Warning this post will have lots of meat being cooked, prepared and otherwise being objectified as food porn. Proceed at your own risk.
At one point in my life, I was a vegan. I did it for two things one I was curious and the other is to impress a woman. She was one of those island girls down south who was studying here in Manila to become a chef.
I recall she told me she decided to become a vegan because all day long she would be smelling beef stock boiling and it turned her stomach and decided to just eat veggies. seeds and tofu. She always had a lot of soy milk in the fridge and would drink one whenever she felt hungry.
I remember going home from school and she would be cooking dinner and would always prepare a vegan meal for herself and a meaty dish she learned from school that day. Dinners were always exciting because I never knew what she would prepare for me.
I am not a picky eater. I would eat anything that is placed in front of me except avocados. So during the course of one dinner, I asked if I can taste her food. She looked at me with skepticism because she knows I am such a meat eater. I love steaks, burgers, and hotdogs with lots of mustard and pickle relish. I do eat a portion of grains and vegetables but more than half of my plate would be loaded with meat.
If I go to an all you can eat buffet you can see me in the carving section as well as the Japanese section stuffing my face with sushi and sashimi. My record is staying four hours in the restaurant with constant resting and drinking hot green tea for digestion.
We never had that "Turn you into a Vegan" talk because she respected me and I respected her choices but when I decided to try her lifestyle I saw the twinkle in her eyes as if I proposed to her.
So she proceeded slowly because she knew the dangers of abruptly changing my diet as she slowly eased off the animal-based proteins and replaced them with a lot of nuts, seeds, tofu, and protein supplements. I was still playing football and doing Muay Thai as well so I could not afford to lose mass and energy.
The first three weeks were hard and I recall these were the things I had to contend with.
I love my steaks dry rubbed with pepper and salt and cooked medium rare. I don't use a lot of gravy as I want to taste the flavor and fat content of the steak. When I smell the sizzle of a good steak it was really hard to reign in my cravings and I had to get out.
Maybe after Korea where there are so many Fried Chicken and Beer places, the Philippines is the next most dangerous place for chickens. We have so many variants of roasted chicken from commercialized one's from Andok's Chicken and Baliwag to Cebu styled roasted chicken like Linoan and Bacolod Chicken Inasal.
When out drinking the best thing that comes with ice cold beer is some Crispy Pata which is a deep fried crunchy leg and knuckles of a pig. Although as an athlete we didn't drink much on occasions we would and you know this will be served. Again I often needed to make a quick escape.
No more Sushi or Sashimi for me. I could eat more than a kilo of fish and whenever I would pass by a buffet restaurant I have to hurry lest I cave in and eat a whole tuna or salmon.
Fatigue, Injuries, and numbness
We were very careful of this and she knew I needed to supplement my diet with hormones and multivitamins because playing football meant a lot of running and even with shin guards those kicks from defenders pack a wallop and I have a lot of bruising and injuries to contend with.
With the gradual change in my diet I experienced some fatigue and numbness due to some B12 deficiency. Even if we were careful I was in danger of some deficiencies so further supplements were given to me.
I also felt that the injuries and bruises lasted longer but have no scientific basis.
Limited Food choices and price
This is a problem vegans face anywhere and the Philippines is no exception. Being in an agricultural country you would think that fruits and vegetable are cheap but believe me eating healthy is more expensive here.
Most restaurants here cater to meat eaters in general and would have a token salad that is quite sad to look at. Some lettuce, jello, croutons, tomatoes, eggs, and drizzled with either a vinaigrette or salad dressing of either Ceaser or Thousand Island. Woe to a vegetarian who neither partakes ovo or lacto in their diet.
So usually when you go out with friends you usually just have a drink because it's hard to eat out unless you go to an Indian or Mediterranean restaurant. Which brings us to prices.
To put it into perspective let us take a look at Wendy's menu. A garden salad costs about 132 Pesos which is about 2.52 USD a Bacon Mushroom Melt Burger costs 91 pesos or 1.74 USD.
Groceries and Markets don't fair any better as a head of lettuce could be about a dollar and a few pieces of pork chops about roughly the same.
So the time that we were both vegans I saw an increase in grocery bills because the nuts and seeds were only available in specialty shops.
Crazy isn't it. It would be better if you live in the province as you can grow your own vegetables but then there are lower job opportunities as compared to living in the Metro where most people are.
Man Boobs and Hot flashes
Okay, this is a fallacy but I wanted to share a story. I was awakened by the sensation of having my chest rubbed. I switched the light and see her with a devilish grin and telling me "So that is why you like boobs so much."
Apparently during the time of my inactivity because of my injury, I gained some weight. I have a fast metabolism when I exercise but during sedentary periods I am quick to gain weight.
I know it as a myth busted but still scared me at that time when she said in a very matter-of-fact tone that it must be all the soy that I am eating. She knew it wasn't true and was just messing with me.
Due to some other circumstances we eventually broke up and moved on and the first thing that I did was go to a hamburger joint and get their biggest one and load it with bacon and fries. I remember the taste of the beef and the bliss of taking a bite out a crunchy bacon and I knew that this was right for me.
I know I am making a terrible case here Eve and you can refute all of those but I admire and respect those individuals who neither eat meat, egg or dairy products as it takes a lot of discipline to do so.
In any kind of lifestyle, there are pros and cons. We just have to live it without regrets.
So tonight I am going out and eat in a Korean BBQ restaurant take a piece of lettuce, some Kimchi and place that wonderfully grilled pork belly and slather that bad boy with doenjang-honey-ginger-gochujang paste. Roll it and pop it in my mouth for an exquisite experience.
No??! Still not doing it for you @evecab? hahaha
All images not sourced are mine.