Thursday, May 30, 2013

Yak and Yeti - restaurant review

Fresh from Vida Vegan Con and so many lessons learned for blogging, I decided to take some of what I learned and write a restaurant review.

A couple of hours after returning from Portland Mike and I headed to Yak and Yeti for a bite to eat. We have been going to their Arvada location on Ralston Road for several years. Our love for the began when they created a separate vegan menu and has just grown. A couple of years ago it felt like there were new owners (not sure if that is the case) and service got pretty bad. Now, everything is back to wonderful service and amazing Nepalese and Indian cuisine.

For those of you unfamiliar with Arvada, Yak and Yeti is about a mile west of Wadsworth at Ralston, and Ralston is about a mile north of the I-70 at Wadsworth exit.

First things first. Order the mango shake. The server will give you a puzzled look but don't back down. No, you don't want the mango lassi. That has dairy. You want the mango shake, something they have prepared for me many times, made with soy milk. Trust me, it's delicious.

Depending on how hungry we are, we may or may not order the Veggie Pakora. it's perfect. We order it without onions as in the past we have gotten orders that were more than half onions. This hasn't happened recently but just in case we still order it without onions.

Mike's favorite is the Chana Saag. He loves it, and it's one of the reasons he loves going to Yak and Yeti. It's rare when one can find vegan Chana Saag and it is done superbly.

Sometimes I share with Mike and sometimes I get my own. Last night I got the Bhindi Masala and LOVED it. The okra was perfect and I ordered it medium so I could get just a little kick from the heat.

The vegan options are plentiful. There is no longer a separate vegan menu, and the vegan choices follow the vegetarian choices towards the back of the menu. If you want vegan bread, they have Roti and we enjoy that as well.

Service is great at Yak and Yeti. Always a welcoming greeting. Always filled water glasses. Everyone is very friendly and the staff knows all about vegan food. Typically a manager swings by just to make sure all is perfect with your meal.

Finally, I have to let you know that they also brew their own beers and on any given day they offer five or six of them to accompany your meal. As I don't drink, I don't have a recommendation. I will say that I see many beers being served with dinner so that has to mean something.

For those of you new to our reviews (we've also reviewed on Yelp), we typically will visit a restaurant at least three times before we consider a review and the review is equally based on food and service. Gone are the days of us accepting poor service in any way. I am pretty much done with a server acting as if I am in their way by coming to the restaurant to eat.

I haven't decided on a restaurant rating system yet, so I will just say that we definitely recommend Yak and Yeti. Check them out and let us know what you think!

Yak and Yeti
7803 Ralston Road, Arvada, Colorado

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Road trip to Portland and Vida Vegan Con 2013

It had been 10 months since I purchased my registration for the 2013 Vida Vegan Con.

I decided (no surprise) that I would drive to Portland. Nineteen hours, no sweat. I was totally thrilled when Ryan Patey said he would fly into Denver and head out there with me! Ryan is the editor of T.O.F.U. Magazine and has become a great friend.

Car was packed and we set out for the road. Our goal was to try to make it to Boise, Idaho and spend the night there. A bigger goal was to make it to Boise by 7pm so we could dine at the fabulous Shangri La restaurant, a mostly vegan establishment (if not totally vegan, I honestly can't remember!).

We made it! It was so worth getting into Boise and being able to eat at Shangri La. Only about 10 minutes off of I-84, we were immediately welcomed by staff. Live music also welcomed us.  Shangri La is a wonderful vegan haven in Boise. I was surprised!

The menu had a lot of raw options and several soups. I was hoping to get a hot tofu dish, and I certainly wasn't disappointed after enjoying the mock tuna and crackers plate with a bowl of miso soup. Ryan loved hi mock tuna sandwich. Shangri La is the perfect place to be able to spend a little time after  along road trip. I highly recommend it. Oh, and a shout out to Tristan for telling me about it!

From Boise it's about a half an hour to the Oregon state line. My first time in Oregon and now I am down to six states that I haven't been to (Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Maine, Rhode Island and New Hampshire).

The main thing that you just have to know is that the drive along the Columbia River Gorge is one of the most beautiful drives I have ever taken in the U.S. Holy Cow! I loved every mile of it. Even if you are in Portland but flew there, somehow make a trip out to this amazing drive.

 We pulled into Portland mid-afternoon on the day before Vida Vegan Con began, plenty of time to check into our hotels and I had a chance to clean up before catching a cab to the unofficial welcome reception. I will go more into food and sessions in another post but I just HAVE to tell you about the White Owl Social Club bar and restaurant in Portland. All I have to say is fried mac n cheese sandwiches! Oh my! Simply mind blowing. And of course I had to try the loaded potatoes. To go with all of this was my new favorite drink, Cock & Bull Ginger Beer. Mmmmm! For non-drinkers it's not always easy finding something different and tasty out there, and Cock & Ball was it for me!

Believe it or not, the food was not the highlight of the party. I started to meet many of the hundreds of other vegan bloggers that had come to Vida Vegan Con and I immediately knew that there were going to be many new friendships! Indeed there are!

Remember, this was just my first night in Portland. Vida Vegan Con hadn't even started. More on the conference in the next post.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Reinvigorated hope

Many times I have written about not giving up, about keeping strong in the fight to be a voice for the voiceless and in making the world a better place for all living beings.

After a few days with vegan bloggers from around the world at Vida Vegan Con 2013 in Portland, Oregon, my hope is higher than ever!

If you read any vegan blog, most likely the blogger was at Vida Vegan Con, or really wanted to be here.

And this amazing group of bloggers who are changing the world in so many ways inspired me and filled my heart and head with hope.

I am sure that the blogosphere will be filled with stories of Portland, mind-blowing vegan food (and lots of it) food,  as well as notes from sessions that covered the entire universe of what bloggers need to know to become better bloggers.

What I want to make sure you know about is that the conference rooms were filled with sweet, compassionate people. People who take time out of their lives everyday to blog about vegan food, animal rights, nutrition, recipes, human rights and so much more.

I met people from all walks of life, from small towns and big cities. People who have been vegan for a decade plus and people who have been vegan for three weeks.

The common theme was compassion and kindness.

One of my biggest surprises was how many people here actually know our blog and even asked me "Didn't you two just celebrate an anniversary?"!  I was thrilled to know that other bloggers read our blog!

So be warned people who think vegan food sucks. Be warned all of those who make a living off of the suffering of animals. Be warned those who don't want the world to know that a better world is one filled with amazing vegan food and a thought process that does not include the torture and misery of any living being. These hundreds of bloggers are going to leave here and continue to change the world. They will never stop writing about compassion and how even the simplest of actions make significant change.

To all of those who attended Vida Vegan Con 2013, thank you for the love and kindness you expressed to meet over the past few days. You changed me. You reinvigorated my hope that we indeed are making the world a better place for all living beings.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Can we disagree with courtesy?

Prairie dogs.

Recently one of our local TV stations wrote a Facebook post about 500 prairie dogs being in danger of a new transportation project. The station asked for people's opinions on whether or not people cared about the plight of the prairie dogs that would be affected.

Holy cow.

Maybe I have not been paying attention, but when did it become OK to write such disgusting things about people you happen to disagree with?

I honestly couldn't believe some of the responses. As I read them, I realized that any conversation around prairie dogs had long been dismissed.

I wonder how often this happens. I wonder how this became acceptable.

Because it's not. It's certainly not how I ever want to be, and how I hope people who try to be a voice for the voiceless are not either. There is no good that comes out of disrespect towards other people simply because they have an opinion that is different than mine, or our.

So how can we change? Or can we? I definitely believe that we can change this. I believe that if we kindly call folks on their responses and always be a beacon of courteous comments, even when we disagree.

Please understand that I am not saying that we become passive with our beliefs and around what we fight for. I'm simply saying that we can disagree with people and honor our cause or whoever we are fighting for. Being mean in a public forum does no good for the voiceless we are trying to be the voice for.

This is something I continually work on. Simply put, discourse can by polite. Who knows, people's minds have changed over much less than being greeted with kindness.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 20, 2013

My first bloggers conference!

Next month will be the two year anniversary of The Gay Vegans blog. I feel like a new blogger, and sometimes I feel like I"m not even a blogger yet! I have had a blast with The Gay Vegans and continually try to write well thought out, interesting and hopefully engaging posts.

So I am super excited to be going to my first ever bloggers conference, and it will be an all vegan conference! Holy cow! Vida Vegan Con is May 24 - 26 in Portland, Oregon and there will be hundreds of vegan bloggers from around the world. There will be incredible vegan food, lots of sessions where I can learn all sorts of things, and for me, just being able to connect with people whose blogs I love and who I want to learn from.

First things first. I have to get there.


I have never been to Oregon, or much of Idaho, so I am ecstatic to be able to cover new terrain. My friend and fellow blogger Ryan is flying in to Denver to join me for this trip that will take us from Denver to Portland via Boise, Idaho. So exciting.

I know we have plenty of blog readers in Idaho, so please let me know if there is a place we simply must eat at while driving through. We will spend the night in Boise so most likely will have dinner there. If we are making good time heading west on I 80 we might even take a quick meal break in Salt Lake City which would totally rock it!

I love road trips. I write about road trips.

This road trip will end in Portland, where I will immerse myself into an intense, vegan blogger's dream. So much to do, so much to learn, so many people I want to meet. I feel like a gay teenager going to his first Black Sabbath concert! (that was me by the way, back in 1982!)

Fortunately there are several folks attending Vida Vegan Con who are from Portland and they have been keeping all of informed as to the multitude of vegan experiences possible in Portland. It seems like there will not be enough time in the day! 

And on Saturday night, the Galarama! A huge party to raise money for Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest!


My return trip will be solo so I am bringing camping gear to hit a place I haven't camped before, which won't be difficult to find.

Thanks so much for reading. I will keep you updated for sure.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

"They're not vegan"

I have a lot of friends who are not vegan. My entire family is not vegan.

Just wanted to put that out there.

I believe everyone is on their own path. My path included eating animals for many years. It included not really caring what had to happen for me to eat that burger or piece of chicken.

For me, veganism is more about a way of life, or a philosophy, than it is a diet. I became vegan not to get healthier or lose weight, yet because I had learned enough and knew at that moment that I no longer wanted to participate in the killing and cruelty and torture of animals just so I could eat. Or worse yet, just because I liked the taste of something.

I would like the whole world to feel the same. What a great world, in so many ways, that would be. I am also centered in the fact that this is my decision, this works for me, and that not everyone else is going to think the same thing.

So what does one do? Well, I try to be the best example of a vegan as I can. It's not always easy. There is enough judgment out there, enough hate and discontent. I don't need to be a part of that. When folks interact with me and somehow find out I am vegan, I want them to think that vegans are pretty cool, kind people. At least kind.

I have been thinking about this because I had a conversation with a vegan at a vegan event which included me asking him if he had heard of this one animal sanctuary. I asked because he was from the same area of the sanctuary and Mike and I had begun donating to this place. The first thing he said to me was "you know that they're not vegan?". He then listed the reasons why "the vegan community" in the area didn't like these folks not simply because they were vegan but because they also have barbeque's that include meat at the place.

I understand the dilemma here. I don't understand the judgment. In my head it doesn't make a lot of sense (to me) to care for these kinds of animals yet eat, and participate in cruelty towards, these other animals.

This has become a whole thought process for me. In my life, I want to be open, diverse and inclusive. I want to meet folks where they are, and if any of them have the slightest interest in why I am vegan or about first steps in becoming vegan, I am thrilled to talk with them about it.

Food for thought. I would LOVE your feedback.

Thank you for reading!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

3 1/2 hours - Join me during my half marathon!

On May 19th I will run my first half marathon. That's 13.1 miles. I am doing this to raise money for Urban Peak, the non-profit I work for that serves youth experiencing homelessness.

On my first training run about two months ago I could barely run one mile. At 2.5 miles I could barely breathe.

I kept going. I listened to many on my life who are runners, and I kept my eyes on the prize.

As one who constantly tries to be a voiceless, I would do anything to shine light on the things in the world that I fight against or want to support.

I think that I will be able to finish this half marathon in 3 1/2 hours, maybe a little less. The race begins on Sunday, May 19th at 7:00am Mountain Standard Time.

I will be running from 7:00am - approximately 10:30am.

During this time, will you do me a favor? Will you send me positive vibes? Will you send me some love? Will you think of me and send me a great big smile?

And when you are done with that, will you think of what you can do to make this world a better place for all living beings?

It doesn't have to be a half marathon. It could be a letter, a phone call or a volunteer shift. It could be wearing a t shirt, going to a potluck or posting something on your Facebook page.

It could be simply spreading kindness.

We have so much power to be a voice for the voiceless. We have so much power to speak out against hate, animal cruelty, rape, racism, speciesism, torture, and list goes on and on.

Will you join me? Honestly, I need all of the support I can to finish this thing.

Thank you!

Love, Dan

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Good people and kindness

In Denver we have the light rail, kind of like a train. I call it the train. It's mass transit. And a couple of weeks ago the line running west opened. I am in love with taking this to work. I am totally fortunate that my employer buys me a pass. So last week I took it four days and this week I started taking it with my bike. So I ride to the station and then from the drop off point downtown I ride to work. It is totally awesome.

Yesterday I was waiting for a guy to get on the train and he stopped and motioned me to go. So nice. He waited until I got my bike on and he got seated and then started talking about how much he loves the light rail. I was in total agreement. We chatted until his stop and then he said something that was so refreshing:

"Thank you for you kindness."


Mike and I are big fans of "The Amazing Race" TV show, the one where I think nine teams race around the world. Sunday was the finale and we watched the first half, in which one of our favorite teams was eliminated. In their goodbye video one of the women said something that hit me:

"We've traveled all over the world and everywhere we went their were nice and loving people."


I agree with them. As an activist and as someone who tries to be a voice for all of the voiceless, it does seem sometimes that there are more "not loving" people than there are loving people. I try to bring love and kindness to every interaction I have. Not always easy. As a gay vegan who gives  a crap about little things like equality, animal torture, and oppression, I have gotten my share of hate, yelling and judgment. Some times it's right in my face and others it's behind my back.

Yet I still believe, as the women do who were on "The Amazing Race", that there are a lot of good people in the world. They might not be on the same path as I am, they might not know all about veganism or animal cruelty or the spiritual genocide of gay people, yet in their daily lives they try to do good. And like me, many of them try to be better people all of the time.

Food for thought.

Today I rode my bike from the office to get coffee. On my way back I was casually riding, listening to an awesome song and feeling blissful. I rode by anotherr guy on his bike, waved and said good morning. His smile covered his whole face. I don't know him at all. I don't know if he's vegan or gay friendly or cares about anything other than himself. I do know that on his way to wherever he was going this morning, he encountered kindness.

I hope you do too.

And I hope you show kindness in any form today.

Thank you for reading.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A new vegan world

Vegan chocolate croissants? Check.

Vegan chicken made from pea protein? Check.

More people knowing what "vegan" means? Check.

Vegan fashion shows? Check.

Last week Mike and I went to the Colorado Symphony. We took the new light rail downtown and decided to grab a bite to eat at BD's Mongolian Barbeque before the concert. We had eaten there before and knew that they had tofu and also that they totally took care of vegans. They even give the grill an extra clean if you let them know you're vegan.

What surprised us was that next to the tofu they had meats. Well, they had Gardein chicken and Gardein beef! I couldn't believe it. What a wonderful surprise, and we both really enjoyed being able to add some of both to our dinners.

The world is really changing for vegans. In my 17 years of being vegan there have been huge changes. And just in the last couple of years we have Daiya, Gardein and most recently Beyond Meat. Aside from the processed foods I would bet that the amount of people who know what kale is has grown significantly!

All of these changes make me happy. I love to eat, and new vegan eating adventures seem to be all over the place.

There are also more of us, and I'm sure that's why our selection just keeps getting bigger and bigger. I also think it's because many of us have stopped settling. We want better. Better food, better service, nicer restaurants. And when we keep asking for (and demanding for) better, sooner or later we get it.

I conclude this post with another amazing part of our vegan world: vegan ice cream. Yes, check that off too. Sweet Action in Denver. With flavors like salted butterscotch and peanut butter oreo, you definitely get the sense that we are living in a new vegan world.

Thanks for reading!