I Was Actually ‘Missing Out’ as an Omnivore
I hear it all the time. “Oh, man, you’re missing out on [insert meat or cheese filled dish here].” It’s a pretty common thing for a vegan or a plant-based dieter to hear, but in my experience, it’s an inarguably false statement. I’m close to three years into veganism, and I can’t stress this enough: I am eating a wider variety of foods than I ever did as an omnivore.
Sure, every once in a while, I still settle for a typical American meal — a veggie burger and fries, or vegan pizza. But because of my veganism, my palette has grown extensively. Back when I was eating without any “restrictions,” I wouldn’t so much as touch anything involving peppers, mushrooms, or cauliflower. Salad? Forget about it. Big chunks of tomato? Blech.
Now? I eat mushrooms as an afternoon snack, either raw or fried up. I make cauliflower buffalo “wings” when I’m feeling like a basic white dude. Onions and peppers have become staples in the dishes my partner and I cook. I’ve cooked entirely vegan meals for my mother, who I used to butt heads with over broccoli.
Did it happen overnight?
Oh, of course! …not.
My early vegan diet consisted mostly of plain veggie burgers with vegan cheese and a bun. Maybe some ketchup. I tried a vegan “hot pocket” that had chunks of tomato in it and had to force myself to eat the whole thing. Unfortunately, my diet as an omnivore wasn’t healthy, even for an omnivore, and I had a lot of bad eating habits to overcome.
Yet, overcome I did. The turning point came from a place you may or may not have heard of, Sanaa’s 8th Street Gourmet in Sioux Falls, SD. Sanaa Abourezk is a world-renowned chef, and her restaurant has been highly regarded and acclaimed across the United States. She’s one of the best vegan (in my opinion, the best) option for those of us in South Dakota.
When I first ate at Sanaa’s, I was apprehensive. Her main vegan dish was an eggplant based dish with lots of onions and tomatoes. I was still stuck in my picky eater habits, but I took a helping of it, determined to try something new. It wasn’t my favorite at first, but as my diet changed, my taste buds did as well. Now, my mouth is watering just thinking about that eggplant dish — and the countless other delicious dishes she whips up!
My tastes changed over time.
I wasn’t able to hop directly into a vegan lifestyle. I spent about a year and a half as a vegetarian before I went vegan. While I was a vegetarian, I dabbled in veganism and eventually made the change after I had adjusted accordingly. It helped that my partner was already a vegan during my time, and was able to introduce me to a variety of vegan dishes (like the ones at Sanaa’s).
Studies generally say that you need to taste something at least ten times before your taste buds decide they like it or not. There are certain foods that I still don’t like , but I’ve given them a fair try since going vegan.
Because of my vegan lifestyle, I’ve also dabbled in more types of food that I probably would have ignored in my omnivorous days. I now frequent Indian and Vietnamese restaurants, as well as shop at health food stores that I used to avoid like the plague.
As an omnivore, my diet was bland.
When I was eating meat, that was basically all I was eating. My meals would consist of some type of meat, some type of potato, and the occasional side of corn (or a second type of potato). That is, unless I was eating pizza or a frozen burrito.
Now? I eat something different nearly every day of the week. There are definitely staples to my diet, but I’m more willing to try new recipes. I consistently attempt to learn more about the foods I’m putting in my body, and through that, I have discovered new favorite dishes. Despite my dietary “restrictions,” I am less restricted than I ever was as an omnivore.
So, no, fellow humans, I am not “missing out” on bacon. I’ve had bacon. It’s not nearly as good as the jackfruit tacos or the countless stir-fries I’ve concocted. I’m not missing out on whatever meat dish is being served at that new restaurant downtown. I have dishes at other restaurants that suit my needs and tastes better. In actuality, I feel sorry for you.
I think you’re missing out.