Personal · Product Review

Daiya American Slices: They Nailed It

*  This actually is a review of Daiya American Slices, but it probably doesn’t seem like much more than a rambling personal story disguised as a review. 

It’s not always easy eating plant-based, there are few (but increasing) options to eat out, restaurants sometimes sneak some dairy into items that don’t need it, and the entirety of our western motherfucking society is brainwashed by the Eggs/Beef/Bacon/Dairy lobbies, propping up the Meat Trolls that reside out there in the ether like forgotten land mines in an old battle field. Or something like that.

980511f7c2575efd9144a4e61be66234208aea25_fullI grew up in the era of processed cheese worship. Cheep Wiz, EZ Cheese, Government Cheese, and Velveet were a huge hit, but Krapt Slices ruled the day. We didn’t have fancy cheeseries or delis in my hometown to steer my tastes toward something more cultured. I mean, in travels I had the opportunity to try some really fucking good cheeses, but when you’re a kid you generally (at that time in history) give a fuck about the marble in your Gorgonzola. My favorite sandwich was Whole Wheat bread slices, margarine, and a slice of good old individually-wrapped-yellow-cheese-product, wrapper removed of course. It’s a wonder I ever became a cook worth two shits. Chef Cheese Sandwich.

During my Vegan Journey I’ve been great at keeping away from cheese, and in all honestly during the last 15 years commercially produced “fake cheese” hasn’t been worth a fuck. Why waste the time and money on a product that tastes like sweet rubber? Man this is getting fucking long.

 

Recently a few companies have stepped the fuck up and started making some cheese substitute products that have been worthwhile, and my current favorite:

 

Daiya American Slices

 

 

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Actual pic of the goods at my home

Daiya just fucking nailed that taste from my childhood, but in a cruelty free way. It melts like a goddamn champ, it has that familiar “yellow cheese food” taste, but somehow better, smoother, like it’s the Billy D of Vegan Cheese. So smooth. I’ve used it in quesadillas, on top of veg burgers, sandwiches, I threw a piece at my shithead cat one, and a few times drunkenly stood in front of an open refrigerator, munching on half slice after half slice of this wonderful food. That’s the true test, when you are willing to look like a refrigeration wasting asshole to binge eat slices of fake cheese.

 

 

Daiya, thank you. Your work towards a more palatable cheese replacement is appreciated.  Daiya also produces Cheddar Slices, Swiss Slices, some block cheese, shreds, and a really bad ass Cheese Sauce. I’m stoked and plan to pick up some Swiss Slices today.

Remember: dairy is scary, don’t eat like an asshole.

VV

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Recipe

How To Cook A Goddamn Lentil In 30 Easy Steps

Good morning, my Plant-Based Pretties.  Today I would like to cover a subject that became very evident as soon as you saw the title of this post, LENTIL COOKERY (the green kind).  Like three people have asked me over the years how this is accomplished, and really lentils are a pretty fucking simple, resilient legume.  They aren’t finicky little buttholes like rice, requiring “exact measurements” and “cooking times,” There are a lot of means to get to the ends of a cooked lentil.  You can soak overnight before cooking (yawn, boring), you can boil them in a bunch of liquid then strain them when they are done (not a bad way of doing things if you want each lentil to retain their shape i.e. for salads), but I choose to cook lentils the old fashioned way, and I honestly don’t know what I mean by that. Ultimately, you just Cook It Til It’s Done.

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Lentils, the green kind. Kick ass food photo by me.

First things first: I INSIST on using a tea kettle, be it electric or stove top.  If you don’t have one, I would suggest that you acquire one at some point in your life, it makes cooking things like lentils, risotto, and quick noodle soups much easier.  If you don’t have one, just keep a second pot of either water or vegetable stock at a simmer for this cooking process. It’s fine. Really.

This recipe is what I use as a base for other hot recipes which include Lentils. Tacos, burger patties, soups, motherfucking lentil loaf, shit like that.  It also works well for those of you who are super organized about Meal Prep, and the large number of steps should satisfy your “making things complicated for simplicity sake” nature.

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Lentil/Mushroom Taco “Meat” w/Pico and Guacamole
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Lentil/Mushroom Tacos, a good fucking use of cooked lentils. And Mushrooms.

How To Cook A Fucking Green Lentil In A Lot Of Steps

  • 1.5C Lentils, the green kind.
  • One small onion
  • 2 Vegetable Boullion Cubes
  • 4-5 Cups hot water (you may or may not need it all)
  • 1t Oregano Leaf
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • Salt and Fucking Pepper, whatever you got.

How do we do it?

  • Finely dice one small to medium yellow onion, while this is going on let your medium size sauce pan heat up on medium high heat. At a medium pace.
  • FILL YOUR TEA KETTLE UP WITH WATER AT THIS POINT, AND START ITS HEATING CYCLE. THIS IS IMPORTANT. BUT NOT IMPORTANT ENOUGH FOR AN EXCLAMATION MARK.
  • Toss a little vegetable oil into the pan, let it heat up for 10-15 seconds then
  • Add the onion to the pan and saute for about 6-9 minutes
  • About 1/2 way through the onion cook time, start adding your oregano, some salt, fresh cracked pepper, and the stock cubes.
  • Stir that all up so that the melted cubes coat the onions and everyone gets to know each other fairly well.  Don’t forget to stir on the reg! DON’T BURN THE ONIONS.
  • Add the lentils, and really just put whatever amount close to 2 cups in there. This isn’t rocket brains, y’all. Also add the Bay Leaf at this point.  Stir the lentils in with the onion mixture and let it all cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes.
  • IT IS TIME TO ADD THE WATER.
  • Add the boiling water from your tea kettle slowly, just to cover the lentils plus about a half inch.
  • Reduce the heat to low, cover, and let simmer for about 15 minutes
  • After 15 minutes, check the lentils. You should not be able to see water above the lentil level. That means its time to…
  • Add more water, this time about an inch above the lentil level. If you are following along and had restarted your hot water so it was boiling again, you should be able to just add it and cover the pan back up to simmer.  Hot water cook lentil.
  • Check again in 20-25 minutes, this takes a long fucking time really.  What are we up to like 2 hours now? Sheesh.
  • If you stir the lentils, they should be a little wet at the bottom. Take a taste of the lentils, they should be close to al dente.  Give them a stir once more, then tightly cover the pan and pull off the heat.
  • Let sit for however long, maybe 10-15 minutes, maybe an hour. You do you.
  • They are done. You can either spread them out on a sheet pan and cool them under refrigeration, or use them hot and now.
  • That is the super simple 30 step process to cooking lentils, the green kind.

Now go use these lentils for good or for evil, your choice!

VV

Personal

Compassion Is Important Shit

Yesterday I posted a bit of a rant that started off seemingly targeted at a particular individual.  It was initially inspired by a …discussion… that was had on my personal social media, in which this person was the antagonist, but what I wrote was really an aggregate of words from many conversations over the years. This person, whom I had banished from my personal social media after our initial discussion, found this blog and proceeded to make a number of accusations that I twisted their words, was a terrible person, that my business sucks, and that I think I’m “kung of food things,” and should basically just get over myself because they think so.  Well fuck that.  This person had exhibited a very egocentric line of thinking, assuming that after many days that I was directly quoting them and HOLY SHIT WAS I A RAT BASTARD FOR WRITING WORDS IN A FUCKING BLOG THAT I OWN.  I forgot to put quotes around “writing,” as I am not a writer, I’m just some schmuck who happens to give a shit about food and sharing things about food.

After firing off a reply to said person and sitting smugly in my human nest feeling that strong grip of self-satisfaction take hold I realized that I was wrong.  I don’t believe that the words in my retort were wrong, but my intention was not to comfort and educate/inform, it was to “tell that motherfucker what was up.” That is not a compassionate thing to do.  I didn’t take into consideration that this person may also be in less than perfect emotional and mental shape, none of us are.  I didn’t read the statement, I read words and reacted to them without gleaning the real underlying meaning of the whole of the reaction.

980511f7c2575efd9144a4e61be66234208aea25_full
Once again…

Compassionate living is the goal of most of you reading this, and certainly mine. I think there are more than a few of us out there who sow what we think is a compassionate living while sometimes letting anger control our words and actions.  It’s easy to lose control when arguing down anti-vegan talking points, I see it almost every day on forums, in comment threads, etc, and honestly that’s not winning any battles, but we all choose the way we handle those that fight against what we believe in.  In this particular case we weren’t arguing over being Vegan anymore, if we ever really were (the original conversation took a path of its own, and not in a good way, through the input of a number of folks), but I had taken things outside of what was acceptable to this other person when I could have easily written what is NOW the revised introduction to yesterday’s post.  I did not think about this other person’s feelings, I used them as an example in what is a fairly unknown and anonymous blog, and with my compassion button firmly in the “off” position I had managed to totally fuck up what could have been a salvageable situation.  It was regrettable, but it happened and I move on with a slightly better understanding of what should be done when ranting about general subjects.

With all that being said, and although this other individual will most likely not see this post, I offer an apology.  Satire/Vulgarity/Whatever is what it is, but crossing the line into personal attack against an underserving individual is not a show of compassion.  I will do my best to not drag another private individual into any negative narrative in the future. No guarantee it won’t happen again, as I’m basically a fucking idiot, but I’ll do my best to write, inform, and possibly entertain those that read these digital pages without considering others with compassion and fair treatment.  Humans are animals, too. You can’t treat one with compassion and leave out the other. It’s a goddamn fact.

Don’t Eat (Or Type) Like An Asshole,

VV

restaurants · Some Bullshit · travel

Gastro Grub & Pub – A MF’n Review

OHHH YEAH, IT’S A GODDAMN KALABLAMA LIME MIXER BANG BANG!  Just what you have all been waiting for, our first fucking RESTAURANT REVIEW (loud crowd cheering noises), because we all love a review on the internet.  It’s everyone’s chance to be a “food writer,” a chance to show the world just how much your opinion means to YOU! YEAH! WELL, HERE’S MY HIGHLY UNDERQUALIFIED OPINION ON A FUCKING RESTAURANT I WENT TO!

Gastro Grub & Pub has a very human story. They started as a food truck in the middle of the middle of the country, serving at local breweries,  doing events and business park lunches, and building a pretty solid following. As they built their business towards a more permanent home, one of their founders fought through and cancer to see their dream of a brick and mortar location become a reality.  You can read a much more detailed (and accurate) telling of their story HERE.

The menu is very straight forward about what is Vegan and what isn’t. If it says “Vegan Brussels Sprouts Appetizer” it’s Vegan. “Vegan Burger” it’s Vegan. I fucking love this, as I’m sure we all get a little fucking tired of having to read every ingredient of every seemingly safe menu item on every menu. Not that I don’t still read them all, but when it says “Vegan” in the title, it’s reading in a more relaxed mood.  It’s a nice touch, for sure, and a show of the move towards a more Vegan-friendly dining situation in the Des Moines metro area.

So, here’s the story…

Gastro Grub & Pub are just outside the edge of the city in the town of Waukee, which is host to the start of the Raccoon River Valley Trail, one of my favorite paved bike trails with a 100-ish mile loop, and the option to go further north and takes me within 25 miles of my home town. I take this trail into and out of Des Moines on the reg, and the food options for me are pretty scarce, usually involves just drinking a fucking beer and a shot then hauling ass back into the city for a meal. GG&P is situated in the perfect location, just across the street from the bike trail, 16 miles from my house, so a ride out for lunch and back effectively burns off most of the lunch, and when doing the century loop it’s at about mile 95 on the way back in, which is a great point to stop, eat, and have a goddamn beer or two.  Or even three or four.

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A beer

I took off on a cold windy day on the single speed gravel bike to make the the 16 mile trek out to Waukee to see what they had done with the spot in a relatively new building that formerly housed a different restaurant. (deep breath)  Arriving well after the lunch rush, the dining room was quiet with a few stragglers remaining and a couple new tables walking in. It was a pretty standard afternoon scenario at any restaurant, and it was perfect for me to have some quiet time to warm up with an ice cold beer.  Looking at the menu, there is the amazing (and already mentioned) Vegan labeling which was a welcome sight to my tired cold eyes. The head wind out to the restaurant was a pile of bullshit, and with no gear choice but the one I brung, there was no reprieve.  I was tired. Reading was hard.

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Sorry, better food picture than usual. Vegan Burger/Fries

The Vegan Burger, Fries, and a Single Speed Brewing beer seemed like the an appropriate order, the beer arriving first, followed just in time by the burger and fries.  The Vegan burger I suspect is made in-house, but I forgot to ask.  It came dressed in a Garlic Aioli, Arugula, Tomato, Pickle, Onion, on a house made bun.  It had the fucking goods. The fries were a little light in color for my taste, but were crisp and delicious all the same.  I inhaled the fuck out of my meal, slammed the remainder of the beer, and got my happy ass back on the bike with a tail wind and fond memories of the meal that just crawled into my belly.

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Vegan B-Sprouts were off the chizzl.

My lunch was fucking perfect. In fact is was so perfect that I decided to take a plus one back that night for dinner, via automobile this time though.  We entered a wholly different room at dinner, it was packed to capacity and buzzing with the din of happy diners.  I fucking love seeing this in a new, deserving spot. It warms my cold shitty heart. We opted to sit at the bar, squeezing in between two other couples, and ordered a round of drinks. I continued with my Single Speed theme for the day, and my partner in crime ordered one of our favorite drinks, and Old Fashioned.  It was proper.  The Vegan Tacos and the BBQ Jackfruit sandwich were the last two Vegan entrees left untried on the menu, so we got them. The tacos were a mixture of roasted sweet potato and black beans, guacamole, and veggies on home made corn tortillas. The torts were a little dry, which can be an issue when making from scratch.  The BBQ Jackfruit really shone, to the point that my dining partner barely let me have a taste. Judging by how closely the sandwich was guarded, it was top notch and highly recommended.  Chef/Owner Sean stopped by to check on us, we chatted for a bit and he sent out the Vegan Brussels Sprouts appetizer for us to share.  It was one of the best desserts I’ve had in a long damn time. It was definitely something that, had I not known ahead of time, would question whether or not it was actually legit Vegan.  That’s one of my favorite problems to have.

The Food has got The Goods, the service was excellent:our bartender was great company throughout dinner, my lunch server was attentive but not overbearing, exactly what I needed as the cold grumpiness was at a fairly high level.  The location is a little out there, but I can definitely see some bike rides to their patio for some cocktails and Vegan goodies when the permafrost in Iowa starts to thaw.  Omnivores: YOU ARE ALSO MORE THAN TAKEN CARE OF, so take a Vegan friend there for lunch or dinner and wow the shit out of them.

FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT THEIR WEB SITE BY CLICKING ON THIS SENTENCE!

THE VERDICT: Gastro Grub & Pub gets Five Hell Yeahs, Five High Fives, and a bonus Thumbs Up.

VV

 

Some Bullshit

The Food Price Myth

 

Some goddamn people just don’t get plant based living.  They don’t understand the fucking motivation, they call it “elitist,” the political/environmental/compassion element is questioned or attacked, it’s a free for all of opinions formulated to justify someone’s own selfish agenda.  I mean, why listen to someone who has done the unthinkable and bucked the American societal norm of eating meat?  That would be fucking CRAZY.  There are a few false myths that feed this line of “reasoning,” and today I would like to address one of my favorite/least favorite arguments against eating plant based:

“Vegan Food Is Expensive”

I call bullshit.  When I was a poor as fuck line cook, which is when quite a few of my recipe ideas were born and raised, my budget went like this:

  1. Rent/Utilities/Phone/Other Mandatory Shit: 60%
  2. “Entertainment”: 30%
  3. Food: 10%

980511f7c2575efd9144a4e61be66234208aea25_fullNow, keep in mind that I worked in a restaurant so I did have at least one opportunity to eat for free or cheap most days, but subsisting off your boss’s generosity only gets you so far.  My food budget was probably close to $50-60 a week, which is being generous, and I had to figure out how to make that work.  Guess what, it wasn’t that fucking hard.  I ate well, I went to the Farmer’s Market and bought VEGETABLES (whoa!) and Greens, GRAINS (say what?), and dried beans (I’m pretty fucking lazy, so dried beans usually ended up as a counter decoration in a jar more so than soaking and cooking), I also either bought or made tortillas, picked up organic pasta and some canned goods from our local health food spot, New City Market (RIP, it’s now a barber shop), and tofu, herbs, cabbage, etc from our local Asian foods market.  Occasionally boca burgers, Fantastic Soy Taco mix boxes, Tofutti sour cream, and Tofurky Peppered Deli Slices (all time favorite) would make it into the mix when I was feeling that “treat yo self” vibe.  I ate very well, and on the cheap, leaving plenty of beer money for the “Entertainment” budget. This was also all done by bike, saving hundreds of dollars a month on gas and upkeep on my car (which I eventually sold to someone who actually needed to drive).

It’s really not that hard to eat on a budget, plant based or omni. The key is shopping frugally, cooking actual food, and only using pre-packaged processed things sparingly. Vegan “cheese” seems expensive, when you subsist on a diet of “I HAVE TO PUT CHEESE ON EVERYTHING.” Vegans don’t use “cheez” that way. Also, it’s super simple to make a nutritional yeast based cheese sauce with cashews or potato (the best and cheapest way to get that “nacho cheese” effect, if you’re a Vegan who still loves that “smothered in cheese” way of life. AND IT’S NOT ONLY CHEAP, BUT HEALTHIER FOR YOU AND REQUIRES SO MUCH LESS SUFFERING OF THE COW TYPES!

I could/should go on to the economics of healthy eating vs health care costs, the challenge of feeding a family healthy food on a limited budget when Big Grocery markets nothing but their cheapest garbage processed food as “budget friendly” when all it does is slowly make you sick, or the hurdles encountered when you are eating Vegan with one or more actual food allergies.  Those subjects can wait, I need to eat some fucking food and go ride a bike. Also: Fuck your food price myth bullshit. Try stepping away from your beloved social media and live life in real time.

Have a great fucking day, and don’t eat like an asshole!

VV

 

Recipe · Some Bullshit

I F#%$ING LOVE SOUP

As stated in the title above, I fucking love soup.  Right now it’s like 40 below wind chill where I’m sitting (well, outside of the house I’m sitting in), and perfect weather to avoid freezing to death by eating some SOUP.  This particular soup is a very simple, hearty soup you can make with items you might have laying around the kitchen. You can substitute Russet potatoes, Black Kale for the spinach, use frozen spinach (thaw it first), you can add Nutritional Yeast, add more spice, use home made vegetable stock instead of bullion cubes, whatever you want.  On with the recipe…

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Such photography!

This is a “no power tools” recipe, hence the sliced potatoes rather than the usual big-suitable-for-puree-chunk most potato soup recipes call for. Instead of a blender or processor, you will be using a whisk to break down the potatoes (after thorough cooking) which will both thicken the soup and leave some rustic chunks (new band name, claimed it) for a more “chowder” like consistency.

Ingredients:

  • 1lb Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and sliced in thin half moons
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 3C Chopped Fresh Spinach
  • 2T Chopped Fresh Rosemary
  • 2 Vegetable Bullion Cubes
  • ½ C Dry White Wine (optional)
  • 2C Water (probably more)
  • 1t Red Pepper Flake
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  1. Turn the vegetables into the proper shapes/sizes with your knife
  2. Add vegetable oil to a Medium sauce pan on Medium High heat
  3. Add the Onion to the pan and sauté until soft, preferably with a little brown crisp. Toss a pinch of salt and fresh ground black pepper in here at the beginning if you feel like it. (hint: you feel like it)
  4. Add garlic, Bullion Cubes, and Rosemary and sauté for 1 minute (don’t burn the goddamn garlic)
  5. Add Wine to deglaze the pan
  6. Add Water to pan, it should cover the potatoes plus about ½ inch. Hint: you will most likely be adding water as you go through the cooking process, so don’t be super bashful with the agua
  7. Raise heat to High to bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and let simmer for about 20 minutes. You can let it go however long you would like, just watch to make sure the water hasn’t evaporated to the point where you just wasted your day making burnt potato garbage. Add water if necessary.
  8. Uncover the pot and USING A WHISK, start haphazardly stabbing away at the potatoes like a baby splashing in a bath. Take care to not splatter hot liquid onto your person. Hot water burn baby.
  9. Once you have the Potatoes broken apart somewhat, use the whisk as it was intended and whip up the soup.
  10. Add the Spinach, stir well (you don’t need to whisk it now), then let the soup simmer a bit longer. If the soup seems to thick, add water slowly until it reaches the desired consistency. DON’T JUST POUR A CRAP LOAD OF WATER IN THERE AND TURN IT INTO A SPINACH AQUARIUM*
  11. Taste and re-season if necessary.
  12. SERVE with Vegan Grilled Cheese, Oyster Crackers (my favorite), or just mow it down solamente.

*If you, in fact, have turned your soup into a spinach aquarium, cross your fingers that you have something cool like Instant Potato Flake on hand. I prefer Bob’s Red Mill brand, they are Vegan and super legit, like the rest of the BRM line. Add a little at a time, they will thicken your soup quickly. You will also need to add more Salt and Pepper, and possibly another bullion cube to fix the problem fully.

VV

 

restaurants · Some Bullshit · travel

Going To California?! Fuck Yeah!

People like Texans (eye roll) love talking about how much they hate California (way more eye rolls).

“Dang ol California, man.  Eatin all them vegetables and goddamn hippie pot head liberals”

3fb5d1bd906a5626694d0fdbe694195e-california-love-southern-californiaShut your goddamn mouth, Texas. You have an abundant coastline (like California), Sunny fucking weather (like California), Austin (like a mini California from a time when California wasn’t a goddamn startup nightmare), and there are even some great Vegan restaurants like California. Y’all Texans and Californians need to hug it the fuck out.

Anyway, people either love or hate California, and I fall into the former category.  I love Cali, Norcal, Southern Cali, wherever.  It really suits my needs and the climate makes my aging Midwestern bones a tad less squeaky.  Is nice.

My point is that a few of the people in the VV headquarters are heading to Los Angeles tomorrow, so I put together a small list of places for them to eat during their travels.  I am sharing that list here because 1. It’s not a bad list and 2. It’s relevant.

Places I Would Go To Eat In LA If I Wasn’t Stuck At Home List

Real Food Daily (RFD) 

414 N La Cienega Blvd

Classic Vegan spot, super fucking legit. Multiple locations

https://www.realfooddailyla.com

Gracias Madre

8905 Melrose Ave

Mexican, all vegan & organic, plus a big fucking tequila & drink menu. Rowdy Vegans drunk on tequila, what could possibly go wrong?

http://graciasmadreweho.com

Doomie’s Home Cookin

1253 Vine St # 9

Vegan versions of fried chicken, enchiladas, jalapeño poppers, tacos, burgers & other comfort classics, great place to go after you are done with the tequila party. Also, I don’t know who Doomie* is, but I’m hoping this Doomie is doomy as in St Vitus doom.

http://places.singleplatform.com/doomies-home-cookin-1/menu?ref=google

Cafe Gratitude

639 N Larchmont Blvd

Hippie joint with organic vegan foods and smoothies, etc. Very chill.

http://cafegratitude.com/menu/

VEGGIE GRILL 

There are like 50 of them in LA. You’ll probably see one every day when you are there. Solid place for those emergency moments where you NEED TO EAT HEALTH FAST FOOD RIGHT FUCKING NOW.

https://order.veggiegrill.com/menu/veggiegrill-santa-monica

Vegan Glory 

Thai food gone all vegan. Reminds me a little of VeggieThai in PDX

http://www.veganglory.com

980511f7c2575efd9144a4e61be66234208aea25_fullWhere are your favorite places in LA? Leave me some more great ideas in the comments!    I’ll be sitting here in the snow and sub-20-degree midwestern weather waiting for more fucking places to dream about being…

Happy Fucking Holidays,

The Vulgar Vegan