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My interests include veganism and vegetarianism, health, ethics, politics and culture, media, and the environment. I have three kids; I teach college part-time, study piano and attempt to garden. I knit. I blog on just about anything, but many posts are related to my somewhat pathetic quest to eat better, be more mindful of the environment, and be a more responsible news consumer. Sometimes I write about parenting, but, like so many Mommy bloggers, my kids have recently told me not to. :) Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


I've been 'almost vegan' long enough that eating vegan at home is easy.  But I still find doing so out of the house to be a challenge, particularly if I'm staying at somebody else's house.

I've just returned from a two-week trip to spend time with my East Coast family, during which we celebrated my in-laws' 50 years of marriage.  It was a lovely trip and my in-laws were very supportive of my dietary choices.

However...I had to make some concessions in my diet because a) I couldn't stock their pantry and fridge with my stuff and then drag it back to the other side of the country and b) I couldn't expect to use their kitchen every day.  I did go out and buy tofu, soy milk and tempeh.  I did not buy fake cheese, fake butter, fake ice cream, or any of the other vegan items (such as stevia or agave) that I generally use at home. 

Translation:  this "almost vegan" ate some dairy while on vacation.  I found it the most convenient compromise.  I did NOT, however, eat meat or eggs (though I suspect the one piece of anniversary cake may have had eggs in it). 

While at their house, I ate an incredibly boring diet of oatmeal in the mornings, coffee with soy milk (and white sugar), toast (with butter), brown rice and tofu and veggies (or tempeh) for dinner, and a tempeh and veggie sandwich and fruit every day for lunch.  It was all fine, but monotonous. 

I did cook for them twice:  pinto and plantain stew (from Veganomicon) and a veggie and tempeh stir fry (they added shrimp to their portions, though they said they liked the tempeh).  During the week I watched them eat lobster, veal, chicken, eggs, bacon, liverwurst, turkey and ham, cheese, yogurt, ice cream.  They also eat fairly big portions of fruit and veggies every day, but watching them eat made me aware AGAIN of how many animal products I am NOT eating anymore.  (For the record, I have NEVER had veal.) 

When we went out for their anniversary dinner -- at a very nice Italian place -- I asked the cook to prepare an eggplant dish without the smoked mozzarella (but GOD it looked so good!) and to just give me a side of pasta.  Done.  Vegan even while at a VERY non-vegan restaurant.

I did have a *little* ice cream and I did have that piece of their anniversary cake.  Should I feel terribly guilty? 

I don't particularly, though I know there are vegans who would never have made these concessions, even while on vacation, and even while living in somebody else's house. 

Would YOU have taken over somebody else's kitchen?  Why or why not?  What concessions, if any, do you make if you are staying in somebody else's house?


  1. Sounds to me like you did a nice job of being a good guest. Good guests find a way to manage without becoming the rock around which everyone else's water needs to flow. Good work!

  2. Welcome back! A thought-provoking post, as always.

    Some of the best advice I read on this matter is from Kathy Freston's Quantum Wellness:

    "Vegans and vegan wannabees shouldn't be too concerned about ingredients that make up less than two percent of their meal. You will obviously want to avoid dishes served with meat, cheese, or eggs, but you need not get crazy if there is a dab of butter or whey or other animal product in the bun your veggie burger is served on. You won't appreciably stop animal suffering by avoiding such minuscule amounts of animal ingredients. The goal is to eat in a conscious, animal-friendly manner without driving friends, family, or the waiters at restaurants nuts."

    The examples are countless, but to choose one, my mother kept buying me soy creamer for when I visit, but it would spoil, so when there, I just take a bit of milk in my tea. I don't torture myself over it. I realize I live in a non-vegan world, and some compromise is needed. Even people I thought to be the strictest of vegans do these things. Better to focus on eating a certain way as much as possible than living up to perfection all the time.

  3. Just found your blog and am really enjoying it. I'm a vegetarian and have been thinking about veganism for some time now...haven't been able to convince myself it's the right thing to do yet, mostly because I want to avoid the social alienation/perceived rudeness - it's hard enough as a vegetarian sometimes. I'm glad to see you're having success with a mostly-vegan diet and are still flexible enough to not strain relationships with non-vegans...it gives me hope! :-D


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