News

Hi all,

Sorry it’s been so long.

I’ve been reading a lot about vegan/food/animal/media things as I’m crafting my thesis.  I’ll be sharing some of that stuff as it comes together.

But until then, here’s some interesting things to ponder.

  • What’s my first instinct when a bird flies into my window?  Not to eat it that’s for sure; but that’s what this guy in Texas did.
  • Do you ever wish that you could marry food?  Well cookies and chai married each other in this new recipe from Post Punk Kitchen; I’ve probably made them four times now since the recipe was posted two weeks ago.  They’re pretty much the pinnacle of cookie perfection.
  • Ever wanted to get a text message from a cow’s vagina?  Nope.  Me neither.  But this farmer in Switzerland thought it would be a good idea.
  • None of my grandparents were vegetarian, or Buddhist for that matter, but this guy chose to honor his grandmother by being vegetarian for a month.
  • Ever wonder what sort of progress is being made in animal law?  Well the Humane Society wrote this handy little piece about the 10 most important state laws made for animals in 2012 so far.
  • Whether you’re vegetarian or vegan, you’ve probably apologized to someone at some point for your diet, because it was either making them uncomfortable or because it was an inconvenience at a dinner party.  Well maybe it’s time we stopped apologizing for our compassion.

And if all this doesn’t satisfy your desire for veggie/animal/weird news, you can check out my Tumblr for more vegan musings, as well as nerd-tastic posts, and ubiquitous pictures of cute animals.

 

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Double Standard: Health

Vegetarians and vegans are used to being the brunt of many jokes and criticisms around the dinner table.

But what upsets me the most is the double standard that people hold, especially when it comes to health.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say some variation of the following, “I don’t care if you are vegetarian or vegan, but  you should learn about nutrition so you stay healthy.”

I always want to respond with: Well, duh!  Everyone should have some basic knowledge of nutrition; not just vegetarians and vegans!

Why aren’t you concerned about everyone’s health?  Why specifically mine?  If you’re so concerned about people’s health, why don’t you go support school lunch reform, or nutrition label reform, or start a petition to require nutrition classes in public school?

I realize that this misguided concern people have about vegetarian and vegan diets is a product of a cultural and historical bias towards a meat eating diet– rather than any substantive study of vegan diets that shows that they aren’t healthy.  The ideas that most people in the U.S. have about nutrition come from ads, family doctors, and parents.  Few people have actually studied or taken classes about nutrition.

Of course, I’d rather have people be concerned about my health, and at least acknowledge that a vegan diet can be healthy, rather than just automatically assuming that it’s impossible to be healthy and vegan.

And sure, you can be an unhealthy vegan; but you can be an unhealthy anything!  And in my experience vegans and vegetarians are more conscious about the source and nutrition content of their food than most people.

So be careful what you say to vegans about their health.

They probably know more than you do.

That concludes my rant for the day.

If you want to know more about being vegan– or just about being healthy– look up Dean Ornish, John Robbins, or T. Colin Campbell.

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.

Captain’s Log: Day 1

6 June 2012

1400 hours: The suitcases are packed, the car is loaded, sufficient snacks have been purchased, we are officially on the road.

My family has never been one for road trips.  Flying is more our style.  I think it comes from the fact that as a child, my dad’s family would drive from Texas to Oregon in the summer.  Being the youngest he was forced to sit in the middle in the back seat, between his two sisters, without air conditioning, while his dad smoked in the driver’s seat.  Fortunately for everyone, technology has come a long way and so we are cocooned in a cushion of cold air, sans cigarette smoke, as we breeze down the highway.

This trip has been a long time coming.  As you may remember, my family visited Boise over spring break.  Now we’re finally moving there to stay.  Well, my family is; I guess I will be a temporary resident since I still have to go back to school and get a really expensive piece of paper called a degree.  After that, who knows.  I could become a permanent resident of Boise if the economy tanks again and I can’t get a job and have to live out my days in my parent’s basement.  I can see it now, me making cupcakes to drown my sorrows and watching BBC America ad nauseum.  That doesn’t sound so bad to me, but it’s a harder sell for my parents.

Anyway, now that I am sufficiently recovered from the end of days– aka, the end of the school year– my blog posts shall resume, hopefully with more frequency and greater eloquence as a result of another year of liberal arts education.  As we drive I shall attempt to record our various adventures.

My mom has meticulously planned the trip, going to great lengths, with the help of happycow.net, to find veg-friendly places for us to eat at along the way.  The goal is to not get scurvy from just eating Cliff bars.  We are also traveling with our dog, Ianto, and as she likes to remind me, it sure is a lot easier to find a dog-friendly restaurant than a vegan-friendly restaurant in Texas.

So, for you cat people out there, I’m sorry, I ‘ll only be covering the eateries where canines are welcome.  You’ll have to look elsewhere for a recommendation on where to take your cat out to dinner.

Nutritional yeast in hand, I feel confident that I will survive this adventure!

2200 hours:  I have already been thwarted.

We broke our journey in Fort Worth, Texas, where we stayed with my Aunt and Uncle– lovely people, but not vegan or vegetarian by any means.  We went to dinner at Tres Joses, a Mexican place.

It seems to be a belief of people in Texas that you can’t find good Mexican food out-of-state.  I feel like even some people would claim that Tex-Mex is better than real Mexican food, like, from Mexico, simply out of state-pride and an aversion to foreign food.  My family isn’t like this, we just enjoy Tex-Mex, and feel that as we move North, it is probable that the Mexican food will decrease in “Mexicosity”, and therefore we need to eat as much as we can before we cross the border.  Tres Joses filled this need for my family, managing to balance just the right amount of Tex to Mex– by which I mean that the restaurant was owned and operated by Mexicans, but full of Americans munching on their never-ending bowls of tortilla chips.

Despite it’s promising appearance, the restaurant’s actual menu proved to be a disappointment.  I ordered the Taco Salad, specifying no meat, no cheese, no sour cream.  When the actual dish arrived, my hopes rose again.  I mean, who wouldn’t be tempted by something  that’s basically wearing a crown?

 However, like the restaurant itself, my salad, while fun looking, was actually incredibly disappointing.  I nibble on the tortilla part… most definitely made with butter, okay, too bad, so I started in on the salad.  Avocados, check, lettuce, check, bacon, what?  After munching on a few bites I noticed some bits of brown unidentifiable stuff clustered near the bottom of the salad.  On further inspection I determined that the bits were actually miniscule pieces of bacon.  It was as if they had tried to hide it at the bottom of the salad, and the pieces were so small that they would have added no taste at all to the overall salad if I had actually eaten them.  A blind person probably wouldn’t have been able to identify that there were pieces of bacon in the salad had they eaten it.   What’s the point of that?!?  I asked myself.  Why add something that’s not going to contribute to the meal at all?  Especially something that could have been at least one vegetarian option on your menu?  And I had asked for no meat.  Grrrrr.  If I had been hungry I would have made a fuss.  But, surprisingly, sitting in a car all day doesn’t burn a lot of calories, so I wasn’t hungry enough to cause a ruckus.  I ate my avocado and called it good, shifting around the salad so that it looked like I had eaten some of it, while surreptitiously stealing some of my brother’s rice.

Going to bed now, hopefully the Vegan Police don’t come in and arrest me.

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 :)

Spring Break: Boise ’12, NO REGRETS!

Sorry it’s been so long since my last post.  Things get pretty busy mid-semester.  However, at the moment my brain is on vacation thanks to a magical time of year that comes around just when you need it: spring break!  A time traditionally associated with beaches, beer, and boobs…. or so I’ve heard.  Well, I went to a place that starts with “B”, but that was about as close as I got to having a traditional spring break.

The place: Boise, Idaho.  Not my first choice for a spring break destination.  I know it would have been more appropriate and exciting for my first vegan adventure post to be to Portland or Austin.  However, I have a hard enough time picking out socks in the morning, so it’s probably better that I didn’t dive straight into a vegan mecca where my brain would have exploded with all the options…and I inevitably would have tried to eat everything, not knowing when I would be back, and I would stuff my cheeks with food, and hide it in my suitcase, and gained twenty pounds in a week having spent all my time eating.  Yes, it’s probably best that didn’t happen.

Anyway…

I should explain this bizarre and bewildering choice of destination; my family is making the leap from Texas, to Idaho this summer; so for spring break we went house hunting in Boise, as well as to get a taste of what it had to offer.  My brother has recently adopted a vegetarian diet, so my family started planning well in advance where we could go to eat.  Now, I will admit I wasn’t very excited about going to Boise.  But, in the end I was pleasantly surprised with the eclectic and delicious meals I had in such a short time.

We arrived in the afternoon and our first stop was the Boise Co-op, where I wanted to EAT ALL THE THINGS!

There was a great selection of vegan goodies at the Co-op, both in the way of frozen stuffs and snack goodies.  There was a sizable selection of raw goodies as well.  The produce section was quite extensive, and they were giving away samples of a delicious green smoothie with ginger, apple, and spinach.

The Co-op does gets points off, however, for charging extra for soy milk at their cafe; but it was worth it because my latte was delicious, as was the bagel I enjoyed with it.

For our first night in Boise we went to Fork.  Yes, Fork.  It’s a restaurant in the heart of downtown that prides itself on being “loyal to local”.  All the ingredients either come from Idaho, Oregon, or Washington.  I enjoyed the Grilled Portobello Sandwhich, which was awesome.  I expected the mushroom to be whole so it would be like a patty, but was surprised that they cut it up.  I think this allowed it to soak up even more flavor because it sure was tasty!  It came with a side of chips as well, which I had high hopes for, it being Idaho and all.  I mean, the license plates say “Famous Potatoes”, a point of much distress for my mother.  Anyway, I was not disappointed.  Some of the fries were crispy, while some were softer, but all yummy and obviously homemade from scratch.  Sadly, I could not dip them in the remoulade sauce, but my family loved it. I would have liked to see a few more vegan and veggie options on the menu, but what I did have was very satisfying; and not a salad!!  A promising start to the week!  And it only got better from there.

I meant to take pictures of all my meals to share with y’all.  But, being me, I forgot ever single time and scarfed down my food before I even remembered that I was carrying my camera.  But, you all know what a portobello burger looks like, right?  So, here’s a picture that I did manage to snap of my brother’s dessert at Fork, some donut balls.  Don’t they look incredible?!  I was so jealous, they smelled fantastic and came with chocolate and peanut butter dipping sauces; although my family agreed they didn’t need them.  

Our next stop on the Boise Vegan Tour was the Taj Mahal for dinner.  Again, I wanted to EAT ALL THE THINGS!  There were like ten vegan dishes to choose from, but I eventually settled for the Mung Daal and my brother got the Bombay Aloo.  Both dishes could only be described as incredible taste sensations that exploded with deliciousness in ma mouth!  Also, they had the best naan I’ve ever had the delight to introduce to my taste buds.  Needless to say, it was hard to keep ourselves from going back for every meal.  Located in the center of downtown Boise though, I don’t think it will be very hard to find an excuse to visit the Taj Mahal again and again this summer.

I thought every other place would pale in comparison with the Taj Mahal.  But oh how wrong I was.  The next night we discovered Mazzah, a Mediterranean grill with amazing falafel.  I got the falafel sandwich and was all prepared to ask for the tzatzki to be omitted from my sandwich when the server asked me if I would like tahini or tzatziki.  I’m sure I had this giddy grin on my face when I said tahini.  More and more I find myself getting excited about simple things, like being able to have a choice between sauces on my sandwich and finding things on menus that are accidentally vegan– and aren’t salads :)  Anyway, back to the food; it was amazing!  For $3.99 my falafel sandwich was a bargain considering how much flavor it had and how filling it was.  Mazzah definitely made it on the list of places I’ll be hanging out this summer.

Finally, we made our way to the Boise Fry Company, a small place whose motto is “Burgers on the side”.  I was surprised to see a burger place show up on Happycow.net’s list of vegan places in Boise.  However, all became clear when I walked in and saw the menu.  Although there are only three choices of burgers, there are a multitude of options for fries.  And one of the burger options just happens to be vegan, so I was all set!  We got an assortment of fries to try–curly, skinny, regular and made of various different taters– and I was all set with my vegan burger, made of quinoa and black beans, when we made another scrumptious discovery.  Against the wall next to the drinks, there was a sauce and seasoning station.  All the sauces were marked if they were vegan, and so I was over the moon.  The garlic aioli absolutely rocked my world.  I wanted to smear it over everything!!  Some of the other sauces included blueberry curry, which I wasn’t brave enough to try, as well as just plain ketchup.  But really, after the garlic aioli I stopped using any other sauces.  I saw and ate more fries that night than I am proud to admit.  However, the fact that my mouth is watering just writing about this is a testament to the deliciousness of the experience.

Overall, I give Boise a B+.  The food I had was delicious, and while all of it was probably not 100% vegan, like we vegans are always so fond of saying– it’s not about being pure and perfect, but about limiting suffering.

Also, any city where I’m not limited to eating salad when I go out, gets a pretty good mark in my book….

….although I probably should have thrown a few salads in there :)  Oh well.

My spring break is now finishing up splendidly with reading, reading, and  more reading.  And I was just pleasantly surprised by one of my housemates when she returned home with a vegan treat for me, all the way from Portland’s Sweet Pea Bakery!  It’s a Charlie Brown– which I can only describe as a delicious peanut butter cup cookie.  And it’s huge!!  It’s sitting here taunting me….I’m trying to resist it until I get some more reading done.  We’ll see how that goes.

Also on the menu tonight, I’ve been craving pasta, so I’m going to try this recipe for creamy avocado pasta sauce, which looks scrumptious!  I figure I should eat something slightly green in honor of St. Patty.

Thanks for everyone’s continued support and kind comments!  I’ll have to think of something special to do for my three month vegan-versary which is rapidly approaching.   I’m thinking something with a mountain of Daiya, mmmm…..