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 Post subject: Small Town Veganism
PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:22 pm 
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Drinks Wild Tofurkey
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I tried to search for this since I'm sure we've discussed it, but I couldn't find a dedicated thread. So, how about a thread about being vegan in a small town?

Last year I moved to a very small town in very rural New Mexico. It's 2 hours to almost any town with a population greater than 2000 people, 4 hours from a significant town, and I am surrounded by dairies and cattle. I expected to have a hard time finding specialty ingredients, but I've run into so many issues I didn't expect!

For example, we have two grocery stores in my town and four total within an hour round trip drive. The most extensive one is a Super Walmart, then there are two medium sized ones but they are over 30 minutes away, and the last is a small Super Saver (which has a fabulous Mexican section and fresh tortillas daily, but not a lot else). We have a farmer's market in the summer, but it's only open on weekdays during normal work hours. Crazy!

I am constantly trying to balance time/gas to go further, supporting Walmart, or making do with Super Saver just to buy basics. I order more on-line than I'd like to admit.

So tell me, where do you live? How and where do you shop? What adjustments do you make? Are you the only vegan around? I'm open to both commiseration and advice about living in a small town.

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 Post subject: Re: Small Town Veganism
PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:23 pm 
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Will the commissary order stuff for you?

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 Post subject: Re: Small Town Veganism
PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:30 pm 
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I live in a small town in Indiana. My food options are Super Walmart, a crappy Kroger, and an Aldi. I'm about an hour away from a Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and a variety of other good places. It's not too bad, but I can't get yogurt in town, or any slightly interesting vegetables--just the basics. I shop at Walmart more than I'd like because it has the best selection and it's literally down the street. I don't feel too bad about it, honestly. You do what you have to do!

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 Post subject: Re: Small Town Veganism
PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:32 pm 
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Drinks Wild Tofurkey
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They will order some specialty items but you need to order a set amount (I think a case or two of whatever it is). If I knew other vegans (or really had made friends here at all) I'd split stuff with them. I've run into a different challenge with the commissary, as I leave work after they close, which leaves shopping on the weekends on a trip dedicated solely to that purpose. I will do that, but I hate an hour+ in the car to buy tofu. I know lots of people have it harder than me, though, and have a much further drive for anything.

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 Post subject: Re: Small Town Veganism
PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:34 pm 
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I have lived in a tiny town in Alberta (and lived in a campground, no less!). There was a little version of a Superstore where I could get basics. I made a lot of hummus, marinated a lot of tofu, and just made plenty of soups and stews and biscuits and muffins. I definitely couldn't find stuff like nooch, and even veggie broth and vegan bread were hard to find, but I just tried to take it on as a challenge. I'm not gonna lie, I ate a lot of potato chips and other crepe. Good luck! You'll find your stride.


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 Post subject: Re: Small Town Veganism
PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:51 pm 
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Drinks Wild Tofurkey
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I have found that I've been making WAY more food from scratch. Bread, cheese, seitan, burgers, etc. I'm really eating very well, but it's a different mindset than when I lived in Albuquerque.

Another challenge is eating out. I really, really love eating in restaurants. My only option in town is a Subway (though I can make due at one of our several steakhouses), so obviously I pretty much always eat in now. I'm saving lots of money though!

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 Post subject: Re: Small Town Veganism
PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:57 pm 
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Invictus wrote:
I have found that I've been making WAY more food from scratch. Bread, cheese, seitan, burgers, etc. I'm really eating very well, but it's a different mindset than when I lived in Albuquerque.

Another challenge is eating out. I really, really love eating in restaurants. My only option in town is a Subway (though I can make due at one of our several steakhouses), so obviously I pretty much always eat in now. I'm saving lots of money though!

Subway was my only option too! Man, Subway gets old fast.


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 Post subject: Re: Small Town Veganism
PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:00 pm 
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Drinks Wild Tofurkey
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No kidding! I DO appreciate having an option, though.

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 Post subject: Re: Small Town Veganism
PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:24 pm 
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I lived in a small town when I moved here. There were 3 grocery stores and a walmart so I wasn't really alllll that bad off. Ok, there was even a weird health food store that had nooch and a few other bulk things (powdered not flake! boo). So I guess I shouldn't complain. I just couldn't get tempeh or vegan yogurt unless I went to Asheville. But I made way more from scratch too then, like, even mayo made from mori-nu I stocked up on, etc. I was just glad I could get soymilk in town! There were better restaurants in Sylva too.

So, Amazing Savings with a 2 hr round trip. You'd probably do a 2hr round trip for Amazing Savings and a vegetarian restaurant too...

But yes, so much more from scratch!

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 Post subject: Re: Small Town Veganism
PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:39 pm 
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I stayed in a rural town in New Zealand for a while, and when I was there I ate more fresh fruit and veg than I have at any other time in my life because that's what was vegan and available. There was a supermarket in town, but other than soya milk there weren't really any special "vegan" things to be had there. I ate kumara (sweet potato) basically every day. I love sweet potatoes of all types, but I got pretty sick of it after a while. A lot of the store-bought hummus even had kumara in it! Ahhhhhh!

Anyway, if I wanted something special I had to make it myself. For example, I brought a big pouch of vital wheat gluten over with me from America and used it to make homemade seitan. Or take canned beans (and kumara) to make homemade veggie burgers. If taking a long drive to buy tofu sounds crappy, maybe you could try making it yourself? Or making your own soy/nut milk? Not sure what else you're having trouble finding, but I would use it as an opportunity to get creative. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Small Town Veganism
PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:05 pm 
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Drinks Wild Tofurkey
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I was just thinking about maybe learning to make tofu! After I get this cheese thing down. I'd say my fruit and veg intake has gone up two-fold, easily.

I hope I didn't sound too whiny, because I don't really mind this tiny, dusty town. It was just very easy to be a vegan in ABQ, and it's almost like being a new vegan again, since I have to actively think about feeding myself, you know? I'm sure there are people here who are more rural than me, though!

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 Post subject: Re: Small Town Veganism
PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:28 pm 
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Not NOT A Furry
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i live in a small town. i can get some decent vegan products at a Kroger that's about 30min away. there's a Whole Foods in the nearest city that's about an hour away and i go there to stock up on stuff-- i'll keep a crepe ton of nooch in my freezer (and a smaller mason jar of it on a shelf w/ the other condiments for accessibility), VWG, and i'll usually let myself buy one or two "special" things when i'm there-- like veganaise or daiya or something. like the rest, i make almost everything from scratch. honestly, i enjoy cooking and eating that way.

my situation doesn't sound nearly as tough as you have it, though, invictus. it sounds like you're working hard and doing all the right things. keep it up!


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 Post subject: Re: Small Town Veganism
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 4:07 am 
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Invictus wrote:
I hope I didn't sound too whiny, because I don't really mind this tiny, dusty town. It was just very easy to be a vegan in ABQ, and it's almost like being a new vegan again, since I have to actively think about feeding myself, you know? I'm sure there are people here who are more rural than me, though!

Don't apologize. It's rough! Even when I visit my parents I bring a bunch of stuff--nooch, tempeh, etcetera, because I'm used to having those things. Are there any Asian restaurants? The one Japanese restaurant in my parents' town is pretty much the only place I can eat out at. It's just stuff like teriyaki veggies, avocado maki, and edamame, but it's an opportunity to eat out in a very non vegan-friendly town! Vietnamese places frequently have some vegan options as well.

I love small towns. I think it's great that you are embracing it and making stuff from scratch!


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 Post subject: Re: Small Town Veganism
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 6:11 am 
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i don't live in a small town but the outcome is the same: very little veg stuff available premade, and almost no restaurants (we have veg restaurants but they are cheesefests).
I also just started making my own things. If I go out to eat we go to a buffet where I can get what I want (and get angry about paying $$$ for just salad). I rarely go out, and if I do it's usually to drink, not to eat.
It also really colored how I cook. In the US I used to do a lot with tofu. Here, I can get tofu once a week if I reserve it, which is a pain in the asparagus, so I usually don't. I learned how to make silken tofu and just make it myself, but I cook a lot fewer puddings/sauces/cheesecakes than I used to when I could just buy a block of mori-nu.
Upshot: great produce.
I've considered writing a zine about being vegan where you simply don't have anything prepared. I think it would be a lot better to start some kind of thread on here with tips.

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 Post subject: Re: Small Town Veganism
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 6:30 am 
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I live in a small town. I make a lot from scratch and Amazon Prime is my friend. I have 'subscribe and save' set up for bulk:
Rye flour
Nooch
Cashews
Toothpaste (!)
Vitamins
Miso
Rice noodles
Rice paper spring roll wrappers

And I bulk order
Jackfruit
Vital Wheat Gluten

From other shops online.

It took a bit of working out but actually I'm pleased to be buying less from tesco! Though I'm not sure how much better Amazon is really.

I can get good fresh vegetables from our local Greengrocer and one brand of tofu, soya milk, sausages and mince from Tesco.

I make my own bread (in my trusty machine) and cook pretty much everything from scratch.


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 Post subject: Re: Small Town Veganism
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 7:46 am 
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I think the experience of many European vegans is quite similar to yours. Things have been getting better here. Most supermarkets (in my country anyway) now have a decent selection of soy milks and some yogurts, but they have hardly any vegan meat-alternatives (almost all vegetarian ones contain eggs or milk) and no vegan cheese. Even health food stores often don't carry vegan cheese, or just one or two types that are crazy expensive and not very good.

I live in an area where product-availability is quite good. I order VWG and some cheeses online, and occasionally make longish shopping trips to get stuff like affordable silken tofu. My Saturday shopping trip often involves three or four stores: a supermarket, a health food store, a small Turkish shop and a small Asian shop. Thankfully, these are all more or less within walking distance, but it still takes a good part of the morning to get it done.

Because most vegan specialty products at the health food store are so expensive, I make my own seitan, sausages, nut cheese, mayo and some other stuff. I use a lot of legumes for protein, since they're cheap, easily available and store well.

My parents live in a much more vegan-deprived area of the country (no chickpeas in the local supermarket!), so I make sure to have a store of nooch, soy sauce and tvp at their house to cook with when we visit them.

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 Post subject: Re: Small Town Veganism
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:58 am 
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I don't need much that requires me to drive an hour away, which is about $20 bucks in gas, so I buy online if I need anything special. Or if I do decide to drive to get something, I make it a special day and find some other stuff to enjoy while I'm far away from home. In fact, getting away from my small town for half a day is a treat.


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 Post subject: Re: Small Town Veganism
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 10:39 am 
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My dad lives in an extremely rural area, and we don't have to deal with shopping there often, but when we do need to shop in his town, we end up with beans and very basic produce. There's not even a Walmart, just Piggly Wiggly and Save-A-Lot. One of the grocery stores has some Morningstar products, but I don't think any of them are vegan. We really try to make an effort to bring already-prepared food when we visit, because his kitchen isn't very well-stocked either. They eat a lot of canned and boxed foods. I don't think they even have a real chef's knife... I had to chop veggies with a steak knife.


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 Post subject: Re: Small Town Veganism
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 1:40 pm 
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one of the things i loved (and first gravitated towards) VwaV was i was like, "omg i can get almost everything for these recipes at the local Wal-Mart!" actually, i lot of vegan cookbooks are geared towards that kind of cooking and i think that's really nice.

torque, you should make that zine! i'd buy it!


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 Post subject: Re: Small Town Veganism
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 2:01 pm 
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i dont live in a small town or a rural area, in fact where i live is technically considered a city but i swear it feels like small town veganism.

im too far from boston to enjoy the benefits of the "big" city stuff like veg or vegan restaurants, ethnic grocers, etc.
im too urban and not rural ENOUGH to enjoy cool things like farmer's markets (dont ask me why there is no farmer's market within a 20 minute radius of me but there isnt!)

we have the big chain grocery stores and they have an ok amount of veg stuff. probably much better than people who do truly live in a small town but there are no veg restaurants and the restaurants who have vegetarian options load them with cheese and cream.
i have to drag my asparagus to WF for a lot of the products i prefer and then of course pay the higher price for them

we do have a chipotle though which apparently is a big luxury im finding out (yay for us!)
we have a very large Brazilian population in my town so we have a few Brazilian grocer/deli type stores but i find Brazilian fare to be VERY meat heavy so i dont think ive ever shopped at one.

to go to Whole Foods, TJs, or an Asian market i need to go about 20-25 mins which certainly isnt a tragedy
i think more than anythign my laziness is my biggest obstacle :-P

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 Post subject: Re: Small Town Veganism
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 2:02 pm 
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Oh man, I was fine with being vegan in Clarksville until the commissary stopped selling soy yogurt for NO GODDAMN REASON BECAUSE IT WAS SELLING OUT EVERY WEEK. I had a Kroger to get vegan ice cream and tofurkey slices from, the variety was small but at least it was there, and then i'd get basics and rice milk at the commissary. I didn't mind having to go to Nashville to get gluten or nooch because those are pantry staples, I would buy a bag of nooch the size of a basketball and it would last me for months. But yogurt is something I eat every day.

Brian and I are going to be moving to a smaller town this spring, and it's not vegan party time here, but the difference that half the population is going to make is crazy. No Chiptole, Indian, little old lady Thai...my options here aren't vast but I like all of them so I don't mind. No health food store, but I can get to one in two directions 45 minutes away and one of those is where Brian's sister lives so that will work out fine. But yesterday we went to look at houses, and we stopped at one of the Kroger's for something and I noticed that they only soy yogurt they have is O'Soy and I started to panic a little. Kroger is the main grocery chain so there are 4-5 more stores in the town and they might have different stock, but THAT is what made me go 'oh no'.

I'm also sad that there's no Mejier there, it's a small chain that's like a Super Walmart but they have a really good international section, a small health food aisle and frozen stuff, and their own organic and natural line so it's easy to go there, pick up a box of crackers or whatever, and figure out if they're vegan without trying to figure out weird chemical names.

I will definitely have to become less lazy about making things that i've been able to easily buy for the last few years.

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 Post subject: Re: Small Town Veganism
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:15 pm 
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I would seriously cry with joy if a Chipolte showed up here. I know it's not, like, special-special, but Lard it would be convenient. And some days I just want a burrito the size of my head.

Yeah, non-dairy yogurt (and the complete lack of it in 130+ miles) is actually what prompted me to start this thread. I'm going to have to learn how to make it, I think.

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 Post subject: Re: Small Town Veganism
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:58 pm 
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You totally should! I've been tempted to make my own yogurt, just because it's so damn expensive. I don't eat it that often though so I'm not sure if it's worth the effort for me.


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 Post subject: Re: Small Town Veganism
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 4:08 pm 
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Yeah, the problem with making yogurt is that you have to first get some and then you have to keep making it. Although in another thread someone said you could freeze some. Making it is really super easy though, especially with a yogurt maker, so I think it's pretty worth it!

I feel like if I lived in a town with absolutely no access to soy yogurt, I'd probably make some with dairy yogurt and then just hopefully keep it going for a long time. I really really like yogurt.

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 Post subject: Re: Small Town Veganism
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 4:33 pm 
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ijustdiedinside wrote:
I'd probably make some with dairy yogurt and then just hopefully keep it going for a long time. I really really like yogurt.

i've been debating about this with myself for a while and i just can't seem to make myself do it. if i had good soymilk at a reasonable price i would probably do it.

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