“I would eat that,” said my boyfriend, P, nodding over at my vegan burger. We were seated in a Five Guys, eating parallel meals. On our way to a Justice show at Hammerstein Ballroom, we needed something quick. Half cranky from hunger, half rushed, we couldn’t decide on a place that was both vegan and omni friendly. So I grabbed take out from the Loving Hut and met him across the street at the Five Guys, where he was getting meaty. Loving Hut is a chain, and there is some controversy around it’s whacky Taiwanese founder, so it’s not always my first choice, especially when I’m in a city as abuzz with vegan choices as New York. But whatever, that’s a rant for another day.
Now normally, my guy is more than happy to eat vegan with me. But we had just ran a Tough Mudder (cough, humblebrag) and he wasn’t interested in the Loving Hut. When I pointed to the vegan spot, he was probably thinking raw salads. Despite the fact he has seen me scarf down five slices of vegan pizza in one sitting, he opted out because he “wanted something filling.”
Something filling? How is my “crispy burger”—piled with homemade pickles, avocado, lettuce and tomato on a wheat bun—not filling?
What he had meant was something heavy. Something greasy. Although we were eating similar meals, you could see the difference before you even opened the brown take-out bags. His was absolutely spotty with grease. Mine was shine-free. Even though it was pan fried, it was not overly greasy, and served up with a nice green salad, I knew it would leave me feeling full but still energetic—critical, as we were on our way to a freakin’ electronic show, and who wants to be gassy and bloated while they fist pump? I pointed this out, and it got us on the subject of eating for energy.
Now trust me, I like to eat. I am not a “I’ll just take the salad” type of girl. If I don’t eat something every three hours I turn into a snarling, spitting beast. But when I eat a meal, even a big one, I want it to give me a lift. This is how I got into vegetarianism when I was a teen. I began to notice that different foods seriously affected my mood. We have all developed taste preferences, and most of us have emotional bonds to what we eat, but eating in its base nature is meant to be done for energy. We are eating to stoke our bodies’ coals and fuel us through the day. When I eat something extremely greasy, (remember my five slicer binge I mentioned?) it leaves me feeling heavy, and bloated. This transcends the vegan/omni line. It doesn’t matter if my pizza is loaded with Daiya or dairy, if it’s dripping with grease and weird ingredients I can’t pronounce, it’s going to weigh me down either way.
Because of this, I often choose my foods depending on how my body feels, and this is why 90 percent of the time, my food is clean and simple. I like my food to leave me feeling satiated but energetic. This happens when what I eat is as close to a whole food source as possible–not processed, and not laden with artificial fillers. Of course sometimes I just want a fucking burger, and that’s fine, too. I don’t mean to say I am some sort of dietary saint. I PREFER to eat clean, but there are many nights I choose to sit on the couch in my sweats with General Tsos tofu or a pint of So Delicious. But I know that I will feel it the next day. My hangovers from food can be just as intense as the ones from my booze benders.
This “eating for energy” has more to do with health than veganism, and that’s what I explained to my boyfriend at Five Guys. A box of vegan mac and cheese will leave me feeling just as shitty as its dairy-ful counterpart. Vegan is not always synonymous with healthy. So it’s not merely the meat on his burger that turns me off, but it’s the fact that it will hit his stomach like a (bacon-wrapped) fist. Often when we’re used to eating junk, we’re used to feeling like junk, and we think being bloated, head-achey and tired is normal.
Sorry to be preach preach preachy. What I’m saying is, the next time you’re tempted to opt for the greasy quick-fix, imagine how you will FEEL after. If it is going to weigh you down, pass. Your body will thank you. And so will your girlfriend, when you’re not accidentally dutch ovening her all night long. I don’t mean to fart shame anybody, but grease gas is the worst.