Tuesday, July 29, 2008

. . soy vegetariana. . .

It is much more difficult to be a vegetarian in Latin America than in Madison, Wisconsin, the granola capital of the world.  Not getting enough protein is not the worst part, it's often that people simply don't understand the concept:

Not all vegetarians are alike.  In fact, according to a vegan, I am a cow-abusing monster for the yogurt or the SER™ Dulce de Leche pudding that I enjoy daily.  I, personally, do not eat any flesh or fish, and don't buy eggs, but will eat things with them, and I certainly savor a good harvarti dill cheese when my parents buy my groceries.

I had a conversation with an Argentine woman who I lived with surrounding this subject and she proclaimed herself a vegetarian after confessing that I was, only to take it back when she realized that it meant she couldn't eat chicken or ham.  I told my Ecuadorian abuelita daily that I didn't eat meat, to no avail, she would put a rice, bean and minced meat mezcla in front of me, much dismayed when I would stare blankly at the bowl.  She would then hand me the salt.  The first step to surviving not eating meat in Argentina is to learn how to say all the different kinds of meat. (No como pollo, ni carne, ni pescado, ni nada que antes era parte de un animal).

Luckily in Argentina, I am surviving.  Sometimes I have to be creative even when I am succumbing to lethargy from excess carbohydrates(empanadas, medialunas, pan) or fat(milanesa de soja, queso).  My most frequently ordered "meal" is pure de calabaza (mashed pumpkin), which can be found almost anywhere.  Zapallo (to my porteño boyfriend's horror, the word in english is butternut squash, "¿por qué tan largo?" se queja), is as abundant as the mora(blackberry) in Quito.  But, it isn't anything like the tofu-soy milk-spelt noodle-world I have so blissfully enjoyed since becoming a vegetarian in 2004 in my liberal bubble.

Being a health conscious vegetarian kind of makes you seem like a snob.  But when I say that I won't eat the Skippy™ Peanut Butter on the imported shelf at the Disco supermarket because it is partially hydrogenated and therefore not worthy of my digestion, it is not an affront on anyone who likes it(like my dad).  Same with meat, just because I am going to enjoy my Morningstar™ black bean burger or falafel when I get home doesn't mean that I have a problem with someone eating a juicy, greasy cheeseburger or a freshly sliced gyro.  

It certainly is not impossible to find a good organic or vegetarian restaurant, but just like when they put the menus in English for gringo tourists, sometimes I wish they would put the menu in vegetarian for me.



Tyler said...

Very well written and interesting read! Are you practicing your ping pong down there at all? Hope all is well!

satoriii said...

Great post sis, keep 'em coming!

ellie said...

way to stick to your guns down there. more blog posts please.