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Full Steam Ahead to Tofurkytown 

I'm not a hippie, or a communist either. I don't belong to PETA. I don't eat "rabbit food" and I don't actually like portabella mushrooms, or eggplant, or any other vegetable commonly used as a meat substitute at wedding

Editor's Note: This is the first column from local writer (and former advertising executive turned forestry student) Rachelle Hedges about her experiences as a vegetarian in Bend. It will appear once a month in this space.

I'm not a hippie, or a communist either. I don't belong to PETA. I don't eat "rabbit food" and I don't actually like portabella mushrooms, or eggplant, or any other vegetable commonly used as a meat substitute at weddings, for that matter.

I am, however, a vegetarian.

Now you see why I had to tell you all that other stuff first? Because it could have been really easy for you to get confused.

I've been a "veg" - as my friends like to call this affliction - since I was about 13 years old. No need to get into the nasty details of how it all got started, I'll just say it involved a visit to a distant relative's cattle ranch, a calf named Chucky and some serious emotional scarring. I'll let your imagination do the rest for you - because that's part of the magic of reading, right? It's been 15 meatless years since that moment and I'm still on the veggie train - full steam ahead to Tofurkytown.

And as it turns out, I've found a few things I do like along the way. I like tofu - ya I'm still surprised about that one, too. I like trying new restaurants. I like putting vegetarian spins on classic meals, and have managed to whip up a few that even you non-rabbit food eaters seem to enjoy. (No need to mention the "practice" dishes along the way that that no one seemed to enjoy. Even the vegans, and everyone knows they'll eat anything. Oh, wait...)

Now, whether you're a vegetarian or more of a Ron Swanson-like fan of steaks the size of your head, I'd like to invite you to join me on my exploration. We'll try some new restaurants, sample the vegetarian fare of some Bend staples, share some recipes and maybe even incorporate a few weird vegetarian foods into our every-day recipes (tempeh anyone?). Well, we won't really do all that - I'll just do all those things and write about them. Don't get mad, I just really can't have all you veg-curious people showing up at my house demanding cilantro black bean soup, no matter how tasty it is.

Oh, and if you are a hippie or a communist or a PETA supporter or a portabella mushroom enthusiast, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have called you out like that. I don't know your life.

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