I’m an Episcopalian, so I observe Lent in some way every year. Sometimes I’ve given up something, and other times I’ve taken on something extra. Lent offers an opportunity to change my lifestyle without committing to making that change permanent. I’ve always learned something from Lent, sometimes a different lesson than I expected.
I’m also an environmentalist. While many of the threats to our planet’s health are caused by big corporations or government policies, I tend to focus on the environmental impacts of individual people’s lifestyle choices, because that’s an area in which it’s easier to make a difference. Over the years, I’ve changed my own lifestyle one step at a time.
As I thought about how to observe Lent this year, and as I considered what should be the next step in my environmentalism, I realized that the two could be combined. Giving up meat for Lent is an old tradition that’s still popular–the deprivation is supposed to help you feel grateful for what you have, and it’s symbolic of forsaking carnal pleasure to become more spiritual. Vegetarianism is good for the environment because producing meat uses many more resources than growing plants. For years, I’d been slowly reducing the amount of meat in my diet, but I’d never quite gotten around to becoming a vegetarian. It was time to try.
My life-partner Daniel agreed to do this with me, even though he’s not a Christian. He agreed that changing our habits for a finite period of time would be easier than making a permanent change, and that it would be interesting to see what it was like to give up meat for real instead of making vague efforts to eat less of it. We decided to use the definition of Lent that considers Sundays feast days when you are allowed to do the thing you’ve given up. Thus, Lent lasts 40 days, from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday (the day before Easter), not counting Sundays. We also agreed to use the definition of meat that includes all animal flesh, because we’ve always thought it was kind of silly to say fish is not meat.
We began referring to this season as SoyLent because of the meat substitutes we planned to enjoy and because of the movie Soylent Green, about a horrible future in which people survive by eating mass-produced food substitute. We watched it the weekend before Lent began, and it helped motivate us.
The following diary recounts our experiences during SoyLent. We did our best to have meatless meals while otherwise living our lives as usual, so we ate some easy-to-make foods over and over again and didn’t try a lot of glamorous new recipes. That’s why we don’t describe every single meal–too boring!–but we swear, we didn’t eat any meat except where mentioned.
Daniel was disappointed when he realized that the first day of Lent also was the day he and co-workers had decided to have a potluck lunch. He was afraid he’d miss out on a lot of things because they’d contain meat. As it turned out, he got a decent variety. Here’s the list he dictated to me:
- spicy rice
- Indian soup with like carrots and all
- puffy biscuits that you pour the soup over
- eggy bread with yogurt, almost a quiche
- desserts involving fruit and ice cream
- apples, strawberries, and plums
- a piece of candy, mostly nuts with chocolate
I went to church at lunchtime. Ash Wednesday is the day to “Remember that you are dust and that unto dust you shall return.” This is always humbling. But today I thought also about the fact that everything around me is, when you get right down to it, made from dust. All the vegetables and fruits in the world, in all their delicious variety, are made from dirt. It’s amazing what plants can do!
Tonight we had a very thrown-together dinner: We each had a Gardenburger, and I ate a little leftover macaroni and some chips dipped in salsa and cream cheese, while Daniel had a bowl of raisin bran. Gardenburgers are frozen patties made from various vegetables and grains, sold in the freezer case at the supermarket. These were Veggie Medley flavor, which we hadn’t tried before, and we thought they were kind of bland.
Thursday, February 14
We went to a movie and dinner for our Valentine’s Day date. (We had to do it in that order because of the time of the movie.) We saw The Bread, My Sweet, an excellent drama set in Pittsburgh and particularly Enrico Biscotti Company in the Strip District. It was playing at the Regent Square Theater, so afterward we went to Edgewood Towne Centre and decided to try the Chinese restaurant there. We like all kinds of Asian food and normally have some difficulty deciding what to order, but limiting ourselves to the vegetarian selections reduced the dilemma. We got Hunan Tofu, Buddhist Delight, rice, and vegetable eggrolls. Everything was tasty and satisfying. While we were eating, a woman came in to complain about her take-out order, insisting that the chicken chow mein did not contain chicken (it did–we couldn’t resist peeking at it on our way out), which provided an entertaining backdrop to our vegetarian meal: She was shouting, “I worked in the Presbyterian Hospital cafeteria for 28 years, and we made chicken out of chicken. Chick!! En!! Don’t you understand?!” 🙂
Friday, February 15
Daniel and co-workers went to the Strip District at lunchtime, so he visited Enrico Biscotti Company and bought some biscotti, scones, and other cookies which we ate over the course of the weekend. They had lunch at La Prima, where Daniel got a bean-and-pasta soup. For dinner tonight, we had pierogies, a locally popular food of Polish origin: sort of dumplings stuffed with mashed potato and cheese. We buy them frozen, thaw them, saute them with onions and other vegetables (tonight, carrots and green pepper), and eat them with plain yogurt or sour cream.
Saturday, February 16
We made baked beans, semi-following a recipe in The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. We used canned beans (one can each of black, kidney, and soy beans) instead of going through the hassle of cooking dried beans. The recipe also called for apples, and we happened to have some left over from Daniel’s potluck. We were very happy with the result, which was more like chili than like typical baked beans. We wanted cornbread to go with them but didn’t have any cornbread mix or cornmeal, so Daniel made biscuits from a mix but used half a can of creamed corn instead of the milk, and those also came out well.
Sunday, February 17
I found myself indifferent to the idea of meat today, even though I could have had some. We went out to dinner at Gullifty’s, and Daniel had the Italian calzone (which includes pepperoni and sausage), but I got the Grilled Vegetable Wedgie: eggplant, portobello mushroom, red pepper, and cheese wrapped in bread, with lettuce and tomato on the side. It was great!
Monday, February 18
We tried Smart Dogs, a brand of soy hot-dogs that had been on sale at our co-op store. They lent further support to my opinion that meatless foods are better when they don’t even pretend to be meat–Gardenburgers, for instance, are nothing like hamburgers but are tasty on their own merits. Smart Dogs are just enough like hot-dogs that their flavor and texture seem wrong, as if they’d gone bad. We managed to eat two each but were left with four in the package and the feeling that we never wanted to eat them. Our dinner was redeemed by fried potatoes and steamed broccoli. The potatoes were left over from last summer’s farm share, and I was eager to use them up, so I scrubbed and cut the sprouts out of an extra one and baked it in the microwave while I was cooking the other food.
Tuesday, February 19
I woke up aching and dizzy, with a runny nose and clogged head. I reheated the baked potato and ate it for breakfast, with butter and seaweed sprinkles (norigoma furikake, available in shaker-jars at Asian grocery stores, delicious, high in protein) and a cup of tea. That got me feeling well enough to go to work, but I could tell it might be my last day for a while. I dragged home that evening wanting to eat some ramen noodles and go to bed. Unfortunately, most flavors of ramen are made with meat extracts in the seasoning. Instead, I had Maggi two-minute masala noodles, which I had bought from the Indian store a while back; they were very spicy, which helped clear my sinuses but didn’t give me the soothing experience I’d been craving. Daniel did have ramen but left out the seasoning powder and instead added soy sauce and “fish spice” (a peppery concoction).
Wednesday, February 20
Unfortunately, Daniel’s birthday was the first of many days I was really sick, and this day I ate nothing. Over the next couple of days, I had little portions of rice, bananas, vanilla soymilk, orange juice, Pumpkin Snack, and yogurt.
Daniel went out to lunch on his birthday and had primavera Alfredo at Hambone’s. On Friday he went out to The Quiet Storm and had curry lentil soup, hummus, and pita bread.
Saturday, February 23
It is 2:30 a.m. I have been unable to sleep for twenty-five hours due to constant nose-blowing, yet my head is still clogged and throbbing. The thing I want most in the world is Egg Drop Soup made with chicken broth. Maybe I can justify it with some philosophical reflections, like why is it that the Jewish kosher laws forbid eating “a calf cooked in its mother’s milk” but not a fetus cooked in the dregs of its mother’s corpse? (mmmmm…) I break down and open the can of corpse-based broth, and despite my clogged nose the aroma of it seems to fill the kitchen. The soup is delicious and makes me less miserable for the next four hours before I finally get an hour of sleep.
Sunday, February 24
Daniel had to go to work for part of the day, and while he was there he ate a portion of club sandwich he’d saved on Friday from a co-worker who wasn’t going to finish it. Daniel prevented this meat from being thrown away (which of course is more wasteful than eating it) but refrained from eating it until Sunday. He brought home Zaw’s Chinese takeout: hot-and-sour soup, pineapple chicken, Szechuan eggplant, and rice. (This is typical of our pre-Lent Chinese meals; we usually get one chicken dish and one vegetarian, and we often get an appetizer that includes a little meat.) It was all delicious! The soup has bits of pork, so we put the leftover portion in the freezer for next Sunday.
Tuesday, February 26
This was my first day back at work, and I was still feeling awful. I went to the Sushi Boat for lunch and got tofu in Szechuan sauce, which was great even though I’d been eating Szechuan sauce for the last two days–the Sushi Boat makes it a little differently than Zaw’s, and besides I just like that kind of thing. Eating is still a slow and annoying process, though, because I have to keep stopping to blow my nose. For dinner, Daniel made Beans & Rice with red pepper and carrots. In the late evening, he started feeling sick.
Wednesday, February 27
Daniel was still well enough to go to work today. He had lunch at Thai Cuisine: Pad See-Ew noodles with tofu, broccoli, and carrot. I had a lunch that I’ve found is very convenient for work: pack a food-storage container about 3/4 full of leftover rice or pasta and put a frozen veggie burger on top. The burger thaws slowly during the morning, so the whole thing can be heated in a microwave in 1-2 minutes. Then I use a fork to break off a piece of burger and pick it up along with a bite of rice. With a piece of fruit or some canned fruit (today I had canned tropical fruit salad) this makes a good lunch. I made the Veggie Medley Gardenburger more interesting with a little soy sauce and black pepper. For dinner, we used up two of the Smart Dogs by chopping them into tiny bits and mixing them, along with some red pepper, with the egg-and-potato filling of Jeremy’s Breakfast Pitas. The result was edible, but it would’ve been better without the Smart Dogs!
Thursday, February 28
Daniel stayed home today and didn’t eat much until I came home and cooked spaghetti for dinner. For lunch, I had an eggplant parmigiana frozen meal and some more tropical fruit salad and a banana.
Friday, March 1
Daniel is still sick, but not as sick as I was. He ate the leftover Beans & Rice from Tuesday. I had another veggie burger lunch, and I brought home Zaw’s takeout, all vegetarian this time: coconut tofu, more Szechuan eggplant, and rice.
Saturday, March 2
We slept late and snacked all afternoon on chips and salsa, bananas, cereal, and ice cream. I made Red & Green Pockets for dinner.
Sunday, March 3
I went to church and enjoyed a variety of bagels and a brownie at coffee hour. Daniel’s lunch was a frozen meal of pepperoni pizza, corn, and a brownie (a strange combination of things to cook together!) that had been in our freezer since before Lent. My only meat today was in the hot-and-sour soup we thawed and reheated at dinnertime. We ate it along with our vegetarian Chinese leftovers.
Monday, March 4
I used up the Red & Green Pocket filling for lunch, but I had to eat it with rice because we were out of pita bread. Daniel stayed home, still not feeling well, and nibbled at cereal and rice (some of it with seaweed sprinkles) when not sleeping. For dinner, I made an experimental sort of hash thing that turned out badly, not just because it contained the last two Smart Dogs but also because I threw in a lot of seasonings to try to conceal them, and curry powder just doesn’t go with dill, or something. The stuff also contained bits of potato (this time, I baked all of the remaining potatoes), carrot, red pepper, and onions. The combination of ingredients turned the Smart Dog bits a horrible grayish-orange color. By also adding cheese, we were able to gag down enough to fill us, but we threw away the leftovers knowing we’d never be motivated to reheat them.
Tuesday, March 5
For lunch, I went to SubWay and got the Veggie Delite sandwich, which is like any of their other sandwiches but without the meat. I usually order provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, either olives or pickles, green pepper, and spicy mustard. The woman eating next to me asked, “Is that a vegetarian sandwich? Does it cost less?” I pointed out that it’s on the menu, and that the 12-inch version is the same price as many of the 6-inch meat sandwiches–quite a bargain, considering that it’s such a complex sandwich I hardly notice the lack of meat! Normally I only buy a meat sandwich at SubWay if I have a coupon.
Wednesday, March 6
My veggie burger lunch included a Fire Roasted Vegetable Gardenburger (very tasty) and an apple. Daniel had two frozen things from a store near work, a bean burrito and a small macaroni-and-cheese. We had spaghetti for dinner. It was a rather dull day until about 10 p.m., when my mom called to tell me my cousin Mark had been found dead in his apartment!! He went into a diabetic coma, had nobody to call for help as he lived alone, and never woke up. 😦 Over the next several days, I tried to figure out how I could get to his funeral in Oklahoma City, but because I’d just been sick and was about to have surgery and couldn’t get any more time off work, it turned out to be impossible.
Thursday, March 7
For dinner tonight we tried tempeh, a soy food that’s traditional in Indonesia. It comes in a big chunk, sealed in plastic and refrigerated. We fried it in soy sauce as directed by the package and ate it with rice and steamed broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots. We were pleased with tempeh–it tastes more like cheese than meat, but its consistency is similar to hamburger, so it’s a satisfying main dish.
Friday, March 8
Two co-workers and I went out to lunch at Ali Baba’s, where I had a cheese pie (kind of like cottage cheese, with onions, very good) and a piece of baklava, and we shared some hummus and pita bread. For dinner, Daniel and I got a green pepper pizza from the Napoli Pizzeria.
Saturday, March 9
We slept late and had a strange brunch of baked potatoes, leftover pizza, and canned peaches. We made Pasta Salad for dinner, using broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots. (They’re available mixed together, frozen, at our grocery store, which calls them “Florentine vegetables” for reasons unknown.)
Sunday, March 10
The opportunity to eat meat was mostly ignored today. I had ramen that contained chicken stock for dinner, but Daniel had a bean burrito. For lunch I made tofu in Spicy Peanut Sauce, which was extremely filling. I baked pumpkin bread tonight (from a cookbook recipe I’d never tried before, which came out okay but not ideal) which will be our breakfast for several days.
Monday, March 11
For dinner tonight, I was making that green-bean casserole–you know, the one with cream-of-mushroom soup and canned fried onions–and thinking about how it tastes like a fine main dish but is really just vegetable surrounded by seasonings, and it occurred to me to add some protein by replacing some of the fried onions with salted peanuts. (I still used fried onions on the top.) This turned out to be delicious and filling, with a satisfying texture. Ounce for ounce, salted peanuts and canned fried onions have about the same amount of calories and fat, but the peanuts are lower in sodium and contain significant amounts of protein, fiber, and potassium. We’re really happy with this recipe modification!
Tuesday, March 12
Nothing new today: eggplant with garlic sauce at the Sushi Boat for my lunch, Pad See-Ew noodles for Daniel’s lunch, Fire Roasted Vegetable Gardenburgers on toast for dinner.
Wednesday, March 13
Daniel was at work until very late, and later he couldn’t remember what he’d eaten this day, other than a can of vegetarian baked beans. I had leftover green bean casserole for lunch, and for dinner I made spaghetti and added crushed pineapple to some of my Marinara Sauce–it sounds strange, but it’s really very good, if you like pineapple on pizza.
Thursday, March 14
I threw together an unbalanced meal of tofu in hoisin sauce and rice, with no vegetables, for a quick dinner before friends came over to play games. Zarf brought some poppyseed cake he’d made, which was strange but good.
Friday, March 15
I made some more of that biscuit-mix-with-creamed-corn bread, which made a decent light dinner with monterey jack cheese and salsa on top and a glass of grape juice.
Saturday, March 16
Daniel tried a new recipe for dinner: Fettucine al Marco, from Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe. This finally used up the parmesan cheese we had purchased for our traditional Stuffed Shells on Christmas! The cheese sauce wasn’t ideal by my standards, but it was okay, and the general concept of cheese sauce with green peas and black olives seems like a good one.
Sunday, March 17
Like ramen, many flavors of Lipton side dishes contain meat extracts. We’d been disappointed to realize that we’d bought one of them, Rice Medley, which contains chicken fat. We had it for lunch today, and I thought that would be enough meat for me, but Daniel persuaded me to have a cheeseburger at Eat-n-Park, saying I needed the iron in preparation for my surgery on Tuesday. I felt overly full and queasy afterward.
Monday, March 18
I went to Yum Wok for lunch today and ordered “vegetarian pad thai,” which is not on the menu, but I figured they could make their delicious chicken pad thai without the chicken. To my surprise, the noodles came with all sorts of vegetables (broccoli, zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, and more) in addition to the usual green onions, cabbage, bean sprouts, ground peanuts, tofu, and scrambled egg. It was a feast! Tonight Daniel and I made a dozen Bean Burritos and put half of them in the freezer (individually wrapped in waxed paper, then inside a plastic bag with all the air sucked out before sealing) to reheat later. This seems like it should work, though we’ve never tried it before.
Tuesday, March 19
I had outpatient surgery to remove a benign uterine tumor. While I was unconscious, Daniel braved the Magee Women’s Hospital cafeteria. Of course, most of the main dishes had meat, but he managed to find vegetarian lasagna, which he said was awful. (He also went to the gift shop and bought me a tiny stuffed rabbit that vibrates when you pull its tail. It is just about the silliest thing I’ve ever seen.) Previous experiences with anesthesia had left me feeling horrible for a couple of days, but this time I was fine! In fact, I walked out of the hospital and rode home on the bus instead of calling a cab as planned. I wasn’t hungry until evening, though. Daniel made spaghetti with broccoli, leftover Marinara Sauce, and cheese. Later, I had some chips and salsa and also some Pumpkin Snack.
Wednesday, March 20
Over the course of the day (staying home on doctor’s orders), I ate a banana, some rice with seaweed sprinkles, canned peaches with cornflakes, and yogurt with brown sugar and raisins. Daniel took one of our frozen burritos to work for lunch and reported that it heated up just fine. For dinner, we had mushroom flavor Gardenburgers and cheese on toast, and we baked some frozen tater tots.
Thursday, March 21
I went back to work today and brought one of the burritos for lunch, along with a banana and some canned mandarin oranges. Homemade frozen burritos do reheat in a microwave just as well as the store-bought kind! Daniel had lunch at People’s Indian buffet: samosas (pastries stuffed with potatoes and peas), spinach, lentils, and rice. I made the green bean casserole with peanuts for dinner again, along with biscuits.
Friday, March 22
This morning I realized the leftover tofu with hoisin sauce and rice from a week ago Thursday was still in the refrigerator, so that (along with the rest of the can of mandarin oranges) was my lunch. Daniel worked very late. My dinner was leftover green bean casserole and biscuits and some peanut butter and honey.
Saturday, March 23
For lunch, I made Fried Rice with tofu and carrot. I spent the evening baking banana bread, oatmeal cookies, and chocolate-chip cookies for church coffee hour the next day, and I ate so much batter I didn’t need any dinner!
In addition to the baked stuff, I brought a platter of vegetables and dip to church. I had picked up sour cream at the grocery store yesterday, assuming we had onion soup mix at home, but it turned out that we didn’t. I improvised by mixing the sour cream with dried minced onions, dill, and black pepper, and the resulting dip was well-received. I ate a lot of the food before, during, and after coffee hour, so I didn’t really have breakfast or lunch. Daniel and I went out to dinner at the Sichuan House early enough to get the special. Because there aren’t many vegetarian options on the special menu, and because it costs the same whether you get meat or not, we ended up with General Tso’s chicken and Triple Delight, which has chicken, shrimp, and pork. The pork was leathery and gross, but everything else was good.
Monday, March 25
I ate leftovers all day, including a biscuit crumbled onto canned peaches to make a sort of cobbler. Daniel went out to lunch and got a hummus, spinach, artichoke, and bell pepper pizza.
Tuesday, March 26
An uneventful day: I bought an onion bagel with vegetable cream cheese on my way to work, ate a Michelena’s frozen eggplant parmigiana meal and a banana and root beer for lunch, snacked on Girl Scout Tagalongs cookies, and at dinnertime mixed up some peanut butter and honey and dipped bread in it and then ate some chips and salsa. Daniel worked very late and over the course of the day ate another eggplant parmigiana meal, some banana bread, a frozen teriyaki vegetables with rice meal, and some vegetarian baked beans.
Wednesday, March 27
My friend Shawn and I had lunch at the Spice Island Tea House. I got Indonesian Festival Rice, which has little bits of various vegetables in it and hardboiled egg slices and tomato wedges around it and toasted onions on top. It was delicious. Daniel was working late again, but this time I made myself a real dinner: stir-fried tofu, zucchini, and mushrooms.
Daniel ate one of the remaining bean burritos for lunch and my leftover stir-fry for dinner. I went to the soup supper at church and tried the cream of broccoli, potato leek, and a yummy soup that I was surprised to hear was split pea, and I also enjoyed various kinds of bread and some strawberries and orange wedges.
I went out to lunch with a bunch of co-workers at Yum Wok, where three out of eight of us ordered Japanese Eggplant. It’s not just eggplant–it comes with zucchini, carrots, baby corn, bok choy, green onions, mushrooms, and more, all in a very tasty sauce. For a quick dinner before church, I tried Thai Kitchen Instant Rice Noodles, a sort of vegetarian ramen that I found at the co-op. They’re not as absurdly cheap as ramen, but 79c is still a bargain for such tasty and easy-to-cook food, and they have about half as much sodium as ramen and no saturated fat. I had ginger and vegetable flavor and liked it a lot.
Tonight’s church service was bleak, with readings about the terrible things that modern human society is doing or allowing to happen. One of them was about the environment. It forced me to think about how huge this problem is, how many human beings are in this world and how many things we’re doing wrong, how I’m complicit in it by being a part of this society and this economy at all. SoyLent and everything else I’ve done are just tiny drops barely denting the surface of the ocean. It’s hard to feel so small and powerless and to know that there’s so much wrong. But it’s important to think about it sometimes.
Today we visited our new home! (We had been looking at houses for about six months.) I knew it must be a nice place because I liked it even though I had a searing headache. Sometimes I can avert a headache by eating The Magic Food, but today my head wasn’t telling me what food it wanted. I tried spaghetti and later peanut-butter-and-honey, because each of those has often been The Magic Food, but today nothing helped. Luckily, my enthusiasm about the house distracted me, and Daniel and I sat around talking about it until I was feeling better and it was time for me to get ready for church. I’m glad I didn’t have a headache during the Easter Vigil service, which is one of my favorites. We light a big candle that burns all night, and we listen to the stories of the creation of the universe and of various times when God saved people from disaster and restored hope. There was a fancy reception afterward, with a sheet cake, cinnamon bread shaped like bunnies, mushroom pinwheels, lemon tart, spanakopita, cheese and crackers, fruit, etc. As chair of the Hospitality Committee, I’d managed to delegate the bringing of the food to other people, but I arranged all of it on the tables and stayed at church washing dishes until about 1:30 a.m. I walked home thinking, “Lent is over–I can eat all the meat I want!” and not wanting any.
Did we celebrate the end of our deprivation with a big meat munch? Not exactly. We were glad, though, that we didn’t have to figure out how to get a vegetarian meal at Bob Evans, which was one of the few restaurants open on Easter in Daniel’s grandparents’ town. We drove over to Ohio to visit them in the afternoon, after I’d survived the plague of locusts: Previous committee chairs had warned me that after the Easter morning service, the hungry hordes swirl through the parish hall and decimate the refreshment tables very quickly before going home to their hams. That’s exactly what happened, but we had plenty of food for them. I didn’t care about ham or have any interest in meat at all, but at Bob Evans there was essentially no choice. A few entrees could be special-ordered with no meat and still provide a full meal, but most are completely meat-centric. A lot of the sandwiches have multiple kinds of meat. Even the salads have meat in them. Daniel and I stared at this menu, laughing at what now seems to us to be a ludicrous over-abundance of meat. We’re definitely more aware of that now. But I think it’s the main stumbling block to my becoming a permanent vegetarian: Meat is everywhere, and it’s easier to give in and eat it than to avoid it.
Epilogue (February 2003)
I would like to be able to say that SoyLent convinced me to live a meat-free life forever after. It did provide further evidence that I don’t need meat, either physically or psychologically. (I could have resisted that chicken broth if I’d had vegetable broth in the house.) I ate more meat on Sundays than I needed or even wanted to, because it was so readily available. Since Lent, I’ve eaten meat in restaurants and occasionally bought frozen meals with chicken in them for exactly that reason. But I’ve also been eating meat a lot less frequently since then than before, and I’m thinking about it a lot more. SoyLent got me into the habit of scanning a menu for vegetarian items first and then, if that didn’t turn up anything good, looking for items that could be ordered with no meat. The chicken-broth incident was one of only three times I have actually craved any form of animal flesh in the past year. (The other two were bacon, which is terribly unhealthy but yummy. I think I would be able to forget about it if I wasn’t always smelling it in restaurants.) But I’m still willing to eat it even when I don’t particularly want to, and that bothers me. The only way to make vegetarian options available everywhere is to demand them. I think SoyLent was an important step in my progress toward vegetarianism, and I plan to do it again, without the exemption for Sundays.