Archive | May, 2012

Settling In

30 May

I’m a couple of weeks away from 21 months vegan and I feel like I’ve hit an equilibrium. I’m used to it. I’m not saying it was hard at first and then I gradually got accustomed to the change. Nope, it was surprisingly, I’d even say shockingly, easy from the beginning. I quickly found enough stuff that I liked to eat and then it became a matter of just filling it in at the edges. In fact, when this former meat lover recently walked into a Mexican restaurant, he was talking about himself in the third person. I mean, he smelled a few dozen strips of steak on the grill and almost gagged. Weird. I guess my body has made some changes, had some pathways re-wired perhaps.

I started this blog because when I stopped eating animal stuff my head was full of thoughts on the matter. I think I’ve now written about most of them. As a result, unintentionally, I see that I’ve been mostly writing about restaurants lately. Maybe this is useful to people in the greater Los Angeles area but is it interesting to those of you in other parts of America or around the world? Should I go back to my pseudo-philosophical essays? Should I keep it a mix of the two?

I also started putting some photos up on Instagram @insufferablevegan — different products I use, meals I cook, lunches I grab here and there that don’t warrant a full “review” or are from places I imagine you already know of and don’t need to read about at length. But I do get a little worried about food-porning it. Yeah this is good for the animals (I think and hope) but to start posting photos of glorious food for worship seems to be rubbing something in the face of people who can’t afford glorious food, whose lives don’t include the possibility of glorious food, who can’t even imagine that there are idiots out there using terms like glorious food, or who have no food at all (and presumably then no Internet).

I’m curious if other people felt a settling in at some point, if you started to feel that this is what you do now, whose friends started to all finally get it that this is what you do now and that it’s not a lark or a diet. And if so, at least for the people who have started this in the last year or two or three, do you think it’s about people getting used to it, or more about the vegan slow train coming? When I started this almost two years ago, when I met a certain supervegan and wasn’t even sure what the word meant, there probably wasn’t too much that could have been more alien to me than changing one of the basic activities of life. When I asked this person who had obviously thought through their connection to the planet way more than I ever had if they were “New Agey” I did it with zero awareness of  how I was the exact idiot who crosses my path every few months and asks me if I’m doing it “for spiritual reasons.”

But what feels most significant is that 21 months ago nobody was using the V word and now everyone seems to be and I think it’s for more than the way that when you learn a new word you suddenly start seeing it everywhere. I think there really is an eruption if not an explosion of vegan awareness, at least in what passes for educated, informed and aware society. There seems to be an interest level in the population that far exceeds the number of people who are actually vegan or vegetarian. People sit across the table from me chewing their chickens and telling me how they admire it or need to try it or are “getting there.”

I think this is a good sign. It’s probably a great sign. I’m old enough to remember when I told people that gays should be allowed to marry and they thought I was institution-worthy nuts. But as the older generations return to the earth and the pushmower of life brings up new ones, the attitudes have changed, and so with this too. (I’m comparing, not equating. Please don’t go ape-shit Mr. Animal Eater when I mention slavery, Nazis, suffrage or gulags. Please don’t ask me why I like animals better than humans. Does it really mean it’s open season on animal torture until the last starving child is fed?)

Thanks to everyone who’s been reading, following, commenting and retweeting.

Hopefully we’ll get to the point where a consensus is reached on the barbarism. And hopefully eating this way will let me live long enough to see it.

Changes Afoot at Yard House

29 May

You may remember a while back that a PR flack for Yard House made the boneheaded move of inviting Quarrygirl to come dine on some non-vegan items. The flack would up taking a lot of, um, yeah. Well, Yard House wasn’t too happy about that and is now getting the word out about some changes they’ve made to their menu resulting in a few new products that are actually vegan.

Someone I know got an email from them and forwarded it around. Maybe you’ve seen it already. Basically, they are trying out a new menu at two of their locations: Pasadena and Costa Mesa. The menu is now using a V for items that are vegetarian. There is no marking for vegan, or even use of the word. Apparently they are afraid to use the word for fear of lawsuits. How an item marked “vegan” that gets cross-contaminated with dairy or egg is any worse than an item marked “vegetarian” that gets contaminated with meat is beyond me. Maybe the truth is that Yard House is afraid to use the word vegan because they think it’ll turn off non-vegans or non-vegetarians who might try a Gardein item for a change of pace. Don’t know.

Either way, the important part is that there are now some vegan options at Yard House. The two main ones are the Gardein Chicken Rice Bowl and the Gardein Orange Peel Chicken. Previously we needed to stay away from anything battered at Yard House because all battered items had egg, but now they say they are using an eggless rice flour batter on all their Gardein items. There are also two salads that are vegan: the Summer Salad and the Citrus Soy Salad, plus two appetizers: the hummus and edamame.

It’s not a ton but it’s something, and as I’ve said to many a server: I don’t need a lot of options, I just need one.

The Vegan Pretzel Train

17 May

Golden Road Brewing
5410 West San Fernando Rd
Los Angeles, CA 90039
212.373.4677

Are you old enough to remember that show with the two sisters playing guitars and coaxing children to join them on the Vegan Pretzel Train? It’s somewhere there in the recesses of my memory. Maybe they weren’t sisters, just actresses. Maybe the train wasn’t vegan, just kind. Maybe it was all just a dream, about a dream.

And yet when I look at my smartphone there are photos. I see a big pretzel. I see vegan food. I see a veranda. I don’t see any girls barefootin along. I don’t see a train. But I know I saw a train. I still can hear the train. Where was I? What happened?

Best I can tell I went to a place that was in Los Angeles. It wasn’t exactly on San Fernando Road it was on West San Fernando Road, which ran parallel to San Fernando Road. And strange things can happen when we enter a parallel San Fernando Road. Like menus where almost half the selections are vegan. Like crowded places in the middle of nowheres that aren’t named Coachella and aren’t two hours away and aren’t muddy. Like restaurants that feel like Cancun if Cancun were 1978 and vegan was a world you could live in with a breeze blowing through. Like freshly brewed beer that tastes much much better than when those same beers come out of a can. And that train…

Someone, I don’t know who, must live walking distance from Golden Road Brewing. They might have to walk across the 5 to get there (I’m not advocating this) or they might have to live at the Gentlemen’s Club down the road (even worse) or they might be the night watchman with a company-provided apartment at the adjacent medical supply/ mechanical pencil/ granite countertop factory. And if they are able to walk there, and walk home, then I envy them, in my brain.

Golden Road is a brewery and brewpub and gastropub and other things that come from the ownership of Tony’s Darts Away and Mohawk Bend. I have been to Tony’s Darts Away. I have not been to Mohawk Bend yet. But neither is next to a train track yet alone a train track that is not trainless, so who cares?

Why do I feel like I am talking to myself because you’ve already heard as much as you needed to hear and are on your way to Golden Road?

If you are, get the pretzel. The pretzel. I never thought I would be advocating for a seven dollar pretzel. Not outside of hyperinflation and that’s a different hyperworld I hope to never be able to write about. Pretend it’s a car. Seven dollars is cheap for a car, right? You will like this pretzel as much. It’s big and warm. It comes with a mustard that to me is Chinese mustard. It’s got a small kick and it’s good with that pretzel. Since you’re already in seven dollars on a pretzel spend one more for the vegan pimento cheese to accompany it. A dollar to dip your pretzel into a goop that feels cheesey. A goop of an uncheesey color, a semi-cheesey texture, a who cares whether it’s cheesey taste. I’m dipping again, I’m eating the pretzel again, I’m watching the train go by…

There were so many choices. So many things for us to eat. I got the “Meatballs: Hold the Meat” “snack” “with tomato sauce served with spicy vegan cornbread.” That was tomato sauce? The cornbread was spicy? Those were vegan meatballs? They were round things. There was sauce. I ate cornbread. Good cornbread. I ate the round things that were firmer than any meatless meatballs I’m familiar with. I sopped them up in some kind of thick brown liquid heading toward solid.

I got the Fritter #2 too. “Wild Mushroom Risotto with Vegan Pimento Cheese” — the same vegan pimento cheese that comes with the pretzel, that I ate near the train. Maybe it’s a Southern thing. I did a little googling. I’d never heard of Pimento Cheese. I learned a bit about it. I ate a vegan version. I should have looked up “Fritter” too. I thought it was an omelette thing. But this is more a fishstick thing. Or a tater tot thing. A tater tot thumb stick thing. That I guess was made of mushrooms and risotto. That I dipped in the vegan pimento cheese. This all really happened. I’m looking back and thinking this all really happened.

I got the flight of beers. Four beers made on premises. Or at least next door. In the red building not the yellow one. They have bright buildings. They have five beers they make but one is not allowed on the flight. It is on the no-flight list. But you can have a sample. In a flight glass. It is close to flight size. It is pretty much a fifth for your flight. It is stout and good. As are the others. Two of which I’ve had in cans in words, but not in reality, not in reality with a pretzel next to a train.

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