Veggie Love

The Small Things

I experienced my first “on purpose” vegetarian entree on Thursday. I was with  a group in Denver, Colorado serving through a  church and one girl was a vegetarian. Since Denver is full of health-nuts, there are a ton of unique restaurants with interesting cuisine. M found a vegetarian restaurant only a few blocks away from our hotel, so a few of us headed down there to give it a shot.

Up until the time we left I was thinking “what if I can’t find anything on the menu….what if I don’t know what is in the food…” until I realized that most restaurants have a little section on the bottom of the menu with about 3-4 special vegetarian choices. And now, M was going to a place where she has more choices than non-vegetarians. So basically, I needed to get over it.

Plus, it was the perfect opportunity for me to venture out.

We arrive at the restaurant and have about 20 minutes to wait. I look around at the scenery, noticing a theme immediately. “Pro-animal” is putting it loosely.  There were rabbits dressed as strong warriors, mice saving other mice from drowning in a river, a group of 60 prairie animals gathered together enjoying each others company, maybe one was even singing, and probably chatting about how great it is to have such a vast group of friends.

We get seated and I scan the menu. Oh man. Mushrooms everywhere. I do a quick once over and I find something that makes my hear skip a beat. 
Caesar Salad. 
Yay! Normal food! Whew!  
Wait a minute, what ever happened to venturing out? For some reason, I choose to ignore the Caesar salad and being searching for the farthest thing from comfortable for me to eat. That was the point after all. 
Caesar salad wrap with seared tofo was a little bit scary…but then I found my  match: 
Dona Lee Wrap with “seitan”, avocado, lettuce, ranch dressing, tomato in a whole wheat wrap.
What the heck is “seitan”? All I can think of is “food of Satan”. Turns out, I don’t think there is any correlation. It’s simply a meat substitute that has soy beans and is usually (or always) fried. 
I consult my vegetarian friend, the waiter, and my heart before deciding that the Dona Lee Wrap is the winner. It is, without a doubt, the LAST thing I would ever want to order. So I ordered it.

When it came to the table, I was nervous. I had to remind myself that I wasn’t facing imminent death, that I was just trying new food.

I took a bite.  Chewed.  Swallowed. It went down. Phew.

And truthfully, it wasn’t all that bad. After trying most everything else around the table, we all decided that my selection, while daring, was a bit bland, and that seitan could be much tastier when paired with more flavorful ingredients. It actually had a texture similar to heavily breaded fried chicken. It was crispy and crunchy.

And as glad as I was that I stepped up and tried something very very new, it was more meaningful to see M scour the menu trying to decide between her many many options.


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