Veganism, Volkswagens and “Voyage of the Damned”

I wish you all could see my current view from my own eyes — coffee next to me, the Christmas tree is lit up, I’m in sweatpants and for background noise? “Voyage of the Damned” — my favorite Doctor Who Christmas special. I have been done with finals for a few days now but since I am home, I feel like I am officially on Christmas break. As I know I told you guys last time, I have made a bit of a tour of the state during the last two days. Well, the top half of the state, to be more accurate.

Left Kirksville the other morning and made the drive to Kansas City — hooray hooray!

Left Kirksville the other morning and made the drive to Kansas City — hooray hooray!

One of my best friends is getting married this summer and since all of us bridesmaids are Truman girls, we all got together at the beginning of break to go to Kansas City (where the bride-to-be, Sarah, lives) and pick out dresses. After a bowl of oatmeal and a cup of Earl Grey to-go, I was ready to hit the road and was ecstatic to be in Kansas City, even if only for a day.

We had lunch at Panera at Crown Center before ice skating….

Glad I remembered to bring long socks...and glad I didn't fall and bust anything.

Glad I remembered to bring long socks…and glad I didn’t fall and bust anything.

And then explored Crown Center and is pretty Christmas decorations…

Mayor's Christmas Tree

Mayor’s Christmas Tree

and before we knew it, it was time for our dress appointment. After two hours, countless dresses and lots of laughs, Sarah picked out a winner we all loved. You’ll just have to wait until July to see what it looks like! 🙂 By the time we got done, it was 8 p.m. and all four of us were ravenous. We met Andy and Ronnie — Sarah’s brother and fiancé, respectively — for dinner at Cheesecake Factory at the Plaza.

Can we all just take a moment to appreciate how pretty the Plaza was lit up for Christmas?

Can we all just take a moment to appreciate how pretty the Plaza was lit up for Christmas?

Okay, so time to get to the actual vegan stuff in this post: Cheesecake Factory.

I have been to this restaurant before, I think two times, with a boy I used to date. However, when we went, we went to get slices of cheesecake. I knew its regular menu was just as extensive as its cheesecake menu so I knew there would be something I could eat. Plus, my friends told me they had found a website that compiled vegan options at Cheesecake Factory. Sweet!

I used this as a nice guide to navigate the restaurant’s extensive menu since the whole menu is basically a book of its own. I think there is such a thing as too many options…it’s overwhelming! I was this close to sticking with a salad sans cheese but given how hungry I was, I knew salad wasn’t going to cut it. Plus, lunch was a long time ago.

Our waiter was extremely gracious and didn’t miss a detail when I ordered a veggie burger with a ton of modifications: no bun, no cheese, no mayo, everything on the side. Thank goodness for my trusty iPhone so I could do some research on the fly while we waited for our drinks to come in. Apparently, the buns at Cheesecake Factory are egg-based BUT the veggie burger patty is totally vegan…score! I got that with some sweet potato fries and the waiter was so kind in accommodating my vegan needs — he even told me how a lady who was also vegan came in last week and made a TON of modifications to a pasta order so my order was simple in comparison. I can’t explain how much I appreciate it when I don’t feel criminalized at restaurants for making changes to an order. I long to live in a world where this is normal … unlike my experience yesterday which I’ll talk about later.

Stealing Sarah's photo...but here we are at Cheesecake Factory (Anna to the left and Nicole to the right). I was boring with my beer while everyone else got fancy drinks.

Stealing Sarah’s photo…but here we are at Cheesecake Factory (Anna to the left and Nicole to the right). I was boring with my beer while everyone else got fancy drinks.

My veggie burger was absolutely delicious and if you are ever lost for ideas at Cheesecake Factory, I’d give it my best [vegan] recommendation.

I hit the road yesterday morning to drive from Kansas City to St. Louis, but not before refueling my car and my belly…

Spent a lot of time in this car the last few days.

Spent a lot of time in this car the last few days.

Caffe Misto with soy and an oatmeal with a nut medley.

Caffe Misto with soy and an oatmeal with a nut medley.

Eating anything with a spoon while driving is no simple feat so I was really just shoving oatmeal in my mouth any chance I had at a stoplight before I attempted to hop on different highways to get to the interstate. I was ecstatic when I made it!

St. Louis, here I come!

St. Louis, here I come!

I made it home in the early afternoon and unpacked, did some editing and decided I was refreshed enough to venture out to get lunch. I went to Panera [again] since I really like it and it’s vegan friendly and ordered my usual: Pick two with Black Bean soup and a Cobb Salad, no chicken, no bacon, no egg, no cheese (so it just has lettuce, tomato, avocado and dressing). The woman repeated my order to me so I was confident it would be correct, but I have always learned to check to-go orders before leaving to be proof-positive that it is correct. I’m glad I did this time because I opened the bag and staring me in the face was a slab of chicken and half of an egg on top of my salad. Greaaatttt. 

I’m not sure if it was the exhaustion or the lack of caffeine but I wanted to cry right there on the spot out of pure frustration. Not only was I upset that this happened to me, I was upset this would just be thrown away and wasted. I could have easily picked this off, but it is my belief that once meat touches any other food item, that food item is contaminated. This was no exception and was completely unacceptable.

I marched up to the pick-up and told the guy that this was incorrect and I was a vegan and I wasn’t going to pick it off. He proceeded to argue with me about how this was “how I ordered it” (no) and this is how he was told to make it (no). After a good three minutes of bickering with me, he remade my salad (and I watched to make sure he didn’t just pick the protein off) and sent me on my merry way. I could have made a really big scene but honestly, I hate confrontation and I was so tired and hungry that I just wanted my food and wanted to go home. You win some and you lose some and the whole situation left me really crestfallen, so I think Panera and I are going to have some much-needed time apart.

That’s okay, too, because tonight, I am going to do some Christmas shopping with my mom and we are grabbing Jason’s Deli for dinner…one of my favorites! I’ll write about that next time. Still brainstorming about my next post.

Have a great day, everyone!

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