The last thing I want to do is brag about the warm weather here in Florida while some veganauts are covered in several feet of snow. If I was scraping ice and shoveling snow all day the last thing I’d want to read about is some guy’s unseasonably warm January weekend… and yet, here we are. When reading this please consider any references to balmy breezes and turquoise waters as mere story elements supporting the tale of my weekend, rather than me bragging- even if I talk about palm trees swaying in said balmy breezes.
It started when all good weekends do: around lunch time on Friday. After getting to the office, getting a cup of coffee and vigorously checking Facebook and Twitter for a few hours my tummy said that it was time for lunch. I have learned not to let my tummy make all of the decisions but I could tell on Friday that there would be no arguing with it.
For months I’d been hearing about a vegan restaurant in the area called the Loving Hut and this was the glorious day I finally ate there. My copilot on the lunchventure was a secretive person who will only be referred to here as Agent L. I like the Men in Black nomenclature enough to adopt it whenever possible.
Agent L and I arrived outside of a small, brick building, parked and made it in the front door just in time to get the first table of the day. The very nice hostess and waitress had us seated, watered, and menued in record time. The entire menu is vegan which is a refreshing change from the limited options found on a regular menu. I could order anything I wanted and the pictures made me even more ravenous than I had been when discussing lunch options with my tummy.
While waiting for sushi and my bowl of BBQ & Spring Roll Noodles, Agent L and I watched the several large screen televisions on the walls and discussed the unique features of the restaurant. It turns out Loving Hut may be the largest chain of vegan restaurants in the world… and they also seem to be run by a cult. Plus, I think I may be a member now.
Supreme Master Ching Hai (or just “Supreme Master” to her friends) seems to run her own version of an Asian fusion Unitarian Universalist Church that also has lunch specials. The televisions on the wall show a broadcast of Supreme Master reading, singing, and quoting from the texts of religions around the world. The message seemed to be peace and love which is a message that I am usually pretty skeptical of. However, when the food arrived, everything fell into place for me and I felt like I was at peace with the world and one with the Supreme Master. It was THAT good.
As we left the church-uraunt that afternoon I was filled with calm, kindness, and a ton of delicious vegan food. We drove away from the Supreme Master but I knew that my heart and stomach would be returning soon.
Later that afternoon I was still glowing from the meal as Shannon and I packed up our kids, dogs, and luggage and headed for Miami. The Orlando to Miami drive only takes us about three hours but it usually seems like ten soul crushing hours thanks to the increased levels of fury and angst that South Florida drivers bring out in me. I can’t adequately explain the insanity on the interstates south of Orlando but it intensifies the further south you go. Picture the car chase scene in the Blues Brothers movie. That would be an improvement over what we usually encounter.
Luckily, on this particular drive I was still floating on the Supreme Leader’s cushion of love and caring. When the black BMW crossed five lanes of traffic with no blinker at 80mph while executing a flawless middle finger salute for no apparent reason, I didn’t freak out with blood thirsty horn honking and wild gesticulating. When the taxi cab entering the highway decided that it would be easier to swerve into our lane causing a 12 car pile-up than it would be to continue driving forward in its own empty lane I didn’t scream myself into a red faced fury. Instead, I maintained my calm, forgiving nature thanks to the surplus of of kindness, understanding, and love that the Supreme Leader served for lunch.
During our weekend in Miami I thought a lot about the tropical breezes, warm sunshine, and blue-green ocean water that all the northern veganauts were missing out on. I also thought about a picture I’d seen floating around the Internet. The image shows a weatherman in one of the ridiculously cold places on Earth. This clever meteorologist couldn’t bring himself to post the temperatures on the weather map because they were well below zero for the umpteenth day in a row. Instead he recalculated the temperatures using the Kelvin scale rather than the Celsius or Fahrenheit. Thanks to his understanding of perception the weahterman’s lucky viewers were treated to a map with temperatures in the mid 200’s. I just assume that if you are living in a snow covered wasteland, cooking temperatures would seem appealing.
This is a great example of re-framing how we think about something. Often we are faced with unchangeable circumstances that we have to deal with. Sometimes it is just a matter of being tough and dealing with it. Other times it helps to rethink how we think about something.
Going vegan can seem like an overwhelming and scary step to take. Those of us on the other side know that it is way easier than it seems but that does not help the timid explorers discovering veganism for the first time.
Going veganaut, however is like posting the winter temperatures in Kelvin so it seems warmer. The temperature isn’t really different but it still seems easier to deal with. When I gave up meat, dairy, and eggs I made a promise to myself that I would eat a steak every two months and fried chicken on my birthday. It was a deal that I made to help ease the transition. By the time I was supposed to be eating my first scheduled steak I’d lost the desire to follow through with it. Had I entered into this experiment with no hope of reprieve I may have given up after a week. Luckily, I’d re-framed what it meant to be vegan so it was easier for me to live with during the transition period.
Until next time, may your summer rolls be cool, your spring rolls warm, and may the blessings of Supreme Master be sprinkled over you like Braggs liquid amino is sprinkled on rice.