Our first Christmas Eve and Christmas in Colorado

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by JL Fields on December 26, 2012

I have mentioned this before but it’s worth repeating. I’m a Buddhist. It matters, simply because we don’t celebrate a traditional Christmas all that often. In fact, this year we didn’t even put up a tree.  It is a little hard to resist some sort of celebration, though, and we do it in our own way.

On Christmas Eve we started at the Garden of the Gods. The sun was shining and we are still in awe that we live within walking distance of this natural beauty.

Christmas Eve in the Garden of the Gods

Then we went to a brewery. Truth be told, I’m not a big beer-drinker (I’m fond of hearty, red wines), but we are in the land of microbrews.  Trinity Brewing Company, right down the street, is a fun brewery with vegan friendly menu items so, in just a matter of weeks, Dave and I have become somewhat regulars (Hi Kristen and Wes!).  We, along with many, many other people, showed up at noon on Christmas Eve for the tapping of the 2012 Cherry Awaken Stout.

Tapping the Cherry Awaken Stout at Trinity Brewing

Standing room only we bellied up to the bar and ordered lunch.

Seitan Wings at Trinity Brewing

Spicy seitan wings with vegan ranch and peanut sauce and

Hummus platter at Trinity Brewing

the hummus platter (the hummus is made with curry and sriracha…so good!).

Then it was tapping time!

Cherry Awake Stout 2012 Trinity Brewing


We went home, changed into lounge-wear and enjoyed a quiet Christmas Eve evening at home. I sipped thisVegan Nog

and flipped through the gorgeous, glossy pages of the new vegan quarterly magazine, Laika Magazine.

laika magazine, a vegan quarterly

(Available in print or digital.)

Christmas morning was white.

Christmas 2012 Morning View

Dave made a vegan hash for breakfast, served by the fireplace.

Vegan Hash

Recipe here.

We went out for Christmas Dinner.  Last month, while still living in New York, we decided to make a Christmas Day dinner reservation.  I did what many vegans do when dining at a non-veg restaurant for the first time: I phoned ahead, spoke with the host, and discussed vegan options.  He even called Friday to confirm our reservation and to let me know that he had noted “vegan” on our reservation.

The meal fell into the category of fine but not great.  A house salad,

house salad at Cliff House

and a plate of veggies and rice.

mixed grill at Cliff House

The chef’s decision to grill the vegetables kept this from being too bland – and I really liked the sweetness of the cippolini onions.

They served me dessert, which I had to return (they forgot I was a vegan), and then offered me this sorbet.

sorbet at Cliff House

which was a nice gesture but served 15 minutes after Dave finished his dessert (I insisted he eat it because it was warm) and well after we were given the bill.

While the meal at Cliff House at Pikes Peak didn’t wow me, the space is gorgeous and it was a festive outing. The view from our table was lovely

A view of the incline from Cliff House

and I was with my man. Doesn’t get better than that!

What was most interesting about this dinner, however, was the response I got to this Facebook post when we got home.

gluten-free is not vegan Facebook discussion

Most people who replied understood where I was coming from, but there was a suggestion that we were “pretentious” and another suggested that our response was snarky.  You can read all of the comments here.  I stand by my responses to both assertions.

gluten-free is not vegan Facebook responses

Oh, if you’re new to this blog, I have proclaimed loudly that I am not a gluten-free vegan. While there are some people who are both, they are not to be confused.


Dave made me awesome vegan cookies (Blackstrap Gingersnaps from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar) and we spent the afternoon and evening by the fireplace, with the cats, wearing pajamas and watching the first season of Breaking Bad.

It was a lovely holiday. I hope yours was, too.

  • It looks like a lovely Christmas! I’m also spiritual but not religious, so my holiday was low-key as well. Like they say, it’s the presence and not the presents that make a holidays special, right?

    As for the meal, it’s not out of line to call ahead to confirm the culinary details and ingredients so that you and the kitchen can be prepared. Any restaurant can decline to create something to your specifications and give you the option to go elsewhere, but if you’re told that vegan options are present, you will plan on vegan options being present. It’s not snarky, it’s customer service and respecting the reservations of guests. I don’t expect everyone to be educated as to veganism, but if they aren’t sure, they should proclaim that they are. Sorry. Rant over. You handled it much better than me 😉

    Happy Holidays!

    • JL

      Yep, @twitter-334811425:disqus , there’s the rub. I have phoned ahead to many a restaurants who very clearly say that I will probably not have a satisfactory meal. I appreciate the honesty!

      Hope you enjoyed your low-key holiday!

  • It’s funny, I don’t celebrate Christmas either, but I totally feel that sense of general celebratory joy-ness on the day, and usually end up doing something special in my own way. Sorry the Christmas dinner was a bust, but those x-mas eve buffalo seitens? DAMN. I *am* a gluten free vegan and holy moly, I heart the buffalo and miss the glutens.

    • JL

      @sayward:disqus , my omni husband requests we go to Trinity for the seitan wings! They are that good! 🙂

  • Fran @BCDC

    I’m vegetarian but not vegan. However, I can understand how frustrating that can be. Can’t tell you how many times a server has said to me, “You’re vegetarian, you eat fish, right?” That area is so beautiful! We were in Colorado Springs in 2011 for my husband’s Army reunion. Beautiful area, nice people!

    • JL

      Yes, @37254f3d08a97046fcec5edcfd23c999:disqus , we are loving the Springs!

  • Ugh…I’m sorry you had a mediocre experience on Christmas – it’s frustrating when you call ahead and still have to send food back when they don’t “get it”. I am adding Trinity to my to-visit list thought – seitan wings rock!

    • JL

      You will love Trinity, @betterwithveg:disqus ! Maybe I should swing by and bring them as appetizers next month??? 🙂

  • Wow, Garden of the Gods… so beautiful! Good for you for being honest and educating your server about the difference between gluten free and vegan. I happen to be both, but am usually offered one or the other. Many people do think they are one and the same. My employer buys us meals a few times a year and even though I’ve been working there for 2 1/2 years and they always ask what my dietary restrictions are they have only had something I could eat one time. I try not to be disappointed, but it really does drive home the point that the general public has a lot to learn about veganism. Even in Portland, Oregon with several vegan co-workers and vegan food available on every corner they bring us food with cheese or eggs. I have learned to be my own advocate as far as what I put in my body. I am always very polite about it, but I ask a million questions and won’t eat something just to be nice. I’ll just keep explaining what “nothing from an animal” means to every person that asks 🙂

    Happy New Year to you!

    • JL

      Happy new year to you, @nikki_w:disqus ! Being your own best advocate is the best approach, you are right!

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