I am the alpha and the omega
September 04, 2004
Conway's Law
In every organization there will always be one person who knows what is going on. This person must be fired.

While I am tempted to put away a very good forward and leave it at that, I started feeling guilty. So here goes.

Going Vegan

Everybody warned me.
If you are going to the US, you can't survive without eating Non-veg.


I came here with a mission. To survive five years on only vegetarian food. (Actually, thats not my objective. My objective is to actually complete my Ph.D. But thats a whole different story)

The appetizer.
The first nite in Austin.
I am staying at my friends place. And the only thing they had was rice and chicken kurma.
And since the other guy whom I came along with was also vegetarian, that poor senior had to cook dhal for us.

The second helping.
I was doing my TA on a Saturday. There was very less crowd. So myself and 2 other TA's (Texans) got into the regular banterings. Soon the topic wandered around to food, and what I ate. When I told them that I solely survived on veggies, they were shocked.
One guy put it this way.
"Food is basically carbs and proteins. Carbs : Rice or Potato. Proteins is meat, chicken, beef, fish and other what-nots. Where do you get your proteins if you don't eat chicken?"

And I had to reply, much to his surprise that I got them from dhal, and legumes (beans).

The dessert.
The Graduate Student Assembly had arranged for a Texan Style Barbeque to welcome all the graduate students. I had already been forewarned by all the seniors that I would get only baked potato as the sole veggie food. That didn't dampen my spirits. Initially.
At the barbeque, I saw some familiar food - bread, some mashed potato, baked potato, some kind of bean soup - all of which I took a serving.
I was about to put that bean soup into my mouth, when a couple of friends shouted that the beans were cooked in beef extract.
Well, after that, I left the beans untouched making the meal only out of bread and sauce and mashed potato.

I arrived at a decision; that to eat and survive on only veg, the food has to be cooked by ourselves. And that meant only rice, dhal, sambhar (lentil soup), rasam (pepper+salt+water), curd, and some curries we managed to fashion ourselves. Stuck mainly to potato, onion, capsicum, cabbage, beans and carrot.

And we did cook well. Much better than our expectations. So much so that, if I dont get a job, I can become a cook. I seem to have the uncanny ability to cook stuff without knowing how to cook. Tomato curries, Pasta, Mushroom Kurmas (planning to do in a couple of days) and what not.

But then, occasionally, we do have to eat out. And what option do we have.
McDonald's is out - they use beef extract while cooking.
I can't go to Wendy's or KFC.
Even Tacos seem to have beef in them.
The only "veggie" thing that I did find was a Veg Sub (at Subway), and something else called a Veggie wrap (from a local chain).
Atleast the pizza situation is better. We have the great choice of choosing from the Plain Cheese Pizza and the Veggie Supreme Pizza.

One funny thing that I noticed here.
Every early morning, there are a lot of joggers and many in the gym. But all of this seems quite stupid when they eat a very high cheese pizza, burgers, chips.
Imagine drinking fat-free milk and fat-rich pizzas in the same breadth. LOL

Most of the other places have solely Non-veg or some unknown non-veg ingredient added in them. I end up having a harrowing time at local grocery stores where I may have to buy some food-stuffs, and then read the Font size 2 lettered contents on the 13th line to find out that there is beef-extract in it. And then give it up.
(If you notice, every item here will have High Fructose Corn Syrup and every non-veg item here will have Beef extract in them.
The only safe bets I have here, are going to the Indian Stores, which is quite far away - a 40 min bus ride atleast. And to buy vegetables and lots of greens.

Its not that I can't eat non-veg. There are absolutely no barriers against eating non-veg, apart from my Principles. Without Principles, I wouldnt exist. And I don't want anybody to argue against me about my Principles.
But this means that I can't enjoy many of the things that the US is famous for. I can't go to KFC, or to Wendy's or to McDonalds. I am missing out sooo much.
This constant mental struggle between both aspects is what is killing me. Inside out.

Posted by satosphere at 6:15 AM


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