My friend Renee & I went to check out the new Viva La Vegan store in Santa Monica.
I spotted this immediately:
While I applaud the non-animal alternative, even the vegetarian version of shark fin sort of creeps me out. Fortune was with us, as Viva La Vegan offered an array of extremely delicious samples from quiche, pad Thai, salad, pizza, and coconut and kale chips and lovely Japanese ice tea sweetened with tapioca. Amid the typical things like crystal rock deodorant I found odd products like gluten-free ice cream cones, every sort of fake meat product (see above) and vegan hobby glue so that enlightened crafts people don’t have to assemble popsicle stick houses with hoof-based adhesive. The vegan donuts imported from Las Vegas looked amazing, but too much sugar sends me on a melancholy bender, so I abstained. Wandering the specialized aisles, I wondered if vegan children might be humiliated and beaten at school if anyone discovered (or smelled) their “blue algae nut butter” and jelly sandwich.
After eating until we were swollen, Renee and I headed to the beach. An hour passed effortlessly. I’m truly blessed to have friends willing to help me pick up trash. (thank you all). We walked along the sun-drenched beach collecting cigarette butts, old balloons, and a stubby pencil that read PROTECT OUR COASTS AND OCEANS, we exchanged ghost stories. Renee paused to draw in a map of her grandmother’s house in the sand, indicating with her big toe a hallway down which she’d seen a mysterious man pass by. I mentioned the figure of a fog-colored boy I’d seen in Massachusetts. We found an abandoned sand castle with a drawbridge made of driftwood. Everything felt immediate and far off.
A day rich in companionship and natural beauty makes me feel more generous and even the abandoned, half-buried plastic cup decorated with children and animals that urged the drinker to Respect Nature seemed, however ironic, at least somehow well-intentioned.