Saturday, February 25, 2006

the lousy vegan

It occurs to me that I might have sounded a bit unrepentant, if I might borrow a word from my earlier days, and defensive regarding my recent leather shoe purchase (see below). The truth is, I feel lousy about it, and was only trying to look on the bright side. I'm pretty much against killing in just about any situations (although abortion gets tricky, as I'm solidly pro-choice, in case you wanted to know), and hate the thought of something having to die for my footwear.

But I kind of blew it, and now I've got these shoes, so I'd better rock 'em until they're absolutely unrockable. Given my luck so far, I'd probably be best to just ride barefoot after that.

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Speaking of complex moral decisions (weren't we?), I've got a quandary for you. There is a fancy restaurant near my house (which, for the sake of argument, could be any fancy restaurant) that serves a tofu or tempeh entree every night (it's one of those places where the menu changes pretty frequently). They also serve foie gras, which is the liver of a duck that has been forcefed with a metal tube until it could no longer stand.

As a young boy I remember watching a family of ducks cross a busy highway. Some of the ducklings didn't make it, and I remember crying and taking it rather hard. I believe I was either on my way to or from McDonald's.

I like to eat a fancy meal now and again, but the idea of supporting a place that serves such a barbaric dish is rather distasteful to me. It does, however, raise a moral question: what's the difference between forcefeeding a duck and slaughtering a cow? Or a pig? I get vegan pizzas from Pizza Luce, and they have a pizza called "The Bear", wherein bears are about the only animal whose meat is not represented on the pie.

I'm not about to boycott every restuarant that serves an animal product, so it seems a bit hypocritical to avoid fancyland because of the foie gras. I'm tempted to argue that the foie gras is more inhumane, but then I start thinking about factory farmed meat of any kind, and I'm right back where I started. Of course, it's rather a moot point, as I don't really have the money to eat out at a fancy restaurant, I just wondered if I could borrow somebody's moral compass. Mine's been a little out of wack lately.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

i swore this would never be me times two

hola amigos, it's been a while since i rapped at you.

and i'm short on time, so i'll be brief, sans links. that was a jim anchower quote in the opening, he's a recurring character in America's funniest news source, the Onion.

anyway, i swore i'd never be negligent blogger guy, but it's been a seriously long time since i updated this thing, but suffice it to say that in addition to accidentally eating squid recently, i also accidentally purchased leather cycling shoes. that is to say, i knew i was purchasing them, i just wasn't sure if they were leather or not.

as it turns out, louis garneau has since called me back and verified that their touring shoes are leather. i was at the hub, the day before the stupor bowl (annual drunken minneapolis bike race/scavenger hunt), and i've been having some rather serious problems with my right foot which were aggravated by stopping in toeclips. i made the decision to buy clipless pedals and some shoes to go in them, and the louis garneaus looked to be the ones that would best suit my needs. unfortunately, dude at the hub was unable to provide me with a list of the materials, and there was nothing on the shoe or its box to indicate whether it was leather or not.

i know i could have tried harder, looked elsewhere, etc., but i also know that i did do my best, i needed some shoes in a hurry, and while i think its abhorrent to kill an animal for materials and would never intentionally purchase leather, i've also discussed my feelings about synthetics. my understanding is that most are made from petroleum products, and so of course that raises many environmental and ethical concerns as well.

no doubt it will be easy to call me a hypocrite, and clearly i'm somewhat insecure on the point or otherwise wouldn't bother bringing it up, but i do think it's important to blunder and to be forced to examine the choices we make and their impacts. as for me, i'll be riding bike a lot more now, and i figure that's good for animals and everyone.

you can make your own choices.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

eat breakfast with the surly vegan!

DIOS NO EXISTE SUNDAY MORNING GROUP BICYCLE EXTRAVAGANZA!
Sunday February 12th
10:00 Triple Rock Social Club for breakfast and/or cocktails
Ride out at 11 or so
Riding into downtown St. Paul and back at a modest pace.

Can't make it this week? contact me via thesurlyvegan@gmail.com about other weeks, routes, locations, etc.

Real talk.

Monday, February 06, 2006

well, i still ate squid.

i received a comment regarding my reactionary rant towards the nice people at evergreen.

not sure if this is the same jeremy from before, but either way, i've been put in my place:

"the people who designed the menu have been vegan for more than a decade. and also happen to be friends with the owners. the wife of the menu writer also happens to be from taiwan and speaks fluent taiwaneese. so the language barriers that may exist between the servers and the english written arent much of an issue. also some of the fake meats in the freezer are indeed not vegan but they do know whats up with us crazy vegans and will tell you if the fake meats they have in the kitchen have egg whites or whey in them.

i also ate there this weekend. didnt have any problems.

jeremy"

i hadn't thought of that, but it totally makes sense. well, let no one say that the surly vegan doesn't know how to admit it when he's wrong.

still, i'm pretty grossed out about that whole squid incident.

but i'll go back, and probably before too long.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

blog justice - EVERGREEN TAIWANESE

i ate fucking squid tonight.

some friends drove into town for the evening, and my wife and i went out to dinner with them at evergreen taiwanese restaurant. i think i might have talked about this place before, but it's one of my favorite kind of hole-in-the-wall vegan comfort food places, known for its wide array of fake meat. their menu even has this nice thing about how if you're vegan, most dishes (except those with a circled "M" next to them) can be made vegan using their mock meats, and advising vegans to ask the server whether the fake meat option is vegan or not, as selection is prone to change.

you can probably guess where this is going, as i've already blown the ending. i ordered some mock shrimp satay, and was brought something that didn't really look to me like shrimp, something i attributed to it being an imposter. perhaps i should have been concerned when i heard the server say squid, especially after he had tried to bring another dish to our table that none of us had ordered, but i figured he had just misspoken; squid, shrimp - it's an easy mistake to make.

having never eaten squid before (a calculated move on my part, i assure you), i didn't recognize it as such. i even commented on how it didn't taste like seafood, or that they hadn't done a very good job getting the spices right. after i'd eaten about a quarter of it, the server came by and informed me that he had brought the wrong plate and that he was sorry. i was holding on to the hope that perhaps someone else had ordered mock squid, but went to the men's room to empty my mouth of the bite it was housing, and when i came back my wife informed me that it was, in fact, the real deal.

it's difficult to explain how traumatizing this was. our friends are not vegan, and while they occasionally flirt with vegetarianism, i'm not sure where they're at on this front, either. because of this, i found myself wondering if they thought i was over-reacting. honestly, i didn't feel like i knew how to react. i've been avoiding animal-eating for years and years now; the idea that my teeth were chewing on flesh tonight makes me insanely uncomfortable. there is also the fear that i will be visited by the diarrheas later tonight.

the waiter is a very nice man, and i think he and his wife run the place. he seemed to be genuinely sorry, and didn't make me pay for my food, which was a relief, because if he had i would have had to enter into a conflict, and i just really didn't have the gumption at that point. our friends say they've seen him flustered many times before, bringing people the wrong thing and whatnot.

i'm absent-minded myself, but at the same time, you're running a fucking restaurant, and people are paying you to get that shit right, so it seems to me that it's kind of important to make sure you do.

case in point: as i was sitting there staring vacantly at the table, i overheard some obnoxious customer asking "who wrote the menu?" the waiter explained that a friend had done it. i didn' think much of it at the time, but later i was waiting for everyone outside the bathrooms, and i was looking in a freezer case at some of their take-home fake meats that they have available for purchase. many of them have whey listed in their ingredients, and they appear to be the same ones that are used in the restaurant.

seems like their friend knew more about vegan culture than they did, and was a bit more savvy with the english language (this isn't a dig - my foreign language skills are abysmal), and so when i ask the waiter everytime i go there if the fake meats are vegan, he says yes, thinking they are. unfortunately, it's probably never occurred to him that whey is an animal product, or maybe even that vegans don't eat animal products, and so as far as he's concerned it's all good.

but it isn't all good, friends, and so i'm torn. evergreen is a great place, a small family business, and sometimes people make mistakes, but some mistakes that might seem kind of small to one person might seem rather huge to another, even if that person can understand how the mistake was made.

i don't really have any bad feelings about the place, except that they need to get their orders sorted out, but i'm considering writing a letter sort of outlining the above in a more professional manner and without saying "fuck" so much. maybe i'll say "flip" or "frick" instead. i think they need to know about the fake meat situation, though, because i'm not sure many people do.

somewhere between an omelette and a scramble

Have you ever noticed how the word omelette is often spelled all kinds of crazy ways? Anyway, probably this should be called an omelette-inspired scramble.

Ingredients:
Yellow onion, diced, some.
Button mushrooms, diced, some.
Tofu, crumbled, one half block.
Frozen spinach, some.
Block vegan cheddar, some, sliced and diced incredibly finely.
Veggie ham slices, some (make sure they're vegan), sliced in a tiny manner.
Turmeric, some.
Dried basil, some.
Garlic powder, some.
Cooking oil, a bit.
Soy sauce/Shoyu/Tamari/Bragg's, a splash or two.

Procedure:
As you can see, it's not exactly a precise science, but it might be my greatest concoction yet. Who needs gourmet when flying by the seat of your pants with ordinary ingredients tastes this good? This is not only inspired by the traditional omelette, but it also builds off a recipe I have for a vegan Spanish omelette, listed elsewhere in this blog (under "tofu is not the enemy," i believe).

Heat your oil in a skillet, add the onions. Heat and stir, about ten minutes, or until browning has begun. Add tofu, mushrooms, your soy sauce or whatever, and your spices. Stir well, and while this is going on you can cut up your veggie ham and your vegan cheese. Go ahead and add those and the frozen spinach, stir, cover. That's pretty much it.

Optional: slice up an avocado and stir it in after serving.

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This doesn't have anything to do with anything, but I rode in the Stupor Bowl yesterday here in Minneapolis. It was really fun, even though my namby-pamby partners didn't trust my frightening knowledge of Minneapolis history and trivia and so prevented our discovery of the medallion and the subsequent acquisition of a brand new track wheelset.

I'm thinking of organizing a Sunday morning ride. Interested parties should check bikeforums.net or contact me via this blog. Adieu.