Have you been missing out on sharing vegan food and making new friends? The Denton Veg Society is having their next potluck on April 22nd from 12:30 - 2:30 at the Chairy Orchard.
Bring a vegan dish to share, a friend or two, and a notecard with the ingredients listed. Hope to see you there!
I can't tell you how much I enjoy meeting vegans who work in local restaurants! They always know the best dishes and take time to make sure the order is done right. So the next time you go to Seven Mile Cafe in Denton, say hi to Lauren. She is so kind, also vegan, and even drew a cute cow on our receipt today. Thanks, Lauren!!
I get a lot of questions about what my children eat during lunch at school. They, like many other vegan children, often pack their lunches. It's tried and true. There are some times that they just want to go through the line and buy a hot lunch.
When my older son started public school, we were working toward being vegetarian. He was aware of his choices and crossed his fingers for pizza without meat bits. Sometimes it was a little challenging, but nothing like eating vegan.
When we cut out dairy and eggs, the boys would still buy their lunches on occasion. We would study the menu and choose a day of the week when there were good sides offered. The main is almost always a meaty or cheesy thing, so we just ignore that part. Things were awkward at times with the cafeteria staff, but the boys could explain their dietary choices and work it out. Occasionally things would get sticky and I'd have to write an email, like the time they were told they must take a meat or a milk, then they could just throw it away. This did not go over well, especially with the younger boy. He cried at the wastefulness.
This year, the rules tightened as fruits and vegetables can no longer be sold a la carte. Younger son came home with a note to call the cafeteria manager. She very kindly explained the situation to me and gave me the number for her supervisor. I spoke to her and she suggested I get a note from the doctor, then send it to the school nurses. It would eventually get to her office and then they can see what they can do.
I did as requested. My husband and I wrote a kind explanatory letter to the nurses, included the note from the doctor and a vegan food pyramid with a quote from the American Dietetic Association:
It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the pre- vention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the lifecycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.
I received a phone call days later from another person in the child nutrition department. She thanked me for my kind letter and asked if the boys would like to have soy milk to solve this issue. Yes! I was given the option of chocolate or vanilla, and told that it would be there in two days. So now they are able to enjoy their hot lunches again! The other great news is that she said they are working on some vegan menu items for the menus later this year or stating next school year. Hooray, Denton ISD!
The soy milk is kept behind the counter, so unfortunately it is not available to all children. With so many people affected by dairy intolerance or allergies, it seems like the kind of thing that people need to know about. So if your child would like nondairy milk with their lunches, please request it.
Thanks to the child nutrition department of Denton ISD! You've made this family very happy indeed.
Now... what can we do about those styrofoam trays? :)
As a part of a service at Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship called "Sustenance," I was asked to speak on veganism and spirituality for about five minutes. This is what I said:
My name is Tesa. My family and I practice veganism. What does that mean? Usually the answer involves a whole list of no-nos. No eating beef, chicken, pork, turkey, fish, eggs, dairy, or animal products in general. But I have to tell you, while it might sound limiting to many people, we don’t really feel that way. Instead of focusing on what we don’t eat, let’s talk about what we DO eat. We love vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, seeds, beans, nondairy cheeses and milks, and cupcakes. Lots of cupcakes.
For us, being vegan is a very joyful and peaceful way of life. It is also our spiritual path, although we didn’t realize that when we took the first steps. We started off from a place of poor health. By age 30, my husband, Matthew, was on prescription medication for high cholesterol. This meant regular trips to the doctor to manage the medications and to test his liver for possible damage. Since his dad died at 49 from heart disease, we were feeling the fear of inheriting the past and not being around for our children. The idea of Matthew being on this medication for the rest of his life wasn’t great either. We decided to try another route.
We did lots of learning and decided that giving up beef would be a good place to start. This was one way to reduce the risk of heart disease. The more we read and researched, the more we realized there were other issues with eating any type of meat, such as animal suffering, water consumption, and pollution. Within a few months, we expanded to being pescatarian, meaning the only meat we ate was fish. While this was somewhat comforting to us to keep some perceived normalcy in our diet, it felt good to continue on and move to veganism. It was also very rewarding to watch Matthew get multiple blood tests that showed that he no longer needed to take those cholesterol medicines.
For us, this journey to vegetarianism and ultimately veganism was a lot like finding a religion. It was a personal journey that we felt happy about, but others had a hard time understanding. It brought up strong emotions for friends and family and polarized some of our closest relationships. Social events left us feeling like outsiders when our preferences didn’t match others’, such as at a barbeque. We had to commit to defining our ideals and ourselves. We were those nonalcoholic vegans in the corner, sipping on a Sprite and making plans to go to dinner after the event. But like good UUs, a difference in opinion didn’t keep us from going to the party. We learned how to enjoy ourselves in those situations and respect everyone’s freedom to choose what they eat.
The commitment not to eat animal products honors several spiritual ideas and guides. The first rule of magick is do no harm. The first principle of Unitarian Universalism is the inherent worth and dignity of every person. We should extend these ideas to animals. For some reason, society thinks it’s okay to keep a pig, cow, or chicken in a tight cage its entire life until it is killed and eaten. However, we routinely punish people who do this to dogs and cats. For many vegetarians and vegans, all animals have worth and deserve to live a life free from suffering. Animal lives matter, too.
The Seventh UU principle is respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. Growing plants for food is less taxing on the environment. Growing plants for food uses much less water and fossil fuel than growing meat. Growing plants for food creates fewer emissions and can feed more people per square acre of land. It helps us use the land more efficiently, therefore preserving natural resources for generations to come.
In addition to this being our spiritual path, it is also our social action. Every meal gives us an opportunity to support our beliefs and our commitment to the environment.
And I know that eating vegan sounds pretty extreme to a lot of people. It did to us before we started this journey. Believe me, we never thought we’d do it. But now that we’re here, we don’t want to turn back. I recently saw an image on Instagram that summed it up quite nicely: Nothing tastes as good as vegan feels. We don’t miss the bacon or the steaks. Instead, we feel so much peace in this lifestyle. It blends well with our belief system. It is our spiritual path, social action, and our way to better health.
I’d also like to mention that there are a variety of ways to make a positive change without having to go all in. The Humane Society supports Meatless Mondays. That’s a great way to try vegetarian food and wrap your head around other options for your meals. Author Mark Bittman wrote a book called Vegan Before Six. He advocates eating vegan before six o’clock as a way to reduce meat consumption. If you’re curious about trying vegan fare at local Denton restaurants, visit my blog at dentonvegan.com for a helpful list of where to go. Or just befriend a vegan and talk to them with an open mind and heart. And when you throw a party, keep the hummus coming. We’re always grateful!
Can you have a lovely vegan experience on a Royal Caribbean cruise? Absolutely! We've done it several times.
2. Sign up for a specific dining time and stick to it. Things will go more smoothly if you sit at the same table with the same servers every evening. They will know what to do and you will save lots of time explaining things to multiple servers.
3. Tell your head waiter when you show up for dinner the first night. They will communicate to your server as necessary.
4. Be patient. Servers have to travel farther and stand in line for your special food, so enjoy the time with your companions. We bring small toys or art supplies to keep our kids busy.
5. Expect to preorder your food for the next evening. This makes life easier for the chefs. We were given a paper menu and were asked to circle our choices. Sometimes we got a surprise anyway, but generally they were very flexible. One time we wrote, "Tofu?" and it appeared the next night.
6. Ask kindly for what you'd like, such as for margarine and soy milk (they have it). Once the assistant server figures out what you prefer, it will magically appear every night thereafter.
7. Ask for dessert. They will rock it!
8. The Starbucks has soy milk for lattes. We get the nonalcoholic drink package and enjoy good coffee all week long!
9. If you don't know, ask a chef. I eyed the baked beans at breakfast in the Windjammer for days before I asked. Yep, vegan!
10. Tip well for good service. I don't just mean the required tips at the end of the cruise. Hand them some extra cash for their excellent work. Also, mention it in your survey after the trip. This helps them advance within the company.
11. If you're worried about it, bring your own snacks. But really, we only used these for excursions once or twice. We like to grab an extra box of dry cereal at breakfast to throw in a backpack for later.
So we generally eat at the Windjammer buffet for breakfast and lunch. There is always salad at lunch, and oftentimes a spicy curry with rice, fresh vegetables, and always fruit. FYI, the pasta has eggs in it, so save that for a dinner request if you crave it. They will make you vegan pasta then, but it's a lot to ask at the buffet.
Some items on the dinner menu were so good that we were questioning their vegan-ness! They had excellent soy meatballs and soy sweet and sour chicken. And these things were straight off the menu. Meatless meals are really getting more available!
Check out this slideshow for a look at what we ate. If you have any questions or comments, just let us know! Bon voyage!
This is my dear friend, Christina. She has been such a trooper with the whole vegan lifestyle thing. You see, we weren't anywhere close to eating vegan when she and I met about ten years ago. The transition has been bumpy at times, but lucky for me she is willing to navigate this journey with us and support our choices. Her family isn't vegan, but they are definitely mindful about including lots of vegetarian and vegan meals in their daily lives. You don't have to be vegan to enjoy vegan foods, after all.
So recently Christina was looking for a cooking class to broaden her menu options, but the one she saw didn't work with her schedule. We decided to cook a meal together, doubling the amounts, and I would show her some of my favorite recipes. Here's what we ended up with after about an hour and a half: black bean burgers, roasted cauliflower, and mac and cheese. (Seriously, click those recipe links. They are keepers!) We started after lunch and had dinner ready to reheat. This was a good thing, since we both had hectic evenings waiting for us. As you can see, I rounded out the meal with canned green beans.
In exchange, Christina brought us an amazing white bean, veg sausage, and kale stew with homemade bread and a blueberry apple crisp for dessert a couple of days later. It was so lovely just heating up that meal. Whether you exchange food or cook it together, this is a great way to build community and share recipes with friends. I can't recommend it enough!
Hi, friends! It seems to me like it's time to add a new category to the blog: Lifestyle. Being vegan isn't just about amazing food - it's also about the way we live. So, it's high time you meet my beautiful friend and stylist, Barbara, who happens to be vegan.
Barbara and I met a few years back and she's been creating amazing hair for me ever since. She is such a trooper when I throw hair curve balls at her (not literally, thank goodness!) and ask her to try something new with my look. While she's down with bold color, she can also do cuts for my husband and boys without batting an eye.
It's not just about the talent, either. Barbara uses products that are not tested on animals and knows which are vegan.
It makes sense that when given the choice, we support each other in this community. If you're looking for a stylist who shares your ethics, go see her at Hairwaves at Banging Hair Studio. View her work on Instagram @thebarbarashopdenton. And check out all of the fanciness she's done with my hair:
This afternoon, my friend Christian came over to learn a few things about cooking vegan food. We put together a meal, which we split, and then she took her half home to her beautiful family for dinner. The photo on the right is hers.
My family has been vegan for years now, so I've had the opportunity to try and fail a lot in the kitchen. It's pretty awesome to be at a point now where I can help Christian make a meal. Last week I showed another friend, Jessica, how to make a birthday treat for her husband. I love sharing great food, but even better is the fun of having friends in the kitchen together! This is definitely something we should all do more often.
The amazing mac & cheese recipe can be found here: http://vegnews.com/articles/page.do?pageId=40&catId=10