Pam Giarrizzo worked in state politics for much of her career, retiring four years ago as chief counsel for the secretary of state. To foodies, however, she is known for her prolific blog, Sacramento Vegan, which highlights her ongoing quest for good vegan food at restaurants and at home. The blog is read by locals, tourists and folks from 146 countries.
Q: I don’t want to come off as insensitive, but I just ate a delicious, gooey grilled cheese made with Brie. How does that make you feel?
A: I’ve been a vegan for 121/2 years, so I’m past all that. But cheese is a tough one for vegans. It’s something that I really missed at first. When you said grilled cheese, it made me think of the vegan grilled cheese I like at Shine. It’s really good and I haven’t had it in a while.
Q: Why did you become a vegan?
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sacramento Bee
A: It was from reading a book, “The Food Revolution,” by John Robbins. I was feeling really guilty about all of my meat consumption, and I had picked up a few pounds. I was hoping the book would be the inspiration I needed. By the time I got to the chapter on world hunger, I was done. I became a vegan.
Q: Was it challenging?
A: I didn’t know what to do next. I didn’t know how to be vegan.
Q: What was the reaction from friends and family?
A: They were supportive. I mean, what are they going to say when I have ethical reasons for changing the way I’m eating? My husband (political consultant Phil Giarrizzo) was supportive, but it’s not his thing. It’s a personal decision, and I’ve never pushed him on it.
Q: You started a vegan blog. How has Sacramento changed vegan-wise?
A: I have 303 posts, but it’s getting harder. I’m running out of new places to go. Sacramento has become so much better for vegans, and it’s more common for people to ask for vegan options.
Q: Any favorite spots?
A: I like the approach that Lucca takes. They have a separate vegan menu, though you have to know to ask for it. They look at their regular menu and see what they can vegan-ize, for lack of a better word. Taste in Plymouth has a vegan menu that is pretty exciting. I love the ginger sesame tofu salad at Star Ginger.
Q: What about the restaurants in Little Saigon?
A: It can be tricky, though ethnic restaurants often have a lot of vegan options. … Then there’s always the question of whether a dish has fish sauce or not.
Q: What about steakhouses?
A: They are actually really easy because everything is a la carte. I put a container of margarine in my purse and order a baked potato, a side of vegetables and maybe a salad.
Q: The stereotype about vegans is that they are a little too serious about the whole thing. Do vegans need to lighten up?
A: I try not to be too self-righteous about things. Everybody goes vegan for different reasons. I like to think I have a pretty good sense of humor.
Q: Ethically raised and sustainably farmed meat. Is that something that could get you to consider eating meat again?
A: I don’t think I could.
Q: You became vegan for environmental reasons. Is there anything you do that contradicts your beliefs?
A: Everybody is hypocritical about something. I do drive a hybrid, but I’m sure I’m like everybody else living in a First World country. We could all change our lifestyle choices to change the environment.
Call The Bee’s Blair Anthony Robertson, (916) 321-1099. Follow him on Twitter @Blarob.
Retired as chief counsel to the California secretary of state, she is the author of the popular blog Sacramento Vegan.
She explains how a book inspired her to become vegan and how much Sacramento has improved for vegans in recent years.