Subversion through Puppies: Resolution #2

High school was the only time I’ve ever cared about football.  And I only cared because I was in the marching band.  Yet, despite sitting in the stand for four yeas, the only thing I ever figured out about the game was that if the ball went across the line or through the big posts then I had to play the fight song.

Now I’m in college, my own academic lala-land, and football isn’t exactly on my radar (my college is tiny and our football team isn’t the greatest).  Yet, despite living under a rock when it comes to sports, I couldn’t escape the hoopla surrounding the Super Bowl.  As you may guess by my use of the word “hoopla”, I viewed all the commotion surrounding the big game with the soul of a grumpy old man who is real tired of all these youngsters and their shenanigans.

I’ve never had anything explicitly against football or all the fanfare that goes with it.  But for some reason, these past few weeks I’ve been hyper-aware of just how irksome I find the whole spectacle.  Specifically, I take issue with the pervasive violence in football culture.  From the actual violence of the game, to the animals who are violently killed to feed spectators,  the whole thing just became too much for me.

So, in my own way, I decided to resist the culture of violence, and had a celebration of my own on game day.  And, in my mind, logically cute puppies are the best way to show resistance to a game that celebrates violent masculinity.

Puppy Bowl Party

Yes, the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet was my chosen form of protest this past Sunday.  Instead of tuning in to watch people hitting each other and commercials celebrating the consumption of animal carcasses, I watched puppies frolic.  I disregarded all the articles and blog posts claiming that chicken wings are a must for a Super Bowl party, and instead made a Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Cheesecake (vegan or course), and served chips and hummus.  So,  while most of America was cheering on Beyonce (in her python and iguana skin outfit, I might add) my guests and I stuffed our faces while watching puppies being fowled for “excessive cuteness”.

This leads me to my second resolution of the year: participate in my existing communities, and create new communities.

Because, at the end of the day, events like the Super Bowl and the Puppy Bowl are about one thing: bringing people together.  So I resolve to participate more, so that I can enjoy all the wonderful, talented people around me and learn from them.

And also because when you get together with other people, they show you youtube videos of cute puppies that you’ve never seen before; and who doesn’t want that? ;)

 

 

Want to read more about the Puppy Bowl?  Here’s a great article about the making-of!

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Resolutions and Recipes

Happy New Year!

I could make all sorts of excuses about why I haven’t posted in so long, but I’ll just skip all that and say that this year I’m going to be a better blogger.  That’s resolution #1.  I’ll be talking about my other resolutions in some upcoming posts.

Anyway, I hope you all had a fantastic holiday season, full of delicious vegan foodie goodness.

However, I know it’s often difficult for vegans around the holidays because so much of holiday tradition is tied to food.  There’s turkey at Thanksgiving, coupled with gravy, and then an assortment of meat dishes associated with Christmas, not to mention Christmas cookies full of butter and eggs.

But this year, my family started some new holiday traditions, this being my first year as a vegan, and my brother as a vegetarian.

I know that the holidays are over, and every other vegan blog already has a post on holiday food, but here are some recipes my vegan-vegetarian-carnivore family found palatable this holiday season.

Thanksgiving Menu:

Pumpkin French Toast from the PPK:

You can’t get more delicious, or simple, than this.  My mom had some leftover pumpkin puree from her pumpkin pie, and luckily it was the perfect amount for this recipe.  You don’t have to make this the night before or let it sit forever like you do for a lot of French toast recipes, which made it perfect for a day when you’re already cooking a lot.

Tofurkey:

I had never had Tofurkey before!  Even though I’d had many Thanksgivings as a vegetarian, I’d never seen the giant Tofurkey Thanksgiving feast in a store before; possibly because I wasn’t looking for it…and maybe because none of the grocery stores in College Station carry it.  However, being the vegan mecca that it is, the Boise Co-op had the Tofurkey feast with all the trimmings.  With the main dish taken care, I went home to cook up some Southern sides for our feast.

Mac and Yease:

Mac and cheese is the quintessential comfort food, making it one of the foods vegans miss the most.  Luckily, I discovered this great recipe for mac and yease–a vegan version of mac and yease–that is, dare I say it, better than any other mac and cheese I’ve ever had.

Kale:

In an effort to incorporate some green into the feast, I settled on sauteed kale as an easy way to round out the meal.

Christmas Menu:

Cherry and Pistachio Rice Pudding:

We had a giant bag of pistachios from Costco in our cabinet that was just begging to be used.  So I found this recipe for rice pudding with cherries and pistachios using coconut milk.  It made for a flavorful Christmas breakfast that was filling and satisfying for my sweet tooth.

Christmas breakfast.  Rice pudding, mimosas....and ignore the bacon...that's my parent's.

Christmas breakfast. Rice pudding, mimosas….and ignore the bacon…that’s my parent’s.

Stuffed Acorn Squash:

Simply fantastic.  So easy to make, and I felt good because squash is a winter vegetable so I was able to buy it local!

Raw carrot cake:

I’ve been experimenting with more raw recipes in an attempt to eat more fruits and veggies, so I thought with I’d end the year right with a raw carrot cake.  I ended up not making the cashew frosting and opted for just sprinkling it with powdered sugar and a little agave syrup.  It was so simple to make, and so delicious that I found myself eating it for breakfast–but I didn’t feel guilty because it’s mostly carrots!

New Years Eve:

Just because we live in Idaho now doesn’t mean that we can’t be Southern.  So, my mom and I broke out our accents and whipped us up some good Southern fare to start off the new year.  And, because my mama loves me, she made vegan cornbread!

Cornbread, adapted from Betty Crocker:

  • 1 1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup soy yogurt
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 Tbsp. ground flax seeds, plus six Tbsp. of water to create an egg-y mixture

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Mix all ingredients; beat vigorously 30 seconds.  Pour into greased round layer pan, 9 x 1/2 inches, or square pan, 8x8x2 inches.  Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.  Serve warm.

Kale again…

And of course the obligatory black-eyed peas for good luck.

So there you have it.  My holiday season in food.  Which, let’s be honest, food is what the holidays are all about.

Time Travel and Animal Law

I’m really enjoying all of my classes this semester, but one stands out above the rest: Animals, Law, and Society.  Learning about the laws pertaining to animals, and how they came about, and perhaps how they should change, is both interesting and depressing.  Interesting because it gives me insight into how far we’ve come– from extending rights to African Americans, children, women, etc. and now the push for granting more rights to animals.  Depressing because I now understand just how poorly animals are protected under the laws in the United States.

For our first essay, the professor invited us to imagine we were looking back on the history of animal law from the year 2152– 150 years in the future.  Using what we had learned about how animal law has progressed thus far, she asked us to write about what we think might happen in the future.  Being an avid watcher of Doctor Who, I jumped at the chance to at least pretend I could time travel.  So, if you have ten minutes to kill, enjoy my quirky essay, about how I hope animal law changes in the next 150 years.

In the current year of this writing, 2152, animals are closer to gaining legal personhood under United States’ law than ever before.  The shift in attitude that made this expansion of animal rights possible can be traced to a series of events which began one-hundred-fifty years ago.

After the great 2013 outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, then commonly known as mad cow disease, the United States began to shift away from its previously cruel treatment of animals.  To ensure greater regulation of the meat business, abattoirs were forced to install all glass walls, as well as house FDA regulators on site.  Under the eye of a wary nation, confined factory farms faced major scrutiny.  The inhumane conditions in which both the animals lived and the human workers had to toil on these ‘farms’ struck the majority of the population of the United States as too cruel to be allowed to continue; thus Congress outlawed the mass production of livestock for human consumption on the basis that it was cruel and unusual punishment for all parties involved.

After the passage of this law, only small scale farms were allowed to produce meat, and soon production of feminized protein such as chicken eggs and milk was down-scaled as well.  Although production of animal protein continued, American had lost their appetites for it.  While the majority of people did not think that animals were their equals, they were beginning to agree that animals should not be made to suffer purely for human benefit; this attitude soon began to affect other facets of society.  Soon after the fall of factory farms, circuses, animal testing, and all other forms of animal exploitation began to cease as popular opinion turned against it.

However attitudes changes slowly, and it was not until 2098 that the United States made it illegal to cause any intentional harm to animals without the consent of a judge; although still regarded as property, animals were now given some protection.

The scope of this law required a clear defining of the term Animal.  It is hard to believe, but one-hundred years ago, there were multiple definitions of ‘animal’ across the United States, and few of them included invertebrates.  In 2098, the Supreme Court agreed on one definition, stating that an animal is defined as a sentient nonhuman being; defining sentient as: able to perceive; to have consciousness.  The Court used this wide sweeping definition in order to eliminate any grey area.  The reason for this was to head off any future legal battles about the rights of certain species.  The judges reasoned that humanity has a history of widening its moral circle; and so if all forms of animal life were not included in the definition today, then they would be eventually.  Thus, the justices chose to forgo years of legal battle making changes to the law, and simply went ahead and included all forms of sentient life.

‘Intentional harm’ was harder to define, however.  Most states currently rely on witness’ accounts to determine whether or not the perpetrator killed with ‘intent’ or was unconscious of their actions.  This has caused massive uproar and confusion because, among other things, it means that one cannot kill animals like insects or reptiles which have traditionally been looked down upon and feared by the majority of Americans; this is why the added caveat of intentionality was added—to ensure that accidental murder of animals like insects was not a prosecutable offense.  However, with the consent of a judge, some forms of killing are still allowed, such as the unintentional killing of insects and small mammals when tilling a farm, or the pollution of big businesses which kills millions of aquatic animals every year.

Animal law is still changing today, as people debate whether or not animals are property.  If animals are no longer property, then they will be entitled to the basic rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness under United States law.  This has lead to difficulty in some areas; particularly in regards to traditionally domestic animals, such as cats and dogs, which have become companions to humans over time and are accustomed to living in close quarters with us.  In order for animal companions to continue to live with us, the Supreme Court would have to rule that as long as these companion animals are able to pursue their happiness, it is acceptable to keep them within one’s domicile.  In this way, animals would be regarded in much the same light as children; if an animal is badly treated then it can be removed from the domicile of the person and placed within the care of the state.  Similarly, the adoption process for animals would be more stringent than it was one-hundred years ago in order to assure that the animal is being placed within a home where it will be able to pursue its rights.  While we cannot presume to suppose what is best for any one species of animals, and therefore cannot dictate in specific terms what each animal caretaker must specifically do to ensure that its companion has liberty and happiness, it is reasonable to suppose that this system will work; assuming that every person is able to use common sense to know whether or not their animal companion is happy.

However, just as it is difficult to judge the intent of humans, it is hard to decipher the will of animals.  As we saw in 2150 in the case of Fluffy v. The Smith Family, it was not easy to determine whether or not Fluffy was unhappy when she wandered away from home, or simply curious.  Is it denying Fluffy her basic liberty and pursuit of happiness to place her back with the family she otherwise seems happy with?  This is the issue that Animal law will face in the coming years.

Cookie Comparison

That age old dilemma– taste or convenience?

Sure it’s easy to grab a roll of cookie dough from the grocery store, but can you really beat the taste of fresh, homemade cookies?

Being vegan, you make a lot of things from scratch.  But when I found Eat Pastry vegan and gluten-free cookie dough, I had to try it.

I bought the peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough and eagerly followed the instructions to on the side of the tub to “devour”!

The dough itself was pretty good, but I was less impressed with the actual cookies.  There needed to be more chocolate chips in the cookies.  One chocolate chip per cookie does not a chocolate chip cookie make.

So if I buy it in the future it will be to eat the raw dough; I can make better cookies myself.

With that said, here’s a recipe I ‘veganized’ for easy, gluten free peanut butter cookies.  And you can put as many chocolate chips in them as you like!

  • 1 cup peanut butter (I like to use chunky; and if you use a kind with a lot of sugar in it– as opposed to a more natural brand– then you don’t need to use quite as much sugar.  That is, unless you like really sugary cookies)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Tbl. ground flax seed, plus 3 Tbl. water
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt

Mix the sugar and peanut butter together.  Then add the rest of the ingredients.

Roll into small balls (the cookies are a bit crumbly, so small works best) and place on a greased or parchment covered sheet.  For the authentic peanut butter cookie experience, make crosshatches with a fork on top of them.  Bake for 10 minutes.

And that’s it!  The easiest cookies in the world!

Next time I make these I’m going to experiment and use some banana or applesauce as the ‘egg’ instead of the flax seed.  I think it will make them a little moister.

Summer catch up

Hello dear readers,

Sorry for abandoning you all summer, but I have good reasons, I promise!

I hope you survived without my magnificent insights and ramblings.

After we finally made it to Boise things got a little hectic, as you might imagine.  Probably no one will be surprised to learn that the remodeling was running behind schedule and so we were forced to stay in a hotel.

This put a damper on things because I had been expecting to hit the ground running, whipping up amazing vegan meals using only ingredients from the farmer’s market and co-op.  However, this was not to be.  Maybe next summer I will have a chance to make every recipe in The Veganomicon?  And then they will make a movie about me, ala Julie and Julia!  Except without all the icky lobster killing.

Anyway when the remodeling was finally complete, I had left for my summer job.  The past two years (now three) I have spent two months of my summer in Alaska, working as a deckhand on a small ecotourism boat out of Glacier Bay National Park.  We (myself and four other crew members) take up to 12 passengers kayaking and hiking for six days up and down the bay.  I spend most of my time in the galley helping the chef prep food, or running around the boat doing general cleaning.  Occasionally I get to join in on the hikes and kayaks, taking pleasure in the pathless woods and a rapture in the lonely shore (Lord Byron’s words, not mine).

All the fresh air and salt spray was inspirational, however there is no cell service or internet connection for those six days; and thus, dear readers, the reason for my neglect.  On my day off I was able to get into town and connect to the internet for a few hours; but as might be expected in a rural town of four hundred, the internet is really. really. really. slow.

But, I shall make it up to you now by updating you in the next few posts about what I have learned this summer.

Here is my first new revelation:

You can be vegan anywhere.

Even on a boat, in the middle of nowhere, with groceries only arriving from Juneau every week.

The chef I worked with was so kind as to help me keep to my vegan diet by abandoning the practice of putting butter in  everything, and only using it on some things.  Not only did this make me happy, the rest of the crew was thankful as well, since they had been watching their waistlines grow over the weeks.

Luckily, as the galley slave, I was in charge of making the salads for every dinner, so I could at least make sure the salads were vegan.  Also, as you may have realized, I love to bake; so I made cookies every day for the after lunch snack, as well as occasionally make the dessert for dinner as well.  Even though not every dessert I made was vegan (ex: lemon pound cake, cheesecake, etc.) I was able to throw in the occasional vegan chocolate raspberry cookie or vegan flourless peanut butter cookie. I took pleasure in serving these to people, having them declare they were delicious, and telling them they were vegan.  I don’t know what I was expecting– people to spit them out?–but no one seemed surprised by this.  Perhaps it’s just the sort of clientele we get on the boat– people who are generally well traveled and pretty savvy–who have already been exposed to veganism.

Or perhaps it is a sign that the movement is gaining ground and that more people are open to the deliciousness of a plant-based diet?

Either way, it just goes to show that people are open, compassionate, and willing to try new things!  Perhaps humanity isn’t doomed after all?

I will try to keep these memories in mind as I watch the antics of the election season unfold.

Now for pictures of cute things I saw!!

I’M A FREAKING OTTER!

Three little birds…

Oh this? JUST WOLF PUPS FROLICKING!

 

Captain’s Log: Day 5

800 hours: Returned to the Peace Tree Juice Cafe to get a smoothie for breakfast.  The Desert Nectar smoothie, made of bananas, strawberries, soy milk, and ginger, was extremely refreshing, and a pleasant shade of pink.

1200 hours: Subway again.  Granted, we are driving through canyons with only tumbleweeds for company, so I suppose finding a Subway is pretty good.  I perked up at discovering some new Oreo products– Oreo creme cookies– which are basically Oreos covered in a light layer of fudgy goodness.  I got the peanut butter ones, which tasted pretty much exactly like Girl Scour Tagalong cookies– except deliciously vegan– and my mom tried the plain ones.

1600 hours: I had the good fortune of being able to meet up with one of my school friends in Salt Lake, where he lives.  And, because I am a dog pimp, I made him meet us at a dog park and bring his mini Australian shepherd, Mia, for a play date with Ianto.  Adorable antics ensued.  At first, like the Beauty and the Beast, they were unsure of each other; but then there was something there that wasn’t there before; and finally they were in puppy love.  It was good for Ianto to get some exercise after being cooped up in a car and hotel rooms for the past few days.

But, watching all that running and puppy energy made me tired and hungry.  Time to get some food we decided.

1900 hours: Gravy.  What a great invention.  Thank you to whoever invented gravy.  And an even greater thank you to whoever made the great vegan gravy I just consumed.

VegNews recently named Salt Lake City, Utah as one of the great up and coming centers of vegan food, so I had high hopes for the Vertical Diner.  I was not disappointed; in fact, I was ready to start searching real estate listings for an apartment nearby.

I sit here, my insides coated in gravy, and I couldn’t be happier.  While we waited for our food to be ready to go– we had to take it back to the room since my mom couldn’t come with us because the hotel had a ‘no pets left alone in the room’ policy–we slurped down a chocolate mint shake.  It was almost gone by the time our food was ready to go, and we seriously considered getting another one, it was that good.  It tasted like what I imagine a bunch of Thin Mint cookies taste like after having been eaten by a unicorn and stewed for fourteen hours in its creamy digestive juices; basically, it was magical.  Here’s my brother giving it the thumbs up, and actually smiling for a picture– so you know it’s gotta be good.

As if the shake and the gravy weren’t enough, the Vertical Diner is also known for its faux chicken (according to PETA), and so I enjoyed my gravy with a side of fried chicken and mashed potatoes.  My parents joked, how do you know it’s not real chicken?  But I could tell.  It was dense, probably made with some vital wheat gluten or something, and had the same flavor as a Boca chik’n patty.  But, it was slathered in gravy, so it was better :)

My mom had the Jamaican plate, my dad enjoyed the chicken biscuit pie, and my brother gobbled down the breakfast sandwich.  They all approved heartily of their meals.  Somehow we still had room for the delicious spicy fries.

I’d like to take a moment here and give a special thank you to my family for being so supportive and open to eating vegan food.  As my mom said this afternoon, as if it had just occurred to her, “You know?  We could be really shitty about this, and say, we don’t care if you’re vegan, we’re going to KFC!”

But they are not shitty, far from it.  My mom planned our whole route, and went out of her way to make sure there would be places where two omnivores, one vegetarian, one vegan,  and a dog, could all get a good meal.  If that isn’t love I don’t know what is.

In the musical Rent, the opening song asks, “How do you measure the life of a man?”

Well, now I know how to measure my life: by the amount of puppies in it, and the amount of good food; so today was really really good :)

 

Captain’s Log: Day 4

800 hours:  I eagerly skipped into the Los Alamos Co-op, confident that I would find more deliciousness awaiting me.  After stocking up on food, by which I mean, I put things in my dad’s basket for him to buy, I went outside to sit with my mom while he checked out.  She and Ianto were sitting at the lovely little outside patio, and I excitedly told her about today’s selection of treats.  “Today the ‘deli vegan baked item’ is a blueberry fruit bar, and there’s also pumpkin walnut spelt bread made with coconut milk! Doesn’t that sound delicious?!”

She smiled at me and asked, “So which one did you get?”

I looked at her with a quizzical expression, “Uh…both….duh.”  As if that were even a question.  Pshh.

I would have also gotten another peach cobbler, as there were plenty left over from yesterday, but I wanted to try the new things.  I was surprised that there were cobblers left; it was so good, who could resist it?  Maybe  people in New Mexico aren’t particularly fond of peach cobbler?  However, there is also the possibility that the word “vegan” scares people.

If you’re reading this blog, you probably know that vegan food can be just as delicious as “real” or “normal” food.  In fact, in my experience, vegan food has a higher probability of being utterly delicious simply because vegans try to combat the notion that “vegan” means icky rabbit food.  It is my hope, that people like myself, who enjoy eating and making yummy food, will help to change people’s minds with our food activism, as well as our loud, persistent voices spread across paper and the internet.  I hope to explore this topic in a future post, when my brain isn’t mushy from traveling all day.

So, back to food.

My vegan breakfast burrito from the Co-op was good, but not great.  The potatoes and peppers gave it a lot of flavor, but I was disappointed when the tofu wasn’t scrambled, but simply plain.  A little seasoning like cumin, salt and pepper, and maybe some nutritional yeast can make plain ol’ tofu mouthwatering, as anyone who has made the Post Punk Kitchen’s recipe will know.

1200 hours: We stocked up on things for lunch at the Los Alamos Co-op, and so we were able to stop in beautiful Pagosa Springs, Colorado for a picnic in the park.  I stuffed myself with an Asian noodle dish in the sunshine, enjoying the beautiful scenery, and trying to ignore the frat boys in inner-tubes floating down the river.  I sampled the blueberry fruit bar from the Co-op and found it to contain about fifty percent brown sugar; which means it was delicious.

My mom had some apple ginger juice that she got from the Co-op.  And because Ianto is her favorite child, she shared a little bit with him.  Just thought I’d let everyone know that this juice is corgi approved.

1400 hours: Okay, I know it’s an evil corporate chain, but thank goodness for Starbucks, because you can always count on it to have soy milk.  I know, most cafes have soy milk nowadays, but when you’re traveling through small towns, it’s nice to be certain that there’s one place you an always count on to make you a decent soy latte, and you don’t have to go searching for it.  I can’t help it, I really like coffee.  I blame my addiction on my white people-ness and my time spent in close proximity to Seattle.

Anyway, we’ve finally crossed into Utah after cutting across a tiny corner of Colorado.  My mom and I immediately began listening to the soundtrack to The Book of Mormon the musical.  If you haven’t heard the Book of Mormon soundtrack, you really should; it’s hilarious, catchy, written by the creators of South Park, and it won all the Tonys last year.  So you really have no excuse.

1800 hours:  Cumin in hummus?  Yes, puleez.

The Peace Tree Juice Cafe has locations in Moab, Utah, as well as in Monticello where we are spending the night.  The Peace Tree in Monticello is located conveniently across the street from our hotel, meaning that we didn’t have to drive anywhere– which you really appreciate when you’ve been driving all day.

The only vegan things on the menu were the hummus plate, which came with carrots, celery, and pita pieces, and the wild rice with grilled vegetables.  The hummus had a lot of cumin in it, which I enjoyed, but it definitely had a totally different flavor than the regular hummus; so don’t order it if you’re are craving regular hummus.  The grilled veggies and rice was delicious, and quite colorful if I do say so.

My brother had the ravioli, which was the other vegetarian option, while my parents both had meat.  They said it was all delicious and amazing, which I suppose is the best you can hope for really– that at least if people are going to cook with animal products– that it taste really good and be worth it.

The waitress told us that it was only their third night serving dinner– they previously only served breakfast and lunch– which surprised me because the food was so good.  I looked at their breakfast menu and was intrigued by their smoothies.  A smoothie sure would beat eating bad oatmeal and cut up fruit at the hotel for breakfast.  Tomorrow is looking just a little bit brighter!

Captain’s Log: Day 3

800 hours: Wake up and go to breakfast in the hotel.  Find the room full of old people all wearing name tags that say “Zoomers” on them.  I don’t know what they were zooming to, but they sure were being poky moving through the buffet line.  I partook of some weirdly salty oatmeal from a packet.  It tasted better after I added some of my own almond milk.  The hotel put out some bananas and I had to rush to get one before the old people took them all.  Young people like mushy food too, thank you very much.

Ianto likes mushy food, too.

1200 hours: Veggie sandwich from Subway–it was meh, but it had plenty of green stuff on it.  Practiced my ingredient reading skills on some of the snacks available in the gas station.

1800 hours:  I have found a vegan oasis in New Mexico.  Ok, maybe not an oasis, but a puddle at least; and of all places I found it in Los Alamos.

Our route took us through Santa Fe, where most people would have stopped for the night.  My family, however, is made up of nerds; and my brother is the super-science-nerd-overlord; and I say that with love and affection, because the level of nerdiness he manages to achieve astonishes me daily, and someday, he will be the science-nerd-overlord of us all .  So, instead of staying in Santa Fe, we drove twenty more miles to spend the night in Los Alamos.  Now, Los Alamos is nerd mecca because it was the site of the Manhattan Project during World War II, and is still home to the Los Alamos National Lab of National Security Science.

While my brother worshiped at the altar of the science museum there, I found my own mecca in the form of the Los Alamos Co-op.  Conveniently located directly next to the hotel where we were staying, the Co-op, if I had to guess, was made up of approximately 30% vegan foods– maybe more.  This is impressive considering that 1) the town of Los Alamos is quite tiny and 2) the Co-op itself is small.  I frolicked around the store, probably befuddling all the other shoppers with my gleefulness at finding my first great vegan travel discovery.  I seriously felt like the freaking Columbus of vegan food– without the disease and genocide.

I knew the Co-op was a good place when I saw the  Uncle Eddie’s Cookies, which my friend has been urging me to try for awhile now, but I have been unable to find (I found them Alison!!).  I shall now proceed to replace my daily ration of Oreos with Uncle Eddie’s cookies and the assortment of chocolate that I purchased.

Of course, although we were only buying dinner, I proceeded to slip extra items into our basket.  Here is a picture of my total haul:

Don’t worry, I didn’t eat it all in one hour ;)

For dinner I had a baked tofu wrap from the Co-op and for dessert the “Deli Vegan Baked Item” of the day– peach cobbler.

I gorged myself on the whole thing of peach cobbler– because no one wanted to finish it, and I sure wasn’t letting it go to waste.  Now I’m going to fall asleep and have wonderful peach cobblery dreams because I have extracted a promise from my parents to return to the Co-op in the morning for breakfast.  Can’t wait to see what the “Deli Vegan Baked Item” is tomorrow.

Captain’s Log: Day 2

800 hours: Still alive.  Vegan police are no where to be seen.  Apparently they did not register my infraction.  Am safe for now.

Breakfasting on granola with almond milk, hash browns, an apple, and orange juice, provided by my thoughtful Aunt.

1000 hours: On the road again, grey drizzle spits upon us, taunting us with the promise of rain and failing to follow through.

1200 hours: Stop for lunch at a gas station/Wendy’s.  My lunch consists of some french fries and a baked sweet potato from Wendy’s, as well as a banana and some Oreos.  I am not proud of myself, but pickings are slim as we drive further and further into the armpit of Texas. And hey, I didn’t eat all the french fries.  I gave some to the dog….

However, the baked sweet potato was pleasantly delicious and I have added Wendy’s to my list of emergency fast food joints.  The list now consists of Wendy’s and Taco Bell.

1800 hours: Finally arrive in Amarillo where we proceed to order take out from a restaurant claiming to serve Thai/Japanese/Chinese/Lao food.  I choose the tofu stir fry, but on the menu it was simply called “Tofu”.  Fittingly, the dish was made up of primarily GIANT hunks of tofu, as well as some veggies.  It was tasty, and restored some of the self-respect I lost at lunch, since this meal actually had some green stuff in it.

Yes, my level of self-respect is directly correlated to the amount of green food I eat per day.  The dialogue in my head goes something like: “Good for you!!  Green food!  How exotic and nutritious of you!!  You can look people in the eyes knowing that you have eaten more than just Oreos today!  Great job!!”   It’s sad really.

Anyway, we must have looked tired when we got the food because the restaurant decided to give us eight containers of Sriracha sauce and probably close to twenty packets of soy sauce.  I might or might not have contemplated dipping an Oreo in the Sriracha just to see what it would taste like…

Tomorrow we will finally cross the border into New Mexico– The Land of Enchantment.  Just a hunch, but I think that my definition of enchantment is different from the definition recognized by the state of New Mexico.  When I think of the word “enchanted” I picture unicorns, fairies and clouds made of vegan marshmallows.  When I think of New Mexico, on the other hand, I think of desert, sand, dryness, maybe some skiing and aliens.  But enchantment?

I guess tomorrow I will find out if NM can charm me with its food.  Maybe I’ll come under its  spell and never want to leave.  Perhaps it will bewitch me, body and stomach.  Hayuck yuck.

……..

And now I’ve used up all my remaining self-respect typing that, so I’m going to go eat a bucket of spinach.  Have a good night everybody.

Odds and Ends

I’m not dead!  Just incredibly busy trying to keep afloat during the last month of school before summer!

I’ve actually started a few real, thoughtful posts.  However, my brain is mush at the moment, so I’ve been unable to sort them into anything publishable.   In the mean time, here are some interesting vegan articles that I’ve read when I’ve had free time in between going to class and preparing for class.

I always like reading about celebrity vegans– especially the lovely Mayim Bialik, aka Amy from The Big Bang Theory.

Woody Harrelson was great in the Hunger Games as Haymitch, and he shared his recipe for vegan brownies with VegNews.  However, in true Woody fashion, these are adult vegan brownies.

Another funny celebrity, Ellen DeGeneres, also talked about her vegan journey in this article from the Washington Post.

On a more serious note, Burger King is actually headed in the right direction, pledging to only buy cage-free pork and eggs…..eventually.  I guess it’s a start.

Most importantly, let’s talk about cheeze!  Specifically, how can we make it more delicious?  I totally want to be a food scientist and get to taste test all the cheeze!

Actually…I bet there’s a lot of money in that…hm, something to look into after graduation :)