For my senior thesis, I wrote about dramturgical elements and implicit pro-ana messages in the YouTube beauty community. Well, the internet police alerted me that I done goofed, because I’m pretty sure the dark hole of internet vegans is the ebola-dipped cancer-AIDs the sociological community has been waiting for. And probably the psychological community, too, because Lord knows these bitches be crazy.
Don’t get me wrong, here. There are a few cool members of the plant-based internut posse. I think I’ve named a few in the past — Unnatural Vegan, Vegan Black Metal Chef, and so on. But oh, are there others. Take, for instance, Fully Raw Kristina, who went on a multi-day water fast, or Vegan Gaines, who in his early twenties got a vasectomy in the name of antinatalism. But most notably, there’s the OG duo that takes my mind from lucid to blurry Mr. Krabs meme in .001 seconds; Freelee the Banana Girl and DurianRider.
Freelee (whose real name is like Leanne or something) basically invited this diet where you eat like 30 bananas and a pound of dates until 4:00 and then eat a box of rice and a slew of vegetables for dinner. The appeal of it is supposed to be that you can eat as much as you want and not gain weight. I’m no doctor, so I’m not going to comment on that part of her message. But what I do take issue with is how herself, and especially her Roids N Bits boyfriend have made a career out of roasting notable non-vegan YouTubers and, well, pretty much being every unforgiving, dogmatic vegan stereotype. And it’s a damn shame too, because buried underneath their crazy are some decent messages, like how it’s important to eat some carbs sometimes and that calorie restriction isn’t really sustainable (editor’s note – while I agree that there are some good messages to be had here with Freelee, the majority if not all is overshadowed by her incessant fat shaming, bullying, and general insanity. Countless medical studies document that bullying anyone into weightloss and dieting has an opposite effect, and I would feel a little better about Freelee if she wasn’t such a stupid cunt). If my past research into YouTube is any indication, it’s also important to question the YT beauty stars that think it’s cute to promote undereating as means of weight loss to young audiences. But there’s also a way of doing that without bullying people decades your junior.
What’s most perplexing, though, is how recently Freelee and her banana bunch have started going after other members of the vegan community for not being vegan enough or whatever. Like if you enjoy yoga over their precious biking you get called a whore and get banned from the annual fruit festival they host in Thailand. Freelee’s beef with million+ sub Tana Mongeau last week turned into a shit storm that kicked up so much shade and nutritional yeast that it spilled into real news outlets. Tana basically dared to snub Freelee’s applause for becoming vegan since Durian had previously made some pedo remarks about her and said she looked anemic.
Like a lot of details I dish out on Thirsty Thursday, I wish I was making this shit up. But instead of paying it any more mind than it really deserves (editor’s note – nailed it. Freelee and her crew are fucking clown shoes, and so far I keep hoping if I ignore them, they will just go away), I’d like to attempt to restore some normalcy up in here by sharing some of my favorite plant-based plates that I’ve cultivated through a blend of recipe cruising and my own trial and error. We can debate the merits of shock value in activism all day, but tbh I’d rather just talk about food. Here on the Graveyard we like to eat, and we know you do, too (I see that cribble in your keyboard). Robin and I also had a great conversation about the transformative power of olives the other night. If you work as much as we do you know that the highlight of your day is whatever you take for lunch, so whatever it is, it better be killer, because those lazy days where you just throw a Clif bar at the issue are always bleak.
But before we dive into the silken tofu, I wanted to give a bit a follow up to Living Like John Joseph because I understand it was a crowd pleaser, which is really fucking cool. I’m happy to say that I’ve actually kind of been sticking to the whole herbivore athlete thing. I get myself up to bike four miles before work and now I can actually walk up stairs without my legs turning into a puddle of lube. Seriously, though, biking is pretty great if you have asthma. I remember when I used to force myself on the treadmill and nearly die, but getting to sit my booty down really seems to make all the difference. I also stopped lifting that bottle of Hennessy bought some real weights, so there’s that. My ma said my arms were started to looking like Michelle Obama’s so I think it’s working. I’m sorry to report, though, that my ass still does not look like two scoops of butter pecan ice cream. Also, cellulite.
I’ve also come to terms with the fact that Electric Wizard doesn’t make for the best workout soundtrack. Neither does Lana. You’ll go from doing crunches to laying on the floor with no recollection of the past hour. Instead I’ve been going for these faves:
God motherfucking ass, The Age of Quarrel is so great. Do I even need to say any more? Shit is a classic. Or I guess it is. I dunno, all of this kind of stuff is so before my time. But it’s too killer not to be, so I’m just going to say that it is. Agnostic Front’s newest album will keep you moving, too. I dragged my ass to their show my first night in New Orleans last fall after an 8:00 am class and two plane transfers and actually revived before collapsing into a Saints-themed Uber. Oh man, and then there’s fucking Killing for Christ’s Sake. We’ve been through a lot together. I wrote my thesis to this album. I’ve gotten drunk to this album. I’ve Windexed the fake tan off my bathroom sink to this album. I’ve Snapchated my yoga pants camel toe to your dad to this album. And now, I cycle to it, and it’s even better than ever. If I ever get on stage and start rolling in shit to it I’ll let you know. Lalwz, who’s hangry?
Wake and bake brunch: Yo, vegan pancakes are fucking easy as shit to make. Take you a nana, one cup of whatever flour you prefer, and a cup of whatever milk substitute you dig. The ratio is easy to remember and rises to the occasion no matter the ripeness of your banana. Grind it all up in some kind of blender/processor and cook the batter over medium heat. Flip ’em when they get all bubbly and junk. I like to top mine with more fruit, hella cinnamon, and maple syrup. If you’re not vegan and are just looking for a low fat/sugar option, in my vegetarian days I used to make the same recipe with skim milk and topped it with honey as my syrup. Still dank. If you also dig fancy flavored cakes, I recommend getting some of those flavored oatmeal packets, grinding them up, and using them as your flour. Shit will change your life.
Now that you have some bold cakes, you need a bold smoothie to go with it.
Here is my definitive guide to liquefied fruit that took a lot of blood, sweat, and disappointment to perfect (you’re welcome):
- THE PINK PUSSY: your ma’s tried and true berry smoothie
2 bananas, 1 cup frozen strawberries, ½ cup blackberries, 1 orange, cinnamon, almond milk
Trust me, you need the orange in it. Pineapple will work too. Basically anything with some acidity. Otherwise it’ll come out kind of flat.
- THE TROPICAL: the one you want to put Malibu in but it’s 10 in the morning
1 banana, 1 cup frozen mango, 1 orange, 1 cup crushed pineapple, almond milk/orange juice split
Always put that banana in, even if it doesn’t seem to belong. The banana is the secret to creaminess in a vegan smoothie. Otherwise it can quickly nosedive into one of those sad pressed juices at Starbucks that no one buys.
- THE VIRGIN: FisherPrice – My First Green Drink
1 banana, 1 ½ cups frozen mango, ½ cup carrots, 2 cups spinach, almond milk/orange juice split, cinnamon, ginger
I find that using ice is just kind of a waste of space, so instead I just like to be sure to use at least one frozen fruit to kill two birds with one stone. Frozen mango is really great at retaining its flavor, and it’s pretty widely accessible.
- THE GREEN MACHINE: When you need to fit into those shorts tomorrow and it’s not a motherfucking game
1 banana, 1 green apple, ½ orange, 1 cup carrots, ½ a cucumber, 1 cup frozen kale, ginger, almond milk/water split
Don’t be alarmed by the color of this one.
- And finally, a word on smoothie bowls (also referred to as “nice cream” by the vegan YouTube underworld): traditionally these are just blended up frozen bananas, but if you’re normal and only have room temperature ones, then they’ll do, too, if you just blend them up with a lot of ice. Just eat this shit fast because it doesn’t have a good melting track record. I like to top mine with the Kashi cinnamon crunch granola. It helps substantiate it a bit.
Dank ass dinners:
As random as this may sound, the only meaty type of thing that I really miss is the motherfucking tuna salad at Subway. There’s something about it…how filling it is, the way it blends perfectly with shredded lettuce and black pepper, the slightly sketchy mayonnaise they use. It just feels right. My local organic market carries a vegan tuna salad sub that’s a pretty good dupe, but it’s filled with that Veganaise stuff and just has a shit ton of ingredients. If you’re looking for a more whole foods-based option, I recommend pretty much the easiest vegan tuna recipe in the world: 1 avocado (the riper the better) and 1 can of chickpeas. Blend that shit together with a tater masher, add in some celery, garlic, and lemon & pepper, and you’re good to go. I like to put mine over greens and top it with crab spice and onion. All good fats, no mercury.
You know what really grinds my gears? How restaurants feel like the only kind of salad that can constitute a dinner salad is one that’s loaded up with multiple kinds of meats, cheeses, and cream dressing. Let me tell you hwhat — I make a vegan dinner salad or some type of bowl nearly every night and it’s plenty satiating and satisfying. My hands down favorite is my teriyaki salad. I basically just take some “Asian-style” frozen mixed vegetables (yano, with the mini corn cobs and water chestnuts), edamame, white beans, and sometimes either some Gardein Chikn or tofu, and steam them in a large pan with some soy sauce. When it’s almost done, I let it simmer with some teriyaki sauce and then put everything over some field greens and bean sprouts. My favorite dressing for this one is a tahini ginger one I got at my local organic market. Some other faves: sweet potato, turnip, and radishes over spinach with a white wine dijon dressing, and a Southwest salad with mushrooms sautéed in taco seasoning and lots of avocado instead of ground beef and sour cream.
I think I talked about my first brush with cauliflower wings in a past article, put they’re definitely worthy of another mention. You see, I have my life pretty well planned out. In my 30’s I want to be a lawyer and yell at people. When I’m old and retired I want to drink tea and pet cats in Copenhagen. But for my middle aged crisis in between, I want to open a vegan bar and give all of us in the Vegan Alcoholics Alliance some real options. Cauliflower wings are pretty simple to make and have been gaining popularity across the internut. I start by stirring water into a few cups of wheat flower until it makes a thick batter. Sprinkle in some garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper, and a little hot sauce and coat your florets. Then bake these little friends for about 18 minutes on 350, take ’em out, sprinkle on some wing sauce (I usually go for Frank’s) and stick them back in the oven for another 5. You can find some recipes for vegan ranch out there, but again, I try to stray away from its main ingredient, veganaise. Instead, I just like to use hummus with some of that ranch dust mixed in. 10/10.
Making a good vegan pizza really isn’t as difficult of a feat as it may seem like. In my experience, most pre-made crusts at the store are dairy-free, and there’s now a wide option of vegan shredded cheeses to top it with. But if you can’t afford the $4.50 for a bag of Daiya mozzarella (which I know I can’t really justify on a regular basis), just leaving off the cheese altogether really isn’t as sad as you may expect. In fact, one of the best pizzas I’ve had lately was just wheat crust, marinara, spinach, eggplant, and crushed red pepper. With the right sauce and toppings, you can make yourself a pretty bomb pie. One combo I like is spicy tomato sauce, shrooms, and roasted vegetables. Another is buffalo sauce with fried tofu. I’ve also heard of people using hummus as sauce, which I’ve not tried, but sounds promising, particularly if it’s the roasted red pepper kind. If you’re willing to experiment and keep an open mind, you might stumble upon something pretty amazing.
So advice to anyone wanting to try being vegan, or just a vegan meal: Have fun with it and don’t take yourself too seriously. Also, stay tuned for the vegan eats roundup at Maryland Deathfest. Also stay tuned for the Deathfest roundup in general. It’s going to be pretty lit, I guess.