I’ll be up front here, I eat meat. I never really even knew what a vegetarian or vegan was for most of my formative years. All I remember as a kid about vegetables was something about them being good for you and my parents giving me the business if I didn’t eat everything on my plate including that yucky broccoli and those discussing bitter little Brussels Sprouts.
As I got more out into the world and with my expectations of a healthy diet firmly rooted in being a carnivore I started to see other counter food cultures. But like other red blooded, meat eating Homo Erectus’ I kind of blow off vegetarians and vegans as fringe lunatics who would coming running back with spears in hand after grazing in the garden for a few months.
It wasn’t until I first tried what is still today one of my favourite meatless haunts, The Himalayan Restaurant
in Stoney Creek that I realized that this was a real thing. I couldn’t have been more wrong and we all now know that there many delicious, healthy, sustainable and substantial meat free diets and cool place to eat veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes, fruits and grains that are magically transformed into marvelous dishes.
In the summer I went on a retreat to this really cool place in Midland Ontario called Sugar Ridge Retreat Centre
and spent five days eating from a strict gluten free and meatless menu. Everything was knock out tasty and I never left the table hungry or unsatisfied. On said retreat I brought my bike and did a few 100k rides. I did noticed that I ran out of power quicker than I normally do on my regular diet which almost always included a meat protein. So, I’m assuming that athletes that are vegetarian or vegan spend a little more time ensuring that they are getting enough protein in their diets and are much more schooled than I at knowing good sources of non meat protein. I was just eating everything they put in front of me and not paying real attention to whether it was a good source of protein for the ride I was planning on going on the next morning. In Sugar Ridges defence I never really asked the chef either if I was eating the right thing before planning a good solid 4-5 hour ride. I’m sure if I did they would have set me up with a good high protein pre-ride meal. Full disclosure here, I kind of cheated the one day when I hit the wall at about 75k into one of my rides. When the opportunity presented itself I stopped at a little country general store and inhaled a triple scoop Pralines 'n Cream Ice Cream. Oh and did I mention it was also a very hot day!
To add to my ever growing respect and admiration for mock meats I had the pleasure of trying out a new seafood/vegetarian restaurant on downtown Hamilton’s history King William Street called Berkeley North
. I order the Falafel Plate with a side of their daily fish special which happened to be Arctic Char. The place was a chic, well appointed joint with impeccable service and very tasty food. Now get this, as mentioned everything was great but I must say the fish was the least interesting or tasting thing on my plate. Could I be a convert in the making???