Take a peek inside Beyond Meat’s headquarters! Plus, coupon for Vegansaurus readers! »
I recently visited LA, and while I was in town posting pics of enormous gluten-free vegan pretzels from Sage, Beyond Meat messaged me on Instagram notifying me that I was selected as the “fan of the month,” and invited me to visit their office in El Segundo! What an honor! Of course I accepted their invitation!
Vegansaurus’ Sarah and her brother Asher visiting the Beyond Meat offices in El Segundo.
The Beyond Meat staff was so incredibly welcoming and friendly! I love it when vegan companies are as epic towards their fellow human beings as they are towards non-human animals. Let’s just say the warmth and idealism was brimming over throughout the sunny, El Segundo open-floor plan office. I love that Beyond Meat is doing a campaign to reduce meat consumption by 25% in the next 20 years!
Other office highlights: I got a Beyond Meat t-shirt, I met an adorable puppy named Winnie, and got to see the talented Beyond Meat chef cooking up some new products that are too top secret to mention here!
Winnie, the cutest office dog ever, plays with the Beyond Meat family.
Vegansaurus’ Sarah making beef-free Beyond Meat with her vegan brother Asher in Echo Park!
Beyond Meat Beef-free crumbles are so delicious in pasta sauce!
After Beyond Meat showed me their great office and gave me and my brother a bunch of beef-free crumbles and chicken-free strips, I served Beyond Meat beef-free crumbles to a bunch of omnivores in the form of pasta sauce. Everyone thought the product was delicious! Beyond Meat’s team also told me some top secret details about new products coming out, and while I’m not allowed to spill the beans, OMG, you guys, this is a very good time to be a plant eater!
Beyond Meat is available at select grocery and health food stores nationwide.
EXCLUSIVE: Vegansaurus readers can get a $2 off coupon by clicking here!
Product Review: Vegan Rise Bars Deliver Ethical Energy »
The nutritional bars market is undeniably hella glutted these days—many stores even dedicate entire aisles just for them—so when my friend Heidi told me to check out new vegan Rise Bar flavors, I was slightly skeptical; I was all like, how would these be more delightful than any of the other bajillion bars out there for us non-omnivores?
Turns out my skepticism was bunk—these are some of the best nutrition bars ever! Probably my favorite next to Vega bars and those gluten-free NuGo organic bars they sell at the airport and Raw Energy, the impossibly cute little juice bar off Shattuck in Berkeley (go there if you haven’t already!)
Rise Bars now top my list of energy bars, I think, because they’re sweet but not terribly so. They’re definitely packed with energy, and are pretty much the ideal food to bring with you on a road trip or while hiking, but they really are nicely flavor-balanced. Sometimes you just want a handful of organic nuts and fruit squished together for you by someone else and squeezed into a wrapper for your convenience.
While not all Rise Bars are vegan, the flavors they do make that are gluten-free, non-GMO and are indeed vegan include: Coconut acai, sunflower cinnamon, lemon cashew, blueberry coconut and raspberry pomegranate.
My favorite flavor of the vegan Rise Bars is by far the semi-sweet and perfectly chewy lemon cashew bar. It’s sweet with just the right amount of density. The protein base is pea protein, which is one of my faves. Some of the non-vegan bars have dairy-containing whey (insert yuck chorus), so just steer clear of those! We can all practice a little label-reading discretion and avoid animal secretions, and get our vegan Rise Bars eating game faces on like champs. Use Rise Bar’s handy store locator to find them near you!
BREAKING NEWS: FDA Recalls Vega Protein Powders For Antibiotic Contamination »
In June, 2012 I ordered some “Natural”-flavored Vega One Nutritional Shake through Amazon. I tossed it in fruit smoothies, raw chia porridge, nut milk, and used it up until it was gone about a month later. Our own Laura Beck wrote an article earlier this year about how much she digs these shake blends!
Imagine my surprise, more than one year after purchasing and consuming this protein powder, when I received a friendly little e-mail from Amazon linking to a press release from the FDA saying the Vega One Nutritional Shake Product I bought was recalled for antibiotic containing trace amounts of chloramphenicol (CAP), an antibiotic used to treat typhoid fever and eye infections!
Though the Vega products don’t contain any CAP in the ingredients lists, apparently some jerk enzyme supplier laced them with CAP because enzyme suppliers are crazy! According to Web MD, CAP can cause aplastic anemia and hella allergic reactions in some people. Pregnant or lactating women should not take this drug! Crap you guys, I ate a tub of this!
Here’s a little snippet from the FDA press release:
As a precautionary measure, Vega is voluntarily withdrawing all of the listed product from the market and has taken steps to ensure all future products are CAP-free, including using a different source of enzymes to prevent further potential contamination and assure consumers of product purity. These actions complete a voluntary product withdrawal and ingredient resourcing that applied to Canadian products as well.
“We’re doing this out of an overabundance of caution and to ensure that when you go to the shelf, you never have to wonder about the purity of a Vega product,” said Charles Chang, Vega President and Founder.
The Vega products were distributed nationwide in retail stores.
People who have severe sensitivity or allergies to chloramphenicol may run the risk of an allergic reaction if they consume these products. There have been no reported allergic reactions from the listed products.
It’s great that Vega voluntarily did this recall, and their new Vega Recall website looks snazzy! But also, like, aren’t recalls supposed to be for fucking gross meat products filled with salmonella, not vegan goodness backed by superhero athlete Brendan Brazier?
I ate this protein powder and I guess I got some trace amounts of CAP in my system. I feel fine, I guess? Still, kinda lame it took this long for them to figure this all out.
I certainly can forgive them, but the question is, will Vega survive this? On that FDA press release, it says you can get a refund. When I called, a lovely French-Canadian message played. I don’t speak French, so I’ll just assume they’re closed at 8p on a Tuesday! If you ordered CAP-traced products, you can call or email Vega for a full refund: 1-866-839-8863 or www.vegarecall.com
Why are we just finding out about this a year later? What is your favorite protein powder made from plants? Feel free to discuss while I continue to fall down a Web MD antibiotic research rabbit hole.
Product Review: Sacha Vida Gelatinized Maca fuels your vegan libido! »
No animals were hurt in the making of this maca. Photo via Sacha Vida.
Back when I was part of a raw food group out in the middle-of-nowhere Arizona desert, I learned that offering up a maca-laden smoothie was the most expedient and reliable way to getting into another raw foodist’s unisex hemp kilt. To be fair, maca’s aphrodisiac effects may be placebo in nature and we were all pretty bored out there, but the stuff still tastes amazing and has other great nutritional properties!
I didn’t know this, but a lot of people say maca is good for your stamina, hormones, energy levels, memory, and even your immune system and fertility! Zing! I recently tried a complimentary batch of Sacha Vida’s new gelatinized maca, which, despite the ground-dead-animal-hoof connotations of its name, is completely vegan! “Gelatinized” refers to the process the maca undergoes to remove the hard-to-digest starches, making it smooth smoothie sailing!
Highly delicious, no tummy problems to report, and I’m now ready for some kilt-jumping. Who’s with me?
Right now, Vegansaurus readers receive 30 percent off all products on Sacha Vida’s website by using the coupon code “vegansaurus”. Get on it, y’all!
Interview! Rory Freedman on her new book, Beg: A Radical New Way of Regarding Animals »
New York Times bestselling author Rory Freedman is a living legend in the animal rights/vegan world. After launching a revolution with her Skinny Bitch and Skinny Bastard series, Rory Freedman has continued to work tirelessly to promote animal rights issues in Los Angeles and worldwide. The charismatic animal rights champion and kind-hearted dog mom took time out of her hectic book tour schedule to discuss her wonderful and unique new book, Beg: A Radical New Way of Regarding Animals (Running Press).
Vegansaurus: I loved the book! I read it overnight and was really impressed by the depth and feeling you’ve put into this work. How do you consider Beg to be different for readers who may be familiar with the Skinny Bitch series?
Rory Freedman: I think that the good news for fans of Skinny Bitch is it’s the same heart that drove me to write Skinny Bitch that had me writing Beg. I had a spiritual transformation while writing this book, and I’m no longer swearing. The good news is the book is still funny and deep in the way Skinny Bitch is. This language is a lot gentler, for people who might have been offended. Funny.
What inspired you to write Beg?
In Skinny Bitch, I found thousands of people whose lives had been changed and now went vegan. I thought great—now what? Great, these people now know about the animal issues, but will they understand about rodeos, zoos, circuses, animal testing, and other things that cause deaths and misery and torture of millions of animals per year? I thought that people were primed and would get it, so I think it’s a natural follow up for Skinny Bitch. Skinny Bitch is really a vegan manifesto cloaked in a diet book. I wanted to write this book once and for all to document everything that happens to animals.
What can animal lovers learn from Beg?
Researching and writing this book was an important part of my transition from a regular-human animal lover to more aware animal lover. It is about learning each of the ways we can do better for animals. As much as I knew about things in broad strokes, as an animal lover and vegan, I had to ensure details were correct and accurate. It’s always eye-opening to think about things that go on so easily and are so pervasive.
Even still, a lot of people who are dog and cat lovers don’t understand what happens in order for animals to look a certain way we’ve deemed appropriate for breeds. Tail docking and ear cropping, which I discuss in Beg, are examples of this. I didn’t know about this as a child or as a younger adult. Then one day when I was 30 I met a dog that opened my eyes to this. I grew up with a mini schnauzer, and when I was 30 I met a schnauzer that was strange—it had bigger ears than the childhood dog I knew. I didn’t know some had bigger ears, but it turned out they all have bigger ears naturally, it’s just that some when puppy breeders will have the dogs’ ears chopped off or tails dropped off. I stood there astounded when I found this out. I didn’t know what they were talking about. Doberman pinschers normally have floppy ears, but they covet that mean, agressive look in breeders. That will come as a shock to animal lovers.
What are some animal activism tips that might surprise Vegansaurus readers?
I’ve had a transition that’s been happening lately and gradually over many years as an activist and vegan. It’s evolving so I’m becoming a better activist. I am still as passionate, but I am feeling more diplomatic. I’m allowing this journey for many people to come from where they are now from where we’re hoping they’ll end up. Animals are suffering each day. I’m really getting that everyone is on their path and I have to love and accept everyone while on this work, and allow that people will find their own way. By the grace of God I found vegetarianism, animal activism, and veganism when I did. It doesn’t say anything about me. It just works out the way it did. I have to allow that it will be by the grace of God for others to find their own path. It is important to take action while also being loving. The most attractive thing we can be as activists is loving.
The author with her three dogs
Vegetarians and animal lovers often love seeing animals in films and in cute Internet videos/websites. You discuss animals and entertainment at lengh in your book. Care to elaborate?
We’re always being accused of anthropomorphizing animals, of giving animals human qualities we don’t have. Sometimes they’re wrong. We just understand that animals feel pain, like humans do, but as moviegoers, some might be confused when we see a chimp that seems like he or she is smiling in a movie or TV commercial. Chimps don’t smile in the wild. It was something that was new to me when speaking to primatologist while doing research for the book. Chimps have what’s known as a “fear grimace.” Even though it looks like a smile because it seems like our own, they’re actually scared because in the wild when chimps are frightened, they grimace. They don’t do it when they’re happy. There is also no way to provide for them in entertainment the way mother nature could. We can’t provide for their unique needs. We’ve seen time and time again that movie sets are dangerous for animals.
Some of my friends want to adopt pigs (myself included). You have a pretty intense section about pigs and what happens to them on factory farms. Have you ever considered adopting a rescue pig, and how easy is it to adopt?
I’ve never been asked that. Adopting a pig has crossed my mind, but not in my adult years as someone in the animal rights movement. I’ve had dogs now for 12 years. It’s such a big responsibility, it’s so all-encompassing, I can’t imagine adding to my brood right now. I can see the temptation. They’re darling animals. They are so smart and individualistic. I can imagine having one would be great fun and it’d be beautiful for anyone who is committed to taking care of one.
What is the “Beg for Change” campaign?
The Beg for Change Challenge Campaign is an exciting way to get people involved, for vegans and activists and “normies.” You can hashtag #BegForChange and/or share a picture of your adopted dog. You can brush your dog and share a pic after you’ve bushed him or her, you can tag a photo of their pile of hair. Then, we can notice leather or animal skins, and use social media to document what we notice. If you spend 15 minutes on peta.org, you can tell the world what you see that is shocking. You can watch “What skin are you in?” and share your experience. This starts off easy to get people involved and becomes more interesting, challenging, and eye-opening, and activists can spread the world.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us, Rory! Thank you for putting this great book out there.
To learn more about Beg and get involved with the Beg for Change Challenge campaign, check out Rory’s website.
Tennessee state representative accuses Humane Society of “Tape and Rape” »
Just when we thought public officials were done making flagrant misstatements about rape, they’ve gone and done it again. The latest: this ag-gag proponent in the Tennessee legislature compares animal activists to child sex traffickers and rapists. Here’s the heinous e-mail, printed in full courtesy of the Tennessean:
From: Andy Holt [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 11:26 PM
To: Kayci McLeod
Cc: Andy Holt
Subject: RE: Please Oppose HB 1191
I am extremely pleased that we were able to pass HB 1191 today to help protect livestock in Tennessee from suffering months of needless investigation that propagandist groups of radical animal activists, like your fraudulent and reprehensibly disgusting organization of maligned animal abuse profiteering corporatists, who are intent on using animals the same way human-traffickers use 17 year old women. You work for a pathetic excuse for an organization and a pathetic group of sensationalists who seek to profit from animal abuse. I am glad, as an aside, that we have limited your preferred fund-raising methods here in the state of Tennessee; a method that I refer to as “tape and rape.” Best wishes for the failure of your organization and it’s true intent.
State Representative—District 76
Weakley & Northern Carroll Counties
205 War Memorial Building
301 6th Ave. North
Nashville, TN 37243
In light of all the horrible acts large and small perpetrated by misguided individuals and corporations who profit from animal suffering (this guy’s a hog farmer as well as legislator—talk about a multi-taskhole!), more and more people are realizing how important it is that we can take animal abusers to task by exposing cruelty towards animals through investigations. Even the New York Times knows what’s up! Whether or not you’re not from Tennessee, please feel free to e-mail this man until the cows come home.
A night of vegan celebrities: Farm Sanctuary throws mega-swanky poker benefit in L.A. »
March 16, I happened to be in L.A. for an unrelated work event and got a chance to stop by Fun For Farm Animals: Celebrity Poker Tournament & Cocktail party to benefit the work of Farm Sanctuary!
I had never thought about gambling as a gateway drug to vegan activism, but now that I’ve experienced it firsthand I’ll say this: It works! There were SO many famous people who aren’t reported vegetarians/vegans who came out to
get photographed in classy outfits help support the animals!
In the penthouse of the Petersen Automotive Museum, celebs and normies willing to pay $200 for tickets descended on hella cocktails and amazing All Hail Kale salad from Veggie Grill, vegan buffalo wings, and other treats! Performances from Grammy winner Colbie Caillat and others took place on this really cute stage they had over near the snacks and open bar, and there were magicians and psychics and, again, loads of FAMOUS people—Michael Vartan! Jennifer Coolidge! So many more!—whom I don’t think are vegan but who opened their hearts and wallets for the animals! It was beautiful.
Images courtesy of Farm Sanctuary.
More than a few of the attendees I talked to planned to gamble for the animals and then run the L.A. Marathon the next morning. Talk about dedication! I also ran into my current favorite vegan celeb, Mercy For Animals’ Ari Soloman, who was super cute in person and grounded me while surrounded by a bunch of people I’m used to seeing on television shelling out for farm animals. If this is the future of vegan activism, deal me in!
Product Review: Dr. Alkaitis Skin Care Is Posh For Your Pores »
Growing up I’ve been pretty lucky in the skin department. I’ve been vegetarian since age 12 and vegan since age 18, so there haven’t been disgusting meat or animal product residue seeping out of my pores in a long time, thank goodness.
Still, as I grow older (I’m 25, almost 26! How did this happen?!) I am increasingly discovering the importance of treating my largest organ right. Wrinkles may or may not come in a few years, and these freckles I’ve always been fine with could lead to melanoma, so I’m determined at quarter-life to ramp up my efforts to wear sunscreen and skin brush and administer semi-regular facials. A person’s gotta do what a person’s gotta do!
These days I’m always on the lookout for good skin swag, and was thrilled when Dr. Alkaitis Organic Skin Care sent me samples of their latest line, which contains the finest blend of nutrients your epidermis can handle.
Dr. Alkaitis is designed by a PhD so you know it’s legit (am I right?!) and isn’t tested on animals and contains all-organic plant-based ingredients. According to their website, “Alkaitis is the only rational approach to timeless beauty.” That sounds good to me!
My favorite Dr. Alkaitis product is hands-down the organic universal mask. My darling and I put them on, waited 30 minutes, and became awesome. My skin feels so, so smooth and smells like the bottom of a redwood forest. I also love the organic nourishing treatment oil, which I slather on myself whenever possible, and put on just after doing this mask. It’s even great on my face, which the bottle said was an acceptable use, and hasn’t lead to breakouts. Go figure!
The only weird thing about Dr. Alkaitis products is their website recommends mixing goat milk yogurt with their otherwise vegan facial mask (umm…) but there is no goat milk in the product itself, so just don’t go crazy following all the instructions on their site and you should be good. Cool? All of their containers are 100% recyclable! Score another one for the plants! Get Dr. Alkaitis products online and at fine health food stores nationwide.
Science says you will die if you eat processed meat! »
Delicious “meats” from Gutenfleischers vegan deli
Remember that palindrome you learned in fifth grade, “Go hang a salami. I’m a lasagna hog”? Besides being fucked up and unethical, this sentence is also hiding a not-so-secret truth about salami: it’s a major people killer. According to a new international study of 500,000 Europeans, you can pretty much consider yourself dead if you eat processed meat.
"Go hang yourself if you ate a salami because you helped kill a hog," doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but I believe kids should know the truth! Gosh. Per NPR, this study says eating processed meat ups your chances for cancer and heart disease by, like, a bijillion. Apparently the toxic combo of salt, smoke, and nitrate used to preserve these processed dead animal carcasses masquerading as food is the WORST. Need another reason not to eat salami? I conducted an independent study by myself and found that 100 percent of the time it contributes to non-human animal deaths.
[Photo by Jon via Flickr]
Cookbook Preview! Vedge: 100 Plates Large And Small That Redefine Vegetable Cooking »
Homemade Brussels sprouts. Recipe adapted from Vedge: 100 Plates Large And Small That Redefine Vegetable Cooking. They turned out SO well!
Vedge Restaurant is hands-down the best thing that has ever happened to my hometown of Philadelphia, period. A newcomer on the Philly vegan/fine-dining scene, Vedge has recently made pretty much every top vegan restaurant and “awesome place to eat, ever” list I know of. Even the blokes at GQ love it! Vedge, who recently partnered with Williams Sonoma to make sauces I’ve tried and super loved and you should try too, have somehow catapulted vegetable eating into an art form even fit for, gasp, non-vegans! Seriously though, bring non-vegans to Vedge and they won’t sheket about how wonderful it is. Kind of miraculous when you consider that all dishes center around vegetables and the fine dining crowd in Philly is usually on their suit and tie shit (tie shit).
I’ve eaten at Vedge a handful of times and have to say it really is the best ever! The only qualm I have with it is that the plates are admittedly pretty small. Patrons are encouraged to order a few of them “tapas style,” which is code-speak for “buy $100 worth per person,” which you have to do if you want a full meal.
To cut to the chase, owners Kate Jacoby and Rich Landau are soon releasing a new cookbook that highlights the fantastic dishes at their restaurant, tailored to aspiring at-home veggie chefs.
I am indeed glad that Vedge charges what other frou-frou fine-dining places charge, and especially that it doesn’t spend a dime of it on animal exploitation. Totally worth it! Still, I am quite thrilled that my all-time favorite Vedge dish, the Shaved Brussels Sprouts With Whole-Grain Mustard Sauce, is now available for at-home chefs like myself. Vedge offered a preview to Vegansaurus, and I have had the privilege of making my fave dish at home! Here’s the recipe, reprinted with permission.
Brussels sprouts served at Vedge Restaurant. Image.
Vedge’s Shaved Brussels Sprouts With Whole-Grain Mustard Sauce*
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2 to 3
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
½ cup vegan mayo
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound Brussels sprouts
2 to 3 layers of outer leaves removed and bottom core cut off
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1. Begin by making the sauce, whisking together the mustard,vegan mayo, and water with ½ teaspoon of the salt and ½ teaspoon on the pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
2. Run Brussels sprouts through the slicer blade of a food processor or carefully shave on a mandoline.
3. Heat a large sauté pan on high. Add the olive oil. Just as the oil starts to ripple, add the garlic, then immediately add the shaved Brussels sprouts. Sear for 30 seconds, then stir to prevent the garlic from burning.
4. Add the remaining salt and remaining pepper, then allow the Brussels sprouts to sear for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so they brown evenly. Transfer to serving dish.
5. Drizzle sauce directly on top of the Brussels sprouts.
Enjoy! [Note: I used an oven instead of following the recipes because I served these to a dinner party for nine and ran out of stove space. That worked really well too!]
*Recipe from Vedge: 100 Plates Large and Small That Redefine Vegetable Cooking, copyright © Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby, 2013. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available July 2013 wherever books are sold. (omg that sounded so grown up!)