He pushed his way around a chair, holding out a cookie as if it were an apple.
“Try it,” he hissed. “Try it, and you will gain knowledge.”
So the photographer reached out with his snake-like arm and handed me a cookie made without butter. It was a vegan cookie.
“Try it,” he repeated, sticking his tongue out to taste the air. “It’s surprisingly good.”
I have nothing against vegans personally, sometimes. In fact, the cookie in question had been brought to the press room as part of a farewell party for an intern photographer who was himself a vegan and was a perfectly nice guy.
I missed the party, but circumstances demanded that I make a brief visit to the office the next day. On a table were some leftovers from the party, including the last two vegan cookies and a bag of Oreos.
I decided against the Oreos. I know how they taste. I love them, sure, but I really don’t need the extra calories these days. And I was successfully listening to the angel on my shoulder about vegan cookies until I spoke to the photographer. He made them so… tempting.
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At this point, I should probably state, for the sake of accuracy, that the scene did not play out exactly as I write it. I took a leftover cookie from a local baker’s box. A minute later, another photographer mentioned that the unconsumed cookie was vegan and surprisingly good.
Truth, I’m sorry to say, is duller than fiction.
I bit into the cookie, and it was excellent. It was as good as any butter cookie, and better than most.
My world was shaken. Everything was upside down. Black turned white, day turned night, and the guys women liked were just dumb gigolos.
It was perhaps the one inescapable rule in my life that cookies weren’t worth eating if they weren’t made with butter. They weren’t even worthy of being called cookies.
But this cookie, which came from Aria’s Cookies and Confections in Edwardsville, turned my fragile world on its head. (I hope to profile the 17-year-old herself in the very near future.) According to the company’s website, the cookies are made with vegan butter and almond milk.
Vegan butter has apparently made remarkable progress since the days of margarine, although the idea is the same. Both are made from vegetable oil (margarine can also technically be made from animal fat) mixed with water.
Vegan butter is also made from vegetable oil mixed with water, but as I understand it, the oils used (avocado, palm kernel, or coconut, for example) are fancier, or at least more tasty, than those used for margarine (corn, cottonseed, soy).
And almond milk is a relatively new ingredient, considering the relatively new 13th century. But it’s only become widely available in the last few years – and I’ve avoided vegan food for most of them.
Obviously, many if not most foods are naturally vegan. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is vegan. A falafel is vegan. A baked potato is vegan, if you don’t put anything good on it.
What I’ve largely been avoiding have been vegan versions of non-vegetarian foods. Vegan milkshakes. Impossible burgers. And, of course, vegan chocolate chip cookies.
But now I have gone to the top of the mountain. I saw the Promised Land. Vegan cookies are in my future.
But not the one I ate at the office. Most of that one broke in my hand and fell to the floor.