There’s a diner near our house that my wife and I like to visit at least once or twice per month. It’s called Les Brothers and there’s nothing fancy about it. There are probably diners just like it in practically every town and state.
The service is often bad. That food it generally pretty good. And the ambience is relaxed, friendly and inviting. We like it because we feel comfortable there.
Whenever we go to Les Brothers, I always order the same thing. I’ve been having the corned beef hash and eggs over easy with Greek toast every visit for about the past 10 years and each time it’s exactly the same: Superbly delicious. I especially love the fact that they give you four eggs with it!
So when Sandi and I decided that we weren’t going to eat meat anymore, the first thing that occurred to me was that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy my Les Brothers breakfast. In fact, to be totally honest, the thought of giving up my favorite breakfast at my favorite greasy spoon diner probably delayed our eventual conversion to vegetarianism for several months.
Finally, however, we cut the cord. So long, corned beef hash, my old friend. I will miss you dearly.
For me, breakfast poses probably the biggest challenge to eating vegetarian, and especially eating vegan. For as long as I can remember, the first meal of the day has been associated with eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, cheese, corned beef hash or some other now-forbidden ingredient.
So I’ve been a little more permissive with myself when it comes to breakfast. While meat has been taken off the table — both figuratively and literally — I am slowly weaning myself away from eggs and cheese.
For example, whole eggs have been replaced exclusively with egg whites. And instead of gobs of unhealthy shredded cheese — or worse yet, processed cheese food — I’ve been allowing myself to enjoy queso fresco, a light and tasty Mexican cheese (translated as “fresh cheese” in Spanish) made from either raw cow milk or a mixture of cow and goat milk.
Mild-flavored and crumbly like feta, but without as much saltiness, queso fresco is the perfect accompaniment to these breakfast tacos made with egg whites, fresh chopped kale and a little Sriracha sauce.
Now that summer’s here, fresh fruit at the height of its ripeness is at its most affordable at the produce markets. Lately, we’ve been enjoying an abundance of fresh Michigan cherries and whole pineapples for as little as $1.50 apiece.
So while it has been difficult to say goodbye to my traditional, if unhealthy, favorite breakfast, it’s been a joy to discover new and delicious breakfast options that are both healthier and more flavorful. It’s about time we started creating some new traditions anyway.