fun with volunteering, and the typical vegetarian “boxed lunch”

We LOVED our first volunteering experience today, where we judged entries in the Greater Kansas City (Missouri) History Day in Independence, MO at the Truman Library.  The relative pain of waking up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday (SERIOUSLY—we had to be in Independence by 8 a.m., and it’s an hour away, and we love sleeping in on the weekends) was mitigated by all of the fun we had geeking out over a bunch of high school and middle school history projects.  Ryan, Molly and I were all in different judging groups and divisions so we got to see a pretty wide range of stuff—some of it was great, some of it was…interesting (that’s about as candid as I think I can be!)  My assignment got changed thanks to someone dropping out at the last minute so I was bumped from judging group documentaries (bummer!), but I still had a blast, chatting with some cool students and learning some fun facts.  I also got to take part in runoff judging in one division.  It was so fun that it didn’t even feel like work.  We’re going to do another one of these in April.

I just want to be clear that what I’m about to say is not a legitimate complaint, per se, and I almost feel bad even mentioning it, because it’s so nice that the organizers had the foresight to order some vegetarian lunches in the first place, so Ryan and I weren’t screwed when lunch time came around.  Consider this more of a message to the world at large: a hoagie roll with lettuce, tomato, onions and pickles, while certainly vegetarian, is not particularly appetizing to many of us.  I don’t know, I’ve never understood the “just go to Subway and order a sandwich with all the fixings but no meat” approach.  It’s a personal preference.  I mean, I feel like I’m splitting hairs and I just hate to be THAT PERSON who complains about a (free) lunch, but I just wish the caterers of the world would try a little harder.  Even a piece of cheese would have been a welcome addition, but even then it feels like the vegetarian cold lunch is a sad substitute for the ham and turkey sandwiches our meat-eating colleagues were enjoying.  I can’t stress this enough, I intend no disrespect to the organizers of the event or even the caterers, really: it’s nice that we live in a world where we’re accommodated at all.  I’m glad that there was some pasta salad and a bag of Sun Chips and a cookie to munch on when I got tired of eating my soggy hoagie roll with mustard and lettuce and a few sad onions.  (Although: I couldn’t figure out why the vegetarian boxes ONLY had Sun Chips in them, while the meat-sandwich boxes had freaking Doritos and other chips.  Like, is the assumption that we’re vegetarian and thus relatively healthy and averse to Doritos?)

My frustration here is exacerbated by the fact that I can’t even come up with a good solution for what a good vegetarian cold lunch would even BE.  A box of fresh fruit and raw veggies with dip?  I HAVE NO IDEA how to handle this one.  So friends: tell me what a good vegetarian cold lunch would be.  Keep in mind I’m allergic to mushrooms.  But all in all we are very grateful that we did have a vegetarian option for lunch here and we didn’t even have to ask for one.  That is really awesome.  The organizers of this thing did a really fantastic job in general and we’re really stoked that we got to be a part of it.

I’m going to count 5 hours of volunteering today.

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10 thoughts on “fun with volunteering, and the typical vegetarian “boxed lunch”

  1. Molly says:

    The donuts were totally meat-free and delicious!! So glad you guys came with, and I’m looking forward to April!!

  2. Emily Keen says:

    When I go to a particular sandwich shop to order a cold veggie sandwich, the best recommendation I would have for a “meaty” type sandwich, would be to have sliced avocados on the sandwich or very thickly sliced tomatoes. Beef steak tomatoes and cheese sandwiches with salt and pepper are certainly yummy and filling. Or even something like Panera does with their Mediterranean sandwich.

    PS I hate the sun chip assumption. Sun chips happen to be the worst chips of all in my opinion so if I happened to have that in my boxed lunch, I’d have to desperately find someone to trade their greasy lays with me 🙂

    • beethousand says:

      OH DUH, I totally forgot about avocados!! That’s such a great idea and such an easy way to make a veggie sandwich better. I’m so picky with tomatoes on sandwiches, since they’re usually just these soggy, slimy, yucky slices. But the tomatoes we were getting from the farm last year were amazing and I could totally eat a farm tomato sandwich. I’m glad I’m not alone in preferring other chips to Sun Chips. I don’t mind them much but I definitely would have preferred something a little junkier today!

  3. I am certainly not averse to Doritos.

  4. Swim-a-ding-dong says:

    I think the above comments hit on a good point. It’s not that a meat-free sandwich can’t make a good lunch, it’s just a matter of what is on the sandwich. Lettuce, tomatoes, and onions aren’t the only vegetables in the world! Avocado is a great suggestion, I also like to put roasted red peppers on mine, but if you get them out of the jar then it does make the bread soggy, so that’s only for a super-heavy bread. Of course, if you roast your own it’s pretty awesome.

    It’s probably really weird, but in my veggie days I ate a lot of butter, lettuce, and cheese sandwiches. Also, just adding something simple like hummus can really kick a sandwich up to awesomeness as can trying different gourmet cheeses.

    In other news: trying a new veggie recipe tonight – Zesty Chickpeas and Shells. If it’s good I’ll send the recipe along!

  5. Vanessa says:

    I love a good hummus, cucumber, shredded carrot, and bean sprout sandwich. Eggplant is also a great meat substitute. You could grill it and make a sandwich with some goat-cheese and a “spicy” green. Just stay away from that awful shredded, wet iceberg lettuce. Or falafel? If you make it ahead, it’d make a good grab and go thing with a yogurt sauce.

    Have you had the pickled red onions at The Burger Stand? They’d be great on a sammich.

    This has inspired me! I can’t wait for the farmer’s market to open again!

    • beethousand says:

      That hummus/cucumber/carrot/sprout sandwich sounds really good. I guess Jimmy John’s serves a veggie sandwich with avocado spread and sprouts that sounds kind of okay? I need to check out Yellow Sub’s options too because I think they have tempeh. Grilled eggplant is a good idea for this summer when we take the grill to the park. Thanks for the ideas, V! I haven’t tried the pickled onions at the Burger Stand but I LOVE their regular pickles. We’re doing the farm share again this year but I’m also excited to get some stuff at the farmer’s market.

  6. […] now I officially feel pretty stupid for complaining about the vegetarian boxed lunch way back in this post, because I think we experienced the holy grail of seriously gross and inedible vegetarian cuisine […]


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