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December 7-13, 2005

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Silicon Veggie - Elisa Camahort

Silicon Veggie

Who Picks These Dates?


By Elisa Camahort

I'VE WRITTEN BEFORE that I'm a lacto-ovo vegetarian who believes in veganism but has never made the leap. When World Vegan Day rolled around on Nov. 1, I decided to give it a shot. But as I found out, the day after Halloween is a not an ideal day to go vegan.

I did fine all day, despite minor difficulties. I had my usual vegan breakfast of cereal with rice milk. I was a little stymied when I got home from a midday hike feeling ravenous and discovered that those Morningstar Farms products in my freezer—those products that I assumed were vegan—are actually chock-full of dairy and eggs. I didn't let that deter me and scavenged something from my fridge and cupboard.

Dinner was a challenge. I go to the California Cafe in Los Gatos often. Their menu is never veggie-friendly, let alone vegan. Oh, they'll alter dishes (the manager told me they get lots of vegetarian requests), but, for example, during this visit not a single listed entree was vegetarian, out of a dozen. (In fact, they remind you where they got the animals you're eating by categorizing them: "Sky," "Sea" and "Land." I'm sure they think they're being Zen about it.)

I usually have bread and butter, a salad (featuring luscious cheese) and pasta ordered without meat. But World Vegan Day threw extra complications into the mix. Bread and butter? Nope. Dry sourdough for me. Salad with goat cheese? Nope. Salad, hold the cheese. Pasta seemed to be the only option available to me—sans the shrimp, thank you. (Yes, they charged me the avec shrimp price, if you were wondering.) And no dessert. No cheesecake, no gelato, no crème brûlée. Not even a coffee (given I don't drink it black).

For the record, the manager said there were more vegetarian options the restaurant could have prepared if I had interrogated my waiter further. But I like it when a restaurant puts the vegetarian options that are available right on the menu. You know, we vegetarians get tired of having to play high-maintenance Sally, a la When Harry Met Sally. If you could just let us know we've got options, we'd appreciate it so much.

I digress. The point is that I walked out feeling pretty proud. World Vegan Day? Piece o' cake!

Until I got home and absent-mindedly threw some leftover Halloween candy in my mouth. Buzzer sounds! Thank you for playing our game, but milk chocolate contains, that's right, milk. Dairy. A nonvegan ingredient.

Who picked Nov. 1 for World Vegan Day? Whoever it was has a terrible sense of humor.


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