Sunday, September 29, 2013

DC Veg Fest 2013

Everlasting Life Food Truck.
You know, I was very disappointed not to see a write-up in the Washington Post this morning about this year's D.C. Veg Fest, created and run by the group Compassion Over Killing. Yesterday was the first time I attended since this annual event was moved down by the Navy Yard. I was happily amazed at just how crowded it was. The line just to get the free goody bags being offered for the first 1000 attendees stretched nearly all the way to the Washington Nationals Baseball stadium. The sheer volume of people who attended surely warranted a media piece about the growing desire and interest for healthier, more compassionate vegetarian foods.

I recall when the DC Veg Fest started several years ago.  The group I volunteer for, RabbitWise, had a table there when it was held at the George Washington University campus. This event has grown in leaps and bounds and that gives me hope as a vegan that more and more people are waking up to the reality that there is a better way to eat both for ourselves and for the animals.

I certainly can't recall a time when I got to sample so much food because their new location allowed the DC Veg Fest folks to let in more vendors. Tofurkey was there, giving out samples of their new line of artisan "sausages" and the Better Meat folks were there as well, handing out samples of their "chicken". Folks from Sticky Fingers Bakery were doling out yummy slabs of chocolate cake.  It was harder than ever to decide on lunch, so I decided to get the long wait over with and hit up Vegan Treats first--my wait took forty minutes in the early afternoon, but I learned later that there was a half hour wait from the very beginning of the festivities. The long wait was worth it--yeah, that cannoli was SO worth it!

Vegan Treats and their wares

I chose eventually for lunch the hot plate from the Everlasting Life food truck. BBQ tofu, in strips resembling ribs slathered in a delicious BBQ sauce, collard greens, and the BEST vegan macaroni and cheese I have yet encountered. But there were many other choices as well. A truck called the Randy Radish offered veggie goodies; Bread and Brew was back with their vegan nachos served up on a souvenir Frisbee; Amsterdam Falafel Shop offered their delicious wares. 

There were also terrific lectures and cooking demonstrations at this event, to include the authors of the "Betty Crocker Goes Vegan" cookbook, Dan and Ann Shannon, who made the most scrumptious macaroni salad--those of us like myself sitting under the tent to watch were lucky to get samples. And the end of the day was perfect with a live performance by local folk singer Steven Gellman.  Come on, Washington Post, where were your people? This day deserved more media attention. I suspect next year it will be even more crowded because the word is getting out there--going vegetarian is the way to go for a longer life and a more compassionate lifestyle.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Rabbits and Pumpkins

Cinnamon at my old place three years ago.
Dedicated to my sweet Cinnamon, who had yet another molar trim today. It seems her teeth are getting worse with age.  : (  To highlight how tough she is, though, even after being administered anesthesia, she absolutely refused to go to sleep, fighting it as long as she could. My stubborn little mini-diva!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Visiting the farmer's market

I love visiting the farmer's market in the fall. Cool crisp air, the samples of delicious honey crisp apples and heirloom tomatoes, the gourds stacked in baskets...ah, bliss!  Cruising the various vendors at harvest time gives a pleasure even more gratifying than when you do it in the spring or during the hot humid days of summer.

To see fresh vegetables as they really look and not the perfect ones you see packaged in supermarkets is a joy to behold. Take carrots, for example. I love the knobby, bumpy fat carrots still attached to their green tops--they look as if they were just plucked from the soil that very day (they probably were). The varieties of peppers, tomatoes, even greens, never cease to amaze me. I always need to bring a minimum of three bags. It is hard to stick to a budget once you see what you have to choose from!

Discovering new varieties of veggies at farmers markets is another joy. Yesterday I sampled tatsoi for the first time--this is a green I had never heard of.  It is an Asian dark leafy green. { I liked it but this time decided not to get it. Most of the greens I buy go to my rabbits--not knowing tatsoi's calcium content, I decided to pass on it. As it was, I was treating Benjamin and Cinnamon to a fresh bundle of dandelion greens, which I give them on rare occasions as a treat. They love them but too much calcium is not good for rabbits. }  . More importantly, shopping at farmers' markets support your local farmers. I would rather my hard earned money go to these folks than corporations. You will find quite a difference in the quality of the fruits and veggies you buy locally than you do in your local supermarket.

For me, though, what I love is how much my rabbits benefit from my visit to the farmer's market. I leap for joy when I can buy two huge bundles of fresh dill (my rabbits are serious dillaholics) instead of having to buy those ridiculously expensive plastic containers at the grocery store that contain not even a meal's worth of dill in them. The fresh sweet basil smells heavenly and I swear tastes better than the kind boxed up in the supermarket's produce section. And sometimes you can get other varieties in this too--Thai basil, for one.  A few weeks ago, I bought the freshest mint I ever had-- a Kentucky colonel mint, I was told. This mint really added zing to my vodka tonic. And the rabbits loved that too--the mint, that is, not the vodka tonic.

So if you haven't done so yet, check out and see if you have a farmer's market close to you, and check it out. You will marvel at the food quality and can feel good about supporting the hard-working people who bring this food to your table.

Happy fall, everyone!

The Hoppy Vegan

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Veganism Going Mainstream?

This may not be news to many of you. I don't go to Target very often and never, before today, have I ever purchased any grocery items from them. But as I was picking up some greens for my rabbits in their small produce department, I decided to wander around to see if Target has anything to offer those of us who won't eat dead animals or their by-products. I was frankly shocked to find not only So Delicious non dairy ice cream products but Gardein chicken and beef products as well. The Gardein items were even on sale! Teriyaki chicken wings for $3.27, I'll take it, thanks. And they had a tremendous amount of various entrees and foods from the Amy's product line. Sweet!  Is it official then? Have vegans at last become mainstream? Certainly it must mean something when a large corporation like Target recognizes the demand for vegan foods.

Monday, September 2, 2013

September Gratitude And Other Musings

It is the last weekend of summer. Today is Labor Day and as I eagerly contemplate the cooler weather to come, I will beat the Thanksgiving rush and proclaim those things for which I am today most profoundly grateful--my health, my human family, and especially my rabbits.

Today all is good with them. Indeed, I have been so happy to see my elder bun, Cinnamon, run and jump about like a young bunny these days, even leaping over a barrier in my living room in an attempt to sneak behind the sofa and cause a heap of trouble (fortunately I was able to get her before she could get too far). I know how suddenly things can change and a GI stasis attack could always be around the corner. And even though I have had rabbits in my life since 2002, I can tell you the stress of dealing with rabbit health issues never gets easier. So when things are calm and cool, I try to take the time to savor the peace and joy of seeing my rabbits happy and healthy and hope that this time stretches out as long as it can.

From my study window, I can see the leaves just starting to turn on the tree in front of my condo building. I love autumn colors, but lament when the trees will be bare. I sigh when I think of the absence of bird song in the morning and the ever-growing chill as winter weather approaches. I do hope we have a true autumn, a transitional period, rather than leap from hot to cold, but these days, thanks to climate change, the weather is all too unpredictable.

The best part of fall, though, is the transition to heartier foods. I prefer autumn and winter soups and stews to lighter cooler summer fare. I look forward to making Gardein beefless stew, curried sweet potato soup, etc. Soon pumpkins will be everywhere to buy for pies or just simple decoration. And of course, the next thing you know, Halloween will be here. (Of course, the candy has only been stocked in the local supermarkets since the end of July!)

So what awaits us in the fall? Good health I hope for everyone, my mom, me, and the buns.  Benjamin will be due soon for his annual vet visit. Cinnamon will, I hope, keep healthy and active. I vow to continue my yoga (and in a few weeks, more water aerobics classes) to keep myself in shape in order to fully appreciate my 49th autumn in this life.

Happy September, everyone!

The Hoppy Vegan