A Year Milestone for the Unlikely Vegan by Phil Shainmark

What a year it’s been – or pretty close to a year. I’m not 100% sure I can nail down a solid date. But we’ll call it a year. This Vegan thing has certainly been an adjustment, but now I don’t even think twice about it. And as I go out and do more and more things, I continuously think to myself, “Gods, I’m glad I don’t eat that stuff anymore.”

I’ve been to a few new (for me) Vegan restaurants in town. One was VegeNation (S. Eastern Ave. Henderson, NV). The staff were awesome and the food was excellent. I had cauliflower buffalo wings, which I always thought was a ridiculous idea, but it was really tasty. We had some vegetable dumplings and my wife, brother-in-law, and sister-in-law had some vegan tamales. I didn’t try those, because I don’t like that corn meal mush. For my entrée I ordered a meatball sub and let me tell you, it was definitely in the top 10 meatball subs I’ve EVER had, and absolutely the best vegan one. I’m gonna have to fight with myself to not just order that every time I go there. The next place was Café No Fur (Spring mountain Rd. Las Vegas, NV). I got a 100% vegan breakfast sandwich with eggs and sausage. The place is known for all sorts of things, but I hadn’t really tried any of the egg alternatives so I figured I would. It was pretty good, the “sausage” was spot on, and the “egg” was as well. The gigantic mountain of tater tots it came with was pretty rad, too. All in all, a decent meal.

Just yesterday, we went to The Modern Vegan (East Naples Dr. Las Vegas, NV). Again with my BIL and SIL. I got a “breakfast” potato skin appetizer, which was potato skins with tofu scrambled eggs and cheese and sour cream. I don’t like real sour cream, but I like the vegan kind so that was pretty good. Then I got the “Philly cheese steak.” It was good, but it wasn’t a Philly cheese steak. Not because it was vegan, but because they fell into the trap all places do: Philly cheese steaks are made with cheez whiz. Period. Not slices or shreds of cheese, but Cheez whiz. The end. This place used a nice vegan mozzarella, and added peppers. All good, and a nice portion, just call it a steak and peppers sandwich. Also, not for nothing, but you can’t have a cheese steak without Amoroso’s Rolls. [For you meat eaters, there are two AMAZING Philly cheese steak places here in Vegas: P.O.P.s Pride of Philly (S. Decatur Blvd. Las Vegas, NV) and Straight From Philly (Lake Mead Pkwy Henderson, NV)].

I’m sure many of you have read that Del Taco added Beyond Meat to their menu nation-wide. I add it to my bean and cheese burrito, (no cheese, add onion) and it’s very good. I’d prefer if they didn’t put it in a sauce, because then it’s essentially Vegan sloppy joe, and that makes burritos hard to eat. But hey, it’s a nice addition. And I’m glad they, as a company, decided to add plant based meats. Burger King is going to have Beyond whoppers all over this year, and Fat Burger has the Impossible Burger at it’s locations. Also, finally got to try White Castle’s Impossible sliders. They were delicious and made me very happy. Though I don’t know why they don’t put a pickle and ketchup on them.

It’s quite possibly the best time to be a Vegan. There are so many amazing choices and places to go. I’ve had such a great time this year, finding new things to eat. A lot of the fun has been meeting and talking to people. I get a kick out of the “you CAN’T be vegan…..because X”. X being “You ride a motorcycle” or “you don’t look like a Vegan”.  Any time we go to these Vegan restaurants, there are all sorts of people in there. There is no specific Vegan “archetype.” Of course, I’ve had people talk trash or try to make smart comments. Not to my face, generally, but whenever the topic of Veganism comes up. They’ll throw out remarks like “bunch of soy boys,” as if you can’t be a “Man” and be Vegan. I usually walk over and say “I’m a Vegan. What’s a soy boy?” All of a sudden, they’re totally cool with Vegans, and we usually have a great conversation. Like I’ve said before if you’re not a jerk about it, you can have great results. I’m looking forward to another year of amazing new foods and experiences.

Phil Shainmark lives with his wife, two children, and several rescue dogs in Las Vegas, NV. He rides motorcycles both for work and for pleasure, but spends a lot of his down time reading or playing video games. As for being The Unlikely Vegan, as he puts it, “I’m 6’1″ 265 lbs, and I have tattoos from my finger tips to the side and back of my head. I’m a gun-owning Pagan anarchist who loves meat and cheese. But, after a whole bunch of soul searching, I decided that veganism was the best ethical choice for me.” You can reach Phil at philthatvegan@gmail.com

by Phil Shainmark