Call any vegetable, pick up your phone
Think of a vegetable, lonely at home
Call any vegetable, and the chances are good,
That a vegetable will respond to you.

-Frank Zappa, “Call Any Vegetable,” from Kill Ugly Radio

During a long interview with the delightful vegan cookbook author Isa Chandra Moskowitz, I remember her characterizing my job as, “making a living off the blood of the innocents.” She wasn’t being uncivil, in fact she wore a wry kind of smile as she said it, but the phrase has stuck with me.

Maybe I do make my living off the blood of the innocents, but I do not begrudge vegans for attempting to repair my seeming moral shortcomings by removing themselves from a meat-based food system. You know what? I love livestock. I love livestock enough that I might even consider not eating it. However, I also love the way livestock tastes, and as yet, the scales are weighed more heavily towards “eating.” Barbaric? Probably.

The fact is, I’ve considered going vegan, and I might make that choice someday. But for now, both my livelihood and diet preferences are stronger than any subconscious guilt I might have about eating a chicken.

I know, however, there are plenty of people out there who are on the fence. They’ve come to the conclusion that their morality is not aligned with their diet and would like to go vegan. Try Vegan PDX would like those people to know that there are people who will help them make the transition.

Cookbook Giveaway After the Jump? Holy Shit!

This Saturday, August 15th, marks the beginning of the second annual Try Vegan Week here in Portland. For the next eight days various vegan businesses and organizations will hold workshops, cooking classes, and entertainment events geared toward welcoming people into the animal-product-free lifestyle.

"A lot of organizations focus on 'Why Vegan?'" says David Agranoff, one of the organizers behind Try Vegan PDX. "Our organization is more focused on 'How Vegan?'" To that end, along with the cooking classes and lectures there will also be a focus on nutrition and fitness.

"It's easy to be vegan and subsist on cupcakes and baked goods in this town," says Agranoff, "But we want to focus on health too."

Perhaps most helpful to people trying to navigate their brand new cruelty-free existence is a mentoring program set up by Try Vegan PDX. Those interested in making the switch can sign up on-line to get connected with an experienced vegan who will help the "veg-curious" in areas of cooking, shopping, dining out, and making acquaintances in the vegan community.

The week of events culminates with a Vegan Prom at the Report Lounge, next Saturday, August 22nd. Tickets for the prom, along with a full list of events can be found at the Try Vegan PDX website.

To celebrate the beginning of Try Vegan Week, I’m giving away a package of three vegan cookbooks: The brand new Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Veganomicon by Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, and Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry.

The giveaway is open only to new vegans (I’ll just have to trust you on that). Email me with "New Vegan" in the subject line and I will pick a random winner by the end of the day. Good luck! And remember what Frank Zappa says: “No one will know, if you don't want to let them know/No one will know, 'less it's you that might tell them so/Call and they'll come to you covered with dew/Vegetables dream, of responding to you.”