Thursday, September 24, 2015

Being Vegan in the World of Film

Recently I picked up the fun hobby of background performing. You know, film extras! I've been away from the computer all week because I just wrapped up being on set for a new miniseries that's coming to HULU. The job is pretty easy, it's interesting, and you meet tons of cool people.

What you think BG will be like
Okay, the easy part is mostly true. It's not particularly hard, but some days on set can be over fifteen hours and you get to do nothing but stand there in uncomfortable shoes and ill fitting costumes.

The interesting part is also mostly true. Sometimes you get to see stunts and celebrities and the magic of film making. You also get to be stuck in the back of a crowd, far from everything, and they are only filming you walk down the street while someone you've never heard of is having a drink of coffee. Over. And over. And over again.

And as for the cool people, again, partially true. Partially. I've talked to some great people
What BG is actually like
on set. I've also talked to... well, some interesting ones. I've been doing background for a month and I've met some new friends, had a guy come on so strong so repeatedly that I had to complain, had a woman insult me for being vegan (loudly and aggressively, but she asked!), a guy start a fight over A&W coupons, another extra get mad at me for using the herbal cigarette prop I was told to use, and so on. Again, some interesting folks do background!

What craft services calls vegan
But the vegan thing. They are required to feed you on set if you're there for six hours (at least, here in Canada). They do their best to accommodate, but vegans - bring snacks. Bring lots of snacks. Some shoots I've been on have had amazing vegan gourmet food, and some think that cheap mac and cheese counts as vegan cause there's no meat. You will get the non-vegans taking all the vegan food if you don't act fast. Why? Because it's free food and people take more than their fair share every time. Bring your own snacks. If you don't end up eating them, great. If you need them, you'll be glad you brought them.

And of course, when you turn down the free food in favor of your own snacks, the questions will come up. When you say, "Oh, I'm vegan," you'll get everything from "That's cool," to "BUT YOU NEED MEAT RAAARRRR," but I've also found, "Me too!" and made some cool veggie friends.

Being an extra is pretty cool sometimes, but after several 15 hour days in a row in the worst shoes imaginable, it's not so glamorous! 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

I Unlocked My First Vegan Superpower!

Smoking eyes not included
And I couldn't be more proud of myself!

One of the side jobs I do for a little extra cash here and there is background acting. It's fun, it's interesting, and it's easy as hell. I quite enjoy it, and 99% of the people are awesome. 1% are... interesting.

There is one 'interesting' fellow I've found myself on set with a few times now, and he is nice. A little too nice. A lot too nice. A... well, he keeps on hitting on me! It's non-stop and today I found myself working with him again and he started with the flirting that I've tried to shut down before. I've made sure he is aware I am engaged to another man, that I'm not interested in him, that I'm from another planet, that I'm moving to a country where they don't speak English (okay, only the first two are true).

Still, he tries his best. I was about to call my agent today and say, "Look, he's a nice guy,
My persona today
but I don't want to work with him again," when he started up, but then another idea came to me.

I would be 'that' vegan.

Normally I'm a pretty passive vegan. I mean, I am new to the whole vegan world and I'm still learning. Plus, in a work setting I don't know how well it would fly for me to push 'the vegan agenda' on people out of nowhere.

But this time I went hard with the vegan talk, I went so hard. The topic of the drought in California came up and I went to, "Not eating meat is the best way you can conserve water at home." He mentioned having eggs that morning. "The egg industry is the number one killer of domesticated animals. They grind up the male chicks when they hatch." The evils of factory farming, the harm to the environment that animal agriculture does, the health benefits of veganism, deep sea trawling for fish, I hit them all at every chance and I made sure I was loud and in his face about it.

By the end of the day, my all too friendly friend wasn't quite so friendly anymore. In fact, he was downright avoiding me.

I'd say it's a damn good superpower to have!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Slip Ups and Not Paying Enough Attention

It happened a lot sooner than I thought it would. I know I'm a very, very new vegan, but I thought I'd last a while longer before accidentally eating something I know I shouldn't.

What tempted me so easily? What had me so excited to stuff in my mouth that I didn't check
the ingredients, or frankly, use some common sense?

A macaron.

Those tempting, sugary sweet, fluffy as a cloud, candy coloured little treats that are oh so en vogue right now. To be more specific, it was a miniature earl grey macaron.

I know exactly what they're made of - egg whites. There goes the egg part of vegan. And the cream filling? Buttercream. AKA - butter and sugar. There's dairy.

How did it happen? All too easily, actually.

On Saturday, a friend and fellow bride-to-be and I went to 'Canada's Wedding Expo' in Toronto. It was a wedding show on steroids and people were pushing samples on us like crazy. Cakes, cakepops, truffles, and so many more. Each time I politely turned it down and kept walking. No problem.

But then I saw them. A tower of those pastel coloured clouds of joy. And they were free! The exhibitor called to us, beckoned us with his siren song of sugar and flavour. As a tea lover, I went for the earl grey without giving it a second thought. I popped the tiny, quarter sized treat in my mouth, moaned over the fantastic softness off it, swallowed and...

Oh shit.

A flash hit me. Perhaps this baker had used aquafaba or something else. Maybe I was in
My sweet treat from now on
luck. Maybe I... No. There was a big sign proclaiming them free of gluten, but full of milk and eggs. 

I know these things will happen, and it's not like I paid for the item I ate, but still, I felt terrible about it. It sucked a bit of the life out of me for a bit, and my own impulsiveness won out over reason.

But I know now I need to be more diligent. Here's hoping I can use this to remember to check everything before I eat it.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Invasion of the Food Trucks

Just up the street from me, not a 10 minute walk away, is an amazing event named Supercrawl that is going on right now. Despite cold, rainy weather this year, thousands of people have taken over about six city blocks to celebrate with music, art, culture, and...

Just one of many options to avoid.

The streets are lined with food trucks. From gourmet to greasy, dinner to dessert, there are food trucks everywhere. With those trucks comes the constant wafting of thousands of flavors as you walk down the street. Each one tempting and titillating and making you say, "I want food!"

The downside? Most of those food options involve meat. Everything from pigs to cows to chickens to curiously miscellaneous. Options without meat often involve cheese, dairy, honey, and who knows what else when ingredient listings are available. Were those fries cooked in vegetable oil or animal? Did that potato get baked with butter? Who knows!

Who knows what's in those dogs.
Now, the main point of this blog - at least for now - is that I am a very new vegan. I've been vegan for just shy of two weeks at this point. I know I will never, ever take another bite of meat again, but boy was I tempted. Seeing meat, touching it, neither of those things are appetizing, but the smells. They were... Amazing.

But all it took was one look at the heaps of greasy, steaming meat for me to go, "Oh, no way," and move on. It was easy, and no just because of moral resolve, but because of the options. The smell of meat may have dominated, but it wasn't the only option available.

Salvation! (And healthy too)
If you looked for them, vegan options were everywhere. From soups, to wraps, or my favorite place up the street - The Green Smoothie Bar - I was covered. I got my muddy monkey smoothie and my chocolate peanut butter macaroons, and enjoyed my night listening to music and viewing the art while never having another desire to do something that I'd regret.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Movie Review: Honeymoon

Honeymoon (2014) was not a movie that caught my eye while browsing Netflix. It looked like any other cheap horror flick with a mediocre blurb and thumbnail. Not saying that's too terrible, many of the movies I've watched on Netflix have a similar look and feel, which is exactly why it never caught my attention.

But a week ago, it was recommended to me and I thought, "Why not? I'll give it a whirl."

I am so glad I did.

The movie stars Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones) and Harry Treadaway (Penny Dreadful) as newlyweds Bea and Paul, who are heading up to the bride's family cottage for their honeymoon. It starts off romantic, sweet, and relatable with excellent acting as over the moon lovebirds from both the leads.

But things don't stay so sweet for long. When Bea takes Paul to a local restaurant, they meet the only two other people in the entire film and things are not as wonderful as Bea remembers. Something is wrong with the couple who run the diner, but Bea and Paul write it off as a spat, and it plays an excellent contrast to the happy young lovers.

The other couple should have served as a warning to the newlyweds. Soon after their meeting, Bea isn't acting exactly like herself. Her memory slips, she doesn't use the right words at the right time, and she won't let Paul touch her. Something is very, very wrong with Bea, but no matter what Paul tries to do, she won't let him help.

From start to finish, I couldn't tear my eyes away from the screen. Dark, haunting, mysterious, and melancholic, Honeymoon is as beautiful as it is unsettling. It's never explicitly scary, but it doesn't need to be. As more layers of the mystery that surrounds Bea begin to unfold, only more questions remain. Whether she is an active participant in what is happening or an unwilling victim is a question that lingers right up to the last moments of the film.

It's a hidden gem on Netflix, and worth a watch for anyone looking to be unsettled for an evening.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

It's Not Just About Eating Better

For most of my childhood, I was pretty chubby. Never obese, but chubby. We lived on a very steak and potatoes type diet, and my parents never put limits on my eating, nor did they force me to get any exercise. What did that mean? Well, I got - and stayed - pretty chubby.

Gaining an extra twenty pounds or so when I went to university was an eye opener. I started eating better, I not only joined a gym, but started taking martial arts, and I lost about fifty pounds and kept it off.

Until a couple years ago. Too many nights lazing around, too little exercise, and too many snacks put me at the heaviest I've ever been. Thankfully, that was four months ago and I've already lost twenty-five pounds an a lot of inches. Going vegan is just a part of a bigger health picture (though the veganism is mostly for ethical reasons).

Right now I'm following a killer workout schedule that has me at the gym at least four days a week, and it's having a schedule that's keeping me motivated. Day one and three are upper body, two and four are lower, and the results have been amazing. It feels damn good to have people say they notice the change!

Here is the workout I've been following (scroll down for the schedule) and if you plan on doing it - make sure you keep track of your weights and reps! you want to improve as time goes on, not get complacent. 

Have any workout tips? Share 'em!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Labour Day & Eating Out as a New Vegan

Happy one week anniversary to me! I know it's not a huge milestone, but hey, why not?

This weekend saw not one, but two social outings for me as a new vegan, and I was kind of excited to see how they went. I wondered, Will people be accommodating? and, Will I have to answer the same question about protein eighteen times? Either way, I was very interested to see what the outcome would be.

Let me preface this by saying I do not expect anyone to be accommodating to my personal dietary choices. If they are, great. If not? Oh well! So let’s get started.


Day One was Saturday, and we'd been invited to our friends' house for dinner and general hangouts. I'd let them know I'd moved to veganism a few days before, and they were very accommodating! They did make-your-own pizzas for dinner, which included pitas for the crust (dairy free!), and then put whatever you want one them. Choices were pepperoni, bacon, two kinds of cheese and mushrooms, zucchini, green pepper, and spinach. Lots of choice for everyone!

For us, I brought vegan chili to share, which was really well received as well. I made it with lentils, black beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, mushrooms, green peppers, and chipotle peppers. Overall, it was spicier than I would have liked, but still tasty. Surprisingly, it went unbelievably well with Fritos of all things!

A few questions came up, the protein thing came up, but overall everyone was supportive. No one looked at me funny or acted like it was a huge deal. For my first time going out with friends as a vegan, it was a huge, roaring success. My friends rock, what can I say?


Day Two of this lovely (and way too hot) Labour Day long weekend was spent with my in-laws and their extended family. Including aunts, uncles, grandparents, and a baby (not mine), there were twelve people and it was officially a BBQ.

The good news was, my fiancĂ©’s one uncle is a long time vegetarian for health reasons and he brought veggie burgers and veggie hot dogs. Not so good, I found out after eating one hot dog that they were Yves and I've seen some Yves products contain milk ingredients so... hopefully not. Upon Googling, I seem to be fine, but it's a lesson to check before eating in the future!

Now, there was one thing that put me off the whole day. One person contacted me ahead of time to confirm a few things I will and will not eat, which I found exceptionally polite and considerate. I was excited to try what they brought, especially since the item I brought (quinoa salad) was something that I decided to make since it fit their dietary concerns as well as my own.

So I'm about to dig into their dish without even checking since they'd asked ahead of time and I hear, "Oh, you can't eat that."

All I could think at that moment was, What was the point in asking which ingredients I won't eat? I wouldn't have cared one little bit if they hadn't asked or informed me ahead of time that they were making something to fit my dietary concerns. As I said, I don't expect anyone to make special things for me, but they did ask ahead of time so it was a bit of a letdown to see they didn't bother after all.

Overall, the rest of the day was fine. I had a small selection of foods to eat (everything else had either egg or mayo on it. Such an egg group), but the quinoa salad I brought went over well and I still have plenty of leftovers. There were almost no questions about my switch to veganism, no one got offended by it, and no one really cared (good enough!).

It was an excellent weekend, all things considered. No one bitched at me to eat milk/dairy/eggs, no one got insulted by me turning down food items, no one insisted it would be too hard to get my protein, and everyone tried my vegan alternatives. I'd call it a win!