• 81°

Robert St. John Column

Vegetarians like skydivers, St. John says on 21st day of vegetarian journey

Welcome to day 21 of my 30-day journey into vegetarianism.

I have learned a lot over the last three weeks. I have learned that there are many in-the-closet vegetarians out there, and if one writes about becoming a vegetarian, they will out themselves.

They’re like zombies in a low-budget horror movie. When the sun goes down the zombies come out and wander slowly through the streets. With vegetarians, after you become one, they will show themselves to you. Vegetarians don’t wander aimlessly like zombies, but they do walk a little slower, I think it’s the lack of meat-based protein.

Note: Save the emails. I know that Zombies aren’t vegetarians. They are carnivores. They eat people. Vegetarians would never eat people. I might be the only person in history who has successfully cited zombies and vegetarians in the same column.

I have also learned that vegetarians are like skydivers. They want to talk everyone who is not one, into becoming one. I have had several friends through the years who became skydivers. They spent half of their waking hours talking about jumping out of planes and the other half trying to convince other people into jumping out of planes.

Vegetarians are the same way. They want to draw you in; it’s their passion. I respect that.

I have learned that I love ribs. No, I really love ribs. I mean I really, really love ribs. If I weren’t married I would move to Vermont and enter into a legal and binding marriage contract with ribs, right this second.

I miss bacon a little bit. I could eat a hamburger or two, and I plan on eating a ribeye steak the size of Pensacola in a few weeks. But what I dream about is ribs.

My newfound vegetarian friends have warned me to ease back into my carnivorous lifestyle at the end of the month. I trust that they know what they’re talking about. But my birthday is October 2nd and I plan on spending the entire night in Leatha’s BBQ Inn dousing myself with barbeque sauce, dancing on the tables, and eating a mastodon-sized slab of ribs— my honeymoon.

I have learned that once you announce your vegetarianism, people will send you food. I received a huge ice chest from a Canadian company called Gardein. The chest was filled with several of their products.

As I write this column I am eating Gardein’s “Classic Style” Buffalo Wings.

Meat-free wings— I’m not sure what they’re made of, but they look kind of like Buffalo Wings. The package says “water, soy protein, wheat gluten, and ancient grains.” I don’t know what ancient grains are, but I think that there’s probably a reason they didn’t make it into the modern world.

Actually, Gardein’s meat-free Buffalo Wings tasted a little like what I remember Buffalo Wings tasting like. The texture was a slightly off.

My bookkeeper said that they tasted like the thigh of a chicken. No problem, there. I love thighs. Maybe it’s been so long since vegetarians have eaten chicken, this will suffice. Final verdict:

Vegetarians will love this stuff.

My friend Jill Conner Browne took pity on me and sent a vegetarian care package filled with all-natural Indian sauces and rice products from a company called Tasty Bite. Good stuff, that.

Nine more days.

Onward.

 (Robert St. John is a restaurateur, chef, author and self-described “world-class eater.” He has sworn off eating meat during September. His seventh book is “Dispatches from My South.” Contact him at robert@robertstjohn.com)