Finding a community and balance

This is a personal post about my perspective. I’ll be back to my normally-scheduled news, recipes and illustrations shortly…

The more I have been involved in vegan advocacy and activism, the less connected I have felt with my “community” of friends. It could be several things… I tend to be introverted so I really need to make more of an effort just to invite people over. I am sometimes concerned that I am putting myself in a place where friends or family might feel my veganism is an issue. I really worry about making things difficult in social situations by asking for food without animal products, while at the same time realizing that making a big social change is pretty much impossible to do easily.

Recently there was a situation where a very nice invitation came into my inbox about a special dinner for my son’s school extended beyond an initial paid group to include auction volunteers and sponsors. I played a very small role in even my volunteer efforts, just helping for one day. It was not a dinner that I would have signed up for as I knew it would probably not be vegetarian, definitely not vegan. There were at least a couple of options- don’t say anything and don’t go, or ask if there will be a vegan option available and go. Since I knew that there was at least one other vegan volunteer, I thought I would just ask. Just not showing up to things does not help make veganism more mainstream.

The person in charge of food kindly offered to look into it, but since egg is a major ingredient, wasn’t sure what to do. Being a pain in the ass is just not something I enjoy. I used to be the person that when asked by hosts if there were any food requirements, would say, “I eat anything” and felt good about being so easy.

There is a line between concern for others’ comfort, or the greater concern of the planet, the animals, and the future population. I can’t/won’t apologize for wanting a more peaceful, compassionate and healthy world especially as the stakes are raised. I think most people would want that, it is just hidden from easy view behind those who profit, traditions, habits and status quo.

I have tended to stay involved but on the outskirts of our wonderful vegan community in town,  just because I felt that it was more important for me to socialize and be part of my non-vegan circle. While it is comforting to go to parties and groups where the food is all vegan and everyone is more or less on the same page about the same animal issues, I don’t need to preach to the choir. I’m also a little concerned about being even more immersed in vegan culture than I already am. I am at a point, 4 years into this journey, that I remember clearly what it was like not to notice or care about the things I am aware and care about now. I understand and have compassion about how it is not an easy transition to make. I don’t want to forget these things by surrounding myself only with like-minded people. I honestly want to have open conversations with people, meet where we can, not to make judgments.

Lately, I have felt like I really need the Vegan communities support. That I don’t want to feel alone all the time. I’ll make an effort to balance the two groups moving forward. And also, to try to not be overly sensitive (something which I have struggled with all my life). I want to have deep friendships with a variety of people, but I can’t ignore what has been uncovered, which is at the core of my being.

I’m excited to seeing changes happening in the world which will draw everyone closer together. Research and studies proving that eating less meat is beneficial for everyone. In the next 5-10 years I hope that having a vegan option for the many people who would pick that, will be something that is just accepted and part of life. It will no longer be the difficult guest situation, or even radical. Our future is moving towards that in any case. You know we’re mainstream when even Fox news is saying it!





Girls’ veg weekend at the coast!

I’m finally writing about a reunion last month with my two best friends from University. I have known these women since we were about 19 years old (more or less), and well- we’re gaining on our 3rd decade of friendship. But we all look exactly the same (at least that is what we think). I am now older than my PARENTS were when I graduated from college, that is so bizarre. I feel lucky to have these forever friends, and even if we all live in different states, our states are adjoining ones. Since moving to Portland in 1999, there aren’t a lot of people in my daily life who knew me before I was married with kids, and all my “old” friends have a special place in my heart.

We’ve made it a point to get together at least once a year. Sometimes with families, sometimes just us. I found photos of the three of us in shoulder pads, stone-washed denim and big permed hair from the late 80s, and photos of all of us at each others weddings. Through marriage, kids, deaths, job changes, and other life changes, I know we all support each other. We had a lot of laughs trying to take a decent selfie for this trip, we just don’t practice enough I guess!

Yep, seriously, this was one of our better attempts.

For this February weekend, we took over my parent’s home on the Oregon coast. And they were kind enough to leave town so that we could have it all to ourselves to talk freely (and without my mom seeing how many wine bottles we went through). Since my two friends both had some travel costs, I offered to plan and pay for the food and of course be the driver.

My friends are not vegan, and when we were planning the trip, they were really kind about saying I could make whatever I wanted.

I challenged myself to come up with food that they would hopefully enjoy, always trying to present an easy and delicious view of vegan food using whole foods. Making things that are supposed to emulate meat doesn’t really measure up to those who eat meat regularly (I’ve found). They are more satisfying for those of us who haven’t had the real thing for awhile!

My menu plan for the weekend was…

General Tso’s Cauliflower  A Chinese dish using breaded cauliflower that is baked. So good! I have written about this before.

Indian Vegetarian Korma Substituted coconut milk for the heavy cream to make it vegan. I also made some chickpea cutlets for the first time from Veganomicon, but those weren’t my favorite. However, people love those, and so I might try again and see if there was something that went awry. My friends said they liked them, but they are kind people, so what else would they say?


Vegetable Thai Red Curry I make this at least once a month, everyone loves it.


I ended up talking to them more about my vegan ideas and philosophy than I usually do. Later, I thought about that. I try to be careful with all my friends not to cause any alarm… or maybe to appear “normal enough” so they will continue to invite me over for dinner. (-; With these friends, I am not worried that they will abandon me, even if they don’t agree with me. Because it has become a very important part of my life, it was nice to be able to share that side.

We ended up eating out only a few times over those three days. On the way to the coast, we ate at Laughing Planet. Lazy Susan at the coast, where I was personally disappointed about the lack of even a non-dairy creamer for the coffee. It is charming, but not vegan-friendly… but the other options were Pig n’ Pancake or Scoop n’ Grill which definitely weren’t better. Sweet Basil’s Cafe is the most vegan-friendly option in Cannon Beach, but they open at lunch. For dinner back in Portland, we went to Pizzeria Otto, and tried their vegan pizza- cashew “ricotta”, lemon and pumpkin seed pesto. It was really good!


We had a pretty rainy weekend, but honestly, it didn’t matter that much. What a gift to be able to catch up on all the new developments in each others’ lives, talk about anything and everything, and reminisce. We may not talk often, but when we see each other it is like no time has passed.

I love you girls! Thank you for your friendship as we change through the years, but always remain the same at heart.

P.S. How did we forget to discuss TIM?


Lessons from a little bird


This may sound silly, but I wanted to share this story.

Yesterday, I was driving slowly near my house and heard a “thunk” against the car. I was talking on speaker phone at the time, and didn’t think I was distracted, but I honestly didn’t see what it was or where it came from.

I parked and walked back to the spot hoping it was a pine cone that had flipped up, and not what I was fearing.

But, there he was, a tiny little brown bird, eyes closed, feet straight out, not moving. Mercifully, I suppose he died immediately. I took a pine branch to sweep him off the road so he wouldn’t be squashed by cars, and he was still so soft that each rotation of his small body made my stomach lurch in connection to how recently he had been living. Such a beautiful day, Spring just beginning, and it was all over for him.

I made an internal vow that I would not use speaker phone any more (which I don’t do with kids in the car anyway). Not sure if it would have made a difference, but more attention on the road is always good, and made me feel like his life did mean something.

Each life does matter, and you may think I am over-dramatic, but I don’t want to be responsible for death. Yes, I know these things happen, even in harvesting vegetables, but we can do what we can to prevent as many as possible. It made the connection for me again that I don’t like to see small birds die, so I also don’t want to be responsible for killing the birds that I can’t see. If I eat eggs or chicken, someone else is killing that bird for me.


Later, I walked back to where I left him, near the curb, and he was gone. I would like to believe (and hope) that he had just been stunned, and woke up later. In any case, I learned something from that bird, and he strengthened my compassion.




The happiest place on Earth- really?

The least hot, least crowded day in Knotts.

Usually I keep my posts not too personal. However, I am ready to share the other side of our wonderful vacation last October. Also, most of my readers at this point are my family and friends, so this is for them.

I think there must be two types of people (generally). Those who enjoy the theme park experience, and those who find it a form of torture.

I thought possibly that I enjoyed it, but now that it has been 6 months since our Disney experience I realize we fall into the other category. I was pretty traumatized by it, and I don’t think I can ever visit one again, EVER, although Star Wars and Harry Potter tempt me. If I could go on an uncrowded, not extremely hot day, for free… well, that probably won’t happen. The kids were pretty unenthusiastic by the end, and didn’t even want to buy any souvenirs.

Their favorite part was having their own room and TV in the hotel, and when we went to a friend’s house for dinner and video games.

“Mom, can we just stay here today?” NO! Get out of the air-conditioned bliss. We’re going to go sweat our asses off at Disneyland.

So my original post was all about the veg options. I left out the 45 minute lines for rides, accidentally becoming part of a charity walk for an hour before the park opened LATE, that our kids don’t like any exciting/fun rides. or that we spent like $50 one morning on enormous Jamba juices to try to quench our thirst.

Awkward! The only ones not with a charity group…

The best part of Disneyland for my animal lover was their petting zoo! I heard that is going away, along with other Frontier land attractions to make room for Star Wars Land. I’m glad we can do our daughter’s favorite thing near our home, for free.



"Mom, can I just stay here in the shade and pet the animals?"
“Mom, can I just stay here in the shade and pet the animals?”

Are you a theme park person? I think it helps if you go often so you know what to do and how to maximize the fun, minimize the wait time. I’m pretty sure if there was a way we could have done this more wrong, it would have been difficult! Check opening hours, don’t leave your glasses on the ride, don’t go during a 108 degree record-breaking heat wave or get caught up in a charity event. Anyway, first world problems. I am grateful for the trip, if only for the future vacation savings for us and the kids.