eating, Florida, food, health, places, vegan

Vegan brunch @ New Leaf Elementals

new leaf elementals

In March, I went to a vegan brunch meetup at New Leaf Elementals in Tampa. I’d begun eating vegan on March 1st and wanted to do whatever I could to make it stick. I’d been vegetarian for over a year (vegetarian again, I should say–earlier in life I’d been vegetarian for nearly 12 years), and eating mostly vegan (vegan at home, vegetarian in restaurants) for a few months, but I was really afraid that even though I wanted to go vegan, I wouldn’t be able to do it. I’ll probably write a post about how and why I made the switch later.

new leaf elementals

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The setup at New Leaf surprised me. It was a small gift shop with many crystals, candles, and other items. At first I thought I was in the wrong place, but after timidly asking the cashier about the brunch, she led me through a door that revealed a second larger room set with tables and chairs. I said, “Oh, I thought this was a restaurant,” then felt kind of bad when she replied, “It is.” The homey setup gave more of a family gathering feel, but the cashier showed me the menu that is available on non-brunch days.

new leaf elementals

I was one of the first people there. I’d found out about the meetup through a vegan singles meetup.com group that has since closed. The Florida Voices for Animals group posts a lot of vegan brunches and meet-ups too, however, and most of the people I met at this event were from that group. I paid for my brunch (I forget how much it was–$12-ish?), then loitered around trying not to feel awkward while waiting for more people to arrive.

new leaf elementals

I eagerly scoped out the food, partially because I was hungry, and partially because I was looking for ideas for vegan meals to cook at home. The tofu scramble was the dish I really picked up on. It looked exactly like scrambled eggs, so I double-checked with the chef to make sure it wasn’t before taking some. I asked her how to make it and she said just mash up tofu in a frying pan, add turmeric and/or cumin to make it look yellow, and throw in whatever other vegetables and spices I’d like. Tofu scramble is something I’ve made a few times over the past few months–it’s a tasty thing to make that can use up pretty much whatever leftover veggies are hanging out in the fridge and still feel like a real meal.

new leaf elementals

The brunch was good. It was denser than what I usually eat, with potatoes, waffles, and fake meats, but it tasted good. I generally try to stay away from fake meats (they often have soy protein isolate, which can trigger migraines in me), but just this once didn’t cause a problem. I am also trying to stay away from refined flour for the most part (it upsets IBS and leads to sugar cravings, at least for me), but again, just this once wasn’t an issue. I am learning that for me, healthy veganism has a lot to do with moderation.

I enjoyed the company. There were people from many different walks of life there, and most people didn’t know each other, so I didn’t feel left out once the conversation started. We talked about veganism, as I expected, but also politics, traveling, and other things. It was pretty interesting to hear people’s stories. Most of them had come to the brunch for the same reason I did–they don’t have other vegans in their lives and wanted to feel a sense of community and support.

 

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dog parks, dogs, Florida, places

Carolyn Meeker Dog Park

Carolyn Meeker Dog Park
122 1st Avenue SW
Lutz, FL 33548

Carolyn Meeker dog park

The Carolyn Meeker Dog Park is a nice sized dog park north of Tampa in Lutz, Florida. Even though Lutz isn’t very far away, it has quite the rural, small town type of feel.

Carolyn Meeker dog park

The dog park is broken up into two sections–one for small dogs and another for large dogs, which I always appreciate. The small dog area looks a lot nicer, imo, with more of the ground being covered in grass.

Carolyn Meeker dog park

I’ve been to this dog park a few times, and while it doesn’t usually get crowded, there’s usually always at least one other dog that stops by while I’m there. The small dogs were the perfect size to play with my dog.

Carolyn Meeker dog park

When my dog was a pup, he’d play with large dogs no problem. It makes me sad that he’s so scared now. But that doesn’t really matter at parks like this, where the areas are separated and owners actually respect the rules.

Carolyn Meeker dog park

I looked up Carolyn Meeker, out of curiosity. (For some reason there’s nothing about her on the history of Carolyn Meeker Park page.) If the obituary I found is for the same Carolyn Meeker, which I’m sure it is, she was very active in Lutz civic life and also a bell ringer at the local Catholic Church.

Now I can only think about one thing: what do I have to do to get a dog park named after me?

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dog parks, dogs

Queenie’s Dog Park

Queenie’s Dog Park
1710 N. Highland Ave.
Tampa, FL 33602

Queenie’s is a nice little dog park north of downtown Tampa.

At first I thought it wouldn’t be enjoyable because of the fake ground covering much of it. It looks like blacktop, but is spongy. What is that stuff called? I know it’s good for trails because it doesn’t put as much strain on the joints of runners.

Walnut didn’t seem to mind, though. I sat at a picnic table and read a book. At first we were the only ones there, but within 30 minutes two large dogs and four small dogs arrived. All of them were well-behaved and the owners were friendly, but not too¬†friendly. Multiple people chatted with me briefly, but no one tried to force me into a long conversation. Rejoice!

After we left the dog park, I walked around a little to check out the area. It’s pretty nice and on the river walk. There is also a water park next door that was full of kids and moms, but I didn’t photograph it.

I find myself wondering, why am I blogging about dog parks? But then I remember, I feel like it.

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