Going Veggie: Fast Food Consciousness #30DaysofGOOD

Taco Salad - Carl's Jr.
Taco Salad - Carl's Jr.

So while I’ve been having fun collecting L.A. places to eat vegetarian cuisine and cooking up random dishes, I’ve realized that changing my diet has been more than just deciding not to eat meat. It’s been a growing consciousness of what I am eating. The first lesson of this was fast food consciousness.

The closest restaurant near my church is a local Carl’s Jr. where I’ll often grab a quick bite to eat before my afternoon choir rehearsals. The first Sunday of this Going Veggie adventure I found myself walking into the restaurant and without much thought having a craving for a Taco Salad. So I decided to buy one but ask for there not to be any meat in it.  #30DaysofGood taken care of, right?  Well…not exactly.

When I sat down to eat, it suddenly hit me what exactly I had ordered (pictured on the right):

  • A lightly fried taco shell
  • Refried bean coating the bottom of the shell
  • Shredded lettuce that was more white than green
  • A dollop of salsa
  • A dollop of sour cream
  • A sprinkling of cheese.

In summation, a whole lot of nothing.

As I ate through (some) of this, I realized that if I had ordered this with the ground beef that was supposed to have come with it, I probably wouldn’t have thought too much of the fact that it wasn’t much of anything good for me.  But after having had several nice vegetarian meals preceding this first venture into thoughtless fast food eating, I was quite aware of the juxtaposition.  Even before I had a bite, my first thought was “Wait…what did I just order?”

I’m not knocking Carl’s Jr.  It was my fault that I had ordered this and the week afterwards I had a decent Cranberry Walnut Salad there sans chicken, but this one experience has me knocking the whole behemoth of the fast food industry.  This one experience has me processing my nice “combo meals” of a burger and fries.  Why is it that prior to this moment I thought it was okay to eat certain meals just because it had chicken or beef in it?  Why did this question not rear its head: “What about this is good for me?”

And I think the point is that perhaps it’s not and that’s okay to a degree.  Not everything is good for you or needs to be.  Fast food is a meal of convenience, and I love myself some fried chicken and In & Out burgers and french fries are my weakness.  But I can’t say that I’ve eaten those things and thought about what I should eat to supplement anything nutritionally even when I was quite aware that I’m treating myself to something not so good for me.

This whole experience has made me hyperaware about fast food and not necessarily in the way of “what can I eat there?” but in the way of “What have I been eating?” and “Why have I been eating that?” And I think that’s a GOOD takeaway so far.

-cct