Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Veganism Invades Central Connecticut

I really dropped the ball on VeganMoFo III. But here I am on November 3 with a new post! So I'll just pipe all criticism--internal and external--to /dev/null and get on with it.

I do have a blog entry stuck in the buffer that's worth flushing. Back in the middle of October, I visited my parents, who live a mere 9 miles outside of the geographical center of Connecticut. This is not a vegan-friendly region. The closest vegetarian restaurant, It's Only Natural, is 20 miles away. The closest Whole Foods is 20 miles away in a different direction. Fortunately, the bigger supermarkets have "Natural Foods" aisles, offering tofu, soy milk, soy margarine, etc. But it's just not as easy being vegan in central Connecticut as it is in New York City.

While driving to my parents' house from Brooklyn, I called my Mom up to let her know when I'd arrive. She told me that she was preparing a "special sandwich" for me. This was interesting; I had grown accustomed to the six or so types of dishes that she had prepared for me since I became vegan--adaptations from her eastern European repertoire and a couple recipes she'd found in magazines. So a "special sandwich" was intriguing.

When I finally arrived she presented me with a Mexican Torta and a side of fries. I was thrilled that she was expanding the menu, and asked her what inspired her. She handed me a printout of this VeganMoFo blog page, which I recognized immediately. "Wow, Mom, how did you find out about VeganMoFo?" I asked. "It was in the newspaper," she replied.

The newspaper? In central Connecticut? My mom then handed me the Food section from the October 8th edition of the Hartford Courant, featuring an article titled, "Turn Over A New Leaf: Vegan Diets Are Moving More Solidly Into Mainstream." (Note that the link is to the Google cache; for some reason, the original article is no longer on www.courant.com, nor on the Chicago Tribune page that it redirects to. Conspiracy theories activate! UPDATE: It disappeared from the Google cache, so I have updated the link to the only remaining digital copy I can find in under 20 minutes.)

I read the article as I devoured the delicious and messy torta, amazed at the positive treatment of the vegan lifestyle in what I had always considered to be a little, backwater rag. And I was heartened to learn that there are vegan cooking classes in West Hartford. I even learned where the word "vegan" came from:
Convinced that a diet completely free of animal products, including dairy and eggs, was the "beginning and end" of a true vegetarian lifestyle, [Donald] Watson coined the term "vegan" in 1944, using the first two and last three letters of the word "vegetarian."
(Maybe I had learned this a long time ago, but, embarrassingly, it seemed like news to me.)

And then there was the sidebar, discussing VeganMoFo III, and a link which my mother typed into her computer to find the torta recipe. I felt like some kind of universal alignment had just occurred, casting enlightening energies upon central Connecticut, my Mom's kitchen, and me.

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