The McManual

Blogging my little heart out in poetry and prose.

Category: veganism

13/30 NaBloPoMo09 Planning for Vacation

Jay and I were supposed to be gone already for vacation, but I guess I mixed up the dates and everyone thought we were going tomorrow.  It’s nice, because it gave me a little time to get some things tidied up here at home, and it gave me some time to do some research (aka dink around on the internet) about what to do up there by my parent’s place.

I might actually end up posting some pictures for a change, but I’m really not ready to make a committment to that.  Our plan so far is to leave tonight, (for all of you worried about our pets – no worries!  Allie (she of the canine persuasion) is coming with us, and Jay’s sister is staying at our house for the week to watch over the cats.  (Athena, Trot, Luci, Arun, and Phyll.)  Oh, and the fish (Quincy) should be fine, too.  🙂

Bill is happily off at Camp Courage for the umpteenth time.  He started going when he was 21, missed only one year, so this is his 45th year, I guess.  Dang. That’s a long time.  And he absolutely loves it. His only complaint is that it used to be 2 weeks, and now it’s 5 days.  And since he has 5 days, we have 5 days.  🙂

Sawyer MN, where my parents live, is near Cloquet, which is near Duluth.  Our plan so far consists of going to Jay Cooke State Park tomorrow for a program about what to do if you are lost in the woods.  We are bringing my mom and the dogs.  It should be fun.  We might also go up to Duluth to explore the Enger tower and the gardens.

On Saturday, we are going to buy these Explore Duluth passes from the Vista Cruise company.  It’s only $24, and we get to go on a 1 1/2 hour cruise, a 2 hour train ride, and we get to go to the aquarium.  We will also be having dinner (not included) at Pizza Luce, the official favorite pizza of our branch of the McMahon family.

Sunday, I guess we are pontooning and swimming at Mom and Dad’s.  Hopefully we will also get to see some of my relatives.  Other than that, we are pretty open.  Jay wants to rent bikes, which you can do at Canal Park, I like to go to Park Point, and we will explore Duluth on foot, too.

One other thing I’d like to try is this Superior White Water rafting on the St. Louis River, part of Jay Cooke State park – or just north of it? – they have white water rafting for $40 each, or we can rent a 2 person kayak for $10 an hour and explore the calm lake… I have to see what Jay wants to do.

I’ll be reporting back on whatever we find interesting.  My only fear is finding enough vegan food on vacation, but we are bringing a cooler with fake hotdogs and sausages, lots of spinach, some pasta stuff, soy milk and so on, so I’m sure we won’t starve.


5/30 – NaBloPoMo09 – On being Vegan

Hi. I have noticed that a few of my readers have gotten to my page by searching for vegan information. I don’t remember how much I have talked about being vegan, but it’s been a long road to get here.

Both my husband and I are practicing vegans. I say practicing, because we are not perfect at it. 🙂 He’s better at it than I am. I don’t try to cheat on being vegan, but sometimes it happens. In September we will have been vegan for two years. We were lacto-ovo vegetarians for about 5 years before that. During the first few months of being vegetarian, we were vegan for a couple of months, but it was too hard at the time – we didn’t know anything about vegetarian cooking, muchless vegan cooking, and so often we felt like we just didn’t know what to eat, and that led us to eating whatever we could find and feeling guilty, so we gave it up until we were called to it again.

Usually when people ask us about being vegan, the first question we get is why. I don’t really like to answer this question if I’m talking to someone who still eats meat. Most of my reasons involve words like ‘gross’ and ‘disgusting,’ ‘unsanitary’ and ‘murder,’ and I don’t think people like to hear that about things they eating…

What pushed me over the edge into complete veganism was reading about what happens to the little male ‘layer’ chicks that are born with no usefulness – they are destroyed. Some places destroy them by tossing them into a wood chipper. Alive.

I also don’t like the thought that cheese is coagulated by an enzyme that is only found in the 4th stomach of a calf. I mean really. I don’t even want to know how they know it’s only in the 4th stomach.

I could go on and on, yet I do sometimes crave cheese or meat. I also have a hard time saying ‘no thank you’ if someone has been nice enough to make me food.

Well, I am running out of time, so I guess that’s all I’ll be talking about veganism today. If you want to get a discussion going or have questions, please feel free to leave a comment!

Is Vegan a Brand?

Good day to you.  I am hoping to get feedback on this question, because it just today occurred to me to ask it.  I was reading the new issue of Adbusters, issue 76, I think, and it’s all about brands.

I am against branding, and try to avoid branding myself where possible.  I do brand myself with antiauthoritarian tshirts sometimes and with my school logo, but I try to keep it to that. 

What about Vegan?  Is it a brand or not? 

One decent vegan meal to make

Hi.  I just improvised myself the best meal I’ve had in a while, so I thought I’d pause between bites and write down the recipe for all the world to enjoy.  Ha ha.  But at least I will know where the recipe is.

So I was making some lomein noodles, which I have never made before.  I followed the directions for one serving – easy enough, boil for about 8 minutes then rinse in cold water.  I did that, put it in a bowl, splashed on some liquid aminos, (healthy soy sauce) and started to eat.  Let’s say it wasn’t exactly tasty.  Good enough if I was really in a rush or really lazy, but that wasn’t the case today, thankfully. 

I had just been looking through a vegan cookbook earlier and saw notes I had taken on how to make pad thai or pad see yew a few years ago. 

My notes are really poor – in pencil, jottings, really… somewhat suspect.  When I saw that I had written down ‘4 cups of soy sauce’ i realized I’d better not follow along word for word.  But my notes did point me in the right direction.

I put some, maybe 2 tbsp, grapeseed oil in my frying pan, sliced 2 cloves of garlic – I like nice thick slices, like 1/8 inch or a little more, just so I can see the garlic in my food.  I think it looks nice.  So I sauteed the garlic, threw in a rock solid hunk of brown sugar, probably 1 or maybe 2 tbsp., then I did something fairly dumb, *don’t do this – it’s an example of being dumb* I poured vinegar right into the very hot oil – it splattered all over and I almost started a fire.  I pulled the pan off the stove and watched to make sure that I didn’t need my fire extinguisher, wiped off the bottom of the pan, and threw in the cold lomein noodles.  When I replaced the pan, it was fine.

Then I put in some more vinegar, probably 2 tbsp. and some ketchup, another 2 tbsp.  It sounds gross, but it worked.  Then I put in some liquid ginger from the ginger people, probably 1 tbsp., 2 more tbsp of liquid aminos, and stirred.  At this point, it smelled wonderful. 

I’m sure I could have stopped there and been fine, but being a vegan I’m always being told to make sure I get my protein.  So I opened a package of firm tofu, drained off the liquid, and chopped it up a bit and threw it in.  There wasn’t much liquid left, so I added more vinegar, Braggs aminos, and a splash more ketsup.  Stirred it around for a bit, but I wanted something green in there.  All I had was broccoli, which I’m tired of, a green pepper, which I’m saving for roasted vegetables later, and some mescaline mix.  I didn’t know how it would taste, but I thought what the hell, I’m experimenting.  I threw in about 5 handsful of the mescaline mix.  Waited until it was shrively and all the liquid was cooked off, and put it in a bowl.  I wished I had peanuts, but we don’t buy them that often.  There were about 1/4 c of walnuts left in the cupboard, though, so I crushed them a little bit and threw them in.  Viola.  Yum.

In the end, there was too much tofu, about 1/2 a package would have sufficed.  Live and learn.  Luckily we have cold storage.  Good luck if you decide to make this – remember, don’t throw the vinegar into the hot oil.  Sheila

Vegan Holiday

If you are the only vegan in your family, you will relate to this. My husband and I are vegan and we are the only vegans or vegetarians in either side of the family (at least the part that we see regularly).  Of course, you meet up a lot over the holidays for Christmas and New Years, and there is usually food involved.  What do you do to handle the differences that are so very apparent when it is time to eat together?

I have a hard time with telling people ‘no’ or with bringing up problems.  While we were lacto-ovo vegetarians, it was a lot easier for people to feed us.  Rather, it was easier to just avoid meat without having to ask awkward questions.  Is there butter in this… are there eggs?  Ergh.  I’d almost rather eat things that I don’t want in my body than have to ask my host these questions. 

It’s been about five months since we became vegan, though, and I for one have noticed that when I accidently ingest dairy I get mild, but uncomfortable, heartburn.  This is also accomplanied by, um, gastro-intestinal discomfort a few hours later.  I don’t like feeling crappy, so I have to ask the awkward questions.  It’s easier to ask them once you have done it a couple of times, but it still feels bad to me.  I don’t want anyone else to feel that they have done something wrong by not knowing my very picky needs.

What I’m saying is that if you feel the same as me, you may be discouraged from being vegan because of the social aspects.  Please still be vegan – if it really is ‘who you are’ you will find graceful ways to communicate your needs.  You may also find yourself doing what we did – we brought an entree to heat up and eat while everyone else had turkey.  It’s a bit awkward, but it saves your host a lot of work and then you’re certain that you are still maintaining your vegan diet.

And your friends and family will get it, eventually, that this is a lifestyle that you are choosing, not a commentary on the lifestyle that they are choosing.  Have a very vegan day!  Sheila

Vegan Shopping in Minneapolis

I went out holiday shopping today.  I usually do most of my shopping with my partner/husband Jay, but today he had to work, and it’s nearing Christmas, so I thought I should take care of some of the work, at least.  It’s not my typical day – going out to ‘shop’ for some vague ‘stuff’ that I’m giving away.  We try to be very conscious about what we purchase… but something about the holidays practically demands ‘shopping’ at some point.

First I went to get a haircut; this is a big deal because I got a haircut only  weeks ago, and I usually only wait about a year.  But I really wanted a bob.  I don’t know about you, but in the winter I end up wearing a lot of hooded sweatshirts, and my hair gets all bunchy and dirty-looking really fast.  The other ‘big deal’ about this haircut is that I went to the same woman as last time.  I never do that.  I have friends who swear by their hairdresser.  I have never understood their sentiments until now.  Now I have someone who understands me, my face, and my hair.  Thank goodness.  Hopefully she enjoys working at the generic place on the corner in Crystal MN and doesn’t want to go anywhere fancy!

Anyway, this was going to be about being vegan, so I should really tell you about the next leg of my excursion today.  I got hungry after sitting for my cut, so I went to Uptown.  I was going to stop at French Meadow Bakery for some vegan soup, but I got onto Hennepin instead of Lyndale.  Traffic was annoying, so I didn’t want to change my course.  I watched for somewhere that looked like you could get a decent Vegan meal.  Luckily, I found a place!

It’s called Tao Natural Foods, at 2200 Hennepin Avenue South, near Uptown.  They have bulk vitamins, bath products, books, etc.  I was able to find a couple of holiday gifts, a vegan cookbook, and I was able to eat a great vegan meal at their cafe.  I loved it.  I had the rice and avocado plate with black beans, if you must know.

It was a simple meal – literally some diced tomato, sliced red onion, black beans, a pile of brown rice, 1/2 an avocado and some sort of oil drizzled over the whole thing.  And it was delicious.  I’m so happy I went there.

After my lunch, I went to Kitchen Window in Calhoun Square.  I bought tea towels for my brother and his wife and my sister and her husband.  I think they’re nice – Ecklund.  I also got them some mini potholders, because frankly, I was being a little cheap… but the big potholders are like 12 or 15 bucks each!

After that, I knew I needed to hit Whole Foods for some vegan cheeze and a couple of other things for tonight’s dinner.  I was walking in Uptown, thinking about getting in the car, only to drive 4 measley miles and get out again, when I remembered that there is a Lunds in Uptown.  So, like a fool, I went there.

Dude, they don’t have vegan shredded cheeze or soy icecream.  I was really surprised.  I shouldn’t have been, because those aren’t really standard items, but Uptown probably has enough vegans to justify having a few items that we might want.  I didn’t end up buying anything at Lunds, walked to my car and moved it to Whole Foods, where I was able to get my stuff.

And I know if you’re from MN and you deal with alternative grocery stores you’re probably saying to yourself ‘she should have gone to the Wedge.’  No thank you.  I don’t like the Wedge – even though it’s clearly cool and superior, I’m not nearly cool or superior enough to shop there.  And also the aisles are way too small.  And I’m not a millionaire.

Regardless, I guess what I’m trying to say about being vegan is that it’s annoying to have to make special trips to get the things that I can eat, but then again I’m grateful that there are places that carry those things at all.  I’d be bummin’ if I had to make my own soy cheeze from scratch.  Bummin’ and starvin’.

Ok, I guess that’s all for the moment.  🙂 Peace.  Sheila

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