Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Two Week Vegan Challenge - Day 2

9:00AM - I'm groggy and feel light-headed. Not sure if it's the lack of dead animal matter in my GI tract or the lack of sleep caused by the nasally, drunken drone of my neighbors impersonating the Real Housewives at 3AM. For six hours I've been semi-conscious and cycling between the same four websites. I didn't eat much yesterday and my appetite is still stuck in neutral. I've been spending less time than usual thinking about and obsessing over food. I'm eating a bowl of organic strawberries that have unfortunately tipped from being ripe to slightly beyond ripe. The only difference I've noticed between regular strawberries and organic strawberries is the extra $2. Seems like a smug tax.

10:30AM - I've returned home after buying a brand new, used $50 bike on Craigslist because my $70 bike was publicly sabotaged last week. Plenty of perks of living in Santa Monica, but one detriment is that bikes here are about as safe as a comb running through Donald Trump's "hair".

The thought of having a warm meal spurs a momentary interest in food, so I heat up a can of Amy's Hearty Organic Soups (Spanish Rice & Red Beans) on the stove top before the hunger urge passes. (And don't think I lack the self-awareness to realize how much this makes me sound like a privileged asshole.)

The simplicity of the preparation and ingredients is appealing. How bad could a can of rice/beans be? The answer: not so bad, but I'd guess the taste/quality is just a half-step above an MRE.

1:00PM - I take my brand new, used bike for a spin through the sun-soaked streets of Santa Monica. (I know, I know -- forced alliteration is the worst!) A workout at the Santa Monica Stairs is my mission, which I hope serves the dual purpose of getting exercise and keeping myself too busy to realize how much I miss actual food.

An episode of "Pep Talks", a podcast hosted by inimitable comedian Eddie Pepitone, is crackling in my piece-of-shit earbuds. Eddie, the "Bitter Buddha", is the best. I must look like a maniac riding my bike while laughing to myself, until I remember this is a common sighting on the westside of L.A.

1:20PM - A vegan-themed food truck parked along Ocean Avenue grabs my attention. I mentally bookmark it as a place to return to for a post-workout reward.

1:30PM - I see a shirtless man at the stairs whose body looks like a toy action figure, and all I can think is "Not recommended for women over 19, mentally." But I digress.

2:20PM - I return to the vegan food truck and idle past, slowly enough to read the menu and realize none of this shit sounds satisfying after a workout.

2:25PM - Coincidentally, my earbuds are transmitting the sound of Eddie Pepitone talking with his podcast guest about his vegan ways.

2:45PM - I stop by Whole Foods to post-workout reward myself with some vegan snacks. $21 later, I exit with a bag of trail mix, guacamole, peanut butter/chocolate chip cookies, and a soda.

3:00PM - Yesterday's leftover balsa-wood-based tasting crackers are a tolerable device for delivering guacamole to my mouth hole. The vegan version of the sesame sticks in the trail mix, which I'd looked forward to the most, taste sad and stale. The peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies are passable as real cookies, but they also bear a hint of joyless nutrition.

Most of the vegan food I've tried so far is just a more bland, less satisfying version of the food it's attempting to imitate. It lacks a certain richness I associate with regular foods. Everything tastes dried out.

Vegan food is the tribute band version of regular food: I might be fooled into believing I was experiencing the real thing if I were wearing a blindfold. Regular food is like Stone Temple Pilots fronted by Scott Weiland: marred by a toxic chemistry that leads to disaster, but responsible for a fuckin' enjoyable product nonetheless. Vegan food is like Stone Temple Pilots fronted by the Linkin Park guy, which is a limp and unpalatable imitation.

5:00PM - I've awoken from a longish nap, again, probably brought on by some combination of lack of sleep and nutrition. I make some pasta with alfredo sauce, which is decent at best. But then again, red pepper flakes make pretty much any food bearable; they're like the Tom Hanks of the spice rack.

8:00PM - I drive to meet a friend and we down some vodkas with sodas. She's incredulous that most beer/wine ain't vegan approved. I launch into a bit about Santa Monica's Vegan Oktoberfest, which I say is the perfect place for anyone who wants to get drunk and then preached to for hours on end.

12:15AM - Ralph's is mostly vacant, so I don't feel as self-conscious flipping over boxes of crackers in a search for the vegan stamp of approval. I buy some breakfast items for the next day (Almond milk and cereal) and a few more items that have escaped my memory at the moment. Probably for lack of protein in my brain.

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