What I Learned at WordCamp Part 3

Continued from Part 2


Photo Credit: John Uit

The third thing I learned at WordCamp 2015: I’m a closet Vegan.

My first exposure to being vegan occurred over twenty years ago. While working at a summer camp, I noticed one of my charges had dry, cracked lips, so bought her a Chapstick at the camp store. (Vegan readers…wait for it…)

When her mom arrived for pickup, she took one look at her daughter’s healing mouth and turned to me. “Did you give her something to put on her lips?”

I smiled and handed her the lip balm. “Yes, Ma’am; don’t worry—I bought her a new tube.”

She. Went. Postal.

Shocked beyond words, I stood mute as she blasted me for not calling her first. A naive eighteen, it never occurred to me that she’d be anything but happy her kid’s lips were no longer bleeding.

“We’re Vegan. This is against our beliefs. Bees made the wax.”

I didn’t know what she meant.

Vegan…like Spock on Star Trek? No…wait. That’s Vulcan.

Searched mental files…nope, nothing.

After she relaxed a bit, I asked her to tell me more about it. To me, a committed omnivore, the vegan way sounded a little crazy.

Two decades later, I still consider eating a TRYathlon.

If it’s edible, it’s fair game. New food? I’m in. (This is why I gained 15 lbs during a month in Trinidad.)

Lovers of all things fuzzy, close your eyes for this next sentence: in Peru, I checked out a local delicacy—guinea pig ravioli.

I say this not to induce death threats from PETA but to prove that I will, in fact, taste almost anything once. Chocolate covered ants are high on my “try it” list.

If you told my camp-counselor-self that I’d someday adore vegetarian or vegan dishes, I might have laughed. It’s true, though. This try-all-foods-at-least-once attitude has led me to love meatless meals.

Attending WordCamp US brought me to a life-altering culinary discovery.

At lunch on Friday (FYI, the food was FABULOUS), I spooned a couple different Philly-cheesesteak-style meats onto my plate without checking the tags.

One of them was the most tender, fall-apart-in-your-mouth beef I’ve ever had.

I raved about it to my friend Ruth, who laughed.

That meat…wasn’t.

Apparently there’s this thing I’d never heard about. Seitan. Ruth, attempting to assist me in pronunciation, explained that it sort of sounds like “satan.”

Me: “So. Somebody chopped the devil into little bits and it tastes like heaven. Who knew?” 

Ruth: Eye roll. (All my friends have this same weird tic. So strange.)

Per Google:

noun: seitan
  1. a high-protein vegetarian food made from cooked wheat gluten.
origin uncertain: perhaps from Japanese shokubutsusei tanpaku ‘vegetable protein.’

I understand “cooked wheat gluten” and “vegetable protein” don’t sound enticing—or, for that matter, even palatable. But trust me on this one. Go back and look at that picture above. Yep, seitan. It’s mouth-watering.

Friday evening, I had seitan prepared to taste like chicken. MMMM. At Saturday’s lunch, seitan barbecue. SO good.

I ate a LOT of seitan, skipping “real” meat for the rest of the weekend. Having had…occasional issues…with new foods, I had concerns about potential…repercussions. I’m happy to report that all systems remained in proper working order.

Unless you’re allergic to wheat/gluten, you’ve gotta try it.

Researching my new obsession, I’ve found several recipes to make seitan at home. I haven’t attempted yet (mostly because my kitchen has been upside-down for the last month, but that’s a post for another day). Although you can buy it prepared, DIY sounds more fun.

Check out the Post Punk Kitchen for an apparently foolproof recipe. Isa has a number of other vegan recipes that look incredibly yummy.

For many reasons, I feel extremely fortunate to have had the chance to attend WordCamp US 2015 (and if you’re interested in attending next year, click here for a 2016 ticket. Trust me; the food alone is worth the price).

Finding a unique new fare might not be a major motivating factor for you, but it’s just one of many great reasons to attend.

I mean, where else can you cut the devil into tiny little pieces and chow down?

Wait. Did you just roll your eyes?

You should totally get that tic checked.


About Casey

Adoption = my life. I'm determined to give my kids the chance they deserve. Adoption isn't always easy. I promise, you're not alone in this. Join me at - we're in this together.

Posted on January 2, 2016, in Blogging101, Food, Parent, Vegan, WordCamp and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I have a friend who is currently doing a vegan diet, and she has inspired some very nice recipes. I am not off meat, but I do enjoy various vegetable options I never glanced at before.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hmm something to think about sounds devilish….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 🙂 I think WordCamp US is a bit beyond my reach. I can’t even make it to WordCamp CapeTown.
    BUT, here’s a thought: Why doesn’t Casey come to South Africa? You could OD on the accent (and maybe pick one up at the same time!).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m listening to Tana French’s “The Likeness,” and the narrator does several different Irish accents. When no one’s home I walk around talking to myself about the loooooondry or faending the dahhler I know I had in my jayket. Then my aunt and I watched “The Holiday” this weekend (Jude Law is back in my “top five guys to call if Hubby accidentally falls into a garbage disposal”) and I got a dose of England’s English…now I just have to watch “Chappie” again for some Sowth Ayfrican and get my accents all muddled. No one will ever figure out where I’m from!!! ha ha

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow! Thanks for that! I learned something new. Never heard of seitan before. Most people I know avoid gluten (it’s evil!). Gluten intolerance is sort of like ADHD — every second person has it (but not really).

    I did a search for where I can get “vital wheat gluten flour” here. Only one “health food” firm distributes it and it comes with a warning: “Gluten Powder should be used sparingly as a flour improver, as it is not a health product. Natures Choice does not recommend the use of ‘gluten steaks’ as a source of protein.” Plus it is outrageously expensive. I suppose this means I won’t be trying seitan anytime soon. 😦


    • Ha ha YESSSS that is so accurate. 🙂 Pretty funny.
      Well, we’re just going to have to figure a way to get you to 2016 WordCamp US, right?
      Yesterday at the store I heard an accent that made me smile. I listened for several minutes to the gentleman speaking and finally broke into the conversation and asked if he’s from South Africa (yes). He seemed a little shocked that I recognized it. 🙂 So of course I thought of you!
      And then I stood a discreet distance away (okay, I followed him like a stalker) and continued to listen with a silly grin on my face. SA is my favorite accent.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: Annnnnnd…we’re back. (What I learned at WordCamp, Part 2) | Adoption =

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