NPR does vegan: Bryant Terry recipes and more! »
Last week, with everyone on vacation and news slow, NPR’s Morning Edition deigned to do a two-part series about veganism. Coverage is coverage!
"It isn’t all brown rice and steamed vegetables," says Renee Montagne. I’m just going to assume she’s pretending to be ignorant for the benefit of her ignorant listeners.
Best part of the interview: two recipes from Bryant’s most recent book, The Inspired Vegan! His black-eyed peas in garlic-ginger-braised mustard greens, and molasses, miso, and maple candied sweet potatoes sound perfect for chilly winter nights. Check them out on the NPR website, or maybe just buy his book, because you know it’s full of good food, and suggestions for excellent literature and music accompaniments.
[photo by Jennifer Martiné/Da Capo Lifelong Books via NPR]
Per the New York Times, everything’s coming up vegan in Los Angeles! »
In fact, from power tables in Beverly Hills to pubs in the San Fernando Valley, the surging popularity of plant-based diets is drastically changing the dining landscape. That shift is under way in various cities around the world, but it’s happening in an explosive way in and around Los Angeles: at the elite gastronome-magnets, at casual gathering spots and everywhere in between.
And then Jeff Gordinier goes on to list some of the many amazing vegan foods available in L.A. There’s also a slide show that makes me want to move down south at ONCE. I love San Francisco, but where is our creamy raw pea soup? Where is our giant sandwich with deep-fried avocado? Where can eat creamy corn ravioli and shamelessly ogle celebrities?
If you like to torture yourself with all the amazing L.A. vegan food you can’t have, there’s always our pal Quarrygirl. She knows how to live.
[Photo by Anais Wade and Dax Henry for the New York Times]
Guest book review: Veganist by Kathy Freston! »
Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World came out last year and spurred several notable Kathy Freston appearances on major talk shows, including Oprah, Martha, and Ellen (my fave, duh. I LOVE YOU ELLEN!!). Surprisingly, it didn’t make the VegNews list of 2010’s most influential non-cookbook books and frankly, that’s a mistake. However, its message is not abolitionist, so I can see why it might be omitted. The book simply encourages you to make gradual changes and provides convincing evidence and testimonials.
I understand why some vegans have a problem with the non-abolitionist approach. I get this way occasionally, too. Even though Meatless Monday is great—and I’m grateful for friends who’ve said my influence has caused them eat more vegan food—it’s still annoying sometimes. I want to shout at everyone, “DON’T YOU JUST WANT TO STOP EATING THINGS THAT USED TO BE ALIVE?” This book does not shout that.
Veganist is super-interesting. It outlines 10 promises that Freston assures will come true if you make an effort to adopt a vegan diet. A good chunk of it focuses on the health benefits of a vegan diet, the evidence for which is overwhelming. She interviews several specialists on heart disease and diabetes and knocks your socks off by showing you how far-reaching the effects of eliminating cholesterol and animal fat can be. She also has a few weight-loss testimonials. I can’t totally agree with that one however—I haven’t lost a pound since going vegan. I am still sexy though. And single. Ahem, gentlemen.
The most powerful chapters for me were the ones on animal suffering and spirituality, especially the story of two generations of cows who live and work on a dairy farm. This is a heart-wrenching and in-depth tale that reveals the horror of the milk and cheese industry, told convincingly by Freston. It’s nice to see her focus so clearly on the foodstuffs most folks have the hardest time giving up. Talking about a slaughterhouse or a broiler farm would be almost easier and more acceptable, but she takes the difficult path and does so brilliantly.
The spirituality chapter is wonderful. It shows many angles of all religions and encourages you to question what your god would really think of you eating animals and participating in a world of violence. It is a fascinating argument, backed up with evidence from spiritual texts and testimonials from different spiritual advisors, and it got me thinking in a way I hadn’t before.
I was apprehensive about reading this book. My opinion of Kathy Freston has always been tainted. She has written a bunch of self-help-type “finding love” books, she used honey on her Martha Stewart appearance, and her whole involvement in that “vegan-ish” Oprah episode was annoying—I felt like the whole thing was basically just Michael Pollan jerking off.
However, she handled Martha Steward’s difficult questions with grace, she put her hand on Michael Pollan’s arm when he said there was nothing wrong with eating animals and gently disagreed, and my distaste for self-help/love books is mostly just because I am single (and sexy!).
Ultimately, I think Veganist is excellent. It’s an easy read, but her arguments are indisputable. Though I don’t know how many people it will actually convince to go vegan, it’s an excellent source of inspiration and information, especially regarding health issues. It provides great insight into the vegan lifestyle: There are shopping lists and meal suggestions in the afterward, which any parent or sibling of a vegan would find informative and useful. It would make a fantastic gift for a non-vegan family member, too.
If you are already vegan and looking for a solid read, pick it up. If you’re feeling particularly abolitionist, you might not like it. Nevertheless, it’s very good and I think Freston’s exposure, along with the great information she provides, will create a huge ripple effect. Even though it may not make people go vegan, it will open a lot of eyes, minds, and hearts to the long list of benefits this lifestyle provides.
Good job, Kathy Freston. Now, let’s get me a boyfriend!
Laura Yasinitsky is a writer, comic, waitress, and animal-lover based in New York City. She has appeared on Comedy Central’s Open-Mic Fight and writes for US Weekly’s Fashion Police. You can follow her silliness on Twitter @LaraYaz and read about her animal-friendly adventures here.
Fuck yeah, Kathy Freston! »
I’m hearing lots of vegans talk smack about Kathy Freston, and I get it. I don’t think I’d want to hang out with her (or maybe I would, do you think she’d buy me a Prius if I lost 10 pounds?) and I don’t totally understand her kooky rich-person ways but DAMN, she’s reaching a shit-ton (technical term) of people! Do I wish someone else repped veganism on Oprah and Martha? Yes, I do. But I’m also beyond stoked that she’s out there doing it. The fact is, if Kathy Freston weren’t on Oprah, NO vegan would be on Oprah. They’re friends, I think her husband might own part of Oprah’s network/soul, and you know what? I trust Oprah. Call me crazy but she’s motherflipping OPRAH. She knows what she’s doing! You don’t become Oprah without knowing a thing or two about EVERYTHING.
I know the Oprah vegan episode wasn’t 1/20th of what a lot of us wanted, but you can be damn sure that many people went vegan that day. And you know where they’re gonna head? To the internet to learn more! That’s more people buying vegan cookbooks, reading vegan blogs, and becoming radder people. It makes me want to service Freston sexually. Seriously, the vegans of the world should all be going in on some kind of gift for her. If you don’t think I’m sexy enough (SCREW YOU I’M SEXY), how about a pool boy? Some stock in Gardein? One-tenth of her next salon visit? Let’s brainstorm!
As far as the honey-on-Martha thing, I think Megan’s response is spot on. Yeah, Freston should’ve said something, but she’s a person with flaws, just like you and me. I mean, Martha didn’t even trust Freston to supply her own recipe for the show: they made someone else’s! How sad is that? And what does that tell you? Martha does not suffer fools; clearly she was all, “FRESTON! STAND HERE! DON’T TALK! IF YOU MISBEHAVE, I’M EATING YOUR GENITALS!” You guys, no joke, Martha is fucking terrifying. I would not step to her, and I’m made of NO FEELINGS and cold, hard steel (underneath my layers of sexy chub!).
I agree, it’s annoying that Freston is basically a spokesperson for Gardein, but you know what? THAT SHIT TASTES GOOD. People already know about vegetables; what they don’t know is that as vegans, they can still have comfort food like mac and cheese and hot dogs! She’s like, “Check it out, you can have your cake and eat that same cake covered in facon and Vegenaise! BAM!” I do wish Freston wouldn’t harp on veganism as a weight-loss diet. It’s the only thing about her I have a problem with, and yes, I’ve heard her laugh. I think Freston fell into the trap because she’s naturally skinny and so she has no clue what it’s like to be fat. No amount of vegan food is going to make a fat person skinny. Uh, unless it’s a very small amount. Sure, if you were eating a REALLY unhealthy S.A.D. before going vegan, and you switched to a whole-foods diet with major portion control, you’re gonna drop the pounds,* but that’s a restrictive DIET. It doesn’t have much to do with veganism, and Freston freely admits that she’s ALWAYS been skinny. Girl, you know your weight ain’t got nothing to do with veganism so quit your frontin’, and let’s eat some vegan Twinkies.
Let’s face it: Rich, famous people rule the world and right now, Freston is our vegan lifeline. Maybe she’s not doing things exactly how I would but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be getting a tattoo of her face on my back. The thing I ultimately give a shit about is who is helping the most animals, and Kathy Freston and her cheesy (tight!) ass are saving a lot of them. We can make fun of Freston all we want (and how!) but at the end of the day, only one of us has a bestselling book,** appearances on Martha and Oprah that are convincing thousands of people to eat more meatless meals and go vegan, and is laughing all the way to the bank. Where she probably has them open the vault so she can roll around in her piles and piles of money. The rich get richer, for realz. I don’t totally accept that, but I understand it’s the current way of the world (we’re all going down in flames!) so to Freston I say: You go, girl. I’d Jazzercise with you any day!***
DISCLAIMER: I know this post is dated but I’m busy and sometimes it takes me awhile to get around to shit so you know, catch me in a couple of months and maybe I’ll have an opinion on who killed Laura Palmer!
*At first, but you’ll gain that shit back the second you discover Coconut Bliss VEGANS AM I RIGHT?!
**Where is my g-d book deal?! I’ve got some motherfucking wisdom to impart! I’m over here dropping truth bombs and there ain’t a Simon or a Schuster in sight! And where’s Penguin?! I’m assuming that company is run by a very well read penguin with the power to make or break authors like Salman Rushdie and Shakespeare. Yo, Penguin! Holler at your girl! I will totally hook you up with a little top hat!
***Fit is IT, baby!
The Martha Stewart vegan episode! Megan Rascal’s recap! »
Here I am post-Martha Stewart show! I’m totally Hollywood now and can barely condescend to talk to you guys anymore. Just kidding! It’s the same old me. But the show was so fun! Bad news: she uses honey in her granola bar recipe with Kathy Freston. Good news: she said she’s giving up beef!
So yeah, the honey thing. It was just like, she was adding ingredients to these granola bars and then, all of a sudden, she added the honey! It happened so fast! I don’t know if Freston even had time to say anything! But my heart SANK. It had been going SO WELL up until then. Biz's segment at the beginning was great and his recipe looked super. Freston was kind of peppy and seemed very focused on the weight-loss angle but she was also a font of information. Then BAM! Martha adds the honey. There was a low gasp in the crowd and I buried my face in my hands. Why, Martha, why!
My official opinion: The honey connection is not obvious to everyone so I think she JUST DIDN’T KNOW. SO this should be viewed as an opportunity to educate, not to attack her. The good Martha did with this episode outweighs the bad; she exposed your everyday American to the realities of factory farming! And considering her other episodes use all kinds of meat, eggs and dairy and that she’s not in fact vegan, this episode was a big step forward. I’m sure there will be varying opinions, but that’s mine.
Now for the beef! In questions after the show, someone asked if we’d be seeing more vegan stuff from Martha in the future and she began to talk about a recent experience with some beef she bought:
I didn’t buy it from my regular butcher; I usually buy three pounds of good ground chuck and I took it home—this was from the supermarket—and I rolled it in my hands and my hands were stained red and I vowed I wouldn’t eat beef again…. No really, it was horrifying…. What the heck do they do to the beef that made my hands red? It shouldn’t do that.
Uh, no, it shouldn’t do that. Hey, imagine how many people will give up beef if Martha does! SO MANY! Hopefully she will replace that beef with veggies and seitan instead of chicken and fish. She also said she doesn’t eat veal and that she’s just been slowly progressing toward a more plant-based diet. OMJESUS WHAT IF MARTHA GOES VEGAN?! That would be like the greatest day of my life. It would be the greatest day of the world’s life!
Other things that happened: I was in the very front row and that was close enough to see the beautiful sparkle in Gene Baur’s eyes. Really. It’s quite a sparkle. His conversation with Martha was really great. Did you know she adopted a sheep from Farm Sanctuary? She did. And Baur was totally well spoken and informative. She asked him if they ate the eggs the chickens lay at Farm Sanctuary and Baur’s answer was, “no, because we want to set an example.” Great answer, no? He said they feed the eggs to some of the other animals and Martha was like, “Like what would happen in nature!” So I liked that chat a lot.
Biz was really good and everyone thought he was hilarious. At one point while they were filming, the stage manager turned to another person on stage like, “this guy is really funny!” So everyone was impressed. Biz made his wife Livia's amazing seitan Bourguignon (I hella just spelled that). And Martha seems totally into twitter. And Laura pointed out that she has a white iPad which is totally baller. Her shoes were pretty too but I can’t speak to whether or not they were vegan. Oh and Martha was totally funny and pretty and great and I LOVE HER.
That’s not all! Check out all the swag I got!:
All in all, I think it was pretty successful. The honey setback was unfortunate but overall, I think what Martha did to shed light on factory farming was awesome. I hope this snowball keeps rolling! More vegan episodes! More vegans! Vegans, vegans, everywhere!
Here’s the clip from the Ellen Degeneres Show where she helps the family go vegan. It features supervegans Kathy Freston and Tal Ronnen. There are cute little kids! The food looks good too. I think I watched this video too early in the morning. OR! It’s time for breakfast tacos!
This Tuesday: Oprah goes vegan + SF viewing party! Be there! »
So, you’ve probably already heard but Oprah (WE LOVE OPRAH) and her staff are going vegan for a week and the show on Tuesday, February 1st at 4 p.m. (that’s TOMORROW!) is all about it. Rich, beautiful vegan Kathy Freston (check out her excellent interview in Vanity Fair!) is gonna be on the show talking up veganism and her new book, Veganist. Woo! In crappier news, Michael Pollan is also going to be there. He’s telling his fans to watch the show because he’s gonna talk about meat. Like, a lot. BECAUSE HE DOESN’T ALREADY DO THAT. Ugh, I really hope Freston can hold her own against Pollan and it’s not just 44 minutes of him mansplaining “humane meat and its environmental benefits.” Because, MURDER.
ANYHOO, that joyful vegan genius, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, is hosting a viewing party at Harvey’s in the castro. Harvey’s has a crazy amount of vegan options on the menu based on CPG’s recipes and they’re offering 10% off the vegan dishes for the viewing party! Oh, snap! Their onion rings are vegan! That’s all I needed to know.
From the invite:
We’re asking folks to get there by 3:30 latest to settle in (we’re expecting a packed house) and prepare to watch the show at 4:00. You can order food during the show, but you’re also invited to stick around for dinner, FREE cookies (thanks to Eat Pastry), and a brief discussion afterward.
RSVP on Facebook and we’ll see you there!
[Image from Petfinder! Adopt!]