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Friday, June 29, 2012

Out to Lunch (and then dinner... and then lunch again...)

Hearing a lot of crickets around the ol' blog lately, eh? That's because I'm at Vegetarian Summerfest! Yes, as I mentioned on Facebook, I am attending for the first time this year, crossing an item off of my own personal Vegan Bucket List. I'm so stoked to be here, and I have plenty to share with you! The days are long and jam-packed, so it's hard to find time to blog, but you'll get the full scoop soon!

Enjoy your weekend, and stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Kickin' It

Isn't it great when dreams come true? When all of your blood, sweat, and/or tears and hard work pays off? When you get to see your vision become a reality? I love when people give all of their focus and energy and passion into what they believe in. This is why I love Kickstarter.

In the last two months or so, I've backed three different Kickstarter projects, and I'd like to take this opportunity to share these three documentary projects with you. (And I just now realized that they are all documentaries.)

The first one is Roots of Rescue, a documentary about animal abuse in the South. Clearly this will be a painful, emotional doc, but how can we change something if we don't know anything about it?

Roots of Rescue met (and surpassed) their fundraising goal, so this film is in the process of being made!

Next up is one that I'm pretty sure I shared on Facebook and/or the blog. It's called I'm Fine, Thanks. It's described as "a new, feature-length documentary about complacency. It's a collection of stories about life, the choices we all make, and the paths we ultimately decide to follow." Watch the trailer and let me know if it stirs up anything inside you.

Gosh, I want to hear the stories of these people! This project has met and surpassed its fundraising goal, but is still accepting pledges until June 22nd. (If you pledge $5 or more, you get a free digital download of the movie!) Keep up with the film's progress on Facebook.

Have you read the blog, Advanced Style? It's a fantastic blog of fierce, stylish older women of NYC. Go check it out - their outfits are AMAZING! I only recently learned that they're making a documentary about these women, and after watching the trailer, you'll see that these women were meant to be seen AND heard.

Advanced Style have met and surpassed their fundraising goal, but they are still accepting pledges until June 23rd. (Pledges of $25 or more get a copy of the DVD!) Keep up with the Advanced Style blog on Facebook.

There are so many Kickstarter projects worthy of support. If you can't pledge a few dollars, just spread the word! Share links and videos via Facebook, twitter, blogs, etc. Help make dreams come true!

What Kickstarter projects are you supporting?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

9 veg*ns walk into a Japanese steakhouse...

Amber's boyfriend had a dream. He wanted to round up "The Vegetable Friends" and descend upon one of the local Japanese steakhouses for a vegan-style habachi night. We assembled, excitedly, for this culinary adventure.

When I was The Lone Vegan, I had been to many a habachi-style dinner, but I never ate the food. As The Lone Vegan back then, I would order vegetable sushi while sitting with a group of omnivores beside the grill, sizzling with meat and butter and eggs, ducking every time the chef would fling chicken bits around the table.

Naturally, I was totally on board with reserving an entire habachi table to our vegan selves. Our destination: Kobe Japanese Steakhouse in Brandon, Florida.

I have to say, communicating our dining request was very easy. When I called to make the reservation, I explained to the person on the phone what we wanted: no meat, no butter, no eggs. He indicated on the reservation that we were all vegetarian, and he told me to explain everything when we checked in, as well. When we arrived, the host I spoke with was super understanding and helpful. After clarifying the no meat-no butter- no eggs request, he added that we would want the miso soup (as the onion soup was made with beef broth) and that the ginger salad dressing was vegan. He gave me that information without me even asking!

When we were seated at the table, I went over everything again with our server, who apparently was not given any of the reservation information. He wrote down everything we said, and seemed slightly amused that all 9 of us were eating tofu and vegetables.

Miso soup


And then our chef came. He cracked a few jokes about our party ("So, I don't know if you guys saw the sign outside, but it says 'Steakhouse'...") and admitted he wasn't all that savvy in the tofu cooking department, but he did a fine job. We all had a good laugh when the tofu slabs came out.

finished product

During his cooking, the chef commented that it felt so weird for him to not be cooking with butter, and that he typically goes through a tub of butter for each party. He gestured toward the "tub" on his cart and it looked like close to two pounds of butter!

Overall, this was a fun and delicious experience. Making the reservation was ultra-smooth, and we all had a great time. I love my Vegetable Friends!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Let's talk about menstruating while traveling

Hey friends,

How do you like that blog post title? I figured I may as well get to the point, rather than draw someone into reading a post calling for input and they become disappointed or confused that I'm really asking people about their periods.

But that's what I'm doing: I'm asking you about your periods while traveling.

Tell me about an experience you had -- mortifying, excruciatingly painful, empowering, whatever -- about traveling during "that time of the month."

Send me an email at HungryVeganTraveler [at] Gmail dot com and tell me your story. Be sure to include your name and your website/blog, as I MAY use your story in an upcoming article. (But if you'd rather remain anonymous, which is totally cool, be sure to clarify that in your email as well.) Put "Period Travel" in the subject line, por favor.

So, what is your most memorable (for better or for worse) menstruating moment while traveling? What helped you get through it?

Dudes: You can contribute to this, too. Maybe you, uh, witnessed something while traveling, or you were there with/for your best gal pal, or something along those lines.

For everyone: Check out this awesome article on Jezebel on how a tampon is pretty much a Swiss Army tool of Awesome. Everyone should keep tampons nearby!

I'm looking forward to reading your stories! Please invite friends to share, too!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Songs that make me drive faster

I'm sure everyone has noticed that certain songs or types of music somehow increase your driving speed, even if but slightly. Some movie soundtracks and classical music have a knack for increasing (and decreasing) your MPH. While on an uninteresting long drive over the weekend, I got to thinking about what radio-friendly songs do it for me, turning my right foot momentarily to lead.

(Or any RATM song, really.)

Flashback! 1995!

Does it come as a surprise that some of my favorite XM stations are Alt Nation, Lithium ('90s grunge), and 90s on 9? I'm also a sucker for Pop2k (don't judge me!), but those songs don't make me speed. Just sing terribly.

What are some of your favorite driving songs?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

My Mystery Hosts in Hotlanta

Now that you've heard about the Disappearing Couches of Nashville, you'll understand my apprehension about my arrangements in Atlanta.

When I was preparing for my solo journey to Florida, I considered joining CouchSurfing, but never went through with it because, at the time, I didn't know anyone who used it and I was already a jumble of nerves about moving to begin with. I only wanted to stay with friends or mutual friends.

My arrangements for Atlanta were as such: my longtime Internet friend / pen pal, Sarah, used to work with this guy, Kevin back in San Francisco. Neither of them work at that same place, anymore. Sarah is still in California, but Kevin moved to Atlanta. Sarah got in touch with him and Kevin was totally game to let me stay with him and his girlfriend. We had been in contact via email, and then we spoke on the phone as I was getting ready to leave downtown Nashville. He was very nice and very friendly.

As I was inching toward the Tennessee/Kentucky border, it dawned on me: What if he doesn't know how I know Sarah? Granted, this was late 2010, meeting people on the Internet had been a common practice for many years at this point, but still. Some people are weird about it. Forgetting the time difference between us (especially as I was entering the Eastern time zone), I called Sarah and left a message, explaining my concern. At one of my stops, we exchanged texts. She didn't see any reason for Kevin to be weirded out by the fact that Sarah and I had never actually met, and no, she did not tell him.

I was so happy to arrive at Kevin's house after battling Atlanta traffic. It was past the rush hour time frame when I reached the city limits, but holy hell, that does not matter. Kevin and his girlfriend, Laura were so friendly and welcoming, and their dog was really awesome, too. We exchanged pleasantries, they asked about the trip, got the formalities out of the way. And then Kevin said, "So how long have you known Sarah?"

"Gosh, a few years now."

"Cool. Are you from California?"

"Nope. Never been there, actually."

"Oh. Did you two... go to school together?"


"So... how do you and Sarah know each other?"

"The Internet."

"Oh, ha ha. That's cool. How many times have you and Sarah hung out?"

"Uh, never."


"Nope! I've never actually met her in person!"

And then Kevin erupted into laughter and his girlfriend's face carried a shocked-but-amused expression. I explained that, even though Sarah and I haven't actually met in person yet, we're VERY good friends and have been for years (probably 4-5 years at that point). Every time Sarah and I tried to visit the other, something always came up. There was a year where, any time we picked a week in a month, one of us had either a wedding to attend (which always comes with a high cost), a family obligation (non-wedding-related), or some kind of ridiculous medical expense (because getting sick is crazy expensive, with or without insurance).

Anyway, Kevin thought this was hilarious and "SO Sarah!" When I said, "I hope this doesn't weird you two out too much!" he and his girlfriend insisted it was fine. Just really, really funny.

And again, their kindness and warmth and hospitality were beyond appreciated. I'm still so glad that I got to meet those two and make a wonderful new connection in the Atlanta area. Kevin and Laura both had to work in the morning, but Laura had an early day and she and I met up for lunch before I headed down to Florida, where a brand new life awaited me.

PS. I have since gotten over my fear of

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Plan C in Tennessee

Remember, a year and a half ago, when I packed up my clothes and cookbooks and journeyed solo down to Florida to start my life over? I didn't tell you about a little bump in the road I encountered in Tennessee.

When I knew that I was leaving Missouri, I put out a call to friends near and far, asking for hook-ups of couches to crash upon along my journey. (This was loooong before I joined CouchSurfer.) I knew for sure I had a place to stay in St. Louis and Gainesville, and I thought I was set in Nashville, too.

I had messaged an old friend on Facebook, a guy I briefly went to high school with, and we sorta-kinda kept in touch on Facebook. I told him the date I'd be rolling into town and he said it should be fine, he just needed to check with his wife because he thought his mother-in-law might be visiting.

And then he disappeared.

Nervous about where to stay, another friend of mine (who used to live in Missouri but was now living in Oregon) put me in touch with an old friend of her's from high school, saying he was really nice and totally legit. I spoke with him via Facebook message and we talked on the phone while I was in St. Louis. Ah, what a relief. I had a Plan B! He said he had to work late, but his girlfriend would be around and she was excited to meet me. He said he'd text me her phone number. He never did.

En route from St. Louis to Nashville, the guy texted me to say work was running later than expected and it might be really, really late before he got home. No worries, I said. Just let me know.

He never did.

Meanwhile, I had plans to meet with an Internet friend for dinner in Nashville. We met at a Thai restaurant, had great food and hilariously punny conversation. We hit it off famously. She asked where I was staying that night, and after I explained my interesting situation (I was constantly checking my phone for Plan B to contact me), she offered up her couch. A couple hours passed with still no word from Plan B (and of course, not a peep from Plan A), so I went with Plan C.

And thus, my friend Rae is the coolest person in Nashville.

Needless to say, after this experience in Nashville, I was a little nervous about what to expect in Atlanta, where a similar couch arrangement awaited me. That story will come next.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Vlogs I Vlike

It has been non-stop raining in Tampa Bay these last couple of days. I love rainy days, I truly do, but when it's day after day after day like this... it gets old. Especially since I would have liked to spend a day by the pool or at the beach (have I got tan lines to fill IN! Yeesh!).

Still, the rainy days haven't been completely miserable. I love waking up and falling asleep to the sound of rain. It's wonderful background noise while I'm working (whereas pumpin' the jams from Spotify is usually COMPLETELY distracting). The grey skies make me feel cozy. I've been doing a lot more reading, more writing, more DEEP THINKING, and I've been sleeping better. (But I find that when I "sleep better," it means I sleep longer, and that usually means strange dreams. Hmm.) So, even though it's been frustrating to not bring my hula hoop outside or soak up some sun, I have to say that these last couple of rainy days have been more productive than usual. Hooray for that!

I've been Youtubin' it up a little more lately, for two reasons: as a break from writing, and also as inspiration for writing. My Youtube use is primarily focused on two things: music (since Spotify doesn't actually have everything), and ridiculous videos, many of which involve pugs. But lately I've been turning to Youtube for inspiration and ideas.

But let's knock the silly stuff out first. :)

**DISCLAIMER: The following videos aren't necessarily VEGAN, but they ARE necessarily HILARIOUS.**

I've mentioned before how much I love My Drunk Kitchen. My broseph, Brandon turned me on to You Deserve A Drink. I didn't think I'd like it at first, but a few videos in, I fell under YDAD's spell. First, I'll share the Pair of Harts video, and then the latest Justin Bieber's Pickletini, which is the YDAD video that made me laugh the hardest (specifically, the blooper reel at the end). Warning: Mamrie Hart is crude and crass (and that's why I like her!), but that makes her videos not-quite-safe-for-work. So put your earbuds in.

Have I also mentioned before that I love Jenna Marbles' videos, too? This video she made this past Christmas STILL brings tears to my eyes.

PS. Fun fact! Jenna Marbles is like, mostly-vegan! For real. She's vlogged about it.

So, my bro Brandon (who recently guest posted on this blog) has been bitten by the vlogging bug. No doubt directly related to the video he made for his guest post, crooning that unforgettable, timeless tune, the theme song to "Blossom." Anyway, his two subsequent videos are vegan ones! I'm so proud of him, and watching these videos makes me miss him even more. I can't help but assume that at our next reunion, we will collaborate on some pretty freaking epic vlogs together. Check him out on Fat Kid Chronicle!

Okay, okay. Let's move on from the silly stuff.

My friend Amber sometimes manages to suck me into watching countless raw vegan videos. She'll watch them for hours on end, but my attention span won't allow for such marathons. Still, she's got me liking Megan Elizabeth of Easy To Be Raw. Megan Elizabeth is a fruitarian, meaning she eats a whole frick-ton of fruit every day. Her recipes are all pretty simple, which I like. Here are some examples.

(I've had raw food on the brain lately.)

Other vegan vloggers I enjoy are The Vegan Zombie and Vegan Black Metal Chef. Both of those are MUCH sillier than Easy To Be Raw!

So, this isn't a "vlogger" thing, but did you catch the clips of Dr. Joel Fuhrman on Dr. Oz earlier this week? Man, I can't get it out of my head! You can watch the clips of the show HERE. I had no idea that Jasmin Singer (one of the badasses behind Our Hen House) had lost so much weight going vegan. I'm impressed! I wish she had been able to talk more, though, because she's an AMAZING speaker.

What are some your favorite vlogs, vegan-specific or otherwise?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Happy Mail

While I was in Connecticut for the CT Veg Fest, I entered a drawing for a Vegan Cuts grab bag package, and I won! Since they wouldn't ship to a PO box, it took me a few extra weeks to actually get it. I finally picked it up over the weekend. Check out my goods!

Here's the sack of goodness that I shook out of the box.

As soon as I wrestled the knot loose on the bag's drawstring, I was hit with a very pleasant scent. It was coming from these yummy organic soaps made by Wembe'.

I was really excited to find a jar of Nacheez dip amongst the goodies. I am always happy to try out new vegan cheeses!

There was a bag of Kaia raw "cocoa bliss" granola, and D3 supplements from Vitashine, two ways: spray and capsule.

There was also a wallet made from recycled cork by Cool CorC

a box of SoyGo soy creamer

and a Pineapple Upside Down Cake flavored Cavewoman bar and, what's that in the corner? Oh, a little button from the cool peeps behind Compassion Company.

Pretty rockin' box of goodies, right?! Thanks, Vegan Cuts!

I also received a sampler of all the new sweet-and-salty Larabars. Unfortunately, they all contain honey. Sad face!

Last week I received a new hula hoop in the mail. This is the third hoop that I've received via postal mail. The first hoop (from Canyon Hoops) came in a huge FLAT box. The second one (from Troo Hoops) came in a large, LONG box. My latest hoop (from Spellbound Hoops in Gainesville, Florida) came like this.

The postal worker who retrieved my "package" from behind the desk and I had a nice laugh about this. Walking out of the post office with this bubble-wrapped, colorful coiled hoop over my shoulder, I laughed again when I realized that that was how my mother's hoop would also arrive at her door. And she had no idea that I ordered a hoop for her!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Vegan Swap & Linky-Dinks

In May I participated in The Verdant Life's Vegan Food Swap. I received a package from Cheryl Fairweather, vegan athlete. She sent...

dried mushrooms (which I'm still not entirely sure what to do with yet!)

Hail Merry raw chocolate macaroons (HAIL YEAH!) and some super-yummy roasted pumpkin seeds

and a bag of Late July sweet potato chips. Very flavorful!

Swaps sure are fun! The swappin' happens again in June, so if you're interested in joining in on the fun, register here.

I hope everyone enjoyed yesterday's guest post from my wonderful friend, Brandon Haskey. He also blogged a story that features me, over on his turf. In case you didn't catch the link on Facebook, go check it out here.

I like this post from Hobo Siren, especially what she says about procrastination. I'm going to write up a list of goals for this summer. There's still so much of Tampa Bay I haven't seen or tasted yet, and I've been here for a year and a half already!

Feel like you might be in a vegan/plant-strong rut? Check out this post from Engine 2 on how to bust through that slump.

There's a proposed ban on "large sugary drinks" in NYC. Specifically, the ban would "prohibit the sale of sweetened beverages larger than 16 ounces (fountain drinks, bottles, and cans) in delis, fast food outlets, restaurants, movie theaters, sports venues, and street carts." What do you think about the proposed ban?

Wanna eat a little more raw? Check this post via Crazy Sexy Life for easy tips. This post on One Green Planet gives a few more suggestions.

And now for southwest Florida's weather forecast for the next 5 months.

Have a great weekend!