Wednesday, December 5, 2012

We've Moved to WordPress!

We've moved to WordPress! Please check out our new site (still under construction):

meggieandben.wordpress.com

Oh, and don't forget we have a Facebook page too! I post way more on our Facebook page than I do on the blog, and I also always post links to my blog posts. It's an easy way to keep track of us!

www.facebook.com/TheVeganAdventuresOfMeggieAndBen

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Compassionate Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is next week and I've been thinking a lot about turkeys and eating veg this holiday season. What really sparked it was hearing Nathan Runkle (founder of Mercy for Animals) speak at the annual Ching Thanksgiving (blog post to come!). Ever since then I've been trying to post on Facebook every day about how amazing turkeys are and how to have a compassionate Thanksgiving.

Sooo I decided I should do a blog post too :) It's so easy to eat compassionately for the holidays now with so much information about how factory farmed animals are really treated and so many online recipe resources.

For your convenience, I collected a few awesome websites that I've found over the past few days. Be sure to check them out and see if you can incorporate some recipes into your menu!

An awesome website! Recipes, instructions on how to veganize your own recipes, tips for handling with non-veg family members... they have it all!
compassionateholidays.weebly.com/

Thanksgiving recipe round-up
ohsheglows.com/2010/11/17/favourite-thanksgiving-recipe-round-up/

VegNews holiday recipes
vegnews.com/articles/page.do?pageId&catId=2

Mercy For Animals' Thanksgiving meal plan
www.mercyforanimals.org/thanksgiving_recipes.asp

My Thanksgiving posts from previous years here and here (links to my recipes)

------------------------

If you aren't convinced yet that incorporating compassionate eating into your life makes a difference, check out the following links and images.


MFA 2011 Butterball Factory Undercover Video
Last year Mercy For Animals did an undercover investigation of a Butterball turkey factory. The below video shows what they found.

If you are planning eating turkey this year for the holidays, please watch and see what you are paying for. You are not only paying for the systematic abuse and slaughter of 45 million turkeys every Thanksgiving, but you are forcing people to do the dirty work of society. Many of the workers are just as trapped as the turkeys--they become violent and hateful as they develop types of PTSD from repeatedly doing acts that they find morally wrong. They also often become alcoholics or drug addicts as a result.

And if you think "well not all turkeys are treated like that," think again. This is just one factory, yes, but according to Butterball they are "the largest turkey producer in the United States."

The amount of turkeys we are demanding is directly causing this abuse. We ask for cheap food, and they provide it.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5LM06ZvCk4

MFA 2012 Butterball Factory Undercover Video
If after watching that you're thinking "well they've changed. That was a year ago, they must have arrested all of those people," really consider why you think anything would change. This is their business, it's how they support our demand for millions of cheap turkeys every year.

The below video is from October 2012. Same company, different factory, only one year later.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRxNj3bbqyc

2007 House of Raeford Farms Undercover Video
Oh, and just in case you're thinking "well that was just Butterball. I'll just buy my turkey elsewhere," here's another undercover investigation--this time at the House of Raeford Farms. According to their website, House of Raeford is the 8th largest chicken producer and 9th largest in turkey in the US.

www.chooseveg.com/turkey-slaughterhouse.asp


A recent article by a friend of mine
"All of these acts would be considered cruelty to animals if performed on a cat or a dog. Yet under Utah law, turkeys are exempt from protection since they are being raised for 'agricultural' purposes. Indeed, Utah’s indefensible Ag-Gag law now makes simply filming this abuse a crime."

www.standard.net/stories/2012/11/16/stop-cruelty-factory-farms-buy-meat-alternatives

Adorable turkey at a sanctuary
www.youtube.com/watch?v=nea0LBrJHMY

------------------------

And, to wrap it up, one of my favorite quotes:

"The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?"
- Jeremy Bentham

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Recent Adventures at Station 22 in Provo: A Novel

Let me present exhibit A: vegan corn dogs from Station 22. I mean, is this real life?? How are these so amazing!!!

Anyway, it's no secret I love Station 22 in Provo. Well... that I love their food. And I still love their food--but I'm honestly fed up with their staff and service.

Let me give you some examples:

1. About two months ago Ben and I dropped in to order take-out. The man at the register seemed extremely flustered and distracted and it was difficult to order our food. Then we waited 30 minutes for our food, which I was a bit upset about but more just happy to finally be out of there. THEN when we got our food to the car and started driving, we found that neither of the sandwiches were vegan (they had cheese on them) and we only got one of our orders of fries. We had to drive back and tell the man at the register that our order was wrong. He never apologized or offered to repay us in any way, and then he and the kitchen staff got in some kind of scuff over our order and the man at the register ended up making it. We then waited another 20 minutes for our food and finally got out of there with our food about an hour and a half later. The entire ordeal was very frustrating and I was pretty upset about it.

2. A few weeks ago Ben and I dropped in to order take-out again. We waited for about 10 minutes in the new lobby area before anyone noticed us. They came over and went to seat us, but we said we wanted take-out so they gave us the new menus. I asked about the new sides and the waiter seemed completely perplexed at me asking which ones were vegan. He told me the fries were vegan and I asked again which ones of the chalkboard were vegan, at which point he said that they could make a vegan salad too and so I finally gave up and ordered fries. We then waited bother 10 minutes for someone to come back and take our order. Then, we waited for 20 minutes to get our food (which was only two meatball subs--I have no idea what could take that long to make two meatball subs). When we finally got out food we decided to look at it to make sure it was right (remembering the above experience) and found that our two orders of fries were missing. After about 5 minutes we finally got the attention of the waiter and told him (at least he said sorry), had to wait another 5 minutes for our fries, and then finally got out of there after about an hour. Again, extremely frustrating. And seriously? If you have an ENTIRE vegan section on your menu you think your staff would be AT THE VERY LEAST know what vegan means and preferably know what items on the menu are and aren't vegan. Come on now.

So, after these two experiences I decided to email Station 22 and tell them. I really love their food, and I want desperately for local vegan-friendly restaurants to do well.

Their response was extremely gracious. Read for yourself:

"I appreciate both the positive and negative feedback you've given us. Please accept my apology for the lapses in service that you have experienced. We have been trying HARD to prevent them from happening, but unfortunately we still have some things to iron out. I wish I could tell you that your experience was an isolated incident, but its not, particularly what you experienced before the remodel. There was a wide variety of factors that led to it, but you're absolutely right. The service was degrading, the food quality, and there was a general sense of frustration. It was primarily caused by a failure in the management and the leadership and some significant growing pains as well. It has been a challenge getting the formula right and finding the right help and management.

"Our recent remodel/reboot was our response to the problem. We have a new partner in the business, a seasoned veteran of a chef, and we decided to just restart the whole thing and fix these issues that we had been having. We're still only 2 weeks in to the new restaurant, but we have been doing a much better job across the board and are working to improve every day. I'm more than a little mortified to hear about your experience last night and I will address the issue immediately. I've copied our chef, Jason, on my response and he will make certain that our staff is caught up on exactly what and how to determine what is vegan. Some of our staff are still struggling with the concept, obviously.

"Having said all of that, we are working hard to be the best we can be and you can rest assured that your feedback will make a substantial difference. We love offering strong options for vegan and veg and we particularly try to respond to their needs. Your experience sounds terribly frustrating and I count myself lucky to have heard from you at all. Again, please accept my apology and come in again for a meal on the house. Just tell your server that you are a guest of mine and give them your name and we'll get you properly cared for.

"Thank you for your patience and for giving us another chance. We appreciate customers like you who take the time to help us out, rather than lashing out anonymously in anger. We're a small business in a small city and we love having a close relationship with our customers."

SUPER nice, right? I was like Hell yeah! That's super cool of them and I'll take a free meal any day. So, about a week later, Ben and I dropped by for our free meal and to see if any improvements had been made.

Unfortunately, it seems that the nice email I received was all talk. I wasn't at all impressed with the service and I realized that the waiters honestly just don't pay attention.

For example, when ordering we noted that every item we ordered should be made vegan. However, when the waiter brought us our fries they had fry sauce with them. When I asked if the fry sauce was vegan, he had to ask the chef and then told us the fry sauce wasn't vegan. It's these kinds of things that slowly degrade the dining experience when you have to pay attention to every little thing.

Another example: When I came in, I told the waiter I was a guest the guy who sent the above email (the owner) as specified and told him my name. He asked me if I was "looking for a discount or something" (rude!) and I told him that I was promised me a free meal by the owner. However, when we were done eating he brought us our check and didn't say anything about the free meal. He even came by and cleaned up our plates and didn't say anything about it! Luckily after a bit the chef (who was included on my complaint email) realized who we were and took care of the check (that part was actually super nice and he was nice).

But, AGAIN, the staff was not informed on what was and wasn't vegan. The waiter had no idea which salad dressings were vegan. We waited nearly ten minutes for him to talk about it to the rest of the staff until he finally came back and said that they didn't know if any of them were vegan so they chef would do some oil and vinegar on our salads (um, ew). Luckily someone ran up and said the balsamic vinaigrette was vegan. It's not fun to have to do the job of the waiter when you're just trying to have a nice evening out! GUH.

AND the waiter seemed confused and flustered like I mentioned before. Just like generally frustrated and weird. I don't get it. I seriously think that Station 22 hires their waiters based on how they look and not on how they perform, serve, or for their people skills. It's so frustrating. I get that they're trying to have this (dare I say hipster?) vibe-thing, but I don't think it should be at the expense of the customers (I'm sure the staff are all very nice people, but I don't get why they can't do their jobs.).

To top it all off, the recipe for the ratatouille has changed which I am completely distraught about. This used to be my all-time favorite menu item but now it's actually gross. There are less tomatoes and vegetables in general, more spinach (WAY too much--like two freaking inches!), and it's bland. I was very disappointed and will not be ordering it again.

Sooooo I sent another complaint email with the above info saying I wouldn't be back until things got better and they never responded. Nice huh? Though I think they may think I'm some kind of crazy...

If you got this far in this post, I'm impressed. I just wanted to get my feelings out about this and let other vegans (and patrons in general) know what's up. If you have a similar experience PLEASE email them (their email is info@oldadobe.com). Maybe if a bunch of people have the same complaints they will actually change things and not just say they are going to.

But, before I stop typing, here is a picture of their new battered sweet potato wedges! They're delicious with the BBQ sauce!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Last Trip to the Cabin

In September Ben, Molly, and I took our last trip to the cabin. The colors were beautiful and we had a bunch of fun hiking around in the crisp weather. The sheep were out grazing and we also saw a HUGE great horned owl that was nearly 3 feet tall!

We closed the cabin the first week in October and there is already snow up there now. We won't be able to go again until sometime in May, so until then I'll just have to admire the pictures.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Recent Pet Photos

Some recent photos of our beloved animal companions. Enjoy!

El Azteca in Provo, Utah

Ben and I finally discovered El Azteca in Provo a month or two ago and are seriously in love. El Azteca is not only my new favorite Mexican restaurant, but one of my new favorite restaurants EVER.

The staff at El Azteca is super helpful and is very knowledgeable about what is vegan. The vegan cheese and sour cream isn't on the menu, but the four vegan filling options are. Just ask for the vegan cheese and sour cream at the counter, they always have it now. They also have vegan hot chocolate right now--yum!

I've been probably ten times in the last month or so and have found quite a few favorites. To the right is one of my favorites: the soyrizo chimichanga with guacamole, vegan sour cream, and vegan cheese.

Below is a roasted veggie burrito with the lettuce and pickled carrot salad (whatever that's called?) that is served with every burrito and chimichanga, and a fruit bowl with raisins and sliced almonds. The fruit salad is pretty good, but I LOVE the roasted veggie burrito. My #1 favorite is the roasted veggie chimichanga with guacamole, vegan sour cream, and vegan cheese. It's DELICIOUS!


Inside of the roasted veggie burrito:


I've also tried the sweet tofu burrito, which I wasn't a huge fan of. It was too... tropical and had pineapple in it.


Overall, I give El Azteca a 4/5. I can't give it a full 5/5 since it's not a fully vegan restaurant, but it's definitely one of my local favorites.

Family-Sized Bags of Gardein Crispy Chick'n at the Orem Costco

The Orem Costco is now selling family-sized bags of Gardein crispy mandarin chick'n! I picked one up a few weeks ago and have to say it was mighty tasty and lasted for quite a few meals for Ben and I. It's especially exciting to me that in such a non-veg area like Orem a huge store like Costco is selling a vegan meat product! Very exciting. If you live in the Utah Valley area, you should definitely drop by and grab one to show support.