Every year – I mean every freaking year – I am late with our Vegans on Valentine’s Day posts. I go into them with such high hopes and I try to send out emails to collect these wonderful ideas, recipes and tips early and then life and emails and figuring out new websites and radio interviews and cooking demos and more of all those thing I just named get in the way… and before I know it – It’s freaking VALENTINE’S DAY!
Now this year I also know where I went wrong. St. Valentine’s day is on Thursday this year which means it’s so close to the weekend but yet is so not. So we’re postponing our V-day plans for Saturday – so my head thought that it was Saturday. From what I can tell we’re not the only ones. I will be making a special breakfast for my Mr. and sending him to work tomorrow with a special lunch but the real fireworks are being saved for the weekend. In a way it’s almost better… it’s like we’re going to have a 3 day V-day-fest! Valentine’s Day on 3 stages! V-day-Palooza!*
But you’re not here to read about my palooza plans – you want to know what some of your favorite Vegans are doing this week to show the ones they love that they are in fact loved!
If you don’t know Terry Hope Romero – well I’m confused – I mean who the whatza doesn’t know Terry Hope Romero?! Maybe you haven’t heard of a little thing called The Veganomicon? Terry’s half of the compassionate cooking Titan team that wrote that book and many others! She’s been filling our kitchen with cruelty-free recipes for years! She’s also a happily married lady who – although she claims to not be very romantic – will have to try to fight the urge during her travels this year**. (PS – love her Joy Division shirt)
I’d consider myself a Valentine’s Day Scrooge. Bah-heartbug, candy and flowers and heart-shaped stuff just seems too Hallmark for my tastes. Call me traumatized from the lack of Strawberry Shortcakevalentine cards from second grade, but I’ve never been a fan. Even though I’ve been with a dynamite guy and husband for over 10 years, most V-days we’d rather spend partying with both our couple and single friends in solidarity against the ridiculous pressures this uber-commerical holiday places on romantic love. BUT this year, I’m going to be in Italy with my man, by no actual romantic pre-planning on our part. He’s flying to Torino directly from a business trip in Ethiopia for a project meeting, I’m meeting him there (because well it’s Italy) and we’re going to spend a few days in a hundreds year old villa nestled in the Italian countryside. Despite the jetlag and the winter weather I suppose we’re going to have to reconcile that we might accidentally be somewhere romantic this February 14th.
Jasmin Singer and Mariann Sullivan are pretty well known for being the good looking and dedicated talent behind Our Hen House but they’re also two classy dames who are madly in love and know how to really enjoy being vegan in NYC. Anyone whose met them can see that instantly! Ever heard someone say they can “feel the love in the air” – that’s them. They also recently tied the knot! Congrats to two of our favorite newlywed hens! Your V-day sounds like the perfect dream date!
We accidentally missed Christmas this year. We were driving cross-country (the long way) from Portland, OR back to our home in NYC, and one day – I think we were somewhere in Texas at the time – we realized that we had done nothing festive for the holidays. So we’re thinking that, to compensate for that, this year we’ll make Valentine’s Day totally cliche and sickeningly romantic, complete with hemp-made teddy bears and locally-sourced fair-trade flowers. Here’s what I picture: In the morning, we’ll take a nice saunter through lower Manhattan with our darling pit bull, Rose. What’s more romantic than a family gallivant through the city we all love more than anything? Perhaps we’ll stop for a decaf soy latte somewhere, like S’nice Cafe — our go-to neighborhood coffee joint. For lunch, I’ll get with the V-Day spirit and make something red, like borscht. I’m intrigued by Betty Goes Vegan’s Vegan Borscht for People Who Hate Beets recipe, so Valentine’s Day might be the perfect day to try it. After Mariann teaches Animal Law that evening, we’ll head to Soy & Sake for dinner, ordering our usual – summer rolls and a grilled tofu salad (it’s listed on the menu as a grilled vegan “chicken” salad, but trust me, ask them to replace it with tofu). If we’re feeling up to it, we’ll then head over to Marie’s Crisis Piano Bar, since we’re both suckers for showtunes and talented gay men. On the way home, since we have to represent veganism amongst the ladies, too, we might grab a quick drink at The Cubby Hole. Party kids that we are, it will now be approximately 9 p.m. We’ll head home and watch reruns of Monk on Netflix, while eating frozen banana ice cream thanks to our newest kitchen gadget, Yonanas. I might also enjoy a glass of my favorite new vegan wine, Our Daily Red. That is, I think, the perfect romantic veganValentine’s Day.
Bruce Friedrich and Alka Chandra are a pretty famous power couple in the world of Animal Rights Activism! This duo has probably saved more animals combined throughout the years than I’ve baked cupcakes**. Bruce is currently a Sr. Director at Farm Sanctuary and Alka is one of the heroes behind PETA’s vivisection campaigns. Their love story is a lot like ours. Just two star-crossed animal advocates making the world a better place one leaflet and bullhorn at a time! I can honestly say the world is better place with Bruce and Alka in it. Here’s what they have planned for tomorrow night! (que the Journey)
For multiple years, Bruce would have to travel for work on Valentine’s Day and he would try to placate me by saying that for us, every day isValentine’s Day. It is true that we enjoy the simple and happy rituals of our life together: drinking coffee and reading the newspaper in the morning, exalting in the glory of our three cats, Rena Rae, Tigger (the only one), and Angela Davis, and feeling a sense of camaraderie over our shared goals in life (i.e., making the world a kinder place for all beings). Just as New Year’s Day is a time when people pause to reflect on their lives, for me and Bruce, Valentine’s Day is a time when we can pause to reflect on how being together has enriched our lives. We’re not much for splurging on an expensive dinner (sorry, Tal Ronnen), buying flowers (what?!? from exploited Ecuadorian workers? we think not!), indulging in chocolates (thanks for ruining our lives, lauren Ornelas), or even exchanging cards (Julia Butterfly Hill taught us well: “When you throw things ‘away,’ where’s ‘away’?”). But we do have huge plans for Valentine’s Day this year! In honor of our commitment to grow old together (and to try to do it somewhat healthfully), we will be going for our six-month teeth cleaning appointment on V-Day! We might grab dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant ($5 pints of Dogfish on tap and spicy green curry give us Goosebumps) or unwind while watching a documentary (we’re in a civil rights phase right now, and hugely recommend, “The House I live in” and “Brother Outsider: Life of Bayard Rustin,” but we’ll see how it goes.
This next couple has a special place in this ol’heart of mine. See I don’t just adore them because they’re cutie pies or because they’re really fun and awesome. See Josh Hooten and Michelle Schwegmann aren’t just the dreamboats behind The Herbivore Clothing Company - they’re also incredible animal advocates and friends! A lot of you know Michelle because she’s the covergirl on their website but you might not know that hanging out with Michelle is like taking a vitamin. She’s pure sunshine. And if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you know that Josh designed our wedding invites but you might not know that he also designed our new nerd chickens across the top of this blog AND is currently working on some new shirts for us! He’s fun and talented and just awesome. Together they’re an unstoppable force of good in the world! We love them.
Portland has no shortage of excellent Valentine’s Day options for the romantic vegans amongst us. Tickets to a fundraising dinner by TheVegan Caterer, Josh Raymond are going fast, and there are some crazy good raffle prizes at this event as well. There is also a special four course (plus chocolates!) menu being put together by Chef Aaron Adams at the all vegan Portobello, a longtime date night favorite. Lentil and sausage ravioli? Almond fig cake? Caramelized fennel tart? We are spoiled rotten in this town. We have a different plan though. As much as we’d like to hit both of those events, we’re going to stay home with our kid and cook an awesome something from our galley copy of Betty Goes Vegan: Champagne and Hazelnut Risotto with Vegan Chicken p. 136, Green salad with Caesar Salad Dressing p. 106 and Banana Creme Brûlée p. 367
When I first started writing this blog, I went out and searched for kindred spirits in the vegan blog world. That’s how I met Bianca Phillips, the mastermind behind the blog and now BOOK Vegan Crunk! Bianca doesn’t just prove that being vegan in Memphis, TN can be easy and fun – her new book shows us all how we can bring some more soul to our food in a compassionate way! Bianca is also a dedicated advocate for gay rights in a part of the country known as The Bible Belt. As someone who has lived in GA – not far from where Bianca is now – I can tell you Bianca’s dedication to making the world a better place for everyone (animals and people) is not just special it really is AMAZING! The world needs like a million more Biancas!
I also wanted to point out that Bianca – like many of vegans is in a relationship with someone not vegan (or at least not yet) and so I thought her post was particularly special since I know a lot of you are also in love with an omni. After I post this – I’m going to post a few of Bianca’s photos from the restaurant mentioned below on our Facebook Page : Vegan Foods = Joy! so you can check them out for yourself!
Although I’ve been vegan for 8 years, my 8-year partner Paul remains a diehard omni. I went vegan shortly after we met at a beer bust (that says so much about how not classy we are!), so Paul is grandfathered in. I’ve always said I wouldn’t date another non-vegan, but Paul gets a pass since he came along a few months before I went from vegetarian to vegan. He’s supportive, and that’s enough for me for now. I’ll get to the business of converting him one of these days.
Anyway, for Valentine’s Day, we’re planning to enjoy a romantic dinner at Ciao Bella, a Memphis Italian joint with very vegan-friendly chef. Although Ciao Bella doesn’t have many vegan dishes on the menu, Chef Jonathan Steenerson will cook up something special for vegans when he has a little warning. In the past, he’s made me Vegan Grilled Mozzarella Over a Fresh Tomato with Balsamic Sauce and a Tomato Broth and Spinach Fettucine with Roasted Almond & Chickpea Pesto in an Acorn Squash! Paul will probably have a steak or something gross, but whatever.
After dinner, we’ll head to my very favorite place in Memphis — Imagine Vegan Cafe — for some of the best vegan cake in the world. My friend Stephanie (Poopie Bitch from the Post Punk Kitchen forums) bakes all the cakes at Imagine!
In conclusion – one of our readers Dan Richmond asked us send out an extra XO to his sweetheart Ellen Perkins who is in the hospital this week having their baby. Happy Valentine’s Day Ellen and congrats on your new little one!
*Now I’m just making myself laugh.
**I’ve been to Italy and all I can say is “Good Luck” – I’m pretty sure they put something in the water that makes you want to hold hands and kiss under street lights in the snow.
***I’ve made a lot of freaking cupcakes. I MEAN A LOT OF CUPCAKES. RIVERS OF FROSTED HANDHELD VEGAN CUTIE CAKES.