This blog has gone untended over the last several months due to an unrelenting office job and a brief stint in academia. From what the statistics and email alerts tell me, I do have some semblance of a (small) following. To you still out there, sorry for the delay.
In other news, I have garnered an internship position as an editorial assistant for VegNews magazine and set sail for San Francisco at the end of the month. While I may continually post more articles, interviews and quasi-fact-based narratives on this cyber-rag, I find it necessary to pen a final farewell to this city I’ve grown fond of. Excuse the rant and self-indulgent platitudes.
Vegan – how it came to be
I came to this city a wayward omnivore miscreant, unschooled in the ways of the world. Little did I know the evolutionary era I was about to embark on when I first arrived at 43 Parker Hill Avenue, BOSTON. It was the beginning, of the end of the beginning.
I was enrolled at Emerson College as an Interactive Media Major (still not sure what that means, but it sounds great at parties) and publishing minor. One of the assignments for my first non-fiction writing class was to become an expert on a subject and educate the unknowing masses. My topic was how to be conscious consumer of “cruelty-free” meat and dairy products. One of my sources was a lady from a California-based animal rights non-profit (all records of this paper have been lost—the laptop containing those files was stolen on an Easter Sunday years ago). During our phone interview I sat in a secluded room in the Emerson library and listened to her wax metaphorical. She likened the notion of cruelty-free meat to a comfortable death camp—people live relaxing lives and then are slaughtered ruthlessly.
I was taken aback by her comparison, but as I dug deeper into our food industry (industry being a key word here), her rhetoric started to sound less like zealotry and more like the writing on the wall I never bothered to read. It didn’t take too much digging to uncover images of animals subjected to the gestation crates, waste-deep in their own feces, pumped full of antibiotics, abused and slaughtered, packaged, sold and labeled for our convenient consumption.
There was hurt in their eyes and pain in their cries. I learned that a pig has the cognitive ability of a 3-year-old human and animals get depressed, pissed, scared for their lives and long for their babies just like humans. I realized they issued no consent in this mass genocide, and furthermore, I realized I had a choice as to whether I contribute to their suffering.
Before my class was over I was a certified vegetarian. Months later I scrutinized the dairy industry through the same critical lens and became a full-time vegan. Amen.
Plant based, post haste
I’d like to think my coming of age experience was parallel to the city’s burgeoning vegan scene, but I’m sure these are delusional notions from an egocentric psyche. Since I first claimed veganism, I’ve seen some excellent establishments conceived in this fair city. Notable mentions:
Veggie Galaxy – a spacious diner with an expansive menu, beers on tap, an in-house pastry chef as well as grade-A milk shakes.
Refuge Café – Not exclusively vegan, but it provides veg-friendly breakfast fare. If you’re in the Allston during the AM hours, be sure to stop in for the vegan breakfast burrito, read a copy of the Phoenix and dig the artwork on the walls.
FoMU – Allston-based ice cream parlor with a bevy of unique flavors and toppings.
Sudo Shoes – cruelty-free footwear for fashionistas who start from the bottom up.
Other restaurants were already in existence, and I had the pleasure of trying them:
My Thai: Thai cuisine with great meat substitutes that can be complemented with their fruit-infused bubble tea (and a not so splendid view of the Glass Slipper—a “gentleman’s club”—the last remnants of the downtown area’s seedier side once known as The Combat Zone).
Peace ‘o Pie: Serves gourmet vegan pizza seven days out of the week. Sunday brunch includes a buffet of tempeh, tofu scramble and pancakes. Plates are weighed and sold by the pound.
Veggie Planet: Veggie Galaxy’s forbear. A frequent haunt of mine whenever I braved the droves of tourists and Ivy Leaguers of Harvard Square. A purveyor of pizza and salads. Seating arrangements are limited, but still worth your while.
Clover: Started as a couple food trucks and is now a burgeoning chain that includes several trucks and two brick and mortar locations. Clover is known for its chickpea fritter (falafel), seitan and tempeh sandwiches. Caters to the environmentally and health-conscious crowd with its seasonable vegetable sandwiches and compostable dinnerware. Also a quick and convenient stop for the coffee connoisseur. (Editors note: spent nearly two glorious years on the Clover truck, and eventually rose to the ranks of “team leader.”)
Boston was more than the place where I did my time in academia; it was my home. She’s harbored my delusions of grandeur and was the backdrop to my inhibitions and ambitions. I’ll miss the streets, the familiar faces, the movie theatres, basement shows and coffee shops. Frigid winters and scorching summers, offset by seasonable springs and awe-inspiring autumns. Its frenetic and serene, beautiful and busted—everything a wayward, omnivore, miscreant, unschooled in the ways of the world would need, or want. Goodbye…for now.