Well, hello there VeGAL (Vegan Girl AthLete, in case you forgot!). And welcome curious non-veg athletic friends. No matter what our diet, it is safe to say we go the distance when it comes to our training! We adhere to a strict fitness paradigm only straying from time to time. For many of us, our strenuous workouts are completed long before most folks even wake up. We are committed (non athletes agree we should be committed!) to our goals. We follow rigid training programs, we design as well as follow hard core work out schedules though we may bitch and moan about it. Bottom line...we don't quit...even when our bodies scream for us to do just that! So for vegan athletes, as well as our meat-eating counterparts, would it not be foolish of us to blow all that intense training by stuffing our faces with junk food???
For VeGALs in particular, we pride ourselves in being meticulous in all that we do, from our neat and tidy and oh so adorable workout clothes to our snazzy shoes to our natural fragrant, flowery scent (hahaha) and our freshly washed (colored!) hair. Naturally, when it comes to our fuel, same rules apply! Whether prepared at home or ordered out at a restaurant, we uphold the highest of standards in our whole foods, plant-based endeavors. VeGALs stay elevated in a mainstream world. That said, we dine out mainstream since basically, we have no choice, especially in the burbs! Questions are posed, suggestions are made in order for VeGALs to remain true to our convictions all the while feeling satisfied as well as nutritionally balanced no matter where we find ourselves! As careful as we are...those taking the orders as well as those preparing the meals unfortunately are not so careful!Which leads us to the INADVERTENT MEAT EAT! Simply stated, it's when a vegan mistakenly bites into something assumed to be "safe" only to find out there was an animal involved!!! YIKES! Surely, VeGAL, this has happened to you before, maybe even more times than you care to mention!
Once such incident occurred a few years ago when I was carbo-loading with my family at an Italian restaurant the night before a local marathon. I had ordered rigatoni with marinara sauce and mushrooms, thinking this meal had the perfect balance for sustained energy. Eager to empty the bowl, without leaving one delicious morsel behind, just when I wasn't looking, I sank my teeth into a brown chunk that was anything but a tender mushroom! It suddenly occurred to me I had taken a bite of beef that probably sneaked its way in disguised as an edible, highly valued fungus! Did I spit it out like a toddler, toss my hands up in disgust and throw a tantrum right then and there? I kept my family in suspense as they looked at me in horror (thar she blows!). But no, I simply released it into a napkin and carried on, to my kids' relief. I realized at that point that it was an innocent error. Had I continued to chew on animal flesh with a big gulp finale, my actions would've been egregious! I had bigger fish to fry, a marathon, the next day. I shook it off and carried on. As it turned out, I earned myself a PR for that course that year! I wouldn't exactly attribute it to the beef bite but more like "that which does not kill you..."
Just last week, while I had a layover in the Charlotte airport, my travel companions and I decided to kill some time with a light Japanese lunch. I ordered the vegetable pot stickers as an appetizer (I had no intentions of sharing). When they arrived, my chopsticks grabbed hold of one before anyone had noticed. One little bite and I knew it was too late...I had encountered animal flesh right there inside my pie hole! Its origin was a mystery but I had a hunch it was the worst kind...PORK! I give my company a lot of credit for not bursting out in laughter at that point but perhaps they were grinning on the inside (I would've lol). When brought to the food server's attention, she immediately removed them and apologized. To drive home a point, with no mention of my veg status, I had stated that for religious reasons (Jews don't eat pork) that I most certainly didn't order those! The chef then rushed up, reassuring us that the meat was chicken, not pork! That didn't exactly make me feel any better! Luckily, we were presented with a plateful of scrumptious steamed veggie pot stickers to the delight of all, FREE OF CHARGE! Score! It's true that meat, especially the ground, formed kind, masks the subtle nuances present in an array of fresh vegetables. Much to my chagrin, my companions found them equally irresistible, not taking the hint that they were MINE ALL MINE! They can order whatever they want but I am limited with choices and always hungry for goodness sake!!! It is my strong belief that everyone, deep down inside, longs to go veg!
I wouldn't be me if I didn't ramble on but I hope you get the point, VeGAL! We have all been victims of the INADVERTENT MEAT EAT and will continue to undergo less than savory experiences and that's okay. It is how we choose to react to those awkward, uncomfortable situations that set us apart from the rest of the plant-based community. Just like anything else, we handle them with grace since we are firmly planted VeGALs who train with a conscience (tip: take advantage of the debacle, it might just get you a free meal)!