PCRM tells Paula Deen to go vegan  »

This woman looks scary! Take the knife away! And this is from her Food Network bio page!

Laura makes a great point that PCRM is being pea-brained with their new ads. On the other hand, they did something pretty cool this week too. Let’s catch up, shall we?

"Southern" food guru Paula Deen (who is responsible for Cheesy Ham and Banana Casserole, among her many other atrocities) announced this week she has diabetes. NO SURPRISE THERE! She’s had the disease since 2008, but now she’s got a nice drug sponsorship, so she’s going public.

In response, PCRM’s head nutritionist sent an open letter to Deen encouraging her to try a vegan diet. I know that that’s not the answer to everyone’s diabetes, but for someone like Deen—I bet it would be like turning her inside out.

Of course it’s not going to happen, but WHAT IF IT DID? It’d be like the Joker joining Batman’s team, or Tim Tebow doing ads for Planned Parenthood, or Newt Gingrich going on food stamps! Is repentance and change that deep ever possible, or would it just seem like a cynical power play? You decide.

I thought it was a good tactic. So thanks, PCRM, for doing something non-insulting, which doesn’t excuse you from dealing with your terrible ads.


The “Conscious Case Against Veganism” is so wrong for so long!  »

After reading this insane bit of poorly reasoned crazy on EcoSalon, Laura decided to write a rebuttal, and it’s great! It’s everything the other article isn’t: sane, logical, and smart. 

So, read it!

Abigail Wick, the author of the Conscious Case piece, appears intent on selling herself as a former vegan for pageviews. It’s sad. People who give a shit about eating issues need to stand up for the things that REALLY matter. Focusing their efforts on taking down a group of ethical eaters is just a poor use of time. If Wick gave a shit about the food system, she would be writing about gestation crates and working conditions in American slaughterhouses. I can think of about 10 million better uses for her time, but probably none of them would garner her terrible writing as many pageviews as the vegan hate.

What an idiot.


Road Trip: the Great Vegan Cheesesteak Debate!  »

Here ye! Here ye! This time I’ve really done it! I took my Philadelphia holiday as an opportunity to seek out and compare the vegan cheesesteaks available in the cheesesteak Mecca, and boy are my arms tired! I’m kidding, I’m just fatter.

I want you all to know, this is an important debate! You know how some well known cultural icons are just for tourists? Like how Hawaiians don’t speak Hawaiian and stuff like that? Cheesesteaks are not like that. I know plenty of Philadelphians (generally men) who eat a cheesesteak just about every day. It especially cracks me up when one of these people is concerned about my health as a vegan. Cheesesteaks are basically heart-attacks in an Amoroso roll! But they are concerned about my health. Hilarious!

Two themes that arose in my search were taste and legitness (apparently that’s not a real word. You can’t fence me in, spellcheck!). Some of the sandwiches were good but didn’t really resemble a cheesesteak. I grew up eating meat cheesesteaks, so I have that to compare these veggie versions to. So just keep that in mind. Now, let the games begin!

The P.O.P.E. (pub on passyunk east)
imageI was pleased to find out that the POPE offered a vegan cheesesteak. This is a great bar, popular with my homies. It’s one of many Philly bars that specialize in beer. Philadelphians love them some beer. OK, so this cheesesteak was fairly legit. But it wasn’t that great. I give it 2 out of 5 Veganstaurs (see what I did there?) for sheer edibility. They go with the vegan cheese whiz route. Though some people swear up and down that cheese whiz is the authentic cheese of choice, I prefer the provolone cheesesteaks I grew up on. In this case, the sandwich was too gooey already and the whiz just added to that. The cheese was also a little sweet and a little tangy, which I wasn’t into. But this cheesesteak was more legit because the meat wasn’t super chunky—the meat is supposed to be fairly shredded or chopped up.

imageThis is the only steak sandwich I’m including that doesn’t come with vegan cheese. I was going to ignore those but people love Sabrina’s and it’s a nice place, so I decided to give it a shot. The meat was too chunky but the sandwich was pretty good. It was a little spicy in a good way. The standard way to order cheesesteaks is with grilled peppers and onions and that’s what I asked for, but instead of the sweet peppers you’d normally get, they gave me hot peppers. That’s kind of crazy, but whatevs. It gets 3 out of 5 Veganstaurs because it was a really good sandwich, just not really that legit as a cheesesteak. If you find yourself at Sabrina’s though, this is definitely a safe bet to order.

imageGovinda’s, the well-known Philadelphia vegetarian spot. How cute is this? I told my omnivore brother and our friend Randy about my vegan cheesesteak hunt and we had some time to kill so they suggested we head to Govinda’s! How sweet! Randy even got the vegan steak with vegan cheese and everything. I love it! What’s also amazing, my brother got the chicken cheesesteak and didn’t realize it was vegetarian chicken until I told him several hours later. So cute. We all had similar reactions: the sandwiches were very fresh-tasting and good, not greasy at all. Again, for me the meat was too chunky; it was kind of more like chicken chunks than cheesesteak meat. The sauce on it also gave it sort of a teriyaki flavor? Something to that effect. Not overpowering but just not super-cheesesteak-like. This sandwich was definitely good though and gets 3 out of 5 Veganstaurs.

imageIf you want greasy vegan food, Gianna’s has greasy vegan food. This cheesesteak was eerily real-looking except kind of mushier than the real thing. Though this sandwich was pretty legit, it was also pretty gross. I’m sorry to say it but it was not that edible. It had a real sodium flavor to it, and was gross and as I said, mushy. Upside: solid roll. That’s about it. One Veganstaur.

imageThe picture is not that beautiful, but that’s just how it looked. This sandwich was a little odd because it was just made with your average tofu instead of seitan or whatever else people use. So from the get-go, it does not resemble a cheesesteak. The grilled onion, peppers and mushrooms are a must. It would be boring without it. Big points off because they put mustard on it—WTF? That’s weird. So I guess you have to know and ask for it without mustard. But this is a totally edible sandwich, good even if you’re looking for something light. Cheesesteaks aren’t known for being light. I give it 2 Veganstaurs. It was good, just not much of a cheesesteak.

Basic 4

imageThis little kitchen in the middle of Reading* Terminal Market is a goddamn slice of heaven. 5 out of 5 Veganstaurs! This cheesesteak was A++ delicious! This is not just an OK alternative to the real thing, this is a damn good sandwich. I would eat this every day, no joke. They even have an awesome vegan mayonnaise they can put on—I highly recommend it! This is like a totally legit cheesesteak except it’s not tough and chewy the way real meat is, know what I mean? The one thing was they didn’t have the Italian rolls you normally get, they had these healthy-looking rolls. I thought it would be a problem but it ended up being fine.

Well my friends, dishes are done! Basic 4 is the winner by far. With these other places I reviewed, it’s like if you’re there, maybe you get the sandwich; with this place, it’s like, crawl across the city on your hands and knees if you have to because this is worth it. I am dead serious!

I thank you, I thank you, and I thank you. It was a rough journey but I was brave! Megan Rascal knows no fear! Now you have it, your Philly cheesesteak guide.

Disclaimer: there was one place I wanted to try that I wasn’t able to: Mi Lah. I had never heard of it but some people online were raving about it. So if any one has any opinions about the Mi Lah cheesesteak, please share in the comments.

*rhymes with “Redding.”

[all photos by Megan Rascal]


Have You Heard the Good News? Vegans in a Missionary Position…   »

You’ve tackled the OMFGGGWHHYYYY, that decision every girl has got to make for herself—and you’re converted. Here’s your Big Book of Seitan, thanks for joining us. As we saw in the comments last time, people are pretty passionate about their own personal whys—and are ready to wear it loud and proud.

That’s natural.

When you’re feeling great, healthy and happy with your choice, the lifestyle, the good you’re accomplishing, and gripped with the Vegenaise fever (honest to God, I’m not a vegan—I’m a Vegenaisan) it’s only natural that you start to talk about being saved. Spreading the word. Getting others to accept tofu as the Lamb of…not lamb. You want others to feel as good as you do.

That’s natural too.

It’s the ultimate passive-aggressive plea: strong and silent.

In the book of Matthew (that’s the one with all the “begats”) you see how a little movement like Christianity is born, grows, and spreads. Religions grow with a little help from their friends. Mormons know this. They’re the name-badge-wearing kids sent to your door in the hopes that if it shows up on your WELCOME mat, you’ll welcome it into your life—and tons of people do. While numbers are tricky, surveys report the Mormon Church has grown significantly and despite being less than 200 years old, the number of Mormons in the United States is roughly equal to the number of Jews. That’s some hustle.

Of course Mormons—or any religion, John Travolta/Tom Cruise and the stress tests included—have no monopoly on proselytizing. Companies like Amway, Pampered Chef, and Mary Kay recruit on the basis of enthusiasm, as does everyone’s favorite uncle, Sam. Yeah, the military recruits too.

So. As enthusiasts of a group, do we as vegans have a responsibility to be fruitful and multiply? Not by breeding baby vegans (necessarily) but by convincing others to join us. Where does veg-proselytizing fit in to your life? If you do it, what’s your approach?

  • Do Unto Others: You don’t want anyone coming after you with the “it’s only an egg, what’s the big deal?” argument. So you keep your choice to yourself, and let others live and let live—if they so choose.
  • Be Holy As I am Holy: You lead by living. You entice people to go veg by showing them it’s easy, it’s rewarding, and goldurnit, it’s the right thing to do. You’re a quiet crusader, convincing and converting by example.
  • Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show: You’ve seen the light, you’ve been saved, and you’re mounting a revival tent show—you don’t hesitate to tell anyone, anytime how they could better serve themselves, animals, and the planet. You preach the gospel of putting down the cheeseburger—loudly.

As for the pitch, you can make your “sell” just like tofu—ranging from silken to extra firm. Similarly, there’s a right time to use each kind: the boss at lunch might rate a silken, while the roommate gets the full-blown, Tempur-Pedic extra firm. And yes. Survey says it’s a continuum of proselytizing and chances are you fall somewhere in betwixt these—but where? Have you ever convinced anyone to veg out—and is being a missionary a required part of being a good vegan?

This is the second article in a recurring series, The Vegan Diplomat; The Art and Politics of Being Vegan in any Situation Society Throws on Your Plate, brought to us by the lovely Zoë Stagg. Zoë writes about politics, pop culture, and social media. She went cold-tofurkey—total omnivore to vegan on April 26, 2006 and never looked back. Despite her rural upbringing and the fact that her dad may have wanted her to enter the Dairy Princess pageant in high school, she firmly believes in the conservative nature of veganism. Her last non-vegan meal was a Turkey Lean Pocket. Ew.

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