My history with veggie burgers

This topic may seem to pop out of nowhere. However, it’s a story of changing mindsets, and I think it’s a good tale.  Furthermore, I have time to write about it since I’m on vacation and just KO’d the remainder of the grading and prep that I “must” do before returning to work next week.

The first time I had a veggie burger (or the first time that I remember having one) was at a lake-house party for the friends of one of my siblings, in the summer of 1999. Yes, that was quite a long time ago.

When I saw them grilling burgers, obviously I was expecting a beef burger since, at that point, (a) I had never heard of a meatless burger before and (b) why would I be expecting anything different now?

I took a few bites and did NOT like it at all. Perhaps I would have liked it better if I knew ahead of time that it was not a meaty burger, but I think that surprise ruined the new experience for me.

To further sully the experience, I had an accident later in the evening. My parents and siblings were enjoying the thrill activity of flying on a rope into the lake. I attempted it too…

… and let go of the rope too late on the return swing. Thankfully, I landed in the water still, but unfortunately I landed hard on my rear end on the sand in the water, knocking the wind out of me and making it hard to breathe for the rest of the evening. That wind didn’t return to me for about a week after the incident!

Granted, I could also perhaps chalk it up to my hyper-picky eating at the time, which remained pretty picky all the way until I got to college. The summer of 1999, for people who know my stories, was the summer before my 7th-grade year.

Nevertheless, some veggie substitutes were tolerable to me at the time, such as “Macon bacon” (i.e. veggie “bacon”).

Let’s skip far ahead in time, spanning 16 years and a few months.

In mid-late December of 2015, I had just finished grading the final exams in my first full semester of teaching at UW-Stout, and had a day or two before I was scheduled to fly home to Lincoln for winter break. My friend Sarah was back in St. Paul for winter break (from Chicago), and we arranged a get-together, as well as a hang-out with one of her other friends.

Interestingly, this day also involved a lake, but no winter-lake activities (i.e. ice hockey or skating). Nope—it was just a walk around Lake of the Isles (or was it Bde Maka Ska?)

We ate lunch that day at World Street Kitchen in Minneapolis, and I had a tasty falafel burger. After going to the MIA (Minneapolis Institute of Art) and enjoying the walk, we returned to her parents’ place. For dinner, they had an option of quinoa burgers, which I also enjoyed. Two different variants on a non-meat burger in one day, and because my palate was much more refined than that August 1999 day, I was perfectly happy on this December 2015 day.

I have to say that I have become a lot more amenable to pescatarian, vegetarian, and vegan options ever since I was a junior in college, and especially once I got back from Birthright, given that some of my Jewish friends only eat meat if it is certified kosher. Whether as an act of deference or an act of expanding my palate, I am glad that I have had friends implicitly (or explicitly!) encouraging me in this way.


פסח: כ”ג יום (Passover: 23 days)

Eau Claire: 37 days

Madison: 86 days

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