Health + Fitness

I got vegetables on the mind

‘My target is set. Now my goal is to finally step foot inside Royal Oak’s Inn Season Cafe and enjoy a totally vegetarian meal.

I do not know what to order. I do not know what’s good. But I want to try it. I am not ready to be a total vegetarian but I am willing to make vegetables a larger part of my diet. This is a big step for me and I promise to make it soon.

I grew up in a household where you ate a meat, vegetable and a starch. There were no exceptions except the holidays when we just ate everything and the kitchen sink. An all-vegetable meal is mostly foreign to me, especially when going out to eat.

That is why I solicited the help of Marissa Kosak of Birmingham, who is just 28 years old but became a vegetarian before she turned 11. She was not pressured. She lived in a liberal household that allowed children to make their own choices. Now she doesn’t even think about eating meat.

“I think part of it is I love animals,” Kosak said. “I admit the smell of meat cooking is good sometimes but I never even think of eating meat. I am in such a routine that the thought of eating it sometimes grosses me out. After 18 years you don’t think about it. I am not tempted.”

Marissa encouraged me to make this huge step. She said garden burgers are tasty and Inn Season has a good variety of stews and pasta dishes. I do love stew – usually beef stew – but am willing to take the plunge.

“I usually stick with the specials,” she said. “I’ve never really had a bad meal there.”

I recently spoke to former Piston John Salley, who stopped eating meat while he played in the NBA. He said the lifestyle has made him feel better and more complete. He encourages athletes to change their lifestyle because they will find longevity at the end of their career. He is in town to be part of the Dennis Rodman number retirement ceremony on Friday, but he also lectured people last weekend at VegFest in Novi.

Kosak eats vegetables for health reasons, although she admits she knows some overweight vegetarians because they sometimes eat fried foods and vegetables swimming in butter.

“They eat a lot of chips and fries,” Kosak said. “If you are going to do it for health reasons, it has to be a lifestyle choice. It can definitely help you. You are not going to lose weight just by cutting out meat. You need to exercise also.””

She said being a vegetarian comes with a price. People make judgments and try to convert her back to eating meat.

“I don’t make a big deal when people eat meat around me,” she said. “But I get lectures from people asking ‘Why don’t you eat meat?’ And they tell me how much they love meat. I say I don’t eat meat and that should be the end of it, but it’s not. If people have questions I am more than happy to explain it but some folks give me attitude about it.”

She went to the vegetarian restaurant with her friend Ashley Kemp and a group of ladies came in wearing fur coats. They became the talk of the restaurant, but not in a good way. Kosak and her pal were upset to see ladies wearing fur at a vegetarian restaurant.

“We were kind of gasping,” Kosak said. “It is kind of like everybody’s jaw dropped. It just seemed out of place and strange. It is like an unwritten rule or something. You don’t wear fur in a vegetarian restaurant.”

I will keep that in mind – not that I own a fur coat.