Road Food Rant: Give Me Veggies or Kill Me Dead

By Catherine Breese

I do not ever want to eat in a restaurant again. As long as I live. I do not want a platter, a two-for-one special, or anything “all you can eat.” I would really rather go hungry than be forced to scour one more menu for something, anything, vegetable-like.

It did not take us long on this extended road trip to figure out that when you are traveling eating a vegan diet is an impossible dream. Even vegetarianism ain’t all that easy. Apparently the American palate and mine do not have much in common. Yes, I know I can get a veggie sub at Subway. I know. I have eaten one three days in a row and I am officially fatigued! And although I have told many of my high school English students in the past not to write rants, here is one…

First, I do not want any bacon. And I surely do not want it on a freaking salad. As evidenced by the many menus I have perused of late, bacon is an omnipresent ingredient of every course of a meal, from the appetizers to the desserts. (If you like bacon, that’s cool. This article is about my food problems, not yours.) In fact, between the sprinkled cheese, crunchy tortilla strips, croutons, and bacon, there are a whole lot of salads out there that aren’t very salady.

Additionally, they’re putting just about everything in a wrap these days. This is not a new food or a healthy alternative. It is the same fatty schlock that they serve on a plate or on a bun, wrapped up inside a 240 calorie flour tortilla.

Furthermore, I do not want or need ranch dressing in a wrap or on a sandwich or on a salad. Period. It is not delicious, America! It’s just familiar. They usually put it on mediocre food to cover the fact that the food itself is not good. Same goes for mayonnaise. And, I do not want either on my veggie burger.

Finally, stop with the butter-o-rama. Vegetables can be served without butter. No really, they can. I have ordered a lot of sides in restaurants because, well, sometimes it the only way to get a vegetable. Usually when it arrives at the table it is a droopy glob of green swimming in a yellow pool of butter.[i] Back in our old life, the one where we had a house and jobs, we liked to play a little game called Tudor Biscuit World Roulette. This game can also be played utilizing a Waffle House or an IHOP. Rules of the game: Eat at Tudor’s. Get in the car and go shopping, preferably at a mall or a grocery store. Last person who quickly scampers off to use the restroom is the winner. It’s a simple game based on the fact that restaurants cook with entirely too much butter (and/or lard).

If you watch TV and have surfed through infomercials on the upper channels, you might think that there is a raw foods movement in this country. There are all kinds of gizmos designed especially to chop, blend, pulverize, and juice raw fruits and vegetables. Montel Williams and others make very convincing arguments for juicing up bunches of veggies and fruits thereby improving one’s health and energy. If you drew an inference from all these commercials, you might be under the impression that Americans are changing their diets away from the fast food supersized junk of the 1990s. You might conclude that we Americans actually like fruits and vegetables. You, my friend, would be wrong. Take one look at the menu of any restaurant, chain or otherwise, and you will see what we really like: ribs, wings, and burgers. Since I don’t eat those things, you can see where eating in a restaurant might be more than a little frustrating.

Look, I am not asking anyone to stop eating their favorite animals. Some of my best friends are carnivores. I am simply pointing out that something nearly everyone seems to know is nutritious as well as crunchy and tasty is strangely missing from the vast majority of restaurant menus.

So, you win, Beef-Burger-Pork-Chicken Wing-Bacon Industrial Complex! I give up. But, someday veggie lovers across this country will rise up and have their day. Until then, I’ll console myself with a box of crackers, bag of raw carrots, and a Martini on ice in my hotel room.

[i] I won’t even go into the number of places that serve deep fried vegetables. Come on! You could batter dip and deep-fry some shoe box cardboard, serve it up as an appetizer, and most patrons would happily order and enjoy it.