Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Filipino + Vegetarian = Oxymoron...Or Does It?

The catalyst that set my Kind journey into motion was receiving The Kind Diet from my bff and her husband J, the last people on the planet I would ever expect to buy me a vegan cookbook.

Firstly, they're Filipino.

Secondly...actually, there really isn't any other reason. They're Filipino. 'Nuf said.

If you google "oxymoron" the first thing that comes up is Filipino Vegan.

When I point the finger in their direction and blame them for this vegan whirlwind, the bff throws her hands up in protest, claiming that she saw Alicia Silverstone on Oprah and knew I like shopping at Whole Foods and really just wanted me to make her the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups.

Fair enough.

But here's the crazy thing. Little did I know, around the time I embarked on this Kind Journey, the bff's husband, J, started taking his own steps towards a Kinder, healthier lifestyle. Like I said, these guys are the last people I ever would have expected to buy me a vegan cookbook, so I could never in a gazillion years have envisioned J himself actually start moving away from eating meat...especially his beloved steak.

For one, he's Filipino.

Yes, we already covered that, but it bears repeating.

He's also the type to get a tad cranky when his red meat stores start depleting. Celebratory dinners out with these guys usually revolved around steak, and it's always been a bit of a risk heading out with them knowing that J hasn't had his steak fix in a while...the carnivore within can be an unpredictable beast if left unsatisfied, and until the steak arrives at the table, nobody is safe.

Yah, J really really loves his steak.

As Rob the Husband and I started flirting with The Plant, J would throw in some playful vegan digs here and there on Facebook...
"That cow had no chance. (sorry my vegan friends, I tried)" - Feb. 5

And when I posted a picture of  Petunia Piglet...
"Mmm... Sweet baby back ribs... You are not helping buddy" - Feb. 15

Then his FB status updates took a different turn, and I experienced the epitome of a WTF moment...
"21 days of Vegetarianism. Any day now I feel that I shall revert back to my carnivorous ways. The thirst for carcass might be too much to overcome... Please pray. For the cows." - Feb. 28

21 meat-free days? Hmmm...

I shrugged it off as a glitch in The Matrix or a shift in intergalactic planetary alignment causing radical behaviour in certain human lifeforms. The situation would surely adjust itself over time.

Then Hell froze over.
"101 days since the vegetarian lifestyle change. Energy up. Healing factor improved. Strength and endurance up. Dominate your day." - May 21

Seriously. Dubya Tee Eff.

J avoiding meat? That was like Homer Simpson avoiding donuts. Captain Jean Luc Picard avoiding Earl Grey tea. Transformers avoiding energon. Cookie Monster avoiding cookies...oh wait, Cookie Monster DID in fact tone down the cookie consumption in recent years. Perhaps there was hope after all.

When I talked to J about his meat-abstinence, he raved about how great he was feeling during his workouts and how much energy he had. He wasn't sure this was going to be a permanent thing, but in the meantime, it turned out Hell had in fact frozen over, and this meat free thing was working out awesome for him.

And then came Vegas.

We all knew it was coming. His wife's b-day in Vegas, the land of indulgence, populated by insanely delicious steakhouses all over the strip. Yes, it was only a matter of time...
"This 150-day vegetarian streak is seconds away from ending. Reverting back to my carnivorous days here in Sin City. Salivating as I write this post... Here we go!" - July 7

But wait...
"Could've had a juicy steak. But noooooo... I just had to have the eggplant parmigiana. Which was fraking amazing! Streak continues. Samussesses are proud. Joe will disown me as a friend. Stay tuned..." - July 8

J. In Vegas. Had option to order steak. Got eggplant instead.

Does. Not. Compute.

Something was holding him back. Something was keeping him from taking the plunge. Could it be that he knew how incredible The Temple that is his body felt after all these months not having to process the carcasses of land-dwelling animals? Could it be that he was a tad hesitant to contaminate The Temple after all this progress? Could it be that his palette had evolved an appreciation for The Plant?

Or could it be that he just hadn't gone to Craftsteak yet?

So for the bff's official birthday dinner, we did indeed go to Craftsteak.

Put up against 16 oz of Craftsteak rib-eye, The Plant didn't stand a chance...

I figured upon taking his first bite of cow carcass in 151 days, one of two things would happen...

Scenario A: J would find that his palette had changed and the steak didn't taste nearly as good as he remembered it.

This happened to Rob the Husband when he tried a Starbucks Double Shot about a month ago. He used to drink these daily and loved his fix of espresso and cream with a passion. After several months of living free from caffeine and dairy, he decided to try one again, and was seriously unimpressed flavour-wise. Plus he had an upset stomach for the rest of the day. I had the same unimpressive taste experience with feta cheese (which I used to ADORE) and my former favourite yogurt cookie from Evelyn's Cafe in Banff.

It's like watching reruns of Saved By the Bell and realizing it's just not quite as awesome as you remember.

No, scrap that. Saved By the Bell is still every bit as awesome as I remember.

Hmm...let's see then. It's like going to that restaurant you used to love when you were young because they had a buffet with a sundae bar, but now you realize that sundae bar is and has always been nothing more than watery soft serve, stale gummy bears, and sprinkles that are all mixed up together because people use one spoon for all the sprinkles even though there are three different kinds, resulting in sprinkle cross-contamination, where you get the rainbow ones mixed in with the chocolate ones and vice versa, and they get all stuck together because sometimes people use their own ice cream spoon to scoop the sprinkles, which is just gross, especially when they are coming back for seconds and you know that spoon has been in their mouth.

Scenario B: The steak would taste every bit as amazing as J remembered it, resulting in a transcendental, almost religious experience.

Well, in the case of J and his first steak in 151 days, it was Scenario B.

Dude really, really loves his steak. He savoured every bite of that Pittsburgh style chunk of cow flesh. 

See that smile? That's how I imagine I would feel eating a tub of Haagen Dazs. Though I have found some seriously delicious non-dairy ice cream alternatives (helloooo Purely Decadent Peanut Butter Zig-Zag), I need to be honest and admit that nothing tastes quite as awesomesauce as my Banana Split or Bailey's Irish Cream Haagen Dazs.  

J's smile was short-lived, however, as his digestive system brought him back to reality. It was a good thing he took the time to really become acquainted with each and every morsel of that rib-eye, because he'd be spending the next couple of days digesting it.  Shortly after finishing the steak he admitted that it wasn't sitting so great. He said he could almost feel the animal fat sticking to his insides, and he felt heavy and off. 

After dinner we continued the birthday celebration at David Copperfield (who was AMAYYYYYYYZING!!!!) and then met up with more friends at Gold Lounge, where the effects of the steak were really taking over...

The bff hadn't had meat in a while either, and wasn't feeling so good after her Craftsteak shortribs. 

The non-meat eaters, on the other hand, were feelin' just fine...

In all seriousness, my bff didn't even get on the dance floor for some birthday shimmying and we had to cut the celebratin' short because both of them genuinely weren't feeling well.  

Steak facepalm

And J's FB update that night?

"Broke the 151 day no-meat-streak today with a $51 dollar 16oz rib-eye prepared Pittsburgh style at Craft steak. It tasted great at the time...

Regretting it now...

Tum tum owie..."
- July 10 (1:39am)

I was instantly reminded of Skinny Bitch p. 123..."Chances are, because your body is now pure, the vice item will make you feel a little nauseous, or headache-y at the very least...Do not discount these negative feelings. They are your new, healthy, clean, pure organs speaking to you."

Go figure.

As expected, the steak stayed with him for a while...

"Oh fermenting..." - July 10

And our next dinner out (at La Cave) was a very different experience from the night before...

"Back to my 'vag'etarian ways..." - July 10

Indeed, it was a very different experience from the night before.
J even lost his Gardein virginity to Rob's Gardein with celery puree...and liked it.

He even bought some when we got back home...

Yes, I follow my bff and her husband grocery shopping all the time. Nothing wrong with that. 

Unfortunately, their home cooking experience with Gardein was not so great and J swore off pseudo veggie meats, but their Kinder and healthier lifestyle changes continue... 

‎"Released from the grip of certain foods, your body will begin to heal itself..." - July 24

Oh em gee he's quoting Alicia :)

Yes, the bff and J are officially flirting with a kinder and healthier lifestyle, and I'm having so much fun peeking in on their journey. From the delicious documentation of the bff's forays into Kinder cooking....

Parmesan creamed spinach and baked eggplant sandwiches

...to their 4 year old daughter's insightful observations...

"Mommy, this family doesn't eat meat anymore." 

...these guys are totally moving in a direction I never, Ever, EVER expected. And I am shocked and amazed and delighted by it. 

The thing is, when you figure this Kinder lifestyle out, it really is one of those things you want to jump up and down about and proclaim to the universe. You want everyone in the world to get on board, especially those you care about, because you know it's the direction we all need to head in, not just for our health and for the well being of billions of needlessly suffering animals, but for the sustainability of our planet. 

The truth is, we just can't keep up our current state of animal consumption. The Earth can't keep up. Moving away from animal products is simply evolution. So when I see people I love getting on board with making Kinder choices, of course I'm thrilled, because I know the earlier they figure it out, the better off they will be. 

Especially when the aforementioned people I love are the same people who unwittingly got me on board. 

I didn't see it coming. I'm sure they didn't see it coming.

I mean, come on, they're Filipino.

Just goes to show that with a little bit of motivation, perseverance and determination (yes, here comes the cliche), anything is possible. You just need to put your mind to it, go for it, possibly break a sweat. 

And knowing the motivation, perseverance, and determination of my fantastic bff and her fantastic husband, when it comes to their own Kind journey, I'm sure we ain't seen nothin' yet.

Oh Hot Sundae, how you remained a mere one hit wonder, I'll never figure out.


  1. I am speechless looking back on these series of events and in awe of this transformation quietly rearing it's head...

    I cried-laugh while reading this! You're fantastically funny! I can hear you in my head :)

  2. LOVE Saved by the Bell!!!

    Yikes - sundae bar spoon scenario= scary!!!

    Woohoo vegheads!