Chinese Food and My Semi-Vegan Valentine's Day
Friday, February 15, 2013
My husband and I don't tend to make a big deal out of Valentine's Day. I usually get the kids a small gift. My husband might bring home flowers. Sometimes we all go out to dinner. Sometimes I cook something special.
This year, the kids wanted to stay home so I made a homemade pizza for them. My husband and I headed out for dinner, just the two of us. In our old town, reservations were never needed. In our new town, it became apparent that we should have made Valentine's dinner plans. Oops.
We ended up at a Chinese buffet restaurant, the only place that didn't have a wait. I didn't want to eat there but my husband didn't want to go back home, so to the buffet we went.
Buffets scare me. I avoid them. I have a hard time saying no and regulating my portions.
From the minute we walked in, I did not like the place. It was too bright (not very romantic), much of the food on the line sat in oily sauces. It was clearly Americanized Chinese food. There wasn't a fresh vegetable to be found. There was some fruit but it was canned. I thought - no big deal - I will order off the menu.
There was no menu. Only the buffet. Ugh.
In the end, I had garlic green beans, a little fried rice, a little vegetable lo-mein, some hot and sour soup and two little sushi roll pieces. There was a TON of food - chicken, shrimp, beef, and pork dishes of many kinds and a whole line of desserts. I managed to avoid all of it.
Here is when taking the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart challenge has been a huge help to me. Because of the challenge I searched for vegan-friendly dishes. That eliminated pretty much 99% of the buffet. There was ONE dish that was vegetables only - garlic green beans. (And chances are that dish had lard or chicken/beef stock as part of its preparation, so it wasn't vegan.)
In the end, I picked the best of all bad options. And I am okay with my choices. The better choice would have been to insist on going home but it was important to my husband for us to go out. (Next year we will plan ahead. Ha!)
I am feeling really good today because I took one look at the food on the buffet last night and said, "Yuck." That was my immediate reaction. There was a time when those dishes would have been highly tempting - all that fat and salt. Last night they looked awful. I didn't want ANY of them. That says my brain and my emotions are beginning to sync when it comes to "tempting" food. (And that it was a really bad Chinese food restaurant.)
I am also feeling good because I made the best of a bad situation. I want to stay within the spirit of the vegan diet but I don't want to impose it on the world around me 24/7. Strict food vigilance is a stress/anxiety I can't deal with. It was more important to spend that time with my husband than to put my foot down and say, "This place sucks! There's nothing I can eat here!" Sure I ingested fat, salt and probably some meat. It's just food. Crappy food, yes, but it's just food. Just one meal. Next time we will plan better.
Little by little I feel some of the emotion falling away from my food choices. I have a long way to go, especially as it relates to sugar, but I am encouraged.
Happy Day After Valentine's Day!