More from the Unlikely Vegan by Phil Shainmark

8/6/18 – 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. And it was easy, though I still chewed tobacco. I never (and still don’t) miss smoking. I quit chewing tobacco after my kidney was removed. I woke up and found out I had been totally out of it for 3 days, so instead of asking for my tin of Skoal, I told my wife to throw them out. I gave up drugs and heavy drinking. And I don’t miss them.

It wasn’t until I was talking about it with Mike that I realized that, just like a hoarder, people come to view all of their stuff as an extension of themselves. So do we with our foods, drinks and other things we ingest. It’s probably also why I don’t specifically care if other people aren’t vegan. Not eating animal products isn’t “who I am.” It’s just how I choose to fuel my body while staying true to my morals. It’s probably also why things get so hectic on social media in the Vegan vs Meat debates. Everyone is seeing it as an attack on them PERSONALLY. This is why I always suggest just to try it. Or do a “meatless” Monday.  If you try it and hate it, stop. If you try it and like it, great. As with most decisions, when it’s the “right” one it’s not difficult. It’s not about not liking something, I love meat. I also really liked cocaine. Can’t do either anymore.

Anyway, my mother is coming in this month, so we’re hopefully going to do a potluck and try some new vegan restaurants.

9/3/18 – Last few weeks I’ve had some AMAZING meals. A good friend of mine came to visit, and he took me and my wife to a new restaurant called Sparrow + Wolf. I cannot say enough about this restaurant. They have both vegan and meat dishes and they’re working to make the menu 50/50. From the wait staff we learned that the head chef was on a board of urban produce growers, and that a lot of their produce came from those gardens right here in town. They had some vegetables I’ve never even heard of like Romanesco and Salsify. The Romanesco was prepared with Thai chili peppers and onions and peppers. And the Salsify was done in an Asian BBQ style with pears and maple.

We were so impressed with the food that we couldn’t shut up about it. The owner overheard and let us meet the chef. This place was so awesome, that we ended up going back a week later when my mom was in town. That time we had a tomato and cucumber salad with sea beans, roasted broccoli with avocado, and Mushrooms with hummus. Plus all the dishes we had the previous time. I cannot tell you all the ingredients, because I have no idea. But the dressings and sauces were perfect for EVERY dish. They are changing their menu to a “fall/winter” style in a few weeks. And you best believe we’ll be going back.

A few days later, we tried a place called Blinders Burgers and Brunch. They are a Vegan burger place. I had a bacon cheese burger, using the “Impossible” burger patty. I’d heard of it before, a 100% vegetable based burger patty, that looked and felt like meat. Over all the burger was excellent. It didn’t quite taste like a bacon cheeseburger, but it was like 75% of the way there and your brain kind of did the rest. They have rosemary fries as a side option, and they are delicious, especially with the curry ketchup they have available.

And finally, my wife got me a Trader Joe’s brand Jackfruit curry and jasmine rice microwaveable meal. I had it for lunch and it was AWESOME. A little light on the curry flavor for my taste, but it had a nice kick and the curry flavor that it did have was delicious. I’m not sure how much it cost. But it was definitely a great tasting, quick meal.

I have been riding with a few guys recently, friends of friends, and we had occasion to grab some food the other day. These are all people prospecting for a motorcycle club (and their club president). Pretty hardcore guys. So I told them that I don’t eat any animals. There was a little pause in the conversation, and then one of them asked me If I cared what they ordered. I told them I didn’t care, and that it doesn’t bother me what they eat. The conversation immediately picked back up, and one guy was pointing out to me that they used an air fryer, so there was no egg wash on the fried pickled and mushrooms. It ended up being a great night, and we’ve since rode some more places together. I only mention these things in the hopes that someone who is on the fence about trying veganism reads this and realizes that the internet isn’t real life, and that people are generally super cool about things. Especially if you’re not trying to be forceful, or mocking their choices.

by Phil Shainmark