Over an especially gluttonous meal one night, filled with lamb chops and veal, we had a thought: What would life be like without all this meaty goodness? But not only without meat, what about life without this cheesy, eggy goodness? That crazy night (after maybe a few too many glasses of wine) the idea of Vegan Week was born. We, your loyal food writers here at We Love DC, decided to tried are very best to eat completely, 100% vegan for one week.
Well…one work week. Ashley ate most of her meals out of the house, for no other reason than everything she knew how to cook had bacon in it, while Katie had to make her decidedly unveg work location work for her. What follows is the sometimes humorous, sometimes surprising, sometimes depressing account of Vegan Week 2010. (For more on our decision to go vegan, check back here Thursday at 11 a.m. for the wrap-up post in this series, We Love Vegan: The Question and Answer Session.)
A disclaimer: Through plenty of Internet research and polling our friends who know a little bit about living a meat-free lifestyle, we came to our conclusions about how to attack Vegan Week. We tried, to the best of our abilities to eat vegan, and to our knowledge we did. If we screwed something up along the way, it was on account of our own stupidity more than anything else. We are not vegans, not even vegetarians, but we tried our best. Also, just a reminder, we here at We Love DC respect all lifestyles, from the meatful to the plantful, and expect that you do too. Take your haterade elsewhere, thanks.
Ashley: This morning I popped out of bed and headed straight to the kitchen to make my favorite breakfast: an egg sandwich. (Katie’s note: Let’s be real, Ashley had to leave post-its around her house reminding her to be vegan. Don’t let her trick you like it was all that easy, popping out of bed.) Lucky for me I had put about fifty notes around my house reminding me that I was, in fact, vegan for the week and so I made a sad face and put my eggs away for another non-vegan day and headed out. My first stop was at Pumpernickel‘s in Chevy Chase. An unsuspecting vegan haven, Pumpernickel’s has plenty of choices for breakfast and lunch for the meat-free. Since I was craving an egg sandwich, I went with the tofu scramble, mock sausage and soy cheese bagel sandwich. I was pleasantly surprised! Though the soy cheese didn’t actually melt, it tasted fine, and the mock sausage was actually pretty flavorful. All in all, a win.
Katie: Breakfast for me is decidedly uninteresting. Every day I eat the SAME EXACT THING: a piece of fruit (vegan? check!), a peanut butter sandwich (with a little ingredient reading and making sure there was no tricksy whey in my bread, vegan? check!) and call it a day. It’s not broke, so let’s not go about fixing it. Switch my daily chai over to soy milk (vegan? check!) and it was this easy, every day. Sorry I wasn’t more original, but I’m a working girl, and a girl of routines.
Ashley: For lunch I decided I needed a little green in my life, and I ventured to Sweetgreen. Though there are a million ways to make a vegan salad with all their make-your-own choices, I tried one of the two vegan salads on the menu. The Sabzi salad was pretty good, though a little scoop of white beans was the only real protein. Good, but I was pretty hungry a few hours later.
Katie: While Ashley was out frolicking, I was stuck with standard work-lunch fare and hit up the salad by the pound place near my office. They have a shocking amount of vegan food at that place, so I loaded up my plate with fruit, a rice-and-nut mix, two slices of tofu dressed in some spicy oil, and a green salad. A friend was helping me pick out things from around the bar, and read off the dressings I could have: probably honey mustard, but maybe not, cause it looked creamy. Possibly Thousand Island but I feel like maybe that has dairy in it? So we settled on Italian. BAD DECISION. The second I put it on my salad, a evil little sliver of parmesan stuck right out in my face, taunting me for my dumb mistake. Should have gone with the oil and vinegar.
Ashley and Katie: Dinner was actually my most dreaded meal of the day. We knew we had to try pizza at some point, and tonight was the night. There are lots of pizza options: Pete’s New Haven, Comet Ping Pong, Duccini’s, Ella’s. But we went with the old standard, Pizzaria Paradiso. Ashley: This time the vegan cheese was plenty melty, and with a ton of vegetable options on the menu, I made quite the tasty treat with artichokes and mushrooms. Katie: I loaded mine up with sundried tomatoes, zucchini and a big pile of arugula on top. The soy cheese was super hot and overly melty, but I didn’t REALLY notice the difference, since I basically put a salad on top of my pizza. It was pretty agreeable, I’d do it again. Pizza is a good option for a place where your vegan friends can dine with your non-vegan friends.
Ashley: I knew I had to try out the Vegan Brunch at Asylum at some point, and day two was the big day. Asylum wins the award for the most extensive vegan menu of the week, and many of the dishes looked pretty great. I landed on the vegan breakfast burrito, which was the standard tofu scramble, soy cheese and black beans in a tortilla. Doused in salsa it was pretty good, but I was already getting tired of tofu scrambles. My friend had the biscuit bowl, which had remarkably good biscuits even without the butter. He also tried the vegan Bloody Mary, and I don’t think I’ll be getting the taste of that out of my mind anytime soon. I know how important Worsheshire sauce is.
Katie: This was my one day off work for Vegan Week, and so I tried to take advantage of it. But without my standard fruit and peanut butter sandwich from work, I opened the fridge and was immediately distraught. WHAT THE HECK DO I EAT? Toast with butter was out, and I had no jam. Eggs were out. I opened the freezer and found a squashed box of waffles. With a little ingredient-reading (lots of that in veganism) I was ready to rumble with a flax waffle and faux-butter flavored syrup (basically sugar).
Ashley: Lunch was a trip to Amsterdam Falafel. As much as I love this place, this was the first time I had ever tried it in the daytime. Just as good, with half as many spills! The falafel is vegan, as are many of the toppings, though our friendly cashier was a little fuzzy on which ones. I decided to stay away from any sauce that looked like it could be dairy, and ended up piling my falafel high with pickled everything and something spicy. I missed the tzatziki, but I was still happy and full.
Katie: I met a friend for lunch in Dupont,and headed over to Teasim. Their website has this nifty little dietary-restriction checker that I used to make a short list of lunch options before I headed in. I grabbed the tofu noodle salad, with cold noodles and a lime dressing, and a morrocan mint tea. This was the first fully-satisfying meal where I didn’t even think twice about wishing there was meat involved, or thinking I could have gotten a better option had I not been vegan. I was a happy girl. After lunch, we wandered over to Dolcezza, where I got a grapefruit campari sorbet and again, didn’t even think twice about not getting it’s dairy-based brethren. This was probably my favorite day of veganism, actually.
Ashley and Katie: We ended the day with a moderately fancy dinner at Nage. Known for their Meatless Monday, we knew they would have some great vegan options for us. Ashley: My favorites were the falafel (so much falafel!) and the vegan pad thai. The pad thai came with fried pieces of firm tofu that had a really wonderful texture. Now there’s a sentence I never though I’d say. We also learned from Chef Glenn Babcock the key to veganism, “beans, mushrooms and nuts”. Amen Glenn, amen. Katie: Babcock makes vegan look easy, and I was totally happy the entire meal. He whipped us up a nice beet carpaccio, as well as a portobello mushroom dish with lentils. For dessert, a nice coconut sorbet. Sorbet is God’s gift to the dairy-free. I highly recommend Nage for a dinner out with friends – it’s mid-range priced and very Vegan-friendly.
Stay tuned! Part 2 of We Love Vegan will run tomorrow at 11, and then a wrap-up Question and Answer session will follow Thursday at 11.