Sunday, April 26, 2009

First dinner in the new apartment:

Take-out Indian from Seva, the place up the block from us that marks what's vegan on the menu. Yeah, we like that place. Bhindi masala (sauteed okra and tomatoes) with jasmine rice, vegetable samosa, vegetable pakora. Tap water from the two mugs we could dig up; shared the one fork we could find. Sat on the hardwood parquet floor of our dining room, on cushions of the couch that hadn't gotten moved here yet. A satisfying meal in the midst of a very long day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The trials and tribulations of waffles in the workplace.

So, tomorrow is Administrative Professionals Day - the politically correct version of the ever-popular Hallmark holiday Secretary's day. Hey, at least under this new all-encompassing definition I - the lowly "legal assistant" - am included. And apparently my office is celebrating this very important occasion with... a lunchtime waffle extravaganza!

It seems that we are to be awed by professional waffle showmen (did you know there was such a thing?) who will create gourmet waffle in showy demonstrations using giant waffle irons, and then embellish the gridded goodies with any number of toppings. You know - like butter, whipped cream, ice cream, hell, I dunno, fried eggs, bacon... sky's the limit! Of course, the toppings don't matter all, since I'm 99.87% sure that the batter itself will contain dairy products and eggs.

Alas, thus is the life of a vegan in a midtown office. And I suppose most any office that's not, say, the office of VegNews Magazine. Always there are delectable treats for the underlings in a half-hearted, halfassed attempt to try to keep us happy and quiet forgetful of our ridiculous workloads... unfortunately, rarely are these "treats" vegan-friendly - unless, of course, I baked or brought them. Which I do sometimes, but hey, I'm a busy girl.

Maybe I'll stop by Conference Room A and try to swipe a bowl of fruit? I'm freaking starving. It's obvious that when all my moving and trial insanity is over, I'm gonna have to go find me some awesome vegan waffles. I deserve it. Curly's maybe? Ahh, but come to think of it, my baby Jonathan makes a mean vegan waffle, like woah... and what better way to break in the new kitchen than with an awesome homemade waffle brunch?!

Oh, heaven help the man who shows me he's a good cook.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I got it!

Aarg, life is still crazy. I'm working like a madwoman, I'm trying to move, and the weather is downright schizophrenic (and has now taken a decidedly wet turn). But that's OK, because when it comes to finding happiness it's all about the little things. And speaking of little things...

I got my Vegan Samples bag today! And it is the awesomest thing ever!!! First of all, my cool lil' tote bag has a LION on it. Can you believe it? A freakin' lion! How awesome is that? So awesome. The awesomest, even.

OK, then there's the contents. There are so many wonderful smelling things in it that I could smell them before I'd even gotten the box open. Inside, there were an unbelievable number of goodies - in the form both of samples, and of various coupons and special offers to be redeemed when visiting shops on Etsy and elsewhere.

What did the samples consist of? Soaps, earrings, pins, a fancy flower hair clip, a cool cuff, a lovely sachet, a great puppydog postcard, a cool little crocheted thingamabobber... pulling it all out was like digging into the seemingly endless well of a fantastic Magician's hat. Each item elicited a new "ooh" or "aah" or "yummy!" or "pretty!". Who was I talking to? Umm... well, myself. Whatever, you do it too.

For the variety of surprises alone, the bag was so totally worth the price! I'm just sad we have to wait until August for Sample Bag Numero Dos to appear. But never fear, it's already in the works! If you want bag number one, there are still a few left, but you'd better snatch it up because they're going fast.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sample some veganity, wouldja?

I believe I've mentioned Vegan Samples to you before - a fellow Vegan Etsy team member has started a new enterprise whereby she collects wonderful little vegan tidbids, compiles them into these gorgeous funky handmade bags, and sells them off at a fair price to vegan-curious consumers. The goods enclosed cover a wide range of product types from a fairly large number of artisans, both from within and outside of the Etsy circles. And indeed, I am one of the many crafters whose goods are featured in said bags. For all that you'll get in the bag, the cost is low. Plus, 10% goes to an animal sanctuary! They're moving fast, so if you want one you should probably act now. Where to buy? Etsy of course! Me, I snagged mine this afternoon... sucka! :)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A great vegetarian event!... in New Orleans?

New Orleans is a city with a rich and deep rooted culture, much of which revolves around food. We've got po boy sandwiches - the classic is roast beef, followed closely by fried shrimp. And there is of course the muffuletta: an ENORMOUS deli meat sandwich on a round seed bun with a huge pile of olive salad and cheese on top. There's the crawfish etouffee, the shrimp remoulade, the andouille sausage. And then there are all the hodgepodge dishes, like seafood gumbo and jambalaya, which frequently feature shrimp, crawfish, chicken, sausage, or any combination thereof. Red beans and rice? Of course you've gotta cook it with sausage. (Don't you?) Dirty rice? Guess what makes it dirty? If you're not from the dirty dirty you'll never guess in a million years, so I'll just tell you that it's chicken liver.

Given this food environment, need I tell you that it's just a smidge difficult being vegetarian (or, god forbid, VEGAN) in the Crescent City? It can be done, to be sure, particularly with the plethora of Japanese, Middle Eastern, Thai, and Vietnamese restaurants that have opened there in the past 10 years. But it definitely flies in the face of the local cuisine - or, at least, so it would seem. There are many who may not believe that you can make a damn fine vegan gumbo - but it's true! And it must be tasted to believed. But since historically there have been no vegetarian restaurants in the whole city, most people never get the chance to find it out.

Well, all that may be changing. I've just discovered that there is now an all vegetarian restaurant in New Orleans! As cruel cruel fate would have it, Cafe Bamboo opened its doors THE DAY I LEFT THE CITY from my last visit. Ironic, no? But I'll hold no grudges, given the caveat that it stays open long enough for me to go and try it out! I, of course, hope that it stays open forever and is ridiculously prosperous.

It's right there at the bottom of Esplanade where it hits the river and Decatur / St. Peters, at the far southeastern edge of the Quarter... yes, it's at the Dragon's Den! (I'm not too clear on whether or not the Dragon's Den itself, as an establishment, still exists, so if someone could clear me up on that one I'd appreciate it. That place for me goes back to my earliest days in that city. Last I checked it was there, and had a goth night, called "The Den". But I digress.) Cafe Bamboo's menu seems to be somewhat similar to the fare offered by New York's dynamic duo, Red Bamboo and Vegetarian Paradise 2 (VP2 for short), both on the same block of West 4th Street down in NYUville. The similarity of the names and menus does make me ever so slightly suspicious that the same owners may have a hand in it, but that would be just fine with me. The menu does get these brownie points: they notate what isn't vegan! And it looks delish.

So not only does this place exist and everything, which seriously is a major feat, but it will also be playing host to the first annual NOLA Veggie Fest! Yes, that's right. You read correctly. Not only does The City that Care Forgot now have it's very own vegetarian restaurant, but now it's going to have a major event to promote the veg way. On Sunday, May 17, the good people of New Orleans will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in a vegetarian education extravaganza! When I heard about this event, I was at first elated and then immediately brokenhearted - there's no way I'll be able to attend. But I'll be there in spirit! And I'll also be nagging all of you about it until then! Woo!

Features of the event include:
*free food samples
*cooking demonstrations
*speakers
*music
*raffle prizes (a few of which will be donated by yours truly, and hopefully by some of the other members of the Vegan Etsy team)
*a free subscription to VegNews Magazine for the first 50 attendees!

Admission is a mere $5, and proceeds go to the Humane Society of Louisiana. See? Just by showing up you're already contributing to your community... and putting yourself in the way of prizes! It's really win-win. If you're in the N.O. area, I really hope you will make an appearance. What are you waiting for? Put it in your day planner (or slingshot) already! None of this pencil stuff neither - I want it in there in ink. Do or do not do, there is no try, dern it. Tell them I sent you - and then tell me all about it!

Friday, April 10, 2009

What a bunch of pigs.

Today's entry on Marion Nestle's blog struck me as so important that I am now going to reproduce the entire thing here. Says the brilliant Dr. Nestle:

My e-mail inbox is flooded with copies of an op-ed from today’s New York Times arguing that pigs running around outside have “higher rates” of Salmonella, toxoplasma, and, most alarming, trichina than pigs raised in factory farms. The writer, James McWilliams, is a prize-winning historian at Texas State San Marcos whose forthcoming book is about the dangers of the locavore movement to the future of food.

I put “higher rates” in quotation marks because that is not what the study measured. The study on which McWilliams based his op-ed is published in Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. The investigators actually measured “seropositivity” (antibodies) in the pigs’ blood. But the presence of antibodies does not necessarily mean that the animals - or their meat - are infected. It means that the free-range pigs were exposed to the organisms at some point and developed immunity to them. The industrial pigs were not exposed and did not develop immunity to these microorganisms. But you would never know that from reading the op-ed. How come?

Guess who paid for the study? The National Pork Board, of course.

The Center for a Livable Future at Johns Hopkins has much to say about all this. My point, as always, is that sponsored studies are invariably designed in ways that produce results favorable to the sponsor. In this case, the sponsor represents industrial pork producers.

People, this is an illustration of one of my mottoes: consider your sources!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Choco-a-go-go, you rock my bunny-lovin' world.

I did this little product writeup for the Vegan Etsy blog, and I thought I'd share it with you fine people as well. Enjoy!

* * *

Ahh, Easter time. For some a religious time, for many a celebration of the emergence of spring - and candy! Chock full of jellybeans, foil wrapped eggs and bunny rabbits, marshmallow peeps - in short, "treats" full of animal products! What's a vegan with a sweet tooth (like me) to do?

Lucky for me, I happened to stumble upon Choco-a-go-go's Big Peanut Butter Bun Bun. It was gorgeous, it was chocolate, it was bunny shaped, and best of all it was full of peanut butter! Could something so marvelously beautiful, so perfect, so vegan, have presented itself? I couldn't believe my eyes, but then on Etsy anything is possible. Naturally, I ordered two. (One for me and one for my partner Jonathan, of course.)

Well, my bunnies came less than a week after ordering - and long before the holiday for which they had been intended. My plan was to save these delectable hoppers for the big Sunday. That plan, I am sad to say, did not come to fruition. How could it, with those beautiful, delicious looking confections just begging to be sampled? And me, the queen of no willpower? The battle was lost before it was even begun.

I ate one. The chocolate was deep and rich, very dark - a decidedly mature taste, contrary to bunny-like form. The peanut butter? Sweet but not too sweet, ever so slightly crumbly - basically, perfect. Eureka! All the fun of Easters past, civilized for the ethical adult palette!

When Jonathan asked for his bunny, I had to theorize that it had hopped away all on its own.

I've ordered Choco-a-go-go's Springtime 'n Easter box for the big weekend - and I've instructed the shop's sweet owner not to ship until the last possible minute! That way it has a chance of survival. Waiting for it, I feel like a kid who knows she'll find an Easter basket brimming with plastic grass and joy. Now if I could just get my hands on some vegan jelly beans...

Sunday, April 05, 2009

So, how am I doing with this crazy juice thing?

I'll tell you, it's been a difficult week for body and soul. But not because of food. Because of work, and because we decided to rent a new apartment. Put a 55 hour work week together with the stress of breaking a lease and starting to pack, and you're bound to produce a certain amount of anxiety.

Tonight I'm all wound up. I should already be in bed, but the more I think about getting in bed the more anxious I become about going to work tomorrow. It's a crappy way to feel. But, then, not as crappy as, say, "laid off" must feel, so I suppose I should count my blessings.

As far as food goes, I didn't do too bad over the past week. Did I stick to my plan 100%? No. But I did alright. I ate a whole lot of food most days - partly because of the stress and partly because I'm just used to overeating, so that's something I really need to work on. I did manage to actually have juice for three of my five weekday meals - one carrot orange celery, one carrot celery beet, and one orange spinach celery. That last one was surprisingly tasty, and an amazingly vivid green color!

Of the two midday meals that ended up being something else, one was an awesome salad with mixed greens, smoked tofu, hearts of palm, and beets. The other was, well, um, a big ol' honkin bagel with tofu cream cheese. Both of those events were due to crazy work days during which I didn't stop and force myself to eat until like 3pm. And as far as the bagel goes, it's not totally off limits - after all, it did come from Ess-a-Bagel. Whole grain, freshly made from simple ingredients, and there were vegetables on it... OK, it's a stretch. But I could have done worse. And some days a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

I'm thinking the coming week will be better. I hope. I've got everything set for the week - muesli for the morning, yogurt for the 11am, raw nuts for the 5pm. I've just got to force myself to get out of the office 'round 1pm and get that juice. And, you know, to not get anything else.

I did weigh myself this morning - 174.8 down from last week's 176.8 Does it mean anything? Hard to say. It seems that I easily fluctuate 2 to 3 pounds daily. I'll be more interested to see if that "loss" is maintained or even increased next week.

In the category of really good news, my foot is definitely better. So if I ever get the time, I can think about doing some serious walking again. Also the weather is starting to act like real spring - warmer! Windy with frequent rain, but still, warmer! So here's hoping that I can add some physical activity into the mix soon.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

But, like, they're different words though.

So, there's this problem on Etsy involving the word "vegan". It's basically the fact that people are constantly (and I mean constantly) tagging items as vegan that, um, aren't. Now, honey is one thing, and we could get into that debate all day and night, but I really don't feel like it and it doesn't pertain (all that much) to what I'm about to share.

Let's talk about tonight's experience, shall we? I was having a slow evening, avoiding packing, and was doing a lil' Etsy window shopping, as I like to do. And I did a search for the "vegan" tag. As usual, a billion soaps came up. But one in particular caught my eye - because it was called "Buttermilk and Honey". Intrigued - thinking that perhaps it was actually a vegan soap that was scented to smell like these obviously animal-derived components - I investigated the items. Sure enough, the soap features real buttermilk and real honey.

Now, honestly honey I'll let slide. For people who aren't vegan it doesn't even occur to them that it might be a problem. (Although, if you're selling a product and you're going to use that kind of tag, I personally think you should look more closely into the meaning of the word before using it, but anyway.) But buttermilk? Come on now. Anyone who even has a vague notion of what vegan means should be able to realize that buttermilk ain't it.

So I did something that I don't often do - I sent a "convo" (what they call a message on Etsy - don't ask me why) to the shop owner about the soap. I did my best not to come off as a self-righteous bitch. It went like this:
Hello. I'm really not trying to be a jerk here, but I'm wondering why you've tagged this item "vegan"? Vegan means that something contains no animal products, and this item clearly features both buttermilk and honey. While the honey point is often debated, there's really no budging on something like buttermilk. Perhaps the tag was accidental?
See? I really tried, to give her the benefit of the doubt, even. I don't like getting all "vegan police" on people. But I just take issue with something that's really false advertising, and, by another term, a bald faced lie. I got a response back rather quickly. It said the following (and please note that this was copied and pasted directly, poor grammar and all):
No, it wasnt accidental. And your right. Some people I know that are vegans still drink and eat dairy items, and some do not. As well as with the honey.

This is where the consumer would make the decision if they would like to purchase the item. All the oils in the soap is in fact vegetable. Some people are partial vegans and some are not. But this is noted to let people know that it contains no Lard, or Tallow.

Thank you for your concern
Ohhhhkayyyy.... so what you're saying here is that you're tagging it vegan because it's vegetarian. Sure, that makes sense. As much sense as tagging something "kosher" because it's not made of bacon.

I could write her back. I could argue the point with her, explain to her why she is obviously and blatantly wrong, merely making a fool of herself, and begging to be chewed out by any actual vegan who stumbles upon her product. But would it do any good? No, probably not. She knows what she knows, and she obviously doesn't want to hear any different from the likes of me. After all, she knows vegans who still eat dairy products! As she said, "Some people are partial vegans". Because, you know, they're definitely actually vegan and not just people who are completely misusing a well defined term.

*Sigh.*

Dear readers, I don't give a damn if you're vegan, vegetarian, or omni. I believe that everyone should be conscious of how his or her food and other purchases impact health, environment, society, and other creatures - once that's addressed the path can be different for each person. We all know where it's taken me, but I'm not going to sit here and tell you that my way is the only way. BUT. If you eat milk and eggs you're not vegan, you're vegetarian. And if you eat seafood or chicken, you're not vegetarian at all - pescitarian if anything.

Words have definitions. If you're not sure which one applies to you, you can look them up on wikipedia. And if you can't use the proper word for the diet you've chosen (or for the ingredients in your products), maybe you need to consider whether or not you're actually comfortable with the choices you're making? Just a little something to ponder.

Friday, April 03, 2009

YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS.

We vegans, in general, love animals. Of course, my man will argue that we just really hate vegetables, but I don't think that's it at all. I'm going with the liking animals thing. And when this guy is out there, is it any wonder that we're fascinated - sometimes to the point of reverence?



I think not.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The ingredients in girl scout cookies.

Samoas, to be specific.
Sugar, vegetable oil (palm, partially hydrogenated palm kernel, soybean and/or cottonseed with TBHQ to preserve freshness), enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate [vitamin B1], riboflavin [vitamin B2], folic acid), corn syrup, coconut, sweetened condensed milk (condensed milk, sugar), sorbitol, contains two percent or less of cocoa, glycerin, invert sugar, cocoa processed with alkali, cornstarch, salt, caramelized sugar, dextrose, soy lecithin, natural and artificial flavor, carrageenan, leavening (baking soda, monocalcium phosphate).
Interesting, I think, that while they contain partially hydrogenated oils they list the trans-fat content as 0. I actually have the low-down on this: they made the cookies smaller and reduced the serving size so that they no longer had to list the trans-fat content, rather than actually eliminating it. Also interesting that I count no less than six ingredients that are actually sugar... and that sugar is more prominent than flour in these cookies.

The side of this box of cookies states that "Girl Scouts of the USA is the premier leadership development organization for girls where young women discovery their potential, conenct with others, and take action in their communities and the world." Really? What, exactly, are they learning by being asked to sell overpriced, overprocessed junk food to a population already plagued with health problems caused by poor eating habits and and a food supply that is increacingly divergent from food in its natural state?

Does it anger anyone else that a group whose intention is to benefit children has little girls peddling this crap? Yes, they taste good. But so do cookies with real, pronouncable ingredients instead of space-age chemicals. Hell, so does fruit. There must be some other way to raise funds for this, such a "premier leadership development organization". Can't they be just a lil bit more innovative? I think they can.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A food log for Tuesday.

Don't you want to know exactly what I eat in a day? Sure you do. As an example, we'll use yesterday. Ready? Here we go.

*7:15 - 7:30 am - muesli soaked overnight in almond milk; home brewed chai

*10:30 am - Whole Soy & Co. Vanilla Yogurt, 6 oz.

*1:00 pm - 24 ounces of carrot-beet-celery happiness. such a pretty color!

*3:00 pm - an orange

*5:00 pm - 1/4 cup raw almonds

*6:15 pm - an organic pear - good!

*7:45 pm - "crab"cakes made by Sunnen foods

*8:15 pm - chickpea salad

*9:30 pm - mug of warm almond milk with a tiny spoon of turbinado sugar in it, to calm my nerves... I was working from home. :(

So, yeah, I ate all day long. I'm very hungry right now, still trying to make this transition, so I'm spreading out the meals. Each time I ate was under 300 calories - and sometimes well under! (Good thing too, or I woulda had like over 3000 calories yesterday.) Like, the chickpea salad was 280, but the orange is only about 80. And the almond milk is like 50.

As my friend Rosieanna says, baby steps. I'm transitioning to eating less, but at least the majority of what I'm eating is real, good food. One day I really have to take a camera to the grocery store to demonstrate what a ridiculously portion of their wares falls into that category.

*Sigh.*

Anyway, off to work! A long day lies ahead.

Oh, and happy April!