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Friday, October 23, 2009

Rants and Raves

We just got back from a fabulous trip to San Francisco and LA - we spent time with my brother and his girlfriend in SF, plus two of our best pals in LA. It was a really magical trip; by far the best we've had as a family since we brought Carlos home nearly three years ago. He's finally at an age where traveling is starting to be pleasant again.

So first, the raves -

The food was amazing. We ate so much fantastic vegan food, I'm not sure if I can remember it all, but I'll try. Sorry, I was too busy stuffing my face to take pictures.

Love & Haight Deli in SF - I had a delicious 'chicken' steak deli sandwich. I can't remember the last time I had a decent deli sandwich. Yum. My only regret was that I didn't think to add avocado.

Cafe Gratitude in SF - our meal was slightly marred by our very cranky and over-tired four-year-old, but this was still a fun experience. Definitely not mainstream, but worth trying at least once.

Rainbow Grocery
in SF - I went here for the sole purpose of purchasing mass amounts of Daiya vegan cheese. I ended up buying five pounds, and immediately upon leaving the store, regretted not buying ten. They only carry the Italian-style shreds (not the orange kind), but that's better than nothing (which is what I have up here in this rural wasteland I call home). When I told the cheese counter lady that I came from out of town to get the Daiya, she said she sees a lot of that, and wanted to know where I was from. She then declared that I won the long-distance award. I consider it a badge of honor.

Five pounds of Daiya cheese.

Pure Luck Cafe in LA - WOW. This place was incredible... they make an amazing marinaded mock-meat from jackfruit, of all things. I had it in a burrito, but they put it in all kinds of other things as well. The fried pickles, sweet potato fries, and Caesar salad were all also great.

Tierra Cafe in LA - decent vegan taquitos, crappy service.

Native Foods in Costa Mesa - I think this was the highlight for me. I loved the atmosphere (it's the only restaurant in North America that's in a yurt, who knew?), and the food was excellent (although I think the desserts could be better). I had pizza and salad, and also sampled Carlos' mac and cheese - everything was really, really tasty. So much so that I had to buy the cookbook.

Golden Mean Vegan Cafe in Santa Monica - this was enjoyable, but not the best I've ever had. I was excited to see a panini on the menu, and specifically asked if it included Daiya cheese (yes, I'm a little nuts over the stuff), to which the server responded yes; however, when I received my sandwich, there was no cheese to be seen. I still enjoyed it, but it wasn't the best thing I've ever had. I also thought that their cookies were kind of dry and just so-so. Of the four things ordered by my group, I definitely thought that 'the works' burger looked the best.

Cruzer Pizza in LA - it's neck and neck between Cruzer Pizza and Native Foods for top honors on this trip. We got takeout pizza with Daiya cheese (again! I know...) and it was totally awesome. I don't know what else to say about pizza... the crust was good? It was just an all-around spectacular pizza, vegan or otherwise.

Okay, that's the end of the raves. On to the rants. (Is anyone still with me?)

On the plane on the way home, I found myself reading the Southwest Airlines in-flight magazine. Yes, I was hard up for reading material. Anyways, the theme of this particular issue was how geeks are going to save us from our current environmental mess. For a split second, I was so thrilled to turn the page and see a giant headline stating that 20% of all methane emissions come from the agriculture industry. It's so gratifying to see this fact finally getting the public exposure it deserves. However, all too often, like in this case, the emphasis is all wrong. The solution that this particular magazine put forward was the work of some scientists to create genetically modified cattle who produce less methane.

Is it just me, or is this seriously messed up? It seems to me that absolutely the last thing we need right now is more genetically modified food. It truly amazes me to see how attached people are to the idea of eating flesh; so much so that they would rather mess with nature in bizarre and possibly dangerous ways to create animals who burp a little less, thereby making a small dent in the problem, rather than reduce (or eliminate) meat and dairy from their diets, which would make a much larger impact, as well as improve their health and the lives of animals in the process. It's such a no-brainer to me, I really can't wrap my brain around it.

On to rant number two...

I was listening to a (mainstream; non vegan) podcast this morning and was again momentarily happy to hear the host saying that it's becoming increasingly difficult to defend eating meat due to the increasing evidence of the environmental and health risks associated with this behavior. But then, of course, he has to go on to make some lame comment about how good it tastes.

So rant 2(a) is - why, oh why, is it okay to justify torturing and killing sentient beings for the sake of our tastebuds? Would these same people say that it's okay to rape an animal because they are horny? Seriously people, these are living, feeling creatures. The bottom line is that we don't have any dietary requirement for animal flesh or secretions; therefore, making animals suffer and die to become human food is just plain wrong.

After that, the podcaster said something like "but as it turns out, it's not such a great time to be a vegetarian either, because a recent study just listed leafy greens as the most likely food item to be contaminated by e-coli."

Rant 2(b) - Whaaaaaat? How in the world does this mean that it's a bad time to be vegetarian? I know plenty of vegetarians who eat very few leafy greens, and plenty of omnivores who eat lots of leafy greens. Leafy greens are not the sole property of vegetarians. Geez. What an idiotic thing to say.

Okay, I'm done now. I have to go bathe my skunky dog.


jerilouise said...

Very interesting reading. Glad your trip was such a happy a foody one. And I'm happy that Carlos is a happy traveler now.

Shel/Nate/Anipals said...

I'm so glad you posted this! We're heading down to SF this weekend and now I have eating out covered. =)