Meat Consumption

A few weeks ago, in Chicago, a friend of mine and I tried out Native Foods in Wicker Park.   Native Foods is a chain Vegan restaurant.  When ordering our food we were asked if we were Vegetarians or Vegans.  My friend responded “Yes, we are.”  I interrupted and corrected “No, I am not”.   I felt (and I am sure a lot of it was my own consumption consciousness) as if I’d just destroyed all perceptions he had of me,  as if I’d seriously let him down or kicked a small puppy in his presence.

So here is the thing, he’d never asked if I eat meat. In general I don’t eat meat—there is no good reason for it.  It is unhealthy and frequently, at least in this country, toxic.  If when given a vegetarian or meat option, I’ll almost always choose the vegetarian.  When given a vegan or vegetarian option, I’ll sometimes choose the vegan.   I’m a big fan of dairy (again unhealthy and frequently toxic) and yet I make the informed personal decision to eat things that are good or bad for me.   I also occasionally drink alcohol. Ideally I’d always choose a carrot juice over a beer, or a beet smoothie over red wine but sometimes I want some wine or a beer.

I don’t let food get in the way of life. It is easier for me to go through life and not be defined or restricted by the food I eat or don’t eat.  That said, I get super defensive and angry when people rip into vegetarians or vegans. To the point where I don’t make logical arguments; I just call them “stupid heads” and walk away in frustration at their stupid heads.

Anyway, almost equally as annoying as the philistinism of some meat eaters is the hubris of  some herbivores. Like our server at Native Foods, who after I had said I wasn’t a vegetarian suggested that a “first timer” like me probably shouldn’t have the vegetarian burger because it had seitan and tempeh.  WTF?  Dude, I am an elitist privileged pseudo-white girl who is having dinner at  a vegan restaurant in Wicker Park AND you just heard me explain to my friend that although I grew up with vegan family members and a vegetarian mother, I rebelled.   Come on dude, really, you think I can handle some tempeh?  Bite me.

That said, as much as I dislike titles, I’m hoping to lead a vegan lifestyle this summer while training for triathlons and while the fresh local produce is abundant.
Jess Elenamary Steph Yony
My unsolicited advice to all of you is, live and eat in ways that cause minimal damage to yourself and others—I promise to try and follow my own advice too.

How Chinese-y

When a cutlural difference comes up here in China, my friends and I will describe the Chinese way as being “Chinese-y” or we might say “How Chinese-y”  I am growing used to some of it and want to document it before I forget.

Not long after I had first arrived here I went to dinner with my friend Adlet of Kazakhstan.  We went to my favorite place, (a place I’d later find out he really hates) the food stalls at the Southern entrance of our school. The food stalls set up nightly and there is a wide array of food to select from.  Rats running around looking for scraps are also bountiful.

Eating at South Gate With Friends

Dinner at South Gate with Friends; Picture by Will Giles
One of the stalls will bbq your choice of food and I had a hankering for bbq-ed eggplant. Adlet (his Chinese is awesome, has been living and studying here for 5 years now) inquired  if they had eggplant.  The woman said that indeed they did have eggplant. We ordered two and then the woman responded “okay, come back tomorrow”.  Adlet explained to me that the Chinese hate to tell you they don’t have something.  I didn’t quite understand it then, and I also hadn’t realized until yesterday, how much my attitude has changed to this cultural difference.

Yesterday, I went to get coffee in one of the back alleys. It is really good deal; a whole pot of coffee for 4rmb with a bit of sweetened condensed milk at the bottom. I like it.  My plan was to finish reading my book, drink some coffee, and have some eggs.  I ordered the coffee and then had the following conversation with my server:

Me: “Have you any eggs?”
Server: “We have eggs.”
Me:  “I’d like eggs–Can I have eggs?”
Server:  “Yes, you can. Do you want eggs with rice?”
Me:  “No rice. I just want eggs.”
Server:  “Do you want eggs with noodles?”
Me:  “No I just want eggs.”
Server: “We have eggs with noodles.”
Me:  “Okay, I’ll have eggs with noodles.”
Server:  “We don’t have anymore eggs with noodles. Do you want eggs?”
Me:  “Yes, I want Eggs.”
The women points at the restaurant across the street says “eggs” and walks away.
Below is a picture of my friend Rachel (a native of Hainan).  On a different morning at a different place, I also wanted coffee and eggs.  Rachel ordered our coffee and our food.  The server returned with our coffee and told us “We have food, but don’t want to make it right now.  You can go across the street to the other restaurant get your food and bring it back here.”  We did just that.  As you can see Rachel is eating her food out of a styrofoam container also visible is our pot of coffee.