Thursday, January 29, 2009

How the Nintendo DS led to an Herbivore Lunch and to our car being towed (almost)

Might as well get this post over and done with, I know it's long overdue. I believe it was after-Christmas-ish when I FINALLY got to visit a completely vegan restaurant during my vacation in SF. 

The decision to eat in this restaurant started from the Nintendo DS. So brother #5 got a Nintendo DS for Christmas thanks to his ninong (godfather) who is also our cousin. This cousin of ours has two Nintendo DS's of his own and so does cousin #2 (so 4 DS's all in all). We spent a few days in Lake Tahoe after Christmas and a lot of time was spent in front of the fireplace, boys DS-ing their asses off (apparently this futuristic device has some Bluetooth thingy that allows them to play against each other). Then brother #3 got some moolah for Christmas thanks to his ninang (godmother) and got some other handheld game playing device (the name escapes me of the moment). 

Brother #2 got pretty much brainwashed into getting his own DS and with trusty Linda Blair our GPS, we go on a wild goose chase for 2-3 days hunting down a black DS (it HAS to be black because all of bro #2's gadgets are black) with the BEST price -- we did not leave a Best Buy, Costco, and Target store unturned. From San Ramon to Dublin to Walnut Creek and finally to San Francisco we find the perfectly black Nintendo DS of bro #2's dreams (he also bought a crap game in the midst of all his greed). I think I footed the $4 Bay Bridge toll so I DEMANDED that we eat at a vegan restaurant (so I'm cheap, sue me). Also it was about 3pm and we were starving.

Of course being the well prepared person that I am I made it a point to list down every vegan restaurant in the Bay area, in hopes of getting to eat in one of them at least once. My self-proclaimed carnivore and vegetable hater sister wasnít with us during the Search for the Black DS so it was the perfect time to get 2 carnivores (bros #2 and #4) and 2 vegans (me and bro #5) to eat veg for lunch.

So thanks to Linda Blair we parked our car at Herbivore on Divisadero (between Fell and Hayes, I think?) at 3:30pm for a late lunch. Bro #5 and I were soooo excited to finally eat in our first vegan restaurant ever! Actually it was a first for bro #2 and bro #4 as well and good thing they were game. As a vegan let me just say how happy I was to be able to eat anything off the menu, as in anything. Nothing made with the suffering of animals. Nothing contained animals or animal by-products. No one died for us to enjoy our meal. It was such an adventure and a relief.

So first off we ordered a vegetable sampler for our appetizer -- a combination of char-broiled vegetables (zucchini, eggplant, yellow squash, bell peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, tomatoes) with 3 sauces: pesto, tahini, and lemon-garlic. The dish was served with sliced baguette. We enjoyed this very much.

Next up we got 4 different entrees which we all shared together (the family that eats together, stays together). 

Bro #4 got the best entree: penne with lemon herb cream sauce with char-broiled portabella mushrooms, zucchini, artichoke hearts, and spinach served with crostini. OMG even the carnivores couldn't believe it was vegan. The sauce was seriously creamy and delicious. I suspect it contained ground cashews or almonds; I don't think silken tofu could get that creamy and satisfying. I tried inquiring with our server what the sauce was made of but she was too busy to pay attention to us...

Bro #2 got a lentil loaf with mashed potatoes topped with mushroom gravy and sauteed greens on the side, with crostini and a tomato sesame salsa. He liked this a lot and the lentil loaf was deliciously rustic and comforting. The greens tasted very much like our local alugbati -- very earthy.
Bro #4 got his comfort food: Pad Thai. Rice noodles sauteed with tofu, red bell peppers, togue (bean sprouts), green onions, wansoy (cilantro), and crushed peanuts with peanut sauce. This was nothing new to us, we heart Thai food so I'm not going to drool over this much. It was good, although I suspect you can get better tasting Pad Thai at a traditional Thai restaurant (that reminds me, I should blog about Som's, a Thai carinderia-style restaurant located near my workplace -- dirt cheap Thai food with a killer veggie pad thai).

I ordered a moussaka -- layers of eggplant, potatoes, soy protein (eek! Fake meat!) tofu ricotta, mushrooms, zucchini, bell peppers, spinach and marinara sauce with crostini on the side. I used to heart all things tomatoes (at one point I even thought I should've been born in Italy instead of the Philippines) but since discovering different kinds of sauces (peanut sauce, hummus, roasted red pepper-cannelini, sunflower seed pesto, curry, you get the picture) my love wavered a bit... My brothers liked the moussaka, I found it okay. Also I'm not a big potato fan (excess starch!) -- maybe if there were no potatoes I would've enjoyed this dish more.
With my food I ordered a green juice, which sounds disgusting but was actually refreshing and yummy. It was a cocktail made of celery, apple, spinach, parsley, mint, ginger, and lime. The green-ness was so bright! I really should be drinking more green juice...
Anyway, on to dessert! We were absolutely stuffed but I really wanted to try some dessert that was not cake or cupcakes. Bro #4 got a coconut chocolate chip cookie which was alright tasting. We shared a blueberry pie with Maggie Mudd vanilla soy ice cream -- what a hit! I love pie -- I feel like it's "healthier" than regular cake and cupcakes because of the fruit component, nevermind that they are all full of sugar. We can't get blueberries in the Philippines so we really enjoyed this pie. Oh I really should experiment with pies in my kitchen...
Oh yeah, so our car was about to be towed while we were inhaling our food. We parked right in front of the restaurant and thought we were so lucky to have found the perfect spot. I put some quarters in the meter to last us 30 minutes. By 20 minutes I added a few more quarters to buy us extra time (the food hadn't arrived). So while wolfing down the moussaka I checked the time on my phone, which showed that I had 4 minutes left til the meter ran out! So I popped out to refill the meter when I found that the front of the car was attached to a tow truck. The tow guy was towing this other car a few cars in front of mine. I thought the tow guys were waiting for the meter to run out so they could tow it so I immediately put more quarters in the meter. Something didn't feel right though. I waited for the tow guy to go back to my car and I asked why he was towing it -- apparently cars were banned to park on the street between 4 and 6pm and it was 4:15 (we sat down at our table at 3:15 -- Herbivore took so long!). I played the sorry-tourist-card and had bro #2 park the car around the block.

So, all's well that ends well. Bro #2 got his Nintendo DS (he also got another Handheld Game Playing Device for bro #6 -- ah, the joys of consumerism), bro #5 and I got our Herbivore lunch, and we didn't get towed. Overall, a good day.

organic soy latte with agave syrup and bro #2 happily playing with his DS

531 Divisadero, SF
415.885.7133 --> check for other locations!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fine, a post on cake + The lone female kitten in the house (last post on cats, I semi-promise)

Good grief I know this is supposed to be a blog about veganism or vegan food but I (kinda) swear, this is the last time I'll be making blog posts on each of my cats. Unless something big comes up, I may mention them here and there amidst talking about food. 

Actually, the cats have played a big role in my veganism -- everyday I am reminded that all animals think and feel exactly like how my cats think and feel. It's not right that we put "pet animals" on pedestals, that we label them as "not food" (unless you live in Northern Luzon or some parts of China) while other animals -- i.e. cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, fish, other sea animals -- are "food animals". The stories about how they came into my life -- poor defenseless creatures, abandoned by their mothers and shunned by humans -- are things that I will always hold dear. Everyday as I am about to enter my home I am truly thankful to God that my eyes have been opened to the plight of animals and that He has spared these three cats from a terrible life.

More fluff to come about cat #2, aka Velma, but I want to distract you for a little bit.

I made this Almond Rosewater Tea Cake for my mom which she gave to this Indian-Malaysian lady that rents our old house in Pasig. Apparently the lady is vegetarian and is very pro-vegan, particularly vegan desserts. Getting new clients and discovering existing ones never cease to amaze me. For example, last week I organized an employee volunteerism fair at my real workplace and of course invited PAWS. One of the two PAWS volunteers was vegetarian (I made it a point to ask because we had to feed them merienda) and we gabbed about their animal shelter, rescued dogs and cats, and of course food. I mentioned that I was vegan and that I baked vegan desserts, and they both said they were once given a box of vegan cupcakes and cake for Christmas from PETA. I mentioned my baking company's name (Kitchen Revolution FYI) and yes, it was my cake and cupcakes that they ate! I was so tickled. I love that my food gets around and that the word's (a bit) out that there's a vegan baking company out in Manila.

Sorry for the lack of posts on food. I was able to cook for myself (not for sale! how refreshing!) last weekend, it was very relaxing. I experimented with a lemon pound cake, hummus, and my first vegan mac and cheese based on a recipe from The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook subbing dijon mustard for the mustard powder, whole wheat flour for the flour, and orecchiette for the macaroni; instead of using typical bread crumbs, I used the only bag of crumbs in the house: a bag of communion host wafer crumbs. Short story: my mom bought the bag of crumbs from some Opus Dei center which makes communion hosts for mass; the remnants are bagged and marketed as bread crumbs. Needless to say that stuff is NOT good for mac and cheese. I was supposed to top the mac and cheese with bread crumbs and stick it in the oven for 30 minutes. Crumbs were supposed to turn golden brown, the host wafer crumbs stayed white. You can almost imagine it looks like shredded white cheese except it stuck to the roof of your mouth and tasted like... holy communion.

My weekend was very relaxing because I did not go out at all. I stuck around the Alabang area, hung around the house, finally got to watch some TV, and baby-sat the cats. Last Saturday was probably the most time I spent with the cats. I let them explore the garden and get up close with nature which was exactly what they needed since they've been cooped up in the laundry area because of my brother's allergies.

Cat face off!

So, on to Velma. I love all my cats, but Velma I hold close to my heart (don't tell the others!) partly because she's the lone girl cat and partly because she's such a fighter. She is much tinier than Lucky though they are the same age (she is about the same size as Francis, but she's 10 months old while he's about 5 months old) but she is stronger, faster, healthier, and I'll have to admit it -- smarter. Lucky if you're reading this, I'm sorry but it's true!

Velma came into our lives sometime end-April / beginning of May 2008. By that time we only had Lucky who was a few weeks old. This was also back when half my family lived in my lolo's (grandfather's) house while the other half lived in my tita's (aunt's) house as my house was being renovated. My lolo had a stray gray and white adult male cat living in his garage named Muning, Tagalog for "kitten" (pronounced moo-ning but with a short "oo"). Now Muning loved sleeping on top of the laundry machine in the garage which was right beside the kitchen door entrance. He was completely feral but was friendly with the tenants of the house. Often times Muning would leave his abode and stroll around the block (and perhaps the village?); one day he arrived home with this little calico cat in tow. Muning being the territorial spoiled cat forbade Little Calico Cat from eating his food or drinking his water; he didn't even share his laundry machine space! Poor Little Calico Cat was forced to hide around the corner where Muning couldn't see her. He would hiss and bare his teeth whenever she popped her head out, looking pitifully for some food. It's a wonder that she never left us despite mean Muning.

Now just as with Francis, I did not immediately take a liking to Little Calico Cat. I was busy being a mother to Lucky (my brothers and I were completely new at kitten parenthood) and busy at work. However it was my two brothers (again! they have such big hearts) who fell in love with her and would often bring Lucky out -- then an infant -- to play with her. Back then Little Calico Cat was very affectionate and very friendly. When she'd see you sit down on the lawn chair she would quickly hop on over to you and let you scratch her ears. Sometimes she'd hop back on the floor and rub her ears on your ankles.

Finally I warmed up to her, took her to the vet and had her checked out. Actually back then we all thought she was a he and I wanted to name her Sam, as in Samwise Gamgee. Brother #5 wanted to name him Vladimir, as in Dracula. The vet informed us she was a girl, so Vladimir was transformed into Velma.

Velma is a special cat because she only uses three legs. Her right arm is bum and we have no idea what caused that to happen. There are two schools of thought: [1] she was born with that congenital defect (and she's a runt) or [2] she was hit by something and her arm never healed. Her lacking a fourth leg never stopped her from doing what she wanted though. When wrestling with Lucky she always wins. She runs faster than him and jumps higher. It's almost as if her bum leg has given her extra feline powers of strength.

I'm quite glad that Lucky has Velma because Lucky would've been one spoiled cat if not for his female counterpart. They are almost like husband and wife, or maybe it's brother and sister? They are a perfect pair. Up to now Lucky doesn't know how to cover his poop in the litter box and it's Velma who gets in the box and cleans up his mess. Sometimes when I'm in the middle of cleaning out the box she hops back in and covers the poop up, as if embarrassed about it! When Lucky's feeling extra naughty he jumps and wrestles her but she oh-so-calmly wrestles back and pins him to the ground with one paw. Sometimes she's the mastermind of their naughtiness -- she opens closed doors with her left arm and lets Lucky through before she goes in. They are so sweet together though! At times I catch them sleeping together in one cat bed, Lucky usually lying against her leg, kinda like how a mom would allow her child to sleep on her lap.

Back when we first let her in the house she immediately became un-affectionate and pretty much suspicious of us. It was only after a few attempts when she'd let us catch her and pick her up. She seems to be content that she isn't the cat that everyone fawns over -- I wonder what goes through her head when she sees us baby Lucky. She is such an observant cat, very quiet and very shy. She's a quick learner too -- one time she discovered marbles being kept in a bowl in the living room. Often she would pick one from the pile (with her mouth), drop it on the floor, and proceed to play football with it. With only three legs. I think she also returned the marbles when she was done.

I don't have much stories to share about her only because she's a very private cat. She and Lucky are the best of friends but for some reason, she despises Francis. I don't know what it is... is it because Francis is un-neutered (he'll be neutered in a few days)? Francis has an outdoorsy smell to him? Every time they see each other she hisses at him.

We haven't had Velma spayed yet even though she's reached puberty and is in heat every other two weeks. I'm getting her blood test results tomorrow to see if her little body is strong enough to take the invasive surgery and the anesthesia. Apparently her bum leg may be a symptom of a weaker system. It breaks my heart whenever she yowls and screams because her body is telling her to mate while she's stuck in the house with neutered Lucky... She rubs herself on everyone and everything, and it's upsetting that she can't help that she does those things and can't control it at all. It's like she's writhing in pain and I can't do anything to stop it! Oh well, I hope the test comes out well, I really don't want her accidentally getting out into the wild and getting pregnant...

Oh yes, in another display of her awesome feline strength... Back when I got the cats collars two weekends ago, she was the only one who was able to semi-rip the collar in half after one day of wearing it. The collar holds on to dear life around her neck to this day while the collars on Francis and Lucky are still good as new.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

4 stories about cat #3

I've been meaning to blog about all my cats but I've always been putting this aside... I think it's because I want the post to be as perfect as possible and to reflect every anecdote and memory I have of them. Oh well, we're only human. We can't make perfect blogs...

I'd like to introduce you to my third cat. Let me tell you how he had 2 names before I put my foot down and named him Francis. My sister and brother #4  (I have to distinguish among brothers because I have six of them) went to the mall late one night in mid-October to get some coffee. Outside the coffeehouse they found a dusty looking orange tabby kitten who was being petted by some of the customers. They were smitten by him -- so smitten that they decided to take him home for ME to take care of. Yes me. 

Some trivia: it was my sister who found my first cat Lucky in an empty lot across my aunt's house and brought him home; he was 7-days old and she left him outside the house's gate in a shoebox instead of bringing him in the house so "his mom could find him." Long story short Lucky was abandoned twice (by his mother and by my sister) and bro #5 and I decided to take him in. Do you see where I'm going? She likes "rescuing" kittens and making me take care of them and spending my own money on them, because I'm vegan (bro #5 is vegan too) and vegans are like the Mother Teresa of poor abandoned cats.

Anyway so my sister and bro #4 brought the third cat home and left him in the laundry area of my house where the two other cats sleep. This was at around midnight or 1am. In the morning I wake up to bro #6 exclaiming excitedly that there was a third kitten in the house and no one knew where he came from. Sister and bro #4 never admitted that they were the ones who stuck cat #3 in the house because both my parents were adamant about no more cats.

As with the first two cats I did not welcome cat #3 right then and there. I usually have to put a wall between myself and animals because I get attached and then heartbroken when something bad happens to them. Vegans especially need walls because they're more sensitive and aware to animal cruelty that occurs everyday in every crevice in the world; I was pretty angsty and depressed all of last week because of the can't-keep-the-cats-in-the-house issue and other pet cruelty cases that's happening locally (google "Cagayan de Oro animal cruelty" if you dare) and among my coworkers in the office, but that's a whole different story. 

I guess what made me open (it pretty much provoked me actually) to loving cat #3 was a piece of information I heard... Back when we didn't know who brought cat #3 home I was told that it was indeed my sister who did the deed; when after a week or so I refused to acknowledge the cat's presence or respond to bro #6's pleas to keep the cat she told a certain someone that she brought him home because she knew (assumed! but I guess she knew me) I'd take care of him, because he was a stray; apparently I'm not a cat lover and neither am I vegan if I didn't care. I was so furious when I heard this because I hate it when people assume I'd do things "just because". Oh and it didn't help that my sister who neglects her dog (that's another wall I have up if I want to keep my sanity and the peace in the house) accuses me of not loving cats because I was ignoring the cat she brought home . Well I certainly didn't want to be that person my sister accused me of so the next weekend I immediately brought cat #3 to the vet. And you know the rest: I fell in love with him and now he has his own blog post.

So that's story #1, here's story #2: the story of cat #3's name. In the beginning he was christened by my sister as Kwek-kwek, which to be honest sounds funny but is the most unfit name for anyone. Kwek-kwek is a local street food made up of deep fried battered hard boiled eggs, usually of chickens or quails. I know, disgusting right? It was funny to say out loud especially when calling a cat. Obviously kwek-kwek is not vegan and I refused for this cat to be named after deep fried eggs. His second name was Silverstein as volunteered by bro #4, which makes absolutely no sense because... the cat's not Jewish and it's such a western name. 

I settled for a very respectable yet noble name: Francis (it was a draw between Francis and Cupcake but I knew Francis would never forgive me for naming him after a dessert, especially since he's such a tough kitty). For those who don't know Catholic saints, St Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals. It is only on the Sunday following St Francis' feastday on October 4 that Catholic churches open their doors to pets for mass and blessing (the rest of the year the Church have no say on factory farming, breeders and pet mills, animal testing and other animal rights issues, which pretty much means they don't object to them). I  found a lovely poster on the blessing of animals in Eastwood last October which may have inspired me to name cat #3 after Francis. I think now my favorite saint is St Francis... legend has it that he was vegetarian, he would preach to animals as well as to people and he thanked his donkey on his death bed. See, how cool is St Francis? He also shunned a life of riches and hedonism for the poor life of a friar. I hope that one day, some day, it becomes Catholic law not to use, hurt, and kill animals and that veganism becomes part of Catholicism's basic tenets... One can dream...

But I digress. Francis was found with the skin and fur of the tip of his tail removed -- there was even a bit of tail bone sticking out of it! For a week or so we swabbed the tip of his tail with hydrogen peroxide and Betadine. Both of my parents refused for him to live in the house so he lives in our garage.

Francis is one of the most lovable and affectionate cats you'll ever meet. My first two cats think they're above everyone and don't go to you when you call them. Francis not only responds to his name, he will run to you when you call it and when he sees you. He is such a love-hungry cat! He loooves it when you rub his ears and under his chin. He loves to rest on your lap and have his fur stroked. He would meow when he's content, when he's hungry, and when he wants some love.

Now I remember why I decided to blog about him right now, even before blogging about Velma, cat #2. I was busy baking brownies and a cake before dinner when my sister called my attention to Francis who was out in our terrace. He was on the outdoor bar table which is right under a window. The window has a slide-down screen and there was a bit of gap between the screen and the window frame. He was meowing so pitifully and his arm would go under the screen, frantically looking for a way in the house where it was warm and there were people to pet him. Of course my heart went out to him; I removed my apron and went outside to hang out for him for a bit. 

Oh how I wish he was an indoor cat! Before the whole cat-allergies issue we would often let Francis inside the house to get acquainted with Lucky and Velma (and to hope in vain that my parents will allow him to live indoors). When you open the door to the garage he would immediately enter the house and refuse to go out. Sometimes we'd give up (or conveniently forget) that he was in so we'd let him stay in. I remember one time, really early in the morning (a few hours after midnight) I woke up because someone jumped on my bed and was walking on top of me. It turned out to be Francis. I was too sleepy to bring him back to the garage so I told him something like, "You can stay in my room, just be quiet okay?" Remember that this kitten lives in the garage and is very much a street cat. He is neve
r bathed because we fear his claws. Of course he didn't listen and proceeded to nip my ankles. I ended up leaving him in the laundry area with the 2 other cats. Who let him in? Brother #2.

Here is story #3: How Francis melted brother #2's heart of stone (towards animals). On Lucky's first night with us in March (remember, abandoned by the mom and only 7 day sold) I wanted him to sleep in my room so I could keep an eye on him. My mom and brother #2 refused to let him sleep upstairs let alone in the house. He was such a cat-o-phobe! This is why brother #5 and I ended up camping in the living room so we could attend to Lucky. Fast forward to October: brother #2 got so smitten over Francis. He loved that he came home from work to Francis who was so eager and so happy to see him. Even before he stepping out of the car Francis was waiting for him outside his door. He loved that Francis was so affectionate and playful. He fell in love with the little guy and even begged my parents to let him stay in
 doors. What a change! He still conveniently forgets that he would let him in the house and not bring him out right after. Brother #2 experienced the simple joy of having a pet and loved it.

Let me tell you more about Francis (story #4). He is such a spunky cat. He's lived outdoors all his life and is quite the survivor. He's a pretty respectable cat too. Instead of pooping in the garden or in the plants in the garage he actually crosses the street to the park to poop in the bushes. He knows how to cross the street confidently and without any accident. After having a fill of cat food he would settle on your lap and just let you rub his ears and his chin and stroke his fur. He doesn't pick fights with the other cats and is a good defender. 

The only photo I have of 3 of my cats: Velma (the little head peering from the top of the stairs) and Lucky (the one 
who can't look at his mini-me without hissing) hated Francis (walking down the stairs) back in the day.

Back when he was only 1 or 2 months old Lucky and he were mortal enemies. Lucky hated Francis because he was a completely new cat. Maybe Lucky knew that Francis knew how to win people's hearts while he (Lucky) was a snob. Often we'd try to make them play in the shoe area of our house (nearest area from the garage door) but Lucky would just hiss and occasionally paw at Francis' face. Francis would retreat every time Lucky would get close to him but one time he hissed and pawed back. What a fighter! After a few weeks of these play dates Lucky and Francis became BFF's. Lucky knew every time Francis was let in the house and he would gallop down the stairs to stare at him and to play. I think Lucky secretly respects and looks up to Francis because he's street smart and a survivor (while Lucky is a house cat who would probably run into the open arms of a catnapper looking for new lab animals for animal testing). Also I think Lucky's tired of hanging out with Velma (who's actually quite jealous of Lucky's and Francis's BFF status) because she never wants to wrestle with him and she always wins when they do.

Anyway, that's pretty much it. Now you know Francis's life story up til today.

* All photos except the last one, courtesy of bro #4 aka Jose Gonzalez

Monday, January 12, 2009

What makes me sick with anger...

...Is that we can't extend our sympathy and compassion to animals other than human beings.

We live in a third world country but we are still human beings, "superior" to other creatures. All I can say is... what bullshit.

Last year CARA (Compassion and Responsibility for Animals), a local animal welfare group found 29 massacred cats and kittens that were kept in a shelter in Dasmarinas Village, Makati. For those who don't know, Dasmarinas is essentially the Beverley Hills of the Philippines. CARA had trapped, spayed and neutered 29 cats and kittens that were kept in cages outdoors to recuperate after the surgery. According to this article when CARA came to check on them, they were all found shot by air guns and none survived. No one claimed responsibility.

This slaughter happened a few days before Christmas 2007.

And we call ourselves a Catholic country.

This other article recalls of how stray cats are treated by us humans. Some crazy people actually throw boiling water or oil on stray cats. One compassionate lady would give food and water to stray cats in her area in Urdaneta (another wealthy village) but some crazier people put poison in the water. Let's just say that... drinking insecticide-laced water will make you die a slow and painful death, both for humans and non-humans.

FYI, all these terrible acts are against Republic Act 8485, or the
Animal Welfare Act of 1998.

If you recall, I blogged about having to give up my cats a few posts back. I'm really having a difficult time finding them homes. Seriously, there is no one who can take them in. It's not like in Northern America / Australia where it's so pet friendly and so rescued animal friendly. The Philippines has issues with animals, specifically cats, specifically non-purebreds. People would rather have dogs over cats, purebreds over non-purebreds, it's heartbreaking...

People keep telling me that I'm sure to find good homes for them but deep down I know the future isn't looking so bright for the cats. I know only of a few who are sympathetic to animal welfare (none can't take cats in as of the moment -- thank you for your efforts though). Everyone else hates animals, or hates cats, or only wants purebreds. It really makes me sick with anger. No one gives a shit about animals.

It (cat and dog overpopulation) is such a BIG problem here and I hate that my own family can't even support me with trying to solve it (completely unrelated to the whole allergies issue). I told my family last night that what I really wanted to do was to cage stray cats in the area, spay and neuter them, then release them back into the streets to stop the cat overpopulation. I'm trying to do some good in this world and all they could tell me is "Instead of trying to take care of animals why don't you take care of your fellow human beings?" EVERYONE is doing something for people but NO ONE is doing anything for animals. We're not the only creatures God created. I'm sure God is sick with anger too when he sees how we treat his animals.

This is why I'm the crazy vegan cat lady.

To think that we're supposed to be the "superior" beings. I've heard true stories of animals willing to risk their lives to protect humans (whether the humans are their owners or are strangers) but for humans willing to risk their lives for animals, nil.

PS Please don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against people who can't have pets - it isn't for everyone due to certain circumstances like allergies or lack of money or whatever. I just have something against people who would directly and indirectly cause harm to them... like caging them for life, or poisoning them, or neglecting to take them to the vet, or abandoning them because they realize that they never wanted a pet in the first place. I have issues with buying pets from breeders and mills too - this is such a sad industry.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

SF is vegan haven / heaven

Wow. All I can say is, wow.

San Francisco and the Bay area = nirvana for vegans.

I guess trying to be vegan in the Philippines makes trying to be vegan anywhere else a LOT easier. Seriously, it was too easy.

Most of the regular restaurants had veg options. For instance...

This is a VEGAN sandwich. And it was awesome. French baguette with tomato sauce, bell peppers, pepperoncini, mushrooms, olives, and SOY cheese. Check out Goat Hill Pizza at 715 Harrison at 3rd St, SF -- any dish with dairy cheese can be substituted with soy cheese.

This establishment is so-so when it comes to vegan-friendliness. 21st Amendment at 563 2nd St, SF has a veggie burger that contains egg so I opted for their garden salad with beans. One thing I've noticed in American restaurants is that garden salad does not necessarily = leaves + tomatoes. This one had shaved fennel, sliced radish and cherry tomatoes.

Spending time with my American cousins has made me more appreciative of non-Tequila-and-Kahlua-liquor. Here is 21st Amendment's Pomegranate Cider. It looks like liquid gold here, but it's actually a light pink. Nice.

I'm not much of a photographer 'cept when I'm in a kitchen hence the lack of restaurant food photos. I am a HUGE fan of Mexican food (cilantro / wansoy is my herb of choice and I can eat guacamole all day every day) and any Mexican restaurant has a veggie burrito with beans. I think I ate Mexican every 2 or 3 days.

There are 2 restaurant memories that I will treasure forever as a vegan.

I think I just about died and went to heaven when I visited Maggie Mudd at 903 Cortland Ave, SF. It isn't 100% vegan but it has a menu of vegan ice cream, soy- and coconut milk-based. SUNDAES CAN BE MADE VEGAN.

I got to go to this place thanks to Janine, a former high school classmate of mine who is now based in San Francisco. I think I bugged her to death to take me to Maggie Mudd (and bribed her with free ice cream too) and it did not disappoint.
The photos look like crap because it's all white, but let me explain. On the left is Janine's choice: 1 scoop of oatmeal cookie dough ice cream in a waffle bowl (which they make in the premises as you wait!) with marshmallow sauce and whipped cream. Take note that Janine couldn't finish her 1 scoop because it was about 3/4-1 cup worth of ice cream.

On the right is my choice which I consumed on my own with no traces left whatsoever. It was a fudge brownie with 2 huge scoops of ice cream (oatmeal cookie dough and The Dubliner -- coffee ice cream with Irish Whiskey), with marshmallow sauce, whipped cream, and almonds.

OMG is all I can say. Since I turned vegetarian I have only had 5 vegan ice cream experiences.
  1. Strawberry soy ice cream at Chimara, a "neo vegan" cafe in Greenbelt (neo vegan in quotations because they serve fish -- wtf indeed) which sucked. If you are a vegan based in Manila or are just plain curious about non-dairy ice cream, please do not try Chimara's because it will dash your hopes and dreams of what delicious soy ice cream is supposed to taste like. If you need an ice cream fix I suggest you puree a frozen banana or two -- this is a good sub.
  2. Coconut "tofu" ice cream at a vegan grocery store in Sydney, Australia. Really good.
  3. Vanilla soy ice cream at Janine's apartment -- sadly she's not vegan but she's lactose intolerant. Soo... sorry for her food insensitivities, but yey for saving cow's milk for the calves?
  4. Maggie Mudd -- to be treasured forever. and ever.
  5. Vanilla soy ice cream at my aunt's place, acquired from Trader Joe's.

I dragged my 3 brothers (well 1 was vegan, so I dragged 2) to Herbivore at 531 Divisadero, SF (between Fell and Hayes) and it was amazing. The restaurant had a FULLY VEGAN menu from appetizer to entree to dessert. I almost cried stepping into the place (I almost cried when my rental was in the process of being towed in front of the restaurant, but that's another story for another post).

Actually, I'll leave my Herbivore raves for another post. It deserves its own post. :D Let me just say that... I wish I could open a Manila version of Maggie Mudd and Herbivore. One day... some day... Hopefully in 5-10 years.

Michael, if you're reading this, you open a vegan ice cream parlor and I'll open a vegan restaurant. Together we can rule the world -- er, take over the Manila restaurant scene -- and convince omnivores to move over to the vegan dark side.

Hope everyone had a happy cruelty-free holiday!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Away for the holidays + sad news about my cats

Hmmm so I guess my weekly blog posts turned out to be a bust... but it's the holidays, so I should be excused, right?

I miss blogging! But everything's been so busy and crazy and I haven't been able to upload photos to my laptop. Right now I am in the United States spending the holidays with my family in the Bay area. I really should blog about it because: it. seriously. is. a. legendary. Christmas. It's been the best holiday so far, meeting up with my 2 (out of 6) brothers that have been living on other sides of the earth the past year as well as spending time with my cousins from my mom's side who live in California. My whole family hasn't been in the States in 6 1/2 years, hence the legendary status.

Here's a rundown of issues about this trip so far:
  1. Finding a vegan winter coat was almost impossible (vegan = not wool, not containing down or feathers, not leather)
  2. How we were able to surprise my 2 brothers with our visit -- while wearing graphic tees with their faces on them!
  3. First trip to Lake Tahoe, first time to see snow, first time to sleep in a cabin that had the temperature of 40 deg F (5 deg C) because of broken heater, first time to snowboard
  4. How San Francisco is so Goddamn easy to be vegan... I'm jealous of all you Northern Californians, seriously
  5. First time to eat at a fully vegan restaurant
  6. First time to eat a Tofurky roast for Christmas dinner and Tofurky sausages for breakfast
I expect to be visiting a VEGAN ICE CREAM PARLOR soon and I am so excited! Will definitely have to mention that one.

Will be back home by the 7th of January! You will find my next blog post shortly after I arrive.

Happy holidays everyone!

PS I miss Pinoy weather where it's sunny year round and you can go out in tsinelas... My Pinoy skin is not used to North American coldness.

PPS I just remembered: today is my vegan anniversary! I have been vegan for exactly 1 year today! I turned vegetarian on October 8 2007 and vegan on December 31 2008.

PPPS I have sad news about my cats :( We recently found out that my youngest brother is allergic to the cats we adopted. He gets violently sick every month and apparently it's because of the cats. My mom is putting her foot down and is demanding that they all (I have 3) have to leave the house. Either find them new homes or turn them to the streets. This saddens me immensely as I consider these cats my babies. I rescued them from a cruel world and now I'm forced in a position to give up on them and be like any other cruel human they have faced. The thing is, Manila is very unfriendly to moggies / non-purebreed cats. Actually Manila is unfriendly to cats in general. I have no idea how to find them good homes. 

My mom said one option is for them to live outdoors. My first cat Lucky has been human-raised since he was 7 days old and is completely unaccustomed to the outdoors. He goes out sometimes to play in the garden but always under human supervision. He has no means to survive in the outdoors... He may run into the road and get into an accident... he may get into fights with other cats... I think I would get a heart attack if I come home to the roadkill remains of one of my cats...

Velma is our only female cat. She is unspayed because of her leg deformity -- her right front leg is unusable and is a 3-legged cat wonder (see a cute picture of her here). Turning her to the streets would be disastrous... Because of her deformity the vet said she can't be spayed (something about her immune system or the risk of the surgery) and mustn't get pregnant. I'll be consulting with the vet again regarding the spaying issue. I can't turn an unspayed female cat into the streets in full conscience.

I haven't blogged yet about my 3rd cat, Francis. I will dedicate a whole post on him soon. He is an orange tabby like Lucky and he came into our lives in October. He lives in our garage right now because my mom didn't want any more cats. He is completely street smart and will do fine as an outdoor cat... When he first arrived we tried to get him, Lucky and Velma to be playmates but Lucky and Velma thought they were too cool to play with him. They'd hiss at and ignore each other. Now they are all BFF's especially Lucky. I think Lucky enjoys playing with another male who's not as good as wrestling as he is (believe it or not Velma is an awesome wrestler and runner, despite her 3 leggedness). Francis is just about 3-4 months old while Lucky and Velma are 9 months old.

Anyway, I ask for your prayers regarding the cats... When I go back home I will be forced to address this issue. Have the cats live outdoors, subject to other street cats, cruel humans, and cruel drivers, or find them permanent homes and have them separated from me completely? What would you do in my position?

Would you have the courage to give up your own babies? 
Related Posts with Thumbnails