The Unlikely Vegan Visits New York 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.)

The next day we went to Long Island to see my Grandparents. So, of course, we went to Town Bagel in Wantagh. Most of their bagels are Vegan and they have some fantastic chopped salads. It’s “choose your ingredients” style, where you fill out a card with what you want, starting with what kind of leafy plant. That’s awesome, because I HATE lettuce, but I love spinach and cabbage. So that was an absolute home run. And the bagels are of course, delicious.

A few days later, I was up in Brewster NY with my Mom, where we went to another local bagel/sandwich place. They had some awesome Vegan hot sandwiches, so we decided to order two different ones and split halves. We got a “meatball” sandwich and a “Philly cheese steak.” The cheese steak was alright, but that meatball sandwich was out of this world. The next day we had vegetable dumplings (Trader Joe’s) with a ginger wasabi soy dipping sauce (Mom’s), and they were delicious.  Really, the whole trip was great. And it was absolutely no problem to find great food to eat, all the places I went.

So my dad came out to Vegas about a week after, and we went to Sparrow+Wolf (the excellent restaurant I mentioned in a previous article) and spoke with the manager when she heard we were Vegan. Apparently, they had had protestors out front for a while. The menu had switched to some of their “Fall” items, one of which was Foie Gras, and the Vegans were protesting – the chef and staff had even received death threats. See, that’s absolutely not ok. This is why no one wants to listen to Vegans. This is why people HATE Vegans. How did we decide that if we want people to listen to us, we should be horrible, insufferable… (you fill in the word)? Yes, Foie Gras is gross. Yes, it’s made in a horrible manner. But death threats are ridiculous. And the manager told me that tons of people came in because they saw all the protestors. Congrats Vegans, you played yourself.  This is why I hate calling myself a Vegan.

Something else I’ve wanted to address. I’ve deleted my Facebook account (not because of Veganism) but one of the things I noticed before I left was this whole “Eating only plants STILL kills animals. Checkmate Vegans” posts and articles. These are always presented as some sort of “Gotcha.” Not only is this ridiculous, the math isn’t even right. Let’s say eating a plant-based diet kills “X” number of field animals from the cultivation. And eating meat kills “Y” number from the same cultivation of land for ranches. AND all the animals you’re killing to eat equals ”Z.” Then X+Y+Z = more than either one individually. But of course, if you try to explain that, you’re just inundated with gifs of steaks and bacon. And called a “Soy boy,” which I find hilarious. If you’re going to use math as an argument, you should probably make sure it’s correct. But more to the point, why does everything have to be a “Gotcha” type thing? Why do we vegans have to constantly trip up meat eaters, to “trick” them into becoming Vegan? Meat eaters, why do you have to constantly try to catch Vegans not being “perfect” vegans ALL the time? I’ve had staggering success getting people to try Veganism, or at least not criticize it, just by being honest. And not judging their choices. Maybe it’s time for the novel approach of not being ravening lunatics?

by Phil Shainmark