ralph the robot
I become hungry, I shuffle through the refrigerator or pantry to discover food. Though our definitions of food may vary, when we are jonesing for a snack-attack, we want it that very moment. Now, for the most part, immediacy is made possible with our consumption habits of just about anything. Happy Hour at a local restaurant or bar allows access to an oddly timed (or very appropriately timed) cocktail and some food venues and trailers are open all hours. Instant access, ultimate gratification.
When I awake in the morning, I know I must prep. food for myself for a full day at work. I delegate at least thirty minutes or sometimes more just to food prep for snacks and a quality meal while away from the comfort of my kitchen. Oddly, it didn’t occur to me until this morning how odd this might seem to some. I bring a reusable bag to work everyday packed to the top with assorted edibles to please the many and assorted food needs I may have within a days time. Thinking back, I recall a few people commenting on my bag.
That’s a lot of food for such a small girl.
Where do you put all that food? (eyes scale my body)
You bring your own apple corer?
That’s cool, what are you putting on top of your salad?
What are all of those baggies filled with?
I could list more, but I am sure you get the point. I’m not trying to imply that my co-workers don’t bring food to work, but I’ve started to notice in comparison, I bring my fridge. (please excuse my hyperbole) I can’t have what I want unless I bring it. There are no machines loaded with kombucha and Topo Chico, and certainly none with raw nuts pre-soaked, and raw chocolate treats, or fresh local produce. I’m a high maintenance food epicurean! Yeehaw!
What has occurred to me (ding, light bulb*) is that I think it is imperative to openly talk about culture affecting your dietary lifestyle, but more important that your diet is a lifestyle, whether you like it or not and you embrace this personal factoid. Consequently, I know there will be many of you who may disagree with what I have to say, and I welcome those thoughts and opinions, but I must address the difficulty that is coupled with a diet free of animal-products of any form.
First I will just cover dietary constraints, then I’ll go over social awkwardness and how you can avoid such feelings. If you’re not one to avoid animal-products in your meals, I will give some tips on how to refrain from making your fellow ‘vegan’ or perhaps even someone with a food allergy, feel like an odd-ball.
- breakfast: If you make your own breakfast you’re sort of in the clear, but if you like to steer clear of refined carbs. and sugar in the mornings (maybe period), than your average breakfast is thrown for a loop. Maybe you’re even avoiding corn, or you eat corn but you’re steering clear of non-gmo corn; say goodbye to breakfast tacos unless you’ve done your research. On the breakfast taco bit, more than likely if your office or a friend decides to provide breakfast tacos for all, they are more than likely not going to cater to your dietary needs. Additionally, if you awake late one morning, or simply didn’t leave sufficient time to compose a proper breakfast, than in many instances (many areas) there are not convenient options for nourishment retrieval.
- lunch: Whether you’re frugal or you like to save those extra spending bucks for eating out on occasions; eating out on lunch may not be an option for you for an assortment of reasons. A balanced lunch or mid-day meal can be simplistic, but if you’re transitioning yourself into a veggie diet, than having enough food to provide a feeling of ‘fullness’ can be onerous. Don’t become discouraged by those around you who can’t make sense of the ‘strange’ foods you may be consuming because the truth is ‘strange’ only implies that it may be difficult for them (your counterparts) to understand and you could provide them with a wonderful and enlightening learning experience.
- dinner: Much ease can be gained from this meal if handled properly. In an earlier post I mentioned that I’m not a big fan of planning out meals for the entire week, but I do like to have an idea. I don’t like ‘meal-plans’ because as I love to cook/prepare meals, I feel stifled if I set a schedule for myself, but I think a modicum of organization is in order if you’re transitioning or perhaps even like to know what EXACTLY to buy in the market. OH, and speaking of the market…because so often the produce selection varies from week-to-week at the farmer’s market in my city, I attend knowing I may not find exactly what I had in mind. This used to give me a bit of anxiety to be honest, because well remember, we want what we want. However, as I’ve eased myself into going every weekend, I find the ambiguity exciting. I digress. Dinner can be the time of day when you’re free to prepare whatever you please with little to no worry because you’re in the comfort of your own kitchen (be in miniscule or large). A setback for this meal will be pleasing those within your household, assuming you’re not solo.
Social Awkwardness / Constraints / Sharing / Acceptance :
- Embrace what you’re eating! Doing so is critical in the progress you make toward feeling confident in your dietary choices and how those choices are not only affecting your body, but also how they are impacting your environment, and community.
- If at any point someone offers you free food (an entire meal, a snack, office or classroom activities and treats), but it isn’t something you’re willing to consume a) don’t feel obliged to do so out of courtesy and b) graciously decline with little explanation unless said offerer is seeking one. Nobody needs to hear your rant on animal cruelty, your queer amount of food allergies or any other reasons while they’re enjoying their holiday bar b-q. If you happen to find an ear of trust and openness, then by all means speak your mind, but from my perspective it is never appropriate to force issues onto people who didn’t solicit the information.
- Let’s say that there is a a luncheon or dinner with people at work, or a group meet-up for a social obligation. A blanket menu is ordered and you have to eat a an optional dish. People are naturally curious about what your eating because it’s different. That’s great right? Perhaps, but it can also make the person with the ‘odd’ meal feel isolated and strange. If you’re the person on the outside make sure to help this person feel comfortable and don’t stare or dwell too much on their meal. Being openly curious is okay, but sometimes those who are unfamiliar have an inclination to overly stimulate the ‘odd’ party with sometimes rude questions with accusatory and guilt ridden tone.
- Try to resist ‘converting’ every person you meet–even your family–to the type of dietary lifestyle you may have. It’s very important to realize that your choices are just that, yours, and nobody elses. If your romantic partner is accustomed to how you eat and they show interest, then be honest about how you feel, but don’t force an issue. Forcing the issue could make them resist it even more.
So, I want it now. But the reality is, direct hedonism is NOT invariably a choice when you abstain from many aspects of the dietary shmorgishborg. I find this fact empowering and for me restriction in certain ways can be very medatative. Nobody is forcing you, it’s a personally guided practice. Be open to other peoples lifestyle choices. I think there’s much to be learned from the very concept of ‘convenience food’ and how this changes our psyches. Take a look at the mannerisms and rituals of daily food consumption. Next, contemplate our connection to food if it’s wrapped in a shiny aluminum package with ingredients we couldn’t entirely interpret with a google search. How does this make you feel?
Thanks for reading and I hope I was able to guide some of you through the graphic maze of food consumption. As always, let me know your thoughts, I’d love to hear from you.
And remember…bite responsibly.
Healthy and Thoughtful Regards,