Monday, February 4, 2008

You Know You're Vegan When...#2

A few days ago, I heard from a friend about a restaurant in Hadley with an extensive 'vegetarian meats' section to their menu. I was intrigued: no-chicken chicken? shrimpless-shrimp? bovine-free beef???? How could this be? I determined to see - and taste - it for myself.

Butterfly is a fairly non-traditional Chinese/Japanese fusion sort of place. A new restaurant on the site of the old, and short-lived, 'All Fired Up' (a wok bar type establishment that just didn't seem to take off, even with the student crowd), it is obviously well-liked by the chinese community. This is always a good sign.

The menu was huge. I mean, enormous! And, to my absolute joy, there was a complete second menu of vegetarian and vegan options. Yes, you read that correctly - an entire second menu! I went to work with gusto!

We ordered the vegan chicken drumsticks, vegan fishsticks, hot and sour soup and vegan potstickers. Yes, yes, we over ordered, but I was excited to see soooooo many options, and My Beloved simply could not do without his favoourite soup....say no more! I wish, I wish, I wish, I'd had the mental wherewithall to bring the camera, but I was a fool and so no evidence of the feast survives. (Next time, I promise to fully document the meal!) However, suffice to say, the 'chicken' and 'fish' (made from chinese mushrooms, gluten, tofu and herbs/spices) were outstanding. They were almost perfect analogs of the 'real thing'....the chicken drumsticks, for instance, even had a sort of 'skin' on them which gave a disquieting snap as I bit into it. Although they tasted incredible, it was perhaps all a little close for vegan comfort....

Possibly because of this, I had a bizarrely hard time ordering a main course. I scanned the menu more than several times, trying to decide what to get. They offered around 15-20 different options for each of the 'meats' - 'chicken' in black bean sauce, orange 'beef' with sesame, 'shrimp' with green beans and water chestnuts...that kind of thing. But, even knowing full well that nothing more sentient than a mushroom was harmed in the making of these delicacies, I could not raise any enthusiasm for ordering a dish. I started to glance hopefully at the tofu dishes and experienced a palpable sense of relief until I remembered that the reason we'd come was specifically to sample the meat analogs.

Eventually, I chose the shrimp with broccoli - as I adore that cheeky green number! - and its significance was not lost on me. Seafood was the very last thing I gave up when I became vegan, and shrimp were definitely the last creatures with which I felt any kind of connection. So I guess it was probably understandable that I would opt for them over the beef analog or faux chicken. It has been only a short four months since my transition and yet avoiding eating animals and their secretions is already so very ingrained, so natural to me, that I find even the idea of eating 'flesh' unpalatable. Even when I know it is 'fake'.

You know you're vegan when....!

Stay Vegan, friends!

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