If you’re a guy, chances are you like meat. No, you crave it. Burgers oozing melted cheese. Steaks slathered in tangy BBQ sauce. The bigger and greasier the better, right? Up until about a year ago, I’d drool just thinking about food like that. Today, I wouldn’t eat a Whopper if you paid me. So, what happened?
Well, I was 50 pounds overweight for one thing, which wouldn’t have been a big deal except for the chronic acid reflux and sleep apnea. (Apparently, stopping breathing in your sleep is bad.) Also, my wife gave birth to our second child, which for some reason finally made me realize that it was no longer acceptable for my kids to think that living like a fat slob was okay.
I needed a drastic change. I’m not the kind of person that responds well to change, but in this case, I didn’t have much choice. I concluded that all of the fad diets out there like Weight Watchers and NutriSystem wouldn’t work for me, simply because I’m such a huge foodie. (No pun intended.) So, I made the radical choice to go vegan. And for a guy like me that used to daydream about bacon, radical is an understatement.
But once I started, I quickly realized that being vegan doesn’t mean having to eat rabbit food 24/7. In fact, I found several ways to veganize my addiction to meat.
First, I discovered seitan, a product made from wheat gluten, which has to be the most magical food ever invented. When cooked right, it’s almost impossible to tell that it didn’t come from an animal. We often use it in taco salads and Asian lettuce wraps.
Next, there’s tempeh, which is a fermented soy product, and extremely delicious. It’s become a staple in our stir-fries. And one of my favorite restaurants in downtown Raleigh, The Remedy Diner, serves a phenomenal sandwich called Tempeh Tantrum, which was named the 4th best vegan sandwich in the entire country!
And of course there’s always tofu, which is very versatile and can take on just about any flavor you throw at it.
Once I realized that I could still enjoy that meaty texture without all of the death-inducing fat and cholesterol, I found myself actually enjoying veganism. I also started losing weight and felt more energy which led me to start running 5K and 10K races, something the former me would never consider trying. And the best part is, I don’t feel like I’m any less of a man, simply because I refuse to sink my teeth into a Big Mac anymore.