It’s happening! At Mission High School on Saturday, May 12 from 11am-3pm! There will be all sorts of food and vendors and good fun, so go and say it loud and proud and I don’t know where I’m going with this but I’m sleepy and just trying to get something down on paper over here. The first draft, if you will. A first draft I won’t revise because I write for a living (SURPRISED, RIGHT??) and my hands and brain AND SOUL are tired. So tired. But not too tired to eat everything this Saturday! See you there!
Vegan readers, feel free to call me out on this cliché, but if Joy had told me the dish was made from real cheese — not a mix of commercial soy- and rice-based “cheeses,” plus a cream sauce he makes out of nutritional yeast — I wouldn’t have blinked. He had me fooled.
Should we call him out? It IS a total cliché but it’s pretty great that he called out his own shit. I hate that the ultimate compliment for vegan food is that it, “you wouldn’t know it’s vegan!” You KNOW when plenty of stuff you eat is vegan, and it’s STILL hella good. No disclaimers or comparisons needed! Still, hard for me to get all up in arms about this shiz because I do it all the time FUCK IT I’M ONLY HUMAN. Just a vegan trying to hustle in an omnivore world!
Anyway, he loved the shiitake bacon and massaged collards and the whole thing sounds prettttty delicious. Let’s all go! It’s open every day from 12-9pm and is located inside the Tutti Frutti frozen yogurt shop at 388 9th Street in Oakland. Which means that you can eat VEGAN FRO-YO with your soul food. Seriously, life is getting pretty damn fancy for vegans in the East Bay. Something bad has to happen, right? It’s going too well! Oh wait, there’s the total collapse of the economy, looming environmental destruction and the fact that I STILL don’t have a network sitcom based on the double shenanigans of me and my dog.
Lots of vegans were vegetarians before they went vegan. I was. I was vegetarian because I was pretty ignorant—I didn’t even know (or think) about factory farms, I just didn’t like the thought of eating animals. It’s gross, right? We all know one or two animals who we love or at least recognize as sentient beings. The thought of putting dead animals into your body kinda skeeves you out, and so you don’t do it.
Veganism, however, seems a bit extreme, and a little difficult. It’s for obnoxious activists and people who hate food, you’re not about to bomb a lab or eat a twig casserole! But here’s the thing: That’s not what veganism is about! It’s for you! It’s totally for you! You already love animals so that’s the first step, now it’s time to access that place of compassion and go vegan.
When you buy cow’s milk, or cheese, or chicken’s eggs, you are directly contributing to the slaughterhouse, and even worse, the constant suffering of billions of animals. Just because you’re not eating the actual carcass doesn’t mean that you didn’t directly contribute to that death. Female dairy cows live an unnatural life of horrendous pain to create milk and cheese—their babies are taken away and either suffer the same life, or are sold for veal. Purchasing dairy is basically like buying veal. It’s true. Even those organic, natural, happy dairy farms sell their male calves for veal, we’ve checked. And what happens to dairy cows when they can’t produce any longer? It’s straight to the slaughterhouse, and that’s true of ALL cows, no matter where they’re from.
Egg-laying hens have it probably worst of all: Their lives are nightmares and then bam, it’s off to the slaughterhouse when they can’t produce any more. That’s true for those organic, free-range hens, too. And male chicks? Most likely destroyed in the easiest way possible. The only exception is maybe backyard hens, but those come with a whole other set of issues, and I wonder how many people are well equipped to keep them safely for their entire lives.
Vegetarians should think about why they’re vegetarian, and today should be that day. You know, ‘cause sometimes you need a push! I know I did! If it’s for ethical reasons, you should go vegan right now. Or at least start working toward it, maybe with an end date in sight. You’ll most likely find that it’s so much easier than you imagine, especially if you live in an area where vegetarianism is possible. I know that’s not everywhere but I bet it’s the majority of the people reading this. Go vegan, be vegan! Check out our handy list of 11 tips for new vegans! Have a question? Ask a Vegansaur!
But really, go vegan. Make a real stand for animals by withholding your hard earned ca$hola from ALL of the evil industries that abuse animals because, in the words of Megan Rascal, “Being vegetarian isn’t very vegetarian.” From one former vegetarian to some others, today is the motherflipping day you go LEGIT. See you on the other side, friends! I’ve got a batch of vegan cookies in the oven for you, let’s EAT.
You all saw the Time cover story, right? It was basically the front page of the internet yesterday.Um, I don’t think my terrible Google Drawing fully demonstrates what I’m trying to say here but it’s basically: COWS! They love their babies, too! SOMETIMES A LITTLE TOO MUCH.
Tell Your Senator: Hunting in National Parks is THE WORST IDEA!
Don’t let this finger be a gun!! Photo by Furryscaly on flickr.com
Hunting: Not as terrible as factory farms on the spectrum of evil, but still not the favorite thing of we, the vegans. Hunting in National Parks where it’s been heretofore prohibited? SO NOT A GOOD IDEA.
But there’s a bill in the Senate right now that could open a bunch of national park lands (especially the weird ones, like “national historic parks”), to hunting. The National Parks Conservation Association is asking us citizens to contact our senators and tell them to fix it!
Here’s the thing: the NCPA is only worried about the national parks. They want the senators to just change a few words to make sure the parks are clearly excluded from this new hunting law. I’m on board with that, and it seems a battle they might actually win if they get enough people to call.
But they’re not opposing the Sportsman Heritage Act as a whole. Which is something you might want to consider. It makes it OK to import dead polar bears from Canada, and helps support hunting on other federal land. Either way, give a call/write your leaders so they know not to let people kill squirrels at the Frederick Douglass Memorial, so f-ed up!
Hi guys! Welcome to my latest vegan skincare product review. I have some good skin stuff for you today! And a hair mask too. All these products are from CA Sunshine. CA Sunshine is an all-vegan company and they also support various ocean conservation efforts. They sent me some gratis samples to try and now I will tell you all about them! Plus, there’s a little Q&A at the end so stay tuned.
The first product I tried was Sunny Day, a “dewy look enhancer.” It’s organic argon oil, which is all the rage, plus sunflower oil, jasmin oil, and citrus essential oils. Bonus: the argon oil is sourced from women’s cooperatives in Morocco. I really like Sunny Day and it does give you a dewy look. I did find that it made my nose a little too oily, but I’ve used argon oil in the past and the same thing happened. I think my nose and argon oil aren’t meant to be BFF. So I ended up using Sunny Day all over my face except on my nose and that worked super.
The next product I used was Starry Night. It’s grape seed oil, jojoba, and lavender oil. This I used all over, nose included. It was also really nice. The bottles say to moisturize after you put on these products but I didn’t feel like I had to with Starry Night. The thing with both of these products is you really feel like you are doing something healthy for your skin. It feels like all natural and hippie. I can dig it!
The last product I used was the Radiant Beach hair mask. The hair mask is mostly organic coconut oil and organic ricinus communis oil. My sister was just telling me she occasionally puts olive oil on her hair for a half hour to keep it healthy so I thought coconut oil would be a similar idea. But unlike olive oil, Radiant Beach is thick and not oil consistency so it’s easier to apply.
So, Radiant Beach is totally nice! BUT DON’T put more in than they say. I put like half the jar in because my hair is so long I thought I would need more than suggested. That was super silly! It took a while to wash it out. Like two days. So just use the amount they tell you.
I did a brief question and answer for you guys with the creator of CA Sunshine, Terra:
1. Was is important to you that your products were vegan?
Terra: Since I eat vegan or vegetarian most of the time and I love natural products, it was almost expected that my product line would be natural and cruelty free. I like how my vegan products are pure and literally give you a guilt-free glow.
2. How did you get involved with Seafood Watch?
Terra: Several years ago The Monterey Bay Aquarium invited me to a conference about sustainable seafood, and I have been a proactive advocate of ocean conservation ever since. I love the Aquarium’s SeafoodWatch.com program because it empowers all of us to be conservationists as we grocery shop. It couldn’t be easier. Each of us can make a difference.
3. Do you plan on releasing any other products in the future? What?!
Terra: I am working on an avocado-based product but can’t say much yet. It will be fantastic! After that, I have a California-colors makeup palette in mind.
There you have it, pals! I’m super excited about an avocado-based product, right? Some of my favorite products are avocado-based, like guacamole and stuff with avocado.
A couple months ago, in the wake of a late-night vet visit, I asked what kind of wet food I should be feeding my cat. Fifty-five comments, three emails, and several experiments later, I can report the following:
Vegansaurus readers are awesome! Thanks so much for all your thoughtful, insightful comments. I highly recommend anyone with or considering a cat read the thread.
Zuki is feeling much better.
Boulder, CO, where I am lucky enough to work, has two hippie pet stores in the same shopping center (Only Natural Pets and Whole Pets). Obviously there’s a Whole Foods and a bike shop there as well. It’s ridic, like the town’s trying to make fun of itself. How do these stores not put each other out of business? They’re 100 feet apart!!
My cat doesn’t like nice things. First, she rejected a fancy heated cat bed. Now, she won’t go anywhere near the lovely raindrop water fountain we got her (I think the low hum bugs her?). Luckily, the store has a fantastic return policy. Move four times in a summer and she comes out unfazed, but plug in a trickly water burble that every other pet on the planet goes ga-ga for and it’s like someone turned on a vacuum cleaner or something.
It’s really hard to find solid information about where the meat in pet food is sourced. Can labels? No way. Company websites? As if. The guy at Only Natural Pets (a vet tech at a holistic vet for 6 years, he claimed) was really informative and very nice when I told him I was a vegan on a mission, but I only trust him about 60% of the way. That said, his top brands for conscientious sourcing: Addiction, ZiwiPeak, Evangers.
My husband, my cat, and I have settled on what we think is our best option for feeding the cat wet food: Evangers Whole Mackerel with Gravy. We are now purchasing it by the case, and Zuki is a fishatarian.
Here’s why we chose the Evangers:
It’s all fish, and wild-caught at that (Evangers told me it comes from the Pacific Ocean). Thus the suffering packaged in our 100% recyclable steel cans is much less than say, food with factory-farmed pigs or even cows or chicken. Environmentally, mackerel is a “species of least concern" on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species [Ed note: damn IUCN, you’re cold!].
It’s produced in the USA. The foods from New Zealand seem to be the very most sustainable/responsible, but they’re from New Zealand. Not only is that a long-ass way to ship pet food, it makes it really, really expensive.*
Zuki likes it. Obviously key. And because it’s whole fish, I like to pretend she’s having a fun cat experience getting to devour something.
Anyway, there you have it. I still wish I could go back to the easy days of no-mess dry food, but I’m getting used to scooping out little fishes, and the cat seems much happier and healthier.
Bizarre side effect: Now that she’s more hydrated, she drools when she’s happy. Drip, drip, drip. Weird. But cute. But also gross.
Thanks again to everyone for their thoughts, let me know what you think of our solution!
*Not that Evanger’s is cheap: It’s costing us about $1.13 a day to feed the cat now. It was WAY cheaper with dry food.
The first time I met my friends and former flatmates Jonathan and Ivory (of Vegan Myths Debunked fame) was over dimly-lit libations at SF Vegan Drinks. Jonathan and Ivory were both so good-looking and well-dressed, it was incredible! To break the ice, I asked the lovely pair how they got their B-12 [Ed note: haha best vegan pickup line]. This instigated a larger discussion among drinks-goers about whether they preferred to take the sublingual, the shot, liquid B-12, nutritional yeast, foods specially fortified with B-12, or the B-12 patch. Everybody does something different, but most people complained they forget to take it regularly. While unsurprising, that’s kind of disappointing from a vegan public health standpoint!
It was great to have this B-12 discussion, not only because vegans tend to be overly shy about how and to what degree we supplement, but also because B-12 is undoubtedly a necessity of vegan living and we all need to be upfront about how crucial it is to get adequate doses. B-12 deficiency (hypocobalaminemia) can lead to serious, often irreversible neurological damage. Our bodies store B-12 in the liver, so don’t worry if you miss a day or even a week, but over time it’s crucial to stay on top of your B-12 intake!
This is why the B-12 patch is so radical: you put the dime-sized, circular patch on your neck right by your ear for 24 hours, and then you’re set for the whole week. Remembering to take B-12 once a week is a lot easier than once daily, or even finding your way to a clinic to get a B-12 shot.
The patch is painless and only causes mild itching side effects at the patch site in .01% of users. Vita Sciences sent me some of their patches to try for free, and my vegan brother Asher, his vegan lady friend Lola, my vegan lady friend Courtney and I tried it at the same time, right before last week’s episode of Glee. I figured doing it before Glee would remind me to take it every week on the same day! Since a spoonful of Kind Kreme makes the medicine go into your bloodstream, we ate some raw vegan chocolate superfood ice cream as we patched. Highly recommended way to take your B-12 patch!
My girlfriend said she’s full-on sold on switching to the patch. The other two also liked its convenience! I had no itchy side effects and although I’m want to always remember my supplements, this feels like a great option. I was however a bit frustrated that the patch only comes in one color: off-white. (Note: I confirmed with the company that this is the only color they manufacture). This feels discriminatory, and I urge them to consider using other skin tones to make the patch more accessible to diverse users.
The B-12 patch is overall a solid choice for getting your B-12 regularly and reliably. Whether you slap on a patch or slurp down a liquid or ensure to keep half a pound of nutritional yeast in your body at all times, you’re doing the right thing for your health and I salute you!
“Some people may still think it’s OK to burn, shock, poison, starve, drown, and inflict brain damage on animals in laboratories, but polls show that the majority of us don’t. We’ve evolved. We don’t think it’s acceptable to keep monkeys constantly thirsty to make them cooperate in exchange for a sip of juice or to force mice to swim to the point of exhaustion and drowning in order to simulate human depression. Thanks to video footage taken inside laboratories by PETA during undercover investigations, the entire public perception of animal experimentation has changed, and we want a better, more humane bang for our buck.”—Bill Maher on the new release of Ingrid Newkirk’s Free the Animals. Go read the whole thing on HuffPo and tell me what you think. I don’t like a lot of their advertising but PETA has done quite a bit in other arenas.
Greetings from Denver, where I just conducted one of three HSUS press conferences today announcing the results of our latest factory farm investigation (the fourth agribusiness facility HSUS has exposed in 2012 so far).
This investigation reveals truly appalling cruelty to pigs at a Wyoming gestation crate confinement operation that supplies Tyson Foods. Please watch and share this important new exposé.
This comes on the heels of the joint announcement by Safeway and HSUS just yesterday that the country’s second largest grocer is now formulating plans to eliminate gestation crates from its supply chain.
(And BTW, did you hear that? No? It sounded to me like the sound made when the legislative leadership in California delivers a smack-down to those who want to keep force-feeding ducks for foie gras legal in the state.)
You didn’t share that investigation link yet? Do me a favor and please do…pigs will thank you.
I think that decadent, holiday fare is my forte. Living in San Francisco is great—with the weather being so mild, I can make it and eat it year round. Potluck to go to? Well, I know even in July the nights will be as cold as Chicago in the fall, so heavy vegan food it is!
For Easter at my family’s house, I made creamed spinach! My grandma loved it and I was pretty stoked with it as well. The rest of my fam—well, the whole eating vegan food thing is still a struggle, but they always make sure I have Vegenaise in the house! Gotta appreciate the support where I get it. Oh, and you can always lighten this recipe up by adding less cashew cream!
For the cream: 1 1/2 cup cashew cream (I’m sure you can use the same amount unsweetened soy creamer instead) 2 cloves of garlic 1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp pepper
For the creamed spinach: Aforementioned cream 2 TBS oil 1 chopped onion, any variety (I myself used red) 1 pound of fresh spinach 4 cloves of chopped or minced garlic 1/4 cup white wine (optional) 1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp pepper A dash of cayenne pepper (it won’t add heat, only a depth of flavor) A dash of nutmeg
Make your cream first! All you have to do is blend the cream ingredients together and you’re done. I made mine the night before putting this recipe together, because holidays can be a very stressful time in the kitchen, and I like as much prep work done beforehand as possible. Now, heat up a pan with the oil—you will know it’s ready when you flick water on it and it sizzles. Add your onion, and turn heat to medium. Cook until translucent or caramelized. Add garlic, making sure not to burn or brown it. Only cook until fragrant, about three minutes. Pour in the wine, as a means to deglaze your pan. Vegetable stock would work fine too, or you can leave out this step altogether. Now, it’s time for the spinach. I tore mine up, by hand, but you can chop it or leave it whole—totally up to you! Spinach doesn’t take very long to cook, also only a few minutes. So, put spinach in your pan, along with the salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Once it’s cooked to your liking, add the cashew cream and cook until heated through and through!
As excited as I may have been about a new vegan hotspot opening up, I did have my reservations. Everyone wants to open a restaurant. Everyone thinks they’ll be great at it, but the truth is, most new restaurants don’t make it in their first year. It’s hard work. Nevermind that the people who can handle working in the restaurant industry are bat shit crazy. The turnover rate is astronomical. If you haven’t read Laura’s “Top 10 Reasons You Can’t Be a Professional Chef" for SF Weekly, get on that! She got some flack in the comments section that it was unrealistic, but those people are dead wrong. My point is that working in this industry is my career, and I love it, but it has been both the best and worst experience of my life. It’s tough, mentally and physically. So if Ellen and Portia want to keep their sanity, maybe they should run the other way. Plus, I’d hate for them to be the jerk owners who show off their shiny new cars, while their staff juggles two jobs—because let me tell you, this industry does not pay well (that is a paraphrased sentiment from Anthony Bourdain’sKitchen Confidential, but also true of my own experience. You can love or hate that guy, but Kitchen Confidential is THE first-hand account of working in the industry, and I for one, really enjoyed its harsh honesty).
Product Review: Sprout Skincare! Made in BK, on sale today!
I know you guys are going to love Sprout! Why? All but one set of lip balms are vegan, plus:
All of Sprout’s ingredients are either certified organic, Fair Trade, or sourced from small, family farms. We’re committed to creating the most effective products in the most responsible way, taking all of our ethical obligations into account.
Nice, right? I know you like organic, sustainable, fair trade stuff. Sprout sent me a bunch of samples to test out and now I will tell you all about them!
Overall, I love these products. I tried the vegan lip balm first and it’s nice. Not too heavy like you’ve got icky wax caked on. Then I tried the cleanser. It smells nice, but I don’t really understand it. It’s the consistency of water so I didn’t know how to rub it in exactly. But they say it is great for sensitive skin and I imagine it really is. It’s made with only rose water, vegetable glycerin, and tea tree oil. All of their products are like that—only a few ingredients and no gross chemicals! Like their signature cream is just shea butter, extra-virgin coconut oil, and extra-virgin olive oil.
The cream is awesome! Very moisturizing. And I had weird patches of skin on my elbows when I got these products so I put the cream on them for a few days and it fixed it! Dang weird elbow skin.
But the two products I really love are the exfoliant and the body scrub. They might be too rough for sensitive skin but I imagine sensitive skin people don’t exfoliate that often? But if you like exfoliants, you can’t get better than these. The face exfoliant makes your skin so nice and smooth. And the body scrub—that stuff rules. It’s cool because it moisturizes while you’re scrubbing. That seems like such a genius idea, right? Moisturizing while your scrubbing off dead skin, totes genius.
OK, now that you have my recommendations, I have some good news for you!: Vegan Cuts, everyone’s favorite site for deals on vegan stuff, is having a sale on Sprout starting TODAY!* It’s only for three days so get on that more sooner than later. And get some of that exfoliant!
PS: who else loves the packaging? I’m totally into it!
*Someone pointed out that there’s a Vegan Cuts banner next to this post—they are part of our new vegan-friendly advertising push! That’s not why I linked though, I don’t make any money linking to them. I waited until there was a sale on Sprout to do my review because I know you guys like a sale and like instant gratification.
This is a picture of an empty container of the new Daiya Havarti. It’s empty because I ate it all! It was super delicious and I ate it all just on crackers.
I know there are mixed feelings in the crowd about Daiya and I have mixed feelings myself. I don’t really like the shreds if I use them at home, but I like them when I buy stuff and it’s made with Daiya shreds. But this Havarti stuff is totally addictive! Like, I ate it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for three days. It’s amazing.
It’s softish, and has a kick from the jalapeño. I didn’t taste too much garlic. I’m usually kind of a nancy about spicy stuff but this jalapeño didn’t bother me much. I just did a high cracker to Havarti ratio. If you like super spicy stuff, you’ll have to add some more spice on your own. If you don’t like spicy stuff, I wouldn’t let that deter you from this Havarti. BTW I bought it on Vegan Essentials.
This is Dudley, can he stop being ridiculously cute for like a minute? Jeez louise!
Here are the details, friend:
Join us Saturday, May 5th from 11am-3pm at our rabbit adoption event at the East Bay SPCA in Dublin with rabbits and bunnies from 5 different rescue groups and shelters from all over the Bay Area. Rabbit experts will be on hand!
Bring your family to pet the rabbits and enjoy interacting with them
Learn about rabbits, what they eat, and how to take care of them
Bring your rabbit questions
Bring your spayed/neutered bunny to find him/her a bunny friend (bunny speed dating!)
Free nail trims for rabbits
Meet and adopt the rabbit of your dreams
Check out our great bunny blankets & bunny toys for sale!
Interview with Sayward Rebhal, author of Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide
My general strategy for attacking something that’s new or unknown to me — or even just interesting — is to bury myself in information, often in the form of books. This has lead to a personal library that covers a few topics, like cats and vegan cooking and nutrition, in great depth. It also probably makes people think I’m weird, but I am a nerd and I like to arm myself with information!
Naturally, when I found out I was pregnant, I wanted to stock up on all the pregnancy and baby books I could get my hands on. There are a lot of those, to be sure, but there aren’t that many that address concerns specific to vegan (or even vegetarian) pregnant women. My experiences in skipping over a lot of stuff like “How much dairy to eat while you’re pregnant” is part of why I wanted to do this series for Vegansaurus in the first place. It’s also why I was so happy to receive a copy of Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide by Sayward Rebhal, awesome blogger of Bonzai Aphrodite and badass vegan mama.
VPSG is a short read, but it’s packed with information — even with as much as I’d read already, I found stuff to take away from the book that I hadn’t yet come across. It’s also nicely organized — you can read the whole thing or just flip to the section that’s relevant for where you are in your baby-growing experience. And it’s friendly and conversational without having that irritating “Girlfriend OMG let me tell you ALL ABOUT pregnancy!!!1!!” attitude that some women-oriented reference books employ. I think I dog-eared every second page of this one and I know I’ll come back to it often.
Ms. Rebhal was kind enough to answer some questions for me about the book, her own pregnancy experience, and what she hopes to work on next. Read on!
What made you decide to write a book about pregnancy from a vegan perspective? When I first found out I was pregnant, I did what most newly knocked-up ladies do: I went looking for books! At the Herbivore store here in Portland, I was wandering around in circles when the owner, Michelle, asked if I needed anything. I said, “Yeah, where are all the books on vegan pregnancy?” And she was like “NOWHERE … you should write one!”
That was basically the start of my friendship with Michelle and Josh. They were awesome during my pregnancy, and after my son was born, I decided to take Michelle up on her offer. I wanted to write a book so that other people wouldn’t have to do what I did (hours and hours of exhaustive research, piecing the puzzle together from every corner of the Internet), and I asked Josh and Michelle if they would help me publish it. Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide was released by Herbivore in late 2011.
Were there any particular challenges you came across in finding information about pregnancy and post-partum care for vegans? Yes and no. I mean, the underlying pregnancy and post-partum care is the same for vegans as it is for non-vegetarians. We all have the same requirements, you know? So it was more a matter of understanding universal pregnancy/postpartum needs, and then modifying things with a vegan twist. Mostly it was pretty straightforward. Sometimes it took a little creativity, which was fun (if you’re a geek like me). Sometimes, like when I had to spend a whole day calling all the major over-the-counter drug manufacturers to verify which products were and were not vegan, well that was not so easy or fun.
How has the response to the book been? So great! There was definitely a hole there that needed to be filled. Especially since, I think, becoming pregnant can be sort of unsettling. It was for me. I never doubted my choices until I was pregnant, but when you’re suddenly responsible for a life … and it happens to be the very most precious life in the whole world … that’s a ton of pressure! So I think a lot of women are just grateful to have a little friend in their back pocket going “Yeah! You got this! Here, try X or Y or Z, you’re doing awesome.”
You’ve had one vegan pregnancy now — is there anything you’d do differently the next time around? I’d take my own advice, and eat less sugar!
Any favorite vegan products for pregnant women and babies? Oh yes. The brand Earth Mama Angel Baby is all vegan/cruelty-free and really amazing. Their stuff uses only natural ingredients and the whole line receives a “0” on the Cosmetic Safety Database rating system (that’s the best score, it means no risk whatsoever). The Baby Bottom Balm is great for diaper rash prevention, and the Mama Nipple Butter is essential for those first few weeks of breastfeeding. Every other nipple product (and I mean EVERY one) uses lanolin. Earth Mama Angel Baby has all sorts of other products too. They’re the best!
Finally, are you planning a follow-up book — vegan child care, perhaps?! Honestly, I think the most important lesson I’ve learned as a parent is that you just can’t judge other parents, because kids are just too different and every situation is unique. So I don’t think I’d feel comfortable instructing people on how to raise their kids.
However, for the same reason that I wrote Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide, I’d love to write a kid-centric cookbook. There’s not a lot out there for vegan kiddos! I’m super lucky to have a huge community of vegan families in my area, and I dream of compiling a massive compendium filled with their most delicious, nutritious, children-approved recipes. Lots of color, lots of photos, lots of stories and style and tips and strategies. I have such a strong vision for this book, and I really hope to see it through some day. (Hey publishers - email me!) (Just kidding) (No, but not really)
Lush's new anti-animal-testing campaign is more powerful, less exploitative than PETA
Via Ecouterre, we learn of this shocking new ad campaign from Lush, meant to make explicit the horrors of animal testing by using a LIVE (simulated) NUDE GIRL in place of the non-human animal subject. This window display, featuring vegan performance artist Jacqueline Trades, debuted at Lush’s Regent Street store in London on April 25. It coincides with this Fight Animal Testing site and European Union-centered petition.
What does your Vegansaurus think about it? We’re divided!
Meave says: It’s very PETA, no? I find it significantly less obnoxious than those “Sexxxy ladies in lettuce-leaf bikinis” or whatever outfits for PETA. This is more freak ‘em out than make ‘em want to fuck you, which is appropriate, because animal testing is horrific and should be treated as such. I take issue with the subject of the testing being a nearly naked woman. The female body is 100 percent commodified in Western society, and I don’t think that this campaign recontextualizes it enough to desexualize it, which is to say, as awful as the tests the “scientists” are simulating performing on her, I see “naked lady” before I see “human-as-animal test subject,” and that bothers me.
I wonder how much PETA has ruined the shock value of substituting a human body for an animal’s. PETA uses conventionally attractive (by Occidental standards) female bodies in varying states of undress for essentially every campaign; is it PETA’s fault now I can’t look at this girl without thinking about all the meat-eating, leather-wearing celebrities in the “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” posters, or women wearing only saran wrap? I hate animal testing, but I also hate the exploitation of any body. On the other hand, how many of the products I slap on my face every day exploited animal bodies before they got to my makeup case?* Because you worked with a performance artist, I think you do win this one, Lush. Sign the petition!
Jenny says: This is pretty horrific, but in an avant-garde kind of artsy way. I mean, just looking at these images is grossing me out, but I can’t stop. Oh those activists, always putting themselves on the line for their causes. And hey, look how much attention and signatures it garnered (nearly 200,000 as of Wednesday night)! Yep, here’s the deal — I’m into it. As long as I don’t have to be the one in the store window, yo.
Isn’t it crazy how art will bring out such intense emotion?! Isn’t it great to really FEEL something? So tell us, what do you guys think? How does this make you feel?
You guys! Want to cuddle calves all day and eat leeks straight from the ground? Then you want to intern at Animal Place. Here are the details:
Interns will be part of a team emphasizing a dynamic exchange of ideas that will improve the productivity and efficiency of the vegan farm. In addition to direct participation with all aspects of the vegan farm, interns will be encouraged to gain knowledge of growing techniques through reading, discussion, volunteering at other local farms, interaction with extension agents, online and offsite presentations and workshops. Also, interns will work with the landscape around the barns and offices and the landscape of the larger sanctuary to enhance the beauty of the sanctuary, provide habitat for wildlife and improve the lives of the animal residents.
So, apply! And then go hug all pigs and eat all the turnips and be the happiest veganist vegan in all the vegan land!
Vegan pop-up, Wildflower, in San Francisco this weekend!
Any plans for Cinco de Mayo? I plan on sunning (in my dreams there is sun in SF on my afternoons off) on my deck, with SkinnyGirl Margaritas* and Sarah, while dancing to pop tunes. I know you can’t beat this arrangement, so don’t even try. Check out Wildflower instead!
The menu looks pretty fucking legit, so I think Sarah and I will have to hop, skip, and jump on over to one of their locations, on Friday or Saturday night. BEER-BATTERED TEMPEH TACOS! It’s as if Wildflower knows my innermost desires (beer and tacos)!
If you are feeling extra super elegant, Wildflower is hosting a four-course sit-down dinner at a location that has yet to be announced, and to which you must RSVP to attend! Check out all the information here.
*Dammit, after reading this article, my hopes of margarita convenience are shattered. Can you send me your favorite, homemade margarita recipe, preferably containing agave nectar, please? Thanks ever so much! All natural, homemade margaritas forever!
Krista Maloney of the SF SPCA says, “We’ve installed a ‘puppy bin’ in the highly trafficked plaza at the intersection of Sacramento and Drumm streets, near Embarcadero Center. The bin looks like a typical newspaper stand, except the glass front is a video of puppies. Within the bin is The Canine Tribune, featuring articles about puppy mills. It will remain there until 3 p.m. on Friday, May 4.”
This is a brief video of reactions of passersby as they check out the puppy bin.
Go see it for yourself, on your lunch break or something!
You can see that Megan Rascal’s Figgy is concerned. Those puppies are his peeps, yo! He would go see the campaign himself, but he’ll have to settle for the video, as he resides on the East Coast [though he says hi to his BBDO SF homie Ian!].
Amazingly, even though they’ve had more than seven years to find an alternative to force-feeding, a small gaggle of foie gras enthusiasts in California are trying to repeal the upcoming July ban on the force-feeding of ducks for foie gras (and the sale of products from force-fed animals). I did a 20-minute debate about this on Southern California’s NPR affiliate yesterday, and an hour-long debate on Northern California’s NPR affiliate today.
Speaking of feeding, as far as what we’re feeding ourselves, the title of the Forbes article says it all: “Eating Less Meat Is World’s Best Chance For Timely Climate Change, Say Experts.” Meatless Mondayrecipes, anyone?
Some good news: HSUS’s Smithfield exposé video yesterday won a 2012 Webby Award! (The Webbys are kind of like an Oscars of online content.) We’re psyched.
Interview: Gnosis Chocolate gives you sweet vegan choices!
A couple years ago, Vegansaurus TV did a feature on super-gorgeous Gnosis Chocolate creator Vanessa Barg. Since then, Gnosis has undergone some super-exciting changes! Vegansaurus chatted with Gnosis’ Marla Golde about these changes, and how Gnosis is working to offer more healthful ingredients in its all-vegan, organic raw chocolate!
Vegansaurus: In the past, your products were sweetened with agave, and it seems some of your new chocolates have coconut sugar. Why?
Gnosis: We are currently in the process of a switch to raw, organic coconut palm sugar as our primary sweetener! The taste and consistency of coconut palm sugar is slightly different than agave nectar, so we decided to offer our customers a choice during this transitional period through our “Sweet Choice” program. This allows customers to choose between chocolate sweetened by an agave nectar/coconut palm sugar blend, or coconut palm sugar only.
Vegansaurus: What’s so great about coconut sugar? Are you anti-agave?
Gnosis: Coconut palm sugar is a highly nutritious sweetener; rich in magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc and calcium. It has a low glycemic index, and we’re particularly excited about it because it has been named the most sustainable sweetener by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations!
Vanessa Barg has a great relationship with Big Tree Farms in Bali, and has worked directly with their farmers. This has created a deep connection between our company and the community there, ensuring that we receive the highest quality product. The difference you’ll notice in the flavor of CPS-sweetened bars is that they impart more of a maple, molasses, or brown sugar-like taste—it complements our line of chocolates beautifully.
We still stand by our specific source of agave (see Vanessa Barg’s report here) and will continue to use it as a sweetener in some of our products. Our agave is organic, truly pure, low-glycemic, and raw.
Vegansaurus: Gnosis uses no advertising, but y’all are doing pretty splendidly! Why do you choose not to advertise?
Gnosis: The company has grown 100 percent by word of mouth, with no advertising and no PR companies. Instead, we devote that energy and money to making the absolute best products possible; and carrying out projects that make sure that our customers can deeply trust in our commitment to run our vegan business with complete integrity.
Vegansaurus: Where are you located?
Gnosis: Both our office and our kitchen are located in Long Island City, just a few minutes from New York City.
Vegansaurus: Please tell us more about your vegan mission!
Gnosis: The phenomenal health benefits of veganism (decreased likelihood of heart disease, increased life span, stronger immune systems, just to name a few!) are vitally important reasons why our chocolates are vegan. Because our bars are dairy-free, they don’t block antioxidants and contain no cholesterol. Gnosis was born out of Vanessa’s work as a holistic health counselor—the bars were created for her clients as a way to take great care of their health without giving up their beloved chocolate.
Also, while personal health is a vitally important part of our mission, planetary health is just as important—so our products are also vegan in the name of sustainability and environmental consciousness! Since the livestock sector plays such a major role in deforestation, pollution, land degradation, and the reduction of biodiversity; and animal agriculture leads to global warming via methane and nitrous oxide emissions…. Producing products that support a vegan lifestyle is a great way to ensure that we’re a model for responsible, conscious entrepreneurship.
Lastly, we never, ever want our products to harm any creature, so our chocolate is also vegan in the name of kindness to animals. We know that the animals at factory farms feel pain just the same as our beloved Choco-Kitty, Charlotte, and are proud that our vegan certification tells the world that none of our products are tested on animals.
Vegansaurus: Thank you! Any concluding thoughts?
Gnosis: Thank you so much for this opportunity! We absolutely honored to be a part of Vegansaurus again!
All Gnosis products can be purchased online and at select Bay Area health food stores.
You guys, this has been an amazing whirlwind of a semester and I am so excited to be done with it and spend a few weeks just sitting at home, listening to audiobooks, and latch-hooking a rug in my muumuu. True story: My parents bought me one at Ross because I liked my mom’s so much when we were on vacation! I have really been enjoying audiobooks lately. I feel that listening to The Wind-up Bird Chronicles is the only way I am ever going to get through the entire thing. This is my current life goal.
Of course, none of this is to be! Soon I will be embarking on a Carnival Cruise Lines adventure with my entire family and returning to summer school, which is four hours per class! I remember how I thought being an adult would be super fun because I would get to do whatever the fuck I wanted and eat cinnamon toast crunch all day. Now, I don’t even get a summer vacation! Being old sucks!
What doesn’t suck is getting submissions from all of my friends (read: you). This week, I am especially grateful to Kim who sent me a “WTF is this?” submission and saved me from doing hours of internet research! WTF are we WTF-ing about, you ask? Ducks! Ducks in frocks! Ducks in frocks strutting down a runway looking like Lady Gaga on a good mental health day! Kim doesn’t know how she feels about it, but I think we can both agree that the two ducks in pink dresses and hats are f-I-e-r-c-e! The ducks don’t look that upset, but I certainly can’t make any sense of it. What do you think?
What’s more WTF than ducks is Lazarus hamsters rising from the dead. Actually, I don’t know what’s more WTF: the hamster that dug its way out of a boxy grave, or the family he was living with not knowing that hamsters hibernate if they are too cold. That’s why you need to keep the heat up! They’re desert animals! Bunny used to hella like to chill on a heating pad. She used to like to poop on it, too, but I mostly remember the sitting. Get a book on hamsters, there are like five hundred.
That’s it for this week! We’ve been a little slow in true WTF-ness, so please pay it forward and send me links for next week. Paying it forward is probably a bad example, though. Hayley Joel Osment’s career died at the end of that movie!
NPR wants to "crack the code" of vegan cheese analogs!
Rachel Estabrook at NPR’s The Salt blog gets into the science of vegan cheese analogs, and poses some interesting questions. Why are we so obsessed with making some vegan cheeses behave exactly like casein-ful animal’s milk cheese? How are food scientists working on replicating this “hold onto itself and then lightly let go and then hold onto itself” action that makes dairy cheese melt? Which company has been the most successful so far, and who else is trying?
That answer is illustrated by this photo of Easy Vegan Info’s mac & cheese pizza with Daiya (here’s her recipe, I know what you really want). Yes, according to vegan cheese code-crackers, Daiya makes the best meltable vegan cheese on the market. Being a hardcore Follow Your Heart fan, I take issue with this assertion as nonsense, but also Daiya is a total gutbomb for me and I don’t eat it.* To each her own!
The partnership’s goal is to raise $13,000 that will be used to finish design and construction of the first store. Once they have a flagship store, Leanne and her team hope to bring animal-friendly haute couture to the masses. Any contributors to this cause will be rewarded with gifts provided by Vaute Couture, a raffle for a coat ($5 pledge), Friends of Animals Print Series ($100 pledge), the first coat from next year’s collection and named after the participant ($1,000 pledge).
How excited am I?! I love her coats, but how many coats can you own? Jewelry and tank tops, though, you can have as many as you want! Here’s a pic of the jewelry in the mini collection:
I love it! As it says, this stuff is limited edition and only available until May 8! So get on that! And omg did you see you can pay to get a coat named after you?! The world needs a “Rascal” coat! Am I right? I’m always right!
Open discussion: If plants communicate, is it ethical to eat them?
Adam poses an interesting question at Say what, Michael Pollan?: Should communication between pea plants raise tough issues for vegetarians?
This comes from a New York Times blog post about a Ben-Gurion University study in which a pea plant subjected to drought conditions would then “[relay] to its neighbors the biochemical message about the onset of drought, prompting them to react as though they, too, were in a similar predicament.”
The Times then asks, If plants can talk, are they sentient, and can people who don’t eat meat for ethical reasons continue to eat plants, if they’re essentially the same as animals, WELL YOU HYPOCRITES?
This is one of those “trick the vegan” questions that particularly irritates me, even more than “What about the animals killed in the production of soybeans?” As though there weren’t a million other terrible things happening to most animals on factory farms. As though the only reason I’m vegan is because I anthropomorphize animals. Yes, do no harm, but in a world where humans do all the harm, you have to prioritize your harm-reduction, and for me, animals that definitely suffer are more important than plants that communicate.
Adam, of course, takes a nuanced approach to the subject—“an argument based on a need to be logically consistent doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously if it isn’t itself logically consistent.” We, on the other here mostly to yell. When people use interesting scientific discoveries as another way to make us look hypocritical (maybe because you see your own hypocrisy when you look at us?), it makes me angry.
Product review: Raw Shakti Single Origin Ecuador Chocolate!
Raw Shakti Single Origin Ecuador chocolate has only two raw vegan organic non-GMO ethically-sourced ingredients: cacao beans and coconut sugar. That’s it! It takes some serious confidence to put out a raw chocolate with two ingredients. With so few elements, there’s no room for error—no coconut flakes to mask the flavor of slightly subpar cacao beans, no fancy superfoods to overwhelm the palate and shock any critical senses into submission.
Raw Shakti Chocolate sent me some samples. The single origin raw chocolate is indeed unbelievably intense, and not everyone is going to like it. You might wanna try one of their other varieties if you’re used to 70 percent cacao vegan chocolate or anything around that percentage. But if you like your chocolate as strong as possible, as I do, their Single Origin 85 percent chocolate will be your new mana. A small square of Raw Shakti Chocolate will remind you of that one time you woke up in an unfamiliar bed next to two drop-dead gorgeous roommates wearing B12 patches and nothing else—you’ll experience confusion, and strong sensations throughout your body, and you’ll pray for it to happen again. Get it online and at some Bay Area health food stores.
Who won the New York Times' "ethical meat" essay contest?
You guys, check it out: The in-vitro-meat vegetarian won the essay contest in the New York Times! I voted for this essay, because of ethics and also aesthetics—it’s totally weird to think about eating meat that isn’t dead.
The last paragraph is particularly powerful; allow me to quote:
In vitro meat is real meat, grown from real cow, chicken, pig and fish cells, all grown in culture without the mess and misery, without pigs frozen to the sides of metal transport trucks in winter and without intensive water use, massive manure lagoons that leach into streams or antibiotics that are sprayed onto and ingested by live animals and which can no longer fight ever-stronger, drug-resistant bacteria. It comes without E. coli, campylobacter, salmonella or other health problems that are unavoidable when meat comes from animals who defecate. It comes without the need for excuses. It is ethical meat. Aside from accidental roadkill or the fish washed up dead on the shore, it is perhaps the only ethical meat.
So once the test tube meat comes, will you eat it? I am … undecided. It’s just so strange, I can’t wrap my head around it!
Product review: UliMana raw vegan chocolate truffles are totally baller!
Remember that 1998 episode of South Park (I’m so old) when Chef told his students to enjoy his chocolate salty balls? The world grimaced, laughed, and I have a hunch that chocolate balls and certain pornographic film sales increased exponentially.
Twenty years later, how is the market for chocolate balls? Are they still culturally relevant? Do they still taste amazing? If you’re a vegan who likes raw chocolate, our answer to all of these questions is UliMana raw vegan chocolate: proof positive that chocolate balls still rule.
The super adorbs packaging of UliMana drew me in immediately. Stacked like gum balls in a jar, each delicate chocolate ball miraculously keeps its shape while pressed against its brethren. How do they do that!? I imagine that’s a well-kept UliMana secret.
UliMana are technically considered truffles. I love that each ball is infused with cacao powder, coconut nectar (which is a much lower-glycemic sweetener than refined white sugar and other sweeteners on the market!), high-quality salt, cacao butter, vanilla beans, and various superfoods, depending on the flavor. The goji cherry and the cacao nib truffles are my favorite, but if you prefer your chocolate balls straight up, then get the dark cacao raw truffles.
Be a baller! Get UliMana online, at local Bay Area health food outlets (including Rainbow and Whole Foods), and your new best friend’s pantry. UliMana sent me some samples, which I loved on thoroughly.
Guest Product review: Coconut Secret coconut aminos is like soy sauce, but better!
In the raw food recipe world, ingredient substitution runs rampant. This is partly because food dogma varies among raw food enthusiasts. Want less sugar in your date-agave smoothie? Substitute stevia! Afraid of bananas? Use banana extract and Irish moss to get a hint of banana flavor without all that weird banana mushy mouthfeel! Want a gluten-free alternative to sprouted wheat? Try buckwheat! Everybody wins when we all get to substitute as we please.
Tons of vegan recipes call for soy sauce, wheat-free tamari or Braggs. Y’all know what flavor I’m talking about—that savory, mmm-hmm good ish required in such everything from raw stir fry to kale chips to kelp noodles deserves its spot in our cuisine! What you may have noticed, if you’re reading swanky blogs, is a substitution option by the name of Coconut Secret coconut aminos. Like Braggs liquid aminos, coconut aminos tastes pretty similar to soy sauce, only as well as being gluten-free, it’s also raw, organic, and non-GMO. Wow!
Coconut Secret sent me a sample of the coconut aminos, and it tastes pretty great. I can’t tell the difference between wheat-free tamari and coconut aminos (unless I use a lot).
I used some coconut aminos in my romantic raw vegan marinated veggie dish the other night. I soaked some broccoli, green onion, carrots, cauliflower, red bell peppers, and wakame in coconut aminos with apple cider vinegar, and prayed it wouldn’t taste like crap and that my girlfriend would still love me. It turned out amazing! The coconut aminos adds a depth and richness, and is an exciting alternative, especially if you are trying to avoid gluten, soy, or all things conventional. Enjoy!
Guest Product Review: Living Tree Raw Almond Butter!
There’s something timeless and wonderful about the taste of almonds that no other seed or nut butter could ever match. But hot dang, that ish is expensive! Anyone who’s bought almond butter recently knows that there’s quite a significant price jump between peanut butter and almond butter ($5 to $10 sometimes!), and an even greater price gap between roasted and raw varieties of almond butter. You could easily pay $7 to $10 more for raw almond butter! In these tough times, that’s a lot of dough to spend on butter!
In my opinion, shelling out for more expensive almond butter isn’t usually worth it. I mean, we have nonprofit jobs, families and gender-queer allies to feed! That said, I believe splurging now and then for raw, sprouted, organic, non-GMO almond butter from Living Tree is just about the healthiest and tastiest decision you could make!
While I don’t think heated nut fats will kill you, I do believe that sprouted nut butters taste better and are the only legit way to know you’re eating truly raw almonds. Sprouting almonds before grinding them into nut butter is one of the most labor-intensive and debated practices in the nut butter business. In order to call your food “living,” some say nut butters have to be sprouted. California has some pretty tough laws when it comes to heating almonds, even those that are organic and labeled “raw.” I am pretty sure the most common source of “truly raw almonds” are imported from Italy.
That means that raw almond butter could basically refer to many different levels of “rawness,” and the only real way you can really tell if an almond is raw or living is if it sprouts. Living Tree Sprouted almond butter is definitely raw, and is an incredible hybrid between chunky and smooth. It feels like a totally different almond butter. It’s incredibly fluffy, like eating an almond cloud, with little grains of sand flowing into your mouth and heart.
If you’re going to dump tons of almond butter into a raw pad thai recipe or use it as the base of an almond butter and jelly sandwich, then you can choose whatever brand/roasted/raw variety you see fit. But if you’re going to invite your snobby raw correspondent over for a spot of green tea and raw crumpets, I would be ever so delighted if you served Living Tree Sprouted Almond Butter!
UPDATE: I found out from Living Tree that their organic, “alive” almond butter is only raw, not sprouted. They only purchase almonds from local organic California family farmers, and have been working with the same farmers for more than 15 years.
Instead of actually sprouting the almonds, they instead make the almond butter over several days. The key difference in their process is that they slice and never grind the almonds. After this, they let the mixture rest overnight, and slice again the next day. This is why their almond butter tastes so fluffy, and they believe it preserves the health content of the nuts.
[Photo courtesy of Living Tree, which sent me a complimentary jar of the almond butter.]