Stranded for nearly three hours at the table of a Richmond vegetarian restaurant, local man Tim Padgett told “The Today Show” this morning that he survived the excruciating meal by eating a variety of non-meat-based foods, and chasing the leftover hunger with copious amounts of beer.
The 28-year-old’s harrowing ordeal, which “Today” host Matt Lauer called “a remarkable story of courage and will to get satiated in hunger,” began to unfold just shortly after 6 p.m. on Saturday evening, when a group of friends decided to dine at downtown restaurant Ipanema Cafe. Padgett, who was among the circle of eight friends, said he “wasn’t opposed to the restaurant pick, but didn’t really know what to think going into it.”
Named one of the 50 best restaurants in Richmond for three years running by Style Weekly, Ipanema, Padgett noted, somehow – for reasons unknown by Padgett – manages to serve only vegan and vegetarian dishes “and no meats, if you can believe that, and that includes not even any damned chicken.”
“I ordered a smoked Gouda panini, which was good and I guess tasted a lot like grilled cheese,” said the banking analyst, who would have preferred his dinner included a bowl of meat chili, or possibly a foot-long Italian sausage smothered in meat pasta sauce. “I mistakenly gained a lot of hope when I read on the menu ‘BBQ seitan,’ thinking it was like a barbecue sandwich. But then the waitress told me ‘seitan’ was vegetarian-speak for ‘wheat meat.'”
“That’s when I really thought I wasn’t going to make it,” added Padgett, visibly shaken and fighting to hold back tears.
As Padgett finished his appetizer – the “surprisingly good” zucchini fritters doused in a honey mustard sauce – he realized his only option for hunger survival would be to drink several bottles of Bud Light, a product that does not contain beef and is enjoyed by vegetarians and carnivores alike for its intoxicating and stomach-filling effects. “Seeing the beer on the menu, I knew I was going to be okay,” he said.
Padgett said his dining situation wasn’t quite as dire than the time in 2005 when he was forced to go to an area Bullet’s drive-thru, and instead chose to eat several species of insects for protein.