A few months ago, I was making dinner. My veggie burger and my onion rings were sizzling away in the oven. My white hamburger bun was already sliced. The ketchup was on the table.
But, when I looked down at my dinner plate, I felt something else, something different: The Vegan Guilt.
The Vegan Guilt is a phenomenon that occurs when a vegan (often a bad vegan) eats a meal void of all vegetables. It’s a gross sickly feeling at the pit of your stomach that all of the vegans in the world are silently judging you, because you are supposed to be on the Vegetable Team, and you are failing miserably. And, as much as I tried to convince myself that ketchup is a vegetable, there was nothing on my plate that night that hadn’t been produced in some sort of factory. It was plastic food (delicious, lip-smacking, butt-lumping plastic food).
And, as I stared down at my plastic food dinner, The Vegan Guilt crept up my back and settled on my shoulder and yelled into my ear, “Boo. Boo. Rubbish. Filth. Slime. Muck. Boo. Boo. Boo.”
Now, as a vegan who used to survive primarily on donuts, udon noodles, and onion rings, I wasn’t normally prone to The Vegan Guilt. But, that night was different. For some reason, I felt it. And so I made a decision: I was going to be healthy.
I opened the fridge in search of something green. My sister (who, at the time, was the one person in the house who shopped for vegetables) hadn’t been shopping for a while, so my fridge was lacking in the green category. There was some yellowed fart-smelling kale and a decrepit cucumber. I settled on the cucumber.
I washed it and chopped it and poked it. It was on the weird side of spongy, and there were no seeds. But, I figured the lack of seeds was just a symptom of the cucumber’s oldness, and really, how bad could an old cucumber be? It was green, after all.
So, I sat down with my burger and my onion rings and my wrinkled, old cucumber. The Vegan Guilt had disappeared. Happiness remained.
I was in the middle of choking back the weird old cucumber (that tasted nothing like cucumber) when my sister walked through the door.
She looked at my plate and looked up at me. She frowned.
I was waiting for her to be impressed with my efforts to incorporate green into my dinner. I was waiting for praise.
“Why are you eating a raw zucchini?” She asked.
I didn’t really know what to say to this, as I had been operating under the very strong impression that I was in possession of a spongy old seedless cucumber.
“No, it’s a cucumber…” I said, not entirely convinced, as she is a farmer and more likely to know things about green food.
She started to smile. She started to giggle. She started to laugh.
As she laughed and laughed and laughed, I just sat there realizing that I had, in fact, been eating an entirely different vegetable for 10 minutes. I glared at the zucchini like it had betrayed me simply by being a zucchini.
When my sister stopped laughing, she made me finish the whole damn thing. Every last piece of the decrepit fruit-vegetable formally known as Cucumber.
I now know the difference between a cucumber and a zucchini, thank you very much. The Vegan Guilt (and my sister) wouldn’t have it any other way.