The other day, I was struck by something I read online. A poster commented that the menu categories “salad and plant-based salad” had given him pause. I too paused as my mind also immediately envisioned the “green leaf” kind of salad, but then my brain began chattering away.

Brain: There certainly are animal-based salads. Chicken salad, tuna salad, egg salad.

Me: Potato salad…

Brain: But that one still has animal components, if you consider that mayonnaise is traditionally made with eggs.

Me: True. So not entirely vegan. But the other kind –

Brain: Nope. Toppings. Shredded cheese, bacon bits, chopped eggs and chicken – I could go on.

Me: Please don’t. I have other things I need to do.

Brain: So plant-based, perhaps, but still not vegan.

Me: Fine.

Brain: But if you add sliced mushrooms to a vegan salad, it’s no longer entirely Plant.


Brain: Fungi! If we go with the five kingdoms classification system, what about fungi? Yeast is in this category too. Like Marmite. Or nutritional yeast sprinkles.

Me: Yeast. Who puts that on a salad?

Brain: And then there’s Protista, a fourth kingdom.

Me: I generally like to leave the single-celled, eukaryotic creatures off ALL my salads.

Brain: But not all of them are single-celled. What about seaweed salads? That’s marine algae, isn’t it? Some seaweeds like kelp fall under the protist category, others with plants.


Brain: And we have to consider Monera.

Me: Monera isn’t used anymore as a kingdom. We split that group into Achaea and Bacteria. Not that bacteria is anything we want to offer as a salad topping. That’s the kind of thing that would get a place shut down by the health department.

Brain: There are people who consider spirulina a health food.


Brain: Fine. FINE. I just wanted to point out that…

So. Salads. Never, ever invite a biologist to help set up the categories of salads on the menu. It’s just not worth the grief.


That said, I have an animal-based salad we often eat here in our home. Generally speaking, I find it hard to come by pteryform meat – or even alligator. Chicken is our go-to for this recipe. I developed this recipe while on a visit to my in-laws in Florida after my son asked about alligator as food. Which then precipitated something much like you just read above, but began: In A REFLECTION OF SHADOWS our heroine mentions being able to buy pteryform on the black market. What would it even taste like?

If you’re curious to read more on that, head on over to my blog post Curried Pteryform Salad.


About Anne

Though USA TODAY bestselling author Anne Renwick holds a Ph.D. in biology and greatly enjoyed tormenting the overburdened undergraduates who were her students, fiction has always been her first love. Today, she writes steampunk romance, placing a new kind of biotech in the hands of mad scientists, proper young ladies and determined villains.

Anne brings an unusual perspective to steampunk. A number of years spent locked inside the bowels of a biological research facility left her permanently altered. In her steampunk world, the Victorian fascination with all things anatomical led to a number of alarming biotechnological advances. Ones that the enemies of Britain would dearly love to possess.

To chat with Anne, stop by on Facebook or join the Department of Cryptobiology Facebook group. You can also join her newsletter list to have cover reveals, sneak peaks, sales and giveaways delivered straight to your inbox.


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