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In Anticipation of Summer…

Just a short post for now to share some exciting news and a bit of a new direction for this blog.

For the past two days the weather has been perfect here in New Orleans, almost unbearably so because we know what’s in store for us. For the past two mornings, I sat on my screened-in porch overlooking the canals in my backyard, feeling chilled enough that I wore long sleeves and drank hot cappuccinos. What?! Typically, by now I’ve made the switch to espresso shots poured into mason jars full of ice, ready to bravely face the humidity. “Enjoy it while you can,” everyone is saying. There won’t be mornings like this again until early October.

Memorial Day Weekend is upon us and the big news is this: on Saturday, I’ll be bringing my new boat home. On Sunday we’ll christen her. I’m so excited for the possibilities that having a boat will bring us. I’m so excited to learn how to drive a boat! I can’t even imagine some of the sights I’ll now be privy to, right in my own backyard and beyond (this boat can take us straight across the Gulf to Mexico… though I doubt that will be happening anytime soon). I hope to be sharing a lot of my adventures on here plus capturing some moments on my IG.

Spring is almost over and what a great season it’s been for me. I’ve traveled for both leisure and work. I returned to Italy, spending most of my time in Florence, with a ton of day trips sprinkled in. I’ll be posting some travelogues in the next week or two. Over the Spring, I’ve also made trips to San Antonio a couple of times, Dallas/FTW, Toronto and Montreal. While in Montreal, I made two new vegan restaurant discoveries, Lov and Crudessence (which is raw vegan). Behold the delicious sights:

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Raw vegan BLT made with eggplant

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Raw vegan cheese plate

I’ve said before the only thing that I deeply miss from my brief break from veganism (after being vegan for 16 years I took a 5 year hiatus and ate cheese occasionally) several years ago are cheese plates. Those glorious boards of tiny bits of cheese, piles of nuts and dried fruits and olives. But feast your eyes on the above. That raw vegan cheese (made from nuts) is just as delicious and gives you that decadent feeling without the unhealthiness of dairy (bonus: cruelty-free luxury is the best kind of luxury!) I kept a mostly raw diet about four and a half years ago and felt the best, looked the best I ever had. It’s just not the easiest thing to keep up, especially if you eat out and travel as much as I do. It can also be pretty expensive. You eat a lot more and if you don’t have the time to dehydrate things, you’re going to pay a lot for convenience.

To be honest, Spring never was my favorite season. It feels so stagnant. I lived in New York for most of my life, and you are constantly feeling like it’s just never going to get warm again. March is the most endless month, but April isn’t much better. But then, those tulips pop up and bloom and you start to feel a little bit of hope. You’re still frustrated with the grayness outside and you might even plant some jasmine in defiance to the weather gods and while the plants might need to be brought inside a couple times, suddenly one night it feels warm enough to sit out on a patio for dinner and breathe in that sultry tropical scent.

In New Orleans, spring is typically non existent. After all, on Mardi Gras day, it was actually in the 80s. We’ve had a long spring this year (I don’t think I’ve had the heat on since early February) and although the past year or so had me a bit weary with the heat by early September, this year, I’m kind of like bring it on, because hello, I’ll have a boat!

Right now, I’m out on the porch enjoying the warmth of the evening, admiring the sun setting behind the palms across the canal, with a glass of almost frozen Champagne. It’s Friday night and all I want to do is write & dream.

Check in with me next week…

 

Lenten Intentions (Vegan Life Hacks)

It’s post-Mardi Gras season here in New Orleans so you know what that means? It’s Lent and even though most people I know aren’t practicing Catholics, “giving up something for Lent,” is a thing here. Many people give up booze. Many do the typical “fish Friday” thing. I’m giving up vegan king cake…which is super easy considering king cake generally disappears from bakeries the day after Fat Tuesday. I know. I’m so disciplined, right?

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So, yeah, I’m not really giving anything up but that’s OK, I like an intention to eat healthier, especially after several week of indulging in restaurant food (or post parade dinners of chips and salsa… and king cake). Things were a little crazy there for a while.

A lot of people may give up meat altogether for Lent. Yay!  This reminds me, not related to Lent, but perhaps a New Year’s resolution (was New Years really over 2 months ago?!), but a fair number of friends and colleagues have recently told me that they are flirting with the idea of being vegan. I thought perhaps a Vegan 101 blog post might be in order, so this is for my flirting with veganism friends and for those of you who are new vegans and those of you who may be v-curious but the prospect of giving up Burrata makes you wonder if life wouldn’t be worth living (hint: it is). The time for New Years resolutions is past, but hey, anyone can do Lent.

In all seriousness, there’s no need for a special time of year to get started on this lifestyle, whatever reason you have to consider it. My own reason that I went vegan was “for the animals.” I was young and lucky enough not to have any health concerns, plus I never felt right about eating meat after reading Charlotte’s Web. There I was, chock full of idealism and a junk food vegan was born. If you’d like to read more about my personal vegan journey and outlook, read this post that I wrote back in August.

The good news is, even with that 5-7 years or so of youthful junk food veganism, I saw the light and gradually became health conscious. By the way I still don’t have any health concerns, save for that typical hitting 40 and suddenly realizing you have to be more careful with your joints (it’s so annoying to be mortal sometimes). I’ve been working out 5-6 days per week for my entire adult life and my knees and elbows are begging for more yoga and less high impact cardio. That sucks but at least my cholesterol and blood pressure are pretty dang perfect. I don’t have diabetes or any other age-related disease that becomes a concern starting in your late 30s. It seems as though this vegan thing is a good thing for my health.

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Hot Chicken-style Tofu from Graze Nashville

Whatever your intention, the great thing is you’re going to have no choice as to the results. You will make a difference. You will be leaving less of a carbon footprint. You will probably be healthier. All good stuff, right? That said, I just ask that you don’t become an asshole and think you’re better than all non vegans because stuff like that doesn’t help the cause.

Without further ado, here are some vegan hacks to get you started and keep you going:

1. Don’t let semantics get in the way of your goals.

This is a controversial subject but I suggest that while you’re doing your online research and read vegan blogs and watch vegan Youtube channels that you don’t get too tripped up by terms, specifically plant-based vs. veganism. That shit annoys the hell out of me. Those militant vegans and their insistence on semantics annoy me because part of what is going to raise vegan-consciousness is by using the term itself. Vegan. If you’re eating a plant-based diet but still wear animal products, it’s best to still use the term “vegan” when you describe your dietary restriction.

To be clear, no, you’re really not “vegan” if you buy leather shoes and bags. You’re not being “vegan” if you go to a show where animals are doing tricks (I can’t believe people still do this, but whatever). And if you’re abstaining from meat, fish, dairy, eggs, honey but still buy leather shoes? Not vegan. Technically. The vegan police would demand that you call yourself “plant-based.” Here’s the thing, though. The word “vegan” is well-known in English-speaking countries and there’s translation for it in just about any (major) language. When you’re traveling outside of the US, and you’re ordering food in a restaurant, it’s easy enough to say, “Soy vegano” or “je suis végétalien” or “lo sono vegano” etc. So, use the term vegan. No one will arrest you.

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Vegan Antipasto plate made for me when on a truffle-hunting tour in Florence, IT

I am still asked what vegan means by servers, even in the US (never in Canada, but I digress) and there’s an opportunity for you to (politely) teach someone. Let’s not add “plant-based” to confuse the matter. And new folks to the lifestyle getting intimidated by semantics isn’t going to make eating vegan any easier.

2. Feel free to enjoy all the vegan junk food (sometimes)

There’s so much of it! There’s the accidentally vegan crap like Oreos. I personally don’t stock my cupboards with them but who am I to turn away a good pint of Cookies ‘n Cream? Speaking of, have you heard that Ben & Jerry’s now has an entire line of dairy-free frozen desserts? Again, not my cup of tea, too sweet, too heavy, but trust me, it’s better than that soy frozen dessert I used to lick my wounds with 20 years ago. My favorite vegan ice cream that you’ll find in the supermarket is Coconut Bliss, but if you’re lucky enough live in a city where they make artisanal small batch frozen vegan goodies, lucky you!

Damn, an entire paragraph devoted to ice cream. I think you know what I’m talking about here (by the way, banana ice cream is almost as good and so much healthier/lower fat. Invest in a Vitamix and have at it). But it doesn’t end there, my friends. There’s chips. There’s fries. There’s candy. There’s cake. There’s the aforementioned king cake (if you live in New Orleans).

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Pumpkin Spice Donut from Cinnamon Snail, NYC

And while I don’t recommend making this a main part of your diet if you’re going vegan for health reasons (seriously, you will feel shitty, unless you’re a teenager), it’s a great way to indulge once in a while or as much as you need to in order to avoid the “real” junk!

3. Don’t knock it if you can mock it

There’s fake meats. There’s decent vegan cheese (I think I like Daiya more than real cheese and Miyoko’s mozzerella is perfection). There’s ice cream (covered above). There’s vegan mac & cheeze that you can buy in a box (not my thing) or make yourself so that it’s even more decadent/delicious/comforting (I make a homemade cashew/cauliflower cream and mix with pasta).

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There’s even greasy/gooey/good vegan pizza

Oh and there’s also this

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What the hell?!

The Beyond Burger is the closest thing to meat I’ve ever had (and my burger-loving boyfriend agrees). I recall a time when veggie burgers were typically dry, beany affairs. Now there’s this, not to mention the Impossible Burger (not yet available in stores, but in restaurants in NYC that I’ll for sure be hitting up when I return in the spring).

While this all typically falls into the “junk” food bit covered above, you can mock things with whole foods too. So let me tell you about my queso…

4. The Purge: Don’t feel you have do it

Your closet may contain dozens of pairs of leather shoes or perhaps you had a thing for cashmere (we’re not talking about anyone I personally know of course). Some people donate their leather, wool and other animals that they’ve worn before. Some cannot afford to do so. Do what you can. Don’t beat yourself up over it. This is the way I rationalize it: wool is friggin’ itchy. Leather smells like death. When there are ethical designers out there like Stella McCartney, Vaute Couture and Cri De Coeur making super cute clothes and accessories, there are no excuses anymore. Also, check labels because there are plenty of other designers who make items without wool, silk or leather. Unintentionally vegan clothes just as fabulous.

5. Know that most doctors are not nutritional experts

Generally speaking, doctors are here to treat illness, not prevent it. While these days they are usually in agreement that vegan diets are healthy, I come from decades of being told that I needed dairy for calcium, meat for protein, etc. I’d meet the worried, pitying glance straight on. I need not share all the findings that indicate otherwise here, do I? Here’s where you need to arm yourself with facts. Read books. Watch Forks over Knives (my personal favorite) and other documentaries. Then read what opposition there is to those facts (usually funded by groups that have special interest in keeping their industry alive). I’m not going to get political here though. Nope. Not going down that rabbit hole. There’s a wealth of information out there for you!

6. Slaughterhouse Videos etc.

I don’t recommend these. If you need to see torture & killing to convince you that you’re making the right choice, go for it.

7. Making mistakes

Sometimes they sneak an animal product in where you least expect it. This lifestyle is a learning process! If you accidentally think something like “non dairy creamer” is vegan (it isn’t) and learn after the fact, that doesn’t mean you blew it so you might as well have at your kid’s cheese pizza. And if you are that into your kid’s cheese pizza maybe you need to reevaluate things. And you know what,  your kid might love vegan pizza (refer to photo above)!

My parting words: Try your best. Do your research. Read labels. Take risks in the kitchen. Eat well! Thrive!

 

 

 

 

 

A Hatred For Pumpkin Spice Was Born & Other Lies

Current local temperature in New Orleans: a cool 78 degrees with 81% humidity. Nighttime temps hover around 70. It’s finally fall!

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This is not New Orleans

I was thinking about how our favorite seasons shift from childhood to adulthood. Ask most children what their favorite season is and we know it ain’t fall for obvious reasons. The basic bitch that exists deep deep down inside of me automatically quips, but, but… pumpkin spice! Fucking pumpkin spice.

Now I’m going to reveal something that should be really embarrassing but isn’t at all because I’ve given up embarrassment for Lent, I mean life. A long time ago, at least 15-17 years, I used to buy my coffee from Porto Rico Imports. Naturally this is long before the infamous PSL even existed, but Porto Rico had a section of flavored coffees that they’d infuse with actual fruits, spices and flavors like coconut, chocolate raspberry and– wait for it– pumpkin spice. And wouldn’t you know it, pumpkin spice soon became a favorite. I’d buy a pound of it and a pound of a dark roast and grind them together to make my favorite brew. But one day that all changed. I placed my order and the hipster behind the counter actually sneered at me as he exclaimed, “Pumpkin spice?!” with such a degree of derision, I changed my order then and forevermore. Oh wait, I actually didn’t ever change my order. Fuck you, little man. But, OK, that was the defining moment when I realized that perhaps pumpkin spice wasn’t for everyone.

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I only drink homemade PSLs 

Fast forward 10 years and Starbucks creates an acronym and a sensation. Women in Uggs everywhere would soon be unable to divorce inappropriately flavored items from the mere mention of fall. I think I saw pumpkin spice dental floss recently but I might be wrong. I’ll be honest and say that I don’t buy a hell of a lot of pumpkin spice flavored things. It’s gotten out of hand, people! But I can’t deny that I have delightful visions of that coffee shop twerp puking every time he walks into a Trader Joes or Target. Choke on a pumpkin spice flavored Oreo, motherfucker.

If like me, you live in a subtropical climate, you know that a traditional “fall” probably doesn’t really kick in until mid November.

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My Outdoor Office

In the meantime, though, we can light a fire in the fire pit, jet up the jacuzzi and drink red wine and pretend. I dream of the day when I can again open my windows for the first time in 4 or 5 months and allow in the fresh & not fall-like at all air in when the temps get below 80 degrees.

Otherwise, there’s travel to chillier places of course.

My mom’s birthday is October 8, so I typically take a long weekend trip home to New York where the temps are perfect for light jackets and not anywhere near what they’ll be when I go home at Christmas when it’s brutally cold. Leaves will not really be turning quite yet, but since I’ll be back during Thanksgiving for my cousin’s wedding, I’ll get the full leafy treatment (see photo of autumnal Long Island above). Next week, I’ll be in full-on fall mode and I’ll be taking advantage of every second of it.

A Thing for Old Things

Homeporn. I have a problem. I can easily lose a day on home decor websites. I admit the the love of moving because it affords me the opportunity to live in a different place to decorate.Yes, I move a lot. I’m trying to change that habit. My favorite reoccurring dream is the one where I discover a new room in the house or apartment where I’m currently living. Oh, the possibilities!

I’ve had a fascination with old homes and antiques for as far back as I could remember. My parents had this thing way back when a form of weekend entertainment included us checking out houses that were for sale. I’ll never forget the day I discovered my dream home. It was a Victorian house that had been on the market for a while, not too far from where we lived, on Long Island.

I’m not sure if my folks ever had any intention of us moving (likely not as they are still living in the same house), but I’d get my hopes up, because I loved the idea of living somewhere new. Or rather, old. The older the home, surely the more stories it contains, right?

At this Victorian, there was a little house behind the main grand structure that the realtor told my parents had originally been a dollhouse for the little girl who lived there back at the turn of the century. Immediately connecting with this child, I began imagining a life for her, what she looked like, what kind of dresses she wore and how her hair had to have long banana curls with ribbons. I walked inside of her dollhouse and about melted into a puddle of bliss. The smell of old wood. The sight of peeling wallpaper. It was otherwise bare but even at age 9, I could see the potential. I came home and started on my plans to transform the dollhouse into my own little hideaway. I drew up a crude floor plan and picked out paint color (pink, duh). I sifted through my mother’s home mags for furniture and decor ideas (if only Pinterest had existed back then). I envisioned decoupaged dressers, porcelain dolls and tiny teacups. Perhaps a chandelier that held candles. A love for Victoriana was born.

My heart still aches for that house. Perhaps I later found that little girl’s scrapbook at an antique mall several years ago? Not likely hers, but I can still pretend.

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When I saw this at an antique mall, I had to have it!

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Take a peek inside Cristelle Shugart’s scrapbook

The book’s pages are all but disintegrating at this point, so one has to take great care not to disrupt the glued holiday cards (they sent cards for midsummer back then?), cutouts from seed packets, a World’s Fair child’s ticket and stickers (yes, even back then, kids love stickers!) It also contains a composition of essays held together with discolored pink ribbon.

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Cristelle wrote these sizzling essays when she was just 10 years old!

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Hey, I get it. I don’t love beer either!

I need to devote another blog post to this fabulous find.

It’s really no shock at all that I fell in love with New Orleans as soon as I landed here 20 years ago. This city has a reverence for the past that is arguably the strongest in America. Sometimes to a fault. I felt New Orleans had been waiting for me, for that child yearning to live in a very old home. I’ve lived here 5 years now, but I still wander around the tiny streets and imagine past lives of the people who lived in these Creole cottages. I guess we never really do grow up.

One of this past summer’s key moments included my time spent at the historical and beautiful Bywater Wonderland doing research on the story that’s featured in the fall issue of Faerie Magazine. If you read the article (why not subscribe? It’s a dreamy magazine), you’ll see that I might have been trying to figure out a reason to get a glimpse of the inside of this captivating house for some time now.

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Me, in my vintage tea party dress & Editor in Chief of Faerie Magazine, Carolyn Turgeon, at Bywater Wonderland June 2016. Image courtesy of Steve Parke Photography

My favorite thing about writing is simple: it enables you to relive or reimagine one of your own stories… or make up something entirely new, inhabit a completely different place. I vow that some day, I’ll live in that Victorian home with a dollhouse.

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Image courtesy of Steve Parke Photography

 

 

Immersed in Nature

The swamps surrounding my house beckon. Here I am, all I’m on a Boat in my head, but sometimes one needs to embrace the more budget-conscious choice. Besides, a canoe enables you to get into those tiny swamp alleyways, up close and personal with nature. Ah, nature. It’s so not my bag, baby.

Truth: I’m a city girl through and through. My earliest memories involve being awed by skyscrapers. The frenetic buzz of the city is what best lulls me to sleep at night and I feel most inspired when I wake up to the sounds of activity: store gates being thrown open, trucks making deliveries, the old man sitting on the stoop drinking his coffee and greeting rushed commuters. Just thinking about these things make me a little homesick and I haven’t lived in Brooklyn for 7 years.

That said, I’m striving towards embracing my outdoorsy side (rather, desperately trying to find that almost nonexistent outdoorsy side). While this doesn’t mean I’m going to go camping anytime soon (or, likely ever again, seeing as I couldn’t even handle camping in the Hamptons when I was a Girl Scout), I have been known to hike, kayak, and oh, there was that disastrous attempt at rappelling down a waterfall. I truly appreciate nature and now I’m kind of living in the middle of it and it’s really fucking gorgeous.

Danny, my boyfriend, is the absolute opposite of me. Nature is totally his thing. When we were first dating, he had these absurd visions of us going camping. He loves to fish. He loves to work outside. And the impending zombie apocalypse? He’s got this. He’d fight off zombies and catch fish for him, nuts and berries for me. What would I be doing besides complaining (typical New Yorker)? Failing at the Michonne workout. Pure. Zombie. Bait.

I was planning to get Danny a tattoo for his birthday, but instead I got him this canoe he’s been going on about for a year now. Living on the water, seeing all these boats going by, it inspires some real boat envy. I liked the idea of a canoe because it’s a little more active than a motored boat.

I’ve kayaked on Bayou St. John in the heart of New Orleans before, but for some reason that seems less infested with alligators than my current situation here in Bayou Sauvage (will you look at that main image?!) Or Bayou Savage, as I like to call it. I’ve actually never been in a canoe, which feels a hell of a lot more stable than a kayak, but I still was paranoid about tipping the thing over and falling into what is surely alligator and snake-infested water (NB: I exaggerate a lot).

This is us pulling away from our house… and possibly even civilization

Check us out! I’m digging these new adventures

 

 

 

Farewell to (a Travel-Filled) August

I’m in town for a spell. Speaking of spells (insert ghost, alien and demon emojis here), it’s officially Halloween season, baby! Not that it’s anywhere near cooling down here in New Orleans, but hello Labor Day Weekend and the banishment of white linen to the back of the closet (not that I own any white linen. Or white clothes). Yeah, that pumpkin spice latte may be truly disgusting but I like the idea of it being back on the scene (just don’t call me basic). My obsession with all things Autumnal is the subject matter for another post, but just know that I am terribly excited to receive a rather large order of fall-scented candles any day now (especially Yankee Candle Witches’ Brew  which is not only seasonal, but sells out by mid-September).

So, where have I been lately? August was a pretty travel-packed month for me. Early in the month, I had a couple nights in Memphis. I was home for 10 days before heading off to Toronto, then NYC to see my family, then San Francisco for our annual Yelp Community Manager Week, and finally to Nashville. I worked. I saw friends and family. I explored my beloved Coney Island with Danny. We walked the High Line one day. We went to a lot of bars. But the best part? I ate. I really ate. Each of the cities I visited boast great variety for vegans. Standouts include an abundance of greens at my favorite casual healthy joint in Toronto, Fresh on Queen, vegan pizza at Pauly Gee’s in Brooklyn, and a decadent sandwich at *gasp* Cinnamon Snail in Manhattan.

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Buffalo Chickpea Sandwich at Cinnamon Snail=Bliss

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Gorgeous Superfood Salad at Fresh on Queen, Toronto

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Hot Chicken-style Tempeh at Graze in Nashville

This is the truth: when I landed in Nashville last week, I literally dropped my bags off in my hotel room and immediately headed over to Graze so I could indulge in their famous hot chicken-style tempeh biscuit. It’s that good.

Let it be known that I’m positively giddy just thinking about all the great food I ate over 10 days out of town.

So, about all that sightseeing I did… but wait, let’s talk about food again! I jest.

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After all these years, still terrified on the Wonder Wheel at Coney Island PS. Back to Bangs

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A visit to NYC is not complete without a visit to Decibel

I have no plans for trips longer than a couple nights until early October and I’m going to make the most of my time home. Painting may even be on the horizon (dare I attempt to get my office in order?!) It may not feel fall-like in NOLA for about two more months, but that’s OK. I’m counting the days until I’ll be able to open all the windows in the house and let in cool breezes and the spooky sounds of huge swamp birds squawking in the middle of the night as they fly over the dark canals behind my house.

My So-Called Vegan Life

*Written at my house in the swamps of the Crescent City

What the hell is wrong with me? I let almost a year go by without blogging and that just ain’t right. A lot has happened over the past 11 months, but this isn’t going to be a catch up post, rather I’m gonna go and give you some vegan insight. Lucky you!

I’ve come to realize that I often try to push the fact that I’ve vegan under the table a bit. Sometimes I’m even apologetic about it. Why? In part, this is due to the fact that I don’t like to put people on the offense (sometimes admitting that you’re vegan will do this for some bizarre reason and no, I don’t announce my lifestyle choice unless I’m trying to order at a restaurant). The reality is, I’m sick of the same old questions and accusations I’ve been hearing for 25 years now. Sure, while I don’t mind answering the occasional curious question or two, if I have to hear, “what the hell do you eat?” or even worse, the dreaded, “where do you get your protein?” it may be time to break bad for me. I wish people would stop being so annoying. These cliché questions have even become t-shirts for fuck’s sake!

Back story: I made the decision to become vegan about a month after my foray into vegetarianism way back in late ’91. My reason had most to do with preventing the suffering of animals. I had always felt disgusted by meat and seafood so it was pretty easy to make the change. I lived in the East Village in NYC and while brands like Daiya, Field Roast and Earth Balance were not even yet a glimmer in anyone’s eyes, it wasn’t exactly a food desert either. I ate a lot of brown rice, black beans, soy burgers at Dojo, falafel and hummus… and what we now call “unintentionally vegan” shit like licorice, graham crackers and jelly beans (and yes, I was obsessive about checking that the ingredients didn’t include casein, albumen, gelatin and the like). I was really young, really broke and I didn’t yet have an expensive wine habit. Black coffee made me feel invincible.

Back then, the books that changed my life: Fit for Life (proper food combining, no animal protein, fruit until noon and/or entire fruit days), Diet for a New America (the first version). Perhaps reading Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle in 8th grade was also an influence. Books were always my everything, and while I’d have my first exposure to the World Wide Web in late ’91, let’s just say there wasn’t a ton of accessible information on there just yet.

Damn, we’ve come a long way, baby! I don’t need to answer your damn banal questions (note: I do however love to help people go vegan, but that’s different. Annoying question people are the type who inevitably then turn around and tell you why your diet sucks). Educate yo’selves! Anything you need to know about the lifestyle is accessible at your fingertips. There are blogs galore. There are local vegan groups on Facebook. Finding vegan options in restaurants is a breeze thanks to Yelp. There’s a whole slew of vegan Youtube channels and looking at the comments there, I’m just amazed at how many teenagers are down with becoming vegan. It’s pretty cool, considering that Millennials are so hell-bent on the irony of eating pedestrian shit like bacon on bacon and duck fat fries. This Gen Xer is digging the Zs coming up and out something hard.

Having access to things that make this way of life more delicious and fun is just so priceless. I’d say I don’t miss the 90s in New York City, but that would be a lie and a topic of another post. There’s all kinds of vegan products available that make eating at home an utter pleasure. While I’m hardly at the Isa Chandler or Vegan Yack Attack level of vegan creations, I sure can follow their recipes! There’s a few things that I make thanks to my own experimentation that seem to make even non vegans pretty happy. I’m especially good at vegan cream sauces and queso (can you tell it’s cheese I miss the most?) I can make these super rich with nuts or low fat with potatoes and cauliflower.

With clothing and accessory lines like Matt & Natt, Vaute Couture, Melissa, Cri de Coeur… Stella McCartney if you wanna get real fancy, I don’t see myself getting tempted by leather ever again. Leather shoes were my last hold out because until the last decade or so, the good non-leather shoes were out of my price range and the cheap ones just sucked. And well… I have a John Fluevog problem and he stopped making vegan shoes unfortunately. But, but… Cri de Coeur is kind of my everything right now.

Full truth: I was vegan for about 16 or 17 years when I decided I needed more food options in my life again, so I switched to ovo-lacto vegetarianism for several years (emphasis on lacto. The ovo part only came into play when hidden in some kind of item because I actually have always been grossed out by eggs). And by “lacto,” I mean cheese. Drinking milk is absolutely disgusting and I don’t recall ever having done so, even as a child because I had a milk allergy.

When I was around 5 years old, I hated cheese and used to wipe it off my pizza (the horror, right?) But I soon fell in love with cheese, possibly thanks to my mom working in a gourmet cheese shop. I acquired a particular taste for Brie, Bleu Cheese and even more mild stuff like Jarlesburg. Suffice to say, I’d loved cheese a long time and although I pretended it was easy to give it up, every time I was faced with my favorite food, that being pizza, well, it was never easy to give up cheese. I made the decision to have cheese again several months after I returned from a trip to Italy where being vegan admittedly made me feel deprived. I had made the decision late one night that I wanted to have cheese again and so I did. I didn’t exactly eat it every day (maybe once a week). I am glad I had around 3 years where I wasn’t 100% vegan. I don’t miss cheese at all anymore.

I can’t lie and say it’s not frustrating sometimes to eat out and have to get really watered down dishes because some chefs don’t have the ingredients (or the desire) to make something up on the spot that’s vegan, filling and delicious. Some days I get downright cranky. Last year I was in San Francisco, of all places (surely a vegan paradise), and ate at a French restaurant (never a good idea for vegans) with a large group of friends. There was not a single thing on the menu I could eat, so I asked the waitress for some help. I was offered “the peach Burrata without the Burrata.” Seriously? You’re going to serve me a peach? And I knew damn well there wouldn’t be a discount for leaving out the main ingredient of the dish. This is where I get cranky. It was late. I was hungry. And had had several glasses of wine. These situations don’t come up a lot, I mean, I try my best to avoid them, but when they do, you can’t help but feel frustrated. And then go back to your hotel room and dive into the overpriced can of Pringles in the mini bar.

Restaurant frustrations are very common here in New Orleans, the city where it’s expected for vegetarians to eat fish. When you say you don’t eat seafood, well, then you’re vegan. And if you god forbid don’t eat eggs or dairy? You may be met with an expression of pity and sincere confusion. When I used to visit back in the 90s, there were 3 or 4 restaurants that I could eat in. I’m happy to report that now there are about 5. Kidding. I do tend to stick to the same 5 places, although there are options at roughly a dozen or so restaurants and about a dozen more will make you something off-menu that may or may not be that great. Like I said, I cook at home a lot. And of course, I travel on the regular so I get plenty of options in cities like Dallas, Nashville, Toronto, New York, SF and Montreal.

I’ll be going home to NY very soon for a short visit and Dr. Cow is on my list (as well as a repeat visit to By Chloe). Vegan cheese shop… who ever would have thought this would be a reality? After New York, I’ll be in San Francisco for a work trip. I plan on eating a lot y’all! Stay tuned…

On a final note, I’m done apologizing for my lifestyle choices. I’m not hurting anyone, just sometimes inconveniencing people. You do you, I’ll do me, as the saying goes. My diet means that my carbon footprint is baby-sized and I’m not directly causing the torture and death of animals. I’m also not supporting the very fucked-up meat and dairy industries in this country either. If you want to talk more about this with me, I’m all open to reasonable discussion but I’m not open to you trying to put me on the defense with your ill-informed bullshit that I’ve been on the receiving end of for 25 years. Ciao!