I must have been in sixth grade, when I got my book report I had written back from my English teacher. The paper had a big “C” written in red ink but was later crossed out, and replaced by an “A.” Next to it, she had left a comment that read, “I changed the grade because I wanted to reward you for what you know, instead of penalizing you for what you haven’t yet learned.” The English language was still very new to me then and I could not structure a sentence worth a damn, but she decided to focus on my potential instead of dwelling on the limitation. I frankly don’t remember much from my junior high days (thank goodness … can you say, “neon”?) but I’ll never forget my English teacher and the way she approached life. That’s how I now approach my life as well — or at least I try to look at a glass half full (as much as I can). And the way I approach my new vegetarian lifestyle is no exception.
When I tell people that I have given up eating meat, the first reaction is usually, “then what the f#%# do you eat?” I would have probably asked the same question a few months ago but now that I’m aware of all the possibilities that’s out there in the culinary world that doesn’t necessary involve meat, I can smile and answer, “everything.”
One thing I didn’t want to become was one of those annoying vegetarians who refuse to eat anything, or someone who always complains that there’s nothing on the menu that they can eat. Sure, it may be a little difficult to find something to eat at a steakhouse, but I’m telling you, if there’s a will (and a little creativity), there’s a way. Just because I gave up meat, that doesn’t stop me from frequenting, say, Korean restaurants to enjoy the delicious food I’ve always loved and enjoyed.
Speaking of Korean restaurants, Young-Dong Tofu in Arcadia that is famous for dundubu Jigae (tofu hot pot) deserves an “A” in my book. I ordered the tofu soup with seasonal mushroom and vegetable bibimbap, and enjoyed the endless plates of banchan. And everything was delicious, satisfying and simply heavenly.
Instead of focusing on things I cannot eat, I look at all the wonderful ingredients that are available – wonderful selection of mushrooms; fresh, seasonal root vegetables; pickled everything – and savor them. Once you open up your eyes to the possibilities, you’ll quickly realize that the sky is the limit.
Life is definitely a glass half full. Or in this case, my stomach completely full.
Young Dong Tofu Restaurant
1311 S. Baldwin Avenue, #B, Arcadia, CA 91066