Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Little by little, hope grows

Sometimes, as a vegan, it's hard to resist the strong sense of isolation, of being enveloped and insulated within an alien, meat-eating, animal-profiteering culture. It's hard, in the face of the billion jagged reminders every day of the egregious ways animals are used and abused, to remain hopeful about the broader picture.

The web is an invaluable tool in this regard, of course. By reaching out to others in the blogosphere, joining online groups and creating our own community - with all its fissures and patched imperfections - we remind ourselves daily that we are not alone. We are not crazy. And, most of all, we are not wrong.

This is an emotional sanctuary to which I return when I'm overwhelmed by the scale of the problem. But it is so much the sweeter when you find someone in real life who is also doing the work, living the life and promoting compassionate values. So, as I was noodling around the web earlier, I came across a post on Animals Not Ingredients called 'Today I Met My First Vegan' and it piqued my curiosity. The writer expresses her appreciation of meeting another vegan randomly in a health food shop, and of being able to make a connection. And I was struck by how uncommon that is, or at least how uncommon it used to be. And then I started to think about the ways in which I've noticed that veganism is becoming more mainstream. And I realized that I do not necessarily believe that it's just a matter of me noticing it more now. Here's why....

I grew up - in the 80s - in a small market town in south-west England. It's right smack-bang in the middle of farming country, where the local population has lived off the land and raised animals since before Noah was a young lad. The ways were old-fashioned, the values even more so: there was a respect for the land and a scepticism and distrust of new-fangled ideas and concepts.

Veganism - nor yet even vegetarianism - was a concept that would not have been well received.

Fast forward to today. My mother, who still lives in this area, IMed me today to report on her visit to a new little eaterie that has sprung up in the town: The Owl Cafe. It is vegan. Pure. Vegan. Food. With a healthy dose of AR on the side, by the sound of it. Indeed, from the website you can get a taste of their philosophy as the chef says

My food you can cry for - die for. You will eat like you won’t believe. Yes I’m a chef, so therefore arrogant; I’m good, but I have an advantage - I simplify my cooking by not using bits of dead animal.

You have to love that!

Furthermore, on a noodling trip around the web a few weeks ago, I stumbled across a B&B in a neighbouring town which explicitly tries to attract the veg*n crowd: The Limetree Nursery. I was so excited that I actually contacted the owner to say how pleased I was - from 4000 miles away on the other side of 'The Pond' - to know that they existed. Such a B&B would never have survived back when I was growing up.

So perhaps this is all evidence, in a very concrete way, that times are changing. That it is no longer such a radical, ultra-far-left, fringe position to actually want to be consciously respectful of the needs and rights of the other creatures with whom we share this experience called life.

Perhaps, little by little, hope grows.

What's happening in your area to give you hope?

Let me know and stay vegan, friends! :)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Tofu Omelettes: Part Two

This has to be a first. I don't believe I have ever blogged about the same subject twice. At least not in two consecutive posts anyhow! But I cannot help myself - I am still just totally bowled over by the whole tofu omelette thing and I now have pictures to prove it...erm, I mean 'to share.'

This morning, My Beloved and I made a second attempt at the brunch omelettes, this time stuffing them with leftovers from last night's dinner.

[Sidebar: Since it had been such a wonderful summery day yesterday, we made plans to grill and assembled a motley crew of vegetable victims - a couple of squash (one zucchini, one yellow squash), a gigantic green pepper, a more modest pepper of the orange variety, two portobella mushrooms the size of small dinner plates, cauliflower and broccoli florets and some thick slices of red onion. Having tossed them in a little olive oil, garlic salt and a dash of chipotle pepper, we stepped outside to throw them on the grill only to find that the heavens had opened and it was now pouring with rain.

Undaunted, in that peculiarly British fashion, we grilled in the rain. Well, My Beloved did, and I leant support from the relative safety of the kitchen. Finally, when he considered them done to perfection, My Beloved appeared at the screen-door, bedraggled and dripping wet but proudly bearing a platter of the most intensely delicious-smelling vegetables ever. End sidebar and fast-forward back to this morning's brunch.....]

OK, so the batter looks a little scary, but perservere and you will be rewarded....

Starting to look like the omelettes we all used to know and love...

Drape over a selection of your favourite grilled vegetables....

...fold and we're in business!

And they were 'the business'. Terrific. Tremendous. Delicious and fantastically more-ish. My Beloved, who - to my eternal annoyance - is of a preternatural slenderness, decided that we absolutely had to make the recipe stretch to TWO EACH.



I quietly thanked the tofu gods that the batter did not go that far - I would have ended up looking like the Pilsbury Doughboy....Or at least even more so than usual. LOL

Anyways, I have to say - this recipe is no one-hit wonder. It was just as good the second time as the first and got us both thinking about other ways we could use it for weekday dinners. OK, omelettes are great but what about the spanish omelette/tortillas we used to make back in our egg-eating days? I imagine that we could cook up some veg, make a few fried potatoes (homefries-style), fold them all into the batter and pour the whole thing into a somewhat shallow dish to bake until firm. I am poised to experiment. Served with a fresh green salad and a hunk of crusty bread, I can see this going down really rather well as a mid-week dinner treat.

However for now, I thought you might like to see the 'proof positive' of the true magnificence of this recipe from Isa's Vegan Brunch. And, if you are teetering on the verge of trying once again to satisfy your post-egg omelette cravings, to nudge you over the edge into trying out this dish. Believe me....it's well worth it!

Let me know how it goes and stay vegan, friends!