Two hundred and thirty-seven

What I don’t know won’t hurt me?

I’ve been out for dinner a couple of times this month at non-vegan/vegetarian restaurants.  No matter how many questions you ask and how much you try to make sure that what you are eating has absolutely no meat products, it will inevitably have been fried in the same oil as chicken, or sauteed in butter, or given an egg wash.  No matter what you order, very few people who are not vegan can understand what it is to be vegan – to make that choice whether by ethics or health to eat no meat and care whether there is chicken stock in the soup or portions of cheese left on the salad.

I remember working at the pub or at The Keg or Canyon Creek and laughing at people who came in there who are vegetarian or vegan.  “What are they doing in a place like this?”  Yet, I find myself in places “like that” all the time now (meeting people, their choice, convenience, etc) and have to ask the same embarrassing questions about whether I can have that without butter, egg, milk, cheese, meat, gelatin and stock.

I get to the point where I say “what I don’t know won’t hurt me”.  I can only ask so many questions.  I have to trust the server that they will convey the message to the chefs and the chefs will adjust to my dietary restrictions.  And if they don’t, well how will I know.  Unless I only eat at vegan restos and watch people cook who have me over for dinner, I can’t guarantee that what I’m eating is animal-free.

I’m not sure whether this is a truly vegan attitude, but I do my best.  And the more vegans I talk to, the more I feel that seems to be the consensus.  We don’t live in an animal-free world and animal products are everywhere.  We can only do so much without driving ourselves crazy or shutting ourself off from the world.  And what fun would that be?

Two hundred and eighteen

A Brief History of Veganism

The term “vegan” was created by a British woodworker, Donald Watson, in November 1944.  After concerns from some of the members of the Leicester Vegetarian Society that vegetarians were still eating dairy, Watson and a group of others met to discuss the creation of a separate organization of non-dairy vegetarians.  This meeting became the British Vegan Society, coining the term “vegan” – the first and the last two letters of vegetarian. (Click here for an interview with Donald Watson on Vegetarians in Paradise)

Eating a plant-based diet, however, has been around long before the 1940s.  “Kerry S. Walters and Lisa Portmess write that the first ethical argument against eating animals can be traced to the Greek philosopher Pythagorus (c. 570–490 BCE). A believer in the transmigration of souls, Pythagoras warned that eating an animal might involve eating a human soul; therefore, he argued, human beings ought to regard all living beings as kindred souls.[8]” (Wikipedia)

“The concept of flesh-avoidance can be traced back to ancient Indian and eastern Mediterranean societies… Followers of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism also advocated vegetarianism, believing that humans should not inflict pain on other animals.” ( – A History of Veganism by Claire Suddath)

The first western vegetarian society was formed in England in 1847, with the American Vegetarian Society being created three years later.  The first known strict vegetarian/vegan cookbook, No Animal Food by Rupert H. Wheldon, was published in England in 1910.

The vegan movement has been growing since.  A 2008 study by The Vegetarian Times entitled “Vegetarianism in America” , estimates that “3.2 percent of U.S. adults, or 7.3 million people, follow a vegetarian-based diet. Approximately 0.5 percent, or 1 million, of those are vegans, who consume no animal products at all. In addition, 10 percent of U.S., adults, or 22.8 million people, say they largely follow a vegetarian-inclined diet.”

One hundred and fifty-one

While searching for restaurant coupons I can buy online and print at home, so I don’t have to be the cheapo when my friends and I go for drinks after watching a concert tonight (free at Yonge and Dundas Square – the Elastocitizens at 8pm – they are amazing and so worth the time if you are in the Toronto area), I found some interesting things you can also buy online that I wish I had known about when I started this month:

  • Gift cards – you can purchase gift cards online for almost all of the major chain restaurants and have them mailed to you (or to someone else if it is a gift).
  • Starbucks – if you already have a Starbucks card, you can add more money to it online.
  • There is a function to buy e-gift cards (they e-mail them to you) from the company who owns Milestones, Montana’s, Kelsey’s, Swiss Chalet and Harvey’s.  Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be working right now.
  • allows you to buy eGift certificates: “the recipient simply logs onto the reservation system using the Redemption Code in the email, places their reservation online at a participating establishment of their choice. When arriving at the restaurant, they will be seated, served, and the eGift Certificate amount will automatically be deducted from their bill.”  I wonder how annoyed the restaurants get when you do this?
  • Lee Valley Tools has e-gift cards!!!
  • America seems to have a lot more e-gift cards. offers e-gift cards for a discount (ie. pay $10, get a $25 gift certificate when you spend a minimum of $35).  Just like the couponing – we Canadians need to catch up!
But alas, after all this searching, I cannot find an eGift certificate for a bar around Yonge and Dundas Square that I can take my friends for a drink after the concert to.  I will have to be the cheapo for three more days!