vegansaurus!

09/23/2014

Forget tuna: Delicious Tomato Sushi is the cruelty-free future!  »

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Tomato Sushi being crafted by experts!
I haven’t eaten fish in 15 years, and to be for reals, I don’t miss the taste/texture/cruelty of fish in any way. Still, when I go out to eat at sushi joints other than Shojin, my heart feels a little down that all we vegans usually get is some combination of avocado and cucumber in our maki. 
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That’s why I was sooo excited to try Tomato Sushi, an SF-based vegan tuna created by a world-class chef! Tomato Sushi sent me some samples, and oh my gosh, it really tastes like fish (maybe? It’s been 15 years, after all!) and has a wonderful, chewy texture without using hella chemicals and/or processing! According to the company website, they make it using a special technique to give whole pieces of tomato the texture and flavor of fish.
While I’m no sushi expert (read: I’m terrible at it), I managed to fashion some sushi rice, avocado, and nori sheets, and Tomato Sushi into a roll-like form. The results: epic sushi joy.

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Above: Homemade Tomato Sushi rolls made by yours truly!

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Above: The finished tomato sushi is supposed to look like this, per the Tomato Sushi genius experts. Source: TomatoSushi.com.

Tomato Sushi is launching their Kickstarter campaign to make the product available on a larger scale, so go support them right now to get yours!

08/25/2014

Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use: Grand jury indictments for slaughterhouse officials!  »

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A federal grand jury indicted four officials at a California slaughterhouse for allegedly concealing diseased cows by swapping heads of cows with eye cancer with healthy cow heads, cutting off USDA “condemned” insignias, and more. You can see HSUS’s response in this NBC segment.

HSUS won a big victory this week, prevailing in a lawsuit in which we represented rural neighbors of a massive gestation crate confinement facility. Check it out.

This week HSUS also announced our work with South San Francisco to implement a new Meatless Monday policy in the school district.

And in very major news, this week we announced that food giant Nestle is implementing a wide-ranging new animal welfare program aimed at ending the worst factory farming abuses and promoting more meat-free eating. You can read Wayne Pacelle’s comments on it, too.                                    

Finally, the Center for Biological Diversity has a new Labor Day-themed campaign called Extinction-Free BBQ recommending that we leave room on the planet for wild animals by leaving room on our plates for delicious veggie foods.

Video of the week: Need a pick-me-up? Check out Arnold the rescued pig in this new HSUS video!

04/14/2014

Curry Up Now in San Francisco’s Mission District hits the spot!   »

imageI love drinks in mason jars! It feels so Portland, Oregon

One of my last afternoons in San Francisco, I found myself in the Mission District’s Curry Up Now restaurant. I had been meaning to go for a while, and was in the mood for a light snack. Samosas and beer it was! 

I enjoyed my afternoon pit stop. My only regret is that I was not more hungry, because many of their menu items sounded pretty good! Curry Up has a nice beer selection, along with special vegan and gluten-free menus. The prices were fair, dare I say, even on the inexpensive side? Inexpensive for San Francisco, that is. I thought this would be a good place to grab a bite to eat and a drink with co-workers, when everyone is different levels of hungry and spend-happy! It’s also open late (midnight) on Fridays and Saturdays, which is great because I get HUNGRY when I go out. I don’t always want a burrito; I like variety! 

imageI pretended to be enthralled by the decor (which is actually quite nice) while I eavesdropped on the young, hipster girls at the table next to me discuss Taylor Swift at length. It was a little slice of heaven. 

Curry Up Now has three locations in the Bay Area, including 659 Valencia in San Francisco, 321 Hamilton Ave in Palo Alto, and 129 South B Street in San Mateo! 

04/01/2014

Review: Vanessa Elise Skincare in San Francisco! Vegansaurus readers get 20% off!   »

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Vegan skincare is a tricky one, and I often find myself confused by ingredients and labeling when it comes to cosmetics. Thank goodness then for Vanessa Elise Skincare, a one-stop vegan shop for all your facial and waxing needs, based in San Francisco! I’ve known Vanessa for a while and not only is she a dedicated, very knowledgeable and completely professional esthetician, she is a fantastic, thorough and patient teacher at Marinello. She was one of my first roommates and friends in San Francisco, and it’s been so much fun watching her grow within her career!

I don’t trust many people or skin care products with my complexion, but I have no problem surrendering to Vanessa’s expertise. She gave me my very first facial at Marinello School of Beauty in downtown San Francisco, for which I was kind of nervous. I was her “model” and not only had I never had a facial before, I was going to get one in front of her students. Vanessa’s humor, professionalism and demeanor put me completely at ease and it was such a fun experience. I was stoked when she asked me to visit her Style Seat location months later, because my skin looked so impressive after that first facial. I appreciate that Vanessa understands not only the importance of what a vegan lifestyle means to certain members of her clientele, but what food allergies mean in terms of the kind of products she uses. She does her research not only based on cruelty-free products, but for all the various skin types and allergies as well! She has assessed I have sensitive skin, which I never really considered before, but is now so obvious. Vanessa has given me so many valuable tips* about how to care for my particular skin type, for which I am eternally grateful. This second time I went to see her, the stress of making a long-distance move had reared itself on my complexion and I was embarrassed. She assured me that she had my back, as she was in the business of fixing faces. What a relief! Vanessa also tinted my eyebrows, a procedure I had never had done before! She went back and forth about it, worried that tinting my brows would make them too dark against my pale skin and light hair. That is until I cried, “IT’S SO GWEN STEFANI, DO IT!” My friend Britney was in the room and not only laughed at my outburst, she was so impressed by my brows, she had Vanessa shape hers!

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That’s me, getting a facial! Photo by Britney Roque

Enough about my experience, let’s get to know the woman behind Vanessa Elise Skincare a little bit more. Tell us more about yourself, Vanessa!

I’ve been a licensed Esthetician since 2006. I am still teaching the Esthetics program at Marinello, and I’ve been here since last Spring. Previous places I’ve worked were Super/Perricone MD, Sephora, Pure Beauty, Always Tan Skin & Body. The things I consider to be my specialties are brows and treating problem skin (acne/clogged pores, sun damage/hyperpigmentation), but I offer facials for all skin types and ages. I do chemical peels (lactic, glycolic, TCA) and use microcurrent to lift, red LED to stimluate collagen and firm, and ultrasonic technology to exfoliate and infuse products into the skin. My whole concept is that professional skincare should be results-oriented AND cruelty-free, and that people shouldn’t have to compromise on either one of those things. I wanted to create a space where clients could feel confident that they are going to get the results they want, be it clear skin, beautiful eyebrows, or a basic bikini wax, with products that are ethical and luxurious at the same time.

The products I use and sell are from Skin Script and Dawn Lorraine Conscious Skincare. Neither line is 100% vegan, but all of the products I have from them are. I also sell Hurraw! Lip Balms. Dawn Lorraine is made up Nevada City, and the line uses organic ingredients whenever possible (meaning, when it will not compromise the effectiveness of the product), is paraben and pthalate free, uses eco-friendly packaging and supports animal and environmental protection. Plus it smells AMAZING. I use skinscript to fill in the gaps where Dawn didn’t have vegan options, mostly for acne stuff, and my professional enzymes and peels.

Right now, Vanessa is offering vegan facials and waxing treatments a couple days a week in downtown San Francisco, using Style Seat. If you are interested in booking an appointment with Vanessa, you can do so hereShe has generously offered 20% services for Vegansaurus readers’ first visit, so let her know you found out about her here! Be sure to follow her on both Facebook and Twitter, as she is always offering specials to current and future clients! You an learn more about Vanessa and her campaign to open her own skincare studio here

*Valuable tips include the importance of eye cream (the skin around your eyes has no oil glands and needs the extra moisture of eye cream to help keep wrinkles at bay. Drier areas of the body show age quickly) and not using an exfoliator, no matter how gentle, on my sensitive cheeks. 

Full Disclosure: Vanessa did give me my Style Seat facial on the house, but I was so impressed, with both my skin and the products that she used, I purchased the exfoliator and moisturizer, and I have contributed to a past IndieGoGo campaign to get her started. I will definitely be booking an appointment with her during my next visit to San Francisco. I still can’t get over how clean my face feels after visiting Vanessa! 

Images courtesy Vanessa Elise Skincare. 

03/04/2014

JB’s Top 5 Bay Area Vegan Eats!  »

Isn’t weird when you are a tourist in a city you spent so much time living your day-to-day life in? Do you know what I’m talking about here? You move away, you come back to visit friends and go to some show or something, and you plan everything out according to where you’ll be all day and where you are staying! The thing I get all up in arms about when I’m visiting a locale I used to live is the food! I want to go to all my favorite places, even if it overrides everything else on the trip (fun for everyone hanging out with me, I can assure you). I’ve been thinking about my fave haunts in the Bay Area; specifically the places I would be most disappointed if I didn’t get to hit up while visiting. Okay, I told myself I couldn’t over think this, so top-of-my-head, 15 seconds to write-it-out-list includes:

Hella Vegan Eats 

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Their Lusty Lover’s tacos, with cornflakes, seitan and mac’n cheese, are what my dreams are made of! I haven’t met a menu item I’m not enamored by, including their chicken and waffles brunch sandwich and the beet burger on a donut bun! You can find where Sylvee and Tiff are set-up for the day on their Twitter, Facebook  and Instagram accounts (@hellaveganeats). 

Flaco’s 

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Flaco’s in Berkeley is so flavorful, fresh and affordable! My favorite menu item is the soyrizo soft tacos! Word of warning, they are not playing with their hot sauce! I can take my spice, but I went into a semi-panic halfway through my first meal there. Now I play it safe and go with mild because I am terrified. Also, Flaco’s is closed on Mondays, which I forgot on my last visit which left me sad. 

Timeless Coffee Roasters 

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Timeless in Oakland has an array of both savory and sweet treats, including cheesecake, danishes, bacon and cheddar scones, and “chicken” pot pies! 

The bakers at Timeless are so incredibly talented. Coming from someone in the same trade, every time I go in I’m both inspired and I want to just throw in the towel! Timeless has raised the bar tremendously when it comes to vegan pastries and desserts; if you’ve been there before you know what I’m talking about! Their blueberry cheesecake is now the only cheesecake that exists to me, and worth two trips on my last visit! 

Donut Farm

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Donut Farm in Oakland, baby! Lay your pretty eyes upon the most glorious of feasts, including cold-pressed coffee, mushroom gravy smothered biscuits, tempeh bacon and sautéed southern greens! 

Best brunch and donuts in the Bay, hands DOWN. I never went there for the weekday lunch menu because I was in the city, doing city things (you know how it goes when you live in San Francisco). I also only ever ordered the biscuits and gravy because vegan biscuits and gravy are so special! I love Donut Farm so much. I love the feeling I get when I walk inside, I love how friendly everyone is, how happy the customers are and I also REALLY SUPER DUPER ENJOY that even when it’s very busy, I never feel stressed out there. There was something about going to brunch in the city, and everyone’s energy being insane with every thing so crowded. Did I mention I work in restaurants? I notice the craziest things when I go out to eat! Anyway, I WILL LOVE DONUT FARM UNTIL THE END OF TIME! (They have a choice of soy or coconut creamer for your coffee; it’s the little things that count!) 

Thai Idea

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Thai Idea’s Firecracker Balls sans mayo, crispy spring rolls and Volcanic “beef” entree! 

I’ve lived a life that has included devouring Thai Idea’s Firecracker Balls, and now I don’t want to be without! I know this joint may seem like the wild-card here, but I just loved going to eat at Thai Idea. Everyone in my parties always enjoyed their food, the staff didn’t get cranky about large groups and they offer vegan shrimp. Plus there is that BYOB policy, which is everywhere in Chicago but I never see in California! I think the food is creative and flavorful, and the plating is beautiful! Recently their health score fell pretty low, so I hope they can get that back up because I would hate for them to close down! The score doesn’t faze me too much because I’ve worked in a lot of kitchens and some places get caught while others, for some reason, do not. 

So that’s my list. I generally like comfort foods that are easy on the budget and casual, yet innovative, satisfying and tasty. Tell me your Bay Area faves so that when people google where to eat when visiting, they’ll see all of our ideas! Did you know you can upload photos in Disqus? Do it! I want to see a plates of your most highly-regarded vegan restaurant meals! I also want to give a shout-out to Weird Fish, Mission burritos, the chocolate Heaven Dogs I used to make at Source, Benders, the oyster mushrooms at Millennium and From the Garden Greenhouse brunches

02/18/2014

San Francisco eats: Holy Gelato in the Inner Sunset!   »

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Until about two weeks ago, I had been a four-year resident of the Haight Ashbury neighborhood in San Francisco and I have to say, one of my fave features of that district is its proximity to the Inner Sunset! 9th and Irving has a plethora of vegan-friendly haunts, without the intense hustle and bustle of, let’s say, anywhere else in the city. Quite frankly, I’m shocked we here at Vegansaurus have never covered the corner of 9th and Judah’s delicious little treasure, Holy Gelato! They have so many soy and coconut milk-based gelatos. Plus, every time I’ve been there (twice), all in a tizzy because I couldn’t figure out which flavor to get, I was given free samples without even having to ask! I hate asking! Every single flavor I tried was scrumptious, but me being me, I had to go with the flavor laced with whiskey. YES YOU READ THAT RIGHT, THEY OFFER GELATO WITH WHISKEY! 

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The array of vegan flavors! Can you even believe your eyes?

As if you needed anymore convincing to get yourself out to the Inner Sunset for a vegan ice cream party, let me just throw out a few ideas. We’ll plan a night of it! The Inner Sunset boasts such restaurants as Social Kitchen and Brewery (Brussels sprouts chips! Chili! Beer!), Loving Hut (Everything on the menu!) and Patxi’s pizza (Vegan Chicago-style deep-dish pizza!). Feeling a little bit more romantic? Inner Fog is a cute little wine bar with dim lighting and a couple of vegan small bites available (think fancy hummus and fancy salad). There are also plenty of Chinese, Japanese, Mediterranean and Indian joints about; seriously the Inner Sunset is a vegan dream! 

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Irish Morning gelato, with a coconut-milk base, fudge, coffee, cookies and whiskey! Shout-out to Caroline for asking me out for ice cream in the first place, and therefore introducing me to Holy Gelato! 

Exterior photo of Holy Gelato via notjustgranola.ca

01/28/2014

Product review: Magic curry paste!  »

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Magic Curry Pastes, by Magic Curry Kart, are vegan and naturally gluten-free Thai pastes available in the San Francisco Bay Area. They recently asked me if I wanted to review their pastes, which I very much did, and I was impressed! The pastes, when mixed with coconut milk, are comparable to a curry sauce from your favorite Thai restaurant! This is fantastic news; now we can get delicious restaurant-style food for a fraction of the cost and no delivery fees! You, know the important things in life. 

I made three different entrees, each featuring a different paste, which I will now show off to you. 

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First I made a vegetable stir-fry with fried tofu, using the Mellow Yellow curry paste. It was delicious! I followed the instructions on the jar for making the sauce, and used a 14 ounce can of coconut milk mixed with two tablespoons of paste. I did find myself adding a little salt and pepper, though it’s nice that the pre-made sauce does not come too salty for those sensitive to sodium. The description does not lie, the yellow paste was definitely the mellowest of the three! My favorite aspect of this paste was the fresh ginger taste. If stir-fry isn’t your thing, the Magic Pumpkin Curry soup recipe on their website looks phenom! 

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Next up I used the spicy red curry paste and tried to get all Zante’s by making a pizza with it! I was pleased with the results, but in the future, if i’m going to try and make a gluten-free pizza, I’m nixing the idea of making a crust from scratch and going with my tried-and-true Vicolo’s pre-made crust. (Gluten-free or regular, it’s the best pre-made pizza crust around!) I liked the spiciness of this particular paste; it had a bit of a kick, so if spicy curry is your thing I definitely recommend the Fresh Red Thai paste. Again, to make the sauce I mixed a 14 ounce can of coconut milk with two tablespoons of paste. 

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The third dish I made, using the Fresh Green Thai paste, was a stir-fry featuring vegan “shrimp”. This was my favorite paste for a variety of reasons! First, I nixed the instructions and made the curry sauce with 3/4 of a can of coconut milk and 3/4 of a jar of paste. (You can use the remainder of the coconut milk to make ganache. No waste around here!) Vegan shrimp is also one of the loves of my life, so I’m sure that had something to do with this particular paste being my favorite. I am a fan of spicy and tangy foods, and so the green curry had it all for me. 

My verdict is that these pastes are awesome! They are so easy to use, and you can experiment with the flavor of the sauces to your unique palate by adjusting the coconut to paste ratio. As of right now they are only available in the Bay Area (I always see them at Whole Foods, four ounces for about $6.00, or you can get them wholesale through BFF) and must be refrigerated. May I suggest you pick some up today so you can continue to quantity-watch your favorite Netflix series, with restaurant-style curry sans delivery fee at home? I am a fan of that luxurious life! Don’t forget to check out the Magic Curry Kart website for creative recipes, updates, and backstory

12/02/2013

SAN FRANCISCO! It’s our first ever Vegan Pop-Up Shop and Brunch on Saturday Dec 7 and Sunday Dec 8! You have to go!!!
So much amazing vegan stuff is gonna be there: Herbivore Clothing, Miyoko Schinner's vegan cheese, Obsessive Confection Disorder amazing caramels, AND MORE!! Plus: VEGAN BRUNCH. Yes.
Here’s all the info and we’ll see you there! LET’S GET FAT AND AWESOME TOGETHER.
Here’s the Facebook event if you want to spread the word! And you do!

SAN FRANCISCO! It’s our first ever Vegan Pop-Up Shop and Brunch on Saturday Dec 7 and Sunday Dec 8! You have to go!!!

So much amazing vegan stuff is gonna be there: Herbivore ClothingMiyoko Schinner's vegan cheese, Obsessive Confection Disorder amazing caramels, AND MORE!! Plus: VEGAN BRUNCH. Yes.

Here’s all the info and we’ll see you there! LET’S GET FAT AND AWESOME TOGETHER.

Here’s the Facebook event if you want to spread the word! And you do!

11/07/2013

Food Empowerment Project’s first public event this Saturday in S.F.!  »

Food Empowerment Project, the awesome vegan food justice organization that makes frequent appearances here on Vegansaurus, is holding its first “official” event this Saturday, and you should be there!

The event, which runs from 6 – 9 on Saturday evening at 518 Valencia in the Mission, will feature screenings of two short films about the chocolate industry, a short video about dairy cows, and a Q&A with F.E.P. founder lauren Ornelas. There will be treats and such (though you should bring your own water), and a whole bunch of goodies raffled off, ranging from sweet donations from Food Fight!, Herbivore Clothing, The Vegan Zombie, and others to (drum roll) a $100 gift certificate to Millenium. F.E.P. will also be gathering food donations for the Mary Ann Wright Foundation, a local food bank – and your donation gets you a raffle ticket, too, so bring something!

Check out the full list of sponsors and additional details on the Facebook event page.

It’s $10 suggested donation, $5 for students, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds (or for giving more). Hope to see you there!

Post by Rick Kelley!!

10/10/2013

Beezie’s Kitchen at El Rio, Fridays in the Mission!   »

Hey SF Bay Area, you got plans Friday night? Well, go ahead and break them cause you have to check out Beezie’s Kitchen at El Rio in the Mission! Jessica Escobedo, the culinary mastermind behind Beezie’s Kitchen, serves up her scrumptious vegan eats from 9pm to midnight, and even if dive bars aren’t your thing, stop by for the food. I had the fortune of checking her out a couple weeks ago and let me tell you, I was impressed! I love when you can taste someone’s love of what they are doing in the food they are serving and that is definitely the case when it comes to Beezie’s Kitchen

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My pals Lindsey, Brent and I tried everything on the menu that night, and we were so pleased with all of it! We had a potato taquito plate, which was smothered in homemade sour cream and salsa as well as a veggie dog (Field Roast apple sage sausage) covered with onions and red peppers. Lindsey showed up to El Rio having already eaten dinner, but once she had a taste she was like “Yeah, I will finish that taquito and 1/3 of that sausage, thanks!” Next up was a cupcake, which only lasted about five seconds between the three of us. The frosting was light and fluffy with the vanilla cake so tasty! (I find vanilla cake is one of the most difficult vegan desserts to make, but Jessica definitely knows what she’s doing.)

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I don’t think I’ve ever been quite as excited about vegan taquitos as I was about these. The potato filling and the massive toppings were heaven! (They were gluten-free as well.) 

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I was never really a sausage person, so when it comes to Field Roast, I’m kind of like “eh” (I prefer Tofu Pups, I know, I know — I’m gross). However Jessica cooked these up though, I’m 100% into it — I’ve never enjoyed the apple sage sausages so much. I did pour like, most of a container of ketchup and mustard on it, but still, delicious! 

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Cupcakes! 

I always find myself incredibly inspired by vegan entrepreneurs, especially those dealing with food as it’s super close to my own heart, so I asked Jessica to give me a little back story about Beezie’s Kitchen, and how she got started. She explains “ I always knew I wanted to do something with my food so after years of talking about it without any proper culinary training I left my professional life and hit the streets (literally) cooking and selling my delicious vegan treats. I started working a corner in the Mission and a corner in Palo Alto and Oakland’s first Friday until I got my regular gig at El Rio every Friday which has been an amazing experience. I graduated the Women’s Initiative just a couple weeks ago and have a business plan geared towards a vegan brunch stand at farmers markets. I am not totally sure what is next for me but I love what I have been doing and know I will keep going and growing bringing more and more heart filled vegan treats to more and more vegans.” Jessica also says her style is influenced by her mother who would cook home-style American comfort food and her Mexican grandmother. “They both valued doing everything from scratch and having a connection to where your food/veggies come from. I mix all the this beautiful history together with my cooking and veganize it!”

I love it! I can’t wait to see where Jessica takes Beezie’s Kitchen in the future, and am excited to be able to catch her for now, on Fridays at El Rio from 9pm — midnight! 

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