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A Vegan in Cattle Country

Posted Apr 10 2012 5:42am

“Just so you know, the food this weekend won’t really be…well…vegan friendly.”

Thus spoke Rachel after inviting me to come home with her to Lebanon,* Virginia for Easter Weekend .

*Pronounced ‘Leb-nun.’ (I had a lesson in the car.) So what’s a vegan (albeit one “with benefits”) to do when she wants to spend the weekend in cattle country?

1. Pack snacks.

My bag of tricks included Trader Joe’s guacamole hummus (as good as it sounds), Bear Naked Trail Mix left from March’s Foodie Pen Pal swap, apples, and this Metcalfe’s Skinny Topcorn that Jemma mailed me as part of her UK Blogger Exchange. I couldn’t decide if I liked it our not, as I wanted more salt on the corn itself…but the dark chocolate coating was addictive and crunchy…and I polished off the whole bag over the weekend, so I guess it was pretty good after all. :) And one of those apples saved me, as, shortly following this photo op, Rach and I turned to each other and said, “Dude, I’m hungry,” almost simultaneously… …but with another two hours before sustenance was offered, eating this apple on a back of a pick-up truck was like a gift from hunger heaven.

2. Bring in reinforcements.

Yes, I arrived with two of my own veggie burgers in tow. No, I was not afraid to cook them and eat them while there were chili dogs to be consumed around me.

3. Focus on what she CAN eat.

Obviously, I had to make some slight exceptions to veganism, but part of the reason I want to be a vegan with benefits is so I can face a good ol’ southern Easter spread like this…. ….and still find something to eat. [Ignoring the possibility of bacon and butter in the preparation--and the whole egg thing--for a minute.]

Oh, and so I can eat Hershey’s cake.

Of course, there was tons of fruit at Easter lunch, and I certainly ate my fair share, and spoonfuls (literal spoonfuls) of homemade strawberry jam. I also was able to happily sample from the miniature pickle bar Rach’s mother set up for lunch on Saturday. Of course I tried copious amounts of all three home-canned varieties: bread and butter, dill, and 14-Day. [They were my favorite. They have a step for every day of the two weeks. And they are delicious.] Also, were you aware that the Country Bacon Quaker Instant Grits are actually vegan? Or that topping them with Brown Sugar Quaker Oat Squares and a banana was surprisingly delicious?

4. Be grateful to her host and hostess for trying to meet her (dietary) needs.

Rach’s mom let us have a free-for-all on the produce department to make a salad for Saturday night’s supper. She also cut me a separate, non-buttered-and-garlicked, piece of supersoft Italian bread, and bought a jar of vegan-friendly Emeril’s Homestyle Marinara so I didn’t have to worry about her homemade meat sauce. P.S. That Emeril’s sauce is delicious.

P.P.S. I need to go write my thank-you note as soon as I schedule this post.

The random zucchini I bought and ate raw and sliced might have been a little alarming to Rach’s mom, but her insistence that I take it home with me was a perfect “I’m still really full from Easter lunch but I also need a little something” snack on the way home Sunday night.

And the last thing a vegan in a land of most-definitely-not-vegans should do?

5. Not worry so much about it.

Can we talk again for a second about the blackberry champagne Rach’s dad made? And how after I decided pairing it with chocolate would be really good, we were able to scrounge up a milk chocolate fun-sized Hershey bar…just right for tasting?

By the way, that sparkling wine is called ‘Pagne Medicine. Place your orders for upcoming weddings, anniversaries…and weeknights (?) now.
(That was an entirely gratuitous scenic view for you. Jealous that I live in Virginia?)*
*If you’re not, you should be…especially because of this . ;)
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