Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Farewell

As I sit here on a winter afternoon at the end of 2017, I think back to a warm summer day when I pulled up behind a poultry transport truck at a red light.  These trucks are a common site here in Fayetteville Arkansas.  We are a stone’s throw from Tyson Headquarters just north of us in Springdale.  

The industry’s presence in the northwest corner of our state is pervasive.  I’ve met line workers employed at slaughter houses (oh, pardon me - processing plants), known industry administration people - even the curator of Mrs. Tyson's art collection.

Tyson Foods, Inc.  How we laud the titans of industry.  Can I argue with $40 billion in revenues annually?

Yes, I can argue against such staggering wealth when it is built on the pain and suffering of millions of animals.

Let’s see a few more statistics I picked up on Wikipedia regarding the Tyson empire: Every week, its 54 chicken plants, 13 beef plants, and six pork plants slaughter and package 170,938 cattle,  347,891 pigs and 42.5 million chickens.

Wow.  That’s a lot of death.  Are you OK with that?  If you are, you’re at the wrong blog site.
Turkey Run
Mission and Crossover, Fayetteville AR
July 2017

During the year that I put out this blog, I endeavored to be patient and polite regarding my motives for promoting vegan dining.  Indeed, this approach in incorporated in my mission statement.  But as I conclude this effort, I cannot walk away from this project without saying a few words regarding the sheer hypocrisy of our society.

The truck I sat behind was packed with wilted, battered turkeys heading to their execution.  All around me people could see perfectly well who (not what) was on board.  But we all hurried on with our lives once the light turned green.

For Christians, this is a season of “Peace on Earth”.  But we can never approach true peace until we see the truth about agribusiness.  How can we preach  harmony and mutual resepct when we ignore, institutionalize and even applaud the excruciating suffering which is behind each serving on our plate?

Here’s a New Year’s resolution which will have lasting impact:  Cut back on or even drop entirely meat and dairy from your diet.  This blog and countless other websites, books, organizations and support groups show it’s possible, it’s healthy, and it’s the future.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

No Ham for Christmas Dinner

I can't take credit for this video.  Activist site Lively Days shares it without copy write, without payment, and in fact encourages everyone to use their videos to further the message of compassion and decency to sentient beings.  And so I'll use this humble blog platform to leave you in a contemplative mood for this Holiday Season.  Spoiler alert - this video packs a wallop in 59 seconds and it does not have a happy ending.  Grab a tissue before viewing.

Monday, December 4, 2017

A Sweet Ending to our Relationship

The time has come for me to conclude entries in this blog and move on to my next adventure.

To conclude my year-long culinary odyssey, I should end with dessert, yes?

I found my last stop at Nomades Music Lounge, on south School Street in Fayetteville.

The place has an easy going, funky atmosphere, with the furniture being an eclectic blend of mid-20th century resale shop finds – colorful folding chairs, retro kitchen chairs and a few stately high-back dining thrones.  There is a stage in one corner for open mic nights, and a wall for local artists to display their work.  I felt right at home.

Nomad's CRUMBLE -
The guilt-free dessert of a lifetime
Yes, I was able to find a winner vegan dessert.  They offer a scrumptious Crumble mixing finely chopped walnuts, coconut, apricots and dates topped with a berry agave puree and two juicy black berries.  It’s good – really good.  Let’s put it this way.  I’d ordered lunch, which I’ll review in a minute, and was going to take the dessert to go.  Only a small portion of the creation made it into my to-go cup.  I just kept taking spoonful after spoonful of this delectable concoction – and the antique spoon they provided was the perfect touch.  Being served in a footed parfait cup, the whole dish seemed to be something out of the Victorian age.

For a vegan maindish, my servers, Kaiya and Coleman, pointed out many of their traditional entrees can be customized to accommodate the vegan diet, and there's the Green Goddess salad of celery, cucumber, avocado, bell pepper, onion, pine nuts and mixed greens.
The AVO WABO - a rainbow of taste!
But I went for the Avo Wabo.  It’s a toasted tortilla wrap cradling sliced avocado, orange segments, mixed greens and roasted beets (you can also have red onion, but I passed) in a chipotle-lime vinegrette.  Normally I’m a wimp when it comes to Latin spices, but this dressing was just right, giving my palate a thrill it wouldn’t get in my own kitchen, but fading from my taste buds in time for me to fully enjoy the aforementioned dessert.  As for the roasted beets, here’s an idea I’ll try at home.  They are so good for you and such a beautiful color for the presentation.

So when you’re yearning for a refreshing vegan meal including dessert, check out Nomades, and who knows, maybe you’ll even get a floor show.

Nomad's Music Lounge at 1431 South School Street, in Fayetteville

Monday, November 20, 2017


Fayetteville has a number of eateries which are locally owned and operated, and Mockingbird Kitchen is one of the most charming of these establishments.  

Even their name celebrates the state bird of Arkansas.  The signature bird graces the walls of this contemporary café, situated in a cozy corner of the Evelyn Woods Shopping Center on College Avenue in Fayetteville. 

With study at The American Culinary Institute and co-ownership of Bordino's Restaurant in her portfolio, Chef Chrissy Sanderson fuses her extensive experience with treasured family recipes.  The result is a selection that delights and surprises. Her menu denotes dietary needs, and vegan dishes are flagged by a cute little leaf.

Our server cautioned that the ripple-cut fries were prepared in the same oil as some of the meats on the menu, so they can’t be called vegan.  However, vegan selections include the Sautéed Greens which are prepared in a vegetable stock, as well as the Three Bean Salad (kidney beans, black-eyed peas, and edamame melded with a red pepper vinegrette). And on a cold autumn day, you can’t beat a warm bowl of savory Tomato Soup.

I decided on the Stir Fried Farro and Vegetables.  Farro, a nutty wheat-grain derivative, is paired with carrots, edamame, kale, mushrooms and tofu in a savory soy sauce.  It’s a filling bowl of goodness, so filling that I easily had enough for take home.  My remaining portion was placed in a reinforced cardboard container rather than Styrofoam – yeah!  (Vegans notice these things.)

I’ll admit to a moment of jealousy when my dining partner received her Veggie Burger.  This is a patty of pureed vegetables, quinoa, and oats, stacked high with tomato slices and a vegan focaccia bun. It’s a mighty mouthful which threatens to unhinge your jaw, but one does has the option of eating this creation open faced. And even the mayo is edamame-based – how refreshing that she didn’t need to say “hold the mayo”.

Mockingbird is open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.  Come and luxuriate in this casual chic atmosphere, know you’re doing your part to support a locally-owned business, and send the message that vegans are the fastest growing demographic on the foodie landscape.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Pizza Lovin’ Chicago Girl Embraces Fayetteville Pieology

A while back, Mercy for Animals noted the pizza chain Pieology was now offering vegan cheese.

Oh, Feytteveille Arkansas won’t have anything as chic and boutique as Pieology, I thought.  They did!

Oh, Feyetteville’s Pieology won’t have anything as specialized and cutting edge as vegan cheese, I though.  They do!

Start with
wheat crust and red sauce....
So off I went, and was greeted by a sparkling clean eating area that showcased the brick oven which would cook my pizza.  You know it’s a well-run establishment when the kitchen operation is this transparent.
add vegan cheese and veggies....

Just as you build your sandwich at a Subway (I recommend their falafel sandwich, by the way), I was helped through the choices for crust, sauce, and toppings to create the culinary delight of my vegan pizza pie.

I mistakenly got the wheat crust.  It sounded so healthy but I discovered it contains honey.  As I began with my battery of questions, my helpful server, Matthew, retrieved an employee information card which outlined dining choices for vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diets.  Turns out the gluten-free crust is a bona fide vegan option for next time.

I did OK keeping it vegan on the red sauce. (In my day they called it tomato sauce, but I’m getting older.) Stating the obvious, the fresh vegetables were also listed as vegan on the employee dietary needs card.  I topped my creation with spinach, mushrooms and bell peppers.  If I had wanted to be more adventurous, such choices as hot peppers, marinated artichokes and cilantro could have been added.
Since the price of any pizza (one size fits all, by the way) comes with unlimited toppings, I then had them add another lacey sprinkle of vegan cheese atop the toppings – holds everything in place and it makes for great presentation.

....bake 'til pipping hot...
and let "pizza love" take over!

Coming from Chicago, the land of legendary deluxe deep-dish pizza, Pieology’s crust was a bit on the cracker side by comparison, but I do so appreciate the fresh veggie toppings and corporate’s decision to make vegan cheese available.  On behalf of all the factory farmed animals who are suffering in the food supply chain from hell, as well as those human animals who insist on the plant-based diet, thank you Pieology!

Fayetteville Pieology

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Taste of Thai - make that Taste of Tofu

Pad Thai.  It’s a passion of mine.  I’ve eaten it across the country during road trips, sought out favorite nooks in my home town of Chicago, actually purchased a box of it in the frozen food section (not recommended) and thought about attempting to create it myself, then went out to a restaurant instead.

And so it was that I found myself in Fayetteville’s Taste of Thai on East Central Street.

The room was decorated as you might expect - lots of red and gold, mirrors and elephants and tiny twinkle lights.  My server, Molly, reviewed the menu with me, which was extensive even for vegans. Many entrees and appetizers are already vegan, and those that aren’t can be easily adapted by the removal of eggs or the substitution of tofu.


This much maligned bean curd (think block cottage cheese) carries on despite rude jokes and barbs on the part of those who flirt with obesity and high blood pressure.  It’s actually quite a chameleon, adding heft and texture to everything from fruit smoothies to the Pad Thai I was about to order.

My luncheon came with Vegetable Soup. Maggie assured me the broth was fully veggie, so I enjoyed this little bowl of warmth before my entree arrived.  Diced celery, zucchini, cabbage and carrots swam around – yes, tofu.  The owners of Taste of Thai are at work in the kitchen, which means each order is handled with care and pride.  Special requests such as adding tofu or leaving out eggs are accommodated cheerfully.

The complimentary Summer Rolls which arrived at my table had little blocks of tofu among the bean sprouts, lettuce and carrots, all skillfully bundled in translucent rice paper.   The rolls were perfectly complimented by a sweet dipping sauce with crumbled peanuts.

Having swirled in my soup and nestled in my summer rolls, tofu then appeared in my Pod Thai.  This time it was a firm, fried version which took on the curry and the chili flavors amid the green onions, broccoli and the shredded red cabbage. It made a scrumptious lunch with plenty to take home for delicious left overs.

There are dozens of other dishes I’d like to try for several “next times” – garlic pepper, red and yellow curry, and even creative titles such as Evil Jungle Prince and Drunken Noodles.  There’s pages of dishes to explore!  Vegan Heaven.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Mangia at The Olive Garden

I’ve come to almost the year mark in this blog, and have yet to do Italian.  Amazing.  So, it’s time for a little Tuscan comfort food, and where do I end up?  Well…..

While I usually prefer to give my restaurant business to the Mom and Pop establishments, there comes a time in every vegan’s eating-out journey when they find themselves at a national chain restaurant.

I chose Olive Garden.  The restaurant itself was clean and atmosphere was good, what with big band American song book music crooning to me, helping me to forget I was surrounded by giant flat-screen TVs (but then, they did seat me in the bar, and one doesn’t want to lose track of the score, right?)

My server, Leah, was as helpful and understanding as a busy waitress at the start of the lunch rush could be, but the ingredients for bread and the ravioli stuffing remained a mystery that only corporate could solve.

Their Minestrone -
Mmm mmm vegan!
There’s not a vegan restaurant chain out there (yet), but I was pleased to discover Olive Garden actually touts a “vegan classic” with their minestrone soup.  I explored the bowl with my little soup spoon and discovered quite a vegetable family among the broth – tomatoes, onions, celery, carrots, green beans, and zucchini, as well as fava and kidney beans and cute little pasta shells.  The bowl also contained enough sodium for a week, but hey, let’s remember, it’s a “vegan classic”, although I’m not sure the concept of veganism has been around long enough to have anything connected with it be considered a classic.

I eschewed the breadsticks but later learned, online, that they too are vegan. 

I decided to try the portabello mushroom ravioli. Ravioli is the perfect example of an item I’ll order in a restaurant because I’m not industrious enough to attempt it from scratch at home alone.  The cream–based sauce that would have normally come with them could be substituted by marinara, and it made a real pretty plate.

I felt a little foolish when I did my research online later that same day, and discovered the ravioli contained both egg and dairy (for heaven’s sake, Diana!).  But I was pleased to find Olive Garden had dietary charts on their website which answered just about any ingredient question I had.  Next time, I’ll do the angel hair or whole grain linguine with the aforementioned marinara sauce, along with all the breadsticks I can eat, and I’ll be back in the vegan community’s good graces.