Thinking about next season, Bryan Blum, who has worked for Riverbank for many years talks about his experience with food and how Riverbank Farm helped him eat his vegetables.
Realistically, I am the last person who should be writing for this blog. If possible I would probably get a side of steak with my steak and politely ask the waiter for a glass of bacon bits instead of a beverage, so I could dribble some over my main and side steak.
However, after spending practically an entire summer surrounded by vegetables and vegans on an organic farm, my view of the vegan culture has changed dramatically. I used to laugh at the salad eater at McDonald’s while I pounded down my second Big Mac, but now, I can’t even go into a fast food restaurant without questioning the process the meat was obtained. Or if what I’m eating is actually meat.
The change, in all honesty, came from necessity on my half. Living on a farm without transportation, I had three options when it came to eating. 1) Ask one of the nice car-owning farm employees to drive me to the market to buy what I need. 2) Use the vegetables that were literally twenty feet from my cabin door to cook. 3) Starve.
After my social anxiety prevented me from asking someone to go out of their way to drive me some place, I contemplated just not eating since I didn’t have meat, but then realized I would have a hard time explaining to my mother how I died of starvation on a farm.
So, I grabbed some vegetables from the field, googled vegetarian/vegan recipes, stole spices and oil from the community and commercial kitchen (and by steal I totally mean borrowed; I’m definitely restocking everything from my college dorm), and made myself dinner.
After a week of this, I noticed something very peculiar; I didn’t die. I spent a whole week without eating meat or cheese, and I was still a functioning human being. I didn’t know what to think of that.
Later in the summer, I was joined by vegetarian and vegan teenagers on the farm, and for convenience shared meals together. Since my cooking talents are one level below prison chef, the others cooked, and I was again deprived of meat and dairy. The same results occurred: no death.
Not only was I not dead, I actually found myself having more energy than I usually did. Waking up, although still painful, became easier (slightly). I didn’t always need to take a nap immediately after work. I didn’t change anything but my diet, but I noticed the difference.
And with a little push from a friendly vegetarian, I stopped eating cold cut and other unhealthy processed food. My meat dairy intake has dropped exponentially, and I feel healthier because if it.
Does this mean I will convert to my newly respected vegan lifestyle? No. Blame it on the bacon. I believe the only reason people can be vegans is because they haven’t tried that crunchy, fried pig meat. However, I now have a better understanding of how to eat better after living in a vegan environment, and this comes at the perfect time too, as I am about to head off to college where yesterday’s meatloaf is today’s chicken parm.
So I thank you vegetarians and vegans for helping me put down the Baconater from Wendy’s and add some lettuce and tomatoes. I may not be one of you, but you have certainty gained my respect.