggie day and I break out in a cold sweat.  Sometimes on those days I’ll crave meat so unnaturally that I swear I’d eat a bag of deep-fried chicken assholes if it meant that I could get my fix.

I wish I knew why I find it so fucking hard to do this diet.  It’s only two days out of the week.  It’s only vegetables, it’s not gonna kill me.  Oh, that’s right – vegetables are fucking boring.  And meat is euphoric.  I swear a mediocre cheesesteak will beat a killer salad any day of the week.  Especially on a Tuesday or a Thursday.  And if anyone tells you differently, you’re entitled to rip out their tongue because they’re clearly not using ‘em.

Anyway, I concede that this was a stupid idea from day one.  I loathe it, I scorn the day I thought it was a good idea, I fucking hate that Graham Hill guy in that TED Talk, but above all else, I hate that I can’t bring myself to end this veggie diet.