The holidays hit hard. I know that is a bit of a cliche...holidays are stressful and all, but the end of 2009/beginning of 2010 was a month-long cyclone.
While the cyclone could have been fodder for lots of blog posts on subjects unrelated to my dietary struggles, I did not spend a great deal of time thinking about where I am in the process of figuring out where I fall on the spectrum between omnivore and vegan, with one exception. I had a major slip-up that was my first conscious and defiant non-vegan act since starting this blog. I'll get to that in a minute. First, I'd like to talk about what I would have cooked for Christmas day dinner if my poor mom had not found herself in the unenviable position of being hospitalized on Christmas day (she is fine, and doing better every day...hi, Mom).
So, the plan was for me and my lovely wife to host Christmas for my mom and sister. They drove up from Texas for Christmas eve and were looking forward to spending a few days in sunny/snowy Denver. They were also looking forward to a non-traditional Christmas dinner in the form of vegan soul-food. Or, at least they acted like they were.
Here's the menu. It all came out of a holiday edition of Vegetarian Times (the subscription of which was a gift from my mom last year):
Butternut Squash-Bartlett Pear Soup
Citrus Collards with Raisins
Smothered Seitan Medallions in Mixed Mushroom Gravy
(incidentally, I learned how to home-make seitan a couple of months ago)
Mixed Mushroom Gravy
Cumin-Cayenne Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Onions
We only got around to making the soup, which was incredibly delicious. Everything else took a backseat to the trials and occasional tribulations of every-day life. As I look back, I don't even recall most of what we ate from Christmas day through the first couple of weeks of 2010...with two obvious exceptions: One disastrous attempt to make gnocchi (perhaps a future blog-post) and the major slip-up to which I alluded above.
Here's the deal. As I've said before, one of the key reasons that meat-eaters are still meat eaters is convenience. A close cousin to convenience is comfort. I fell victim to both recently.
Driving home from the hospital around 7:30 pm after a long day filled with some of life's little challenges and hurdles, my wife and I realized we probably needed to eat dinner. We had a ton of food at home that was perfectly suited to our almost-vegan diets, but couldn't muster the motivation to even imagine turning the raw ingredients into a dinner that would satisfy that particular feeling that a person gets when he or she just needs to relax and eat something delicious. And we didn't feel like thai-food (hold the fish-sauce).
And that is where Carl comes in. I've never met Carl, but I've been to his modest restaurant more times than I can count. They make my favorite pizza...I wouldn't even ask them to do it without cheese because I can't even imagine the conversation. When I decided that I wanted to stop eating animal products, Carl's may have been the first thought that entered my mind as a serious barrier.
That night, we ate an entire large cheese, mushroom, and black olive pizza. It was what we wanted and it was easy and it made us comfortable (except for the pangs of guilt that came from reflection on all I have said and all I have felt about not eating animal products over the last few months).
I understand the relationship between food, convenience, comfort and tradition. I know that these things happen and I know that they are the reason that many people cannot bring themselves to the thought of giving up things like Carl's pizza. I'm gonna keep plugging away. Maybe someday I'll muster the courage to order a cheese-free pizza from Carl's.