Let’s Talk Meatless With: Jason Halbauer

By day, Jason is a News Writer/Producer for Breakfast Television. By night, (or more likely afternoon as he’s up incredibly early) he dabbles in photography, freelance writing and blogging. Check out his website http://www.jasonhalbauer.com/

When did you start eating a vegetarian diet?

I have been vegetarian for almost eight years now and a vegan for over three!

What kind of vegetarian would you describe yourself as?

I’m a vegan: no meat, no eggs, no dairy, no leather, no suede, etc. etc.

Why have you chosen this lifestyle?

Once I learned about it, saw the videos, heard the data about the environment, I personally couldn’t justify not going vegetarian (and, eventually, vegan). After watching footage of live pigs being castrated (standard practice) and chickens in huge barns unable to form a pecking order, that was it. That’s not to mention how much better and more energetic I feel and the wonderful community I’ve found through veganism.

What challenges have you faced living on a vegetarian diet?

The only real challenges I ever face are in those situations where I’m somewhere unfamiliar (…while at a friend’s house or a restaurant I’ve never been or traveling) and the options I’d want or expect aren’t available. The consequence: I have a crappy meal and get on with my life. I have a very low tolerance for crappy meals, but it’s something that happens to all of us and it’s mostly fine. It’s absolutely a first-world problem.

Another challenge: Sometimes you feel a bit rude for rejecting whatever people are offering you, but as long as you’re humble, polite and respectful, it’s never that big an issue.

What restaurants in Edmonton do you frequent?

Padmanadi, Remedy, Sweet Mango, Fu Guang Tea House, Famoso, Numchuk Wilai, Noorish, Loma House, Cafe Mosaics, Veggie Garden, Blue Plate Diner, Lan’s Asian Grill… I could go on, because I am a definite foodie, but I suspect I’ll start to bore you.

Favorite dish?
It’s not the healthiest, but I’m a tremendous sucker for Padmanadi’s ginger beef. Backup choices: the red curry tofu at Sweet Mango and the Funghi Tartufo at Famoso (with the vegan cheese, of course!).

Recommended resources?
I love Vegan Yum Yum’s recipes (www.veganyumyum.com) and locally the Vegetarians and Vegans of Alberta do some great work, including potlucks, education sessions, cooking courses, etc. (www.vofa.ca)

Any veggie myths you would like to expel?

That it’s difficult. I don’t buy the whole “I couldn’t be vegan thing,” because I used to say it. Then I went vegan. It’s much easier than you could possibly think and if you believe in the ideas behind it, you should definitely do it!