The Unlikely Vegan Rides Again by Phil Shainmark

So, that personal project I mentioned several months ago has finally been completed: I’ve joined a motorcycle club. Which one doesn’t matter, nor do the particulars. But after a year of hard work I’ve done it. As I’ve mentioned before, it doesn’t specifically impact being vegan or writing this article. But I think it adds something to the “anyone can be vegan” idea.

I was just back in NY (AGAIN…I know, I know). My good friend’s riding club was having an event and I was invited. They were hosting a “St. Paddy’s Day in Summer” event. It was a BLAST, and my friend, being the main cook for her club, made me vegan shepards pie. I think she used Beyond Beef as the filling, and it was delicious. Here’s yet another entree I LOVED before I became vegan, and really thought I’d never eat again. I can’t express how nice it was to have an amazing vegan version of a food I love.

In general, I don’t expressly mention that I’m vegan. I didn’t before the club either, unless it came up. However, since most club events are the type of thing where you pay a cover, and get either a meal or a drink with admission (sometimes both), I can’t expect them to cater to me specifically. I usually bring my own food or eat ahead of time. Last Saturday we went to two events, one of which had a food truck to provide the meal. They had a small pre-selected menu for the event, which were essentially variations of carne asada fries. I figured I’d just order some regular fries, and be glad to eat something hot (at another event I ate nothing but 3 hamburger rolls because it was the ONLY vegan option). When 2 of my brothers asked for just fries for me, the cook asked, “Is he vegetarian or vegan?” They told him I was vegan, and he said, “I’ll whip him something up.” What he “whipped up” was one of the best burritos I’ve ever had. Tons of beans and fresh vegetables and pico de gallo. It was HUGE. I was standing next to one of the hosting members of the club when my brothers brought me the food. When he heard the exchange he said, “Wow man, are you vegan?” I told him I was and that it was ethical rather than health related. I was prepared for a dig or something sarcastic, but all he said was “Damn dude, that’s hard. Takes a lot of discipline.” We proceeded to spend the rest of the afternoon having a great time. So thanks to The Lit Grille food truck for making me an amazing vegan burrito to order.

The next event was a “fight night” for the UFC pay per view. We showed up and settled in to watch the fight. We have hung out at this club’s spot a few times, and when they’re offered food in the past, I’ve always declined, saying I wasn’t hungry or my usual go to, “No thanks, I’m REALLY picky.” Well this time, when they offered and I declined one of the members who we know pretty well said, “C’mon man, you NEVER eat anything when you come. We’ve got burgers and hot dogs and everything. Free. Help yourself.” I didn’t want him to think I was being rude, so I finally told him, “Sorry man, I’m vegan.” He laughed and said, “You’re well and truly hosed this time! But we’ll see if we can have something for you next time.”

I keep writing these articles hoping that someone, somewhere, who’s on the fence about trying veganism reads them and decides to give it a shot. Whoever you are out there, go for it. From the east coast to the west coast, independent riders, bikers in MCs, strangers in RCs…. it’s all totally cool. You have to remember, real life isn’t the internet. People are generally pretty cool if you’re cool and respectful. Veganism isn’t a contest. There’s no prize for being the most hardcore vegan. If you happen to be a biker, don’t think you can’t be both. This life is about freedom to do and be who you want. If anyone has any questions or comments, my email is in the bio at the bottom.

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


A Year Milestone for the Unlikely Vegan by Phil Shainmark

| 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 ridiculous, but it was really tasty.

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The Unlikely Vegan Dines Out by Phil Shainmark

| 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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