What happens when a beer drinker walks into a vegan restaurant

lunchHappenstance.

That’s a three-syllable word I may have never used in nearly 25 years of newswriting.  It means something that happens by chance and it seems to apply more and more to my everyday comings and goings. Take Saturday, for example.

I was headed to Des Moines for the RAGBRAI route-announcement party, but I took the long way to get there, which means we made a lengthy stop in Iowa City. It was early afternoon and we hadn’t eaten lunch so we stopped at The Vine, hungry for beer, cheeseburgers and fries. But the timing was bad as the place was packed with Hawkeye fans who were hungry, thirsty and ready to watch the Iowa-Minnesota wrestling meet on the Big 10 Network. A waitress took our drink orders, but never came back. Eventually, we gave up and headed for the car, which was parked in front of Trumpet Blossom Café, a new vegan restaurant that is just down the street — and a world away — from The Vine.

menueWant to try it?

OK, why not?

After all, I nearly became a vegan at one time in the past and I lost a lot of weight as a result. I was introduced then to tofu, seitan and tempeh. But life got in the way, I fell back into bad habits and eventually returned to a diet that includes regular servings of cheeseburgers, fries and beer.

But instead of that on Saturday, I ate the special at Trumpet Blossom, which was veggie-potato hash. It was really tasty. And, I’m sure, way better for me. This sort of blind luck and stumbling into good things has been happening lately with some regularity.

Happenstance, I think.

But it wasn’t a completely happy happenstance. Before leaving Iowa City, I stopped at the local Big & Tall Shop to maybe buy a couple of shirts. It was here that I had to come face to face with the size I had to buy — the closest I’ve come to the tent-size shirts I wore in the days before I nearly became vegan.

Jill SkeemIt would seem somebody’s trying to tell me something. If so, it may be: Buy this cookbook, which was written by my friend, Jill Skeem. She is the certified macrobiotic health counselor and chef who introduced me to vegan cuisine in the first place.She published the cookbook last year.

At least that’s what I hope someone was trying to tell me because I bought her cookbook Sunday night.

It’s highly unlikely I’ll go totally vegan — or even vegetarian. I don’t want to completely give up hamburgers. But  I could see eating this way at least three or four days a week.

What I eat isn’t the most-important thing I learned from Jill anyway. Her lessons on which I need to brush up are pretty simple. When it comes to food, what really matters is:

  • When you eat
  • Where you eat
  • How you eat

According to Jill, that means eating three meals a day and not snacking in between meals, sitting at a kitchen or dining room table in your home and eating meals you prepared and really chewing every mouthful. This means putting down your fork in between each mouthful and chewing slowly enough that you need at lest 20 minutes to finish a meal. And you should really concentrate on your meal — no cell phones, TV, newspaper or other distractions while you eat.

I know all of this works because it worked once better than anything else I have ever tried. And it’s time to get back on track and then stay there this time.  There is nothing happenstance about that.

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