Since 2007, my husband and I have been traveling full time around the United Sates in our 5th-wheel trailer. After retiring from government jobs in California, and after several years of considering our post-retirement options, we concluded that life on the road was the life for us. With everything we own trailing behind us, we embarked on this grand adventure with nowhere in particular to go, and all the rest of our lives to get there. We would like to travel to all 50 states eventually and get to know this country better than we ever could if we just stayed in one place. There are pros and cons to this lifestyle, and we have had to let some things go in order to reap the benefits of free wheeling - or, in our case, 5th wheeling!
Living full time in a trailer with no fixed residence is unusual to most people. Just like following a vegan diet. Meld these two components, and you end up representing a very small percent of the population indeed. While this isn't a problem for me, I do understand that it can be for others, more so in certain parts of the country than others. My intention is to be the best example possible for each aspect of what some consider curious life choices. Rather than alienate people, I would like ignite a spark of interest, allowing them to explore other approaches.
Keeping this ideal in mind is crucial when trying to find your way around a new city. Everything is new, getting lost is the norm, and the local customs are a mystery. Respect and kindness become essential tools when asking for directions, visiting neighborhood gatherings, and especially when trying to derive a vegan meal from a standard menu. So when my husband and I were essentially kicked out of a local café recently after attempting to order what seemed to be a vegan option from the menu, I was bewildered to say the least.
When looking for restaurants in a new locality, we look for the most vegan-friendly, or at least vegan-possible, places to eat. On this particular day we found a small café with what appeared to be a varied menu offering soups, salads, and a falafel that would be vegan if they held the feta cheese. First we asked about the soup of the day, and were told rather abruptly that no soup is available in the summer. We decided the falafel wraps would make a good lunch, and asked for two, hold the cheese.
We were told, again, rather abruptly, that they couldn't make us the wraps because they didn't have all the ingredients available. Pre-wrapped, non-vegan sandwiches in the cooler were pointed out to us as alternatives. No thank-you, my husband said politely, we were looking for a vegan option, we'll try another place.
Things turned decidedly sour at this point. As we turned to leave, we were told in no uncertain terms to, yes, go somewhere else! Go on! Go to Starbucks! Our hostess was clearly angry and for no apparent reason other than we weren't happy with the choices they had available. The café was crowded and as we walked out the door, I felt all eyes upon us. It was hard to hold my head up, although I knew I had done nothing wrong.
Still, I'm not sorry for the experience. I know our behavior did not warrant the kind of response we got. For us, if not for all involved in the exchange, it was an opportunity to practice the art of kindness, when so sorely tempted to do otherwise. If I could, I would go back to the café and share some of my homemade Peanut Butter Oatmeal cookies with our proprietor to show there are no hard feelings.
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup quick oats
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup ground flax seed
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2/3 cup creamy style natural peanut butter
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
Optional: 1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips, nuts, or dried fruit
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: flour, oats, brown sugar, flax seed, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a medium bowl mix together the wet ingredients: apple sauce, maple syrup, peanut butter and vanilla extract.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix well. The dough will be rather stiff at this point, but just keep mixing and eventually all the ingredients will come together.
- Add optional chocolate chips, nuts, or dried fruit.
- Drop 1 Tablespoon mounds of the dough onto a non-stick cookie sheet.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool for 1-2 minutes, then remove to cooling rack.