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 email@example.com