Tag Archives: chicago

Chicago’s VEGANMANIA and a trip to Soul Vegetarian

When I landed in O’hare on October 10th you could feel the anticipation for Veganmainia in the air. I took the El to meet my good friend Becky at one of those crazy 5 way intersections that they have in Chicago to confuse the hell out of everybody. After searching for a couple blocks I could tell we were hot on the trail.

As we approached the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse the air was palpable with excitement for the celebration, finally we saw the big banner and knew we were about to be at the vegan event of 2009.The idea of veganmania was to celebrate Chicago’s vegan scene by having lots of free food from area businesses, a fashion gallery, an art gallery, speakers, and different activist groups all in one place. We got there a little late so a lot of the free food was gone but I did get to try cookies from the Chicago Diner (crunchy), chili with Match Meats (unfortunately burned but has potential), Chocolates from Cru Cacao (healthy tasting), 5 different cheeses from Ste Martaen cheeses (they had olive!!!) and some collards from Soul Veg ( mmm, southern). I also got some lemon lime lip balm that I love from Ethically Engineered. It was funny because every single booth that we went to mentioned that their product was vegan. In fact in the big hall you could hear the word “vegan” over and over in the general murmer.They also had musicians and dancers and I learned how vegans rock Chicago,It was a lot of fun and we laughed a lot, next year I want to volunteer to do their sound and my friend Becky wants to make baked goods! After sampling a lot of food but not having a whole meal we decided to drive across town to go to the actual Soul Vegetarian East. It is an entirely vegan restaurant that has an emphasis in soul food. We couldn’t decide what to order because everything sounded really good. First we got the tofu bites with barbecue sauce which were a meal in themselves. In a word; succulent. I have never had tofu that was so crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside, it was delicious. The barbecue sauce was really good too.For my entre I got corn on the cob (you have to eat corn in Illinois) and the Southern Seitan BBQ sandwich. There was also another BBQ sandwich but this one was promised to be on a whimsical roll. My roll wasn’t very whimsical but it was an awesome sandwich. There was peanut butter in the sauce! I will have to try that. When we first arrived we decided we were going to eat light so we could get dessert but it turned out we couldn’t control ourselves in front of all that protein and we went home stuffed. I loved the restaurant, everyone seemed so relaxed and though it took forever to get our check it was one of those places where you don’t mind whiling away the hours. We went into a food coma and missed my friend’s art opening but then we made it to my other friend’s 30th birthday party. We got him a balloon that played “rapper’s delight” when you hit it! Look how happy he is!Happy Birthday Borgia! I love you Chicago, I’ll be back when it isn’t so cold that I am worried my eyes will freeze in their sockets.

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President-Elect Obama

For the first time in my life I am truly proud of my country and hopeful for America. I can’t even believe it!

These feelings that I haven’t had since I was a child, that maybe we are not on a sinking ship of people that hate each other.

Maybe the elections aren’t always rigged. Maybe there isn’t a group of major coporations that decided how the country runs and which puppets win elections

Not only did a half-Kenyan, half-Kansan Chicago university professor, constitutional scholar AND community organizer win the election BUT the fundamentalists went down for the first time in a big way. In South Dakota they tried to ban abortion and birth control. It went down. In Colorado they tried to give a fertilized embryo all the rights of a citizen and it went down (oh and explain to me again why a small blood clot should have more rights than my best friend, a dog) and a horrible woman in in North Dakota, named Elizabeth Dole tried to paint her Christian opponent as an atheist in one of the worst campaign ads I have ever seen, and she went down. There were, of course some major set-backs. California decided to write discrimination and hate into their constitution and deny people, of all things, the right to have a family.

But I don’t see how anyone could not have been moved by Obama’s speech. It was a return to an America that I have only read about, where people work together in a democracy for the common good of the people.

Watching the celebrations for the election was like watching the end of the new Return of the Jedi where the Evil Empire is brought down and tyranny comes to an end. Who would have thought reality would have resembled Return of the Jedi?

The Speech

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.

We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It’s the answer that led those who’ve been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America.

A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious call from Senator McCain.

Senator McCain fought long and hard in this campaign. And he’s fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader.

I congratulate him; I congratulate Governor Palin for all that they’ve achieved. And I look forward to working with them to renew this nation’s promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart, and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton … and rode with on the train home to Delaware, the vice president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years … the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation’s next first lady … Michelle Obama.

Sasha and Malia … I love you both more than you can imagine. And you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us …to the new White House.

And while she’s no longer with us, I know my grandmother’s watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight. I know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my sister Maya, my sister Alma, all my other brothers and sisters, thank you so much for all the support that you’ve given me. I am grateful to them.

And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe … the unsung hero of this campaign, who built the best — the best political campaign, I think, in the history of the United States of America.

To my chief strategist David Axelrod … who’s been a partner with me every step of the way.

To the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics … you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you’ve sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to the cause.

It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy … who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep.

It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not perished from the Earth.

This is your victory.

And I know you didn’t do this just to win an election. And I know you didn’t do it for me.

You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime — two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.

Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us.

There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after the children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage or pay their doctors’ bills or save enough for their child’s college education.

There’s new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.

I promise you, we as a people will get there.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!

OBAMA: There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can’t solve every problem.

But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it’s been done in America for 221 years — block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night.

This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.

It can’t happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.

Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers.

In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.

Let’s remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity.

Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.

And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.

To those — to those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.

That’s the true genius of America: that America can change. Our union can be perfected. What we’ve already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight’s about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons — because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America — the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that We Shall Overcome. Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.

And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.

Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves — if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.

This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.

Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.

VeganMoFo Chicago O’Hare International Airport- A Vegan Oasis in the today’s often unfriendly skies

Lately, I have been really frustrated with air travel in the USA, there was time not long ago when flying seemed somewhat sophisticated and at the very least an exciting part of your journey, not just something to get through as quickly as possible. Things had already started to change at the turn of the century but when some religious fundamentalists decided to ram a few planes into a few building flying got decidedly worse. Not only are we now forced to take off our shoes, divide our condiments and toiletries into 3 oz bottles but we are also led into winding lines to have security remove items that I find very necessary to travel, a bottle of wine, water in my reusable bottle, or coffee brewed at my home and mixed with almond milk and agave nectar.

I hate flying now. A few weeks ago I flew from Austin Texas to St. Louis Missouri and due to circumstances beyond my control I made it to the airport hungry and with no food! The Austin Airport is great for many different reasons and one aspect you have to give them credit for is that there are no national chains that aren’t Austin Homegrown. We even have outposts from our own bars that have live music at the airport. The downside of this is that Amy’s Ice Cream, The Salt Lick Barbeque, Matt’s El Rancho, and all the rest don’t have anything close to a vegan option. Don’t worry dairy fans! There is plenty of cheesy, eggy options up and down the concourse but, my god, I couldn’t find a luna bar to save my life! Even the trail mix had dairy. The low point was at Austin Java when I asked if they had peanut butter or hummus or jelly for their bagels. Nope. Just 17 different kinds of cream cheese. Flying out of St. Louis was even worse because I had bought a 10 dollar jar of what was promised to be the best sesame paste of my life from a little local shop. I thought about making dinner with it before I left but I figured since it was in a factory sealed jar I would be OK. You would think that having once been taken to a little room and questioned by several agents because I had the audacity to try to carry on a wine bottle opener would have taught me a lesson but alas I often think with my stomach instead of my brain and I tried to get it through, fought with a security agent, and nearly missed my plane.

So this time, flying out of Chicago, I was prepared for the worst. I carried with me pita bread, edamame, 3 oz of hummus, olives, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a package of dehydrated miso soup. (I should note here that I have been trapped in Chicago for days on end due to wind) It turns out that all of my preparation was entirely unnecessary. O’Hare, it turns out, has more vegan options than my home town! Everywhere I turned in terminal K I saw portobello sandwiches, smoothies with milk OR juice, soy milk creamer, salt and vinegar chips, rice and bean breakfasts, tomato soup, fried mushrooms, and yes luna bars.

Houston, by the way, was a different scene altogether.

So the morale of the story is that if you are going to get stuck this holiday season (and you will after paying for your carry on luggage and a million fees) you shouldn’t be afraid of getting stuck at O’Hare. Wander over to terminal K and feel like a normal person as you order from whatever restaurant you want because it seemed like they all had something. And if you get bored check out the weird rainbow moving sidewalk trippper’s paradise between the terminals. It amazed me as a little kid and it still puts me into a state of wonder every time I happen through. And please remember on those moving side walks that if you are going to just stand there, stay to the right!