Exploring the Ex-Vegan Phenomenon: Recap »
Look at these good looking vegans! Matt Ruscigno & Sayward Rebhal.
Last week I posted about an open discussion that Matt Ruscigno and Sayward Rebhal were leading at the Animal Advocacy Museum on Saturday, January 11th. Here’s my recap! (And here’s the full video of the talk.)
You guys, I must admit that I was pretty nervous about how this might go. (Angry vegans scare me, and we’re on the same team!) I was SO pleasantly surprised by how it all went down.
We don’t know the exact number of vegans there are in the US, but it’s between 1-3%. We do know (according to research that Matt quoted) that 75% of vegetarians go back to eating meat (and are vegetarian for an average of 5 years). HOLY VEGAN MOLE, THAT’S A LOT!
Matt & Sayward were interested in exploring this topic because they feel it’s important to the vegan community to know why people stop being vegan. “Those people” (insert “anti-dentite" reference here) try being vegan, then go out into the world and talk about their experience, and why they aren’t anymore (jerks! j/k). Not the best PR for our community.
There was so much said, I hope I don’t leave anything out!
Sayward explained how she almost became an ex-vegan due to serious health issues, including lack of protein (*gasp* vegan faux pas!), and low cholesterol. She was really sick for several years, yet persevered and didn’t take the easy way out by eating the eggs in her backyard (from the rescued hens she had). This process might have deterred less passionate (or as she described herself, “stubborn”) vegans. She finally found a naturopath and got better.
Matt posed the question,”Do you know how bad cars are for the environment? Knowing that information, why did you drive here today?” He had actually ridden his bike to Pasadena from LA (show off), so it really put things in perspective. Sometimes when people have all the information about being vegan, they still make choices in opposition to it because it’s easier! And sometimes we forget that the changes we had to make at first, and all the things we think are second nature today, were challenging. I was vegetarian for 16 years before I could give up “my beloved cheese” (GRODYTOWN). Now that seems like such a corny excuse when I hear people say it (hello, I’m a hypocrite!).
Matt’s a registered dietician (yay science!) and pointed out that many of the facts he sees/hears vegans use in favor of veganism are not in context, which might not be helping the larger cause. Also, what works for you, might not work for other people. We should step outside of our experience and see where other people are coming from.
Here are some points & questions that came up:
- The vegan community seems to focus on “turning” people vegan, but not as much on how to successfully stay vegan for the long-term
- When we give people unrealistic expectations, they’re going to fail
- Do vegans need training in activism?
- Going against the norms of what most people do is hard
- A lot of people don’t think about food (WTF, I so don’t get this!)
- How do we promote veganism that gives reasonable expectations?
- How do we keep people engaged?
- Community is important, but perhaps too much community might be overkill (Are you sick of me, yet? Can we hang out all the time in our vegan t-shirts and talk about vegan stuff!?)
- Activists can get burnt out
- It’s important to take yourself seriously, but not too seriously
- Strong animal advocacy will guide people through challenges
- Vegan-policing within the community (UM, is annoying- IMHO) isn’t beneficial. Matt’s response to people that start nitpicking him about things is, “Do you think this helps animals, overall?”
- Maybe veganism attracts extreme personality types
- Maybe extremism isn’t conducive to activism
- No one is perfect (my personal favorite)
- Instead of looking down on vegetarians, we could educate them and be inclusive
- Can everybody be a healthy vegan? We don’t know the answer to that question, but most people probably can.
Sayward’s closing remark was that the vegan message needs to be a tapestry containing many things, looking at the bigger picture (aka the awesomest picture EVER).
Matt left us with two adjectives to consider that personally resonate with me when I talk to people about veganism, “Can you be tactful and reasonable?” (ARE FACEBOOK ARGUMENTS TACTFUL AND REASONABLE?!?! Whoops, sorry about that capslock.)
This was an explorative discussion, so no conclusions were drawn. Let’s hear your comments below (be sure to police the shit out of each other and start a good ole fashioned comments war! Sike!).
Let’s hug it out here, guys.
Muchas Gracias! Gracias Madre is opening in West Hollywood this Friday! »
Thanks, LA Times, for this photo.
When I saw this article posted on FaceBook yesterday, I thought, “THANK MAUDE, THIS IS FINALLY HAPPENING!” This Friday, January 18, all your vegan Mexican dreams come true in West Hollywood.* Rumors about their opening date have been flying for awhile now, so this confirmation comes as a great relief!
Being new to LA has its definite perks (remember when I ate fried green tomatoes at Crossroads?!), but there were a few things I was sad to leave behind in San Francisco. Gracias Madre was at the top of that list! (So was Rainbow Grocery, but then I found Viva la Vegan here.)
If you’ve never had the mole from Gracias Madre, well, I pity the fool. There are countless ways I could count what’s great about this place (cashew cheese on errthang), and it sounds like they’re kicking it up a notch with this new location. Executive chef, Chandra Gilbert, has some tasty ideas up her chef’s coat sleeve. And the beverage director, Jason Eisner, seems to as well. They posted a few photos on their Instagram showing the process of how the organic tequilas and mezcal they’ll be serving are made. Since I don’t drink, I expect all my lush friends to pick up the slack. I’ll make up for it by eating ALL THE VEGAN FLAN.
The only info on their website is a link for people interested in working there (please get a job there and give me free food!). I expect they’ll update it soon with the full menu and any upcoming events.
Spoiler alert: both Gracias Madre locations are part of the same family as Cafe Gratitude (which VS has done several pieces on in the past). I’m pleading the 5th and staying out of that discussion (whilst stuffing my face with controversial, yet delicious, Mexican vittles).
Los Angeles, “GRACIAS” for giving me another reason to love living here!!!! (Sorry, not sorry for that.)
*Unless you have some crazy dream of being a vegan luchador, Sorry, I can’t help you on that one.
Exploring the Ex-Vegan Phenomenon »
This Saturday, January 11th, at the Animal Advocacy Museum in Pasadena, CA, Matt Ruscigno, MPH, RD, and Sayward Rebhal, vegan lifestyle coach, and author of Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide, will give a short presentation with an open discussion exploring this issue.
Some questions they will explore:
- Why do people stop being vegan?
- Are there valid health reasons to go back to eating animal products?
- Are the health claims about the benefits of veganism unrealistic?
- What can our community do better to improve vegan retention?
I will probably be sitting in the back row, quietly observing and weeping (since confrontations make me anxious…which I should probably explore in therapy) and will write a post-event recap. Hopefully there won’t be anyone throwing down the vegan gauntlet (how often can I use that idiom?).
For more info (and interesting comments to read), visit the Facebook event page.
Also, why does the word, “phenomena,” always make me think of this song (sorry in advance)? [Megan Rascal note: sorry? I fracking love that song!]
Viva la Vegan Grocery Express es muy awesome! »
Moving from San Francisco to Los Angeles meant giving up shopping at Rainbow Grocery, which was almost a tragic enough reason not to make the move (sorry friends, you mean something to me, too, I swear!). BUT when I found out about Viva la Vegan’s new(ish), Grocery Express in Santa Monica, I knew I wouldn’t be forced to forage the streets of Los Angeles for mock meats and vegan provisions. This place, to put it simply, RULES. I’m not certain, but I’m pretty sure they carry every vegan item that exists.* It certainly feels that way. Plus, as an avoider of gluten (I know, I know, Hail Seitan), there is a bounty of options. There are also a million glutinous options for those of you who aren’t thwarted with belly aches after consuming it’s deliciousness.
Amongst some of the exciting things I bought were: VEGAN LOX (aka Smoked Salmon by Sophie’s Kitchen) AND GLUTEN FREE BAGELS (by Culver City’s Rising Hearts Bakery, owned by Follow Your Heart). They also carry every Follow Your Heart salad dressing, flavored mayonnaise and sauce (who knew they had like, a zillion!?!). And, drumroll please! BEYOND MEAT’S NEW “BEEF” CRUMBLE (which isn’t available anywhere else in retail yet)!!! It’s sold in 5lb bags in the freezer section, in case you rush over to buy some (which you should)).
So if you live within, like, 100 miles of LA, you should visit this store! Unless you live 100 east of LA, then you should go to their main location is Rancho Cucamonga, which has to be the most fun to pronounce word, and means “sandy place” in English.
Happy vegan shopping!
*This statement not supported by any actual facts.
LA: Sunday Suppers & New Year’s Eve at Crossroads »
Attention Angelenos! Tal Ronnen’s Crossroads has started showcasing both local and national chefs with their Sunday Suppers at Crossroads series. What does this mean, you ask?!? It means there will be even MORE reason to get your tuckus to Crossroads for their amazing food. So far, Scot Jones, their executive chef, kicked things off on December 8th with an Italian inspired menu. CIAO BELLA (the only Italian I can pretend to know, and I still Googled it).
Last week I couldn’t NOT see what Top Chef Masters/Iron Chef America/OPRAH’S PERSONAL CHEF, Chef Art Smith’s “soulful Southern menu” was all about. Seriously? Nailed it! He came around to talk to patrons and casually admitted that he and Tal had cooked a similar menu for HH Dalai Lama. You know, NBD.
People, the fried green tomato salad!!! I DIED. (Fried food in a salad? Why didn’t I think of that??). And the Southern fried “chicken” was ON POINT. I’m from the South, so I take my fried faux meats seriously. The breading was off the chain good, ya’ll.
Don’t be too bummed you missed out (okay, maybe be slightly bummed), every Sunday there will be a guest chef and a special menu. Follow them on Twitter for the most up-to-date goings ons.
Also, they’re hosting a special 6-course, New Year’s Eve dinner with a late seating (a less expensive, earlier seating with a 5-course menu is also available, if you want to dine there and party elsewhere). The menu looks amazeballs (no surprise)! EGGNOG ICE CREAM!
Be sure to make a reservation pronto and get ready to spot some vegan celebrities! This place is a WeHo hot spot.
Pics are from Crossroads’ Twitter.
Vegan Yack Attack releases vegan pumpkin-themed e-cookbook! »
For those of you who don’t follow Jackie Sobon’s amazing blog, Vegan Yack Attack (um, get on it!!), she released her first e-book, The Great Vegan Pumpkin eBook, along with a sneak peek recipe for a DOUBLE PUMPKIN BEER FLOAT! There’s plenty more where that came from in her book. 20 recipes based around this spectacular squash (who, besides zucchini-loving Jenny Bradley, doesn’t love pumpkin!?!) Remember that time you ate so much pumpkin you thought you’d never eat it again? NEITHER DO I BECAUSE THAT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN! Just in time for the holidays, all your pumpkin-loving, vegan dreams can come true.
I might be a little biased, since Jackie is a dear friend of mine (no accident that I surround myself with great vegan cooks, let’s get fat and happy!), but her recipes are always creative and really easy to follow. I had the (tasty) pleasure of trying one of the Biscoff Cream Cheese-Frosted Spiced Cupcakes, while she was testing recipes for her book, and HOLY BISCOFF, BATMAN, it was good.
So clickity-click through and buy her book today! It’s $7, but she’s offering a special $1-off coupon (coupon code at the bottom of her blog post). And happy pumpkin eating!
And, just because I can never pass up an opportunity for a bad pun, here goes it, “What’s the ratio of a pumpkin’s circumference to its diameter?”
Give up!? It’s, “Pumpkin Pi!!”
The LA vegan Thanksgiving guide! »
Thanksgiving feast from Cafe Gratitude.
Attention lazy vegans (or busy vegans, or those of you who actually relax on holidays) of Los Angeles!! We have compiled a (hopefully) comprehensive list of restaurants that are offering vegan Thanksgiving goodies, be it take-out or dine-in. If we’ve left anything out, please let us know in the comments! Also feel free to tell us how charismatic and charming we are.
Tal Ronnen’s Crossroad Restaurant (have you been there yet!? This man is a food wizard) will be open 12-5pm on Thanksgiving day, offering a four-course menu (with gluten-free options) for $75. I’m drooling just thinking about this.
Real Food Daily is offering a full gluten-free Thanksgiving spread to go, along with an assortment of desserts (including Southern maple pecan pie—SOMEONE PLEASE BUY ME THIS). They will be closed on Thanksgiving day.
Sage Organic Bistro is also offering a full to-go menu of gluten free goodies, ranging from comfort foods, like mac n’ cheese, to pans of their Kind Kreme (heavenly raw ice cream). The tamales require giving them at least 48-hours notice, so they must be doubly good!
Go get a FREE meal at Cafe Gratitude’s Venice Beach location, where they’ll be hosting their annual “Give Thanks” event on Thanksgiving day. In order to get your free plate of grub, you have to serve someone else (hey, sharing is caring, especially when caring means you get to chow down on free food). They’ll be open 10-3pm (or until food runs out). The Larchmont location will be closed. You can also order from a full holiday menu (including RAW stuffing) by the 24th from either location.
If you want a spiritual vibe while you’re stuffing your face, Govinda’s is offering a buffet from 12-7pm, with plenty of vegan options. If you pay ahead of time for your reservation, it’s only $12 ($15 at the door). Remember the rules of the buffet: eat as much of the most expensive thing in order to get your money’s worth (filling up on salad greens is a total rookie move)!
There will be a special four-course feast at both Shojin locations and judging by the photos on their website, it’s going to be amazing! Seriously, they have presentation skills. Whereas my plating technique generally results in an edible Jackson Pollack.
Doomie’s will be having a “Good Ol’ American Thanksgiving” for $20 by RSVP only (email@example.com). If you want a pumpkin pie from Das Baker, pre-order one for $15. They don’t have a website, but they’ve been tweeting the menu! They are the masters of comfort food, so it’s guaranteed you’ll be fat and happy!
Babycakes LA has a long list of vegan & gluten free goodies (some agave sweetened, some with refined sugar) available to order, so you can show up to potlucks in style! They can deliver most of the items right to you! Call by Friday 11/22 to place your order: (855) 462-2292.
Not surprisingly, Hugo’s Restaurant (all 3 locations) will be offering a vegan-friendly “Happy Holiday Feast for Six.” Just specify that you’d like the vegan version, and you’ll get their (AMAZING) veggie patties, along with a ton of other tasty looking things. Give them at least 24 hours notice (they’d prefer 48 hours), and pick it up the day before. They’ll be closed on Thanksgiving Day.
Dr. J’s Vibrant Cafe has their usual catering menu available to order from, with healthier looking options, like grain and veggie bowls (of course my eye gravitated to the coconut pie, because COCONUT PIE). Place your orders at least 3 days in advance. They’ll be open Thanksgiving day until 1:30pm.
Anaheim vegans will be happy to hear that Healthy Junk is offering a holiday menu. You can find it posted on their Instagram. It’s available for both dine-in (not the day of, they’ll be closed) and take out. Give them 24-hour notice for pies: (714) 772-JUNK [ed note: for real??]. They’re making “chicken” pot pies, ya’ll!!
If you feel like communing with other LA vegans, check out the annual “Free Vegan Thanksgiving Picnic Potluck” at Rancho Park in West LA. Bring a dish to share (they specifically request no booze,* but musical instruments are welcome. Do I hear a drum circle?!). It’s from 11-4pm.
Native Foods Cafe is offering their annual Native Wellington, available for order online or by phone, to be picked up at any location. It seems to be the most reasonably priced offering at just $40, and should feed six people comfortably. The puff-pastry filled with seitan also comes with steamed kale, yams, stuffing, an onion compote, and some rosemary and thyme herbed mushrooms. They also have pumpkin cheese cake or pumpkin pie for $20 each. Order before November 27th. It will be frozen, so prepare to take it home and bake it for a couple of hours. Native is also serving Thanksgiving dinner, but reserve ahead of time because seats run out super fast every year. For $25 you get the Native Wellington, mashed potatoes, gravy, a cranberry compote, green bean casserole, stuffing, a polenta/butter squash terrine, cornbread and pumpkin pie or pumpkin cheese cake. Whoa. Native Foods’ Thanksgiving always tends to be the most talked about, at least in my circle of vegan gluttony topics.
L.A. Vegan Crepe steps into the foray of offering some vegany-Thanksgivingy goodness. Available as a single meal ($35) or to feed your vegan army ($195, feeds up to 10), L.A. Vegan Crepe has a whole vegan “turkey” with mashed sweet potatoes, hazelnut-cranberry roast “en croute”, and either a sweet potato pie or a raw vegan pumpkin cheese cake. There is also a Tofurky option, but, why… wouldn’t… you… just… get… ahh never mind. Order before Nov. 25th.
The fine folks at Urth Caffe have you covered if you’re lacking in the dessert department. Available for order online is their 10” gluten-free vegan pumpkin pie. The pie is $25 and is available at all five Urth Caffe locations in the L.A. area.
Quite possibly the most hospitable place on the planet, Stuff I Eat in Inglewood is also offering up some Thanksgiving-themed vegan eats. Available for dine-in on Thanksgiving Day or as take-out, Stuff I Eat as both a cooked- and a raw-Thanksgiving plate. Both are $45 and will feed two humans (un)comfortably. They do need 48 hours in advance for the raw plate, which includes a nutloaf, cauliflower and cashew mash, cranberry marinated spinach, Napa cabbage, cornbread stuffing and your choice of jicama salad or corn dill salad. Then it’s topped off with a slice of raw sweet potato pie. Goodness. Gracious. Now, if you’re not into the raw side of things, their cooked plate sounds equally as intense: savory pepper tofu, mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, mac ‘n “cheese”, your choice of string beans or kale, yams, stuffing, cranberry sauce, cornbread, and a salad choice of mixed green or corn. And then some sweet potato pie. There is a slight chance I will blow off my friends and family and spend 6 hours at Stuff I Eat. Sorry guys.
And finally, if macro is your thing this year, visit M-Cafe. Orders need to be placed by 5:00 PM on Monday the 25th. For $70 for two people or $130 for four, you have a choice of two entrees (Holiday seitan roast or gluten-free tempeh loaf) with a soup (spiced butternut bisque) and a salad (winter field greens with fennel, cranberries and poached pear.) And also a choice of two “accompaniments” which include; (1)whipped potato and rutabaga, (2) maple glazed acorn squash, Brussels sprouts, and chestnuts, (3) green beans almondine, (4) wild rice pilaf, (5) mashed pumpkin with couscous and raisins, (6) sourdough bread stuffing with almonds and raisins, (7) butternut squash, fennel and pomegranate salad, (8) cranberry ginger relish, or (9) mushroom gravy. If two isn’t enough you can add two more a la carte for $9. Choosing the sides may be one of the hardest decisions you’ll have to face in your life. M Cafe also went all out with the dessert choices this year, with pecan pies, apple pies, chocolate fudge cakes, pumpkin cheese cakes, you seriously can’t go wrong.
If I don’t spend the entire 6 hour window with Stuff I Eat on this Thanksgiving, I’ll probably head to M Cafe. Maybe I’ll just pre-order one meal from all these restaurants and tell my boss I need some personal time… to digest. I hope you Angelinos have an amazing holiday with your peoples, and save a few of our feathered friends in the process.
BONUS: If you know people in the SF Bay Area — check out our SF Bay Area Vegan Thanksgiving Guide!
Happy Holidays Vegansaurus readers!
Get crazy with smoothies for Nativas Natural’s “Smoothment!” Plus: smoothie recipes! »
On Saturday (that’s tomorrow!), Nativas Naturals is launching the Back-to-Basics Smoothment—a smoothie movement! From what I gather on social media, a bunch of you hippies are into this kind of “healthy milkshake” thing. You’re in luck—Nativas has got your back. Just head on over to the website, and sign on up! It’s all free of charge, and you’ll gain access to instructional videos, receive free recipes and even get discounts on featured raw, organic products. Just the incentive you needed to plug in that blender, isn’t it?
When it comes to smoothies, I like to think of my friend Caroline as the professional between the two of us. I prefer my blended drinks at a tiki bar, but Caroline actually drinks smoothies for breakfast. I thought that’s what coffee was for? Silly me, I have so much to learn! For all of our sakes (mine especially), I recruited Caroline as Vegansaurus’ own Miss Smoothment! Armed with products and a blessing sent to us from Navitas, Caroline agreed to share a couple of her own recipes with us, to kick off the occasion. Take it away, girlfriend!
“Anyone who follows me on Instagram is well aware that I’ve been obsessed with smoothies lately (I mean, why eat your food, when you can drink it?), so I wasn’t totally surprised when Jenny asked me to help review some of the Navitas superfood products.
You may have seen the colorful Navitas packaging in your local health food stores—I’ve definitely used some of them before (namely the chia seeds and cacao powder—great for raw desserts). Needless to say, I was STOKED when I had a whole box of their goodies to play with.
I usually start my day with a protein smoothie of some sort (using a vegan protein mix and my kitchen staple, the immersion blender), so I did what any excessive American girl would do — I mixed all the powders together for the mother of all breakfast smoothies. I wanted to see how this stood up to my “rigorous” morning workout (hello, I’ve got to be at my best when working out beside the retirees in the San Francisco Presidio Y). I also wanted to see how it compared to the more “performance”-oriented mixtures that I’ve been using. The verdict? I felt totally energized (as much as I can at 8 a.m.), and wasn’t hungry afterward. Not to mention, it was super delicious! (Bonus that all their products are organic—I’m not a fan of drinking chemicals and pesticides in my smoothies—raw, and gluten-free.)
Here’s what my typical morning smoothie looks like:
Serves 1 (6-foot girl)
2 Tbsp raw Hemp Protein powder
1 Tbsp sprouted Flax Seed powder
1 Tbsp Freeze-Dried Acai powder
1 tsp raw Maca powder
1 Tbsp raw Cacao powder
12 oz almond milk (or a mixture of half-almond, half-rice)
Handful of blueberries
Handful of ice
Lately I’ve been having a smoothie for lunch—again, why go through the hassle of chewing your food? Below is the recipe for one of my favorite combinations. I added a few of the Navitas superfoods to the mix, and felt extra pumped. (My boss has a Vitamix, which I try to put to use as much as possible.)
Lunchtime smoothie, serves 2:
3 Tbsp raw Hemp Protein Powder
2 tsp raw Maca Powder
12 oz almond milk
Handful of baby spinach (kale is good, too)
1/2 of an avocado
Handful of raspberries
Handful of strawberries
3 Tbsp organic peanut butter
Handful of ice
I shared this with a friend of my boss and she said it was the best thing she had ever tasted. Not bad for a testimonial, eh? I totally agree—why else would I drink this almost every day?
Since I’m already armed with so many of Nativas amazing products, I have no choice but to participate in their Smoothment. I also can’t stand not joining things (only child syndrome). Perhaps you’ll give it a whirl, too (Get it? Bad smoothie puns!).”
As usual, please share your personal recipes with us! Don’t forget to follow my girl Caroline on Twitter and Instagram (@wakeupcaroline)—I can’t wait to see all the smoothie talk that will ensue, while wondering if rum is also a suitable ingredient in your icy beverages.