Saturday, August 30, 2014

A day in the life of this blogger

You have a what?

A blog.

A blog?

Yes, a blog. It's called The Gay Vegans.

I've had this conversation many times. While many folks subscribe to many blogs, and others read at least a couple every day, there are still those who just don't get it.

I created The Gay Vegans as a way to be more active as a human rights and animal rights activist, as a way to promote building bridges, to promote activism, and to be a voice for the voiceless.

And I love it.

It's not easy. Being present and active in my marriage. Supporting an amazing life for our dogs and two chinchillas. Working as a fundraiser for an agency that serves young people experiencing the brutality of homelessness. Trying to eat well. Trying to stay fit. And trying my best to carve out a little time every week to write blog posts that I hope others will enjoy reading, get inspired by, and even at times take action based on something they learned from the post.

Life flies by. Some days I totally forget to check The Gay Vegans accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Sometimes it takes me more than the 24 hours I would like it to take to get back to readers who have asked a question or have asked for support with something. Life is crazy busy without being a blogger. Being a blogger just adds to the craziness, which I apparently enjoy!

Writing doesn't come easy to me. At first I would say that I wasn't a good writer. I do believe there is a difference in being a good writer and being a good blogger. I also believe that in time, and with writing many blog posts and listening to others about how to become a better blogger, my posts have gotten better.

As you might know, there are a bunch of different types of blogs out there. The Gay Vegans is all about bringing communities together and being a voice for all of the voiceless, including animals who are brutalized to become food, folks persecuted around the world for being who they are (female, gay, transgender, ethnic, religious, etc.) and trying to spread the message that we all really have more in common with each other than not. Kindness, compassion, passion, action. All of these I try to include in my posts.

The Gay Vegans has been around for three years. In that time I have been inspired and filled with hope by responses from readers of this blog, and at times totally blown away by actions taken based on a blog post I wrote.

I have been thrilled to attend conferences or shows with press credentials as more and more outlets consider bloggers as such.

I am super excited when I think about The Gay Vegans in the future. So much to write about. So many actions to ask folks to participate in. So much love and kindness to spread.

Thanks for reading. I am grateful. And please keep the stories, feedback and comments coming!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

An angry vegan?

I have written hundreds of blog posts. I always try to focus on the positive, on what we all can do to make the world a better place for all living beings, and that we all have more in common than not.

My motto is: kindness rules.

This post might not come across that way. The main point I want to get across is that any person fighting for a cause becomes a direct representative of that cause. Their actions and behaviors can have a positive or negative affect on the cause.

How fortunate am I to have a place that sells vegan milkshakes within walking distance of my office?!?!

Once in a while, on my way back to the office from an appointment or a special trip to just get out of the office and take a deep breathe, I swing by WaterCourse Foods to enjoy a delicious milkshake.

Several weeks ago I was sitting in the front waiting for my milkshake when a group of three folks walked in wearing animal rights t-shirts. The one that caught my attention was the gentleman wearing a t-shirt that had the words "F%%K MEAT" on it. Keep in mind that I'm not using the entire word, although the entire word was on the t-shirt.

The gentleman was waiting for a table. He didn't seem too friendly. He was well built, no smile. Walking around with his "F%%K MEAT" t-shirt. I'm sure he could be the friendliest guy on earth but that didn't come across.

First of all, I don't like t-shirts with that word on it. For any reason. I think that word stirs up different emotions in people. I definitely think that there are much more creative words to use. I fully admit that I use that word.

It might have made a little sense if the gentleman was walking around a steak house, rather than a vegan restaurant. I'm sure I would still not like the shirt, but wearing it in a place where there is no meat?

I also will admit that I am 48. He was in his twenties. Maybe this is an age thing and I just don't get it.

What I do get, however, is that if I am fighting for the animals that suffer every day to, in this case, become food for folks, then I have the opportunity to be a voice for them. I have the opportunity to engage with people to tell their story, to talk about their plight. I have the opportunity to leave people feeling positive about also wanting to help animals who suffer to become food or leave them feeling that I am just another angry vegan.

I am the voice for the voiceless. I wonder how those who suffer would want me to best represent them.

I have heard the term "angry vegan" often. I hadn't really thought about the term until I saw this gentleman.

Then I take a look at myself in the mirror and ask the question: Am I being a good representative for the voiceless animals who suffer so intensely?

I hope so. With so much suffering, with so many people totally clueless when it comes to animal cruelty, I firmly believe that being positive, kind and non-judgmental when being a voice for the voiceless is the way to go.

I would love to know your thoughts!

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Restaurant review: Modern Love in Omaha

I was able to stop in Omaha on my way back from Michigan and boy am I glad I did. The newest (I think) vegan restaurant in the U.S., Modern Love, opened on August 5th right in the middle of beef country. And I got to go!

Isa Chandra Moskowitz is a well-known name in the vegan and foodie communities. She created Post Punk Kitchen and is the author of several incredible vegan cookbooks, including one of my all-time favorites, "Vegan Brunch". She is the chef/owner of Modern Love, and knowing how many incredible meals Mike has made from her cookbooks, I just had to dine there while in Omaha. To be honest, it's the only reason I decided to make Omaha a stopping point on my way home.

Modern Love is located just a few minutes drive west of downtown Omaha. I had an airbnb in the north part of downtown and it took me ten minutes driving. As I parked I practically exploded with excitement. I am not a food blogger or recipe creator or anything like that, but I sure do love amazing vegan food. And I just knew that my world was about to be rocked.

Modern Love is cute. And clean. And packed. It seats about 30 - 40 and has an open kitchen. The hostess was kind and seated me immediately. A friendly face upon arrival is always nice.

I also got to say hi to Isa upon arrival. I met her once, last year at Vida Vegan Con II, and was thrilled to see her and congratulate her.  Her kindness and hospitality made me feel right at home.

As did the kindness and hospitality of my server. As you know, service is half of the equation for me while dining out and he rocked it.

I started with the jalapeƱo corn fritters. Not surprisingly, before they arrived I had already struck u a conversation with the lovely couple seated next to me. So when the fritters were all of a sudden in front of me and I took my first bite, I realized that I had to pace myself and not totally freak out my new acquaintances. I ended up savoring every bite. The corn was crunchy. The jalapeƱos not overpowering. Perfect in my mind.

I ordered the Mac & Shews for my entree. It was a tough choice for me as I also wanted the Seitan Marsala. Stephanie, my new acquaintance next door, had ordered that and was loving it. Mac & Shews it was and soon a steaming bowl filled with pecan crusted tofu, creamy cashew cheese, braised kale with okra and BBQ cauliflower arrived at my table.

I thought that I would like the mac n cheese the best. Not surprisingly, having experience with Isa's recipes, I found that I honestly loved all parts of this dish equally, maybe delighting in the okra a tiny bit more than the others. The flavors were crazy delicious. And they all came together perfectly. I took my time with this dish. I was in ecstasy.

The menu is small, and I love that. Four choices for an entree, and as I wrote earlier the decision amongst entrees is not an easy one. Everything is prepared in-house.

Dessert. I ordered the raspberry cheesecake. I have been on an 18-year quest to find the perfect vegan cheesecake. My mission is now complete. Perfect crust. Perfect flavor. Perfect texture. Once again I found myself taking my time. Oh my.

I wanted to order more to give readers a more inclusive review but I just couldn't eat anything else. Everything I look for in a dining experience went way above my high expectations. I wasn't surprised by this, just happy about it.

Go to Omaha. From Denver it is an easy seven hour drive. You gain an hour driving into Central time zone. Omaha is also an easy drive from many other cities in the Midwest. You can make your dinner reservation here. At this time Modern Love is open Tuesday through Saturday from 4pm - 10pm.

I can't stop here. If you are traveling to Omaha and need a place to spend the night, I highly recommend Brent's loft in the north part of downtown Omaha. Affordable, comfortable, clean, and convenient. Brent is super friendly and kind. This is a room, not his entire place. I loved it. Check it out here.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Restaurant review - Detroit Vegan Soul

I recently had to go back to my home state for a family funeral and had the opportunity to go check out Detroit's thriving vegan scene.

Yes, Detroit.

And yes, thriving.

This post was going to be about that scene but it has become all about one place: Detroit Vegan Soul. I enjoyed my time here so much that I need a whole post just for them! I will write a future post about Detroit in general.

My interest was peaked while speaking with one of the owners of The Lunch Room in Ann Arbor (where I was staying and about 45 minutes from Detroit) who told me about Detroit Vegan Soul. I had read about them and am connected with them on Twitter, but I hadn't considered checking them out.

Later that afternoon I called to see what the dress was (casual) and asked about traffic. My conversation ended up being with one of the owners  and she was SO friendly. Because of her friendliness I just had to go, and off I went.

Detroit definitely has it's problems and you see a lot of them while driving to Detroit Vegan Soul. Then all of a sudden you turn a corner and you encounter an oasis of different businesses that includes Detroit Vegan Soul.

I walked in and was immediately greeted by staff, very friendly staff. If you have ever read any of my restaurant reviews you know that staff hospitality is important to me. I was ecstatic to be there. The restaurant was alive with almost a full house and lots of conversations going on.

I started with the Collard Green Spring Rolls which apparently are quite popular. I now know why. They are delicious and a great start to any meal.

I should mention here that the women who own Detroit Vegan Soul started with a food truck. When they opened the restaurant there was a line down the block.

I know why.  My server was friendly and helpful. He suggested, as it was my first time, to try the Soul Platter. Oh my. I loved every bite. The mac n cheese and the yams didn't last long. And the collard greens! All I wanted to do was savor ever bite. And I wasn't alone. I watched as other customers were loving what they had ordered. I just wanted to ask for the menu back and order another dish, but I also had to leave room for dessert. Dessert was Snickerdoodle cake, and I loved it. But keep in mind that the cake changes.

The menu is intense, and I just can't give it justice as I didn't try that many items. I can only imagine how delicious the Okra Stew or the Catfish Tofu are! I am salivating thinking about this place as I write, thinking of what I would order if Mike and I could go for dinner tonight.

I did get to meet the owners, and meeting Kirsten and Erika was truly one of the highlights of my entire trip. I can't wait to see them again and to enjoy more meals at Detroit Vegan Soul. Check them out here.

Finally, I just have to let you know about this photo in the bathroom. It gave me pause. It's hard to see because I didn't catch it in the right light, but the word "History" is etched over the photo.

If you are familiar with Detroit, Detroit Vegan Soul is just a couple of blocks north of Jefferson at Van Dyke. Not too far from Belle Isle.

Detroit Vegan Soul
8029 Agnes Street
Detroit, MI  48214

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Restaurant review - El Camino

The official name of this restaurant is El Camino Community Tavern, a little long to include for a blog post title.

Mike and I were looking for lunch one day and did a search for places around our house. Most of them we had heard of or tried, nothing really exciting. Then we saw El Camino and noticed that they had tempeh tacos! Definitely had to try them!

Lunch was great, but rushed as we had to be somewhere, so we went back for dinner a week later. This gave us a chance to take our time, ask questions, try different items and just enjoy the experience.

And it is indeed an enjoyable experience! Staff is very friendly. We ate once at the bar and once in the seating area and both times had very friendly servers who knew what vegan is and who went through the menu letting us know which menu items could be vegan.

Well we had to get the tempeh tacos. They were perfect. The sauce on them was untypically very hot so the server recommended ordering them with the sauce on the side. She was spot on. The sauce was super spicy and also super flavorful. We like spice with flavor.

The enchiladas can be ordered with spinach and portobello mushrooms. I tried these for dinner and totally enjoyed them. As you might know, Mike makes the best enchiladas at home, so I am quite the enchilada snob. These are right up my alley and I can't wait to try them again.

Vegans can also order chips and salsa, guacamole, and the green chili which is even labeled as vegan on the menu! I will also say that I'm sure the chef would make any changes with items to make them vegan. They also have Soyrizo.

I have always hope for a tavern/bar in the area that would have delicious vegan food and now we have found it. As I wrote earlier the staff is supper friendly, and this includes the managers. We ran into the same manager both times and he was not only very friendly but also very into making sure we were absolutely having a good time and enjoying ourselves.

El Camino is at the southwest corner of Lowell and 32nd at 3628 West 32nd Avenue in the Highlands neighborhood of Denver. Their phone number is 720.889.7946. El Camino is the perfect place for a date night, for a drink with co-workers after work or an easy-going night out with friends. I highly recommend checking them out! Their website is here.

Thanks for reading!