Annie Shannon never fails to brighten our day, and her article — featured below for #ThrowbackThursday! — makes no exception. She sticks up for bunnies, makes crepes, and is kind enough to write about it all for Our Hen House. It seems only natural that we honor such generosity by once again highlighting Annie’s inspirational work.
This article originally appeared on Our Hen House on June 10, 2013. If you’d like to see a certain OHH article resurrected, email us at info [at] ourhenhouse [dot] org.
It’s true that we try to remain indefatigably positive — whenever possible, anyway. There are a few things in life that make that easy for us. Among those things are: people who follow their dreams no matter what, cute bunnies, and vegan crepes. In today’s Thought for Food piece by guest columnist Annie Shannon — co-author of Betty Goes Vegan, and a podcast guest — we’ve got all three things, tied up in a bow. Enjoy.
Because Bunnies Can’t Type: How I Answer “Why Vegan?” with My Heart (Not My Head)
by Annie Shannon
Almost 10 years ago, I ran away from home to follow the circus with a bullhorn and some protest signs.
I left my job at a cruelty-free cosmetic company in Atlanta, Ga., to work in PETA’s circus campaign. I was leaving behind the house I owned, a job that paid three times more than what I was about to make, and any chance I had of paying off my student loans. Everyone I knew thought I was crazy. The night of my farewell party, there was a lot of teasing about me leaving to “wander the earth and have adventures and shit.” But as the night wound down, I was sitting on a patio with several friends when they began to hint around that I should reconsider. We’d had a few drinks by then, and I was still feeling a bit blasé when I answered the question that was on all their minds: Why in the name of all that was good and pretty would I do this?
I can still remember raising my glass and declaring: “Because bunnies can’t type – so I have to!”
There was silence for a heartbeat or two. One of my friends finally raised his glass. “To the bunnies!” he said, and we drank a toast to all those poor freaking bunnies and their lack of marketable skills.
A few weeks later, I was in Norfolk, Va., sitting at a desk next to my future husband, when I got a letter from Atlanta. It was just a strip of printer paper that read, “Because bunnies can’t type!” I tacked it above my laptop, where it would stay for the entire time I worked at PETA and later when I was at HSUS. It now hangs in my new office – my kitchen.
I keep it because it’s a great reminder to me of why I chose the path that I did. The moment I uttered those words about bunnies was one of the first times since I was a kid that I was asked why and answered with what was really in my heart – not a series of statistics or facts.
As vegans, we live in a world that is constantly asking us why. Why would we give up meat? Why would we choose plastic shoes over leather? Why would we stand outside a stadium handing out leaflets to parents taking their kids to the circus? Why can’t we just choose to be blissfully ignorant like everyone else?
Sometimes the questions come from a sincere desire for someone to understand. And sometimes they come from a not-so-nice place. But these questions are everywhere. As activists, how we answer them is what we need to focus on – to remind ourselves why promoting compassion toward animals is so important.
For me, that seemingly silly answer about technophobe rabbits is a reminder that 24 years ago, I made the choice to give up eating meat and do all that I could to live a compassionate life – not for myself, but for those out there who have no choices, and no voice. I wrote a book, with my husband, about cooking my way through the Betty Crocker Cookbook as a vegan and recreating those recipes without products that are filled with cruelty. I didn’t do it for the money – I wanted to prove to the world that not eating animals is a choice we can (and should) all make.
You and I were lucky to be born human. What about all those beautiful beings who didn’t end up with that arbitrary privilege? I’m vegan because, to me, it is the least I can do for those non-human animals who, for whatever reason, were given the short end of the stick.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the kitchen (I have the apron collection to prove it!) – cooking and working to show everyone how easy and delicious it is to be vegan. This recipe is one of those easy yet fancy-looking meals that if it weren’t vegan would include eggs, butter, and maybe even ham. But this is a compassionate and classy version that leaves the animals out of it. It’s something both rookie and veteran vegans alike can enjoy and share with all those not-yet-vegans, too. It’s my tribute to those bunnies who pop into my head from time to time to motivate me … because bunnies also can’t make crepes.
[print_this] Savory Asparagus Crepes with Easy Vegan Hollandaise Sauce
by Annie Shannon
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Pinch of crushed black peppercorns
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 cups soy milk
- 2 tablespoons margarine, softened
- 2 tablespoons applesauce
- olive oil cooking spray
Easy Vegan Hollandaise Sauce
- 1/3 cup Vegenaise or other vegan mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 12 to 16 asparagus spears (depending on the size of the spears)
- 4 or 5 mushrooms, sliced
- 1 shallot, sliced
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided (for cooking your vegetables – you may need more, depending on the size of your vegetables)
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, divided
- chopped chives and smoked paprika for garnish
In a large bowl, mix all your crepe ingredients (except cooking spray) using a handheld electric mixer with the whisk attachments until smooth.
Whisk together all the sauce ingredients by hand in small bowl until completely blended. Set aside until you’re ready to serve.
Lightly coat a cast-iron skillet with cooking spray and heat at a medium temperature until hot. Using a ladle, pour no more than 1/3 cup batter into the skillet. Immediately rotate the skillet until a thin layer of batter covers the bottom. Cook until you start to see a light brown edge. Run a wide spatula along the edge; flip and cook the other side until light brown. Then remove the crepe from the pan and repeat with the rest of the batter. Stack the cooked crepes on a plate with pieces of wax paper between each; keep covered. Be sure and spray the pan with a coating of cooking spray before cooking a new crepe.
Once all your crepes are made, pour 2 teaspoons olive oil into your hot skillet and rotate to coat the bottom. Place some of your asparagus in a single layer. You’ll probably have to cook your vegetables in batches, so don’t worry if they don’t all fit. Roll the asparagus so they’re coated in hot oil, cover, and let cook for 30 seconds. Add in some shallots, mushrooms, and 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar. Toss your vegetables slightly so they get an even coating of the oil and vinegar. Then cover and cook for another minute. Use a fork to see if your asparagus is tender. If it is, remove from heat; if not, toss your vegetables, cover, and let cook for another minute. Repeat this process until all of your vegetables are cooked.
To serve, place 2 or 3 spears of asparagus in the center of a crepe with some shallots and mushrooms. Then fold the sides up and over and pour some Easy Hollandaise Sauce over the top to secure the fold. Sprinkle chives and smoked paprika over your sauce for a little color and flavor. [/print_this]
Annie Shannon has been involved in activism since she was 14 years old. Her roles have ranged from working in sexual assault counseling to promoting fur-free fashion and veganism. For the last few years, she’s been cooking her way through the Betty Crocker Cookbook, making all the recipes vegan with her husband and partner on MeetTheShannons.com and writing their first book, Betty Goes Vegan.