This past weekend, I went to Houston, Texas to see my husband’s family. August is a busy month for his family as many people celebrate their birthdays (his son, mom and two of his brothers).
Saturday night was the 70th birthday celebration for his older brother, Don, and the surprise party was being held at Charlie's BBQ. Before we left for the party, I loaded my purse up with vegan snacks and crossed my fingers that there would be some food I could eat. I looked around the room for a server, and ended up finding the owner. I explained that I didn’t eat any animal products (I wasn’t sure if saying I was a vegan would be enough of an explanation) and asked if he had a plain baked potato anywhere in the kitchen.
It turns out the owner was extremely accommodating and not only produced a large baked potato for me, but offered up some cooked mushrooms and garlic, all made without butter or cheese. I spooned some salsa on my baked potato and noticed there were a few other vegetarians at the party getting the same thing!
That's when the conversations started.
Several of Garry’s family and friends read my blog, and one by one, they made their way to my table to tell me how much they were interested in my vegan journey. Cousin Liz from Dallas has been a vegetarian for 10 years and spent quite a bit of time telling me her helpful hints on food choices. Her husband Harry was very supportive and was almost bragging about her lifestyle!
Another friend Linda, who is from Houston, came over to discuss Forks over Knives and The China Study. She had recently read the book Wheat Belly and was amazed at how much better she felt now that she was avoiding all wheat. She also commented on how she has become fastidious about reading ingredient labels and discovered there are a lot of “hidden” ingredients in processed foods.
Throughout the weekend, I was struck by two things. First, once you tell everyone that you have a special “diet” they can be so supportive and make sure you get special attention and your food needs are met. Second, I was quite surprised to see that, even in the “land of barbecue and meat and potatoes," so many people are concerned with their health. They are making active choices to change their eating habits and consume more fruits and vegetables. It made me very happy.
I admit I had one challenging experience when we went to lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. I asked the server for celery and carrots sticks to dip in the guacamole and salsa and he flat out told me they didn’t have any and said, “Ma’am, this is a Tex-Mex Restaurant, we don’t have any celery and carrots.” I patiently asked him if he wouldn’t mind checking with the chef to see if they had any in the kitchen, and he kind of rolled his eyes at me. So you can imagine my surprise (and his) when he returned to our table a few minutes later with a bowl of celery and carrot sticks! And of course, he then quickly suggested an all vegetable fajita selection for my lunch!
So, my lesson was, “It never hurts to ask!”