I am a vegetarian. I do not eat meat. I eat tofu.
Tofu is one of those funny words. As a five year old, I turned the word into a concept I could understand: toe food. To me, toe food had to be something like jelly that you would find in between your toes after a long run. It did not sound appealing.
When I saw uncooked tofu for the first time, I thought that I was right.
When I sneaked a taste of it while my mom was not looking, I knew I was right. I knew that the spelling of tofu on the box had been some clever marketing ploy to sell processed toe jelly.
But tofu and soy products now provide a huge part of my diet. It is a source of protein that is relatively low in fat.
Through the years, I finally have found the secret to eating tofu.
It’s … Cooking. Which for most of my college friends is a foreign concept replaced by Big Macs and drive thru Chick-Fil-A.
Just kidding. Even cooked, eating tofu is a “character building” experience. And when has a “character building” experience ever been pleasant?
Similar to some people’s parents liking tongue or liver, I like tofu because I have forced myself to eat it over the years and have developed a taste for it.
But, by no means would I expect anyone else to actually enjoy the stuff. It is squishy and jiggles. It can have the consistency of Jello. Its texture is inferior to that of meat. As of yet, you cannot tear into a nice tofu leg on Thanksgiving Day because they don’t make tofu legs. They don’t make tofu legs because the consistency of tofu leaves a considerable amount to be desired.
And yet, I have found that tofu has some advantages over meat.
First, since most soy products are pre-cooked, you don’t have to worry about diseases. I know that’s what you are all asking yourself when you bite into a Big Mac: “Am I going to get food poisoning?” No. You’re thinking: “… mmm … meat.” The cooking process is really just a heating process, which can safely end whenever the cook desires.
No salmonella for this soy-boy.
Second, tofu is much more fun to say than beef. Tofu. It rolls off the tongue. It almost sounds like a fancy alcoholic concoction.
“Yes. I’ll have one tofu martini. Shaken, not stirred.”
Well, maybe three is pushing it.
In any case, a greater percentage of Americans than ever before are vegetarian and most restaurant menus reflect the change. There are so many different types of vegetarian burgers – even I can’t keep them straight. So to restaurants, big and small, who don’t serve vegetarian options: make changes, because we are here to stay.