Monday, April 11, 2011

Change sucks!

After my first blog post, I began to realize that even though some vegans can be over-the-top martyrs that really frustrate me, some of my reactions were adding fuel to the fire. I came to the horrible realization that I was showing the behavior and reactions of a Republican that opposes health care for all. I was shocked! I’m opened-minded and liberal. How could I be a reactionary asshole?

I realized that change sucks. It’s almost a style of mourning - I feel like I am going through the stages of grief. I am not, of course, but in a way I am. Sad that I can’t eat drink whatever I want and still bounce back the next day feeling fine. I guess age is the change that I hate. To quote Ben Folds, “We’re still fighting.” It’s true.

I feel like one of the reasons that I hated my friends veganism was that he was changing. This is not to say that his tactics did not piss me off – they did - but it is safe to say that my resistance to change played a part in my anger. Change has been part of my life the last five years. I got married, bought a house, got two dogs. I have also come to the realization that some things are not in my control and that I need help to get through the day and that’s ok. I am gaining my confidence with writing (hence this blog) and the confidence to say that I am not a moron. Ok, so maybe that was an overshare, but it is an important part of why I am writing this blog and putting myself out there.

My increasing confidence in writing also has something to do with my changing thoughts on veganism. When I started thinking about veganism more, it was because of my friends and my wife. I have always had this self-righteous attitude of “I’m better because I am an omnivore that cooks kick-ass vegan comfort food. I am more enlightened than my other friends.” That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I was an awesome vegan cook because I respect and love my wife and I changed because I was living with her. It was no different than one of my other best friends becoming a good cook for his wife, when before he met her he thought old box wine, peanuts, and chicken was a good dinner idea.

My “enlightment” was also far from the truth because I hated tofu because of the texture, and mock dock because it seemed slimy. I loved the adoration and the appreciation that I got from my wife for making it but I hated to eat it. That really changed for me this last Thanksgiving. My dad, who loves my wife but hates her diet, said, “I just hate the texture of tofu” - and then went on to talk at length about his love for liver and onions. I thought to myself, “If I can put cow liver in my mouth or whatever else that comes from an animal in my mouth, why not tofu?” So I started eating more tofu and started letting myself enjoy it. To the point now when friends make vegan stuff for my wife I take some of the vegan “meat” and some of the animal meat. I feel like I have the best of both worlds. It also made me think about why people get so defensive about trying new things.

For me, veganism has nothing to do with the right or wrong. It’s just change and in a brutally honest self-assessment, I have to admit I hate change. That is one of the major reasons why vegans and animal rights activists piss me off. It has nothing to do with the persuasiveness of moral argument; for me, it’s the threat of change. I think it’s change for vegans too - they are just frustrated that it’s not happening fast enough for them and it’s not their style of change. The reality is that in the last forty years our society’s thought on food has changed drastically. In the last ten years veganism has turned from a fringe diet thing to an option that is now showing up in more and more restaurants every day. I wish vegans could feel like they could recognize this progress without giving away the store.

Anyway, the bottom line: change SUCKS!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Inaugural post

My name is Anthony Ruccolo. I am your everyday, normal American citizen who, until recently, was going through life loving meat, cooking meat and slowly killing himself with sweet, sweet, cholesterol. That all began to change when one of my best friends took the plunge and went vegan. He officially began to suck the fun out of everything. Or, that was my thought at the time, because like anyone who is newly passionate about something, veganism was all he wanted to talk about. To the point where there was more than one occasion that I wanted to throw him out a window and I am sure he felt the same about me. Time does heal all wounds, and friendship, it turns out, is thicker then food. I began to accept him and his choices.

Fast-forward three years. Working a crappy foodservice job, convinced that I was going to be the next great record mogul, I met my wife. I worked at this bagel place, hating every second of it. I rebelled by not washing my uniform and not shaving my beard - pushing the boundaries as far as I could without losing my craptastic job. So here I am, an unappreciated music business genius working a morning shift starting at 4am Monday through Friday, and I began to notice this woman who came in every day and ordered a bagel with peanut butter and an orange juice. We began to talk while she was in the line and after a few months went by we went on our first date. AWWW. I know - it’s gross and cute - but that’s what happened. On our second date she informs me that she was vegan. My first thought, I have to admit, was, “Oh great. A crazy liberal that can’t have fun because she is too busy being self-righteous.” As we talked about it and her life, I realized she was the opposite of that. She had been vegan for about 12 years and had a really good logical reason why she was. She also was past that stage of being outraged at people who wore leather. We ended up getting married and my world started to slowly change for the good.

I began to try new things - at restaurants and at home - and read about the world. I came out of my sports and music cave where I had happily been living. Of course my vegan friends loved her and I began to cook for her. I began to realize that vegan cooking was easy and could be just as rich and awesome as food soaked in bacon fat. We now have been together for four years now and I find myself in a position of realizing some very important things about my life and what I eat.

I have realized that the older I get, the best thing that I could do would be to stop eating cholesterol. I also have been wrestling with the question, “If the only way that I could have sweet, sweet bacon was for me to go up to a pig that I have raised, shoot it, hear it squeal, then gut it - could I?” The answer that I am starting to move towards is “no.” On the other hand, I am also wrestling with this idea of having the label of being a vegan and all that comes with it. Do I want to have that label? Right now, the answer is “no.” I still eat meat - though less and less every day - but I do eat it.

These questions are the main reasons that I am launching this blog. I also want to be a moderate voice for those who feel that one side or the other – meat-eaters or vegans – is being too crazy. I want to take this time to explore vegan recipes and discuss the things I hate about vegan culture - and the things I love about it. I also want to take this time to discuss the things that I hate about omnivore culture and things I love about “bacon” (which will be focused on from time to time. You have been warned.) I also want to let people know that vegans and omnivores can exist in a loving respectful relationship. I hope you visit my blog more than this one time, but, if not, thanks for reading.