Today is World Vegetarian Day and I'll be posting here daily for October to participate in Vegetarian Awareness Month. What a gift to be vegan now, eating for my health, for animal welfare and for our environment. So many good things are coming from this lifestyle: I've lowered my total cholesterol by 22 points; I've learned to be satisfied with healthy vegan food choices; my cooking repertoire has grown to include wonderful new recipes such as Vegan Chicken Fried Steak made with homemade seitan, Vegan Alfredo Sauce (both soy and non-soy versions) and so many other tasty things; I feel better as a human being that I no longer contribute to the misery and death of animals in my pursuit of sustenance; and I have even lost weight since switching from a lacto-ovo vegetarian way of eating to my vegan lifestyle!
When I'm in New York, I have the abundant selections at Whole Foods and great produce and other treats from the Union Square Greenmarket just a short walk away from the office and a very good health food store and decent neighborhood grocery store near home. I can take a reasonable hike over to Stogo in the East Village for amazing vegan ice cream and sometimes combine this "road trip" with a walking meeting with a like-minded client. When I'm in the country I can try out recipes in my spacious kitchen (comparatively to New York) and enjoy my bright red KitchenAid stand mixer preparing vegan baked goods and protein-rich seitan. The local produce stand offers fresh-picked corn in the summer and pumpkins and squash in the fall and lots of other good things.
Eating out in restaurants has become possible as I've learned more about the ingredients in the foods I order. For example, I love Olive Garden because I can have whole wheat linguine with a tasty marinara there plus abundant salad and bread sticks. Eventually I found out that unless I order the breadsticks "plain" they come buttered. I get the bowl of salad minus dressing, cheese or croutons, ask for the cruets of oil and vinegar and do fine. Most other restaurants have trouble making me what I ask for. They put cheese on the veggie burger, or the veggie burger isn't really vegan as I later learn. I ask for a bruschetta minus cheese and it comes minus mozzarella but loaded with Parmesan. Or I ask for pasta with oil and garlic and fresh vegetables and they come buttered. New York has some wonderful vegan restaurants and most servers don't look at you as if you had two heads when you explain your needs, but in the country, not so much.