Archive | September, 2007

Sushi in San Francisco: Vegetarian, Vegan and Environmentally Friendly

26 Sep

OK. So as I mentioned in my previous post, I sometimes just really want sushi. I adore sushi. But it definately has it’s issues. It’s almost never organic, vegetarian and vegan options are often scarce and, let’s face it, rather boring, and I’m almost afraid to bring up the issue of being environmentally friendly and seasonal. Oh and there tends to be a lot of sugar used in sushi.  I’ve been eating sushi recently and was suprised to find a restaraunt in the city that had a rather large and suprising vegetarian dinner. I’m still not quite sure what everything on the plates were, but everything was great and the amount of food served with the veg. dinner was at least twice as much as the non-veg options.

So, I though I’d write a bit about the sushi available in San Francisco. I’ve yet to eat at an organic or environmentally friendly Japanese restaraunt but I know that some do exist. Consider the following to be a To Do list!

Cha-Ya Vegetarian Japanese http://sanfrancisco.citysearch.com/profile/41907302 I’ve heard good things about this place but have yet to try it!

Minako Organic Sushi http://sanfrancisco.citysearch.com/profile/11652781/ I stumbled on this place once but haven’t yet tried it out. I know very little about what they serve, how much of it is organic and what their general practices are.

Hana Zen Sushi http://www.hanazenrestaurant.com/ This place has one of the best vegetarian/vegan meals I’ve ever eaten. The Vegetarian Dinner includes, sushi, tempura and yakitori.

To be honest, I’ve had a difficult time finding reference to any sushi restaurants in San Francisco that take it upon themselves to provide seasonal, local items or pay much attention to sustainable fishing. So I looked up the Seafood Watch page at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It’s a great resource and has a lot of information for those of use who’d like to make sustainable choices when eating fish.

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You are what you eat.. a Vegan Food Activist?

25 Sep

The Vegan Thing… 

A few months ago I heard a radio broadcast featuring Howard Lyman, a former Montana cattle rancher turned strict vegan. This weekly radio program, called Deconstructing Dinner, has become my favorite over the last year and has been the main driving force behind my decision to become “vegan“.  I use quotations marks when calling myself a “vegan” because I have not yet found a better term to describe my eating habits. To say that I was a strict vegan would be wrong, as would assuming that my dietary decisions were primarily based on animal welfare as that seems to be the most common reason for the switch. Because I don’t feel that I fit squarely into the common vegan identity, most people are a bit confused and don’t really understand exactly what it is I am trying to do. While this is often an opportunity for me to explain my point of view and my ideas on the subject, it’s also a bit frustrating. If I am being good about holding to my own personal guidelines, it’s nearly impossible to socialize if food is involved, whether eating out or staying in! So needless to say, it is a challenge being a “vegan”, or at least my version of it.

The Food Activist Thing…

I consider myself to be an environmentalist and for the last few years have been trying to find the best way to express that in my daily life. Sure, I can recycle and buy green products, volunteer, wear clothes made out of hemp and drink fair trade coffee. But I can’t do it all, no one can. As human beings in this day and age, we must take advantage of our strengths and our passions. I’m quite fond of music, movies and FOOD. The more I learn about the food industry, the misleading advertising, the injustices and poor working conditions, the politics and control, and the health issues that are now rampant in our society, the less I can justify buying anything processed.

So how do I define myself? What is it that I eat and why? Well, I’ve decided to provide what I like to call my List of Priorities. It is very difficult to hold to all of these 100% of the time. As a Vegan Food Activist, I am constantly making decisions about what is most important to me that week, day or moment. And sometimes, I just really want sushi…

  • In general I do not eat processed food. This includes pretty much everything, but there are certain exceptions: 1) beer & wine – though I do drink mostly organic and local beverages 2) tofu – I don’t use it much, but umm… there’s no way I’m making it myself 3) tomato paste – I use it constantly and am not yet ready to make it myself 4) various organic/natural/locally produced snacks – sometimes. I mostly buy these for other people! 5) bread – I often make my own, but sometimes a quicker version is required. I never buy white, and I usually buy something produced by a local bakery.
  • In general I don’t eat sugar. I do currently use sugar in baking but no doubt will transition to other options at some point. Regular cane sugar is not considered to be a vegan product for various reasons anyway (though as I’ve mentioned, strict veganism is not exactly my priority.) So what do I eat instead? Fruit and honey. Local, seasonal, wonderful fruit and honey. I was suprised at how my cravings for things like cookies, candy and chocolate pretty much vanished after a while and sugary foods eventually became difficult to eat.
  • Dairy. Hmm. Dairy is my gateway drug. Though I don’t generally eat dairy, sometimes cheese is required. I’ve broken down and eaten cheese that was boring and tasteless and regreted it afterwards. Ideally, I’d like to partake in the cheese and the egg once in a while.. and it better be good when I do! (Oh and local and organic and all that crap)
  • Red meat, poultry, fish and meat substitutes. Generally = no. Though I’d rather eat local, organic chicken than say, a bag of Doritos. And meat substitutes are what? Yes. Heavily processed foods. Also, I find most vegan and vegetarian dishes to be well, lazy. There are many wonderful and tasty sources of protein in nature (that humans have been eating for millennia) and I don’t really understand why people don’t always take advantage of what’s readily available… and unprocessed!
  • Farmers’ Market. Farmers’ Market. Farmers’ Market. Fresh, local food. Supporting variety, the local economy as well as the farmers. Many farmers in North America and making little more than they did in the 70’s.
  • I make a lot of my own stuff. Beans, bread, pizza dough. These things are really not as difficult as you might think, or as time consuming! I’ve watched plently of mind-numbing, reality TV while baking bread!

So, there you have it. Pretty much. As a rule, I don’t eat processed foods, or sugar or meat or dairy. Umm… anyone want to go out and have dinner? :/