Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World
It’s not always easy being vegan in a non-vegan world. In this post I will not cry you a river about never being able to eat in social situations, blah blah. This post is about the amazing and heartwarming times you find omnivorous restaurants that are willing to go out of their way to ensure you get a delicious vegan meal in their non-vegan setting. Here are some stories about places like that.
Let’s start this off in Halifax, shall we? There is a café on Spring Garden Road in Haliwood called Just Us! I’m not enthusiastically sharing the name; there’s an exclamation mark included always. Anyway, the wicked thing about Just Us! (see? There it is again) is that they have (or had) vegan hot chocolate on the menu. The last time I went there, just days before moving away, they were either out of the VHC or had removed it from the menu. Either way, I was devastated. I had been looking forward to it for weeks.
The girls behind the counter and I came up with a delicious solution to my heartbreaking plight. They made me a maple syrup soy latte and it was some goooood. I frolicked with it out to their patio seating to draft a couple blog posts in the crisp September air. It warmed me from the inside out.
Next I will tell you about a little Italian joint that was just up the street from our hotel when we first arrived in London. It was the end of a very long and touristy day and we all just wanted to bolt down some hot food. The fine folks at Raffles got me some straight up spaghetti with a meat- and cheese-free tomato sauce, a butter-free baked potato (sorry, “jacket potato”), and mixed greens. Not too shabby!
Lastly we shall talk about a place very dear to my hungover, vegan heart: Smitty’s on Lacewood Drive in Halifax. This bacon-and-eggs-centric pancake house is just down the hill from Jerri’s apartment and we used to go there all the time, for anything and everything. Whenever we needed to have a girls night with the whole She-Wolf Pack we would go to Smit’s. Needed dinner but didn’t feel like cooking? Smit’s. And always, always the morning after a night of heavy drinking. It was always Smitty’s.
What could they possibly have to offer a hungry and hungover vegan girl besides lame fruit salads? A delightful and accommodating staff.
We went there so often that we knew all the waitstaff and kitchen staff by name, as they did us. They knew that when we arrived we would be there for a minimum of three hours and to just leave us be (we always tipped well). We once even saw the head hostess downtown and danced with her all night! Seriously. This place was our second home. They also all knew that when we rolled in an order of vegan homefries was required.
They usually deep fry their home-fried potatoes, but they also do chicken and other meaty nastiness in that fryer, so the boys in the kitchen would always do up potatoes for me in a clean, meat-free skillet. Whenever our waiter/ress would come to the table, the first question was always, “Who’s in the kitchen today? Dwayne? Fantastic! Tell him we need an order of vegan homefries.” They were so good to me. I have personally tipped those cooks more than most men tip strippers at the clubs.
What else works at brunch joints when all else fails? Dry whole wheat toast with a liberal helping of PB & J.
No, it’s not easy being vegan in a non-vegan world. While there truly isn’t anything better than opening a menu and seeing multiple vegan options for the pickin’, having absolutely nothing vegan on the menu isn’t the end of the world. Just have a big smile and a lot of patience and see if people are willing to work with you. And if they’re not? There’s always tap water. At least it’s free.