The Unlikely Vegan Dines Out by Phil Shainmark

This article is a little late in coming, but I’ve been working hard on a personal project that has consumed a ton of my time. It’s not specifically related to this, but should it come to fruition it will offer a new perspective in my life and my writing. In addition to that, I’ve had some additional (minor) health complications. My thyroid has been impacted by all the chemo, causing cascade system issues. Pre-diabetes, anemia etc, etc. So that’s been something new to contend with. I’ve been needing to sleep more and more just to function. Close to 3 years of oral chemo, with a total of about 5 weeks off throughout has caught up with me. Still, I only have to make it to November, and if there are no more tumors then I get to be off chemo.

So since last time, I’ve tried some new things – Egyptian food for one – at a place called Pots, here in Las Vegas. They have the usual hummus and babaghanoush, but they also offer a tasting menu, and my wife, my mother, and I all tried it. It was excellent. Ive noticed that being Vegan has made me move out of my comfort zone with a lot of foods. Egyptian was never something I would have tried in the past, but I’m glad I did now. I had a rice and vegetable dish, with a “jute mallow” vegetable sauce that was awesome. It came with a salad, pita bread, hummus, and a Turkish coffee (which worked out GREAT, because we were going out later that evening). My wife and my Mom both had grilled eggplant dishes, which they raved about. For desert, we had some chocolate date truffles, and they were delicious and very sweet. I could only eat 2 of the 3 they gave me. Mom had a toasted coconut pudding that was also tasty. All in all an excellent introduction to a new food.

Another night we went to “Chef Kennys Vegan Asian Restaurant,”  a 100% vegan Chinese restaurant. They actually had a sign on the door asking that no one bring non-vegan food onto the premises. I had the Mongolian beef, my absolute favorite dish. I hadn’t realized how much I missed that meal since I went vegan. It was perfect. Whatever he makes the “meat” out of it was exactly the right consistency, and the taste was spot on. I could not have been happier. My wife had “crispy beef” which was also incredibly good. My mom had the Kung Pao three meat combo. One of the “meats” was shrimp, and I have no idea what it was made from, but it was delicious. I’m going to have to say that it was one of the best meals I’d had in a LONG time.

Recently I went to my brother-in-law’s house for a Poker night/Birthday party. It was our buddy Squirrel’s birthday. He wanted BBQ chicken, and offered to make his own BBQ sauce. So we went to the store and got all the ingredients. He made the sauce, while I volunteered to cook the chicken. And I came to the realization that I really like grilling. It doesn’t matter that I’m not going to eat the food. Actually, it makes me think of all the parties we used to have back when I lived in Stamford CT. We would have parties all summer long, and I’d always run the grill. Great times, great memories. So they had BBQ chicken and my wife and I had Veggie tacos. BUT I saved some of his BBQ sauce to try, and it was really good.

I’ll be heading back to NY the first weekend in March, and my brother in law is coming with me. It’s his first time going to NY. Poor dude has never had REAL pizza before, so that’s one stop. And I’ll finally get to try White Castle with the “Impossible” patty. This is gonna be a great trip.


Happy New Year from the Unlikely Vegan

| by Phil Shainmark

While texting back and forth with one of my friends in Texas, we got on the discussion of sandwiches. I was lamenting that one of the only foods I genuinely miss is an Italian combo. Not that stuff you get out west where it’s a little ham and salami and some oil and vinegar (they put mayo on them out here!! MAYO!!) I mean a legit east coast, 10 types of meats with banana peppers and provolone, ITALIAN COMBO (which, if you ever find yourself in Hawthorne/Valhalla, NY, check out Pops Deli. Get menu option C4 – best Italian combo ever). So I was on a quest to get as close as I could to those flavors, and I feel that I’ve come pretty close….

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The Unlikely Vegan Visits New York by Phil Shainmark

| by Phil Shainmark

So I went to NY to visit family, and while there I had some GREAT food. Got in on a 7 something flight that evening, and my Dad took me to an excellent Indian restaurant, with a buffet. They had a whole set up for Vegan/Vegetarian food. Not a surprise. But it was nice to walk into a place that wasn’t specifically a VEGAN restaurant, and not only have a ton of choices, but also have meat food for those who want. Yes, yes, I know, I’m supposed to be fighting the industry and trying to convince people that they shouldn’t be eating meat… But, I don’t want to. It’s a stupid move. And no one wants to listen to you tell them all the bad stuff about the food they’re about to eat. (More about this later.)

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More from the Unlikely Vegan by Phil Shainmark

I wanted to write some more about the idea of trying something new, or changing the way you think about things. I was talking to my father in law, who is very much not a vegan, and he was saying that it’s strange to think about not eating things you like. And that’s when it hit me: the things we consume, come to define us. For years I smoked, I was a “smoker.” Even after friends started quitting, and restaurants started banning it, I still smoked. I could not picture myself without the cigarette hanging out of my mouth, or in my hand. But when my wife and I decided to quit, we quit.

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