In the real world, people think about becoming vegan. They weigh the morality of eating meat. They carefully consider the environmental impact of raising chickens, pigs and cows. They are distressed about the cruel way animals are kept and then butchered. They don’t want to deplete the world of too many resources for the next generation. They worry for their personal health. They do it for their cholesterol, their blood sugar, for improved energy and glowing skin. They consider recipes and make substitutions. These are thoughtful, conscientious people.
I accidentally became vegan.
Let me make clear that I have nothing against vegans or vegetarians. At home, it was rare that I cooked meat. My specialty is hearty salad or tofu stir-fry. Meat confuses me. There is such a fine line between the inedible not-yet-done-and-might-kill-you variety and the inedible way-too-done-and-dry-as-a-bone type. I will confess to depending on some very traditional gender roles here. I always had a man in my life to make fire and turn a steak for the times I needed to feel like a caveman and eat flesh. Even now sitting 5 feet from a campfire pit, I am not sure I could actually get a fire going. I mean, probably, given a lot of paper, very dry wood and enough matches but don’t trust your meal plan on it.
While wondering the grocery store before leaving, I contemplated possible meals. It was at that point, two days before leaving that I realized I was missing one essential item: a microwave. Any single person on earth can tell you the only thing they actually use to cook with is a microwave. They were thoughtful enough to include two TVs in the teardrop as if I will be going camping with the goal of binge watching Netflix but given that the camper is basically fit for one person, you might think they would have considered the demographic needs a little more closely.
Meal planning was, thus complicated by lack of fire or microwave. I was down to a small two burner propane stove which left me with boil or simmer. Determined to eat a balanced diet, I left Tucson with several meals planned and packed accordingly. I also left with a few emergency rations of ramen and beans.
Too tired after driving all day and barely making it to camp before dark, I subsisted on dried peaches and almonds. The next morning I ate a banana before hiking the trail and snacked on Gu blocks at the tope of Guadalupe Peak. Lunch was a peanut butter and honey sandwich. Dinner consisted of a bag of chickpea and potato curry.
Again the next day, I ate very little before hitting the trail as I do not run well with a full stomach. I stuffed down another peanut butter and honey sandwich before descending into Carlsbad Cavern. Needless to say by dinner that night, I was ready for something more substantial.
Man and nature thwarted my plans. Every few minutes, gusts of wind would come through and rattle the trailer hard enough I was pretty sure I was simply going to tip over. I sat in my trailer for a long time trying hard to believe that my 120 pounds would weigh down my 1800-pound trailer. Finally hunger drove me outside to cook. The teardrop design is such that the kitchen is a tucked away under a flap that pops up in the back and provides a nominally covered space to cook. This, however, provided absolutely no relief from the wind which whipped up sand and small ballistic rocks with it.
Reaching in to remove hamburger from the fridge, I sense it was warmer than it should be. In fact, the meat was barely cool. It suddenly occurred to me that the whole time I had spent in the teardrop that afternoon, I had not heard the fridge turn on and off as I usually do to my great annoyance. In fact, I had celebrated the relative silence not realizing my food was slowly rotting in its absence. Instead of being run on propane like many campers, the fridge runs of the battery which runs down in a hurry. The battery, I would learn too late, was too low to maintain the refrigerator.
I worried about the yogurt which looked as though it has separated into various unappetizing layers. The cheese looked sweaty and limp. I doubted the integrity of the hamburger but was determined to have a proper dinner. Believing the gusts were dying down, I started cooking the meat and boiling water for the noodles. It took about five minutes for a fierce gust to kick up again coating everything in sand and knocking most of it to the ground.
Left with warm hamburger coated in dust, my resolve vanished. I put on a kettle of water to boil while I dumped the remains. That night I finished of the dried peaches and almonds and then slurped down some noodles. The conditions did not improve the next day. Still down a fridge and without any new supplies, I ate black beans and a tortilla. By the time I rolled into Galveston, I was ready to stab the cow myself.
Meat, alcohol and ice cream. Crisis resolved.