Vegan meetup

So you all know that I’m not vegan. I’ve been fully vegetarian since the New Year’s Day of my twentieth year—I’m now 31—but I eat milk, cheese, and eggs. (I especially heart milk and cheese! I think this is genetically required upon one’s birth in the great state of Wisconsin.) When I can afford it, however, I prefer to purchase as many natural and vegan non-food products as possible, such as makeup, shampoos and other body care items, cleaners, etc. I don’t buy or wear fur, of course, and the only time I buy leather is for shoes… which I’d like to get away from doing as well. Overall, I think veganism is a compassionate and worthy pursuit that I may try and follow more strictly in the future, depending on how I fare without the aforementioned beloved milk and cheese.

Needless to say, there isn’t a vegetarian meetup here in town, so I warily joined the vegan meetup group instead. (I actually joined a few years ago, under a different group leader, solely because they were having an all-vegan dinner at a local Indian restaurant, Taaza, for, like, $12/person.) I say warily because I wasn’t sure how people would react to my lacto-ovo and not so radical ways. I don’t know if you know this,  but some vegans are pretty hard-core about their beliefs. Lol  Anyway, the Taaza outing was two years ago, and I hadn’t been back to a meetup since.

But suddenly there was this alluring call for a “delicious—and spicy—home cooked 5-course Indian feast,” lovingly prepared by the hosts, a young Indian couple, and a few meetup members… all for only $5! I shit you not! Somehow I plucked up the gumption to attend this, my first vegan meetup in two years. And, thankfully, everyone was very nice, and in fact it was a mixed group of both vegetarians and vegans. Overall, it was a lovely evening despite my initial trepidation and general grouchiness because of it being Valentine’s Day weekend.

Oh, and did I mention the food was incredible? Even without the presence of milk or cheese? Yep.

Vegan Indian dinner

On the menu was:

Dessert included:

By gracious permission of the hostess, here is her family’s sambar recipe. I will also put up her pilaf and saar recipes to follow, and I’m hoping to get the fudge recipe.

Sambar (Vegetable and Lentil Stew)

Source: Nagini Paravastu Dalal and her mother

Serves 8


  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 cup lentils (you can use green split peas, red lentils, or brown lentils)
  • 3 cups of water + 1 cup for presoaking daal
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 5-10 curry leaves** (optional)
  • pinch of turmeric
  • hand full of cilantro leaves
  • ½ head of cabbage, chopped (or you can substitute an equivalent amount of other veggies like green beans, carrots, and radish)
  • ~1 ½ Tbsp Sambar powder* (or can substitute curry powder)
  • ½ Tbsp of tamarind paste*
  • salt to taste
  • pinch of asafetida* (optional)

*Can be purchased in Indian grocery store.
**Will need an alternative source for this, since it’s hard to find curry leaves in the
store. Leave it out if you don’t have it.

  1. Soak lentils in water for 30 minutes.
  2. In a heavy bottom pot, heat oil. Add mustard seeds. When the seeds start popping, cover with a lid, turn off the heat, and let popping finish.
  3. Add lentils, tomato, curry leaves, turmeric, and cilantro to the heavy bottom pot. Cook with 3-4 cups of water. Simmer until a paste consistency is achieved. Stir frequently, and add more water as necessary to keep food from burning on the bottom of the pot.
  4. While the lentils are cooking, place the cabbage or vegetables in a microwaveable container, add a bit of water, and cook in microwave until tender. Heating time depends upon the vegetables used.
  5. Add the cooked vegetables to the heavy bottom pot. Add the sambar powder and tamarind paste. Mix together.
  6. Add the salt and asafetida. Add a bit of water if necessary to achieve desired consistency. Add more sambar powder if you want it a bit spicier.
  7. Boil for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, before turning off heat.
  8. Serve warm.

5 thoughts on “Vegan meetup

  1. The curry flavor wasn’t too strong, really–I believe she had actual Sambor powder that she used instead of curry powder. I definitely am going to try and recreate a few of these on my own sometime!

    Please let me know if you try any of the recipes I’m going to be posting over the next few days, and how they work out for you, or if you altered them at all to your liking.

  2. Dang! I love recipes! Thanks! :-)

    Personally, my only beef (har har) with vegans (and NOT the practice itself, which I find very difficult/awesome) is that their occasional self-righteousness does NOT help the movement. I also know vegans who are unassuming, non-confrontational, perfectly lovely people. You know what they say about a few bad apples or whatever, though. I just have way more respect for vegans who begin the diet for environmental and animal-loving reasons, and not because they want to follow some dumbass psuedo-punk straight-edge movement.

    Years and years ago, I knew a vegan who was, um, a total dickwad, but he made sure to help himself to candy products containing gelatin, and he sure liked his fancy black patent shitkickers (and yeah. They were DEFinitely real). I wouldn’t have ever pointed out the ethically-paradoxical nature of all that if he hadn’t been such a gigantor prick (can I say it enough? He was such an a-hole!), but when I did, he basically called me Satan for loving omelettes and putting honey in my tea. I mean, seriously? I DO buy organic ANYTHING animal-related. I know that there are milk factories out there that are pretty much just as terrible as many pig farms. I’m even anal when it comes to my toothpastes and moisturizers. But chickens HAVE to lay eggs, and if I’m positive the hen who laid those eggs was content while she did it, hell YES I’m gotta eat ’em! I <3 eggs from my head down to my legs.

    That said, I totally believe that you can obtain all the nutrients you need from a vegan diet if you're VERY smart about it (I tried veganism for one summer and couldn't hang. I'm like you! I adore cheese too much!), and I've gotta respect anything that doesn't involve animal slaughter.

    Oh, and holy COW, those dishes look delicious! Indian food is my faaaaaaavorite!

  3. Indian is my fave, too! (Thai follows at a close second.) It sounds like we may have to have an Indian food potluck or “meetup” of our own!

    I, too, have encountered some damned obnoxious, proselytizing, self-righteous vegans in my time, which is why I wasn’t sure I’d be welcome at this group’s gathering. Thankfully, everyone was respectful of everyone else. I definitely agree with their animal- and environment-saving aims and the theory of eating low on the food chain.

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