Two hundred and twenty-eight

Small town veganism

It’s Friday brunch and we enter a greasy spoon in Stratford, Ontario.  “It’s fine,” I tell my friend Siobhan, who I’m visiting.  “I’m sure I’ll find something to eat.”  But what do you eat for a vegan breakfast at a diner in a small town in Ontario that is surrounded by dairy farms and is home to the Ontario Pork Congress?  Even if it is Stratford, filled with actors and out-of-town theatre-goers who sometimes have dietary restrictions.  “Is your grilled tomato grilled at the same time as any meat?  No butter on the toast please.  Fruit salad.  Are the home fries cooked with bacon fat?”  Siobhan and my other friend Will’s eggs looked so delicious…

Being in Toronto or cooking at home makes it fairly easy to eat a completely plant-based diet.  There are tons of restaurants who have vegan items on their menu, and even a few that have no meat products at all.  But in small towns it is much harder to explain what you can and cannot eat and ask questions to determine what you will choose off the menu – if there is anything!  Also it’s slightly embarrassing, as the server gives you a bewildered look similar to if you just told her you had a midget siamese twin growing out of your chest.

Dinner last night was fabulous, though, as Siobhan made an amazing Buddha Bowl from the Fresh cookbook.  Vegan food can be so delicious.  But it did get me thinking – it would be very hard to be completely vegan while traveling and generally when not cooking at home.  I’m having leftovers from last night’s dinner before my drive home, as I’m not sure where I can find non-dairy, non-meat snacks on the road.

One hundred and thirty-five

I love getting mail!  It’s amazing how a delivery of a package or a card in the mail brightens up my day.  It’s the best part of this month.  Yesterday I woke up to a delivery man calling my cell phone (I wish this happened all the time, as by the time I hear the doorbell and walk down to the front door from my top floor apartment, the delivery people are usual impatient and leaving).  My lululemon sports bra – which happily fit!  I left the house and returned to another package from with my toiletries that I needed.

The great thing about living in the city is that it’s easy and fast to have things shipped to me.  My neighbours will usually collect a package for me if I’m not there, and I will for them (which coincidentally happened today for my neighbours in the basement).  There was once when I had to drive to Etobicoke to pick up a package that I wasn’t here to receive.  In general, though, I have it pretty good.

I was interested to see how it was like for those people not in the city, so I asked my friend Meredith who lives in Gibsons, BC – a small town outside of West Vancouver only accessible through air or water:  “Because there is a smaller population there is a limitation to the goods available here. Also, the stores that are here may not even open during hours that a full time day worker can access. Often we find ourselves planning trips to Vancouver in which we spend most of our time driving from one store to another in order to stock up or find things unavailable on the Sunshine Coast. We have also started buying a lot of things online because they just aren’t available here.”

“Sometimes we can get things shipped, and sometimes we can’t. We get our mail from the post office, so our mailing address is a PO Box. Many online US companies ship using the US postal service but will not ship to international PO boxes. As you are probably finding out, its often hard to find things to buy online from Canadian companies, especially if the object is specific or obscure. If a company doesn’t ship to international PO boxes we might have the option of a courier– a more expensive option that, honestly, isn’t always available. In some cases, we have the courier option but the online shop doesn’t recognize/accept the PO box for our credit card billing address. I guess I could go with the courier option always, but I’m cheap. If I’m going to have to pay an additional $30 to have an item shipped, I’m probably not going to get it unless it’s an awesome sale.
The other thing that happens is some online sites don’t tell you the shipping method. In that case, we put both our PO box and our street address and hope it gets here. Unfortunately, if the street address is on the item, our post office may (and has) returned it to the sender despite the PO box also being on the package.
In summary:
-if we are getting something by canada post or USPS it goes to the PO box
-if we are getting something by courier it goes to our street address
– if the site doesn’t recognize PO boxes PERIOD then we can’t pay with our credit card
– if our post office sees our street address on an item, there’s a 50/50 chance we won’t get it (even if the PO box is there, too)

When we bought our awesome home brew pot from a company in Washington State I included in the comments “if sending by USPS send to PO box (etc), if sending by courier send to … Street (etc).” The lady at the store was very helpful. After several emails and phone conversations she figured out how we could get the item shipped to us. It took about an extra month to get it. Needless to say, we have bought more things from that company, but they are the exception, not the rule.”

Thanks Mere for your input.  I can’t imagine what’s it’s like for people who are in really remote areas!