Outsiders // Review: Rise Above

Hello, Post-Meat Explorers! It’s been a while since I last wrote here, but I am alive and well. This is a post I have been sitting on for quite some time. The information is hardly outdated, but I am writing about events that occurred in February. My efforts to blog on a consistent basis have been thwarted by all manners of procrastination, so I definitely appreciate the patience.


Toronto, you are the home of my heart, mind, body, and dreams. Past, present, and future, I’m yours… Though I must leave, on occasion.

The most common reason for leaving the city is to visit my parents. My transition to a vegan lifestyle has seen numerous stages of emotions from my mom and dad, usually starting with bewilderment, but ultimately ending in peaceful acceptance.

My father and stepmother live in Richmond Hill. When I visit them, I coast along the outskirts of the Greater Toronto Area and drift happily to their dinner table. There, we eat a meal that has been confirmed with an “okay” over texts and e-mails and has been crafted from consideration, excitement, and love. Conversations swirl out, beyond our lips, as interest and inquiry fills the air. We catch up and, in the process, they learn a few more things about being vegan.

My mother lives in Niagara-on-the-Lake. I’m no stranger to the Niagara region, as I spent four years of my life there. My mother has always eaten very healthy, and she carries herself with a grace that suggests that. She has taken giant strides of involvement with my lifestyle. Her fridge and freezer are always filled with vegan options for Christina and me, regardless of how much time may go by before I can make it out to see her. Vegan cookbooks have started to collect on her kitchen counter, much like the ideals of veganism have begun to collect in the hearts of all of my family members.

I recently sat down with my mother’s side of the family for a decadent Easter feast. I can happily say that, after eight months of being vegan, I have moved past the awkward initial gatherings where I was the uncomfortable star of the show with my new lifestyle. This year found us all enjoying mashed potatoes made with Earth Balance vegan butter and soy milk. A Tofurky roast was also present, along with vegan gravy, courtesy of St. Hubert.

Finally, for dessert, we found room for some sweets purchased from St. Catharines’ own Rise Above (thanks, Mom!). Let’s talk about this restaurant today.


Rise Above
120 St. Paul’s Street
St. Catharines, ON

Shortly after Valentine’s Day, Christina and I ventured out to the Niagara region for a dinner with my mother. She took us out to a fantastic restaurant called Rise Above.

The aesthetics of the restaurant were immediately noticeable to me. The front area was furnished with a full bookcase and soft seating, and the walls were adorned with artwork. Each table had its salt and pepper represented by a different pair of animal shakers. In the back was a bustling bar with piles of freshly baked vegan treats (the same treats I would enjoy for Easter dinner).

I would recommend this restaurant to anyone looking to open the eyes of a non-vegan. Not only are all vegan terms defined on their menu, but the food is especially welcoming. Pizza, mac & cheese, chili, and stew are all present, which should be pleasing to the eyes and mouths of those who are looking for something familiar in a vegan setting. While this place isn’t as comfort-food–focused as, say, Hogtown Vegan, the creativity, style and menu stand out as an entirely new brand of comfort.


Buffalo Seitan Bites

In the post-meat future, there are no chicken wings. In their place I invite you to enjoy these seitan bites. We started our meal with these deep-fried snacks, and I was quickly rendered silent and wide-eyed. The bites were perfectly crispy and covered in an outstanding “wing” sauce. Christina looked at me and asked me if I was the happiest boy in the world (I was).

The ghosts of meat visit me on the odd night. They curl their bony fingers and beckon to me from dark forest pathways, illuminated by the dim flames of old habits. Every time I discover a food experience like this, my visits with those phantoms become shorter and shorter. This appetizer is simply sublime, for all the reasons why anyone would nod their head towards comfort food.

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We also enjoyed a special treat of arancini, which are lightly fried balls of moist, almost-cheesy rice, smothered in tomato sauce. These aren’t regularly available: they were remnants from a recent feature menu. The arancini were delicious enough to make me wish I could return for them in the future; fond memories and this picture are all that remain.

For entrees, we each enjoyed our own dish. My mother had the cauliflower steak, which struck a fine balance of firm and soft in texture. The “steak” is a cross section of a head of cauliflower, which is marinated, pan-fried, and baked, simply. Christina and I are both self-proclaimed cauliflower-haters, but we both thought this dish was fantastic. Aloo gobi used to be the only exception to the we-don’t-eat-cauliflower rule, but this dish may find a home under that umbrella as well. Unfortunately, I don’t have a direct picture of it, although you can see a bit in the following image, at the top.

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Gardener’s Pie

You won’t find any shepherds in the post-meat future, and so Christina had an exceptionally flavourful gardener’s pie, which came with smooth mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. The pie used a great vegetable mix consisting mainly of lentils for the “meat” of the pie, and it was very moist.

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Comfort Bowl

Comfort indeed. There’s not much to say about this one (but only because some of the most delicious meals are the most simple): garlic-sautéed kale, mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, and more crispy seitan bites. Every element was fantastic. I absolutely destroyed this meal, and I look forward to the next time I see it. I was left with a crippling fullness afterward, and dessert was still on its way.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of our desserts, which is likely due to the short amount of time the chocolate­–peanut-butter blondies remained in front of us. Some might say the dessert didn’t sit long enough for its photo to be captured; scholars debate if the blondie even existed in the first place, it disappeared so fast. It is truly a mystery for the ages.

If you’re vegan and traveling through the Niagara region, you would be foolish to miss a meal at Rise Above. Actually, I suggest you travel for this restaurant. I love Toronto and all of its wonderful eating establishments, but while I have been to, and enjoyed, many Toronto locations, Rise Above still fills me with intense wanting.

Until next time, friends. Thanks very much for reading, and I hope your travels to neighbouring cities are safe and pleasant. Follow me @danegreatness for updates and short, clever sentences.

Vegantine’s Day // Review: Doug McNish’s Public Kitchen

Good morning, afternoon, and evening, post-meat explorers. Many weeks have passed since we last spoke. Outside, the dirty, black ice is melting all over the street. This tends to happen in April, although the long Canadian winter seems to linger here, like an unwanted houseguest. Still, the slow and steady warmth of the sun reminds me that we are approaching kinder days, so, with that, I would kindly like to catch up with you.

April 1st marks my seventh month as a vegan, I fool you not. I still have not tired of the conversation, even when friends and family look at me with puzzled glances and ask, “Still? You? You never ate vegetables—ever!” I do, however, find myself sighing deeply when, upon being offered a slice of cake or cheesy snack, I am sometimes told, “It’s okay, I won’t tell. You can cheat. I’ll keep it a secret!”

Like anything with rules, cheating only cheats yourself. If I move my chess pieces around when my opponent goes to the bathroom, I may win, but I do not become a better player. My record improves, but I have not learned how to succeed. I can proudly say I’ve gone seven months without a single conscious decision to stray from my diet.

The temptations have been present, but they are few and far between. I really wanted to try the calamari that one time, you guys. I’m not ashamed to admit it; it happens. These old flames dance in the darkness of an empty restaurant. In my mind, I sit and watch them flicker, but I do not order.

It’s been an exciting first-quarter for me, vegan-wise. I’ve had the supreme pleasure of visiting a number of restaurants for the first time, each of them blowing my mind in a different way. I’m using my remaining amounts of mind left to write this article, and then I must sleep underground for 100 years to regenerate.

Doug McNish’s Public Kitchen
561 Marlee Ave., five-minute walk from Glencairn subway station

I used to work as a server in a wide variety of restaurants. Valentine’s Day had always been a strange, often stressful day to work, but I did so for six years . This year, I found myself making reservations to be a diner, which was a concept I had to warm up to initially.

Now that I am no longer a server and in a fine relationship with a vegan, I couldn’t think of a better excuse to book a night at the restaurant of one of Toronto’s most prominent vegan chefs: Doug McNish.

Spoiler alert: The entire experience was fantastic. Doug has been a chef for a very long time, and when you call his Public Kitchen, you will speak to him directly. He will take your reservations and answer any questions you may have. It makes so much sense, and this is a focus many restaurant owners could be taking to ensure that their guests are getting the best possible experience from the start. He kindly accommodated Christina and me for a later seating, and I was able to almost-surprise her (she guessed our destination shortly before our arrival. I dismissed it, but she knew ).

For a starter, we enjoyed a share plate of various dips, crisp bread, and vegetables. The plate starred cashew ricotta cheese, guacamole, hummus, and cashew tzatziki. Onion flax-seed crackers, corn chips and buckwheat flatbread served as the vehicles for these dips’ final destination . In the centre of the plate sat a lightly dressed kale salad, while the edges were lined with olives, roasted cherry tomatoes, and balsamic vinegar. I had never been a big fan of ricotta cheese, but I felt that Doug’s was the best of the four cheeses on this plate. This was one of the best share plates I’ve ever had, for the record. Also, for the record, this is one of the only records I’ve ever kept of eating food, but let’s not let that diminish my praise.


The main courses were absolutely decadent. Christina received a generous portion of grilled seitan with chimichurri, garlic sautéed kale, spicy potato salad, smoked slow-roasted tomato, and crispy corn chips.


I enjoyed a black-bean croquette on a bed of garlic greens and dirty rice, served with a roasted red-pepper mole, cashew sour cream, and chili dust.


For dessert, which we somehow made room for, we relished a cookie plate with macerated berries.

I may not be the most experienced vegan to advocate dining destinations, but if you live in the city of Toronto and want to experience high-end vegan cuisine, add Doug’s Public Kitchen to your to-dine list. Between preparing fantastic meals for a hungry Valentine’s Day crowd, Doug found the time to stop by our table (and all other tables!) to say hello, as well. His kitchen space is also home to a small market of fresh sauces, snacks, and cooking accessories. Unlike most restaurants, the schedule of the Public Kitchen is rigid with its hours of service. Doug cooks “pop-up” dinners once every month, and brunch every Sunday . If you find yourself available when his kitchen is fired up, you won’t be disappointed.

As it happens, the next pop-up dinner is tonight, at the time of this posting. If you don’t have dinner plans tonight and you love mexican food, why not?


This is part one of a four-part tour of my 2014 restaurant experiences. I’m going to do my best to round up every quarter year for review, which I feel is a realistic and manageable goal. Who doesn’t love blog-posting goals? Stop looking at me like that.

A Totally Fabulous Opportunity

Hi everyone! Just a quick note: The lovely folks at the Toronto Vegetarian Association asked if I could write a review of the 6th annual Totally Fabulous Vegan Bake-Off, and I was happy to oblige. Cheers to Barbi Lazarus, the Volunteer Resources Coordinator, maintainer of the TVA Twitter, and all around nice lady. This was a great opportunity for me, so TYVM, TVA!

See the original post here: http://veg.ca/2014/04/03/losing-bake-virginity-first-time-recount-new-vegan/


Losing my Bake-Off Virginity: A First-Time Recount from a New Vegan
April 03, 2014
Care of Dane McBurnie

Any gathering of Toronto’s vegan community is an exciting experience, but none is as sweet as the Annual Totally Fabulous Vegan Bake-Off. I am not a veteran vegan (I went vegan in 2013), but for as long as I have been living this lifestyle, I had heard tell of this cruelty-free contest of cookies, cupcakes and confections.2014-03-23 14.54.11

On the cool Sunday afternoon of March 23rd, Toronto’s finest vegan bake-smiths gathered to share their wares and compete for the right to proudly claim, on this day, that they were the very best. My wonderful girlfriend and I managed to fit six plates of baked goods into our daily intake of food, and we can confirm that, in every category, deciding who was “the best” was rarely an easy task.

The afternoon was a delicious who’s-who of the vegan food community. Superstars such as Tori’s Bakeshop, Apiecalypse Now!, Bello Bio and Through Being Cool Bakery were represented in full force. The competition was also judged by prominent vegan chef Doug McNish, vegan blogger Lauren Toyota and councillor Michael Layton. I did not envy their position of having to choose best-in-show…except that they got to eat more than I did.

The food was absolutely delicious. It was a vegan food event, but that is no exception to the quality of the baked goods that were supplied. Any of these treats could stand toe-to-toe with their non-vegan counterparts and come out on top, in my opinion. As a new vegan, I still approach the food I eat with a sense of wonder. The flavours and compositions of the baked goods that would traditionally be made with non-vegan ingredients somehow become better than ever.

2014-03-23 15.30.59For months I have just missed out on the frequently-sold-out Pizza Buns from Through Being Cool. These fantastic rolls rightfully won best-in-show in the professional category, but there was definite conflict for me when comparing it to Tori’s Bake Shop’s Kale and Provolone Scone. While the sweets may be the main attraction to the bake-off, these two savoury pieces were a highlight for me. They also made me feel like I wasn’t just having dessert for lunch. The sweets, obviously, were outstanding as well. I especially loved Diljot Kaur’s Peanut Butter Bliss cookie (which also won in its category and won Best Presentation too). Apiecalypse Now! showed up with two supreme contenders: their Punk-ass Peppermint Nanimo Bars and, my favourite of the sweets, the Sticky-ass Buns. This bakery makes absolute magic and is well worth your time to visit their storefront on Markham St. in the Annex.

I am very proud to be a part of such a warm community of passionate vegan friends and foodies alike. Every day I wake up, I realize how blessed I am to be a vegan in Toronto. I can look into the eyes of my non-vegan friends and say, with great conviction, that I am missing out on absolutely nothing.

In fact, after attending the Totally Fabulous Vegan Bake-Off, I’d argue they are the ones missing out. No matter what your diet or lifestyle, this experience is eye-opening, wonderful and delicious. Vegan cuisine redefines the idea of love being a secret ingredient. The Bake-off was a sweet, cruelty-free tour of the best Toronto has to offer, and I’m already looking forward to 2015.


There you have it! As always, you can follow my semi-coherent ramblings about food, baseball and other 140-character statements @danegreatness. Thank you for reading!

Blue Valentine

Hello, sweet friends. I wanted to share an experience with all of you, so get ready for an impulsive post.

My name is Dane, and I used to love blue cheese. I wanted it in, on, and around my face all times. Blue cheese has a very polarizing flavour and smell, and when people were disgusted by this borderline fetish of mine, I would feel validated and excited. I would stuff it in olives, melt it onto burgers, or just eat it straight up. After handling blue cheese, in all of its pungent glory, I would pause for a moment before washing my hands. I would think, “If my hands smelled like this all day, it wouldn’t be that bad.”

I can hear your repulsed sneers from here. My blue-cheese breath smelled like victory.

I went vegan without saying goodbye. Blue cheese, oysters, and many kinds of salt-and-vinegar seasoning have become lost in the shifting sands of my memory. I become confused when I recall the flavours; sometimes I forget what it was like to ever love them.

So, anyway, there’s this product called Sheese, and they make a “Blue Style” flavour. I have known about this for a while, but I have been terrified to buy it. I thought that, as long as there is a blue cheese I can still eat, my love for it can never truly die… But I also thought that, if I bought it and I hated it, it would be lost to me forever.

I was feeling bummed out this week, and Christina, being the amazing girlfriend that she is, decided to cheer me up by buying me a package of blue Sheese. What a gal!

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As I stared at the package, blue cheese had become Schrödinger’s cat: inside, the cheese could be delicious, but it could just as likely be terrible. Until I finally tried it, it was both things simultaneously.

When I peeled back the package and breathed in deeply, my eyes became moist with happiness. It smelled exactly like blue cheese. I curled up into a ball on my chair and held the package as if it were a newborn child.

I promptly stuffed a piece into an olive and then ate a piece right off the wheel. It really did it for me. In the afterglow, I could realistically say it gets a 10/10 for smell, an 8/10 on texture, and a 6/10 on the pungent taste-o-meter. The flavour could be much stronger, but as far as dairy cheese replicas go, I see this as an achievement.

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Yesterday I was speaking with a co-worker of mine who is known for saying, “So, what do you even eat?” in the friendliest ball-breaking way possible. My answer, of course, is, “Everything.” There is a cruelty-free version of everything I used to eat. Sometimes I like it and sometimes I don’t, and that’s the nature of the vegan parallel universe I am still exploring today. Cheese tastes different now, but it’s pretty damn good, and trying these analogue foods with an open mind enthralls me. They are a window into my past, where I am free to explore my old gastro-memories before entering the post-meat future.

I take a big, shameless bite out of my delicious, gooey blue-cheese burger, slathered in vegan mayo, and animals everywhere breathe a sigh of relief. It’s good out here.


Thanks for reading! I appreciate each and every one of your eyeballs. Follow me @danegreatness.

Crawling Out Of My Skin

When I speak to people about being vegan, I’m frequently not the one who brings it up. I have seen jokes and memes that suggest that vegans talk about being vegan all the time like self-righteous jerks. I think people might forget how much they themselves talk about the food they eat, and how often the topic of food will realistically present itself because of this. It is a little known fact that human beings eat multiple times a day, every day of their lives.

science COMMA bitch

The conversation, if one is about to occur, usually starts with a number of questions if the person hasn’t talked to me before: what do you eat, how is your energy level, where do you get protein, would you eat a meal a moose cooked for you, etc.

These are basic questions posed to me regularly enough, and that’s fine. I’m happy to answer them, and I am never annoyed when someone wants knowledge from me if they are genuinely curious. This is likely because I am a self-righteous jerk who never shuts up about being vegan.

I asked these and similar questions myself when I decided to commit to a new diet, but now that I know the basics, new questions and concerns pop into my head all the time. To be honest, I did not expect veganism to affect me beyond my diet when I first started. I have great interest in human decision-making. I am beginning to approach this lifestyle with a hobbyist mentality. I think there are some really stimulating discussions to be had, and I cannot resist scooping them onto my plate.

So , today I’d like to talk about clothing.

“How do you feel about wearing leather, wool, or any other animal-derived material? What about your existing wardrobe?”

I have done some reading about these questions, and they tie into into how “strict” a vegan can be. Like most vegan concerns, this topic can work on a sliding scale.

As a refresher, to be vegan is to work towards the elimination of suffering. The aforementioned scale slides infinitely, and the only way to truly stop your impact on the planet is to not exist at all. With this in mind, it’s that much more interesting to look into exactly how each vegan lives.



Food is arguably the biggest non-vegan footprint is caused by factory farming, which makes it an obvious starting point. A human impact on animal life and suffering is greatest through the purchase and consumption of food, as opposed to clothing, cosmetics, and other products. If I were to cut out clothing made with leather, wool, silk, down, and other animal-derived fibres, it would be a relatively easy lifestyle change to make, though I am finding my convenience is taxed in some areas (such as with shoes). The vegan scale begins to slide once you take into account what level of impact any piece of clothing has on the planet. Some choose to continue to drill beyond the relatively simple question, “Was an animal killed or exploited for this?” and proceed to these equally pressing questions: Where was the clothing made? What kind of glue was used in the manufacturing process? If the item’s not made with animal products, was it assembled through cheap, exploited human labour?

As this scale is presented, a person’s lifestyle and passion for the cause will calibrate it: Can I afford to transition my wardrobe, and at what rate? Do I have the time to research this information, and how passionate am I about this? Am I concerned only about clothing, or does this translate to all merchandise and furniture I buy? Will I actually refuse to sit on a leather seat, no matter where I am? How does this all make me feel feelings?

For instance (sexual-controversies aside), American Apparel is on my good list for not outsourcing cheap labour; for paying their workers, who are located in the U.S., a fair, livable wage; and for providing lots of vegan articles of clothing. The cost of their clothing increases correspondingly due to the labour behind the clothing, but, again, its all about where vegans land on certain issues. Would I pay more for this sweater knowing how it was made, or would I choose to not even shop there at all because they still sell non-vegan clothing? The lines will move for each person. As far as paying more, I’m interested in doing an analysis of my life in pre- and post-vegan purchasing habits.  I’m not convinced I’m spending more in an average day. The truth is, low prices save money but not mind. It’s hard to afford bliss when both your cash and ignorance are in short supply.


It could be worse.

Personally, this is a hard one, because I own wool and leather clothing. I only recently hung up a leather winter coat my mother got me last year for Christmas. It’s very warm, and on days where my eyelashes freeze on my way to the subway, it’s hard not to decide to wear it. I would like to believe I am new enough to this lifestyle to excuse wearing it; otherwise, becoming vegan after 30 years would require a costly up-front update to my personal infrastructure.

The thing about the coat is… it’s such a display. Unlike a leather belt, it covers the entire upper half of my body. It’s just such a strong representation of cruelty, and I can no longer choose to drape myself in it. For now, I’ll wear an extra sweater under my alternate winter coat and hope this post doesn’t upset my wonderful and thoughtful mother!

I discussed this topic with Christina, and I have come to the decision that, if an item of clothing was bought before transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, I can wear it until it has to be replaced, and I shouldn’t feel overly bad about it. After all, the Vegan Police don’t really exist (EDIT: This is unconfirmed.) My leather jacket has been placed in a closet until I’m able to find a new home for it. I intend to phase out the shoes and belts I already own, and if money were no object, I probably would have done so already. It’s a process.

My final deliberation about this topic, and other decisions I find myself making, all comes down to my comfort level. It’s not so much about having some sort of quantifiable vegan score; it’s about being happy with who I am as a human being. From the very first day I ate a vegan meal, I started to think deeply about the kind of life I am choosing to lead. My scale slides every day, and it will likely take a great deal of time until I feel balanced.


Thanks for reading! Follow me at @danegreatness, which is mostly sports puns and things I saw on the subway, but I’d love your company, anyway!

Moose-Antler Soup for the Soul

There was no doubt in my mind I would get my balls broken about being vegan. I have a few friends that are very good at doing this. One of my closest friends, Adrian, will actively look for balls to break, like some kind of ball detective. I’ve been in situations where I didn’t think I had anything to get dogged about, but Adrian is the Antiques Roadshow of ball-breaking: he appraises you and shows you just how breakable your balls are. You didn’t even know the treasure you had, and when you pick up the pieces, somehow you are better off.

Outside, it was raining lightly. We were headed to a bar on Front Street known as the Loose Moose. I’ll never forget this day, as it taught me to question everything I know about this vegan lifestyle.

“So, if you’re vegan,” Adrian begins, “could you eat moose-antler soup?”

Adrian doesn’t waste time asking me if I only eat salad, or how I’d survive if I were stuck on a desert island with nothing but cows. He cuts right to the hard-hitting vegan questions.

“Why would I eat moose-antler soup? It’s a part of a moose,” I respond, bemused.

I have found if you entertain Adrian’s questions with anything less than absolute straight-faced sincerity, you will miss the important lesson he is about to teach you. Adrian never makes jokes—only comments that force you to look inward and question what’s really important.

“The moose’s antlers fall off naturally. They’re just lying in the forest… so they’re part of nature. That means you can eat them, right?”

“Do you think I secretly long for moose-antler soup?”

“I’m just asking.”

“No, I would not eat moose-antler soup. It’s still part of an animal.”

“The moose doesn’t suffer. The moose is not exploited at all; he’s better off with his bitchin’ new antlers.”

“Yeah, but it’s still part of an animal, and I don’t think it would even taste very goo—.”

“What if a moose made you dinner, would you eat that?”

“Is it a vegan dinner?”


Thinking deeply, I had to wonder… If a moose made me dinner, would that qualify as an animal by-product? The dinner wouldn’t exist without the moose’s hard work preparing it. The moose would be serving me, and I don’t agree with animal labour or exploitation. Moose dinners are always so involved… You can never just “hang out” with a moose. It’s always a big production.

“No, I would not,” I reply.

Even though I explained myself, he pressed further: “The moose invited you over for dinner. He would be offended if you didn’t come.”


“But it’s his birthday!”


“What if the moose painted you a picture on his own time? Would you accept that?”

Possibly a trick question.

“… Is it a picture of a moose?”

I pointed to the wall of the Loose Moose, currently adorned by a picture of a moose. The conversation trailed off shortly after entering the bar. Later, Blake, another good friend of mine, remarked, “He’s going to write about this, you know.”

I told them, “No. I would never.”


Like many conversations, this didn’t really have a defined beginning or an end. I documented it anyway, because I thought it was funny.

I’ve actually got another article already written that I’ve been reluctant to post right away because I felt it was too sombre. I’m going through a transitory state of mind where I’m walking out of the world in which eating vegan is a lark, and into a world where I’m making bigger life choices to live a certain way. This experiment has allowed thoughts to find their way into my brain, going from “I want to do this” to “I’m not doing enough.” There will be a lot of heavy feelings to shoulder, and to ease the weight, there needs to be comic relief involved.

Christina tells me, if I’m vegan, no matter what I do, I am an activist just by virtue of living this way.

Let’s reflect on this with a hearty bowl of vegan moose-antler soup. You won’t believe how well I’ve been able to mimic the flavour!


Thanks for reading! If you liked this post, feel free to follow,  comment, and share. Also, I invite you to follow me @danegreatness if you enjoy small text-snacks.

Highly Processed Thoughts

Happy New Year, Post-Meat Explorers and supporters!

While I did not commit to a full vegan diet until September, I have been eating vegan since early 2013. I found much of the food and lifestyle choices appealing, and I felt I could make the change comfortably. I did not expect to continue to be 100% vegan after my 30-day challenge in September, but it’s working for me.

At first I felt a little guilty that I was doing it as a fun experiment, because that’s something a celebrity might do to get attention. At the core of this reasoning, the “fun” was derived from finding so much of the food delicious, and the ability to rediscover a vast new universe of food. I wanted to understand what can come from this change, and I was (and still am) dating a very nice girl who has been vegan for a long time. I opened my heart and mind and found myself quite satisfied. With no intentions of committing indefinitely, I didn’t even say goodbye to some of my favourite foods. I still think about blue cheese with a fervent, stinky nostalgia.

Now I stand in 2014, which sets me further on my journey of post-meat exploration. It has been four months as of January 1. By this time next year, I will have a full calendar year’s worth of vegan experiences to share.

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Here’s a vegan experience for you… Christina makes delicious banana chocolate muffins. I thought I’d never have a muffin I love again. You can see from the picture that I do, indeed, love them.


As a recent vegan convert, I thought I would document my past and current views on food. My mind continues to change, as most minds tend to do, but my reasoning has definitely evolved beyond “let’s try this out, just to see.”

Views on Food: Ages 1-27

Hi! My name is Dane, and I eat whatever I want from wherever I want, and I couldn’t find a shit to give even if I had a state-of-the-art shit detector at an outdoor music festival.

Views on Food: Ages 28-29

I do not feel safe eating whatever I want. I feel I don’t have a choice, and I cannot trust anything I read. It’s all designed to make me buy and consume food. But I live in North America, and this is how it is. Our food is plentiful and cheap, and it makes you sick. I can only try my best to eat as healthy as I can.

Going vegan was not something that occurred to me until I met Christina.

Views on Food: Age 29-Current

Health: I want to be better to myself and my body, and eating vegan ensures that I don’t eat meat that’s pumped full of garbage. Even when my diet included meat, I always felt uneasy about what I was consuming. It starts with knowing that farmed animals live in disgusting conditions, and it ends with the idea that they are being genetically modified, filled with hormones, and experimented on to become more efficient walking sacks of meat.

I’ve said this before: I do not want to be a part of the future of meat. For years I have worried that, one day, something is going to go terribly wrong. Food contamination and sick animals are loose threads that can only be picked at for so long before the shirt is ruined. The Mad Cow incident of 1999 was bad, but it was identified and controlled. The resulting research helped us combat future farm- and produce-related contaminations like H1N1 and Swine Flu, but they continue to happen. Every couple of years, farming practices create another dragon to slay. One day, I fear we will not have enough knights to save us.

Additionally, there are heart issues in my family, and having a diet of zero cholesterol is very welcome.

Morality: I will not be preachy here. A core belief of veganism is to eliminate suffering. At times, I feel I have no right to talk, as I am very new to veganism and adopted many of these choices recently. Over time, this guilty feeling will likely pass, but people could realistically read this post, turn up their noses, and say “Pft. Didn’t this guy eat two pounds of chicken wings on his birthday this year?” I’ll just say that, when you do this every day, you think about it every day, and people talk to you about it every day. You make new friends, and you learn new things. One person’s research becomes another’s common knowledge, and eventually our world starts looking so very cruel. I’m happier to not be a part of that.

Industry: I will continue to not be preachy. Either you’re aware of how bad factory farming is, or you aren’t. There are enough information sources and documentaries out there. It’s completely up to you to seek this information. 

But it sucks, you guys. It’s more bummers than my life has room for.


Image courtesy of threadless

My views on food and animals have changed, but I have not. I am not an activist, nor have I let my vegan diet define me. I’d like to think I’m known more for my love of baseball and video games. People need to eat frequently to remain alive, so food obviously comes up a lot for me, socially. Those who devote their lives to generating awareness and changing the world have passion I can only admire. I’m not out to change minds, but if minds do change, that is truly awesome. I respect and encourage those who do want to advocate change, depending on how far the content is from your face, and if it is being held still or shoved towards it.

Like I said, information is out there. As for me, I just want people be happy and good to each other. Being nice to your fellow human beings is a great start. We’re all animals after all.


Thanks for reading! If you liked this post, feel free to comment and share. Also, I invite you to follow me @danegreatness if you’re into that. Until next time, journey on, Post-Meat Explorers!