Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year End Thanks

You might believe that I have completely abandoned this blog, and you would partially be right. I could blame a lot of things, kids, work, new baby, holidays, but basically I've just lost enthusiasm and interest. Its unfortunate, as I wanted to be able to look back on this blog as an account of my veganization, and with the long gaps, it doesn't tell much of a story. I tried a few months ago to get it going, but I never got back in the habit. I would still like to continue doing this, and I will resolve to try and put my thoughts out here on a more regular basis in the coming year.

To finish of the year, I want to thank my family for dealing with my ups and downs, my wild mood swings (they weren't really that wild), and for generally keeping me together this year. I really have an amazing wife, she see's potential in me, where I tend to give up and quit. I cant say enough about her (but I will for the moment on this blog). My big kids are awesome, and they have welcomed there younger siblings without question. I am having a tough time watching them grow up though. I'm sure I'll be mentioning that again in the next year. My brother and sister live in Wisconsin, and I wish I could see them more. I'm not a good communicator, and we don't talk much either. That doesn't help. I'd like to improve on that. My wife's family all live withing about a 20 minute drive of each other, and I am jealous that they can get together for dinner on Sunday. I am thankful for them for taking me, and my big kids in and adopting us into the family, but its not the same. My folks are in Florida, and we see each other a handful of times a year. Its too few for my liking, but we are trying to manage it. I hope that next year I get to see them all more times than the previous year. I'll wish the same thing again this time next year.

Not that any or all of these people will even see this, I want to extend a special thanks to several people who have stuck with me over the last year, and despite my comings and goings on twitter, always seem to be there when I have something important, (or more likely, silly and juvenile) to say. Happy New Year to Lee, Megan, Neven, Noelle, Andrea, Carol and Heather. Thanks for keeping an eye on me this year.

Happy New Year to all my family and friends,

Sunday, September 25, 2011

What I learned this week

I got my Project Management Professional certification about a month back, and one of the things I picked up by the teacher was in regards to "status" meetings or updates. Having update meetings to just tell everyone where your "at" seemed to be a complete waste of time. Everyone should know where you or your project is "at", and if you are telling your team where you are "at", than you aren't effectively communicating to your team. So instead of just presenting where you are at, perhaps it would be better to have everyone on your team discuss something that they learned in the last week or so. What lesson did you learn? Good or bad, right or wrong. What did you learn?

We are always experiencing and learning new things, so it would be doubtful that we could really walk through life and pick up absolutely nothing. So what did you learn? I ask my kids this all the time. What did you learn at school today? I never get an straight answer out of this, and it always takes prodding, but I am going to be adamant at dinner next time, and ask them to tell me one thing they learned in that day. No free passes, you have to answer the question. I expect dinner will be exciting. I had better give them a heads up, so they will remember to not forget what they did at school. My son can recite dialog from Minecraft or Roblox. Tell you the names of all the animators and directors at Studio Ghibli, but I'll be damned if he can remember what he did at school, as we are driving away from it.

So what have I learned since my last blog? Good question. My lesson for this week is "Pareve".

pa·re·ve   [pahr-uh-vuh, pahr-vuh]  Show IPA
adjective Judaism .
having no meat or milk in any form as an ingredient and beingpermissible for use with both meat and dairy meals as stated inthe dietary laws: a pareve bread; pareve soup.

I'm surprised I'd never heard of this term. My only experience with "Kosher" has been pickles. And I admittedly never really knew what that meant. Having spent a good deal of time on the east side of Cleveland, I've been exposed to a large Jewish population, but I didn't know anything about dietary laws. I remember going to a "diner" a few years back (pre vegan) and we went to get cheese burgers, which as I learned were not kosher. Actually, that's where I first realized you could not mix meat and dairy. A cheeseburger is really the ultimate insult to the life of a cow anyways, but then these dietary laws are not about animal rights anyway. Cheese and Burger apparently do not go together.

Also, my nephew has an extreme dairy allergy, and I learned that there were candy stores that would sell dairy free chocolate. This was stuff my mother-in-law had been buying for years. "Alex Safe", is what I heard. In the past year, I've been eating a lot more "Alex Safe" food. This week I heard my first news of the so called vegan M&M. So I found myself browsing through a candy store this week and this term "Pareve" was found on a vast majority of the candy in this place. I first thought it was a brand, but when I asked at the store, I was informed that this tells you that what you are eating is devoid of any milk or meat products, hence, it can be enjoyed with either. No milk or meat... that is damn near vegan. Well fortunately, I took a brief perusal of the ingredients to find that almost all of them were made without eggs as well. I started scooping my "Chocolate Lentils" out of the bin. (Albeit, damn expensive for M&M's)

Not a healthy discovery by any stretch, but a very important one. These are important battles in the daily vegan struggle. Finding new ways to enjoy this way of life, as opposed to just "dealing" with it. 

I only hope I learn as good a lesson next week.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Twitter has killed my blog

To Whom It May Concern,

I took a long hard look at what my blog has become, and I am pretty disappointed in what it has evolved into. The whole point of this blog was to document my transition from a meat eating lifestyle to one of peace, serenity and a plant based diet. It was a pretty big deal. If you knew me, you would have never in a million years have thought I would omit so many things from my lifestyle. I admittedly didn't know why I was doing it, and I had this idea that writing an online journal would somehow be a fun way for me to document things as I discover them about myself. I thought it would be an interesting perspective down the road to understand how I could make such a transition. I wanted to document my ups and downs, successes and failures. I wanted it to really trend my life and help give me a greater perspective on what I have chosen to do. I had a lot of thoughts of what it would become.

Shortly after starting this, I got my first few followers on this blog, and like the addictions I have had, I quickly got the high from people tuning in. So how could I get more people to tune in? I added a Twitter account. (@crabbyvegan if you haven't figured that out by now). I got a feedburner account, and pointed my posts to twitter. This was pretty limiting, since I only had a few followers, so I started following vegans. I searched on the keyword, and started following. I remember the first time someone tweeted to me. Oddly enough, she never followed me, still doesn't. I followed dozens upon dozens, and my follow total started to grow. At this time my follower total on my blog started going up, and comments on my blog took off. I was obsessed with who was following me, and getting people to comment on my blog. I obsessed over blog entries that didn't get as many comments, and it was obvious that I wasn't writing for myself anymore.

It was early into the year when my workload and travel schedule went off the charts that my blogging really slowed down. I had a lot of things to say, but I could never get my entries funny enough, or have an interesting enough story for myself, or find a funny enough picture to go along with what I was writing. So posts went unfinished, and before too long I couldn't remember what I was writing about, so I just deleted the post entirely. I was more interested in telling an entertaining story than just opening up and just letting it pour out. That really was the original point.

Now my twitter feed is a endless stream of liberal rhetoric, recipe blogs, foursquare check-in's, complaints about work, sports updates, and food porn. I will say, that there is a certain positive that has become of this, I've managed to find a handful of people that I am truly interested in hanging out with. I don't plan on deserting them, as they have always stuck with me. Some of whom have noted my absence. I think that's a real sign. When you post a blog and solicit comments, you are bound to get some. But when you are noticed for being absent, you have to think that maybe some people really are interested in what you have to say.

So tonight I had made an abrupt decision to remove my twitter account, and delete my blog. I thought about that for a little while, and realized I was spiting myself with that decision. I tend to do that. Punish myself, instead of trying to really solve the situation. So I took a step back and thought I would first disconnect my blog from my twitter account. If I know a notice is not going out when I post, maybe I'll be a little more liberal with the "Publish" button. So I can post away, and only you sorry few who followed me here, and those following me on Google Reader will get an update in their feed. Feed updates are much less "in your face" than a tweet, so I am OK with that.

I don't anticipate my blog updates will be nearly as entertaining as they have been, but you never know. Sometime I can be my most charming, when I'm not even trying. And I need to stop trying. This blog is for me. Its not a political blog or a recipe blog, and I'm not trying to win any more popularity contests. If you choose to follow me, I thank you deeply. If you choose to un-follow me, I understand entirely (which is another thing I used to obsess entirely too much over).

Next, I need to evaluate my twitter account. I'm not sure what to do with it. I may take the lead of some other of my online friends and simply start another one, and follow my friends, and just keep it cosy. I currently have 1400 twitter followers, and I'd rather have 20 or 30, who are actually interested in what I have for to say.

If you are really following me because they are interested in what I have to say, I thank you. I'm really a fascinating person, if you haven't already determined that.

Warmest Regards,


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Wow, what a summer. Let me tell you it has been wild, and if I wanted to, I would not have had a spare moment to write a blog, a letter, phone a friend, or call my mom. I've been busy, there is a reason you have not heard from me. But I do know that you have anxiously awaiting my return, so I thought I would come back with a big litany of items that I had to deal with over the summer, hence reasons I did not blog (call, phone or write). OK, that was rather presumptuous, I've actually only had a few comments, and if I didn't know any better, I would think you all are reading other blogs and didn't even notice I was gone. That's the worst, taking time off, and people learn to do without you. One of my work vacation fears. if I'm gone too long, they'll figure out how to exist without me, and then I wont be as valuable as I was when I left. I'm getting off topic now, and I will take a vacation I promise.

So Meghan, Heather and Lee (especially Lee, she is the one in the middle) are probably the ones who mostly have noticed my absence. Lee mentioned to me last night (it sounds so cozy, but really it was a "tweet") that my blogged missed me. She gave a me a good idea for my next blog, but I thought I would just write a rambling stream of consciousness first to declare that I have come back, and then I'll get back into food related stuff.

Lets just enumerate my many accomplishments over the summer. Note these are not listed in any particular order.
its all vegan i assure you
  • Had a birthday - OK, this did not require much preparation, as it probably would have happened regardless if I was paying attention.
  • Traveled for work - I should have blogged some of my trips. Milwaukee and Memphis were of particular note, Bismarck and Evansville were not.
  • Built a shed - Technically I supervised this effort, although my task (painting it) is yet to be completed.
  • Painted a porch - Again, I supervised this, but in my defense, I had to make some tough calls. Such as asking the guy to paint more, so I wouldn't have to (I failed to ask him to paint my shed).
  • Mowed the lawn many times - This goes without saying. And I should say that this effort takes a good 15 minutes, so there goes the summer.
  • Enjoyed a big steak - Just kidding, wanted to see if you were still reading.
  • Obtained my PMP - This was for real. My biggest summer time sync. 1-3 hours of study daily for almost 12 weeks. I took about 3 days off in that time. 
  • Entertained my folks, brother and sister - Another good blog idea I let pass, I had my whole family at my house for my birthday. A rarity for us as we don't often all get together
  • Assisted my father in surgical recovery - I really didn't do much to assist, my dad (and mom) were in the Midwest for about 5 weeks. My dad treated himself to a triple-A surgery while on vacation.
  • Got depressed most Sunday evenings - I could probably write a book on Sunday blues. It would be a rather depressing book though.
  • Washed my dog - Others would say I haven't done this enough times though.
  • Started a rock band with my daughter - My daughter on keyboards, me with my new ax. Which I've successfully restrung the first E string. Other than that I haven't touched it. Groupies, please email me.
  • Played Words With Friends dozens of times - I enjoy playing this, except with Lee, where it has become much more of a blood-sport. I did beat her once though. I should have retired after that.
So as you can see, I hadn't a chance to even relax for a moment and read a good book, let alone get on the computer and blog.

So this does not do much for my effort to blog about the trials and tribulations of becoming vegan. If anyone was wondering how I was coping on those fronts, I will say I have found a groove (rut?) that seems to be working. But as I sit here and think back, my only vegan experiences of note, are usually the ones where I am travelling out of town. That's when I get a chance to see what is in the area, go out and explore, and know that someone else is always picking up the tab. I wont try to summarize the whole summer in one blog. I should have blogged at the time, and going back now and trying to write what happened weeks or months ago would not be interesting or therapeutic.

I did step on a scale the other week, and to my surprise I was down another 10. That is a total of 40lbs lost since doing this (Although I'm not sure I dropped to a size 4). That has given me a good excuse when faced with the always awkward question of "why". I don't get it too much now, but occasionally I do, and I freely admit that I take the cheap way out, and keep the conversation away from a potential political discussion. I tend to not like to give away much about myself to others. Dem, Rep, God Fearing, Atheist, who knows? That's the way I like it. Although some of my friends can figure out that as much as I love labels, sometimes they just escape me entirely. And for fear of a label, I generally take one of the following cop outs:
  • Health - Everyone knows that our country is pretty unhealthy. And doing something to improve your health is all the rage. Throw in a 40lb loss, and I'm damn near set to write a book. This answer pleases even the staunchest of conservatives (not that there is anything wrong with that).
  • Wife - When in doubt (and she is not around), blame the wife. This is a good answer depending on the audience at the time. She is the Yogi, I'm the beer drinking, cigar smoking, crap shooting son-of-a-bitch. Shortly after this subject comes up, I try to steer the conversation to guns
  • Experiment - Not often used, but it was sort of one, and it kinda still is. So its not entirely lying. Which I love. Telling the truth is sometimes the best lie.
  • Cancer - Talking about Cancer always freaks people out, so when I want to shut a bunch of people up, I bring this up. Works like a champ. (crickets chirping)
  • The Truth? - Well, I cant go there because I'm still trying to determine it. That's the guiding principle of the blog. To discover it.

So that about sums up my summer. A lot of excuses as to why I haven't blogged, a lot of excuses when asked about my lifestyle choice. General survival. Not a glowing report, but you have to survive before you can thrive. I am in a groove, which could also be though of as a rut, but hey, I'm still vegan, so I must be doing something right.

Hope you had a nice summer too :-P

Stay tuned. I have a fabulous new secret vegan recipe that will blow your head off. If you are not vegan, you will become one just to have eat this. That's my teaser.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I haven't written a blog all month

This is not a cheap attempt to get something to show up in my blogger for May, OK, maybe it is a little. I just spotted the date, and realized my last post was about my one year anniversary of going vegan. Suffice it to say (I like saying that) that I have not been putting much emphasis into my blogging. I have no real answer for this. I had a few people ping me about this a few months ago, so i made some half hearted attempts at writing witty entries with pictures that I did not get approval from anyone for displaying. I re-read the last few, and they lack the enthusiasm that I had in the fall. Maybe it was all still fun and fresh, and maybe I am settling in for the long haul, and these types of things are falling by the wayside. I will say that I do go all hot and heavy and get excited about things, only to have the luster wear off, and I am bored and looking for something new to play with. (Not at all a marital or relationship reference, in case anyone is getting nervous).

So 13 months later and I am settling in. I will say I had some serious discussions with myself about abandoning this this whole thing, and just going back to a more modest diet. You know, just try to keep things in moderation, and avoid overdoing everything like I used to. I figured if I could do this for 13 months, I could go back to a modest diet, eat a healthy balance of meats, dairy, veggies, grains, etc. I thought about it. But I keep going back to my smoking analogy. I wont bore you with that again, I've written about it twice now. I could say that having given up smoking for 5ish years, I could surely go back to smoking just a few cigs a day or a week, right???. How many ex-smokers would go along with that? Yeah, not too many. If I could go from a regular smoker for many years, to a casual smoker, and never want more, I would surely be able to conquer the world. I will bet that my going vegan is more realistic than me being able to casually smoke. So that being said, the thing that kept me back the most was fear. Fear of starting something, spending months and months to figure it out, and then destroy it overnight.

I'll admit that I was not caught up in veganism ethics, animal cruelty, etc. (I'll lose a few followers for that one). I was afraid of not being able to handle it. Go back to my glutinous over indulging ways, pack the weight back on that I lost, and feeling my health decline as my cholesterol goes up. I was afraid of going on to twitter and saying "So I fucked up and had some KFC"... Yeah, if I go out, I'll go out flaming. Not just nibble on a piece of cheese, or having something with butter in it,.. no I'll have some fried chicken, a cheeseburger, or something else that would no doubt double me over in pain, as my system would probably react like tossing water on a hot frying pan. What was I going to say? I could lie, but my wife has noted that I am an absolutely horrendous liar. I'm sure I wouldn't get vary far.

So I even went so far as to plan out what I was going to do with my blog. I had planned to first delete my twitter account, first dm'ing my closer friends. But what would I tell them? People are people, and we all have friends that share different views, political, sexual, whatever. And my "friends" would probably continue to be there, but then since I've only met,.. hmmmm, one? of my tweeps. I'm guessing I have not built up enough trust and respect for anyone to really understand what really makes me tick. Stands to reason, the friends I've had for 20+ years haven't really figured it out (I have faith in "Lee" though, we connect on other planes as well). Next I planned to delete my blog, but then I thought about how I could save off my articles. That made little sense to me. Why would I want to save things about something I tried and failed. No, in order to hide from the shame, I would have to just disconnect from everyone, delete all traces of me, and simply vanish.

I thought about. I admit it. I think about it. But I have to confess that after 13 months, I'm still looking for answers. We went to a Yogic Takeover of Fountain Square in Cincinnati a few weeks back. A big yoga, vegan fest right downtown. A friend of my wifes (part of her yoga troupe) is a musician, and he did a funky vegan rap called "Where do you get your protein?". It was a fun song about plant based diet, and the myths of needing meat/dairy to stay strong and healthy. It was a great song, and I felt pride, which is a feeling I never really had until that point. When it was done, my son Alex, the eternal meat eater, said "Alright Dad" and clapped. He was excited that it was a song about his dad. I put my vanishing plans on hold at that moment.

So I'm not fishing for sympathy at all on this blog. Its just a rambling a stream of consciousness. No pictures, no editing (I did the spell check as I was typing though). Just what was going on in my mind, on this last day of May.

I haven't vanished, and I'm really not intending too. I'm just dealing with the end of the exciting fresh and fun phase, and the start of the long stretch. Its like going on a cross country vacation with your parents. Its starts out great. In the car, singing, playing games,... then you realize you aren't even close, and your brother is annoying the shit out of you. This has nothing to do with my brother of course, but i'm at that phase. So i need to prepare for the next one, so I am not caught unprepared for the realities of what lies ahead. I cant make any promises how this blog will evolve. I'm digging in though. No plans to retreat (yet)

Winter is coming....

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Year One

trust me, the cake is vegan

One Year of Crabbiness:

I cant pinpoint the precise date, but I'm going to pick this date for a few reasons. I  had recently returned from Colorado, where I announced my intentions to my Sales colleague (while eating Carnitas taco's). I'm sure that I didnt stop that Thursday I returned home. More likely it was the following Saturday (April 17th), where I started my two week PB&J and Pasta binge (I didn't know exactly what to eat). It wasn't too long after that, that I started figuring some things out, but I had a long way to go to begin to understand what I was in for, and why I was doing it.

One year later, I'll freely admit that I am not nearly as converted as I thought I would be. I heard stories of people losing the cravings of meat, etc after a short time. I quit smoking years ago, and I still want one. Chances were good that a year later, I'd still want a cheeseburger.

So hear I am a year later, and I still have many of the same questions I had on day one. Yes I'm a lot more educated on the industries. I know a lot more about food, and where it comes from. I learned that Whole Foods was just not a patronized by a bunch of hippie, liberal, Prius driving, wanna-be's. (although there are quite a few). I learned that I can be a lot healthier, as I am down 30lbs+, and feel generally good (physically speaking). I've certainly learned that Milk, Eggs, and Meat are not the only, or even the best sources for all of your daily nutrients... But still I am unconvinced.

I will say that the experience has made me a lot of friends, that I would not have found otherwise, and I will admit that they are a main reason I keep on (ok, my family gets some credit too). They tell you that when you quit smoking you are supposed to tell everyone you know. Supposed to keep you honest. That was a good strategy. I think about how my actions would be received by my new friends. Sure, I could just not say anything, but my wife will tell you that I cant keep a secret (for long). I will always confess to her when I would sneak food late at night. Plus, my whole blog would be a sham then. No point in blogging something that I wasn't about. That being said, you will probably know it I fall off the wagon. I'll vanish into thin air, else I face the wrath of my 50+ blog followers, and 1000 twitter friends (ok, not all 1000 are real people, but I like to think so).

It is hard, I will say. I can even get a little pissy when I read tweets about how easy it is to be vegan, or how someone made the best meal ever. I dont begrudge anyone really, but the fat kid doesn't want to hear a skinny person say how they can eat anything, and not gain an ounce. It may be true, but its not fun to hear. But it is hard. Its been hard every day. I'm addicted. I'm addicted to smoking (which is why I had to quit), I'm addicted to food (which is why I needed to change). But unlike smoking, I still gotta eat. So I am reminded with every bite, how strong that addiction really is.

So where do I go now? Well just because I dont have all of the answers, doesn't mean that I give up asking. I didn't earn my college degree in a year, so why should I have it all figured out now? I know better now. I know realistically what I am up against, and I am better prepared to deal with the next year. I know I am hard on myself, as a lot of my blogs will attest to. I will probably have more blog entries about my indiscretions, but I know to be more realistic. I have one year behind me, and I'm probably not going to save the world, but I'm going to cast my vote anyway.

You shower me with lullabies
As you're walking away
Reminds me that it's killing time
On this fateful day

See you at the bitter end

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What happens in Vegas... (gets blogged here)

I really didn't go to Vegas

I've always been about full disclosure, and even some of my friends have joked about when I may have slipped, or not monitored my intake carefully, that "I'd better blog that". So I put this blog together last summer as a way to help me chronicle my transition to a vegan lifestyle. And I would say that my intentions were purely honest at first, but then when it became evident that others were actually reading it, I started thinking a little bit more about what I was writing. I'm now trying to "think" less, and "write" more.

i drew this on a bar napkin

In October of last year, I posted which was an account of guilts that I have been collecting at that point. I just reread that to see if I have learned anything. I see that I have not learned that much.

naples fairfield inn. free breakfast

So I was NOT in Vegas, but I just returned from vacation, about 7 days (less the driving) with my folks in Naples, FL (Bonita Springs actually, but "Naples" sounds more regal). On the second day of the drive, I made a conscious choice to be less true to my veganism. Permission to CHEAT (this could get ugly). Don't worry, I didn't give it up, or do anything rash. It wasn't really permission to cheat, but just an allowance to relax, and try not to let food dominate the week. I just decided to "look the other way" a few times, and not inquire too deeply into what I was eating. I felt bad about it, but I was out of my element on vacation, and unlike all of the work travelling I've been doing, I was not in complete control of the food. At least when I'm  away on work, I only need to focus on myself, now its a pregnant wife, the nugget, and the two big omni kids, and of course myself. Put us all together for over a week, including the time at my folks, and things will get dicey. So lets try to see where I went wrong this week.

don't go for the $5 footlong here

It all started at Subway. Subway has been a real problem for me ever since I discovered the veggie patties are not vegan. Its really annoyed me more than anything else, as I think it would be easy for these things to be made vegan. I've been pretty good about avoiding them, but this time, I ordered it anyway.

to think i used to love these on fridays in lent

For the mostpart, we kept our meals pretty true, although I thought I would never admit it, I am getting pretty sick of pasta. That was my goto meal in Mexico, and most of the time when dining out with colleagues. I never thought I would catch myself on a drink, but there they were; Anchovy Stuffed Olives. Ok, that was an accident, but after the third one in my martini, I inquired about these most excellent olives, in which case I was crushed to find out the truth. In their honor I sang an ode "Anchovies are People Too". You should hear me sing it. Its quite haunting.

i actually made these, just for the photo opp

My daughter's birthday was a few weeks back, and my sons a couple of weeks out. My daughter is an odd sort. She doesn't like "cake", so my mom got a cherry pie, that evidently was requested by my daughter. Turns out she doesn't like that either. So there we were, Cherry Pie, Cupcakes, Carrot Cake, all of which were probably not assembled by vegan bakers.... Alas, there I go again. My guilt started in right about here.

oddly, i have nothing cute to say here

As for the cupcakes, (let me tell you what an odd obsession I have with them) it wasn't 5 minutes after the house when quiet that evening, that I wasn't sneaking into the kitchen, and quietly opening up the container of cupcakes. This container was one of those plastic ones, with the lid, that sound like nails on a chalkboard when you open it up. Thankfully no one heard, and I polished off that baby in two bites. Oddly enough I chased it with a kosher dill pickle. Pretty sure THAT was vegan.

another project i slaved over for this picture. i pinch

I will say that when the California roll's came out, I diligently removed the Faux Crab meat before eating them (Ok, I ate three before I started this practice). I made sure to pick veggie rolls up when I went to Whole Foods later that week. We also took an afternoon and visited the Loving Hut in Naples (a moment of sanity). It was nice to order anything off the menu and not have to worry about it, but I am very suspicious of their Thai Ice Tea. They claim its just Soy Milk, but she said maybe some honey too. Which didn't dawn on me until after she left that she said "honey". Lets not get into honey now. I gave it up, I used the last of my lavender honey (real men only go for 100% lavender honey), and I avoid it, but I don't really get the honey avoidance thing. I'll leave that and a few other things for another blog.

this place was rumored to have an awesome salad bar

Going out to dinner in and around Naples during this time of the year proved difficult. For about 3 months a year, if you want to get a table at a restaurant, you either need to go to dinner at 4:30, or 8:30. Now normally, a late dinner is just fine with me, but with kids, you need about a 6:30 table time to make it work out. And this is at the crappy restaurants. I swear I saw a line at the IHOP, and what a crowd outside the Outback.... The Outback for Christ's sake!, when I ATE meat, their steaks sucked! And hey you are in South Florida, if seafood is your thing, you are in the right place, but you couldn't get a table at Red Lobster the night we went out. And that is telling you something. Man the more I think about it, the more restaurants generally suck.

she wrote a book called "mexican enough" ok, i'm reaching on this one

So we managed to find a place that was like an upscale Chipotle. When I go out to eat, I generally like to be waited on. I'm not a huge fan of ordering at a counter, unless I'm travelling alone. With the family, I have enough headaches, I want people to bring ME stuff, and asking ME what I want. Regardless, after the endless grumbling that my son was dishing (the place was not Mexican enough for him)... Which is pretty funny, I spent a week in Mexico, and ate pasta for the whole time. This place was Mexican "enough".

i only like these because they are rumored to be good for your heart

So on come the blinders. All I can say is no "dairy", but when asked if I want "cheese", I am forced to remind people that "cheese" generally comes from dairy (i would say they looked like a deer caught in the headlights, but i don't think that statement is vegan enough for me). So I didnt ask any more questions. I placed a complex 6 person dinner order, rolled the dice, and hoped for the best. Which for the mostpart it was, but I will admit, after I polished off my Refried Beans, I noticed the cheese on my plate. What a waste. I ate cheese, and didn't even get anything from it. My son was fine btw, he had a taco as big as his head, and I found some habenero sauce that blew our minds.

there has to be more vegans out there

So the remainder of the week was lower key, in fact the whole vacation was pretty low key, we managed to just make do with basic vacation food staples, such as Pizza, Sandwiches, both of which I experienced a partial fail. Galaxy Veggie Slices melt just way too nice, and have a creamy flavor, that I know can only come from cows (mmmm,.. creamy cows). This is somewhat irritating. Why do you make a veggie cheese, and still find a way to work dairy into it. Like why use eggs in veggie patties? I think companies are too lazy, and these ingredients are too easy. Someone told me most popcorn contains milk, why am I not surprised? So I was clearly outraged, and I surely spit the food out into the sink the second it hit my tongue right? Nope, again, the vacation blinders were on, and I just figured I'd say another vegan Hail Mary when I got home.

the captain would not let us throw things in the fan

i cant why people see these and think of "shoes". i think "gator nuggets"

Just to give you a indication, we did in fact go to the pool, the beach, went into the Everglades in airboats, all of that South Florida stuff, so dont think it was all me lamenting food choices. Ok, maybe 70% of it was. Again, out of my element, and my control,.. and of course with tempting things lying around, and my wander lust, it was not going to be long before I was engaged in behavior I would not be proud of.

not vegan, thats why i licked my fingers, touched them all and didn't take one

I wont even get started on Cookies. I could right a whole blog on how I have become the cookie cheater. It is just best to keep them away from me. If the cookie looked good, and you told me it was cooked over the flaming carcasses of puppies and kittens, I'd probably ask for a glass of milk to go with it.

you google pizza crusts and see what you can find

So there we were no driving back to Cincinnati, fighting the insane traffic from Tampa all the way to Atlanta. We stop late for dinner, and I end up having another lousy pasta dish, but at least they heard me and did not add the cheese this time. I did however eat several Pizza Crusts, as this has always been one of my great vegan downfalls.

Well we are now home again, and I promise to get back on track. Confess my sins, and try to keep looking forward. I think its best to just keep some things away from me though. My willpower is strained.  I think I am getting back to normal though. After spending an outrageous $60 at Whole Foods, I did manage to leave with the following:

Vegan General Chicken
Vegan Tamales (finally)
A Vegan Chicken Salad Wrap (ate it in the car)
GT Trilogy
Uncle Eddie's Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (eating them now)
Chocolove Cherries & Almonds
Jamaican Chicken Soy Jerky
Tofurkey (Oven Roasted)
Amy's Low Sodium Vegetarian Lentil Soup
Soy Yogurt
Apple Juice
Odwalla Original Superfood

I almost said i was "duh, winning", but that would be too easy. I'm much more obscure than that. I'm back in the saddle baby.

i actually like this better than the aerosmith version

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Jalisco Gringo Vegan

You may have noticed that I have not been around that much. I have a lot of things to blame, as I refuse to take personal responsibility for that. It would be easy to blame work, but I recall when I spent over 2 months in Milwaukee last summer, I still managed to blog quite a few times. So maybe I didn't really have much interesting to say. I try not to take life too serious, and I try to keep my blogs somewhat light, so when I didn't have anything funny to say, I elected to just say nothing and not blog. Maybe those were the blogs I should have written, so I'll try a new tactic, even if I have nothing chippy to say, I'll just write a boring blog about some random event and we'll see if it really matters. Hows that for PMA?

I've been travelling quite a bit (pretty much every week), and most of the time I've been getting by. This past week I spent in Guadalajara Mexico. My company had a trade show there, and they thought it might be fun to send me there. It was fun, in some respects, but eating was a special challenge. Lets just say that while I was trying to find food that did not contain "Carne, Leche, Huevos, Queso, etc", I was always greeted with wide eyes, and then a disbelieving smile. It didn't take me long to learn that vegetarians, let alone vegans were not very common in these parts. Well I wouldn't let that stop me, I'd starve before I exhausted all of my resources. Wait, I just may.

So a few weeks before when I was in Dallas, I traveled with Clif Bars, Pistachio's, PB, crackers (like I was worried about Texas being a third world country). Did I bother to pack one thing to take to Mexico? Nope not a one. I remembered before boarding that I would probably want something to eat, so I managed to find a decent burrito and brought it on the plane with me.

So I've heard endless warnings and horror stores about the dangers of what I was walking into, and I really haven't done any foreign travel in over a year, so I was a bit apprehensive. That, on top with the language thing (No habla espanol), I was half expecting to see militia at every exit of the airport, and and smoking hulls of Toyota pickups that had encounters with IED's. I was pleased to see neither of those, nor any real obvious issues. The neighborhood looked decent enough. Guadalajara is a big city, but not oppressive, by the time the cab got me to my hotel (20 mins), I already felt comfortable enough to head out on my own.

Upon just arriving I managed to get unpacked and changed, throw a pair of flip flops on (that I haven't worn since last summer, another brilliant idea), grab a map from the front desk and hop in the cab for the city center. After walking around for a while, I got the bright idea to find this vegetarian restaurant I sort of remember seeing online. The phone works, I'll just call my wife and she can look it up for me. Ok that was easier said than done. The next several hours were spent walking and walking in search of this phantom restaurant. After it started turning dusk, I managed to find a 7-11, where I grabbed some (cant confirm its vegan-ness) rolls, and a mexican-coke, or as they call it in Mexico, "Coke". So it was back to the hotel for me, and room service. A very un-Mexican Pasta-Pomodoro.

The next few days at the trade show were unremarkable. No real breakfast served, but there were veggies and fruit juices out every day. As I noted, the veggies were to be eating with salt, lime, and chile powder. This became my daily breakfast routine. Especially cucumber. It was an especially good combo with them. Lunch's were formal, no buffet, all sit down. Soup (cream of something), Main course (meat and veggies), and dessert. Having explained my "situation" to my colleagues, they took to explaining to the wait staff my restrictions. So my vegetarian meal was basically the main course, with a few more veggies, and no meat. I will admit, I was pretty sure that butter was involved in my meal, but the alternative was to eat nothing each day. I opted for survival (go easy on me).

Going out with some colleagues, led me to my most Mexican meal of the week, cheese-less nacho's (they added mushrooms for some reason), guac/chips, beer (Sol) and Tequila (Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia). Which in and of itself was funny. If they saved this stuff for the family, how does a gringo like myself get served it?

We drank what the referred to as a "Mexican Flag", but I think the colors were off a bit. You sip the tequila (middle), then some spicy tomato juice, and finally some lemon juice. Its an odd combination, but I liked the pomp and circumstance, so I was all over this combo.

On to the next few days, more spicy cukes, chips and salsa (botanera), veggies probably made with butter, glass after glass of horchata (where has this amazing drink been all my life?), and room service pasta, I was left to my last evening where some folks took me out to a nice restaurant, which turned out to be Italian. Yep, I'm getting pasta for dinner again. So to make a long story short, for a week I thought I would be up to my eyeballs in rice and beans, I've pretty much eaten taters, veggies, and sketti's for a week.

Interestingly enough, my best meal of the week was at the GDL airport. I managed to find the vegtarian dish at this restaurant, and although it was light (I ate this in about 4 bites), it was quite tasty.

Its no wonder that when I got home late Friday night, I was oddly craving burrito's.

On to my next adventure

Monday, March 21, 2011

It seldom turns out the way it does in the song...

Well I ain't often right but I've never been wrong
It seldom turns out the way it does in the song
Once in a while you get shown the light
In the strangest of places if you look at it right

Probably my favorite lines from any song ever recorded. They really stuck with me at a point in my life when I needed all the help I could get. I've just recently listened again to the precise show that these words really jumped out to me, and it took me back about 10 years when I was going through a rather rough time. (This is Scarlett Begonias from The Grateful Dead if you hadn't guessed by now). I was going through some profoundly tough times, and I sought solace in listening to Grateful Dead shows. It was the music and poetry of Jerry Garcia that had a big hand in showing me the way through those times.

I'm going through different times now, not like back then, but a different set of life challenges. I have a job that has evolved into a full time travel position, 2 great kids, that i "share" with my ex wife, a year old nugget that is love of my life, and a wonderful wife, that just so happens to be expecting in October. Oh yeah, and the whole vegan thing has had its share of challenges. Its a different struggle now, but one I'm still looking to Jerry again to help me through.

I am happy that I am encountering so many great people (who happen to be vegans). So many of them seem to be getting by, and living life with ease. I could not be happier for them... For me? Well I'll just listen to those old shows I have when I start to wonder where I can find the energy to keep it all together.

Friday, March 18, 2011

a Vegan survey (for Phro*Zen Meg)

Meg from Phro*Zen Ice Cream recently contacted me and wanted to ask me a few questions. I figured instead of just filling out the email and sending it back, I'd at least make a blog of it. More fun this way, and it keeps me at this full disclosure thing that I've been saying. Anything I have to say about myself is open to the scrutiny of my vegans. I haven't read these in advance, I'll try to be as serious as I can, but that is asking a lot.

For those that haven't read your blog yet, give us a little background. When did you become a vegan?

I became vegan in April of 2010. I changed over from a full on Omnivorous lifestyle. I literally changed overnight from eating meat, cheese, drinking milk, and avoiding most vegetables like the plague. I tend to overdo things, so instead of trying to phase into it, I stopped all animal based products when I returned from a trip to Colorado. From the next day on, I began the process of figuring out what exactly I got myself into.

What was the inspiration behind making that change?

My wife was 4 months into Yoga certification training, and had already given up red meat, and was moving towards a vegetarian diet. She had been enlightening me to the concept of "Ahimsa" and bringing to my attention the real workings of the meat and dairy industry. I'll admit, I was pretty sure those industries were not squeaky clean, but I've always been of the mindset that meat and milk come from a grocery store, and thats about all I needed to know.

Have you faced challenges with adhering to a vegan diet?

I have and continue to face them. When I started, I had no idea what I was doing, so I was first challenged with what I could eat. I spent about two weeks eating PB&J and Pasta. Granted, PB&J is probably the worlds perfect food, but I was sure I could not keep eating it. Over time we learned how to cook and shop, and have begun to amass a library of things to make. But it is still a challenge, as food in general is not a simple as it once was.

I was surprised at how little I missed milk, and how much I missed things like hot dogs and hamburgers. I've been seeking to replicate and find the perfect substitute for them, but realize that those are not going to leave me satisfied, and I need to find other things I love, instead of trying to reproduce the old desires.

Have you experienced any positives associated with veganism?

I feel healthier, and I dont have diners remorse. I did in fact love fast food, but would literally feel ill at times after picking something up that sounded good at the time. In December I had noted that I had lost 30 lbs since adopting the new dietary lifestyle. I have a greater appreciation for Organic food, and am now seeking out how we can eliminate preservatives and artificial ingredients completely from our diet. I'm better educated about what goes into food, and the myths of why we need dairy. I feel at least I am not contributing to industries that are preying on the fact that our nation is and will continue down a path of gluttony. Oh and I've met some cool chicks.

Are there things that you miss aside from certain foods that you miss about being an omnivore?

I travel quite a bit, and I miss being able to go out to dinner, and order a meal without just settling for the one thing on the menu that is or can be easily veganized. I miss going to my wifes inlaws for Sunday dinner and having to eat "around" the items that were cooked. I miss the convenience.

What's one thing someone who is vegan should know about those who aren't?

I think that most people who are not vegan have no idea why anyone would want to become vegan, nor would they be aware of the ideals that the vegan has adopted. So I treat anyone who would challenge me with smiles and respect. They don't know me or anything about me, so I will give the benefit of the doubt, and happily explain my position. I don't judge, or pass judgement. This is my choice, my life.

What's one thing that someone who isn't vegan should know about being vegan?
I've learned to view this like anyone else who has a personal lifestyle that may not align with mine to simply respect another persons lifestyle. And we aren't all flaming liberals. But most of us probably are.

What would you like people to know about the vegan lifestyle?

I think you can guess the theme of my comments, and it is really about respect first. I'm not a preacher, and tend not to bring my personal opinions on how others choose to life their lives. I realize just because everyone does something, doesn't imply that it is right, but since I tend not to try and sell my lifestyle, I just ask that others do the same. I would offer to others that I am just like them, I just choose to make different decisions when it comes to dining, shopping, etc. Its hard to pick us out from a crowd. We are like real people.

Are there issues concerning the vegan lifestyle that you find surprising? exciting? confusing?

I have a friend who eats meat/dairy but does so in a somewhat responsible manner. He buys his meat from a local farm, drives almost an hour to another farm for his milk, and pays upwards of $4 for a dozen of organic eggs, that I suspect are laid by chickens hanging out by the pool, and reading trashy romance novels. OK, the meat still results in the death of the animal. The milk? Well I didnt ask if it was given up freely by cows who who got pregnant because they were promiscuous. But if the chickens are really living the good life, why not enjoy their product? But then is that exploitation the problem?

Am I really making a difference by avoiding the whole wheat bread from Subway because it has honey? Is this better for me than the vegan choice of Italian. Would honey as a sweetener server me better that high fructose corn syrup?

A friend of mine has been vegan for 20+ years but he eats honey. Perhaps by some he would have to give back the vegan membership card.

Anything else you'd like to add? A favorite vegan dish you can find here in Cincinnati? A favorite recipe?

I could go on and on here, but since we are head there tonight, I should point out that I love Skyline, as it was probably the only place that I continued to frequent before and after turning vegan. I was happy to find out there pasta is vegan, so having a 5-way with veg chili (no cheese) is one of my fav's. Besides that, Melt, Amma's Kitchen, and now Shanghai Mama's are our current fav's in the city.

Please check out Meg's blog and follow her on twitter.

Cincinnati,... its not just for Chili anymore.