Perception, Veganism and Datebooks

A pescavore from age 16, I gave up fish in 2013⁠1 and have since been an octo-lacto vegetarian.

. . . Not really. I eat oysters on occasion. Ironic as I rarely, if ever, ate oysters before I gave up fish. But since giving up tuna, swordfish, and salmon? Oysters have become a compromise option when in company. 

Even so, recently, I have been thinking veganism is my next step in terms of putting my actions in parallel with my morals and politics. We are pretty much vegetarian at home. We love our veggies and it’s just a matter of experimenting and expanding our recipe trove. Veganism couldn’t be too hard, right?

The two hiccups to this theory? Carl is an omnivore. At times, after one too many fabulous vegetarian pasta dishes, he suggests having dinner out and orders up a slab of meat. 

And veganism would require abstinence from dairy products and dairy products take up more space in our refrigerator than vegetables. 

With this as background, I will now state that Carl and I watched the documentary The Game Changers⁠2 the other night and I am now determined to go vegan and Carl is full on with it. At least, we agree, we’ll try. Because quite quickly, dare I say even before the movie was over, I knew what the most troublesome aspect of veganism would be. Two words: cafe lattes. 

I have mentioned this elixir in the past. Every morning, so long as the espresso machine is working—which it always is because this is a significant machine in our morning routine and Carl is on it whenever the slightest flicker or sneeze comes from our Venus espresso maker—I rise and make myself a hot cup of foamed milk and add a double shot of espresso to it. Every day. For years. With only two very dark weeks in the 90s when I attempted decaf. That was an experiment that failed due to lack of taste and vavavoom.

Veganism means no milk. 

Carl and I drove to Keene the day before yesterday to 1. Charge the Tesla because the Tesla was at 90 miles and the Leaf at 10. There is nowhere we can go in 10 miles to charge the Leaf. So it sits in the garage awaiting the sun that came out briefly yesterday but then back behind the cloud it went and the house battery system began to beep, beep, beep. 2. Go to Staples so I could continue my depressing, obsessive, seemingly hopeless search for a datebook/planner that works for me. All my searching has created a monster that doesn’t exist but in my mind. I know exactly what I want the datebook/planner to look like. It needs to be adaptable. Not too busy. Maybe a bit of color. Horizontal, not vertical weeks and, preferably, made for left-handed use. Is that too much to ask?

And 3. Descend upon the co-op for milk substitutes to be tested after we have bibed our daily, morning cafe latte. 

The first trial included sweetened oat milk from a local-ish,Portlandia-style company. The mission statement sounded just right for our goldilocks hopes. And we bought Forager’s Cashew milk. Yum. 


I began with the oat milk. It foamed! I made the espresso. I put the espresso into the hot and foamed oat milk. It was very dark. Hm. I tasted it. Hmmmmmm. I handed it to Carl who sipped and huh-ed.  

“Not bad,” he said.

“I’m going to try the cashew milk,” I replied.

It sort of foamed. But that foam, like milk that won’t foam for some unknown reason, disappeared soon after I added the espresso and foam is very important for the whole cafe latte experience. Flat milk and espresso is just a strong coffee. Espressos are a chemical reaction, a joining of oil molecules and water . . . and milk. 

For the record, cashew milk is disgusting with espresso. The taste does not even pretend to meet my standards. Which are admittedly high. Especially for my daily cafe latte. When the milk doesn’t foam, or if the espresso shot is a weak, or overly stressed over-one-minute pull  . . . my day, quite frankly, is off to a bad start. I try to be grateful for what warm libation I have before me. But a cashew (FAKE, TRAITOROUS, GAG-producing) latte is never going to be before me again. 

Speaking of traitors, during the impeachment hearings, I struggled against the horror of our dying democracy. Since then, I have taken to watching the news through comedy because the news in other outlets is too depressing. John Oliver is my favorite. He educates and goes in deep while yet allowing a good belly laugh. Perspective. Life requires perspective. Because even as I type this, I know there are homeless people. People living in war zones. And don’t get me started on factory farms and their trauma which are a constant, if underlying, disturbance of my reality, like the ceaseless waves on a beach.

Three days ago, when I was in yet another fit over my future datebook/planner, Carl suggested that perhaps the smaller version I was attempting to fit into wasn’t big enough. I stared at this man to whom I have been married for 29 plus years and thought, “OMG, he knows me better than I know my self. Sometimes. This time. He’s right! Again!”

Thus, the next day, a.k.a. the day before yesterday, the trip to Staples. Where, happy news, I found the ARC. It is a you-can-adapt-it-to-you planner and is currently sitting on my desk, perkily waiting from me to create it into my fabulous datebook/planner for 2020 and beyond. It is red. I love it. I was so happy the day before yesterday as we left Staples with my sundry ARC products. No longer weighed down by my attempts to control life by finding, seeking, surfing for hours online for a datebook. The waste of time and energy that entailed had oppressed me for weeks . . . Carl says months. And so I skipped along next to Carl. Chatting away. Helloing passersby. Humming and singing and attempting to skip in slush and ice. At one point, I looked at Carl who seemed a bit somber relative to my bubbles and cheer.

“Am I being too perky?


“Am I irritating you with my chattiness?”

“Nope. Just trying to get through the slush and snow.”

“I’m so happy. Thank you for helping me with my datebook/planner. It’s the best!”

He made no reply. My excessive gaiety must have put him into shock. Or perhaps concern that I might be ever so slighty bi-polar. 

The latte experiment has put me back to normal. 

Oat lattes taste like skim milk with a hint of vanilla sweetness. And the taste of an espresso shot doesn’t have a chance to survive the oat assault. It isn’t the this-is-vile taste of cashew but it still leaves me with a gag effect and a wish for the past. Just like the news. Yesterday, with that taste haunting me, challenging me, my mood further descended down to that low, somber edge of darkness that happens when I read the headlines or a article because I miss the good, old days. Did they ever exist? Or was it just my oblivion, a form of denial. Whatever. Then I could eat what I wanted without feeling some moral condemnation, or disgust. Then I still hoped that  our government, however, divided, yet would return, like a metronome, the stick tipping to one side, only to return up and over to the other side. Then, I believed we might save the world.

We make our lattes using happy milk gotten from happy cows I can see in the field. I know their caretakers. But still. The boys are taken away. As with the chickens’ eggs, the cows take issue with the taking.

Ah, life. Death. And everything in between. Nick meows relentlessly. He is lonely without Nora to torture and keep him company. We bought him a pheromone collar.  

I want to go vegan. I want not to feed into the system that is as corrupt because it is the same as that system that pushed cigarettes and fossil fuels . . . and now animal products. There’s a line I must draw. Again. I gave up fish and I miss having that food option but I mentally can’t eat fish anymore because fish and chickens are the two species that suffer the most, according to The End of Animal Farming. 

A syllogism:

Fact: I don’t like the taste of coffee alone. 

Fact: Oat milk doesn’t do it for me.

Therefore: . . . I am not willing to give up coffee.

Am I going to give up coffee?

How dreadful because if I’m not willing to be inconvenienced and give up milk, I who cares about the billions of scientifically-proven-to-be-sentient animals raised for food; I who am aware of the politics and consequences of my food choices, and now, thanks to The Game Changers, of the health consequences of the same. If not I, why would anyone else? 


1 I read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.