Archive | December, 2011

Meating of the minds

31 Dec

I went to a dinner party last night. Maybe a dozen people. All very nice. I knew about half of them previously. I was the only vegan. And the hostess, a friend of a friend more than a friend, and a lovely person, went out of her way to make, in addition to chicken, a wonderful vegan Moroccan Stew (from the “New Recipes from  Moosewood Restaurant” cookbook) as well as some vegan couscous.

And as I sat around the table listening to everyone talk, including three guests born in Europe but living in LA for more than a decade, and watching them enjoying themselves and the chicken, ice cream, cake, etc., I had a thought: What the world has in common is meat.

You can be from just about any part of the world, speak just about any language, and what you instantly share with pretty much any other human being you might encounter in a social, business or random setting is that you both enjoy eating animals. It’s so unquestioned, so unremarked upon as to be remarkable, but only to someone who doesn’t do it. Otherwise, it doesn’t even crack the plane of thought. It’s assumed. Why wouldn’t you? Who doesn’t?

Longtime vegans are thinking: duh, you’re just noticing this now? Well, yeah. I’m 15 months in, and while being vegan doesn’t feel new anymore, there are still new things that strike me about it. And this hit me right between the eyes (though not as hard of a shot between the eyes as one from a bolt gun designed to stun me so someone could cut me up with a chainsaw).

It barely even came up that I don’t do this thing that’s so normal to do.

As I passed the chicken without taking a piece someone asked, “Oh, are you vegetarian?” I just said yes, without saying, “No, I’m vegan.” Because people don’t want to hear it. They’re having a good time. And their good time is being supported by the back office, where, 50, 100, 500 miles away, animals are being mistreated and tortured to facilitate this pleasant interaction.

And I started thinking, at a meal like this, where I was enjoying some very good vegan food made by my very thoughtful carny host, could I really have a good time? Could it really be a pleasant experience for me? And the answer was: not like it used to be. Without a doubt, it took some of the fun of a dinner party away. A type of social interaction that I’ve enjoyed for decades felt a little off, like there was an elephant in the dining room (the elephant being a chicken). But much like the talking frog, it was an elephant-chicken that only I could see.

I guess I’m a coward for not saying, “No, I’m vegan” and possibly precipitating a conversation of unknown duration on the topic. But they were being nice by accommodating me, right? To talk about certain things at their meat party is impolite, unpleasant. In the nearly half a hundred years I’ve walked this planet, I don’t think I’ve come across a subject that people don’t want to talk about as much as this one. Meat facilitates easy conversation, veganism kills it, because there’s nothing that can ruin a meat-facilitated conversation like discussion of the meat itself.

And then it hit me: if strangers are going to get together and eat animals — strangers of different backgrounds, different viewpoints, different political parties, different religions —  at least let it be an out-in-the-open source of unity, an acknowledged bit of common ground. Maybe it could end the troubles in the Middle East and around the world. You’re a Muslim, you’re a Christian and you’re a Jew, but we all eat meat. Let’s build on this thing we all share and love so much! You’re a leftist Democrat and your father-in-law’s a right-wing Republican but you both love some barbecue spare ribs. Instead of ignoring that you’re eating an animal that was tortured to provide you with a few minutes of pleasure, embrace it! We have our differences, sure, but we both don’t want to think about the source of our food or the pain that it felt or the immorality of our actions, and that’s a huge thing that we share!

Once meat-eaters begin this conversation can world peace (for humans) be that far off?

10 best vegan things i 8 in ’11

29 Dec

I love being vegan and I hate 10 best lists so I’m combining the two. Actually, I like 10 best lists but they’re trite. Oh well, I’m trite, so here goes.

This was my first full year being vegan. Woo-hoo, special me! I should start a blog so I can tell the whole world how great I am!

In no particular order, except that I’m starting with the tenth best and working my way in order to my favorite, here goes:

Doomie's pulled pork sandwich. (photo: toliveandeatinla.com)

10. Doomie’s pulled pork sandwich.  I went into Doomie’s for the first time late one night and asked the woman at the counter what to get. She said, “Ask him,” and pointed to Doomie. Without hesitating he said, “The pulled pork sandwich” and smiled an evil smile. It was great.

9. Clementine’s cous cous with roasted squash, dried cranberries, pistachios, scallions and lemon vinaigrette AND their beluga lentils with flame raisins, mizuna and toasted pepitas. I’m a little reluctant to include Clementine on here given that it’s not only a meat-heavy place but also the Worldwide Grilled Cheese Headquarters. But they have a salad case with a bunch of really fresh salads that rotate on a seasonal basis. You can get a three-salad combo for $11.95 and usually there are at least three that are vegan. I recently had the two above-mentioned salads along with some roasted beets, and while the beets were good the two other salads were UNBELIEVABLY good. Eat a forkful and put your fork down and say to yourself was that just as good as I thought it was good. The current menu will be around until late January. Go.

The Bigger Mack. (photo credit: http://www.huggerfood.com)

8. The Bigger Mack at Madeleine Bistro. Sure I could go with their famous Red Beet Tartare, which is great. Or the chicken and waffles, which I enjoyed. But dammit if Chef Dave doesn’t 100 percent nail the Big Mac taste. Not that it’s the greatest taste in the world. But it’s a very specific taste. And he did it. And not that I ever needed to eat another Big Mac after consuming way too many of them for way too many years. But when you think you’ll never get to taste a specific taste again, and then you do, it’s weird and impressive and satisfying.

7. The Wasabi Bean Burger at Native Foods Café. Don’t drop your iPad on the floor and run out the door to get one because they’re gone. This is an item that was on their menu earlier in the year and then, much to my dismay, disappeared. How come the world doesn’t do exactly what I want at all times?

6. A Dillo. A DingDillo to be specific. A cold DingDillo to be specificer. What are these? They’re vegan Chocodiles from Salt Lake City, what else did you think they were? I got mine at the Viva La Vegan grocery store in Rancho Cucamonga. But you can get em other places, too. I’m all out right now. And Rancho Cucamonga’s an hour away with no traffic. But I want one! Runners up in the dessert competition would have to be the Apple-Cranberry Toastie at Babycakes and the Blueberry Pomegranate ice cream I had one day at Scoops (the flavors change daily, as if you didn’t know).

5. The stuff I ate at  Stuff I Eat. I’d been meaning to go here for so long and finally made it. And it was great. I got some kind of eggplant lasagna. I’m not a big eggplant person but they offered a sample that was so good I had to order it, and I loved it. The person suffering through lunch with me got the “Sumthin-Sumthin” plate and we also split a side of jerk grilled tofu and we both looked at each other in amazement at how good it all was. I will keep returning till I’ve tried everything.
 

Mandoline Grill's tofu banh mi. (Photo credit: veggie101.com)

4. Mandoline Grill‘s tofu banh mi. This has gotten a little confusing in the past month or so. There’s some extra charges associated with it now that I can’t quite figure out. Like an extra 50 cents for Vegenaise (the spelling of which always bugs me). There’s also some confusing new thing about a “vegan baguette.” Does that mean she now has NON-vegan baguettes on the truck, too? Were there always two kinds of baguettes on the truck? Or are vegans paying a surcharge for the same baguette that everyone else gets without paying the surcharge? Like I said, I’m confused. I tried to ask about it but the conversation went nowhere. That said, I like Mong. She’s super friendly and serves great vegan food and if she needs to charge a little extra for it I don’t mind.

3. The Gardein Steak Sandwich at Green Peas. As you might have heard, right here in fact, Green Peas is now closed for re-modeling. But the owner told me that all the menu items are returning when they re-open, plus more, hopefully within a couple of months. I eat here a lot. I’ve tried a bunch of stuff from their vegan menu. The vegan chicken picatta sandwich is pretty dang tasty and could have easily made the list. But the Gardein Steak Sandwich is my favorite. (Not the “Rolling Gardein Steak Sandwich” — the stationary one.)
 
 
2. The Tri-Colored Lentils at Fatty’s & Co in Eagle Rock.  Me and Mrs. Insufferable (actually she prefers Ms) hit up Fatty’s one Saturday evening for a date night and were floored. We ordered four items and they were all really good but the one I’m still remembering months later is the lentils. It looked beautiful and tasted even better. A perfect combination of flavors.

All must bow to the ACSB. (photo: candypenny.blogspot.com)

1. The Ancho Chili Seitan Burger from the Cinnamon Snail.  Hate to do this to you LA but the ACSB from the NYNJ food truck was incredibly, incredibly good. An even more perfecter combination of flavors than Fatty’s lentils, and believe me that’s saying something. I WANT THIS TRUCK TO LIVE NEAR ME.

And that’s my list. Did you have some vegan food this year that was so good you had to shake your head in amazement? I’d love to hear about it, especially if it’s within driving distance of my driveway.

Is “almost vegan” almost as good?

25 Dec

I know someone who was a carnivore until recently but now describes herself as “almost vegan.” It’s a term I’ve seen all over the Internet. And I’m wondering, if your life is 99 percent free of animal products, is that 99 percent as good as being 100 percent free?

I think I can see the arguments lining up. To what I’ll call “hardcore vegans” the answer is no. If you eat a bit of fish now and then, an egg once in a while, some dairy not to make a fuss at someone else’s house, you’re complicit. You don’t get to pick and choose and only do it when it’s most convenient. You’re either in or you’re out and if you’re out you don’t get to call yourself vegan.

On the other side, if the point of going vegan (or the main point, or even a point) is to eliminate animal suffering, then the answer is a resounding yes. For if everyone, or even half or a quarter or a hundredth of everyone, eliminated most animal products from their life, it would greatly diminish the number of animals moving through the gulag. (Isn’t that the hope of Meatless Monday? And is Meatless Monday a bad idea if it just lets people who eat meat the other six days feel better about themselves and less guilty?)

So it becomes a matter of ideology vs practicality. And it’s hard to get righteous about practicality. You also see a lot on the Internet about “abolitionist vegan” being the only acceptable position. For example, I’ve seen Rutgers law professor Gary L. Francione criticize the Humane Society and Peter Singer and others for their “animal welfare” approach, saying it’s not morally justifiable to simply improve the conditions of the animals being killed.

Gary L. Francione

I agree with Francione that we have to stop and that anything short of stopping is immoral — which I guess makes me an “abolitionist vegan” — but I also feel that it’s going to take a long time till we get to that point, and that in the meantime, it’s better if any type of reduction in animal suffering can occur. So am I on both sides then? Am I being a coward and not really choosing either side?

Maybe the idea is that if those on the regulation/Humane Society side came over to the abolitionist side, that animal use would end more quickly. But would it mean that until the day it ended, animals would suffer more than they would without the improvements the regulation side brings about, even if these improvements, when seen on the whole, are small?

I think that ultimately, I am of the belief that both sides can exist. (And of course both sides DO exist.) For example, I don’t agree with everything the ACLU does, but I’m glad they’re around. Similarly, I am glad someone like Francione exists to press his arguments, which I believe in, but I’m also glad for those who can improve the conditions of animals until Francione’s position can win the day. But here’s the hard part: I don’t want to say, “EVEN IF THAT MEANS SLOWING DOWN THE DAY THAT FRANCIONE’S POSITION PREVAILS.” And that’s the rub, right? Justice delayed is justice denied, or something like that?

So I think it ultimately comes down to people who are realists vs the kind of people who wind up changing the world, who are not “realists” because if they were realists they would see others’ reality and not their own and perhaps their own is more real than the realists’. Just because I think that the abandonment of animals as a common food source will take a hundred if not hundreds of years, maybe it will only take twenty years and would never happen at all without people like Francione to push it through. Someone born in 1885 was 19 when the Wright Brothers flew their airplane and 84 when humans reached the moon. One lifetime. Things can happen fast. Opinion is generational and can change suddenly. Most people in their 20s probably know a vegan while most people in their 70s have probably never even heard the word (at least if they never watched Oprah). Who’s to say what can and can’t happen?

The Lunar Module and the Wright military plane being prepared to be moved out of the Arts and Industries Building, August 1975. Credit: Smithsonian Institution Archives

I guess I’m giving Francione more than the moral position here, I’m also saying he might have the boots on the ground realistic factual position too, more so than the realists who, if realizing they might not have the moral high ground, certainly feel they are the more realistic of the two sides. Compromise may be simply slowing down the arrival of a time when opinion shifts on this issue. And the tidal wave won’t come without people like Francione anchoring that position, to knot some nautical metaphors.

In other words, maybe practicality is impractical. Maybe incremental improvements make improvements incremental.

And yet I’d still rather someone be “almost vegan” than full-on carny. So is 99 percent vegan — assuming there could even ever be agreement on what 100 percent vegan even is, though for these purposes it’s enough that most of us probably agree what it is not, which is someone who eats meat, fish, dairy or eggs — but is it 99 percent as good, or 20 percent as good, or 99.999 percent as good, and is that last hurdle into 100 percentness all the difference in the world, and representative of the only morally acceptable position, or is it merely one small step away? Is it Manhattan surrounded by water, or Los Angeles where you can simply walk right in with a series of gradual steps (if anyone here walked)?

I’ve now managed to confuse myself, yet again. Though the one thing I feel pretty confident of is that an Almost Vegan is better than me, a full-on vegan who ate meat for almost half a hundred years. Or is it better than I? Sometimes the right things just don’t sound right.

Green Peas pause

22 Dec

Green Peas
4437 Sepulveda Blvd
Culver City, 90230
310.397.9815

I never bothered to write about Green Peas, one of my favorite places, because I figured most LA vegans already knew about it and others had already written about it, and like I said when I started this blog, I think my time is better spent writing about restaurants that LAVs are less likely to be familiar with.  But while having dinner there last night the owner, Jose, was taping up a sign on the front window. When I finished eating I walked outside and took a look. It said they were closing for remodeling! I went back in and asked Jose when they were closing. He said immediately, for six to eight weeks (another exclamation point).

The idea, he said, is to keep the current menu but also add dinner items like vegan ravioli, vegan risotto and vegan meatloaf. Sounds good to me (insert yet one more). But he said to do this he needs to expand his kitchen which entails moving things around a bit. Hopefully it’ll really all be done in six to eight weeks and I can go back to my Gardein Steak Sandwich and the best split pea soup of all time. (And I don’t even like split pea soup, but trust me, theirs crushes.)

Confession: I’ve been eating at Green Peas since before my salad days, I mean, my vegan days, so I can vouch for their omni food too, and it’s a great place to know about when you’re trying to plan a good casual meal with an omni. And by the way, I think we should stop calling people who eat meat “omnis” and start calling them “carnies.” I think it might boost the conversion rate, because who wants to be called a carny? But that’s a post for another day.

Unfigedible

20 Dec

To me, this is what a fig looks like in its natural state:

I don’t really eat them any other way. And I don’t think about them much. In fact, never. Not even when I’m buying the vegan (dairy-free) Fig Newmans. And eating the whole tray in a day. Two if I’m lucky.

But yesterday I saw a tweet from my favorite 3,000-mile-away food truck, The Cinnamon Snail, that made me go: Huh?  Seems that TCS had gotten into a twitter exchange with someone who was inquiring about their use of figs in their pancakes, and whether or not figs were vegan. In the thirty years that I have been vegan (okay, 15 months) I have never seen anything calling into question the veganticity of a fig. So I clicked my way into the heart of their exchange and found this link the challenger had thrown down:

http://www.veganfitness.net/viewtopic.php?t=7052

And there, spread across four pages, fifty-nine posts, and three years, you will find a discussion of whether or not figs are vegan. I won’t get into the whole thing because you can read it for yourself, but the basics go something like this: Figs are pollinated by wasps that climb into one end of the fig, deposit their children, sperm and luggage there, then die and leave their corpses to be devoured by fig-eating humans and other animals.

So basically, the argument goes, if you eat a fig, you’ve got dead wasps, wasp parts, or wasp secretions entering your up-until-now vegan body.

Well, here’s what I think. The problem with eating dead animals is that they are raised to be killed to be food for us. Or if hunted or caught wild, they at least are killed to be food for us. These insects are apparently dead inside the figs already. And if I’m following the story right, only some figs are even pollinated this way. So sometimes when you eat a fig, depending on the type, you may be getting dosed with bug parts. Is it icky? Sure. But where’s the problem?

Is it in the exploitation of the wasps? The (natural) death of the wasps in the (natural) production of a food item? Or is it the ingestion of the wasps or wasp parts or wasp jizz? (Remember those Budweiser commercials? Waspjizzzz!)

When bees make honey from the nectar of flowers, they do so to create a storable source of food for themselves. Beekeepers get them to overproduce honey so they can take some for the species Beekeeperus. (Okay, I might have misquoted Wikipedia here, but I can only stay on the page for so long without being overcome by guilt from those fundraising pleas.)

So with bees and honey, I can understand the exploitation. They get the bees to do extra work to make food for humans. Does this affect the bees? Are they aware of it? Do they mind? Does it lead to injuries and deaths and pain? I don’t eat honey for this and other reasons, but I don’t have a problem with people who eat honey and still call themselves vegan. (Isn’t that nice of me? Me who ate meat for almost half a hundred years.)

But this fig thing seems different. Humans aren’t making this happen. The wasps would do it in the absence of humans. It doesn’t even seem to be live wasps that are getting eaten. But I guess the idea here is that it’s wrong to eat something that once was alive. On principle, I suppose. Because what’s the difference between eating a dead wasp in a fig or eating a deer that was hit by a car and left dead on the side of the road. I wouldn’t eat that deer even if it were safe for me to consume because, well, I don’t eat animals. So does that apply here? Or is a wasp not an animal?

It’s at this point, when we’re out on what feels to me like the fringes having these kinds of discussions, that this might as well be a religion. But I suppose there are discussions at the edges in all kinds of secular areas, be they science or philosophy.

But isn’t it worse to think that The Cinnamon Snail Truck, as it heads home from dinner each night in the dark, is plowing into thousands of little flying things as it makes its way down the Garden State Parkway? Things that weren’t dead until they got hit by a truck. Or is the problem not the killing but the eating, even if the death of the thing being eaten wasn’t caused by humans at all? While it may not be clear to me whether a wasp is capable of feeling pain, I feel pretty certain that a dead wasp is not. So it’s not about the pain, which is the primary reason for my veganing in the first place. Sure I think that animals, even insects, have just as much right to exist as I do, but do I feel bad about the tiny things I may be hitting with my Honda or stepping on with my Soft Stags? A little bit, but I shrug it off pretty easily.

I hope this doesn’t make TCS change its ways or even feel bad for a second. What they and other providers of incredibly good-tasting vegan food are doing is showing that vegan food doesn’t have to be the feces-laden sawdust that so many meat-eaters imagine it to be. They show that an alternative exists that isn’t devoid of taste. That is in fact delicious. They are showing the way. And that’s a start. A very important start.

Farmer Boys: Victuals for Vegas-bound vegans in Victorville, and 24/7 in L.A.

18 Dec

Farmer Boys
726 S. Alameda Street
Los Angeles, CA 90021
213.228.8999
(and throughout SoCal,
CentralCal, and Vegas)

Not Victorville.

Okay, I didn’t go to the Victorville location of Farmer Boys. Of which there are three. I went to the one in downtown Los Angeles. Not fancy loft in what once was a bank downtown — gritty truck-trafficked potholed downtown. Which isn’t all that far from the other one.

But the menus are the same in Victorville, and I thought it might be more useful to know that this option exists when you’re 15ing it to Vegas than to know there’s a fast food joint that awaits you with open vegan-friendly arms on Alameda.

And they’re not just on the road to Vegas, they’re all over the 99 to Yosemite too, though sadly not the dreaded 5 to San Fran. (cisco.)

My FAQ touches on the hold that fast food has on me. I’m not the only one, of course. Many other Americans patronize fast food even though they know it’s not good for them. Do they like the food? Do they like the convenience? Or like me, have associations been made with family, childhood and safety.

But there was no Farmers Boy when I was a kid. So what am I relating to? What still provides that feeling? Is it merely the concept? Vinyl and plastic booths, a big metal counter, some backlit signage, and ordering standing up?

The downtown Los Angeles location is open 24/7! (Or 7/24 if Eur from Europe.)

Pulling out of the fast food world may be the best thing that veganing has done for me. There’s no way the vegan crap I eat is crappier than the non-vegan crap I ate, right? (Please say right.) I actually hadn’t eaten much fast food for a good decade before going V last year. But once in a while I still did. And even though I hardly went any more, I often felt the pull, drawing me toward its location on the corner of Drive-thru Drive and Memory Lane.

But there are times when convenience is needed. When something/anything to eat is needed. Like that drive to Las Vegas. (Which btw I don’t do very often, because I don’t like Las Vegas —  because I don’t like cigarette smoke, odds stacked against me, or cowboy hats.) You probably know this, but the people in Las Vegas are Las Vegans. And sometimes even call themselves Vegans. And those Vegans do a pretty good job feeding us vegans, so I hear.

But let’s talk tofurky. Or at least veggie burgers. Because that’s what you can get at Farmer Boys. Or a veggie sandwich. That’s right. They’ve got two choices. Two on-the-menu choices that require but scant modification. No dressing on the veggie burger, and no cheese on the veggie sandwich. And swap out the wheat bread on the veggie sandwich for rye or sourdough, cuz the wheat’s got honey.

How do I know this? I called the Farmer Boys toll-free number and spoke to a friendly person who was eager to help. In fact, I didn’t feel a single eye-roll the entire time. And she even emailed me later to verify that the wheat bread had honey and that the veggie burger bun was egg, dairy and honey-free.

© Ansel Adams

Now to the basics. The veggie burger, which I photographed, and the veggie sandwich, which I did not (*sigh*), are pretty different. The veggie burger is the kind that’s a patty of stuff smooshed together. While smooshed might not be a verb that’s usually used to connote tastal satisfaction, in this case it’s doing just that. I much prefer this kind of big flat fall-apart patty to the kind of styrofoamy hockey puck veggie burger you’re often served when you dare to go meatless at a cathedral of meat. It came with iceberg lettuce, tomato, and onions, all of which seemed unusually fresh for a fast food joint, and there’s ketchup on the table to make up for the mandatory dressing removal. I combo’d it with some good hot fries and a Mug root beer. I can’t guarantee that all locations are Muggly since the menu on the website doesn’t show it, but for this caffeine-after-3-keeps-me-up-all-night loser, it was a sight for sore-if-I-had-Barq’s-the-day-before eyes.

The veggie sandwich, which comes on toast, has no burgery patty. But what it does have post-cheese is lettuce, tomato, mustard, pickles and avocado. (You can add avocado to the veggie burger, too, but it’ll cost you — $1.50 I think.)

And there’s calorie info on the website, too. The veggie burger weighs in at 581 (that’s some accurate lab they must use!) but that’s with the dressing, so I figure you’re saving at least a hundred calories by going ketchup or mustard or dry.  And the veggie sandwich says 398 but that’s with ewwy milk-of-another-animal cheese.

So there. Now you know about another fast food option. At least if you find yourself in SoCal, Central Cal, or Vegas Cal. If you’re in a different Cal, check out this great website if you don’t already know about it, which makes a pretty good effort to document what’s available to us eaters-of-the-future at the various fast food joints and other chains across this great American fastfoodjointandotherchainscape.

Oh. And if you liked this review, ring my bell.

The wool suit, the leather shoes, and the animal-free White Castle jacket

14 Dec

If you’ve been reading this blog for years, you know that I used to have good titles for my posts. What happened?!

Anyway, I’ve been struggling with a vegan issue and I’m curious what other people think.

When I went vegan 15 months ago it was all about the food. Then two weeks after that it was all about the animals. But about a month in I started thinking about the clothes. You see, some of my clothes were made of animals!

And my wallet was, too. And it was old. And falling apart. I needed a new one. So this was a no-brainer. I went to Amazon and looked up “vegan wallets” and ordered one from an Amazon seller called Alternative Outfitters.

And I liked it. It looked good. The functionality was good. And I almost immediately realized that it also made me feel good. Hey, look at me, I didn’t only give up food, I got a vegan wallet, too!

Well, it wasn’t long before I went back on Amazon and bought a vegan belt. It’s made of something called pleather. Because as I soon learned, veganism is full of portmanteaus. In fact, I bet before Mr. Watson settled on the term “vegan” he first proposed a portmanteau combining vegetables and diners, but for some reason decided that “veginers” was the wrong way to go.

So now I had a wallet AND a belt. Which meant the next obvious thing was staring me in the face (if I looked down) — shoes!

I usually wear sneakers. And some of them, I was pretty sure, had some leather. Especially the leather ones. And as for my shoes, well, all of them were leather. But although it was pretty clear to me that I wasn’t going to buy any more leather shoes or sneakers, the question became: was it okay to keep wearing what I already owned?

I struggled with this for a while. I mean, isn’t it wasteful to throw them away? I could give them to charity, but if it was wrong for me to continue to wear them then wasn’t it wrong for someone else to continue to wear them? Or was it okay for someone else to wear them since that person was probably eating meat, too?

And as I pondered these questions, I kept wearing my shoes as need be. But whenever I did, I felt bad. Like I was tacitly supporting the notion that it was okay to use animals like this. So I decided I needed to stop. The sneaker part was easy. You can find no-animal sneakers at lots of places. Heck, some of the ones I already owned weren’t even made of animals. But shoes were different.

So I decided to make a pilgrimage to Alternative Outfitters. You see, when I ordered that wallet on Amazon, it came really fast. Why? Because it turned out that Alternative Outfitters was only an hour or so away from me, in Pasadena.

 
Alternative Outfitters, I imagine, does most of their business over the Internet, and the store isn’t what I was expecting. I almost drove past it. It’s kind of at the corner of an office park, with only a small retail space, though they’ve got a lot crammed in there. Ninety percent of which was for women. But they have a pretty good selection of shoes. And unlike ersatz meat products, ersatz leather shoes are actually cheaper than the thing you’re ersatzing them for.

But I didn’t write this post to tell you about my trip to buy shoes. I wrote it because of the conversation I had with the friendly vegan who was working there that day. As I blabbed on and on about buying my first pair of vegan shoes (I’m insufferable) we got into an interesting discussion about whether or not it’s okay to keep wearing the animal clothing you already own since those animals are already dead and the items are already made.

She took the position that if you’re giving up animal-based foods because you think it’s wrong to use animals that way, why would you want to keep wearing their skin on your body? She said she remembered the day she made the decision to stop wearing a leather coat that she had.

And that got me thinking. Certainly, nobody would wear a pair of shoes made from human skin, no matter that the person was already dead. They would find the idea disgusting, repulsive, it would make their, yup, skin crawl. But why didn’t leather shoes make me feel that way? I guess because we’re so accustomed to it, same as eating meat. And because evolution has done something to make the idea of using humans this way feel repugnant to us.

So since our use of animal products is so everyday, we need to LEARN to find it repulsive. We need to EDUCATE OURSELVES on the matter to the point that we find it repulsive. Which brings me to my wool suit. I wear a suit even less often than I wear shoes. Do I want to go buy a new suit made of, let’s say, cotton? Nope. And so I wore my wool suit to my niece’s wedding last month.

But then I started wondering: is wool worse than leather? I think it depends on how poorly the sheep are treated. I keep reading that egg-laying hens and dairy cows have worse lives than the chickens and cattle raised for meat. And if I’ve given up eggs and dairy because of the way those animals are treated, then is wool any different because it’s worn not eaten? And while I wouldn’t buy any new wool suits or sweaters, should I stop wearing that damn wool suit of mine pronto?

And then there’s this:

My White Castle jacket. 100 percent polyester. But do I need to give this up, too? I’ve still been wearing it. It keeps me warm. But I could buy one that doesn’t have a message pretty easily. Is it wrong for me to keep offering up what seems to be (or is) tacit approval? To keep wearing something that might (or does) increase people’s appetite for meat?  Or what if I just stop wearing it in public? Is that enough? Or is it even wrong to wear it when I’m home alone and cold?

Veggie Castle (II) and The Cinnamon Snail (by Roald Dahl)

12 Dec

Veggie Castle (II)
132-09 Liberty Avenue
Richmond Hill, NY 11419
718.641.8342

The Cinnamon Snail
(It’s on wheels so
check their Twitter)
Manhattan, Brooklyn,
Hoboken, Red Bank

Chapter One: Veggie Castle

Once upon a time last month I made a quick trip to New Jersey for my niece’s wedding. (She’s 25, I’m… sigh.) Flew into JFK and thanks to the wonder that is Happy Cow I found a great  vegan restaurant only a few minutes north of the airport right off the Van Wyck. (Pronounced WICK not WYKE and if you try to tell me otherwise I’ll punch you in the EYE — pronounced IH.)

I know that looks like a fat Roman numeral I but it's a blurry Roman numeral II. Trust me.

Veggie Castle has a Roman numeral II on the sign outside because they once had another Veggie Castle, which got its name because it was located inside an old White Castle, and do you think I can still wear my White Castle jacket that I bought before I was vegan? (On the one hand it’s made of synthetics, on the other is it promoting the eating of animals?)

One thing I forgot about New York is that it’s harder to find a parking spot on any given day than Pasadena on January 1st. But the native New Yorker in me prevailed and I found one out back between a hydrant and a Dumpster and ran around the corner to a Caribbean (food) paradise. Veggie Castle is a take-out place, so I ordered a bunch of things and ate them when I got to my in-laws’ place in Jersey. This had the added advantage of irritating my in-laws, who while not opposed to my veganizing, are under the impression it’s simply another diet like Atkins or Paleo despite repeated attempts to disabuse them of this notion. (My in-laws, no matter what the issue, are not disabusable of any notions whatsoever.)

What did I eat? Well, who says a restaurant review has to tell you what was eaten? I’m breaking new ground here. Mostly because I don’t remember. Because what happened was, as I stood there trying to choose from the amazing collection of items in steam trays before me, the owner, who was so into it that I had sought out his restaurant after finding it on the Internet, threw a bunch of different things into the container so that I could try a vast array of his creations. They were Caribbean items that included things like plantains, yams and fake meats. And they were all amazing.

In addition to the steam table items, I spotted some patties behind the counter. Seeing these immediately took me back to my Brooklyn days when there was only one, that’s right, one, restaurant on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope and my favorite place to go in the neighborhood was Christie’s Jamaican Patties for “one on coco bread.” (That “one” was beef of course, ugh.) I asked about the patties and was told there were three kinds: fake chicken, fake fish, and some kind of spinachy thing whose name I wish I could remember (and yes, I’m personifying spinach here, so what, do you want another punch in the ih?). I decided to get one fake chicken and one spinachy and they smelled so dang good I broke into them in the car. Not only did they taste as good as they smelled — especially the chicken one — but it was a rental car, which is essentially a napkin wrapped in metal, right? (BTW, I don’t know about you, but I do a lot better with fake meat than fake fish.)

And… and this is not a small and… they carry Vegan Treats straight outta Bethlehem! After seeing constant references to this beloved bakery I of course had to try some. I got four different slices of cake and, here’s the best part, when I got to Jersey nobody wanted to share them! (So what if I ate four pieces of cake over two days, it’s allowed when you leave your home state.) And yes, they were good. Better than the bestest vegan dessert ever? Don’t know that I’d say yes. But I’m looking forward to a re-match, especially if I can get my hands on some of those peanut butter bombs one day.

Chapter Two: The Cinnamon Snail

So that was Friday night. And Saturday was a rehearsal dinner at The Olive Garden which provided me with a perfectly fine plate of vegan pasta. But, Sunday morning, while the others were still asleep, I took my metal napkin up to Red Bank, where parked at the farmers market was…

Behold!

By the time I got there, about five minutes before their stated 9 a.m. opening, there was already a line! And I’m guessing it wasn’t just vegans lining up at the gates of food truck heaven though I have to admit I didn’t do a survey. This was pretty exciting. I’d read a lot about this place online, and this was before they got permission to start hitting the streets of New York, so the whole thing seemed kind of legendary and — how often can you say this and mean it — it did not dissapoint. The special of the day, which I was told will become a regular menu item this spring, was the Ancho Chili Seitan Burger and it is THE BEST VEGAN THING I HAVE EVER EATEN. And really, I wouldn’t even have a problem taking the word vegan out of that sentence. It destroyed. To the point that after taking a bite in the car I had to go back to the truck to tell them just how incredible it was.

I got some other things to try, too, like their “classic breakfast burrito” and a puff pastry with curried lentils and a few different doughnuts, and while those were all good, the star of the show was clearly the ACSB. (Though the burrito was a pretty good VPM on the flight home Monday, I must say.)

So to all you New Yorkers who have been too lazy to tube it over to Hoboken: go see what the fuss is all about!

And then cry for me that I live 3,000 miles from it.

THE END

Afterword:

At the wedding I had a terrific, and I’m not overhyping this, vegetable napoleon. If you’d gotten this at any vegan restaurant, even a pricey one, you’d have been very happy with it. Even better, after my niece told me she’d make sure they’d have something I could eat, she had them put it on the menu card. So hopefully this led some other people to get it instead of the chicken or salmon.

Vegan the religion

9 Dec

I didn’t call people to tell them I’d gone vegan. I didn’t make it my Facebook status. But it seems like one of the ways that people tend to socialize is over food. So before long they either figure it out, or you kind of need to let them know you’d rather go someplace other than Sizzler.

And as I went through that process of people finding out about this change, and me taking in their wide range of reactions to it, more than one person (two) told me that I had “found religion.” And they didn’t mean it as a compliment.

Of course I understood what they meant right away, and I’m pretty sure I could even see it from their perspective: I’d suddenly decided to change my life, to do something because of a newfound belief, and to accept certain limitations on my behavior and make certain sacrifices as a result. In other words, I went off the deep end.

I also imagine that, like someone who just found religion, they thought I was acting morally superior and as if I had “seen the light.” And if they did think that, they weren’t wrong. But I tried – and try – very hard not to act that way, not to criticize, not to proselytize, and not to even talk about it. Unless I’m asked. And people don’t ask. (Unless it’s with the hope of getting the answer: “I did it for health reasons.” Because if you did it for the chickens, they do not want to know.)

But even if I am guilty of feeling superior to non-vegans on this issue, isn’t the bigger issue that I’m morally superior to pre-vegan me of almost half a hundred years? And what does that say about the kind of person I am that I managed to ignore the “open secret” of what’s being done to these animals? It speaks poorly of me that I repressed what I knew for so long and didn’t make the effort to find out more until so much of my life had gone by.

Oh crap, does that mean I feel guilty? That I feel like I was a sinner before? Religion again! (I actually don’t believe in the concept of sin, which feels like it’s imposed from without, though I do still believe there can be right and wrong, which I delude myself into thinking comes from common sense and a John Stuart Mill-type perspective, not from “without.”)

This is John Stuart Mill. (His real name was John Stuart Leibowitz Mill.)

Also like religion, people think that I must have felt “lost” to go and do something like this. Had I gone and joined a cult, I doubt their reaction would be all that different. And if it were a meat-eating cult, they might mind the change less. To them, I’m now the friend that does this odd – and inconvenient – thing.

Most people I know don’t want rules in their life, whether it’s religious rules, or rules about what to eat. They don’t want limitations. People will often offer me an item of food and ask, “Can you eat this?” If it’s not vegan, my answer is always, “I can, but I don’t want to.” Is that how religious people think, too? I don’t know, not being religious, but I’d guess they’re more likely to think that they “can’t” have this or that, especially if they were raised since childhood with those rules and taught that it’s the only acceptable way to act. (And maybe for those reasons they don’t “want” it either.)

But once you accept rules, you step out of the rule-free world, and in that sense it’s again similar to religion. Because once you start to put limitations on yourself, you see that you can take this idea of limitation as far as you want. Some people eat honey and call themselves vegan, some wear leather and call themselves vegan. I don’t do either but others go further than I do. No refined sugar, let’s say. And I bet some vegans don’t think vegans like me who eat refined sugar are vegans at all. Not to mention the vegans concerned about isinglass who think that if you don’t check your vino you’re VINO.

Now it really sounds like religion, with the more-observant people feeling they’re more Christian/Muslim/Jewish/Buddhist/Hindu/Vegan than the less-observant ones, or that they’re a REAL Christian/Muslim/Jewish/Buddhist/Hindu/Vegan while the others are merely pretenders. In this way, vegans can feel morally superior not only to meat eaters, not only to vegetarians, but even to other kinds of vegans who don’t go as far as they do.

The honey thing is a good example. Are the bees being tortured? Mistreated? Exploited? Like I said, I don’t use honey — but do I equate what happens to the bees to what happens to a calf in a veal create? I do not. But I avoid using it so that I can feel I’m vegan. So that I don’t have to worry about challenges to my vegan authenticity. And also to be sure that this isn’t in fact a hardship on the bees. Not to mention that it adds to the statement that I’m against the exploitation of all living non-plant things. (I’m also against the exploitation of plants, but hey, a guy’s gotta eat!) And this is where, for me, veganism gets closest to religion, as it starts to deal with adherence to what “the group” says is vegan and to observing enough of the tenets to feel like I’m a vegan or a good vegan or can properly use the label vegan for myself when I see fit.

And it also becomes like religion simply by giving its adherents a name: Vegans. Why can’t we just do what we do without a name? Why can’t we just say, “Yeah, I don’t eat animal products.” Or, “I eat only eat plant-based foods”? The answer is because there’s strength in numbers, and in terms, and on some level we like being part of a group, and feeling like we’re participating in a movement. We like the feeling it gives us when we say to someone, “I am vegan.”

And some vegans take it even further. They’ve adopted a symbol: The V in a circle. Hey, if it works for you, great, but to me it just makes it even more like a religion. But who am I to criticize, since I’m known to wear a T-shirt from time to time with a band or a brand that I like on the front. So let people have their Circle V. (And wouldn’t that be a great name for a vegan convenience store? If you open one, I get a discount!)

I'm not thinking that people who use this symbol are treating veganism like a religion as much as I'm thinking that all this text needs to be broken up by some art.

So now that I’ve told you all the ways that veganism is like a religion, I just want to say that to me it’s not like a religion at all, any more than opposing abortion is a religion to a right-to-life atheist or supporting gay marriage is to a secular humanist.

And I wish that some of these people who think I’ve found religion would think about it a little more closely for a minute. There’s no meetings, like a religion. There’s no place of worship. There’s no hierarchical leader with authority over it. There’s no deity. There’s nobody I’m supposed to give money to.

I’m not seeking salvation in this. I’m not seeking answers. I don’t feel it will improve my karma or that some deity will think more highly of me as a result. But I guess I do now “believe” in something. I believe these animals are treated in a way that just about every human would say is wrong if they were watching it happen in front of them. And so I took an action that makes me feel like I opted out of it.

So yes, I’ve adopted a new belief. But adopting a new belief is no more adopting a new religion than adopting a new belief in atheism would be. (And I know some atheists who are so into atheism, who attend so many meetings and conventions and belong to so many groups that they’ve turned it into much more of a religion than veganism is, even though these are some of the people who are quickest to attack veganism as religion.)

But maybe it’s simply too late at this point to effectively argue that veganism is not like religion since I’ve just proved beyond a doubt that it shares something very basic with religion: pontification. So I’ll shut up.

An all-vegan grocery store! Near L.A.! (well, kinda near)

7 Dec

Viva La Vegan Grocery
9456 Roberds Street
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91701
909.941.4495

I have seen the future and it’s behind a 7-Eleven. Well, kinda behind. Kinda off to the side. Kinda just over th– no, you drove right past it!

Okay, the place isn’t easy to find, but find it you must. Because it’s an amazing feeling. And I’d been vegan less than a year the first time I stepped into this non-descript paradise so I can’t imagine how blown away you longtime veganers will be by it.

Are you like me? (I hope not for your sake.) Is your life filled with flipping over containers to find the ingredients list? Well, I started reading the label on the first thing that caught my eye in Viva La Vegan — a can of some kind of fake meat patties — and then it hit me: I don’t have to read the labels in here? I don’t have to read the labels in here! Then my brain did a doubletake. Aha, I knew I’d find a reason for concern. “Excuse me,” I called to the gentleman at the register, “Does anything in here have honey in it?”  “Nope, no honey. We’re honey-free.”

Cans. Vegan cans.

And then it struck me. (I get struck a lot.) This is what it must feel like to that Kosher guy from Sioux Falls the first time he walks into a Kosher supermarket in Brooklyn. (I’m pretty sure there’s a charity that sends Kosher guys from South Dakota to Brooklyn for the summer. Or maybe that should be guy singular.)

And I have to tell you: it is a liberating feeling. An entire store where you can buy anything you want without having to think about it. And it’s not just food — they’ve also got clothing, handbags, shoes, sundries and more. ALL VEGAN.

Shoes. Vegan shoes.

But I’ve been holding out on you. Because the best part is, over in their refrigerated area, they’ve got… THESE.  Fresh from the vegan capital of the world, Salt Lake City, it’s DILLOS!!!  What are Dillos? They’re fake Chocodiles. And they kill. Especially cold. Especially the all-chocolate ones called DingDillos. They rule our vegan planet, and show mercy on us humble subjects. They are two bucks a piece and worth every two bucks of it.

Paradise. Vegan paradise.

There’s also a bunch of other great stuff. All kinds of frozen items and fake meats and the kind of stuff you probably haven’t seen anywhere else. And did I mention that the people who work there are nice? (I know I didn’t yet, but I am now.) They’re nice!

And they are showing us what the future looks like.

P.S. — Why not make a road trip out of it and hit up Vince’s Spaghetti for lunch or dinner. They’ve got a “vegetarian marinara” and the spaghetti has no egg; I asked. But maybe Vince’s should be its own post. Yeah, I think so.

All vegan food contains feces, right?

5 Dec

Does that headline sound familiar? It’s from this blog post. That’s right, I’m quoting myself. I really am insufferable!

But I thought this was worthy of its own discussion, because I’m guessing it’s something many of you are familiar with. It goes something like this: (true story).

I was invited to someone’s house for Thanksgiving. My non-vegan host could not have been more gracious or considerate about my veganinity. She made a number of dishes I could eat and clearly told me what was con and sin animal. When I’d asked what I could bring, she said, “Well, someone else is making some pies for dessert, and I bet she uses eggs, so why don’t you bring a dessert you can eat?”

So I bought a beautiful vegan chocolate cake that I’d had before and that I knew just about everyone would enjoy because, unfortunately, I haven’t been vegan all that long and I still have a pretty good memory of what an animal-assisted chocolate cake tastes like.

My host took it out at dessert time and put it next to all the other desserts. People ooh’d and aah’d about its prospective yumminess. Then the host mentioned it was vegan and there might as well have been cartoon dust as people mentally ran away from this cake as fast as their neurons could take them.

I have no doubt, if they hadn’t been told it was vegan, they’d have eaten it and enjoyed it and probably even praised it. And it was a pretty big cake, so it’s not like they were thinking I needed it all for myself and they shouldn’t use up my special food while alternatives existed. Nope, they thought: must be gross.

I don’t know why I find this so frustrating, but I do. All it means to say something is “vegan,” basically, is that there’s no meat, eggs or dairy in it. And since nobody’s expecting meat in their chocolate cake, it means there’s no eggs or dairy in it. (And yes, I think most of the guests were aware of what vegan means.) So if the host had put out this cake and said, “This cake is made without eggs or dairy,” I’m guessing most people would have tried it and enjoyed it. Maybe they would have thought, “Gee, maybe someone’s allergic to one or both of those things so she announced it,” and then they would have shrugged, and cut off a slice and been happy.

But she said the V word. And I’m guessing, people’s thoughts were something like: “Maybe it’s made with tofu,” or “Ew, god knows what’s in that,” or “A chocolate cake made with kale and cauliflower? *shudder*”

Of course I’m being kind. Since these people thought no such thing. They simply accessed that part of their brain where they’ve stored this simple fact: All vegan food contains feces.

I feel pretty confident that if only Mr. Watson had called himself and his adherents “No meat, no eggs, no dairyans” that there would now be millions more of us. I mean, nobody feels like they absolutely must have those ingredients in every single thing they eat, right? Otherwise nobody besides us would ever eat hummus, or rye bread, or sorbet. Pretty much everyone is fine with eating foods that don’t have any meat or eggs or dairy once in a while, or even frequently, and they’re probably even some omnivore’s very favorite things in the world and they could eat them over and over and over.

But who wants to eat feces?

Babycakes LA… rchmont

4 Dec

Babycakes NYC
130 East 6th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90014
213.623.5555

At almost half a hundred years of age I should be better with change. Because it’s probably something you can learn to deal with over time, right? It’s not genetic, is it? Yet it often throws me.

Today I went to Babycakes downtown. What a nice drive I had, no traffic on the 5, over the 4th street bridge, okay I had to circle the block for a meter, and then okay the meter was $3.00 an hour (which doesn’t sound nearly as bad as the TWENTY-FIVE CENTS FOR FIVE MINUTES that it works out to) but still. Things were going well.

Then I opened the door to Babycakes. Was I in the wrong place? Did I step into something next door by mistake — you know, like the way I walked into the coffee house next to Scoops once and asked for some ice cream. (I’m scoopid like that.) But nope, I was in the right place, it was the world that had gone wrong.

Step through the door of Babycakes now and you are greeted by… another door. A drab, hastily erected in a hastily erected wall, door. And, it’s maybe ten feet from the front door. Huh?

See that sculpture on the wall of the birds or whatever? Now scroll to the first photo up top and you'll see those birds through the window.

A look to the left revealed a tiny counter, with a small display case of items. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?

As the friendly person behind the counter explained to me, “I just came into work one day and this wall was there.”  Turns out, Babycakes is opening up in Larchmont Village, which they’ve already tweeted about, and as a result they have more or less turned their charming, inviting, makes-you-feel-good-to-be-a-vegan location downtown into what now has all the warmth of a check-cashing joint.

Oh, and they’ve also chopped the hours. It’s now only open to 7pm, and 9 on the weekends, whereas they used to be open till 11 some nights!

Look, it’s a business, I get it. They decided they’d probably do better in Larchmont and so they’re turning their downtown spot into a baking operation with a tiny space for some retail sales. Or at least that’s my guess about what they’ve decided. There’s still one table for two inside, but seriously, you feel like you’re sitting at a table in the lobby of an industrial printing plant.  Ugh. (There’s also one table outside.)

The food, I should mention, is still really good. Doughnuts, toasties, crumb cakes — I serve these things to non-vegans and they love it and have no clue. Then they realize I’m eating it too and say, “This is vegan? Really?”  Because, you know, all vegan food contains feces, right?

I actually didn’t like Babycakes the first time I tried it, which was at the old M Cafe in Culver City. And I gave it a chance, too. Tried a few different things. Then one time I was downtown and decided to stop by their charming (I’m starting to cry again) shop. Holy crap, was it good! Maybe I didn’t try the right things at M Cafe, maybe it wasn’t as fresh, maybe M Cafe didn’t carry some of the stuff I was trying downtown, but man, it was all very good and some of it great.

Anyway, the food is still just as good. And I guess it’ll be nice to have them in Larchmont (also known as the most inconvenient part of the city to get to from my home) but if the momma store had to (almost) die to birth this baby, I’m not sure the doctors made the right decision.

Anyway, I was told they plan to open in Larchmont in the second half of December or early January. And I wish them the best, I really do. In fact, maybe they’ll do so well in Larchmont they can open a third location, and then a fourth, and then need a bigger bakery in a commercial space and reconstitute the downtown shop!

Yeah, and I suppose journalism will return to the world, too.

Jonathan Safran Foer

3 Dec

I mentioned in my very first post that two weeks into a tentative dabble with veganing, I read Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Eating Animals” book and that then there was no going back. (Note to aspiring writers: Do not use the words that, then and there in a row.)

There’s probably not much lamer in a blog than writing about a two-year-old book (and if there is, I’ll find it, you just wait) but after reading what I felt was a catty and vicious attack on Safran Foer by a leading vegan website, I wanted to defend him (like he needs me to come to his defense).

What makes this attack even more pathetic is that the attacker openly — and proudly — admits to never having read the book. But that doesn’t keep this ethicist from posting a photo of Safran Foer with a photoshopped pus mustache (pustache?) under the headline “got pus?”  (Though to the attacker’s credit, a “got milk” reference is pretty original and cool.)  What angers this critic is that Safran Foer is a vegetarian not a vegan, and the critic knows this because he’s read some reviews. In fact, the reviews are apparently enough to tell this critic all he needs to know about the book.

Well, I apologize for talking about a book that I actually did read, I know that’s so 20th century, but it seems pretty clear that this critic is simply jealous of Foer, and of the fact that this vegetarian has done far more to turn people vegan and alleviate animal suffering than this webmaster ever will. Yeah, I thought it was odd too that Safran Foer hasn’t actually come out and declared that based on what he now knows, he’s become vegan, but he does say that if you really want to do something to alleviate animal cruelty it’s better to give up eggs and dairy because those are the worst-treated animals. So it’s not like he’s saying that drinking milk is just swell.

Safran Foer also says he spent over a year researching this book. Keep in mind, he’s one of the country’s young literary stars, and he interrupted his fiction career to do this. That shows some dedication. And he also talks about how he snuck into a factory farm at night and broke into a building housing chickens. Has the critic ever done that? I won’t presume to know, since that would be presumptuous.

Can’t the argument be made that it’s more beneficial to animals to convince people to become vegan or vegetarian, than to spend your time bitching about people who convince people to become vegan or vegetarian? This critic needs to have a couple of stiff ones at his next Vegan Drinks event and then sit in the corner thinking about who’s done more to help animals. Maybe then he’ll take down that catty photo and feel at least a little embarrassed about having put it up in the first place.

Mr. Baguette

2 Dec

Mr. Baguette
8702 E. Valley Blvd
Rosemead, CA 91770
(626) 288-9166

How could I not try a place with a sign like that?

Okay, this is my first restaurant review. I am not looking to compete with people who are good at vegan restaurant reviews. Like this person. Nor am I looking to build a comprehensive resource. Like this person. I am simply trying to tell you about places you might not know about, even if you’re a vegan in LA. Like this person. So I’ll try to stick to out of the way places.

I went to Mr. Baguette today and had the “Veggie Ham” sandwich. It was $4.99 and pretty big. It comes on a plain baguette. And be sure to order it with no cheese and no mayo. (It comes with a “sweet soy sauce” that Jacques-blocks your “this baguette is too dry” complaints.) It also comes with tomatoes and lettuce (iceberg: leafy not shredded) and for something like 20 cents more you can get it on a sesame seed baguette.

I asked about the veggie ham and also the baguette and was told they didn’t contain any meat, dairy or eggs.

Who knew sesame seeds were so expensive?

As for the place, it’s non-descript.  I was there for over an hour and didn’t see them once bus a table. People either threw out their trash or the next customer threw it out when they needed a table. That’s not good, but otherwise the place was clean.

The sandwich was pretty good if not killer. The baguette itself was very good. Most of the time when you eat a sandwich, if you can remember eating meat like I can, you don’t even taste the meat, or at least not much. And the veggie ham tastes just fine. The most distinct taste is probably the sweet soy sauce, and of course the pretty great taste of that crunchy baguette.

Hamsome devil!

I also got a root beer. I usually don’t drink soda but they had Faygo root beer in cans. You don’t see that every day. Or just about any day. Actually, never before, for me, though I have seen it in bottles. Big thick bottles with seams. Or at least in my memory there were seams.

Oh, and maybe this goes without saying, but this is an omni joint. If you can call a place with one vegan choice an omni joint.

You know what I just did? I wrote about a sandwich. How odd.

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