First post: "...is tired of the vegan life."


Explanation: "I think it stems from 1. not having animal rights as the core of my belief and action (I believe in animal welfare, meaning a good quality of life and a quick, humane death, but not animal rights, meaning that animals are entitled to the same civil rights as people); 2. therefore feeling out of sync with the majority of vegans, who are overwhelmingly animal rights activists; and 3. finding tons of really good options in this area for animal products procured in ways I find ethically, socially and environmentally acceptable. *sigh* After 6 months of thinking and reading and writing about this, I realize that what I should have committed to was eating food produced in a away that does not compromise human safety and wellbeing; does not cause significant environmental impact; and supports small-scale, sensitive to animal welfare husbandry. What I object to is the "factory" farming system, not the act of eating animals."
 
 
I was inspired to make lasagne because we were given two very large summer squashes - one zucchini, one yellow crookneck - that I was afraid might be a bit fibrous and seedy. I sliced them lengthwise into 1/4" thick slabs and used them - raw - as my "noodles":

Bottom of pan: layer of tomato sauce
Layer 1: slabs of squash
Layer 2: sautéed portobello  mushrooms
Layer 3: another layer of squash slabs, topped with tomato sauce
Layer 4: sautéed spinach with garlic and onions
Layer 5: another  layer of squash slabs, topped with tomato sauce
Top: generous sprinkle of Daiya mozzarella-style vegan grated "cheese"


I wrapped the whole thing in foil and cooked for a little more than an hour at 375. Then I removed the foil and broiled for about 2 minutes to brown the "cheese".  When I pulled it out, it looked yummy but was floating in liquid; I hadn't thought about how much water the squashes would release when cooked. In fact, I had put extra generous tomato sauce layers because I was thinking of it like a lasagne made with uncooked noodles. However, with no pasta, it was way too soupy! So, I poured out the the liquid - which would probably have made an excellent base for something else had I thought to retain it - and let it sit for a few minutes. The result? Delightful! 
 
 
What do vegan zombies eat?

~~~~~~
Grrainns. Grrraaaaaiiinnnns!


(author unknown - but I love it)
 
 
Located in northwest DC, Comet Ping Pong is as fun as its name. There is a good beer selection, a delish green salad with marinated chickpeas, and gluten-free and vegan topping options for their hand-made pizza. As a fellow diner confirmed after tasting my vegan, gluten-free pizza, it doesn't actually taste like "pizza" - but the thrill is in going to a pizza place and actually getting to order a pizza along with everyone else. Service was casual and efficient, and the decor kooky but clean. I'm not sure what to make of the mirror-crusted cinder-block that hung as a disco "ball", but I liked it. Thanks for the vegan and gluten-free options. I'll be back!
 
 
It took a little longer than a week, but I am back to veganism. Getting back on track required a few heart-felt conversations to explain why I am doing this - and helped to remind myself. And my ethical ponderings were aided by one of the best vegan snacks out there: Starbucks carries a raw vegan snack bar by  Two Moms in the Raw. I prefer blueberry, but they come in goji berry as well. Delish!
 
 
Being an omni is tough. When I don't stop to consider what I am eating because of my ethical concerns, I find that my lifelong habit of not paying attention to nutritional value kicks in. As a result, I'm just eating. I suppose the "good" news is that after several days of eating meat, I'm not feeling particularly energized, so the issue was not lack of animal-sourced amino acids. Back to veganism on Sunday.
 
 
I'm omni for a week. Yes, I know, this upsets some of my noble readers. I appreciate your angst. But here's the problem: I've been tired for quite a while. At first I chalked it up to inadequate B12. I doubled my intake, then changed brands. Then I decided it was grad school, then the end of grad school, and moving, and taking on too much work and attending to too many details. So, I figured it would get better with some rest. I moved. Then I got to slow down and sleep more. No change. More walking, every day. I added a multi-vitamin to my intake. No improvement. I went to the doctor for an annual exam, all my numbers (blood sugar, cholesterol, etc etc) were fine. This past week, I started craving meat. Thinking about it, mouth watering when I thought about how it would taste.  So, I wonder if four months of veganism haven't done something; but I suppose I'll know in a few days... 
 
 
I really need to work on my restaurant ordering skills. Just a week after the grana episode, I dined out and again (!) failed to order correctly. This time, we tried a new neighborhood restaurant - Ripple - on opening night, May 27. It had a fun, fresh, single-page menu with what seemed to be a few vegan options: an arugula salad, hand cut fries, red beans,  potato puree, and sautéed kale.  I asked if the potato or kale had dairy products. No, I was assured. Much to my dismay, it arrived with a nice token of ham. Clearly, I'm not asking the right questions.  

However, I want to note how lovely Ripple is. The space is clean, elegant and modern. In addition to the dinner menu, there is an extensive list of wines by the glass and a cheese and chartucherie menu. The service was very good; in addition to our capable server, the host checked on us a few times and a young man came around several times to fill our water glasses. A variety of bread crisps is presented in a wire basket (we had plain, salt, cumin, and a spicier one in ours). The plates are small and perfect for sharing and sampling. The menu (and our server) are tuned into local and regional offerings; some providers are named on the menu.

Although it's not a vegan/veg restaurant, there are certainly choices. A hearty vegan meal at Ripple could be: Arugula salad (6 or 7), fries (5) and red beans (5). A glass of wine for 6-20 dollars, and you'd have a nice meal for a reasonable price. 

Ripple is at 3417 Connecticut Ave., NW, in the former Aroma space. I haven't found a website for them yet. 
 
 
Last week, I had a delicious dinner at a nearby, lovely Italian restaurant (Dino's) with eight other people, including two children. The restaurant was reasonably busy for a Thursday night. After perusing the menu, including a lengthy statement about their efforts to procure local, sustainable and ethical products, I decided on carciofi fritta (fried tiny artichoke hearts), an endive salad, and a pasta dish, pappardelle ai funghi. I felt reasonably confident, without specifically asking my server, that I had ordered vegan items. While we were enjoying cocktails and fresh bread with dipping oil, the conversation took off. Shortly after, our server let me know that I had ordered from an older menu and my salad was not available. I quickly selected a mixed baby greens salad and - eager to return to my conversation with the person next to me - forgot to ask my server to hold the cheese. My salad arrived with specks of shaved grana. So, dear readers, what would you have done? 
 
 
Yesterday and today, I ate cake. Cupcakes, to be precise. I haven't had cake for several months. I am not exactly sure when the last time was, but it certainly was before January 1 of this year. For my graduation party, my wonderful sister procured cupcakes from a DC bakery, Red Velvet Cupcakery. They have two locations (one at Dupont Circle and the other in Penn Quarter) and a website. Their Black Velvet cupcake is both vegan and gluten-free and, yes, I had more than one. Yum! 


Black Velvet description from the Red Velvet website: 
This light, moist chocolate cake utilizes the best Valrhona cocoa powder to make a vegan, gluten-free cupcake truly like no other. It’s complemented by a chocolate “buttercream” and garnished with rainbow sugar crystals.
Cake Ingredients: Rice flour, tapioca starch, Valrhona cocoa powder, organic sugar, soymilk, vegetable margarine, Madagascar Bourbon vanilla extract, baking soda, baking powder, kosher salt and canola oil.Topping Ingredients: Vegetable margarine, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, soymilk and Madagascar Bourbon vanilla extract.

Red Velvet Cupcakery
2029 P St. N.W.

675 E St. N.W.
Washington , D.C.
202-347-7895
redvelvetcupcakery.com
 

    Note from
    Mary Alzire

    Thank you for taking the time to visit my site.  You can comment on any post by clicking its title. I welcome your comments and questions.

    "The Year of the Vegan" is a diary of my challenges and triumphs during 2010 - a year in which I will not consume any animal products. This commitment is motivated by my disgust about the hidden and externalized environmental, social and societal  costs of our nation's food network. Join me considering what we eat, and why.

    This year is also a year of personal transitions - from graduate student and freelance writer living in rural southwestern Virginia to fully-employed DC resident.

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