Friday, March 14, 2008

Top 10 Reasons Going Vegetarian Doesn't Mean You'll Lose Weight

1. Scallion pancakes and faux boneless spare ribs from Veggie Heaven. The first item is fried dough. The second one is animal-free but still slathered in ruby red barbeque sauce, black charred soy skin, and it leaves behind a neon orange grease spot on white paper. Oh, and it has fake fat in it. It's really awesomely, junkily, and spookily delicious.

3. Bread. Especially if you've not gone vegan and the bread is accompanied with butter and cheese. And even if you are vegan, Earth Balance ain't no health food.

4. Fried shrimp in General Tso's sauce at Kingdom of Vegetarians. And fried noodles, moo shu mock chicken, and wonton soup at Golden Empress Garden. Uh, yeah, Chinese takeout was my downfall when I ate meat and it's my downfall now that I don't.

5. Vegan cookies, especially Alternative Baking Company, Liz Lovely, and Brian's mom's oatmeal raisins.

6. Burgers, fries, and shakes at Foodswings. At least you walk it off getting back to the subway station, right?

7. Eating more avocados, more nuts, and more seeds.

8. Coconut milk in curry, coconut milk in your chocolate truffles, licking the coconut cream off your fingers after you open the can of coconut milk.

9. Eating more than the suggested serving size of tofu that is already dripping in oil when you eat from Whole Foods' buffet at 10 pm because you've just gotten out of cookbook writing class, are tired and hungry, and still have to trek back to Jersey. That the buffet is surrounded by the bakery selection doesn't help either. Because you do need dessert, right?

10. Speaking of even more desserts: cupcakes, chocolate, cake, doughnuts--all vegan and vegetarian now. All often very cutely stylized, and absolutely necessary after eating something salty.

So yeah, those are all the reasons I'm still in Weight Watchers and all the reasons I haven't lost any weight since going pescetarian and then vegetarian!
* picture is of me eating my portobello and brie sandwich--courtesy of Johnny Brenda's--at last year's Trenton Avenue Arts Festival.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

There Will Be Typos

Because I really don't have time to post but I do have some stuff to say. Here's a small roundup of enjoyable and edifying links to hopefully whet your appetites as much as they did mine:

One of my favorite blogs, I Blame the Patriarchy (IBTP), has gone vegetarian! "Eating hamburgers and radical feminism are mutually exclusive."

IBTP links to a post on Gary Francione’s blog on the link between a certain faction of postmodern feminism and animal-welfarists. You know, the wink-wink Bust-reading/stripper-admiring kind, of which I was when I was like 19. Oh, and then there's a post on vegan strip clubs . Oy and vey. The hipsters make my head hurt even though I’ll be guiltlessly chomping on their vegan doughnuts when Brian and I head out to Portland, Oregon this June. Also, Brian and I think that only hipsters complain about hipsters...except for us. We complain but are not hipsters. We are thoroughly unhip and way behind the times.

Vive Le Vegan’s Dreena Burton has heaps and heaps of vegan recipes on Canada’s Food Network site. The chocolate raspberry truffle tart with coconut crust (swoon) alone is work a click or two over.

Finally, if you’re in Philly and looking for some tasty fast food, why not hit up the Viva Las Vegans food truck in University City. Actually, I cannot personally vouch for the tastiness of their goods as I have yet to eat there but Brian has. And he likes it.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Guest Post: Will Death Do Us Part? by Sky Chari

This is a guest post by frequent Mutual Menu commentator and my longtime friend, Sky Chari.

It's a question posed by many who have fancied themselves philosophers over the years: are married couples really parted by death or do our souls live on together for all eternity (assuming you actually liked each other here on Earth to begin with)? When it comes to my husband and I, however, the death in question is neither his nor mine but dinner's. It’s not like I didn't know he ate meat when we started dating, or even when I married him. It’s not like he didn't know that I was a card-carrying PETA member and vegan advocate. So, how the hell does this work? To be honest, I don't even know some days. It definitely helps that we keep a vegetarian home. I just couldn't stomach having meat around. That being said, I do let in the occasional pizza or Doritos (he's not exactly into health food). When I come home from volunteering at a sanctuary for abused and neglected farm animals, Animal Place, disgusted with how people could be so reckless with themselves, the planet, and the animals, well, I let him know in the gentlest way possible exactly how I feel. He's heard my speech; he's even seen Earthlings, for goodness sake. His response? It's just not his thing.Yeah, I could kill him. I mean, I don't get how people could have all the information and still make the decision to eat meat.

In my particular case, I couldn't stomach the idea of killing animals for food from an early age, and started my journey toward veganism at age 11. Ironically, when my husband was the same age, he had never even touched meat. Raised in a traditional Hindu home, he was actually brought up as a vegetarian! However, by junior high, he'd had too many birthday parties at McDonald's to resist the temptation, and once Pandora's box was opened, it was impossible for him to close.

Don't get me wrong, my husband is a caring, kind, and insanely intelligent person. But he also happens to be a creature of habit and proximity. The reason it's easy to keep a veggie house is the same reason I can't keep a veggie husband--he'll eat whatever is in arm's length. The less he has to think about his food, the better. Granted, he's got a lot of other stuff to think about, running a company and all, but this is something about him I will never understand. I care about every single scrap that enters my mouth. I want to know where my food is from and all the ingredients that are in it so I can best judge what its effect on my person will be. He thinks I'm nuts.

So, have we just agreed to disagree and moved on? Actually, no. I still prefer that he become vegan, and he still knows it. I learned a long time ago, however, that nagging will get me nowhere. I have given him the space to make this decision for himself, all the while keeping him well informed and letting him know that I want him to live a long life with me. After all, nothing will make you live longer than letting other beings live long as well. It hasn't been easy or instantaneous by any means, but this tactic is working. He has long stretches of vegetarianism, and for now that is good enough for me. We are not unlike most couples in that we have our differences and issues. But being able to negotiate this emotionally charged subject has actually helped us through a number of other rough patches. At the end of the day, it is everything else about him that keeps me with him and thrilled to be so. This one blip on our radar is pretty major, but it is only one blip after all, and we manage it—some days better than others. Should kids ever come into the picture (not on the radar at all right now), all hell could break loose. Until then, he's my more-vegetarian-than-not husband, and I love death.

Sky Chari is a flutist and teacher in San Francisco, CA, USA. When she's not dragging her husband to one of the town's great vegan restaurants, you can find her curled up on her couch watching the fog roll in (or, more preferably, out).

If you would like to share your story or tips on how you navigate being a vegan, vegetarian, or ominvore who navigates "interdietary" relationships, please leave a comment or send an e-mail to We would love to hear from you and possibly share your story. Thank you!