#A to Z Challenge: B is for Burgers & 3 Lessons I Learned During a Month Without Them (Plus, 3 Random Smartphone Pics)

stormtrooper lineup army

I told a co-worker that I staged a hunger strike because of her leaving the company.

BMost hellish 13 minutes of my life, I announced. This food-related sacrifice plays right into the mindfulness challenge I participated in for March. I softened it to be carnivore-friendly: March was a beef-free month for me.

Jen Schwartz’s challenge was to give up meat completely, like a liberal. I believe in miracles, yes, but also in the universe’s balance. I could no more easily go veg for more than a single bean tostada as an NBA star could expect to play every game on his team’s schedule when he’s healthy.

My own depravity – which challenged in duration the time Jesus spent in the wilderness that one time or the average drought between quality starts for an Arizona Diamondbacks starter – taught me.

3 lessons learned while not eating hamburger

1. I like salad

You heard me. I’ve enjoyed treating salad as 7/8ths of an actual meal. It helps to heap favorite toppings such as hard-boiled eggs, bacon, chicken, cashews, sunflower seeds, croutons and wanton noodles all over the damned thing, with Thousand Island dressing.

2. Talking incessantly about my food choices wasn’t required

The rap on veg-heads is that they LOVE to tell everyone they don’t eat critters. I didn’t encounter that. I could order a breakfast burrito with cheese and egg and not feel the need to lean over to the sales agent next to me and utter, “I’m not eating meat, after all.”

3. My burger crush lessened

I love the idea of bending the trajectory of a burger to my mouth, but it isn’t all I live for. I’ve become a burger snob. Anything from the poor people menu I frequent at fast-food joints can’t hold a flame broiler to something I flame broil myself.

Challenge for April: April: Send the Love

Send a handwritten letter of gratitude to one person each day during this month. So many people in our lives go without thanks, not knowing the influence that they are having on a day-to-day basis. Plus, who doesn’t love getting mail, right?

Also 3 random smartphone photos

187 grace jacksonville football broncos

Another shot from Jacksonville when Grace and I went to see the Broncos. This was so early on, and I loved the wonder. I remember how I felt coming out of the tunnel for my first NFL game. John Elway and Joe Montana started that one, in case you’re wondering.

65 me camdyn daddy daughter dance

Grace and I went to the daddy/daughter dance at her school in February. We clean up okay, don’t we? We danced to every song, it seemed. She stifled my boogie only 11 times, which is far below the average for a dad of my height and earning potential.

232 asheville warren wilson elise

It’s always bittersweet to leave my oldest girl behind in Asheville. This is the view right off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Elise is at home in the mountains, surrounded by friends and seemingly to like her classes. I miss her so much but am glad she’s happy where she is.

mountains quote


  1. Congratulations on your no beef challenge! (Are you glad that March is over?)

    I’m not a fan of vegan people who can’t stop talking about their vegan sausages and vegan this and vegan that, and that you really should substitute X for eggs and Y for cow milk. Can’t they just eat their food and leave the rest of us alone? (Say the girl who bakes avocado brownies, hahahah, I know. There are eggs in there though, mind you.)

    Very cute Daughter – Daddy picture!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Tamara! I am glad March is over. I love to talk about burgers and cheese and I love even more eating burgers and cheese.

      Glad you liked the picture! it’s tough to keep us both dressed up without us messing up our good clothes.

  2. spacerguy says:

    Once in a while you might see me eating a big juicy burger at a fast food joint. Mmmm burgers

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It’s a beautiful thing – are we talking Big Mac or Whopper?

  3. I’m going to have to second the comment above. mmm burgers. BUT I am proud of you. Way to go, Eli!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I will third and fourth that, April! I wanted to eat a burger at 12:01 a.m. April 1! I will enjoy, just with a little … moderation. And a lot of adoration.

  4. ksbeth says:

    i’m a burger fan too, and understand – love the pictures and the memories and the bittersweet love and missing

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      This post had a lot in 400 words, didn’t it, Beth?

      1. ksbeth says:

        It did indeed)

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        The tough part is keeping it to around 300 words for the challenge. Tomorrow’s will not be close to that. But it’s something you wouldn’t expect.

  5. I don’t understand the whole giving up meat thing. But then again, I usually eat no grains, dairy, eggs, or red meat, and very little sugar. Lots of chicken and turkey eaten around here, fresh fruit and veggies too. And recently too much dark chocolate and potato chips. Kudos to you for stretching yourself! And I love the photos: looking great. I’ll think of you guys when we land in NC for a family vacation in Johnson City, TN.

    The letters of gratitude is a wonderful idea. I don’t think I can crank out one a day and actually get it in the mail, but I’ve actually recently been writing a few letters of thanks to people who have helped me in life. There are a few very special people in my life that I want to make sure they know how much they mean to me before they pass away. They’re not necessarily sick or dying, but they are not young and it’s never too early or to late for this kind of thing.

  6. Yum! (๑╹ڡ╹)╭ ~ ♡ Burgers – one of those comfort food some of us just can’t live without. Love the wefie shot of you and Grace. (☆▽☆)

  7. stomperdad says:

    I went vegetarian for a bit of my life. I think it lasted about 3 months before I caved to a McD’s quarter pounder. I never bragged about it, though. Salads are good, especially with bacon and crispy chicken. But still not as good as a piping hot cheese burger right off the BBQ on a slightly toasted bun.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It’s okay to admit that, Eric. A quarter pounder is a portion of heaven dropped to the earth, if you think about it.

      Without bacon, a salad is just a pile of lettuce. Right? And yes to the piping hot, the toasted bun, the melted cheese, and the medley of salt/pepper/onion powder or whatever concoction the universe has moved me to when I fire up the grill.

      I literally just got a hunger pain right now. For a burger. At 8:34 a.m.

      1. stomperdad says:

        That makes two of us. I suddenly wanted to fire up the BBQ at 7:45 this morning. Actually, I’m drooling now. I’m BBQing for supper tonight. So what if I have to stand in a foot of snow in 32F weather. It’ll be worth it.

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        Did you know Burger King serves burgers for breakfast? I feel like anything’s possible, Eric.

      3. stomperdad says:

        The nearest Burger King (or King Burger as Bang says it) is an hour and half away. Totally worth getting up at 5 am for that drive now.

  8. cricketmuse says:

    Beef I can live without. Chocolate!?! Ack!!!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      If I had to pick … I’d forgo the chocolate and order a bacon cheeseburger with an onion ring tucked under the top bun.

  9. I gave up sugar for Lent. No sweets, no treats…not even syrup on my pancakes. It is a lesson. (No chocolate either…not even with Henry. O Henry!)

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I had a friend who gave up sleeping in a bed for Lent. That’s a humble sacrifice you made. I dig the premise.

      I always thought it would be better of me to give something up, and not tell anyone what it was.

  10. Louise says:

    Well done on completing your challenge on your terms. It also sounds like in eating less of them, you craved less of them – a nice virtuous eating cycle!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Louise. I appreciate the hell out of a good burger now.

  11. I could NOT be a vegetarian but I could probably give up beef for a month. A friend of mine gave up MEAT for Lent a few years ago. He lost 12 lbs and said he felt great. But he was really glad when he could eat meat again. I don’t love enough of the things you have to eat instead to get the protein and vitamins associated with meat so there’s that. 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I have to be carnivorous at some point too, Courtney. I gave up fast food and lost weight during Lent once. There’s a bonus. I also loved savoring a cheeseburger in the sun with Marie after her soccer game on Sunday.

      Seems like a lot of work to go without meat.

  12. Joe Owens says:

    Eli you have an unusual (it’s a good thing, really) approach to the A-Z that is refreshing.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, brother. Look forward to getting to your blog, too.

  13. Charlotte says:

    99% of vegetarianism is telling people you don’t eat meat because of [insert any litany of excuses here that will of course make everyone in hearing distance feel like a loser]. I kid. I would never do this. Actually, my proud-to-eat-meat bestie once commented that I was the least offensive veggie she had ever met which I took as a great compliment because I sure AF am NOT going to pour paint on our coat or critique your eating habits. Live and let live, I think.

    Anyway, I do want to hear about these grueling 13 minutes and your love of salad. I actually love a good salad, too, and can make a pretty mean one with vegan bacon bits, apples, cranberries, and walnuts, and honey mustard/maple syrup dressing and OMG I’m starving now.

    Hope all is well with you, Eli! XOXO and hope you enjoy the weekend ahead!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      could you sit next to me while i ate a burger, Charlotte? I think you might be the coolest veggie-chomper ever.

      I’d even have a salad with you.

      The crunchier, the better.

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