You are what you don’t eat | AspenTimes.com

You are what you don’t eat

Alison Berkley

One night I went out to dinner with this girl, Katrina, and sat in awe as she picked every last bit of goat cheese out of her salad. She’d spear it with her fork and then smear it on the edge of the plate so she was left with nothing but a bowl of fancy lettuce and all that smashed cheese on the edge of it. I’m sure she burned more calories dissecting her meal than she would have consumed if she had actually eaten it, which is pretty disturbing considering that cheese-free garden salad was her main course, to boot. She explained she’s vegan and proudly stated she has never eaten meat in her whole entire life. Well, la-di-da. I guess it’s true, those four glasses of wine she drank over dinner and the cigarette she had afterward on the way to the bar don’t really fall under the meat or dairy category, but give me a break. Honey, do yourself a favor and try a nice piece of steak.It’s one thing if dairy makes you fart or if you’re like me and you’re simply avoiding certain foods because you’re vain and want to be skinny. I’ll admit I’ve gone to extremes trying to not eat the bread that’s holding together a sandwich or avoiding the rice that’s wrapped around that sushi roll.During a particularly hard-core Atkins phase, I did the rice-avoidance trick during a date. I’d take all that sticky rice from underneath my sushi or poke the inside of the roll out and then put the remaining rice into my empty miso soup cup, which I thought was polite since it had a cover on it and everything. The rice is all stained from the wasabi, and I’m smashing it down with my chopsticks so I can fit it all in there and he’s looking at me funny. I sort of shrug and he goes, “What’s up with the carnage?” I’m pretty sure I had a sign on my forehead that had “Psycho Diet Chick” written all over it. Let’s just say we did a lot better the night before when we were too drunk to eat.Then this other time my brother and I went on a road trip from San Diego to Boulder, and I was so neurotic about eating healthy on the road I stocked up for the trip with all this organic food. Suffice it to say, after eating edamame salad and black bean burritos and soy nuts for 18 hours, we never ran out of gas. My brother dragged me to Wendy’s at 4 a.m. and force-fed me an order of fries, insisting that all that health food was making me sick.The point is, I totally understand being devoted to the cause, like being able to fit into those size-26 jeans, but I’m going to indulge once in a while. I mean, I love the idea of being an ultra-healthy righteous animal lover or whatever, but then I think about jumbo shrimp cocktail and Thanksgiving turkey and what my relatives in New York would say if I stopped eating cream cheese lox with my bagel. I can’t even imagine life without seared ahi and the occasional pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. There’s just something very control-freakish, very type-A about people who are on these crazy diets because of their beliefs and won’t eat this-or-that, like ever. You just know these are the same people who will be sneaking into the kitchen in the middle of the night to cuddle up with that bottle of Scotch they have hidden in the laundry closet or sneaking a cigarette in the garage at 3 a.m. or having wild affairs with the UPS guy. You gotta love the people who say, “I’m a vegetarian, but I eat chicken and fish,” or better yet, sushi. I especially love the part-time vegetarian who’s like, “I only eat it if I can kill it myself,” which is how they justify the whole fish thing. See, the beauty of living in modern civilization is we don’t have to actually kill the animals. Someone else does that for you. They pluck the feathers and skin the fur and chop the head off so you don’t have to. By the time they’re all plastic-wrapped in those packages you almost forget that they were animals in the first place. That way, you should have no guilt whatsoever about eating them. Besides, it’s not like you’re eating your next door neighbor’s golden retriever for God’s sake, so get over it. I’m sure all those chickens and cows weren’t nearly as cute as your first puppy. Then there are those people who would gladly eat meat and dairy, just as long as it’s organic. I’m sorry, but my trust fund isn’t big enough to pay for designer jeans and organic food. In case you haven’t noticed, most of the organic produce is spoiled rotten by the time it reaches Colorado on account of not having any preservatives. Believe me, I love organic food and I especially love how all the labels of organic food products are tastefully done and look nice on the shelf, but get real. These poor, puckered, sick-looking vegetables were picked too soon and then left on the back of trucks in some faraway place for God only knows how long, all tangled up like a bunch of chain-gang prisoners. I just have to wonder what’s worse: what we eat, or worrying about every little thing that passes our sheltered little lips. I’m betting chances are all that stress worrying about it will kill us long before that nonorganic broccoli does. The one thing the princess misses the most on her low-carb diet are pretzels. Send your meat-loving e-mail to alison@berkleymedia.com

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