Sunday, February 28, 2010

Weekend Vegan Warrior

Saturday morning my friend, who crashed at my apartment, and I ate at the diner around the corner. I had a bowl of oatmeal, and as he nursed his hangover with sausages and eggs I did not envy him or his breakfast one bit.

After some snow ball tossing, we met up with a nice Irish lass who has not seen me since my endeavor and it is always good to hear the compliments and surprise. It's more shock in my discipline than in the weight I lost. We traveled to the bar Brass Monkey in the Meat Packing District and climbed over snow drifts inside to watch the big 6 Nations rugby tournament between England and Ireland. Actually, my virgin Bloody Mary suited me just fine as we watched the first half of this spirited match. At the half we added my buddy's girlfriend to the caravan and went across town to a great bar, Arctica, to meet my Irish and Kiwi friends. The game was spectacular with Ireland edging out the win in the closing minutes. The beers were flowing and I quickly surveyed those with a healthy, smiling buzz, and those who were legless, locked, and langers. Damn, I thought, that used to be me. Not moderate drinking for fun like most of the bar, but the ones who live by the mantra 1 is too many and 10 is not enough. What a shame I wasted so many years turning the knob on the fun amplifier to "11." But, the real kicker? I had a great time! Take that, sour-puss, failed Friday Night fun seeker!

Lunch was at P.J. Clarke's where I had the delicious Third Avenue Vegetable salad.

Saturday night a girlfriend and I went to the oft-suggested, Red Bamboo in Greenwich Village. Red Bamboo is a tiny restaurant with no reservations taken. We got there around 7:30 and the wait was only :30 minutes. They took my cell number and we walked across to the Irish Pub, Four Faced Liar. Since we dated very seriously 5 years ago, and she was the only girlfriend I was motivated enough to walk down 47th Street (i.e. the Diamond District) for, she has a very unique perspective on this new lifestyle change. In the end, she loves this endeavor of mine, and just like all the others asked the question, "Why did you wait until now?" To that I can only say, "It was time." I could not do it for anyone except for me. But even though it is an enormous step, it is still just a step, as Friday night reminded me. Changing my lifestyle must be complete to ensure that I keep it up for the rest of my life.

Red Bamboo was excellent!

Yes, there were the requisite "vegan looking" patrons - malnourished, tattooed, pierced, and with hair that looked like they combed it with an eggbeater, complete with Buddy Holly style glasses. But there were plenty of people who looked just like us, and families, too!

Another great thing about vegan restaurants? The price. For the cost of a burger and fries in Midtown, you can get a gourmet meal, a healthy gourmet meal.

My appetizer was the: Dragonfly Dumplings - Rice flour dumplings filled with shredded soy protein, veggie shrimp, carrots and cabbage lightly fried and served over a mixed greens salad with soy-ginger dressing…$5.95. It was light and tasty, and I really enjoyed it. My entree was the: Grilled Bourbon Chicken - Jerk marinated soy chicken grilled to perfection served over mixed greens with a side of sesame basmati rice and steamed vegetables…$11.95. This was an awesome meal and I defy any meat eater to say that this is not real chicken.

Now, here I am back into the debate between simply "going vegan," and my playbook of nutrient-dense eating for life. There had to be some molasses and other ingredients on the soy chicken that Dr. Fuhrman would not whole-heartily endorse.

In the end, the meal was a far superior health alternative to any dish I would have had at any one of the new BBQ places that are popping up around the city faster than Benetton's in the 1980's.

For breakfast on Sunday I traveled to Lansky's Jewish Deli/Diner on the Upper West Side. As it was brunch there were a few giant pastrami sandwiches and all sorts of omelet dishes. No matter, it was just nice to be out and about with "normal" New Yorkers (hint: there is no such thing anymore). I happily had a bowl of oatmeal with bananas, and an English muffin with peanut butter, and with the Sunday Post and Times I was as happy as could be.

One article in the Times caught my eye. In an article about food stamps it mentioned that the top two items purchased in New York's poorest areas with these stamps were red meat and milk. Interesting.


Anonymous said...

I am in awe of your journey! I've been eating a plant-based diet for health reasons for years, but my husband is so resistant. After years of pleading, I've finally realized that, as you said, he has to want to do it for himself. It's hard to watch, but I hope he will recognize the benefits and change his mind and his habits, soon. Thanks for sharing your thoughts; very inspirational!

Abigail S. Bean said...

So glad that you tried Red Bamboo. Even though I've been vegan for a decade, it's still one of my favorite places.

seo said...

Red Bamboo - yum!