vegansaurus!

Sep 23

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If you’re in Los Angeles and you’re not attending Mohawk Bend’s “Authors Worth Celebrating" dinner and drinks series, you are seriously missing out. Each month, the restaurant has an author with a new cookbook swing by and prepare a four course dinner (with beer and cocktail pairings! BOOZE!) and then feeds you the entire thing while the author tells you all about it. I’ve been to two—one for the brilliant Tal Ronnen (Crossroads FOR LIFE!) and one for also brilliant Terry Hope Romero (Salad Samurai! Yes!)—and they were both two of the best meals I’ve ever had. AND YOU KNOW I LOVE TO EAT. Plus, it’s so fun to hear the author speak about the process for coming up for each dish, and it’s just all together a really lovely night. Oh! And there are awesome giveaways after the meal, and you have the opportunity to buy the chef’s cookbook. It’s all inclusive, you guys!!!

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The mastermind behind the festivities is Mohawk Bend co-owner Amy Yanow (that’s her interviewing Terry Hope Romero above!), a genius in her own right for devising this delicious idea. We sat down with Amy and asked her a few questions about the series, and here are her terrific answers:

Why did you decide to start doing this series?

We had always visualized using the Ramona Room at Mohawk Bend to facilitate conversations and serve as a community hub for interesting events. We just hadn’t necessarily found a format that worked.

Prior to this year, we did host the occasional book event at Mohawk Bend and Tony’s Darts Away, but under different formats in which the event guests usually comingled with the regular dining service.  To me, the prior formats lacked customer engagement.

Late last year, I found myself so inspired by some of the values-based cookbooks coming that I wanted to actualize that dream of using the Ramona Room at Mohawk Bend to curate interesting conversations that reflect the values of my family and our restaurants. The original idea was to ensure that customers felt that they had direct contact with the featured guests, an opportunity for conversation and an experience that was different than the usual dining experience.

Why have most of the authors been vegan?

We had always intended for the series to have vegan offerings regardless of whether or not the author was vegan.  Naturally, we started off by approaching people we knew and not so coincidentally most of them were vegan. 

However, an early event featured Laurie David and Kirstin Uhrenholdt, two women I respect greatly, who included a lot of plant-based options in their book but the book isn’t vegan.  Regardless, I keep finding myself most compelled by the books featuring plant-based recipes, because that is something that I am passionate about and there are so many great cookbooks to celebrate.  Further, there is an interest in the vegan authors we feature, so it’s win-win. 

Ultimately, we’ve just been really blessed with the quality of guests we’ve been able to host and have been rolling with the punches. I would definitely consider having another guest that published a book I believed in so long as we could have a vegan friendly offering as well, but everything in the pipeline at the time continues to be vegan.

It seems like, in addition to the Authors Worth Celebrating series, you always have vegan options at your establishments (Mohawk Bend in Echo Park, Tony’s Dart’s Away in Burbank, and Golden Road Brewing in Glendale!). Why is catering to vegans important to you?

Yes, having an inclusive menu was a decision made on Day 1.  My husband and I couldn’t fathom opening anything that wasn’t hospitable to eaters of all kind, particularly because we prefer vegan offerings. 

 That spirit of bringing vegans, vegetarians and carnivores together in a space that they could all be happy in only supported our goal to serve as a neighborhood gathering space and pub.  

Do you plan to continue the series indefinitely?

So long as we are inspired by what is being published, people are interested and quality conversation continues.

Who do we have to look forward to in the future?

Thug Kitchen (ED.: YES!! We fucking love them!!!) is coming in October and we are thrilled. After our Laurie David event, their publisher approached us to host their LA book release and we couldn’t be more honored that the series gained their attention and that they would like to use our space for such a milestone event.  (Note: I I’m still not actually sure who Thug Kitchen is other than that they are a duo.  I can’t wait to find out!)

What’s been your favorite dish so far and why?

You can’t make me pick one. They’ve all been amazing. What I can tell you is that, I love a good salad and I tend to prefer easy for myself. I have found myself making Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Caesar salad and Terry Hope Romero’s wedge salad.  I have found myself day dreaming about Tal Ronnen’s kale ricotta tortellini with saffron cream sauce.

DID YOU HEAR THAT: THE NEXT ONE IS THUG KITCHEN YALL. You can call me lots of things (fat, sexy, adorable, hilarious, full-of-swears), but don’t call me late to that fucking dinner. xoxox.

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NYC Vegan Drinks is this Thursday! Party for the animals!

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Yay NYC Vegan Drinks is here once again! I will be there spinning some dope records as will my main man DJ Grand Format (Ace of Bass fans, this is your night!).

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Freakin’ Vegan, empanada-suppliers of Vegan Shop-Up, will be serving up the yum. They announced on FB that they will have a special-just-for-Vegan-Drinks-limited-edition-get-it-while-you-can buffalo chicken empanada, complete with vegan blue cheese dressing! I’ll see if I have room for one of those but you know I first have to try their vegan cheesesteak empanada as you know I am the vegan cheesesteak expert (you know so much stuff). 

And this month benefits Stewie to the Rescue!:

Stewie to the Rescue has two primary goals: Make sure that no pet is ever relinquished to a NYC kill shelter due to the expense of their medical care, and that no rescue group is ever prevented from saving an animal’s life because of a lack of funds when a foster family or adoptive family is available.

As always, there are awesome raffle prizes including gift certificates from Mooshoes, Cinnamon Snail, The Green Radish, and Mercury Bar! So bring your cash money! Proceeds go to Stewie to the Rescue and you could win awesome shiz! 

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Forget tuna: Delicious Tomato Sushi is the cruelty-free future!

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Tomato Sushi being crafted by experts!
I haven’t eaten fish in 15 years, and to be for reals, I don’t miss the taste/texture/cruelty of fish in any way. Still, when I go out to eat at sushi joints other than Shojin, my heart feels a little down that all we vegans usually get is some combination of avocado and cucumber in our maki. 
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That’s why I was sooo excited to try Tomato Sushi, an SF-based vegan tuna created by a world-class chef! Tomato Sushi sent me some samples, and oh my gosh, it really tastes like fish (maybe? It’s been 15 years, after all!) and has a wonderful, chewy texture without using hella chemicals and/or processing! According to the company website, they make it using a special technique to give whole pieces of tomato the texture and flavor of fish.
While I’m no sushi expert (read: I’m terrible at it), I managed to fashion some sushi rice, avocado, and nori sheets, and Tomato Sushi into a roll-like form. The results: epic sushi joy.

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Above: Homemade Tomato Sushi rolls made by yours truly!

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Above: The finished tomato sushi is supposed to look like this, per the Tomato Sushi genius experts. Source: TomatoSushi.com.

Tomato Sushi is launching their Kickstarter campaign to make the product available on a larger scale, so go support them right now to get yours!

Sep 22

Vegan zombie fans: Toe Tag Riot is available for preorder!

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Remember when we talked about Toe Tag Riot and what the ethical zombie would eat? Well now is your chance to preorder the comic and find out!

This is your preorder coupon! You can print it and bring to your comic shop OR you can preorder online:

imageIn the US, there are a lot of options to preorder, but here’s one at 45% offAnd here’s one offering a 2-cover set (both covers) at a discount. In the UK, you can order from Forbidden Planet.

If you have any questions, you can hit Matt up on Twitter @MattMinerXVX and he’s happy to help! And just so you know, preorders of issue 1 are how shops determine how many they’ll order of the full series. So we got to represent!

ALSO! Critical Hit #1 (the continuation of the Liberator storyline, with a new art team) will be in comic stores October 1st. It’s all about awesome vegan women doing the animal rights vigilante thing!

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Sep 21

Animal News You Can Use: Congressman goes vegan, Mercy For Animals exposes cruel dairy!

Remember last week when Texas’ ag commissioner was embarrassing his agency by waging a witch hunt against Meatless Monday? Well, after the national rebuke, he announced his resignation.

Not all elected officials are in the pocket of the meat industry, though. Did you hear the one about the congressman who went vegan? No, for real

Proving that investigative journalism is alive and well, Reuters had a very potent story this week about the poultry industry’s routine drugging of chickens.

A new exposé by Mercy For Animals this week caught major dairy producers on video routinely beating and whipping cows, generating national media attention. Perhaps it’s not a surprise that some in the ag industry want to make it a crime to videotape their treatment of animals. My coworker Matt Dominguez has a new piece on the ag-gag issue this week.

Some good news to end your week: McDonald’s in Australia is dropping eggs from caged hens!

Paul Shapiro
Vice President, Farm Animal Protection
The Humane Society of the United States
Follow at http://twitter.com/pshapiro  

P.S. Video of the week: Ever seen a chicken giving a dog a back massage?

Sep 15

Here it is, your peek inside the August Vegan Cuts Beauty Box!
This box had Pacifica BB cream, Emani Vegan Cosmetics mineral hybrid cream, Enfusia bath soak, Balanced Guru energy mist, and Zabana Essentials green clay facial cleansing bar. 
I totally heart the Pacifica BB cream. Very, very light. The Emani cream was like a multipurpose pressed powder. It’s fun, but you don’t get a lot of control, you’re just kinda mixing the colors. Still fun. I haven’t tried the energy mist yet…TOO TIRED! HA! Dad jokes. 
I got this for free but if you want to try it, the box subscription is $19.95 a month, shipping included (for US addresses. International is more). 

Here it is, your peek inside the August Vegan Cuts Beauty Box!

This box had Pacifica BB creamEmani Vegan Cosmetics mineral hybrid creamEnfusia bath soakBalanced Guru energy mist, and Zabana Essentials green clay facial cleansing bar

I totally heart the Pacifica BB cream. Very, very light. The Emani cream was like a multipurpose pressed powder. It’s fun, but you don’t get a lot of control, you’re just kinda mixing the colors. Still fun. I haven’t tried the energy mist yet…TOO TIRED! HA! Dad jokes. 

I got this for free but if you want to try it, the box subscription is $19.95 a month, shipping included (for US addresses. International is more). 

NYC: Come out for boozy vegan fun this weekend! Get your discount code here!

imageHey friends! You KNOW I love the drank, so I’m very excited about the Better Booze Fest this coming Saturday! The run down:

The 1st annual Better Booze Festival comes to New York City on September 20, 2014 at Center548 located at 548 W. 22nd St. Attendees will enjoy two floors of tastings from a variety of brewery, winery, and liquor company brands, a selection of delectable food vendors, as well as speakers, classes, activities and entertainment throughout each session. What makes it better? All beer, wine, and liquor at the event is 100% vegetarian and vegan!

Sounds nice? Sounds nice! You can see a list of the vendors here but our favorite, Champs, will be there serving food along with Great Performances. I don’t know them but I love trying new vegan caterers! Foster Dogs NYC is on the vendors list too so I’m hoping I get to pet some cute pups! Booze and cute pups are my two favorite things!

Tickets WILL NOT be available at the door so you have to buy them here. And just because we love you guys, enter this code to get $45 admission: DrinkBetter

Ok, hope to see you there!

Coupon alert! Buy one, get one free from Beyond Meat!

imageJust sign a pledge not to eat chickens (EASY) and Compassion Over Killing is gonna hook you up with a buy one, get one free coupon for Beyond Meat! There is NOTHING not good about this situation. Except first you need to get off your ass and go to a store (HARD). But otherwise, WIN!

We know you guys don’t eat chickens but you can still get a coupon AND you should share this with your chicken-eating friends! You can share it with this NYT piece: Fake Meats, Finally, Taste Like Chicken. DARE them to try it. 

Cowspiracy: the environmental documentary with a new message the world needs to hear

imagePicture from the premier, from Splice Photography’s FB

Last month, I went to the Cowspiracy NYC premier. I was not prepared to be so moved! I went into the theater like, “OMG I’m tired and work is annoying and now I have to see a documentary and learn shiz” and I left like, “OMG I’M SO GLAD I’M VEGAN HOW CAN WE MAKE THE WORLD VEGAN?!”

The movie starts as a first-person journey to sustainability for Kip Andersen. He’s a self-proclaimed environmentalist, but it’s not until some serious digging that Kip discovers the devastating impact of the meat and dairy industries on the environment. As someone who turns to organizations like Greenpeace and Surfrider for info and guidance, Kip wonders why they have almost no information on the number one cause of environmental destruction (i.e. meat and dairy). He goes to speak to these organizations and films interviews (sometimes secretly). The interviews are nothing short of hilarisad (my own word, you can use it). By the middle of the movie, we have what shapes up to be a very real conspiracy. I know, sounds melodramatic, but watch the movie. There is no more appropriate word than conspiracy. The groups that are supposed to be helping the environment are spitting out more crap than a factory farm. Really, it’s bonkers. 

imageThis guy was my fave. 

At the beginning of the movie, I was a little put off by the numbers the filmmakers cite, as I know they are all hotly contended. But then it occurred to me, no matter who’s numbers you pick, meat and dairy is still the number one threat to the environment! We can debate the specific numbers all day but no matter where you net out, it’s bad. Here’s a great example from a Beef Magazine article: Why Ranchers Should Care About The Documentary “Cowspiracy”

Of course, Cowspiracy just appears to be regurgitating the common myths the beef industry has worked hard to correct over the years. For example, the Cowspiracy website claims it takes 660 gals. of water to make one hamburger, or the equivalent of 2 months’ worth of showers.

However, according to Facts About Beef, “In reality, it takes 441 gals. of water to produce 1 lb. of boneless beef…” 

Well! A mere 441 gallons. So there’s my point: no matter who’s numbers you use, it’s bad. 

Oh one thing I should warn you about, while the movie is not very gruesome, there is one slaughter scene. But you know it’s about to happen so you can close your eyes, as I did. Because the main focus is environment and not animal welfare, the disturbing images are of effed up forests and whatnot, not abused animals. So if you close your eyes for the one part, you should mostly be ok. EXCEPT you may be SO ANGRY that this shiz is going down!

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One of the filmmakers, Kip Andersen, at the after party with Noah Gittell and Dania DePas of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Photo by Splice Photography

I also attended the after party, organized by vegan media maven Nell Alk. Suite ThreeOhSix was kind enough to host and eats were supplied by Dr. Cow, juicers PitangaThe Vegan VineDun-Well Doughnuts, and Pipsnacks.

And here is my goodie bag in all its splendor! 

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Featuring: candles from Produce Candles, body lotion from Bulldog Skincare, honey sticks from Bee Free Honee, chocolate bars from Brooklyn Dark, white chocolate medallions from Obsessive Confection Disorder, soap bars and bath bombs from LUSH, protein bars from 22 Days Nutrition, lip balm from Hurraw, and coupons for free products from Beyond Meat and Gardein

Plus everything came in eco totes from Minnesota-based brand Relan. They make their bags with recycled billboards! How cool will I look at the farmers market this weekend?! Spoiler: SO COOL!

Basically, the party was the perfect chaser to the movie. Back to the film: I encourage everyone to see it and organize a viewing in your area if you can! 

Here’s how you can see the film yourself:

-For DVD and digital download pre-sale options, visit the Cowspiracy site.
-For information on how to organize—or attend—a screening in your own community, visit the Tugg site.
-Watch for Cowspiracy on Netflix and iTunes this fall.

And follow them on FB for updates and great graphics like this one (my new favorite image):

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Sep 12

Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use: The meat industry just despises Meatless Mondays

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After working with HSUS, a school district outside of Austin, Texas, was one of many to implement Meatless Mondays this fall. While parents and students seemed pretty psyched about it, Texas Ag Commissioner Todd Staples — whose political campaign was bankrolled by the meat industry — didn’t exactly share their enthusiasm. He even penned a rant against the school district in the Austin American-Statesman this week. Today, the paper’s editorial board published an editorial of its own simply crushing that rant, noting that, “the near-comic rhetoric of Staples’ commentary stood as a refutation of its own argument.” You’ve really got to read the whole thing.

The San Francisco Chronicle also wrote this week about more California schools that HSUS helped implement Meatless Mondays programs.

The industry isn’t just lashing out in the school districts; it’s also doing so in the legislatures. I was glad to be on America Tonight this week discussing the meat producers’ attempt to silence whistleblowers with ag-gag bills.

And the good news is that nearly all ag-gag bills introduced in the last couple years have been killed, while more and more food companies require animal welfare improvements in their supply chains, as described in a new piece by my coworker Matt Prescott. As well, just this week, another major pork producer announced it’s abandoning gestation crates throughout its entire supply chain.

Video of the week: These pigs aren’t ready for summer to be over—they love their swimming pools!