iEatGrass is not the only infiltration of grassiness upon my everyday life; I smell grass, see grass, breathe grass…I am permanently surrounded by the green stuff and, as every country vegan will tell you, it’s a lot harder to commit to veganism outside of city living.
I live in an old house in the middle of the English countryside surrounded by rolling hills, beautiful farmland and, whilst I’m not denouncing the benefits of living so close to nature, it’s ironically tedious when attempting to eat naturally. With an absence of local health food stores, vegan events and an established network of like-minded souls, it’s fairly isolating. However, there is one aspect of country veganism I believe I have perfected the answer to and will now bestow this revelation upon the masses… the importance of sides. You’re welcome.
City dwellers, prepare yourselves (you may want to sit down) for this next expose… in the country there are no vegan restaurants…not a whiff. The disgust! Forget about gourmet raw, live food or vegetarian hubs that seem to be abundant in all major cities, around 30 percent of the restaurants I’ve been to in the last six months do not understand the concept, let alone provide for, “vey-gan” living – their pronunciation is even generally odd.
Thus, the activity of eating out with friends or family becomes a little awkward and, after a while, just embarrassing.
It’s fairly counter-productive trying to persuade people that veganism really is a wise choice when I have to spend 20 minutes interrogating the frankly pissed-off waitress over the menu:
“Well is the risotto made with cream? Ah, ok… um could you take the cheese off that pizza? Great! Oh, the dough has milk? Um ok….”
… all in front of a table of people patiently waiting to order. I’m sure the majority of you have been there and I’m about to offer up your salvation. Next time, instead of franticly scanning the menu upon arrival to reassure yourself there’s something you can easily tweak, skip straight to the extras/side orders, and breathe out that relief. Here is where hides the grilled vegetables, bowls of peas, rice, mixed salads or even plain chips… just order around three (four may have been known to arrive at my table) to come together and settle into the rest of your dinner.
This advice is probably redundant if you’re an edgy New York vegan (Bitter? Who me?). You can just go ahead and pop out to your nearest veggie take-out place. However, for those living slightly closer to nature, ditch the awkwardness and worship the sides…. (Just make sure they haven’t been sautéed in butter.) You may now applaud.
Natalie Scrupps is a writer and plant enthusiast from Lincolnshire, England, a small flat area of countryside generally known for its sausages and pretty much nothing else. As an English country bumpkin, there are a lot of ups and downs to being an animal-avoidee. In this column, she hopes to help make vegan country living a lot simpler.