As much as I love taking a break over the holidays, it’s good to be back in the swing of things. Since my office was closed on Monday, I caught up on email in my pajamas, crossed a couple of domestic items off my to-do list, did a spin class at Flywheel, and popped into west elm to check out a couple of items I have been investigating for the new digs, including this tripod table:
I think this table will look fabsky with my new ghost chairs. These stackable guys add seating to the room without obstructing the space or making it appear cluttered. I am pretty much obsessed with them.
If you’re wondering what the grassy goodness is underneath the ghost chairs, that is my Par Shag Rug from CB2 that I lusted after for ages before finally purchasing last month. It adds a pop of color and a whimsical touch of nature to the space.
While I was running around yesterday, I also had a chance to check out a vegetarian eatery I had been wanting to try for ages, called Terri. Ever since New Year’s Day, I had been kinda craving a breakfast sandwich – you know, the kind with egg and cheese and all kinds of greasy deliciousness.
Terri came to the rescue with the Breakfast Scramble Wrap - scrambled tofu, Italian ‘Sausage’, spinach, Daiya Cheddar, and hot sauce. YUM. I have had quite a few tofu scrambles, but this was by far the best and tastiest. I also tend to skip the vegan cheeses, because the texture can be kind of weird, but the Daiya Cheddar was closer to the real thing than I have had in a while.
Which brings me to my final item for discussion: tomorrow’s my one year veganversary, y’all! And what a year it has been for vegans, indeed. Perhaps I am somewhat biased, but with more mainstream vegans speaking out, such as Alicia Silverstone and Ellen Degeneres, highly influential vegans being added to the roster, like former President Bill Clinton and hotel entrepreneur Steve Wynn, and even random celebs like The Biggest Loser’s Bob Harper and boxing champ Mike Tyson joining the team, it seems like the tides are slowly turning from a time when eating a plant-based diet was marginalized and weird to being sort of mildly accepted and validated.
However, as this is a blog primarily about my journey as a vegan ‘novice’, I am going to be perfectly honest: sometimes I resent my choice tremendously. It can be annoying, isolating, challenging, depriving, and flat out socially awkward. Sometimes I think about it in my mind and try to rationalize eating animal products again; a little cheese here and there, a couple of eggs, maybe some pancakes, etc.
But even if I could get past it from an ethical standpoint, I still can’t get over the idea of all the unwanted hormones, antibiotics, and yuckiness that is inherent to the way food is produced here in our country.
And then I end up right where I started on January 5, 2010: a vegan novice doing the very best I can, one day at a time.
Business Week | The Rise of the Power Vegans
Terri Organic Vegetarian
60 West 23rd street
New York, NY 10010
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Tags: bill clinton vegan, bill harper vegan, cb2, Daiya cheese, Flywheel Sports, ghost chairs, mike tyson vegan, steve wynn vegan, Terri breakfast scramble wrap, Terri NYC vegetarian organic, west elm
As a result of the Northeast blizzard, and after two days of flight cancellations with no hope of getting on a return flight from Fort Myers, Florida until New Year’s Eve, we decided to road trip it up the East Coast.
Eating fresh and/or healthy food on the road is tricky, especially if you’re trying to stay veggie. Here’s a handy recap of my meals over the course of about 1,300 miles in a day and a half:
This iconic Southern country store slash restaurant was always a favorite stop on the way back from Ithaca. However, back then, I would have ordered “eggs in a basket.” Since I now avoid eggs, I had to figure out an alternative from a menu where even the vegetable soup is made with beef broth and the veggie sides are cooked with ham. Yikes!
I ended up with the Country Vegetable Plate, consisting of a garden salad, corn, breaded fried okra, and mashed potatoes. I’m sure this wasn’t entirely vegan, so I utilized the “don’t ask, don’t tell” strategy so as to avoid starvation.
The [vegan] bottom line: Cracker Barrel is pretty much the opposite of vegetarian friendly; however, the service is friendly and accommodating, the menu is forthcoming about what is vegetarian and what is not, and there are salads and veggie sides that get you as close as possible to staying vegs on the road. That said, if you’re being extremely strict, you might end up with a plate of iceberg lettuce and a few chunks of tomato.
2. Ruby Tuesday
The main menu at Ruby Tuesday had very little in the way of vegetarian, let alone vegan offerings. The only items I could find that required no doctoring were the salad bar and the guacamole. However, the lunch menu had Vegetarian Mini’s (sliders) with BBQ sauce (hold the swiss cheese) AND salad bar for just around $8.99. What a steal!
I loaded up my salad plate with lettuce, chick peas, corn and black bean salad, grape tomatoes, zucchini, red onions, jalapeno peppers, and beets from the colorful spread. When the sliders came, they had a surprise dollop of mayo not mentioned on the menu, which was disappointing. Shouldn’t this be expressed on the menu or placed on the side, especially since it is a vegetarian item? Had we not been in a rush to get back on the road, this probably would have gotten sent back. Not to worry, though – I was able to remove it pretty easily and the black bean burgers were surprisingly fresh and tasty for a chain restaurant.
The [vegan] bottom line: Ruby Tuesday’s Fresh Garden Bar makes it pretty easy to have a hearty and fresh veggie meal; that said, the menu could be clearer and more veggie friendly. Ruby Tuesday’s really should have addressed this during its recent upscale re-branding, don’t you think?
I had a hankering for Chinese food, so I consulted Yelp to help me find a place in the Alexandria, VA area. Just a couple of miles from the road and with a few mixed reviews on Yelp, we decided to give The Magic Wok a shot.
One of the reason I love Asian food is because it’s easy to find tasty veggie options. The Magic Wok was magical indeed; for besides the typical vegetable dishes at a Chinese restaurant, it offered veggie alternatives for every single one of its seafood, pork, chicken, and beef dishes. I settled on “beef” with broccoli and a vegetable soup appetizer, and was pleased with both.
The [vegan] bottom line: The Magic Wok had typical, if tasty Chinese vegetarian/vegan options and oodles of veggie meats for those of us who like a little something heartier to gnaw on than a piece of broccoli. Not sure I’ll ever have a reason to go back, but I would definitely frequent this place if I lived in the area.
At the end of the trip I was tired, but well fed and happy to be home in the Northeast. And as for my next road trip? Well, hopefully, it will be by choice, not desperation.
Happy New Year, y’all!
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Tags: cracker barrel vegetarian, road trip vegan, ruby tuesday vegetarian, yelp the magic wok
This Monday, it will have been two weeks since I moved into my new home, and I must say, I am over the moon about it! I have twice as much space, amazing appliances (a washer and dryer – every girl’s dream come true), and I walk (read: skip) approximately .3 mi to work. I am learning lots at my new job, and I have more control over my time and my choices than I have had in ages. As a result, I’m sleeping better, eating healthier, and working out more. I feel great.
I cannot help but think about how I felt a year ago, around this time. It was my last holiday season as an omnivore and I was not feeling super great about myself. My self-confidence and energy levels were low, my skinny jeans were tight, I was partying too much, eating junky food, not taking good care of my body, and I knew I needed to make a major change in my life. What a difference a year makes.
Which reminds me: I am quickly coming up on my one year vegan-versary, y’all! Can you believe I made it? It feels fab to hit the one-year mark. When you first start on this path, people ask you how long you’ve been vegan ALL the time. And when the answer is a few months, six months, whatever – well, people tend to assume you won’t last very long. Well, I did it. One year vegs and still going strong. Not too shabby, eh?
So, what is on tap for 2011? Well, I know that this time of year is about resolutions and what not; so, for me, 2011 is about continuing on this path of higher standards: in the quality of my work and life, in my relationships, and with regard to what I put into my body. I do not aspire to be perfect, but I do aspire to be the best version of me possible. Lucky for me, I got a little jump-start on my resolutions before 2010 was out.
And in the words of the great Nina Simone, I’m feeling good.
Filed under: Energy, Vegan | 2 Comments
Tags: i'm feeling good nina simone, new year's resolution vegan, vegan one year
I’m standing on the horizon of an enormous life change. Within the next few weeks, I will have an awesome new job. I will have a swank new apartment in a completely unexplored neighborhood. I will walk different sidewalks, eat in different restaurants, and meet different people with whom I might have never otherwise crossed paths.
Manifesting this change has, quite frankly, sucked, at times. I have worked long hours, lost sleep, and sacrificed my sanity and happiness on more than a few occasions to get to this point. However, I think it is from facing our biggest challenges that we are able to grow, evolve, and, ultimately, make our lives better than they were before.
As I begin this new and improved chapter in my life, I am reminded why I decided to go vegan earlier this year. I wanted to feel and look healthier, get more clarity, and avoid putting antibiotics, hormones, and other yucky things into my body. I no longer wanted to be responsible for any kind of suffering. I wanted to make my life better.
Sometimes I have hard days, when I want to quit the whole thing. Moments when I just want to feel normal and not have to haggle with waiters. Or not be the outlier at social gatherings or on dates. I have days when I want to throw in the towel and eat pizza and ice cream. When I want to just go back to being the person I was before.
But I don’t. I keep moving forward because this is the path I’m on, and it’s too late to turn back. Even when it’s hard and even when I don’t feel like it, I keep going, because I know that if I keep on trying, there’s a better version of me a little further down the road.
I haven’t always understood where I’m going or what’s supposed to happen next. I have days where it seems like everything is going wrong. I have thought to myself, shit: I am going to be stuck in this rut forever.
What I’ve learned is that change, in itself, is inevitable. It’s sticking with it and making it work, even when it sucks, that’s really tough. But, occasionally, you have a moment when the clouds part, the sun shines through, and all you see is possibility.
And then it’s all worth it.
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I ate a lobster.
Yes, it’s true. I decided I wanted to partake in a summer ritual with my housemates at The Parker House. I cracked it, dipped it in butter, and enjoyed every last morsel. And I don’t even generally like seafood. But it just felt right. Just. This. Once.
Life has been challenging for me these last few months. With my work schedule crazier and more upside-down than ever before, I have been unsuccessful at maintaining balance (hence, the brief hiatus in vegan musings). That is not to excuse the fact that I ate said lobster, but just to give a bit of context.
I found that the more restrictive my life got, the harder it was to be restrictive with my diet. And in a few moments of weakness, (including the lobster and more than a few pretzel M&M’s), I put sanity and hunger ahead of my commitment to a plant-based diet.
That said, with wedding buffets galore and all the celebrating that comes with the end of summer, I had many more opportunities to stray (i.e. nachos, pizza, potato skins, etc.) – and had given myself the flexibility to do so – but did not fallen [further] off the wagon.
Life is hard enough sometimes, and I am aware that I have chosen a difficult lifestyle. It is *not* the path of least resistance, by any stretch of the imagination. However, I am finding that a little forgiveness, a reasonable amount of flexibility, and a few pieces of chocolate, on an as-needed basis, can go a long way to staying on track.
I hope you will let me off the hook.
Filed under: Jersey Shore, Vegan | 1 Comment
Tags: lobster parker house, off the wagon, parker house sea girt, pretzel m&m's, the parker house nj
Whilst flipping through the June issue of Lucky Mag, I happened upon an ad for Noxzema featuring one of my most favorite vegan celebs, Ginnifer Goodwin (of Big Love and He’s Just Not That Into You fame).
I was immediately transported back to my childhood, when a fresh-faced Rebecca Gayheart made a splash as the ‘Noxzema girl” du jour. I remembered the cooling sensation and familiar, clean smell of the product.
In need of a new facial cleanser, I took notice of the advertorial and trusted that the product would be cruelty-free because of my girl, Ginnifer. I even went to CVS *and* Duane Reade (OK, not actually that big of a deal, since they are on adjacent blocks) to find it hiding on the bottom shelf. And at a price point of $4.99, I figured it was an economically sound purchase, to boot.
However, after doing a bit more research, it does *not* seem that Noxzema is completely cruelty-free. While Noxzema claims that it does not test on animals, it does contain gelatin, a decidedly non-vegan ingredient.
In the midst of the research process, I discovered Good Guide, “the world’s largest and most reliable source of information on the health, environmental, and social impacts of consumer products.” According to Good Guide, Noxzema Original Deep Cleansing Cream has above average scores in climate change and in ethical policies and performance, but raises health concerns because of an ingredient that is a suspected immunotoxicant.
Is it possible that the appearance of a couple of questionable ingredients gets balanced out by above average environmental responsibility and ethical performance? That, my friends, remains unclear.
In the meantime, I guess I’ll have to continue doing my best and hope that the rest comes out in the wash.
Filed under: Beauty, cruelty-free, Vegan | Leave a Comment
Tags: ginnifer goodwin big love, ginnifer goodwin he's just not that into you, ginnifer goodwin noxema ad, ginnifer goodwin noxzema advertorial, ginnifer goodwin vegan, lucky mag noxzema ad, noxzema vegan
As everyone’s go-to single girl (either to ask for advice or to get a chuckle out of my ever-evolving-and-entertaining-but-ultimately-failed romantic life) I have been monitoring a continuing shift in the communication landscape: people no longer seem to call one another…ever. Listen, I’m no fool. I realize this has been going on for quite a while, but, in my [expert?] opinion, it seems to have escalated.
This evolution in communication applies just as much to friendship as it does to courtship; hearing another person’s voice has become obsolete. And I’m certainly not innocent when it comes to this phenomena. For when I do receive an actual ‘phone call,’ I sometimes perceive it as an inconvenience, an intrusion, or something that causes anxiety – what does this person want that they would actually CALL me? Yikes!
But, lately, I’ve been feeling like something is missing. We’ve lost something in the way of connecting with other human beings. When there’s no voice associated with the person with whom you are trying to forge a connection, you lose their tone, the subtle nuances of the way they speak, the sexiness of their laugh, their energy.
You forget about the nervousness of talking to someone for the first time and not knowing exactly what to say. Or the awkwardness of asking someone out on a date and not knowing what the answer might be (OK, I don’t really ask guys out on dates, but this is what I imagine). The investment in making the call. The immediacy of the response.
The unique sound of a person’s laugh is replaced by “LOL.” Flirting has gotten reduced to a semi-colon and closed parenthesis.
I’m not going to get all nostalgic on you, begging for things to go back to the way they were. I like the convenience of text-messaging, emailing, and the like. But I will say that I do miss a time when talking to a person, taking time out of your day to really get to know them, was actually sort of fun. When the phone would ring and it would be the person you like and it would be exciting. When people put a little more energy into relationships, romantic and otherwise, than shooting out text messages and emails and wall posts. When you actually had to give a shit for more than the eleven seconds it takes to compose an inane text message and hit the ‘send’ button.
How does all this relate to being vegan? Well, if being vegan means being accountable for how you treat yourself and others, that we’re all interconnected, that your pain is my pain, that your joy is my joy, and that every little thing we do, every action, every breath, every glance, has an effect like a ripple in a lake, then I think there’s a link. And if we all collectively decide to care a little more, to take a little more time to think about the implications of our thoughts, feelings, and actions then maybe we’d start to turn this thing around, one phone call at a time.
Bottom line: I want to hear your voice once in a while. Call me crazy.
Filed under: Communication, Veganism | Leave a Comment