It's hot as all get out, let's look at vegan ice cream.
It’s shoot-me-in-the-face hot in NYC today and I’m not in the mood because I had to work all Memorial Day weekend and my coworkers are being total bros. To cheer me up, let’s stare at vegan ice cream, shall we? Above is chocolate brownie ice cream from the Minimalist Baker. Damn. I could get down with that.
Dog saves kitten from ravine! Nurses her as her own!
Animal Control in Greenville, S.C., got a call about a dog stuck in a ravine. An officer went to check it out and climbed down, following the dog’s howls. What does she find when she gets there? The little dog was nursing a kitten! OMG DON’T DIE! OK YOU CAN DIE!
The officer believed the dog could have climbed back up from the revine but couldn’t bring the kitten and didn’t want to leave her. Watch this video, the best moment is in the first few seconds—the dog totally grabs the kitten by the scruff!
Anderson County PAWS recently updated their fb to say the dog and kitten are off to foster care together. Though like the video says, this dog looks like she came from a good home, so I hope the family comes to claim her—and wants a kitten!
[Cornell dairy scientist Dave] Barbano, who specializes in filtration methods for separation and recovery of protein, has his sights set on the tiny amount of protein in acid whey. He believes it might be usable as an infant formula ingredient. But first Barbano has to figure out how to extract the protein in a cost-effective way, and his research is just getting underway.
The concept is roughly modeled on the success that cheese-makers have had selling products derived from their own byproduct — sweet whey. Sweet whey is more valuable and easier to handle than acid whey, as it has a lot more protein, and is easier to dry because it isn’t as acidic as Greek yogurt whey. Cheese-makers have developed a lucrative business selling whey protein for use in body-building supplements and as a food ingredient. And Greek yogurt makers are eager to follow suit.
Last year the industry produced more than 150 million gallons of acid whey as a byproduct of making Greek yogurt, and they have no idea how to get rid of it all. Yet. Just wait till they figure out how to make a cheap additive out of it, it’ll be a whey-in-everything party all over again. Like useless dairy byproducts aren’t snuck into enough processed foods already. Like we didn’t have enough reasons to hate the dairy industry.
Read the entire article at Modern Farmer to find out the extent of the decadence and wastefulness of Greek-style yogurt production, facts that you can tell all your yogurt-eating friends as they stand in the dairy aisle, trying to decide between Chobani and Fage. Or, more realistically, you can yell about over a drink with your vegan friends, hoping if you’re loud enough some yogurt-eaters will overhear and mend their ways. Passive-aggressive activism!
It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! Yay, Paul! Yay, Animals!
Still happy about the Tennessee governor’s veto of his state’s ag-gag bill? So is the state’s largest paper, which editorialized this week that “On every level, ‘ag gag’ was a failure” and that “the legislation was built upon a lie.”
The new ag-gag battle is in North Carolina, where a bill is pending in the state legislature. You can read the HSUS state director’s op-ed on the issue.
You knew that foie gras production was terrible for the birds. Do you know how the farm workers are treated? Here’s the Financial Times’ coverage of the issue.
Ever wonder about the guy behind most of the attacks on HSUS? The Boston Globe had a major front-page exposé on meat industry frontman Rick Berman (of the so-called “Center for Consumer Freedom”) and his campaign against HSUS. Appropriately, the piece is entitled, “Washington’s robust market for attacks, half-truths.”
And on the polar opposite end of the spectrum, Peter Singer has a great new TED talk on effective altruism that’s worth your time.
And they’re so exclusive we can’t even buy them yet! They look like they’re gonna be tough and pretty and totally expensive, but you know what? Quality vegan shoes aren’t cheap. Not to knock cheap vegan shoes! But generally shoes at a higher price point come with things like padded footbeds, a little arch support, and consideration that they have to be worn on actual human feet.
I’m super into the Keely booties above in black; I love that buckle underneath! The 100 percent lack of functionality, without even a pretense of usefulness! It’s so insouciant, right?
I also really like the Hazel slip-ons in this crinkly metallic orange.
If you’re going to wear a shoe with such a basic shape, you ought to get creative with the color and materials. You can wear boring shoes when you’re dead!
Krže Studio was created by Leila Tamar Kerze, who studied fashion design at college and worked for BCBG and Donald J. Pliner before striking out on her vegan own.
When can you buy these shoes? Where can you buy them? I have no answers for you. What I do know is that these shoes have a lot of attitude and I am glad people see a market for luxury vegan footwear. Leather is so passé.
Super important update!!!: Megan loves this pair! -MR
Check it out! I haven’t tried it yet but there’s a Van Leeuwen in my neighborhood in BK. I’m so excited! Everybody loves this stuff! According to their fb, the vegan flavors will be available at all locations. HUZZAH!
Time for another video in our Quarrygirl Presents: At Home with Susan Feniger series! This time we go to the famous chef’s Los Angeles pad for a simple breakfast of mashed avocado on toast. It’s so easy and the perfect way to use up avocados before they spoil! Watch as Susan shares her favorite and quickest recipe and also gives us tips on pronunciation, her favourite knife, and why buying fresh pepper is important.
Avocado toast is the king of toasts and quarrygirl is the queen of delicious food videos. Get into it!
Growing up in Philly, I ate plenty of hoagies in my pre-vegan days. Italian hoagies were my jam especially so when I saw that Diaya was coming out with provolone slices, I was like, “this is it! It’s hoagie time!” And god bless me, my vegan hoagie turned out out of control delicious!
You too can make your own Italian hoagie, here are the supplies you will need:
-Italian Amoroso-type roll (I found one at the deli at the regular grocery store—had cornmeal dust and all) -Vegan mayo (I used Earth Balance) -Daiya provolone -Veg salami (I used Viana Velami, got this and the Daiya from Vegan Essentials) -Iceberg lettuce -Onion -Pickle slices -Olive oil -White vinegar -Salt/pepper/oregano
Slice your roll along the side (not the top like crazy Subway) and spread the mayo inside. Place your meat and cheese slices like so:
Then slice your lettuce and onions. BTW this is prob the only time I will ever recommend iceberg for anything. Don’t tear it or anything, the lettuce should be sliced into strips like these:
And I just sliced the onion similarly. Sprinkle ample amounts of lettuce and onion on top of your open sandwich. Then top with pickle slices.
Sprinkle a little of your oil and vinegar on top. Then the salt, pepper, and a dash of oregano.
It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! Yay, Paul! Yay, Animals!
Want some awesome news? We passed a gestation crate ban bill in New Jersey this week! It’s now on Gov. Christie’s desk awaiting signature or veto. Of course the pork industry is lobbying for the latter.
The pork (and beef) industry is also lobbying aggressively to kill federal legislation to ban barren battery cages for laying hens as well as require battery egg cartons to be labeled as “eggs from caged hens.” And speaking of Congress, Rep. Steve King of Iowa inserted a provision into the House version of the farm bill that, if enacted into law, would wipe out numerous laws protecting farm animals. One columnist noted in response that it’s “unknown whether Rep. King is any kin to author Stephen King, but the Iowa Congressman is more horrifying.”
As you know, the Tennessee governor admirably vetoed his state’s ag-gag bill this week, leaving North Carolina as the sole state with a major ag-gag battle occurring right now. Interestingly, famous animal scientist Temple Grandin recently remarked that “ag-gag bills are the stupidest thing that ag ever did.”
Great job, humanity: Global warming forces ocean fish to new waters
Global warming is fucking with the fish, and the fish-catching economy is finally catching on. From All Things Considered:
The new study in Nature shows these anecdotes aren’t simply a fluke. Data from fish catches from around the world show it’s happening everywhere the ocean is warming—which is just about everywhere.
So they’re seeing swordfish in Denmark, Mexico-based Humboldt squid in British Columbia, and Atlantic mackerel in Iceland. I wonder what it’ll be like when we’ve made the oceans so hot fish can’t live there anymore. What’ll become of the pescatarians?
"This is suddenly a wake-up call," [Mark Payne at the National Institute for Aquatic Resources in Denmark] says. “It’s a strong suggestion that climate change is here. It’s real, and it’s really starting to affect what we catch and, therefore, what we eat.”
Bye, environment! Nice polluting you!
[Narrow-barred Spanish mackerel photo by Klaus Stiefel via Flickr]
PCRM! Sometimes amazing, sometimes embarrassing, but always working toward a vegan world, which we can certainly appreciate. And in service of that goal, the organization has a vegan-food-only office policy, which the Washington Post reported on this week for … reasons.
PCRM has also piloted vegan eating programs at other workplaces in the Washington area. In one instance, they worked with a group of employees at Geico’s Chevy Chase headquarters. The nonprofit asked the insurance group to adopt a vegan diet and offered them weekly instruction on how to make healthy, tasty and cost-effective vegan choices. After 22 weeks, they compared employees in that group to Geico employees who hadn’t received the training. The vegan group lost more weight, reported improved physical health and said they saw a decrease in food costs.
Of course people are always yapping about how veganism will MAKE YOU THIN at which point YOU WILL WIN LIFE, which is a dumb lie. But are we going to criticize a cruelty-free office kitchen? Of course not. Health vegans, we love you too. Everyone’s welcome on team vegan.
Great news, vegan cheese-lovers—Nacheez innovator Ilsa Hess has added a new flavor to her line of nacho cheese sauce! What was once only available in spicy or mild is now accessible in a medium spice level. I was generously sent a couple of jars to sample, one of which was simply heated up and poured atop tortilla chips immediately after I ripped the package open—delicious!
For the second jar I wanted to be a little more creative, as my first impulse was to eat it with a spoon over the sink. I’d been meaning to make the Nacheez banana empanadas for about a year, but to be real, it has sounded a little too eccentric for my taste.
I did make the empanadas, and though it is a funky combination of flavors, they’re actually really tasty! The sweetness of the bananas combined with the tang of the Nacheez is an eclectic harmony! Next time I think I’m gonna skip the work of shaping empanadas (okay fine, I really made calzones) and just make a pizza. That way the bananas, uncovered in the oven, will caramelize to their fullest potential (or at least until the pizza dough is nicely browned on the bottom).
Even if banana-Nacheez pizza isn’t your thing, you can enjoy medium Nacheez in a variety of different ways, like my personal fave—a chili cheese dog!
Sunday, June 2, 2pm The Bell House 149 7th Street, Brooklyn (directions) Tickets $12 advance / $15 day of to eat and vote (includes a free raffle ticket) Free to compete. Competitor applications close Friday, May 17 at 11:59pm.
The school of nearly 400 students, from pre-kindergarten to third grade, was founded five years ago on the principle that a healthy lifestyle leads to strong academic achievement.
"We decided on a vision where health and nutrition would be a part of educating the whole child," school principal Bob Groff said….
"The vegetarian menu fits right in with our mission, and we are thrilled that our students in pre-kindergarten all the way up to grade three understand the importance of healthy and nutritious meals," Groff said in a statement.
New York schools — which provide meals for 1.1 million students daily—offer principals vegetarian and nonvegetarian lunch options. Groff worked closely with the department so that the menu changes came at no additional cost to the school.
Pretty amazing. Would you have imagined this was a possibility in today’s America? I’m amazed. I also can’t believe the beef industry isn’t breaking down the principal’s door with pitchforks. You go, Mr. Groff!
Claret only has three bags in the collection at the moment but I’m pretty into them. And the bag above is $140 so the price isn’t that bad. I love the design details. I’m excited to see what they’ll make in the future!
Politico had a big story on the beef and pork industries’ aggressive campaign to kill federal legislation to ban barren battery cages for egg-laying hens. One agribusiness spokesperson quoted in the piece says they oppose the bill so strongly that they’d fight to kill the entire farm bill (which gives them massive subsidies) if the legislation to improve laying hen welfare were included in the bill.
On a more optimistic note, meat giant Tyson Foods reported a 42 percent drop in net income this quarter…
Video of the week: Ever seen a pig and cat play cat and mouse?
Spotted: New vegan handbag line Freedom Of Animals
Style.com just posted about this brand new vegan company Freedom Of Animals and my dear sis-in-law sent it my way. My sis-in-law is a fashion designer and totally the arbiter of good taste so I was very stoked. Of course, the bag above is $480. So now you are probably like, “screw you, Megan Rascal, screw you!” But I got to keep you in the loop on advances in vegan fashion.
You’ll like the company too:
Freedom Of Animals bags are sustainably sourced and consciously made. Our fabrics comply with EPA guidelines. No harsh chemicals were used in any of our products and we are 100% cruelty free.
Sound good? Sounds good! My favorite is the Melia Lia above. This pic from their site is also my favorite too:
Come to the Oakland Cat Vid Fest on Saturday and support the East Bay SPCA
Saturday is FULL of events on both coasts, you guys. And this one sounds like so much fun: the Oakland Cat Vid Fest! How much fun? Let’s see:
The Great Wall of Oakland is collaborating with the Walker Art Center to bring the Internet Cat Video Festival to Oakland! On Saturday, May 11, from 3 to 10 p.m., an estimated 5,000+ cat-lovers and friends will be celebrating felines and exploring the low-art of Internet cat videos together, in real-time, as we transform West Grand between Telegraph and Broadway into a cat-lovers wonderland. Best of all, proceeds benefit the East Bay SPCA!
During the day, cat-lovers and their allies can peruse cat and pet products and arts and crafts from a host of vendors, adopt cats from local rescue centers, learn about kitten fostering, listen to live bands, nom delicious human food from local food trucks, and participate in a plethora of cativities, including art projects.
As the sun sets, festival attendees will gather in front of the Great Wall to view the Bay Area premiere of #catvidfest, [Minneapolis, Minnesota’s] Walker Art Center’s curated collection of Internet cat videos. See your favorites: “Henri,” “Cats Playing Patty Cake,” and “Cat Says NOM NOM NOM.” The Great Wall’s artist in residence group, Bandaloop, will perform a cat-themed aerial duet off the 100-foor wall before the screening.
The Oakland Internet Cat Video Festival is a unique community event celebrating cats, art and technology while educating the public on the importance of cat adoption and kitten fostering.
Ridiculous and delightful, right? Check out this recap of the original CatVidFest that now works as a preview for Saturday’s event!
"Animals produced copies when they were separated from a close associate and this supports our belief that dolphins copy another animal’s signature whistle when they want to reunite with that specific individual," lead author Stephanie King of the University of St. Andrews Sea Mammal Research Unit told Discovery News.
So of course they totally harassed dolphin mamas and babies to find this out but we can still appreciate the implications of the science even if we disapprove of the methods: dolphins are awesome!
If you want to help dolphins, who are slaughtered by the thousands every year (not to mention help captive in shameful zoos and aquariums), check out Sea Shepherd’s dolphin initiatives.
Friday: Vegan Happy Hour S.F.! Potluck, drinks, and vegan pals!
Vegan Happy Hour is back at the Hemlock Tavern! How awesome is it going to be?
All one has to do is bring something—anything!—vegan to share. There will be drink specials and a DJ, too. In the past few months, we’ve had build-your-own sliders, fajitas, awesome grain salads, tamales, insanely good cookies, and tons of other tasty treats.
So awesome! So get to the Hemlock, 1131 Polk St. in S.F., from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, May 10. Bring a dish, bring some crafts, bring your beautiful self and all your gorgeous friends. Make vegan pals! Drink! Dance! Share! Community and fellowship, you guys; it’s like vegan church but way more debauched. Details on Facebook.
Got a tip about an awesome vegan-friendly event? Let us know! We love fun!
Fashion Loves Animals was a huge success! Let's look at pictures!
I attended Farm Sanctuary’sFashion Loves Animals event this past weekend, they were honoring one of my favorite people: Leanne of Vaute Couture! As we arrived, I was quickly given a shot of asparagus soup (pictured above) made by new celebrity chef Jay Astafa! I was completely stoked since I had missed his popup dinner. I was also stoked because the soup was delicious!
Here’s Jay prepping behind the scenes.
Now, on to the Vaute fashion show!
Yes, lovely outfit. More importantly: OMG what a cute dog! And all the pups were up for adoption. No but really, the clothes were lovely. And I love these shoes by Love is Mighty. They’re made of old candy wrappers!
I love this dress. There were new versions of this dress I’d seen at Vaute’s fashion week show—now it comes in lots of pretty floral patters! Leanne said they are at the Vaute Couture store now. Yay!
Beautiful picture of the back of this dress by me.
This puppy stole the show of course. Because PUPPY!
Beautiful picture of the end of the show by me. There’s Leanne with models in tow.
Here’s a behind the scenes shot from Max Gordon Photography (all the pics not taken by me were supplied by Vaute’s lovely PR person Meredith and are by Max Gordon or Farm Sanctuary). Also check out the sweater, I love it. I need it.
And here we have the stars of the show—and really the stars of any show they attend for that matter!: Leanne, Gene Baur, Discerning Brute Joshua.
And in closing, here’s a lovely Vine video I took:
Jay Kitchen Pop-Up Dinner: Fine dining by vegan wunderkind Jay Astafa
Late last month, your Vegansaurus was invited to attend a fancypants vegan pop-up dinner by up-and-coming vegan chef Jay Astafa. As part of our constant effort to bring you the most important news on the best vegan dining, we accepted.
The pop-up was an eight-course tasting menu of Jay’s savory vegan delights, with dessert by vegan pastry chef and fellow wunderkind Dani McGrath, and wines by the Vegan Vine.
Here are some photos that I took. They’re … adequate.
First course: King oyster mushroom scallop with aged balsamic caviar and green pea purée
Second course (one of my favorites!): Spring crostini duo (ramps & cashew chèvre; sorrel-mint pesto, micro pea tendrils, green peas, cashew parmesan)
Third course: Chilled potato and leek soup with chive olive oil foam
Fourth course (SO GOOD YOU GUYS): Ravioli with asparagus and ricotta (house-made cashew cream butter, cashew parmesan)
Fifth course: Smoked cauliflower steak with sunchoke purée, morels, fava beans, snap peas, green garlic, truffle vinaigrette, shaved black summer truffle
Sixth course: House-made cheese plate with aged cashew cheese and brie, strawberry-rhubarb compote, orange-infused vegan honey, rosemary-almond crackers
Seventh course: “Dragon Breath” caramel popcorn
Eighth course: Grand Marnier-infused chocolate rart with pistachio gelato, raspberry coulis, pistachio tuile, raspberry pop candy, fleur de sel salted caramel powder
Lucky for you, Ms. Hannah “Bittersweet Blog” Kaminsky took much better pictures of the menu that really do Jay and Dani’s dishes justice. She also has Jay’s recipe for the sorrel-mint pesto crostini, which was one of my favorite dishes and which I fully intend to (attempt to) reproduce, because holy moly, it was so good. Go see for yourself!
To find out more about Jay Astafa and Jay Kitchen, follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He also catered Farm Sanctuary’s Fashion Loves Animals event (which we attended, too!) last weekend. Keep an eye out for more from this super-talented kid; he is amazing, and we are lucky to have him on team vegan.
Last year your votes helped place some great ads from the Factory Farming Awareness Coalition on BART. Now you can help FFAC get a new round of free BART advertising this year by voting again via the BART Blue Sky program Facebook poll.
Voting closes on Sunday, May 12, and the top three finishers will receive $50,000 worth of BART ads in stations and onboard trains. All voters can also enter to win a $500 Clipper card.
If you want to see more ads like this during your commute, get clicking! Help out FFAC and promote cruelty-free living.
It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! Yay, Paul! Yay, Animals!
First, some good news in our campaign to eradicate gestation crates from pork production: The top eight grocers in Canada (including Walmart Canada) committed to phase out gestation crates. This led one ag reporter to editorialize, “It seems to me like you might as well stick a fork in its butt and turn it over: the gestation stall debate is done.”
Now, some more good news: The Indiana ag-gag bill was killed this week.
I had a new op-ed on CNN.com this week about ag-gag bills that you may want to check out. Also, you may be interested in another new piece of mine (this one on Huffington Post) about the pork industry’s Orwellian name game. And I was glad to do an interview on HuffPost Live this week.
In Tennessee, the ag-gag bill’s sponsor, pork producer state Rep. Andy Holt, created headlines when he sent an email to my coworker comparing HSUS’s cruelty exposés to rape and human trafficking, even calling our work “tape and rape.” There was a lot of attention on this repulsive comparison, but this one
The Tennessee governor is still deciding whether to sign or veto the ag-gag bill. In the meantime, more than 300 Tennessee clergy members sent a letter to him urging a veto.
A woman was arrested in Utah this week for taking photos of a slaughter plant from public property, though the charges were subsequently dropped, leading the Salt Lake Tribune to editorialize that it’s an “ag-gag backfire.”
A new ag-gag bill was introduced in Pennsylvania this week, and the Wayne Independent is the first paper in the state to editorialize against it, asserting that it “goes against everything this country has stood for since its inception.”
Finally, you’ve heard of schools doing Meatless Mondays, but have you heard of them going all-vegetarian? Now you have. Perhaps that’s no surprise, especially considering that a new Consumer Reports study found 90 percent of retail turkey samples contain dangerous bacteria. Whatever the reason may be, meat-free eating is catching on in a major way. As one AP article this week proclaimed: “Vegetarian cooking goes mainstream.”
P.P.S. Too fascinating not to share: With smoking declining, U.S. tobacco growers are turning to growing chick peas to supply the increasing demand for hummus. Apparently the invisible hand of the free market is working==and it likes to dip veggies in hummus.
Vegan road trip: Phoenix! Check out Green restaurant and make your own Big Wac!
What’s a girl to do when a case of winter S.A.D, holiday fatigue, and the daily grind have got her down? Go to the Grand Canyon for Spring Break! Beat the blues by visiting one of the greatest natural wonders the Earth has to offer. Cautiously stand six feet away from the ledge, watch a group of men take a picture of their friend plank on the edge (thinking that surely you are going to watch a handsome Englishman plummet to his death right before your eyes, frozen in fear and experiencing vertigo just looking at him) and forget your own emotional baggage for a couple hours.
Sick of winter and worn out from the holidays, my bestie Britney and I began planning Spring Break 2013, or SXAZ, as it seemed everyone else was in Austin at the time. What was initially envisioned as a road trip from Vegas to Santa Fe quickly became reduced once travel time and expenses became a reality. Enter PHOENIX! VegNews just profiled Tempe and Phoenix vegan hotspot Green, Air BnB rentals* are plentiful, and for the four-hour drive to the Grand Canyon, Zipcars are available.
Now, if you should for any reason, find yourself in Phoenix, it is imperative that you eat at Green restaurant. Britney and I ate at Green three of the four days on that trip, we just COULD NOT get enough. By far, for both us, the most incredible item on the menu was their Big Wac, a vegan take on the (in)famous McDonald’s burger. We loved this sandwich so much, we stopped by for the third visit on our way to airport so we could eat our Big Wacs for dinner in San Francisco. Consider us obsessed.
Upon returning home, within four days I had to make my own. So I present you with the Big JB.
I like my junk food with a side of sautéed kale. Or chocolate cake, whatever is available.
Ingredients Two imitation burgers of your choice (I used Whole Foods brand) Vegan cheese (Daiya cheddar wedge) Romaine lettuce Buns (whole wheat if you are healthy, white flour if you love decadence like me) Equal parts vegan mayo and ketchup (probably about 2 tablespoons of each) Dill pickles 2 to 3 tablespoons diced white onion
Instructions Cook your burgers as instructed on the box. I fried mine up in vegetable oil, in a saucepan on the stove, because if I’m making glorified fast food for dinner, I’m not going the healthy route. Melt your vegan cheese atop burgers as you see fit. I like to put it on the burgers when they are almost done in the frying pan, turn off the heat, and cover the pan till the cheese melts. Smear your buns with “special sauce” (i.e. ketchup and vegan mayo), add diced onions and a couple pickles. Add your romaine lettuce as desired for nutrient value. Design burger as pictured, because you need that extra bun layer, believe me.
*We stayed in a hippie house that put Berkeley to shame. TO SHAME. No matter my minor in hippie studies from Humboldt State; I broke pretty much every rule in that house with my mere existence.
Deborah Madison, queen of vegetables, wants you to garden on your fire escape
Deborah Madison, queen of produce, author of the loveliest vegetable cookbook around, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, has a new book out called Vegetable Literacy for Everyone. Eggplant Kohlrabi of Weird Vegetables blog got to interview her in March, and you guys, she is a treasure.
in the produce aisle you see pieces of things, you have no idea how much it takes to produce a broccoli head or a cabbage. We’re just so ignorant, we have no idea. There are all these leaves, stalks, stems, and flowers that make up a plant—many of which are edible—but we only know one little bit.
ou don’t need to have a garden in order to relate to Vegetable Literacy. There are other ways to open your own eyes. Hopefully the book will help you see the plant world differently, whether it’s in your own garden, a community garden, or a botanical garden. Go on a farm tour, or look at a photograph of a cardoon or some bolting chard. Or you might try growing a plant or two on your fire escape—that counts, too. Having a garden is great, but it’s not for everyone. This is not a book about gardening, it’s really a book about seeing and going beyond the pretty vegetable on the market shelf.
Don’t you just love her? Read the whole interview at Weird Vegetables (a delightful blog updated far too infrequently) and check out her books and let’s all grow some … something on our windowsills this year, okay? Let’s nurture some life that will nurture us.
Interview! Rory Freedman on her new book, Beg: A Radical New Way of Regarding Animals
New York Times bestselling author Rory Freedman is a living legend in the animal rights/vegan world. After launching a revolution with her Skinny Bitch and Skinny Bastard series, Rory Freedman has continued to work tirelessly to promote animal rights issues in Los Angeles and worldwide. The charismatic animal rights champion and kind-hearted dog mom took time out of her hectic book tour schedule to discuss her wonderful and unique new book, Beg: A Radical New Way of Regarding Animals (Running Press).
Vegansaurus: I loved the book! I read it overnight and was really impressed by the depth and feeling you’ve put into this work. How do you consider Beg to be different for readers who may be familiar with the Skinny Bitch series?
Rory Freedman: I think that the good news for fans of Skinny Bitch is it’s the same heart that drove me to write Skinny Bitch that had me writing Beg. I had a spiritual transformation while writing this book, and I’m no longer swearing. The good news is the book is still funny and deep in the way Skinny Bitch is. This language is a lot gentler, for people who might have been offended. Funny.
What inspired you to write Beg?
In Skinny Bitch, I found thousands of people whose lives had been changed and now went vegan. I thought great—now what? Great, these people now know about the animal issues, but will they understand about rodeos, zoos, circuses, animal testing, and other things that cause deaths and misery and torture of millions of animals per year? I thought that people were primed and would get it, so I think it’s a natural follow up for Skinny Bitch. Skinny Bitch is really a vegan manifesto cloaked in a diet book. I wanted to write this book once and for all to document everything that happens to animals.
What can animal lovers learn from Beg?
Researching and writing this book was an important part of my transition from a regular-human animal lover to more aware animal lover. It is about learning each of the ways we can do better for animals. As much as I knew about things in broad strokes, as an animal lover and vegan, I had to ensure details were correct and accurate. It’s always eye-opening to think about things that go on so easily and are so pervasive.
Even still, a lot of people who are dog and cat lovers don’t understand what happens in order for animals to look a certain way we’ve deemed appropriate for breeds. Tail docking and ear cropping, which I discuss in Beg, are examples of this. I didn’t know about this as a child or as a younger adult. Then one day when I was 30 I met a dog that opened my eyes to this. I grew up with a mini schnauzer, and when I was 30 I met a schnauzer that was strange—it had bigger ears than the childhood dog I knew. I didn’t know some had bigger ears, but it turned out they all have bigger ears naturally, it’s just that some when puppy breeders will have the dogs’ ears chopped off or tails dropped off. I stood there astounded when I found this out. I didn’t know what they were talking about. Doberman pinschers normally have floppy ears, but they covet that mean, agressive look in breeders. That will come as a shock to animal lovers.
What are some animal activism tips that might surprise Vegansaurus readers?
I’ve had a transition that’s been happening lately and gradually over many years as an activist and vegan. It’s evolving so I’m becoming a better activist. I am still as passionate, but I am feeling more diplomatic. I’m allowing this journey for many people to come from where they are now from where we’re hoping they’ll end up. Animals are suffering each day. I’m really getting that everyone is on their path and I have to love and accept everyone while on this work, and allow that people will find their own way. By the grace of God I found vegetarianism, animal activism, and veganism when I did. It doesn’t say anything about me. It just works out the way it did. I have to allow that it will be by the grace of God for others to find their own path. It is important to take action while also being loving. The most attractive thing we can be as activists is loving.
The author with her three dogs
Vegetarians and animal lovers often love seeing animals in films and in cute Internet videos/websites. You discuss animals and entertainment at lengh in your book. Care to elaborate?
We’re always being accused of anthropomorphizing animals, of giving animals human qualities we don’t have. Sometimes they’re wrong. We just understand that animals feel pain, like humans do, but as moviegoers, some might be confused when we see a chimp that seems like he or she is smiling in a movie or TV commercial. Chimps don’t smile in the wild. It was something that was new to me when speaking to primatologist while doing research for the book. Chimps have what’s known as a “fear grimace.” Even though it looks like a smile because it seems like our own, they’re actually scared because in the wild when chimps are frightened, they grimace. They don’t do it when they’re happy. There is also no way to provide for them in entertainment the way mother nature could. We can’t provide for their unique needs. We’ve seen time and time again that movie sets are dangerous for animals.
Some of my friends want to adopt pigs (myself included). You have a pretty intense section about pigs and what happens to them on factory farms. Have you ever considered adopting a rescue pig, and how easy is it to adopt?
I’ve never been asked that. Adopting a pig has crossed my mind, but not in my adult years as someone in the animal rights movement. I’ve had dogs now for 12 years. It’s such a big responsibility, it’s so all-encompassing, I can’t imagine adding to my brood right now. I can see the temptation. They’re darling animals. They are so smart and individualistic. I can imagine having one would be great fun and it’d be beautiful for anyone who is committed to taking care of one.
What is the “Beg for Change” campaign?
The Beg for Change Challenge Campaign is an exciting way to get people involved, for vegans and activists and “normies.” You can hashtag #BegForChange and/or share a picture of your adopted dog. You can brush your dog and share a pic after you’ve bushed him or her, you can tag a photo of their pile of hair. Then, we can notice leather or animal skins, and use social media to document what we notice. If you spend 15 minutes on peta.org, you can tell the world what you see that is shocking. You can watch “What skin are you in?” and share your experience. This starts off easy to get people involved and becomes more interesting, challenging, and eye-opening, and activists can spread the world.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us, Rory! Thank you for putting this great book out there.
Cookbook Review! Plum: Gratifying Vegan Dishes from Seattle's Plum Bistro
There are a handful of vegan restaurants around the world that make such a lasting impression on their customers that word spreads like wild fire, then a cult following ensues, even among those who have never visited. L.A.’s Native Foods Cafe is like that for some, as are Chicago Diner, Millennium, and Seattle’s Plum Bistro. And now you can bring Plum Bistro’s dishes to your home with a cookbook based on some of its most famous dishes as Sasquatch Books and restaurateur Makini Howell bring you Plum: Gratifying Vegan Dishes from Seattle’s Plum Bistro.
When my copy arrived, courtesy of the fine folks at Sasquatch Books, I was immediately taken with the design and feel, with its hard cover and bright yet matte colors. When I opened it and started thumbing through the recipes, I felt immediately intimidated. There is a “fundamental” section that prefaces the rest of the recipes, many of which include at least one of the “fundamentals,” like various soy creams, egg foam, pestos, relishes, etc. To someone who eats roughly 2 PB&J sandwiches a day, this seemed like a daunting task. However, I put my neuroses aside and got down to it.
The first dish I attempted was something I had never successfully made since eliminating animal products from my life: French toast. More specifically, Plum’s “Good Old-Fashioned French Toast Stuffed with Strawberries and Sweet Soy Cream.” It was incredible. The “fundamentals” I needed to make first were super easy, much like most things in life I fret about it. The egg foam was like two steps, and the Sweet Soy Cream was me just using the blender—the complete opposite of daunting. I’d never made a cream of any sort before, and was a little apprehensive, since I’ve tasted some terrible vegan creams in my day. But the ease of this recipe made it my new jam (to borrow a phrase from our Jenny Bradley).
After pouring and mixing the soy milk, canola oil, lemon juice, vanilla extract (with no measurement suggested, I squeezed a little more than like 5 drops then panicked), and ground cinnamon (that I had to grate myself with a stick, which ruined my knuckles, but I did look classy doing it), I somehow, through science and prayer, turned it into a soy cream that I stuck in a mason jar and have used pretty much every day since. I’m literally in love. Figuratively.
The French toast part was pretty much just like the French toast my mom used to make me. Except the mix has no unborn friends in it and, without insulting my mother, much better. The mix was vanilla soy milk (awesome), white vinegar (OK?), the vegan egg foam (weird, really really weird, but cool), vanilla extract (still scared of its potency), agave syrup (YES), more ground cinnamon (I put on medieval chainmail gloves this time), and canola oil (OIL RULES). This, also through science and vigorous whisking, turns into the French toast batter. The rest is easy, although Howell words the instructions perfectly for dumb-dumbs like me. The only other difference to my mom’s recipe was splitting each slice of bread down the middle, top-to-bottom, so they were connect by a sliver of bread much like a book is connected by the spine. This was so I could dollop some soy cream and strawberries on one half and fold over to make cute little French toast half-sammies.
Cookbook companies and authors use really good lighting and photographers, so the food we make almost never looks the same as their fancy pants pictures. Not this time. My dish came out almost exactly like the fancy photo, and my photo of it garnered many likes on my Instagram account. MANY.
The rest of the recipes range from just as easy as the French toast to extremely complicated and requiring devices like a Dutch oven. After laughing at the name “Dutch oven” I realized that I had to find something that was at or near my level of expertise, which can be described as infantile. But what a great idea: recipes all over the map so everyone feels both challenged and content at the tasks at hand. I approve. And to pay homage to the late film critic we just recently lost, I give it two green thumbs up.
You can find Plum: Gratifying Vegan Dishes from Seattle’s Plum Bistro at your least favorite online book distributor. You can also visit Plum Bistro in Seattle and tell Ms. Howell she creates amazing dishes and you were sent there by a handsome man on the internet.
Andrew E. Irons is a blogger from Long Beach, California. He co-created and contributes to a Rhode Island based Hip-Hop website, The Echo Chamber Blog, under the pseudonym Verbal Spacey. You can track his daily diatribes by following him on Twitter.