The last thing I would expect from a place so offensively called Chic Boy (chicken and pig shortened) are vegan options. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the 24-hour branch close to where I live had these simple plant-based dishes.
In a way, it's nice to have all greens without the fancy stuff. I had green mango salad without the shrimp paste and the sauteed water spinach in garlic. The meal was about P75 including a cup of rice. Nice to know I have access to this 24/7.
Blissful Belly is the place to get no-frills canteen-style home-cooked Filipino meals in Katipunan. Open everday except Sundays. Unit 215 Llanar Bldg, 77 Xavierville Ave, Loyola Heights, Quezon City.
I was writing emails to two new pledgers I received from The Vegan Society, and in my introduction I mentioned that my choice to be vegan is the best decision I made in my life. It then inspired me to put into writing the top 5 best decisions I made in my life so far. And here they are:
#5 Backpacking alone in Europe
Seeing how other people live, being in a place where I understood nothing of their language, waking up with no specific agenda gave me a taste of freedom. The trip highlights were the contrast that Amsterdam has to offer, Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House, "coffee shops", red light districts and canals existing side by side, speedy first-class train to Paris, discovering a quaint old town in France bearing my name Nancy, hang-gliding, seeing the different faces of Italy- Florence, Siena, Pisa, and Rome, people-watching in piazzas, spending a beautiful day in dreamy Brugge, couchsurfing, walking, cruising, conversing, practicing the limited Dutch and French and Italian I learned, wandering, getting lost, sitting in park benches eating apples. The trip was far from perfect. I "lost" all my clothes during the first leg of my trip. "Lost" in quotes because I didn't really lose them. I just left them at the laundry place and was unable to get them back because my timing was all wrong. My camera started vibrating while inside The Louvre and I couldn't take decent pictures. I had to cut my stay in Florence short unexpectedly, but that led to my overnight trip to Siena. The sexism in Rome got to me. But overall, it was quite an experience. I met many amazing people whom I will likely not see again, but perhaps it did not only not diminish experience, but it made it all the more memorable.
#4 Living in a foreign country for 3 years
I lived in Beijing and experienced complete independence at the age of 25. I relied on nobody but myself. By Philippine standards, it was (and still is largely) uncommon to live separate from your immediate family. My independence led to a relationship that allowed me to see who I was. It led me to meet Scrappy, whom I took everywhere with me, from Black Sun bar in Sanlitun to Hou Hai park. It provided an organic environment to brush up on my Mandarin to the point that I could speak to cab drivers about Buddhism, the temporal nature of life, and egolessness (无我), I could present strategic plans on search engine marketing in the board room, and I could creatively and succinctly scold the person who cut in the grocery line. The first day I noticed how beautiful snowflakes were I literally stopped on my tracks and held my arms wide open. The friends I was with were part-amused and part-embarrassed, but they did not stop becoming my friends even after I left China and only saw them one more time again to date.
#3 Leaving drama behind
Relationships really do reflect who you are, what your insecurities are, and what you are willing to put up with. I had a dramatic soap-opera-worthy on-and-off relationship that kept my emotions in constant roller coaster. We broke up many times, and the getting back together always felt like a relief, of something familiar being put into place. It was a relationship I needed to have in order to understand the baggage that I carried with me, my unconscious beliefs and expectations about relationships, and my all-too-cliche parent (and specifically daddy) issues. Staying out of that relationship was like getting off a drug. It was hair-splittingly difficult, but I was sick and tired of being unhappy all the time. And looking at it now, I put the blame on each of us at 50-50, no more, no less. I now understand that we were two incomplete souls trying to find happiness in each other, but were unable to do so because we did not know how to find happiness within ourselves. Leaving the drama behind gave me the space to find who I am. It made me realize eventually that I like myself and enjoy my own company. It took a lot, a combination of Vipassana, self-help books, CODA, and Sophie, but I am here now unconditionally loving myself. So next time I get into a relationship, it is not to escape or recreate that unhealthy codependency, but to explore an equal partnership where my independence and who I am can remain largely intact, while sharing the same vision of the world and being partners to achieve that.
#2 and #1 Turning vegan and becoming a Jivamukti Yoga teacher
I cannot separate the two because these two decisions are so closely tied to one another. Being vegan awakened me. It opened my heart and mind to a new way of living, a new way thinking, a new way of being. I realized that all those years I only treaded on the shallow waters of life. Looking good literally was my top priority. Clothes, makeup, shoes, shopping, having a certain lifestyle- those were the things I spent my time on. Being vegan put my priorities in order. I live a lot simpler now, I do not watch TV at all, I own only 7 pairs of shoes (that includes flipflops too), I take public transportation, I walk when I can, even if it takes an hour, I spend less time in malls and more time reading and studying. I feel connected to animals and appreciate their being now that I do not use or abuse them. I realize that by being vegan, I am capable of so much love in my life, so much so that even if the pain of knowing about animal suffering can be overwhelming, the desire to fight for their freedom is greater than the pain. It ignited a fire I did not know I had in me. It opened up my heart and made me understand that my concern does not have to have a limit. I started to care about other causes too- the environment, sweat shops, blood diamonds, GMOs, palm oil, commercialism, Coca Cola cruelty etc. This passion to use my life in a more meaningful way led me to Jivamukti Yoga. And Jivamukti gave me the confidence to speak in front of a crowd, reconnected me with my love of words and literature and poetry, it gave me hope and love and a family- or a tribe, as Sharon-ji puts it. Family sounds mafia-like, she said and I recall fondly. Jivamukti taught me that to be a good student, you start to share with others what it is you want to learn and practice yourself. It gave me back those handwritten scribbles in scraps of paper for random thoughts I have, now in the form of vignettes I can use for dharma talks. It gave me sutras and Rumi and music and kirtan and asanas and friends and sacred geometry. It gave me back my vulnerability. It showed me who I am. And it continues to inspire me, this global community of students who are actively living in the world, courageous, bold, fierce, and radical. Jivamukti celebrates who I am, while teaching me that I-AM is the changeless reality. There is beauty in this exchange, and that is why being vegan and finding Jivamukti are the intertwined best decisions of my life.
Back when I was doing the 9-to-6 thing, Fridays were a relief and Mondays a drag. Since I started teaching Jivamukti yoga, everyday feels like a day I choose, even days when I end up teaching a bad class. I used to get extremely worked up if I end a class unsatisfied by the way I taught it, or if it was a day I stuttered a lot. I cannot figure out why I have days like that though. Could it be instant throat chakra block? Anyhow, now I am learning to practice what I preach (I really prefer the word teach though): Inhale let, exhale go.
I look at my schedule on a day-to-day basis. Even though my regular classes recur in the exact same times, I just don't want to miss out a class I am supposed to sub for another teacher. I realize despite teaching what seems like a whole lot of classes, I really still do have the energy for self-practice or to take a class. And I certainly still have lots of time. I guess it feels as though I have a lot of time because everything that I do is everything that I love.
It's probably not a secret that Jivamukti classes require preparation time. I've been spending a lot of time reading and exploring themes I want to talk about, yet it doesn't feel like work. Yes, it feels like I'm not working at all. So this Friday, I have two classes to teach and I'm done with one. In my mind, I wanted to maybe watch a mindless movie and eat potato chips. Then I remembered the last time I did that. I watched America's Next Top Model and I can't believe I watched seasons of that show. What did I find so entertaining then? So here I am, sitting by the poolside, reading commentaries of the yoga sutras. And this is fun. And I'm happy about the choices I made.
Thank God It's Friday (or Saturday, or Sunday, or Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday, or Thursday)! If you don't feel the same way, don't hate me. Quit your job. Do what you love!
My main agenda for going to Edgy Veggie was to get vegan pies. But it didn't feel right that the first meal of my day would be dessert. Not today anyway. So I ordered the vegan Moroccan meal. It was rather strange that the first person I spoke to was not sure what "vegan" meant, considering they have items labelled vegan on the menu. And I feel a bit sorry for quizzing the next person who spoke to me. I actually asked her: "What is the difference between vegetarian and vegan?" Sorry for seeming like the vegan police, but I just wanted to make sure I am eating 100% plant-based. The thought of a detox just to purge out accidental animal products I may have eaten does not appeal to me. Of course, I am not saying people should do it. It's just me. I have kept my body like a temple (hahaha), so I'd like to keep it that way!
I find the portion of the Moroccan meal a bit small. It is quite a healthy meal though. Just as well, more room for what I came for- dessert!
Frozen speculoos banana pie! I love everything about it, most especially that layer in between the crust and the ice cream that was caramel in flavor and fudgy in texture. It reminded me of the fudgy part of Milky Way candy bar of my pre-vegan days.
Then I thought, I'm already here. Why not get ice cream? I got rum date walnut flavor. Why? Because it's Friday and Friday nights people party and drink, so this is the yoga teacher equivalent of Friday night partying and drinking. Except it's Friday morning and the partying and drinking people are still stuck at work in their office cubes. Ok, I know, that's mean. The truth is, it was one of the three flavors left and this is the only one I have not yet tried.
The dessert menu for your reading pleasure.
The little mosaic tiles on the floor spell out Love. Cute!
Edgy Veggy Cafe is located at the ground floor of #3 Brixton Street in Kapitolyo, Pasig (Parallel to Pioneer Street). Open from 9am to 9pm Mondays to Saturdays. Call 0917-847-48-31 for detailed directions.
So I got Groupon deals for Pipino, P300 value for P150. This is what I opted to get.
They were okay taste-wise. When Pipino first opened in QC, the quality seemed a lot better. I'm not sure what happened along the way but the taste level just isn't as high anymore. At P150 for the two dishes though, it's still not bad. But they have to get their act together soon. Given that the Makati branch is so accessible to me, I'm not even going there that often. (Though I do have 6 of these Groupon deals, so I will be there for 5 more times in a short span of time).
I really liked this cupcake though, especially the green tea icing.
And yes, of course I appreciate the advocacy.
The Makati branch of Pipino is located at 38 Jupiter Street. Open everyday.
It's official. The Vegetarian Kitchen is my favorite restaurant to get amazing vegan food!
When they first opened, friends told me there were only a handful of vegan dishes. Most were lacto-vegetarian. That is no longer the case these days. Almost everything is vegan, and I am pretty confident that they will shift even more into going dairy-free. It's not just a hunch, but an observation of how quickly they were able to adapt to customers asking for 100% plant-based.
The new dish veganized is "chicken" a la king. Pretty amazing how creamy the sauce was. It is a doorway into endless possibilities: carbonara, fetuccini alfredo, all of those cream-based dishes veganized!
It's a good thing The Vegetarian Kitchen is so far from where I live. Otherwise, I may have to give them all of my paycheck.
In Jivamukti January Focus of the Month, we talk about vibhuti or the way of power.
Very often, we take our own power for granted because of the cultural brainwash that nothing we do really matters. And yet we are quickly awakened to the realities of power when it is misused and we become victimized as a result.
Recently, one of the vegetarian restaurants that I go to got mugged. As a result, they had to take extra precautions and install alarm systems and monitors. Just this morning, as I was walking my dog, I was verbally harassed. This is not the first time it happened. When I was younger and such things happened to me, I wondered if I gave off any vibe that allowed it to occur. Now I understand. Other people's psychological problems are not a reflection of me. It is a reflection of them. I was rattled, yes, but I wanted to set my boundaries so I responded in a clear, loud, and unshaken voice, "Turn around and look at me. I'm going to take a picture of you and post it all over the internet. You're a shameless maniac!"
I do wonder how one human being can just use his power like that to put others down. To a large degree, I honestly do not understand it. It felt surreal that you can just use your voice or actions and dominate another being. It frightens me how much power we have.
We are all so lucky. You who are reading this are so lucky. Regardless of what someone does to us, regardless of how much they wish to victimize us, most of us have the power to fight back. We can stand our ground. We can speak up. We can defend ourselves. We can seek justice and equality.
Other beings are not so lucky. Many animals, through no choice of their own, are currently suffering- in factory farms and small farms, in zoos and puppy mills, in research labs and slaughterhouses, in all other industries designed to profit by bringing unimaginable suffering to others.
There is no difference to whom we direct our misused power to. As long as we use our power to put down another being, we are perpetuating the cycle of suffering, not only the suffering of others but also our own. Whenever we put another being down because of his or her ethnicity, gender, social status, sexual orientation, economic standing, and even species, we are robbing this being blind of his or her happiness. We are taking away his or her birth rights which are freedom and happiness. And whenever we consume animals for food, clothing, entertainment, research and other uses, we are treating them as properties rather than acknowledging those birth rights.
We take our own power for granted because of the cultural brainwash that nothing we do really matters. And yet everything we do matters. Our choices have the power to uplift the lives of others. Our choices also have the power to enslave others to unnecessary suffering.
I love that the commentary of Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu in the Jivamukti tradition is a very active one. It does not just say: May all beings be happy and free. It is more than a wish, more than an empty prayer. It is an intent to follow through with our actions. May the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that freedom and to that happiness for all.
Because, yes, we are that powerful. The question lies therein: How will you choose to use your power?
I love the variety of food that I get to eat! In pictures are vegan palabok and banana cinnamon from Dr. Tam's. What I also appreciate at Dr. Tam's is that I never have to ask about ingredients. I just know everything is 100% vegan! That's one of the reasons (the more selfish one) why I support vegan businesses. The more substantial reason is that I feel that the cycle of violence stops when I put my money on a business where the owner is vegan. At Dr. Tam's, the staff members are either already vegan or in the midst of transitioning to veganism. I know it's not 100% but it is as close as I can get for now, and I am happy with that!