That was the joke in my family for years. I myself told it many times. After all, what in the name of Uncle Jim's Annual Pig Out Party would possess a person to give up meat, let alone attempt to subsist exclusively on plant matter?
I'll tell you what: A large garden plot amended with yards and yards of composted horse manure.
We hauled so many zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, yellow squash, strawberries, peas, green beans, turnips, onions, parsnips, kale, mesclun, chard, carrots, radishes, and winter squash out of the garden that there simply wasn't room on our plates for anything else. I combined years of cooking practice with a touch of internet surfing to come up with surprisingly filling meals from which the meat, though missing, was not missed.
Incapable as I am of doing anything half-heartedly, I took my culinary experiment a step further. I sought flavorful, vegan recipes. Soy milk replaced dairy milk so completely that we now refer to soy milk as "the regular milk" on rare occasions when a carton of dairy milk appears alongside it in the refrigerator.
As my vegetarian and vegan recipe files grew fatter, Travis and I slimmed down. We felt more mentally astute (no mean feat, that) and required less sleep. The seasonal allergies that plagued me from childhood forward ceased to exist.
And so, nine months after In the Night Farm's 2007 garden burst into production, we continue in what I call a "flegan" lifestyle -- closer to vegan than your typical flexitarian, but certainly not strict.
About 95% of what we eat falls into the vegan category -- vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans, and nuts constitute the bulk of our daily fare. Even so, we use a touch of parmesan or full-fat yogurt now and then. We eat chocolate made with dairy and bread baked with eggs. We even consume some meat.
Being flegan is a convenient way to live. Hosts needn't worry about providing special meals when we arrive as dinner guests. I don't mind serving a turkey or leg of lamb for the holidays. Corporate lunch meetings are no cause for concern.
Meanwhile, we enjoy the myriad health benefits of consuming a great deal of plant matter and almost no animal products -- and the processed "food" people have two fewer contributors to their cause.