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

The Unlikely Vegan Dines Out by Phil Shainmark

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.

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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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