It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use!  »

imageIt’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! Yay, Paul! Yay, Animals!

Huge news this week: The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education voted 4-1 to enact an exclusively vegetarian Meatless Monday policy at all K-8 schools in the district. Unsurprisingly, this was to the chagrin of the Animal Ag Alliance, which waged a losing campaign to defeat the measure.

If you liked that, you may also be impressed that Canada is poised to pass a national regulation curbing gestation crate use.

I’ve got a new piece on HuffPost about the increasing number of folks even within the ag industry who are starting to second-guess their ag-gag strategy. Feel free to leave a comment.

A number of papers, such as the Bakersfield Californian, are editorializing against Rep. Steve King’s (R-Iowa) nefarious attempt in the Farm Bill to erase numerous laws we’ve passed to protect farm animals. Meanwhile, King and his allies in the meat industry are also trying to kill federal legislation to ban barren battery cages for laying hens.

Finally, this week, a major story got a lot of media play announcing extensive new research showing that vegetarian diets are linked to longer lives. In that vein, influential UK members of Parliament are urging Britons to eat less meat as a way to increase food security.

P.S. Video of the week: HSUS’s future CEO?

P.P.S. Live in SoCal? Hope to see you at veg appetit next week!


Belugas talking like people! Or at least one!  »

So this is what can happen when a beluga lives in San Diego for seven years.

We do not claim that our whale was a good mimic compared to such well-known mimics as parrots or mynah birds. However, the sonic behavior we observed is an example of vocal learning by the white whale. It seems likely that NOC’s close association with humans played a role in how often he employed his human voice, as well as in its quality.

You really must listen to this recording of NOC talking [mp3], it is the weirdest thing you will hear all week.

[Photo by Chris O’Donoghue via Flickr; link via The Hairpin]


Guest Post: San Diego part 2: Ranchos Cocina!  »

The only downside, if you want to even call it a downside, to an all-vegan establishment is trying to persuade your omnivorous friends and family to join you. Most of the time, I’m able to join up with a group of co-workers or acquaintances after they consume some of our fallen furry friends or head out to a place that serves mostly liquid items. But the inevitable always rears it’s head, and the daunting task of appeasing many different morals takes precedence.

That’s where Ranchos Cocina in North Park comes in. They refer to themselves as a “Mexican and Vegetarian Cuisine” restaurant which is a tad too ambiguous for my liking, because I believe they are much more than that. The meat-eaters in your Donner Party will be happy with the amount of options available, as will the vegetarian and vegan homies. As soon as you and your squad sits down, someone is ready to hand you complementary chips and salsa. Which, if you have no self control like me, doubles as an appetizer. Their menu is recently refreshed and there are much more tiny, bold faced “V”s hanging around on the new menu. “V,” of course, denotes “may be made vegan.” Music to our hippie ears.

My first trip to Ranchos this past week, I was with two fellas of the non-vegan guild. They were able to order non-vegan things while I was able to order my favorite dish on the menu, Breakfast Combination no. 237, Soy Vegan Chorizo con Tofu. Their breakfast portion of the menu is available all day, because they know breakfast isn’t just for sopping up last night’s booze. This meal is a mountain of tofu scramble with soy chorizo and some assorted grilled veggies. Also a side of potatoes (or rice) and beans with your choice of tortilla. I go for the whole wheat tortilla because of it’s size—it unfolds to the size of manhole cover. I feel like I’m getting a bonus that the corn and flour folks are missing out on.

I digress. Their tofu is off the chains, as the kids used to say. Firm and seasoned, you can see bits of either thyme or pepper in the crumbled bits of Mexican-flavored vegan-ry. The soy chorizo is salty, but in that good way, not in the oops-I-dropped-the-Kosher-salt-into-the-pan way. The potatoes and beans give the plate of food that diner taste and feel. But the diner feel stops there, as the food doesn’t sit in your stomach for 15-minutes only to go into emergency mode. As vegans, at least for me, the “feel” after the meal is the best barometer of how “vegan” a restaurant actually is. Ranchos knows their vegan clientele and appreciates our views. It tastes and feels like real, home-cooked food.

I had to hit them up one more time before I trekked back up to the county of The Angels. This time I went right in as they opened in the morning with just me and my hangover tagging along. I’m not sure if it’s because single dining patrons only rack up bills worthy of tips in the $2-to-$4 range or if this man was genuine, but my waiter insisted on being extremely accommodating. I’m never one to base my restaurant visits on the service.

Again, I digress. He, the waiter, assumed of my vegan-ness by my asking for soy milk in my iced coffee and was quick to offer up his opinions on what was good. I was a mere half-a-second away from ordering the “Tofu con Soy Chorizo” again until he suggested the “Vegan Breakfast Burrito.” Which I was more-than-proud of heeding his advice for once the plate landed in front of me. This zeppelin-sized tortilla was easily the biggest burrito I’ve seen, and upon digesting it, the tastiest as well. The same seasoned, firm tofu is used in the breakfast burrito as in the scramble, in a flavor orgy with potatoes, assorted veggies and tempeh “sausage.” It was so big and filling, I couldn’t finish the 1/16th scale of the U.S.S. Enterprise in one sitting. So, if you’re keeping score, that’s chips and salsa, iced coffee (that was refilled thrice times), a ginormous burrito (that was used for two meals) for a whopping $9.16 before tip.

Now, math was never my strongest subject, but if you add everything up, I’m pretty sure Ranchos, Evolution Fast Food, and the many other unheralded San Diego vegan eateries are worthy of L.A.-sized exposure. I don’t want to pit San Diego against L.A., because that’s not a fair fight. Just don’t forget about S.D. It’s more than just a city with mediocre sports teams and a big zoo. So thanks, San Diego, we enjoy your second fiddle. Sometimes L.A. smells funny anyway.

Andrew E. Irons is a blogger from Long Beach, Calif. He co-created and contributes to 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.


Guest Post: San Diego Part 1: Evolution Fast Food  »

Alternative title: ”Hey, we have vegan food too!”

Growing up in Rhode Island for the better part of my existence, I’ve grown accustomed to having my local habitat being played as the second fiddle. The music and art industries, whether through concerts, shows, or just the available exposure itself to these, seemed to skip the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (yes, that’s our real, full name) altogether. Everyone assumed this was do to our close proximity to Boston and New York and no one from Lil’ Rhody (yes, that is our real “nickname”) wants to drive to New York or Boston because they’re “wicked fah!” San Diego, I find, kind of sees similar persecution. America’s Finest City is well-populated, and has its own vibe with plenty of culture. But we in the vegan community never seem to hear much about what St. Diego has to offer by way of animal-free food consumption—instead, we in SoCal hear much ado about L.A. More people, mainly us compassionate ones, should know of the mini-vegan food Mecca that is in San Diego.

San Diego was supposed to get the mother of all vegan restaurant chains, Native Foods Cafe, but that either fell through, is still being constructed, or Monsanto stepped in and bought the property. Having a world-renowned chain like Native in The 619 (or The 858 or The 760) would have been huge. Both for me and my friends who live there but also for the San Diego vegan community. However, there are equally as tasty treats deep within the cozy confines of the city. If fast food-themed is your bag, similar to Native Foods, there is Evolution Fast Food. E.F.F. is a must-see for me each and every time I’m in S.D. I have a “go-to” choice and “back-up” ready to order. A back-up is sometimes needed because they tend to sell out of their daily “specials.” Which leads me to believe they have a good sized customer base ready and willing to try new things. During my most recent visit just this past week, they had a new special available of which just the description alone made me weak in the knees and caused cold sweats. It was like I was back in high school when my man parts would do what they wished, when they wished. Male-hormonal rages aside, this is what the board read:

"California Burrito"

  • Carne asada
  • Guacamole
  • Salsa
  • Fries
  • & cheese!

And all these fine basic descriptors were supposedly wrapped up in a whole wheat tortilla. I say supposedly because that Bad Larry was sold out. Bummer. Upon learning the bad news I was back in flashback mode, this time elementary school when I learned Santa Claus didn’t actually check his list twice. Luckily, my standby order is impeccable and cured my sadness post haste. I’ve been a burger-and-fries type of guy since long before my vegan days. And the Bacon Cheeseburger at E.F.F. fits the bill to a T. They’ve recently started using Gardein for their patties on all their burgers, but if processed mock meats aren’t your thing, they also have a house-made bean patty option. I’m a fan of Gardein, so I recommend the O.G. version. The bean patty is too… beany.

Options are always awesome as a consumer, especially when you’re a vegan consumer when you’re about to consume vegan goods. It’s like little bits of Christmas morning each time someone behind the counter asks you a closed ended question regarding your order. In addition to the bean patty or Gardein patty, you can also choose between standard fries or the sweet potato version. I’m excessively sweet as it is, so I always opt for the regular spuds. I’m kidding. Sort of.

Evolution Fast Food isn’t really known in my circle of non-vegan compadres in San Diego. Most think it’s still called one of their previous names and others assume all they serve is wheat grass shots and tofu slabs. It’s a brilliant take on the prototypical fast food menu, just vegan’d out. But they also do soft serve ice cream, smoothies and desserts. Best of all, the entire restaurant is 100% vegan. So you’ll never have to worry about cross contamination or wondering if a bun or slice of bread is also fitting to your compassionate ways. There is also a “drive-thru” window, perfect if you’re feeling nostalgic and want to re-live the times the whole family went down to those golden arches. As far as convenience however, you’re better off parking and walking up.

Stay tuned for San Diego Part 2: Ranchos Cocina!

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.


TV channel for dogs! Genius!   »

No really, I think this is a great idea! I often would leave the TV on for my Figaro because he has separation anxiety and he barks a lot. So the TV works great as a way to drown out little noises that might make him bark and I thought it would kind of keep him company too. But I never know which channel to leave it on! I try to leave it on kids’ channels because I figure they aren’t going to have loud noises and there will be a lot of high octave, happy voices. But this new dog channel, DogTV, has hundreds of shows based on all kinds of research:

DogTV has created nearly 800 programs for dogs, each around three to five minutes long to fit with a dogs’ limited attention span, and is constantly creating new content. The programs are designed to “relax, stimulate and expose” dogs to situations they come across in daily life, like car rides and romps around the park. Other programs include animations of moving objects, nature scenes set to soothing music, and dogs sleeping or resting.

They tried cats and barking noises and stuff they thought dogs would like but that only irritated them. 

Now you may be wondering if dogs actually do like to watch tv, this is the first question in their FAQ:

Do dogs really watch TV?

Yes! Dogs respond beautifully to what they see on TV, and enjoy most when they see other dogs, other animals and even inanimate moving objects. YouTube has over 5000 videos of dogs watching TV, and increasing number of dog parents admit that they saw their pooch watching TV more than once. The shift to digital televisions and flat screen TV’s has also contributed to the growth in the numbers of dogs that watch TV. In a survey conducted by the American Kennel Club and IAMS dog food, nearly half of those surveyed had dogs that showed some interest in what was happening on the television screen.

The channel is currently only available in San Diego but seriously, if this channel was available everywhere, I’d use it all the time! It will have a $5.00 monthly subscription fee because, as the creator pointed out, they can’t really sell ad space. Which I think is good because I hate when loud commercials come on—not relaxing for Fig at all! 

Here’s an example of their relaxing shows:

Can’t see the video? Watch it on!

I’m relaxed! But I’m really hoping they have shows like Mr. Belvedere but where Mr. Belvedere is a dog. Right? 


Melissa Vegenista loves LoveLikeBeer: San Diego’s vegan beer scene becoming a real thing  »

Our pal Melissa the Vegenista loves her vegan food! And her beer pairings! Just like your Vegansaurus, only she lives in beautiful, sunny, beachy San Diego, while we have to wait until fall for our perfect summery weather.

However, beer goes with basically everything, and there’s nothing more charming than beer pairings with fancy, tasty vegan food. Check out Melissa’s photos from Vegan Beer Night II, including this one of the grilled chiote marinated tofu, Suzie’s Farm Hungarian pepper stuffed with Chino corn risotto, Crow’s Pass Farm potatoes, and chimichurri Sauce:

She calls it “one of the most beautifully presented dishes I’ve ever seen…. [I]t was certainly as delicious to the palate as it was stunning to the eyes!” it does look amazing!

For a full review with loads more photos and information, check out Vegenista. GodDAMN I want an automatic coffee coconut wheat beer, like really a lot.

Way to go, San Diego! And thanks, Melissa, for the update!

[all photos by Melissa via Vegenista]



Vegan road trip: San Diego!  »

When going down to San Diego, I had no intention of eating my way through the whole city. Lie: YES I DID! I also didn’t go on a “road” trip: I FLEW! I whisked myself away for the weekend via Virgin America, which means I got to check out the new Terminal 2 at SFO. Two words: PLANT CAFE. Yes, it’s there. Now, normally I would not pay $8.25 for spring rolls, but my vacation started the second I wasn’t late for my flight, so I indulged. Shiitake, tofu and veggie spring rolls with peanut sauce—my getaway was off to a delicious start!

After much consideration (waking up in our clothes from the night before and drinking a couple more PBRs) my San Diego tour guide friend Matt and I chose to eat at Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza for lunch.
The location in Mission Bay is located in a strip mall. Usually, I find this incredibly tacky, but I knew there would be beer once we were seated, so I decided to let it go.

Stone IPA is a San Diego brew, vegan and incredibly strong. Naturally, I loved it.

Sammy’s has vegan cheese (Daiya, of course, though the waiter was unsure) and a vegan gluten-free crust available. I got my pizza with spinach, mushrooms, and Daiya on the gluten-free crust. Very tasty. So much in fact, I packed this whole thing in my stomach. And two IPAs. I didn’t much feel like going to the beach afterward, but we did anyway. Another awesome thing about my Sammy’s experience is that the waiter was incredibly friendly about all my vegan questions—he checked with the back before he put my order in and wasn’t put off about anything. And he was hot.

Next meal on the agenda: Rancho’s. Matt and I went to the location in North Park, it’s super cute! It has the kind of atmosphere where you could bring a date, your family, or your friends. Plus, the prices are super reasonable with large portions — so, you know, 5 stars in my book. Two drinks and two entrees plus a side of guacamole came to about $35. I felt as though I had eaten like a KING.image
I consumed the Veggie Trios Enchiladas topped with Daiya! Oh, and the black beans—so good! I’d never had them spiced so well at a restaurant. My friend was so impressed by this place, he couldn’t wait to come back with his roommate. And I can’t wait to get back to San Diego for another round!

Pokez, in downtown SD, was brunch the next day. Not in the traditional sense of a Sunday morning champagne-filled brekkie, more like a let’s-drink-a-PBR-and-start-our-day-at-one-in-the-afternoon kind of deal. What? I was on vacation!image

I had heard rumors about hipsters bad service, and unfortunately, the rumors are true. I knew to expect it, so I found it funny, but forgot to mention this to Matt. Luckily for me, we are friends because we find the same things funny! Be prepared to wait/be ignored. We put money in the parking meter for 50 minutes thinking that surely that would be more than enough time. Wrong. And Pokez doesn’t serve alcoholic drinks so…that wasn’t the hold up. Food is definitely worth it though. Trust me.image

It didn’t matter I had enchiladas the night before—I needed more! Two tofu-and-mushroom-stuffed enchiladas with cabbage salad on the side. The menu doesn’t specify that the entrees come with cabbage salad, so being the glutton I am I ordered—image
—a tofu, potato and mushroom taco! Vegan Mexican food heaven. Except for the whole no-beer-on-the-menu thing. And slow service.

After my body had to go to the work of digesting everything I’d eaten in the last 48 hours, plus a little time frolicking in the Pacific, I was ready for more beer! Hamilton’s it was.
Hamilton’s, located in South Park, offers tons of beer, and a vegan burger called the Cattle Decapitation, so bring your sense of humor. I was too full to eat it, but I’ve had it before and I remember it being really good. I thought I could will myself to work up the appetite to order it, but that just didn’t happen. Oh well!  All the more reason to go back to San Diego!

I’ve been home about a week and half now, and I’m still full/digesting. San Diego, how did you do it? I’m always hungry in San Francisco!


Happy Thanksgiving from Melissa the Vegenista! She finished her dinner with this pumpkin cheesecake from the New Vegan Table on a coordinating plate, which is both adorable and a little intimidating. You can—and should!—admire the rest of her feast here!
Happy Thanksgiving, Melissa!

Happy Thanksgiving from Melissa the Vegenista! She finished her dinner with this pumpkin cheesecake from the New Vegan Table on a coordinating plate, which is both adorable and a little intimidating. You can—and should!—admire the rest of her feast here!

Happy Thanksgiving, Melissa!


Interview: Jessie Williams of Eat Pastry Cookie Dough!  »

We love Eat Pastry Cookie Dough. We fucking looooooove it. It’s amazing out of the tub, it’s amazing baked up, and it’s amaaaazing mixed into ice cream. It’s at Rainbow and Whole Foods and you need to buy it and eat it all the time DO IT. We also love Jessie and Alfredo, the two fabulous pastry chefs behind it. They are obviously both geniuses and one day will probably have a national holiday named after them. Enjoy Jessie’s answers below and look at their ADORABLE Pomeranian, Poe, and I triple dog dare you not to kiss all up on your computer screen. Good luck!

Are you vegan for health, environmental, animal-rights reasons, or a combination thereof? 
Combination. With all the news about the downgrade in people’s health, the environment’s health, and the health of animals, how could we NOT be vegan! Times are changing and so is the world we’re living in. Over time, I see more and more people choosing to eat vegan if the options are made available.

How long have you been vegan? Why did you become vegan?
I’d say about eight months into launching our business we became vegan. When we began the business we had already transitioned into vegetarianism, but were still holding a blind eye to the harmful effects dairy had both on us, the environment, and the animals that produce it. That’s when we decided to cut out animal products entirely. We immediately felt happier, healthier, and true to ourselves. 

Why did you start Eat Pastry? What’s your story? Talk to us!
It’s been such a journey for us. We met in pastry school at the French Culinary Institute in NYC. The first day the Chef paired us as partners. I wanted to call [Alfredo] “Alf.” He wasn’t down with the idea, saying, “I don’t eat cats.” After I finally remembered his name, we worked well together and were close friends all throughout school. But it wasn’t until the last month of Alfredo’s time in New York that we realized our feelings for one another were deeper then friendship. Alfredo had planned to go to Costa Rica to work on an organic farm, and I had planned to find some kind of job in NYC—we ended up flying out to California and renting a car out of LAX. We drove up and down the coast searching for jobs, and were offered a few, but nothing felt right. One day in Santa Barbara we sat on the beach and decided to start our own thing, together. That was scary, considering we were young, naïve, and in a relationship. Needless to say, we learned quite a bit about each other on our journey to cookie dough land, and we wouldn’t have had it any other way. It was hard, and times were sometimes tough, but we finally landed on a stellar idea—vegan cookie dough! Pre-packaged and ready to eat, or bake! Things really began lining up from there. We moved to San Diego, began working with a great company called Moxie Sozo to create funky packaging, and started sampling our dough. Once our local Whole Foods in La Jolla took us on, we began gaining accounts throughout Southern California. Alfredo drove our product deliveries up and down the coast from here to L.A. It wasn’t until February of 2010, when we gained distribution, that he got to sleep in. At last, we were able to settle into our kitchen and do what we do best: crank out the dough! 

What’s your favorite flavor?
Jessie: Raw: Peanut Butter; Baked: Oatmeal Raisin ChocoChip! And Chocoholic mixed into mint coconut milk ice cream. It’s ridiculous. In a good way.
Alfredo: Raw: Peanut Butter; Baked: Chocolate Chip.

Any cute Eat Pastry stories to share?
It was quite difficult to find a commercial kitchen to make our cookie dough in. We looked at a few places, including the one we’re in now, but weren’t 100 percent sold on any one in particular. We thought this one was pretty good, so we went back for a second look. When we walked in we noticed everything had been taken out by the previous tenant, except a small magnet in the shape of a heart. It read “True Love.” It was at that point we knew this was our kitchen! We use the magnet today to hold up our orders.

Do you have any companion animals? Where are they from?
Yes, our two-year-old dog Poe! He is a pomeranian weighing in at a whopping 16 lbs.—but he’s not overweight, he has long legs! We got him through a woman who owned two beautiful 11-week-old pom puppies but was not able to watch them because she was dealing with sickness. We agreed to help her out, taking care of them until she was able but that never happened. She ended up moving, and could not take care of the pups. Lucky for us, we ended up with our little guy. A friend of ours fell in love with his brother, and took him home with her. The brothers are living happily ever after. 

Do you have any super-cute photos of animals to share with us? Favorite animal videos on YouTube?
Oh yes! Alfredo edited this video of Poe greeting us when we get home. We’re a little biased because he’s our own dog, but it’s hilarious!

What is your favorite animal? I know, this one is REALLY TOUGH.
Wow, that is a toughie. I really like piggies. They’re so cute! Horses probably take the cake though. I grew up with them, and being around them brings back good memories and feelings of love. Alfredo is a huge dog-lover. He has successfully potty-trained an Australian terrier, a miniature schnauzer, and two rough and tough pomeranian brothers. 

Favorite vegan cookbook?
We don’t really use cookbooks to often. If I want to try to veganize a dish, I’ll Google the original non-vegan recipe, and make it vegan using my own improvisation. But I do own Skinny Bitch in the Kitch. We love the onion ring recipe!

What’s your favorite vegan dish to make? 
Cookies! Just kidding. Biscuits and gravy, hands down. I finally perfected the gravy, so now I want to eat it every night.

Favorite vegan dish at a restaurant? 
Anything with mushrooms. 

Favorite vegan restaurant?
It may sound crazy, but we were recently at a trade show in Ontario, California and found this restaurant called Thai Vegan. It was amazing. We’re contemplating moving there just so we can get their takeout. I love Pure Food and Wine in NYC, too. That is where we had our first date. I recall drinking one too many Master Cleanse martinis

Are you willing to have Vegansaurus over and cook us a vegan feast? If so, what day?
Of course! Whoever is willing to fly down is more than welcome. I can make vegan lasagna!! Or my biscuits and gravy! OR Alfredo can make his vegan paella! How about all three? The date is negotiable.

Any questions for Vegansaurus? Anything!
How many sexual partners have you all had combined. JUST KIDDING. Seriously, who came up with your awesome dinosaur logo? He looks hungry, and I want him to come to dinner too. [Ed.: Jonas created the dino! And between 1/2 and 500!]

Yay, thanks, Jessie! You da bomb!!! Check out our other Vegansaurus interviews and apply to be interviewed YOURSELF! And by apply, just email and we’ll totally interview your fascinating ass. 

[Cookie photos from quarrygirl; Poe & Alfredo photos from Jessie; martini photo from Yelp]

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