Thanksgiving is one of the more… interesting… holidays to celebrate as a vegan. Most folks who aren’t vegetarian consider it a great day to joke about cartoon-like turkeys running around to avoid their execution (it’s even called turkey day by many), while simultaneously feasting on turkey, pig, chicken, steer, and nearly any other animal they’ve ever considered edible. As long as I’ve been a vegetarian, I’ve considered it one of the more tragic, blindly ignorant ironies of modern America.

Like many previous years, I took the trek back “home” to see some folks I call family. I also found something of a surprise this year. Pasta salad with enough veggies to be an entree. Scalloped potatoes. Curried fruit. Hummus and pita. A cold veggie tray. All vegan. Also, there was turkey, stuffing, and gravy for everyone other than myself. I didn’t cook anything.


Monday ~ November 27, 2006 by b

Posted in dining,veg | 6,333 Comments |

fatty liver

Chicago is banning foie gras and the snooty masses are up in arms. Freedom has been violated! The slippery slope is nigh! ahem.

I’m not really impressed. Actually, I became a vegetarian because of a Chicago deep-dish pizza with meat. Foie gras is one of those things that make me wonder exactly what limits people stop at when it comes to “mmm taste good”. What about Hannibal Lector’s notorious claims about the taste of human brains?

My favorite part is this:

Sounding more like politicians talking about the Middle East than a piece of meat, enthusiasts voice their concern that foie gras won’t be the last tasty treat to make its way from menu to city ordinance.

Will veal be next? Lobster? And what about that fur coat in the closet?

“Now it becomes a political issue and it becomes a constitutional thing,” said Rick Tramonto, the chef and owner of Tru. “My biggest concern is where it will stop.”

A constitutional thing. Exactly how the hell does a city’s decision to pass an animal cruelty law impinge upon constitutionally protected individual rights? Given the number of city ordinances regarding animal cruelty, such an ordinance doesn’t seem out of step with reality or current interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. Enforcing a law also means passing the laws and ordinances and policies that back it up in related areas. For example, stopping animal cruelty by making not just animal cruelty illegal, but also make knowingly aiding and abetting in animal cruelty illegal as well.

In case you’re interested in reading the video evidence (uh, that was fair warning), Try, or

If you’re compelled by more clinical and statistical evidence, consider that force-feeding geese with a pipe down the throat is actually intended to cause the liver disease hepatic lipidosis. Some people opine that’s a Bad Thing [tm]. Some people say it tastes good, so it’s ok to eat. Just ask Mr. Lector.

Wednesday ~ August 16, 2006 by b

Posted in dining,veg | 6,131 Comments |

mmm, toasted

A few weeks ago I had a non-vegan sandwich. Actually I didn’t eat it, and I’m not sure whether anyone else did. The sandwich shop where I very regularly grab lunch (it’s nearly within walking distance of my job) gave me the wrong thing. OK, to start off with, I should say the person ultimately at fault is fairly friendly, and I fully think he made a mistake on a slightly off day, and also that everyone has done the same and possibly worse. We were chatting about something else when I walked up, and he’d already taken the bread out and started making my sandwich. He has joked before that if they were allowed to have a “manager’s special” or add something to the menu, this might go up and be named after me. It’s just medium white bread sub, all the veggies in the store, and none of the cheese/egg/meat. One of the other guys who works there is veggie and his SO is vegan. He’s pointed out to me which stuff is vegan, and what’s in if not… something that’s often enough a pain at restaurants. We were actually chatting about AR while Guy Who Made Mistake was making my usual. I didn’t need to tell him how to make, he’s made it without my assistance many times and has even bragged that he can remember the orders for regulars. It comes out and he even passes along the order verbally to the cashier, who I’m still talking to about who’s speaking next. Hands over the sandwich, which may have even been free because of my frequent flyer card. A few minutes later at my desk, I open the bag to discover my regular vegan sammich was dripping in cheese.

OK, to someone who hasn’t eaten cheese in more than 3-4 years, a bubbling white/yellow oily substance on food does not immediately resemble dinner. It looks like something I’ll try if I verify it first, but I’m adventurous about (once more, with feeling) vegan food. Shortly thereafter, I return aforementioned munition back to the dealership for refund or exchange. Naturally, they did. It may have helped that the restaurant still had some people in it, and I was wearing a t-shirt that said “vegan” in large block letters.

Saturday ~ July 8, 2006 by blog

Posted in dining | 2,392 Comments |

photographic adventuring in food

lentil pastichioThe lentil pastichio is yet another recipe from Vegan Cooking for Everyone, a book I highly recommend for people who have some experience in the kitchen and want ideas for vegan cooking. It makes a lot, as in about as much as a full-sized lasagna pan, roughly as deep as possible. The white sauce (flour, soymilk, vegan parm) is a bit tricky. It’s got the right taste, but not dissolved as much as I’d like. Some margarine might have helped a little with the texture and sweetness. The color was a dark red, so I might mix in some red lentils with the brown the next time. I think the idea was to closely match the color of the lentils to ground beef, and I really don’t care if my vegetables look bloody. But it’s really good stuff, I had about 4 spatula-width squares, or a little more than 1/3 of a square casserole dish. It passes the “keep this” test, even with suggested refinements.

Monday ~ May 29, 2006 by blog

Posted in dining,photo,veg | 3,573 Comments |


New pictures of food and Lake Johnson are up.

The shots of Lake Johnson in Raleigh are from a short hike around the park. The lake is actually inside Raleigh, so it borders several different main thoroughfares. There’s one trail that’s paved with asphalt for folks who drive their SUV to the park, and also another trail around the lake that’s really a traditional dirt trail. A few paths cut between the two trails at regular intervals, and there is no dirt trail along some portions.

The new food porn is stir-fry, actually lo mein. Because most restaurants the serve lo mein in my area also serve it doused in oyster sauce, I haven’t had too much since I seriously began eating vegetarian food. I have no idea why chefs like the hint of sea-floor slime with the sand helpfully removed in their pasta. Fortunately my pad comes with a stovetop, and I have a wok. Yes, this dish really requires a medium-sized wok. It also serves 14. Unless you’re me, with my taste for pasta and asian food, and then it serves me 3 times. The pictures don’t do the dish justice.

Tuesday ~ May 23, 2006 by blog

Posted in dining,veg | 6,538 Comments |

subversive food

So, what’s a vegan do when hungry and in the mood to play with cooking utinsels? Glad that you asked. Have a look at my latest food pics.

The Dill Potato Soup is the only one that I created, both the Szechwan Tofu and Garbanzo Stroganoff are recipes from a book, relatively unmodified. Although like I said, the Szechwan should have tofu that’s fried for something like 60 seconds after it hits room temp. The only tofu available to me at the time had previously been frozen, which totally changes the texture. Next time, I’ll know what to do.

really really simple Dill Potato Soup:

12 baby potatoes (approx)
1 cup string beans
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dill
3 cups water (approx)
medium pot

Scrub the potatoes, and leave the skins on. Cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces, between 2 and 4 depending upon the size of the potatoes. Potatoes go in the pot.

Add water to cover the potatoes by roughly 1/2 inch, turn the heat up to start the water boiling. When it’s boiling, turn the heat back to a low simmer. Cover the pot, and set a timer for an hour.

Yes, really an hour. Check on the potatoes to ensure they’re not boiling over (you’d see foam), and stir them to keep the sticking to a minimum. The water will slowly get a little starchy.

After an hour, add the beans and the salt. Return to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmering. Cover again and set a timer for 15 minutes. Stir the mixture occasionally.

After the timer goes off, stir in the dill, and return to a low simmer. Set a timer for 15 minutes, after which you can finally eat.

OK, that must be the simplest recipe I’ve made since I last had spaghetti. But it reheats well, and it’s nigh impossible to screw up. Basically, it’s just a good excuse to have a couple of bowls of soup and fill the house with a good smell.

Thursday ~ May 18, 2006 by blog

Posted in dining,veg | 6,845 Comments |

why be vegetarian?

Yes, I really mean vegetarian rather than vegan. I’ve been a vegetarian for basically 13 years, and have held various opinions of reasons, from simple to complex. There’s one basic tenet that holds the most meaning:

Being a vegetarian is the most effective way for a single human to reduce animal suffering.

Animals with at least as much personality and intelligence as the average domestic dog, are raised for meat eaten by humans. Along the way, those animals are subject to overcrowding, antibiotics simply to keep them alive in severe conditions, hormones to make them grow to bone-breaking weight, mental and physical stress-related illness, infections, abuse from other animals caused by lack of natural social order, restrictions on their instincts about how to live, and a gruesome fearful death at a young age. They are raised in that manner, and at a staggering volume, simply to unnecessarily satisfy human taste at the dinner table for a few minutes. Industrialized farming is entirely profit-driven, and its size varies exactly with the potential market. So reducing the demand for meat reduces the number of animals subject to the treatment of industrial agriculture.

Also, animal agriculture consumes a stream of resources, including water, gasoline, food crops, electricity, and real estate. The amount of those resources required to produce 100 calories of meat is many times the amount required to produce 100 calories of plant-based food. That impact is felt around the world, as people in other places suffer from lack of the same resources.

We push out the images of how animals are raised, or weakly give justification for what’s happening at the slightest provocation. But the fact remains that no one – not even me – wants to face what’s happening with a fork in hand. We hide behind distance, and tuck the images and sounds and smells far out of the way. For the simple reason that it’s cruel and barbaric, and it doesn’t serve a goal that we consider commendable.

Monday ~ March 20, 2006 by blog

Posted in dining,veg | 5,308 Comments |

more groceries

this weekend’s shopping:

white onions
green onions
fruit juice (grape, cranberry/apple)
soy milk (refrigerated and room temp)
frozen dinner (enchilada, beans, and rice)
salsa & tortilla chips
rice cakes
dehydrated vegetable mix (corn, peas, tomatoes, bell peppers – really tasty snack food)
chocolate brownie almond soy ice cream

Sunday ~ March 12, 2006 by blog

Posted in dining,veg | 6,720 Comments |

meatless felines

I ran across the other day, a site purveying meatless food for cats (and dogs).

My first thought was “but they like meat”. Yes, felines are omnivores, heavy on the meat. However, undomesticated cats hunt live prey in the wild, with a side of green salad, not dried kibbles of ground meat served in a plastic dish. Free-roaming cats are also function in dynamic ecosystems as population control, choosing the more sickly animals of a herd for dinner. Indoor housecats are nearly entirely dependent upon their human companions, with “hunting” activities intentionally removed from their daily diet. They no more depend on hunting for food than humans depend on hunting for clothing. In fact, they don’t express a strong choice in the matter beyond possible complaints about freshness. Housecats simply do not kill their dinner on a regular basis, nor perform functions potentially neccessary for the health of an ecosystem.

So, the difference between a conglomeration of ingredients based mostly on other animals and a similar food with a collection of ingredients based entirely on plants isn’t much. Provided the food source provides sufficient nutrients, it’s basically the human companion’s choice of which color of bag to buy at our sacred hunting ground / grocery store.

I would actually try this stuff out, if my own cats weren’t tied to very particular diets. One of my guys needs to put on weight like a sumo wrestler, and I buy exactly what he eats most (in terms of reasonable fat-based calories). He’s also likely to get a common mid-life medical procedure that might change what he needs should eat to maintain health. I also watch for a recurrence of his his long-past urinary tract infections, a problem in male cats who eat mainstream cat food with added “fillers” such as soda ash. It turns out that vegan cat food can also trigger a UTI, at least if the added pH-balancing supplements aren’t used. The other cat is both a picky eater and prone to allergic reactions to protein (no chicken or beef for him), so I buy his restricted-diet food at the vet’s office. I’m on a first-name basis with nearly everyone at my vet clinic, to the point that I haven’t given my name to look up records in several months.

I still might buy some of the vegan cat food for the little dude with food allergies, though. He eats tofu and edamame like it was steak. Stir-fry some with pungent herbs, and both cats wait in the kitchen like I’m cooking their dinner and not my own. Yes, my vets actually have stated that I’m not harming them – soy is basically hypoallergenic, and it’s definitely not a problem as a treat.

Wednesday ~ March 8, 2006 by blog

Posted in cat,dining,veg | 3,624 Comments |

vegan Thanksgiving

I spent Thanksgiving weekend on the road and eating with my family, after a little concern about the the dining possibilities. As usual, I found some things to eat, but I hit the road on a full stomach. Here’s the list, in case anyone needs ideas for vegan dining with relatives that aren’t familiar with vegan habits:

I’m certain that I’m forgetting some things, but that’s a good start. It’s certainly not impossible, and barely requires additional effort, to have a vegan thanksgiving without an inordinate amount of forethought.

Sunday ~ November 27, 2005 by blog

Posted in dining,veg | 2,611 Comments |

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