All posts by scottmcnamara

Scott is a wedding photographer based in Portland, Oregon. He focused primarily on wildlife & nature photography, before shooting his first wedding in Alaska, in 2003. His work has been featured in many publications and he has traveled the World in pursuit of unique and fun weddings.

Should Vegans Have Kids?

This question, oddly, seems to have been bubbling among vegan Facebook discussion groups and pages lately.  And I am not sure why.

From what I have seen, most people surprisingly say “no,” with their primary argument being that more people = more consumption and more pollution.  There is more to it, but that is the basic gist.

A few years ago, I too would have probably answered with something similar.  I was pretty anti-child, and vegan (not anti-child, really, just not into it for me).

But a few years ago I was blessed with a little boy and he has changed my life and my view on things.

First and foremost, little Wilder has already influenced the vegan world.  His mom and I decided early on that she would have a vegan pregnancy.  She was pretty much vegetarian at the time, but we wanted our little guy to be vegan literally from day 1.  So he was a great motivation for his mom to move into the vegan lifestyle.

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Little Wilder. A long time ago.

Second, he is a vegan himself.  He has never had dairy.  Or meat. Or any animal products.  Ever.  That is pretty awesome if you ask me.  He even revolts at the taste of the Beyond Burger, I assume because the flavor is so meat-like (and therefore foreign).  So we added a vegan to the ranks.

Third, the child I raise is going to grow up an activist by default.   He is going to grow up asking questions and defending his veganism.  This will undoubtedly make him a supporter of the environment and defender of animals.  How is this a bad thing?

Also, as a vegan himself I wonder how many people he will invite to veganism throughout his life.  I assume quite a few.

So the more I think of it, the more I realize the question is not about ‘should we be having kids,’ but more of ‘should we raise kids to be vegan, appreciate the environment, and become activists?’  I think the latter is obviously true.

Let’s all raise good kids that want to be the future state of change in this World, and not guilt-shame the vegan families that want to be parents.

RESTAURANT REVIEW: 49TH STATE BREWING [ANCHORAGE]

Traveling to Alaska as a vegan can be pretty daunting.  There is hope though, in the sparsely populated vegan options on menus at places like Bear’s Tooth, Middleway Cafe and others.  But you can also get sick of them pretty quickly.

So I decided to join some friends recently on a downtown crawl.

We started the night at 49th State Brewing Company.

The brewery is located in the old Snow Goose space, and they have done an amazing job with the design.  I would have taken more photos, but it was Iditarod weekend and the place was absolutely PACKED.  To the gills.  So apologies for that (you can find some photos on their website).

I grabbed an IPA (Solstice) and it was actually a GREAT IPA.  Not to bash on Alaskan breweries, but I have become a bit of a Portland beer snob.  I was impressed with their beers overall and look forward to more when I go back there.

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As I was sipping my solstice IPA, I decided to crack open the menu and see what misery was about to unfold before me.  However, I WAS SHOCKED!!!! My non-vegan friends mocked my vegan enthusiasm.  Buffalo cauli!  Avocado fries!? BEYOND MEAT BURGERS!?  Daiya!? What the what!!??  I was in a little frozen vegan paradise in the 907.

I kept scouring the menu for the little icons.  Which, by the way were “vegetarian,” so be sure to clarify with you server (who, by the way was knowledgeable about vegan items, which was nice).

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So I ordered the buffalo cauliflower (duh) and decided on the basic burger with the beyond meat Beast Burger.  I was going to consider the pizza with Daiya (called the Vegan Tundra) but I had pizza the night before.

The cauliflower was good – my non-vegan friends liked it too (to my dismay) but be warned, it isn’t served like it is in most Portland places.  It comes with the side of buffalo and you pour it over everything.  Not bad, just different.

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The burger arrived not too long after and it was really good.  Basic, but good.  I mean it’s a frickin BEAST BURGER in Anchorage.  I was loving it.  The fries it came with were awesome as well.

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The service was super positive also. Friendly servers, accurate orders, and prompt service.  It was nice that one of the managers swung by to check in.  I thanked him for the vegan options.

If you are headed to Alaska, be sure to make a stop at 49th State Brewing Company!

717 West 3rd Ave
Anchorage, Alaska 99501

PH: +1(907) 277 7727

Are Vegans Ready?

As the man handed me the Uzi, I slid the magazine into the well, charged the handle, raised the weapon and took it off safe.  I aimed at the target and slowly pulled the trigger. I fired.  Again.  And again. And again.

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Me firing said Uzi. Photo (c) Zachary Hill.

 

To my rear stood a group of fellow vegans that got together for a day of shooting.  We didn’t really talk too much about veganism, though we all had our reasons.  We were simply brought together with a common interest.

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Let’s see: An AK magazine, Winchester ammunition, and Miyoko’s and Heidi Ho vegan cheeses.

Under the easy up tent, the grill sizzled with the sound of Tofurky dogs, vegan sausages, and beer brats.

As I handed the Uzi back to it’s owner, I realized at this very moment, this is the future of veganism.

But I don’t think vegans are ready.

You see, on the surface, vegans are a tight-knit group of people that are brought together for a common moral purpose. And, whether for animal rights, personal health, the environment, or other reasons, in the end we are all still vegans.

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The most badass group of vegans.  Photo (c) Zachary Hill.

But veganism as a movement – not just a common moral purpose – is founded on a very strict code of belief.  And, lest you fit, very specifically that mold, prepare to be ostracized. This “deeper” form of vegan resists any view that falls outside the movement.  This is also where society’s stereotypes of vegans originates.

For our vegan shooting day, I thought it would be a good idea to have a raffle and provide the proceeds to a local farm animal sanctuary. In the end, they asked that I not mention we were giving them the money, as they did not want to be “attacked by the vegan community.”  That’s right – a vegan shooting club cannot give free money to a vegan organization, because they are afraid of the vegan community.

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And for me, this is where the biggest opportunity for the future of veganism lays.  The goal of every vegan should be to promote the lifestyle and approach to as many people as possible.  I mean, it’s better for their health, other humans’ health, the animals’ health, the planet’s health, so why not?  Who wouldn’t want to reach the farthest corner of  society?

And yet, sometimes when I drive my Jeep around Portland I get called an “Earth Raper.”  When discussing shooting sports in vegan Facebook groups I have been literally told to ‘GTFO (Get The F&%K Out).’  Because I enjoy shooting.  Steel.  And paper.

I still wonder if vegans are really ready for veganism to go mainstream.

It feels like the really cool neighborhood band that is super cool to see, but they then sign with a major record label, and all the original fans consider them a sell out, and the band loses the cool factor.

That’s what may happen with veganism – it may be mainstream.  Boring.  A sell-out.

And all those original fans will need to find another movement to be all SJW-ey about.

There are Jeeps to drive and Uzis to shoot.

Restaurant Review: No Bones Beach Club PDX

Trigger warning:  This post contains more superlatives than a Donald Trump speech. 

It is often said in religious circles that “When God closes a door, he opens a window.”  The vegan scene has had a few doors closing as of late, with Portland staples like Portobello shutting their doors.   But, the vegan heavens soon burst open a giant window upon us all. And it is tremendous.

Bigly tremendous.

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We weren’t sure that they were even open, and after some internet sleuthing we decided to just drive by.  We saw the glowing OPEN sign, high-fived, and parked with a quickness.

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Upstairs decor.
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Downstairs is really colorful.

Walking into the No Bones Beach Club, the decor was a great mix of Waikiki dive bar, and Pier 1 imports.  The bamboo, tiki masks, and surfing elements reassured you this was, in fact, a tiki bar first and vegan joint second.  There was no mention anywhere of it’s vegan roots which I get, and actually appreciate.

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Full service bar.
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Respectable draft list.

The bar was front and center with TVs, a pretty large seating area, and more seating upstairs.  The place is spacious, well designed (I love the colorful sheetmetal wall), and open.  Upstairs they have a small “Tiki Hut” that is available to rent for a small fee and is the only reservable spot.

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The rentable Tiki Hut.

The service was super warm and made us feel comfortable.  Even though we caught them on a soft open, they seemed experienced, knowledgeable, and at home.  They happily accommodated our 18 month old with a cool pineapple sippy cup and a high chair.

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Mojito, water (for the kiddo), and Beach Thyme.

The first choices were on cocktails and I asked our server to just surprise me. She inquired about my love for mojitos and I happily confirmed.  Kristin ordered the Beach Thyme which was a coconut-based tropical drink.  I have never had a mojito in Cuba, but certainly many in various tropical spots (think Hawaii, Singapore, and of course Florida).  I have to put this mojito right up there with one of the best.  The mint was great, the sugar not overpowering, and it was just a great drink.  The Beach Thyme was also really good, albeit a bit different with the coconut milk base.  As far as a winter tropical drink goes, it was perfect.

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Buffalo cauliflower wings.

Next came the appetizers. The Buffalo Cauliflower “wings” (quotes are mine) were absolutely amazing, as was the ranch on the side.  Perfect amount of heat (which for me is minimal), and tremendously fried to crispy perfection.

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Nachos.

The nachos were a great surprise and I have to tell you, some of the best I have had.  The cashew cheese is ridiculous, and the chips themselves seemed almost like won ton wrappers…in strips.  Hard to describe, but amazing to stuff in your face.  Some may appreciate the fresh jalapenos, but this New England-born kid kept them on a side plate, lest they drop a seed somewhere unexpectedly.

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Eggplant fries.

The last app we sampled were the  Eggplant Fries.  Like a bad vegan, I hate eggplant but the fry I did have was perfectly fried and had a great flavor (as did the side of poblano ranch).  These all came home for later.

I was so overcome with the immature excitement of a new vegan establishment of this caliber, I forgot to consider the menu for my actual lunch.  No, we had not yet ordered lunch.  Yes, I was being an absolute fat ass.  Anyway, continuing.

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Crab cake benny.

Kristin ordered the Crab Cake Benedict, with crab cake made of parsnips – f’ing PARSNIPS!  I popped on the Mango and Blueberry stuffed French Toast (I know this is a shocker, but I held the jalapeno syrup and went with good ol’ fashioned maple syrup).

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French Toast.

I know some may think I am being over the top here, but I honestly mean this.  Like to the core of my being.  This was, hands down, the absolute best french toast I have ever had in my entire life.  Period.  It was absolute perfection.  I’d write about the fluffy bread, the delicious fruit, and all the other stuff, but I am just going to leave it at that.  It was just that good.  Period.  Done.

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French Toast with fruit stuffing.

The crab cake Benedict came out and was presented beautifully.  The garnishes, color, and overall design of this plate was impressive.  When I was able to finally taste it (I admit I was a little leery of parsnip-based crab), it literally blew me away. As far as a savory dish is concerned it was awesome.  I think the word “stupid” came out my mouth. It was that good.  I actually ran out of positive words and ended up repurposing negative words.   It was like infinity had wrapped back on itself.  The food was stupid good.

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Non-profit of the month.

I also think it’s awesome they choose smaller non-profits and feature one each month, sharing a percentage of sales with that organization.

So in conclusion….

So I need to say something here after our experience today.  When I think about the cool decor, the awesome service, and the stupid food….No Bones beach Club is THE best vegan food right now in Portland.  And I don’t just make claims like that.  It really is.  Absolutely without a doubt.

You need to go there right now.  Order some amazing drinks, toss back some buffalo cauli, and just soak up the awesomeness of the place.

It’s tremendous.  No bones about it.

Find No Bones Beach Club PDX at 3928 N Mississppi, Portland, OR 97227

Recipe: Mountain Corn Chowder

Not sure if you heard, but this past week our corner of the World got slammed with a pretty good winter storm.  We wanted to make something super hearty and easy to reheat in the event we lost power.  We never did (fortunately) but now we have a huge pot (not kidding, this recipe will feed 10+ people) of this amazing chowder!

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Continue reading Recipe: Mountain Corn Chowder

Restaurant Review: FoMu Ice Cream [Boston]

When you think of a cold, New England city like Boston, the image of ice cream probably isn’t the first thing in your mind.  When you realize it is a 100% vegan ice cream shop, it seems even further from reality.  But I am not complaining!  FoMu ice cream is an amazing little shop with multiple locations around Boston.

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FoMu is located in the little vegan paradise of Allston, right at the craziness that is Union Square. Many vegan establishments have come and gone here, so I am happy to see FoMu sticking around for a while.

Continue reading Restaurant Review: FoMu Ice Cream [Boston]

Install: Rear Axle Shafts for Jeep JK (Stock)

I have been stalling on any additional upgrades for my axles, as I ponder the upgrade to one tons.  So until then, and aside from the current build, I am trying not to upgrade anything.  So when my rig developed a weird squeaking (believed to be a bent shaft), friends suggested I replace my stock shafts with another set of stock ones a buddy had laying around.

Step 1: Purchase a couple of Beyond Burgers at Veggie Grill for you and your buddies.

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Step 2:  Properly jack up and set the Jeep on stands or the lift.

Continue reading Install: Rear Axle Shafts for Jeep JK (Stock)

Product Review: KC HiLites Gravity PRO LED Headlights

We all know the stock JK headlights are an embarrassment.  So one of the first things I did was replace them with the infamous (and oft used) Trucklite LED headlights.  But as the technology has improved in the space, I never thought to see what else might be on the market, or what the improvements could be.

So I called Northridge 4×4 and ordered a pair of the KC HiLites Gravity PRO LED headlights for JK.  See my unboxing here.

Continue reading Product Review: KC HiLites Gravity PRO LED Headlights

The Case for Open Veganism

I remember when I lived in Alaska and was a meat eater.  The whole concept of “veganism” was an odd one – a stereotype of skinny, pasty, punk kids sitting in a drum circle eating lettuce and gravel.  They were angry at the world,and irrational. I never took the time to meet or understand vegans, so my irrational vice held.  That is of course, until I gave away all the meat and fish in my freezer and became an Alaskan vegan myself.

I soon realized the error of my ways.

Continue reading The Case for Open Veganism

Product Review: The Beyond Burger and the Vegan Uncanny Valley

Well, it finally happened.  I was able to sink my teeth into the newest, and possibly most anticipated vegan food item in a long time. Beyond Meat has been releasing their new product, the Beyond Burger in limited Whole Foods stores across the country (yet to be found in the PNW, sadly).

But Veggie Grill worked out a special deal with Beyond Meat and have included it in their new Winter Menu.  We made a bee line for the closest VG (downtown Portland) and raced in from the car.

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First things first, the second I walked into the place it smelled different.  Veggie Grill never really had a “smell” (Like Subway, Burger King, or Abercrombie).  But now, they did.  It literally smelled like a Burger King in there.  I wasn’t, and am still not, sure it is a good thing.

Continue reading Product Review: The Beyond Burger and the Vegan Uncanny Valley