East Coasters: Philly VegFest is almost here! »
Here ye, here ye! June 14th, the Philly VegFest this way comes! Heads up: This is a don’t-miss event!
You should know by now that your pal Megan Rascal is a native Philadelphian and I always try to share the Philly vegan goodness with yous guys. And boy, does the VegFest promise goodness! First of all, the event is FREE. Those are my four favorite letters in the perfect order (I’m sort of whatever about “reef”). Sponsored by the Humane League, there’s going to be all sorts of fun stuff like vegan food, cooking demos, and awesome vendors. Por ejemplo, the creators of the amazing vegan restaurant Vedge will be there with news of their forthcoming vegan bar! HOT DAMN. That’s so funny because “vegan” and “bar” are my two favorite words (in no particular order).
Other exciting things to look out for: Miss Rachel herself from Miss Rachel’s Vegan Pantry will be there cooking (and being awesome, but that’s a given), animal-rights juggernauts Mercy For Animals will be tabling, and Blackbird Pizzeria and HipCityVeg are just two of the super-dope food vendors lined up.
To keep up with all the announcements of more fun stuff they keep adding, follow Philly VegFest on FB. This sounds like it’ll be an amazing vegan day! Who wants to hop the Bolt bus with me on the 14th? I can make my dad pick us up at the train station and take us to Pine! He loves when I let him do stuff for me!
Support Meatless Mondays in Philly Schools! »
I’m into the logo. You like it?
Could the cheesesteak capitol adopt Meatless Monday?! I say YES! I mean, my dad has been doing Meatless Mondays for a few years and he’s as red-meat-and-potatoes as they get. But he also cares about the environment! And he loves the Meatless Monday Unicorn, so he was happy to get on the Meatless Monday train. If he can do it, I’m sure a bunch of cool kids can do it! And everyone knows all kids from Philadelphia are cool. It’s a science fact.
I got an email from my new pal Lou, one of the people behind the effort, and she provided a little background for us:
The Humane League needs your help in getting the School District of Philadelphia to adopt Meatless Mondays! Many school districts across the country, including Los Angeles Unified School District, Detroit Public Schools, and San Diego Unified School District, already participate in the program. Philadelphia’s school district is the eighth largest in the U.S., so their participation would mean a LOT less meat being served. Unfortunately they keep pushing us off, saying they’re in the middle of contract negotiations, so we’re garnering support from Philadelphia residents, teachers, parents, and students to help get them on board. If you fall into one (or more) of those categories, please visit www.PhillyMeatlessMonday.com to learn more and sign the petition—then help spread the word!
So if you fall into one of the categories mentioned and want to help, all you have to do is go to their homepage and sign the petition! Easier than getting shwasted on the citywide special at Bob and Barbara’s.
If you need more convincing, here’s a little vid about it too:
VEGAN CRONUT!!!! Everybody buy plane/bus/train/rideshare/hitch-hiking tickets to Philadelphia, because shit’s about to get crazy!
Ok they can’t actually call it a “cronut” because that name is trademarked by evil genius food inventor Dominique Ansel (dude: smart move, but DUMB NAME). Yet the fancy-food gurus at Philadelphia’s Vedge have created our very own, animal-free love child of a donut and a croissant, using what can only be called “vast” amounts of Earth Balance, and theirs sounds like most amazingest ever.
Point 1: “We enjoyed the vegan fritter more than any other of the Cronut copycats we tried around Philly,” says the Zagat post that broke the story. Boo-yah!
Point 2: The early versions, available as of Sept. 19, are filled with apple. Nice move.
Point 3: “Starting October 1,” says Zagats, “the as-yet-unnamed croissant-donut hybrid will be on the regular dessert menu. Expect a version with a tangy fruit stuffing - perhaps cranberries - and a horseradish cream to help cut the sweetness. Yes, horseradish. ‘When you have something like this on the menu, you know everyone’s going to order it,’ [chef-hero Kate] Jacoby says, eyes twinkling, ‘So this is our opportunity to sneak in a bit of something new and different.’” LOVE THAT, Kate! You sneak culture into our crazy desserts!
[Photo by Danya Henninger]
The second issue of Laika magazine is here! »
Like the last issue, this magazine is just beautiful. I don’t know how else to put it—everything is so pretty! And as before, the focus goes beyond food and fashion and delves into the important issues around animal abuse and rescue.
You can order your physical or digital copy here.
Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! »
It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! Yay, Paul! Yay, Animals!
How many factory farmers does it take to screw in a light bulb? It doesn’t matter since they want to keep us in the dark anyway! How? Read on.
Rather than trying to prevent animal abuse on factory farms and in slaughter plants, the industry is trying to prevent the public from finding out about that abuse in the first place. So far in 2013, numerous states have introduced anti-whistleblower bills (aka ag-gag bills) aimed at criminalizing investigations at factory farms. You can read coverage of the fight this week in New Hampshire and Nebraska over this.
Did you see the news about fitness fanatic and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel touting the benefits of the Engine 2 (vegan) diet?
The Philadelphia Inquirer has an interesting story about the controversy surrounding battery caged laying hens being displayed at Pennsylvania’s Farm Show.
Finally, in the common sense department, new research provides further evidence that crabs and lobsters feel pain..
P.S. Video the week: Just what you always wanted…feline reactions to printers.
Interview: Meet Nicole Marquis, owner of HipCityVeg in Philadelphia! »
Healthful vegan fast food maven Nicole Marquis dreamed of serving fast food to Philadelphians and visitors to the City of Brotherly/Sisterly/Gender-is-a-construct Love. And when she built HipCityVeg, we did come, in arugula taco salad-chomping droves. Now it’s silly to even think of eating anywhere else in Rittenhouse Square! I mean, I guess you could think about it, but it’d be better to save your precious brain space for finding the best spot in Rittenhouse Square to sit with your gourmet vegan take-out deliciousness from HipCityVeg!
Nicole brought me into her adorable restaurant to have me try the groothie, an organic green smoothie made of a rotating blend of fresh local greens and fruit (amazing!) and one of the most popular dishes, the Crispy HipCity Ranch. This overflowing faux chicken burger was battered fried amazingness. I rarely go for that stuff but wow, am I glad I tried it! So ridic!
I love the decor of the place: the whole pieces of organic fruit spilling onto the counter (in an artistic way), hardwood floors, and pretty potted plants. So lovely!
Nicole e-mailed me responses to my questions about how she envisioned and created HipCityVeg, her role in supporting the fast-growing vegan scene in Philly, and her life’s mission to spread the delicious veggie love.
Vegansaurus: Are you native to the Philly area? Where did you grow up?
Nicole Marquis: I’ve lived in the Philly area all my life except for a period living in L.A. during college. I grew up in Lower Gwynedd, but have been living in Rittenhouse Square for a few years.
V: When did you become interested in vegan food?
NM: I first became interested in nutrition by reading Andrew Weil. Then I read Mad Cowboy and realized what animal cultivation was doing to the earth. After reading Eat to Live and The China Study, I realized that a plant-based diet is essential to my health. I became vegan a few years ago after being vegetarian for several years, but the change in conciousness was actually developing for a while before that.
V: How did you get involved with now-closed Philly vegan fine-dining restaurant Horizons?
NM: I worked in the restaurant industry for years, mostly as a server before managing a local night club. While working on another project I met Rich Landau and he recruited me to help run Horizons.
V: What made you decide to open HipCityVeg?
NM: I felt a mission to popularize plant-based food. When something has great importance to you personally you want to see it grow and flourish. I also wanted a world where I didn’t have to peice together a couple of sides every time I ate in a restaurant.
V: What has most surprised you about operating a vegan restaurant in Philly?
NM: I was surprised by the pent-up demand. People said they were waiting for this for a long time. Who knew?
V: How many customers do you get on average per day? More during certain hours of the day?
NM: We serve about as many people as can fit in the restaurant (and onto the sidewalk), really. Our busiest time in this location is around lunch.
V: What is your most popular dish?
NM: Our best-selling sandwich is the Crispy Hip City Ranch, which is delicious. But our overall best-seller is our signature drink, the Groothie. It’s a smoothie made of bananas, apples, organic greens, and a seasonal fruit. There really is nothing better for your body.
V: How do you envision the growing veg scene in Philly? Do you think it’s greater now for any particular reason?
NM: Philly is becoming a great vegan city. It really is a hip city. People here love to challenge their tastes, to embrace the fringe. But they crave real, clean, fresh food. I love my hometown.
V: What are your hobbies, activities besides running the restaurant?
I love yoga. I love the arts. I love eating in great restaurants. I love my family and friends.
V: Anything else you’d like to add?
NM: I want everyone to feel at home in my restaurant. I hope we share the vibe of love. We’re all family!
[Groothie and Crispy HipCity Ranch photos via HipCityVeg]
For the vegan sports fan, PETA’s best veggie food at baseball stadiums »
I grew up on baseball. My parents took me to my first Baltimore Orioles game when I was two months old. I didn’t realize you couldn’t throw peanut shells on the ground in polite company until I was way too old. And when I became a vegetarian at age 11, one of the few things I missed was ballpark hotdogs (I now shudder at the thought, but kids will be kids).
As a grown-up vegan, baseball games are still fun, but I don’t ever go for the food (though I do love the garlic fries at Giants’ Stadium). I usually bring my own version, scoff at the suckers around me paying $12 for a crappy hamburger.
Now PETA’s gone and messed that up, by pointing out there’s some veggie food at stadiums, and giving them publicity for it, so they maybe have an incentive to add more. Last week, they released a Top 10 Vegetarian-Friendly Ballparks list.
Surprise! No. 1 is in Philadelphia. Apparently the Phillies offer a vegan chicken-steak sandwich. Sign me up!
Other top contenders, and the things there I really would want to eat, are:
2. Seattle Mariners’ Safeco Field: Vegtastic has the run-down of what to eat here. Sushi! Vegan hotdogs!
3. Detroit Tigers’ Comerica Park: vegan hot dogs.
4. Oakland Athletics’ O.co Coliseum: Eh. I’ve been here, not impressed. Not much vegan that I know of, though the vegetarian offerings might be OK.
5. Los Angeles Dodgers’ Dodger Stadium: vegan sloppy Joe, veggie sushi, and edamame, hurray!
6. New York Mets’ Citi Field: veggie dogs, veggie burgers. Here’s an outdated report!
7. Los Angeles Angels’ Angel Stadium of Anaheim: veggie dogs (I’m noticing a theme here), black-bean burgers, bean burritos, veggie wraps, and California cucumber rolls. Plus gluten-free options!
8. Washington Nationals’ Nationals Park: Hell yeah, I want me a tofu sandwich with Vegenaise, and a falafel! Last time I was here I brought my own Chipotle; that was good too.
9. Pittsburgh Pirates’ PNC Park: Vegetarian lo mein and salad with fried green tomatoes sound interesting, but not sure they’re vegan. Sigh.
10. Minnesota Twins’ Target Field: “vegan mousse martinis”?! What is that? Why don’t I have one? Plus veggie kabobs!
My partner in vegan crime, Courtney Pool, and I tried vegan boba (bubble tea) for the first time at Vegan Tree restaurant. Wow, what amazing tapioca pearls of joy! How did we live so close to boba places in L.A. and not imbibe regularly?
We’ve decided we’re going to love boba forever and always from now on.
Great job, Sarah and Courtney! Congratulations!
Oh dang, yous guys! Vegan Butterscotch Krimpets from the Tolerant Vegan! This is a dream come true for any Philadelphian vegan. I had Tastykake butterscotch krimpets like all the time as a kid, they were my favorite! And people from out of town thought I was crazy when I told them about the cakes because who eats butterscotch anymore? But I don’t think they really taste like classic butterscotch, they just taste like awesome! And childhood—They taste like awesome childhood.
Who is so excited for these?!
Vedge: The fancy new vegan restaurant in Philly rules! »
Gold beets, smoked tofu, avocado, capers, cucumber dill sauce, pumpernickel
My sister missed my birthday celebration in Brooklyn last week, but I am so nice that I let her make it up to me by taking me to Vedge in Philly on Saturday! Vedge is the new(ish) restaurant opened by the owners of the late Horizons. We made reservations Friday night, and the only table we could get for Saturday was at 10 p.m. Make your reservations in advance!
It was quite full for 10 p.m. The crowd wasn’t particularly hip or stereotypically vegan, just kind of older society people. The staff was super nice (especially our server, another Megan!) and the space was pretty cool; it was an old structure with a series of rooms, kind of like a stoic, simply decorated, expensive house, with tables filled in. The tables are nicely spread out, though we still ended up talking to our neighboring table. The one guy went out with Goldie Hawn for two weeks when he was 19! My sis and I totally heart Goldie. [Ed.: Overboard was just added to Instant Netflix! Goldie is THE BEST. —Laura] Things took an odd turn when the guy told Cally he was looking for a nanny…for himself. But he struck me as exceedingly gay, so he didn’t get a knuckle sandwich.
The food was pretty amazing. The servings are on the smaller side so they suggest you order three or four plates—this is just how I like to eat! A little bit of everything. In the end though, the main plates weren’t actually that small so we did get pretty full. But we soldiered on! I think my favorite thing was the beet and tofu dish above. Cally’s rutabaga salad was pretty amazing too even though we were both scared of rutabaga—not any more!
Roasted rutabaga salad, little leaves, charred onion, farro, pistachio
Spice-cured little carrots, white bean sauerkraut purée, rye toast
Steak-spice-seared tofu, hedgehog mushrooms, kabocha sadeira, walnut picada
My other favorite thing was this “steak-spice” tofu. It was basically pan-seared with really good salt flakes on it. Very tasty. Cally even liked it, though she’s not one for tofu. The texture was excellent.
For dessert, we got the pot de crème and the apple cake fritters. The pot de creme was AWESOME. I don’t always love pot de crème but this was delicious, and the salt on top was just perfect. The biscotti was really good. Normally I stay away from biscotti unless I made it myself; people often confuse “dry” with “stale.” Biscotti is not supposed to be stale! This biscotti was not. It was perfect. But really, the apple cake fritters won the show. They were like apple-flavored zeppoles! I do love fried dough.
All in all, I give Vedge a million stars! It’s fine dining, but totally relaxed and fun. It’s a great place for a celebration dinner. I love that they encourage you to try so many dishes! Oh and I almost forgot, say it with me now!: POMEGRANATE SANGRIA. So, so necessary.
Apple cake fritters with Waldorf salad, cider caramel
Chocolate pot de crème with coffee salt, macadamia nut biscotti, and b-day candle!