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Vegan Sins

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Tomorrow I start my last two weeks of my freshman year of college! But with that, I am also completely swamped by homework, final papers, preparing for finals, attending meetings for events next fall (already!), and figuring out my summer work and living plans; I haven’t had a whole lot of extra time, and when I do, I usually spend it napping away my sleep deprivation rather than typing out a nice, thoughtful blog post. That being said, tonight I have a moment as I wait for my laundry to finish drying to revisit my recent trip to Austin, Texas (note to self: never do laundry on Sunday nights ever again since apparently everyone in the entire building also chooses Sunday night to do their laundry).

Last weekend I met up with my parents and my dad’s side of the family for my cousin’s wedding in Austin. I had a little anxiety about the trip, since I knew Texas is the land of cheesy Tex-Mex and meaty BBQ, but I was also excited to see what traveling vegan style would be like. It turns out that traveling vegan is actually pretty easy when going to larger cities, since usually you can find a vegan restaurant in there somewhere. Upon arrival we went to this wonderful vegan place called Counter Culture where I happily devoured a vegan pizza spread with rosemary hummus, sweet potatoes, spinach, and cashew cream. As we left, I noticed a card near the door labeled “Vegan Guide to Austin,” which listed all of the vegan restaurants in town. GENIUS!! Every city needs one of these! We grabbed one on the way out and it turned out to be quite helpful for the rest of the trip. I’m now planning ways to make one of these for Salt Lake, since we have quite the assortment of vegan options.

However, I also sinned: I was not 100% vegan, despite the lovely Vegan Guide and Austin’s array of vegan options. That’s the thing about weddings, they usually aren’t catered to vegans. Luckily, the bride and groom are both vegetarian, so I wasn’t completely stuck, but I still indulged in an impressive amount of dairy with butternut squash ravioli, an avocado bisque soup, and, sad but true, 5 cheese mac ‘n’ cheese. The mac ‘n’ cheese was completely unnecessary since I had the ravioli as well as the soup and some roasted veggies, but honestly I had already accepted my non-veganness for the night and it was just sitting there pleading to me to be eaten, so I could only agree and proceed to pile it on my plate. Also, i indulged in not one, but two, cake pops for dessert (they are so small, one just wouldn’t cut it). Yikes.

But guess what? It’s okay! One day full of some delicious, dairy-laden vegetarian food may have momentarily increased my environmental impact, but it also allowed me to enjoy a wonderful time with my family without freaking out about what I would be able to eat. Veganism is very important to me, but flexibility is also crucial. We are still all humans having a very imperfect human experience, and no matter how set we are on our goals and how perfect we would like to be, we also have to take a step back and appreciate the big picture for a minute. One day sacrificed for a pleasant celebration of love with my family is worth it to me. There will always be a tomorrow to start fresh and get back to that lovely plant diet.

On a completely different note, since I haven’t blogged in forever, here are a few noteworthy moments from the past week or so:

  1. I gave my mini “pitch” of a presentation on veganism for the Westminster Thinks Big coordinators on Thursday! It went very well and it seemed like they were all very excited about my topic, but there are also many students who want to give talks. I should find out by the end of the month.
  2. My summer job with the Outdoor Rec program is in the final stages of planning, so I should hear back this week sometime! I am so excited to get all this good trip leader experience over the summer and get my foot in the door with the program in general. It seems like our directors are pretty stoked about it, so prospects are looking good!
  3. Yesterday I did the SLC Marathon Bike Tour with Bridger and his dad, where we got to ride the SLC marathon course before the runners started. Our start time was 6am, and Bridger and I had to get up at 4:30 so that we had enough time to ride our bikes from campus to the start. It was a really lovely way to see some neighborhoods of SLC that I hadn’t been to before, especially as the sun rose over the mountains. To top it off we went and got an almond milk chai latte and tea afterwards in downtown.
  4. Tonight I went to Evergreen House, which is a bit of a hole in the wall asian food joint. However, they are known for their vegan sushi, so Audrey, Bridger, and I all ordered some rolls to see what the hype was all about. Turns out, the hype is completely justified.

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Vegan Valentines

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

I did not have a traditional Valentine’s Day today, but I definitely had a great day anyway. Part of the greatness of my day is due to vegan pizza from The Pie, which is one of the most famous pizza places in Salt Lake, especially for the college crowd. Part of being a true college student is eating some really really really good thick pizza every once in a while, and normally, going vegan would really hinder that. But not at The Pie! Audrey and I ordered a vegan veggie delight pizza, which consisted of marinara, vegan cheez, and a pile of yummy veggies. This was my first experience with melty vegan cheez, and it was pretty positive! The taste is quite comparable, but the texture is a little interesting. When melted, it reminds me a bit of cheese sauce out of a can (which could be further proof of how unreal that cheese sauce stuff is), except that it definitely is shredded cheez, not sauce, before baking. But when combined with a bunch of other toppings, the cheez texture is hardly noticeable and the pizza is still on a godly level of deliciousness.

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Another highlight of my day was completing my first ever lead climb. I know this is un-vegan, but it is also a huge milestone for me, so I think it is totally worth reporting. For those non-climbers out there, lead climbing is when you climb up a rock trailing the rope, and you clip the rope in as you go. This is as opposed to top-rope climbing, where the rope is already anchored at the top of the rock before you climb. Lead climbing results in a lot more responsibility safety-wise for the climber, and falling can be a lot more serious (although you still won’t die or get too injured hopefully). Anyway, I lead a 5.8 climb up Big Cottonwood canyon this morning with my friend and climbing partner Charlie. I was so stoked!! The goal is to climb Cathedral Peak this June with my parents, so today I made one huge step towards that goal.

All in all, between climbing achievements and heavenly slices of vegan pizza, my Valentine’s Day was a success! And it just goes to show that there are so many ways to find happiness when you are surrounded by good friends, food, and mountains; you don’t need a bouquet of roses to be content.