The 3rd LA Vegan Beer & Food Festival is happening this spring, and it’s going to be the biggest and best one yet. The fest has been moved across the street from The Roxy so we can fit in more beer and food than ever before.
More details coming soon! For now, save the date: May 12, 2012!
Proceeds to benefit California Wildlife Center
LOS ANGELES GETS ALL THE GOOD STUFF. Seriously have you seen our L.A. archive? Nothing but awesome! Someone in L.A. offer us jobs so we can move Vegansaurus HQ south and eat ourselves to death. PLEASE.
Another awesome Millennium dinner, another awesome Vegansaurus discount! Ow! »
Millennium's speciality dinners just keep coming and we just keep loving them a lot and they just keep giving our readers discounts—this time 15 percent off! Get fancy next Wednesday, Nov. 9 in their private wineroom at the Tierra Vegetables and Horse & Plow Winery Dinner. SO DELICIOUS!
Winemaker Chris Condos, Millennium’s Wine Director Chris Tavelli, and Executive Chef Eric Tucker will all be in attendance, should you want to marry any/all of them. It goes from 6 to 9:30 p.m., and will be five courses for $85/person, with a 15 percent discount if you mention Vegansaurus when you make reservations via (415) 345.3900, ext. 10. Done and DONE!
If the government thinks we should eat more vegetables, why don’t they put cash money behind it? »
Veganism is more accepted than ever, and vegetarianism is downright mainstream, but I’m a realist: Herbivores are still in the minority. Further, we North Americans aren’t ingesting as many veggies as we ought to, and major health bodies have made statements to the effect that we should all give up processed meats and cut our red meat consumption considerably, at least for the sake of our health. So why is that so difficult? Money.
I’m sure you all saw the Myplate food diagram that was released by the USDA earlier this year as an update to the food pyramid. On the plus side, it recommended that people fill fully half of their plate with veggies, which is an impressive goal for anyone—vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore. The problem is that though the government tells people to choose vegetables often—definitely more often than now, since Americans eat about 50 percent more dairy products a year than veggies—they aren’t backing that suggestion up with money. Particularly in regard to agriculture subsidies, which play a huge role in what gets grown—and therefore eaten—around the country.
As the Washington Post explained recently, agriculture subsidies began in the 1930s to help farmers weather the Great Depression. It was an incredibly hard time for a lot of people, and food production was not globalized in the way it is today. What American farmers grew was, by and large, what American people ate.
Today the subsidies seem less useful, especially when you consider what they’re supporting—$200 billion was spent to subsidize commodity crops in the U.S. from 1995 to 2010, and about two-thirds of that went to cotton, tobacco, and crops used to feed animals. I think we can all agree that tobacco is not a crop that people need to live. Cotton is not a food crop either. Growing crops to feed livestock raised for food is far less efficient than growing crops to feed directly to humans. Farmers growing fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts don’t get direct subsidies at all. And a not-insignificant portion of the crops that are subsidized go towards uses like corn and other things grown to make sweeteners—again, directly opposite to the goal of getting people to eat more vegetables.
And yet, last week leading researchers, published in Nature, advised people to eat less meat if the world is going to have enough to eat. The researchers pointed out that even eating just one or two meatless meals a week will have an impact. I can see why people are confused: scientists say we need to eat less meat, the government says we need to eat more vegetables, but the dollars support meat and dairy, and give fruit, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains the shaft. The best way around this is to exercise your consumer-power: Spend your money on vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, and whole foods.
If you’re looking to add more vegetables to your diet—an excellent goal!—check out this vegan food pyramid for guidance.
NYC may get a vegan grocery store! Help make it a reality! »
As you may have heard, New York City is mighty close to having its very own vegan convenience store. The brainchild of Eric Hopf, Vegan Bodega is currently in its early stages of development, with an IndieGoGo page up for community fundraising and awareness. Vegan Bodega plans to carry everything a vegan could need—healthy food items, vegan junk food, household products, vegan condoms, baby food, beer—imagine not having to read a label! Finally, a real one-stop-shopping experience right here in the Big Apple.
I talked to Eric about the project and how we can help bring it to life!
Vegansaurus: Tell us about Vegan Bodega. What inspired the idea?
Eric Hopf: Like many other vegans, I traveled to the Pacific Northwest with my partner Gita and we saw Food Fight Grocery and Sidecar For Pigs Peace. I remember thinking, “This is fantastic, we should have something like this in NYC.” Once I returned home, I went back to working in photography and didn’t think about it again until a year ago. The arrival of my daughter was close at hand and I was well overdue for a visit to Orlando, Fla., to see my family; I went down for a long weekend, and that was where the idea came from, that this all-vegan convenience store could be something real. There is a small shop near downtown Orlando that I happened upon [called] Artichoke Red, it’s all-vegan and it’s succeeding. The owner was nice enough to talk with me and answer some of my questions. Again I asked myself: Why doesn’t New York City have something like this? Once I arrived home I started thinking about an all-vegan grocery store and shared my idea with Gita. It was going to be a huge undertaking and very expensive. We scaled back the concept. The name came naturally, as there is nowhere in NYC I can think of without a corner store or “bodega,” as we have all become used to calling them. So the inspiration came partially from other business and from my family who support this dream.
How long have you been vegan? Is your family vegan as well?
Actually I don’t keep track of the length of time, but I know I have been vegan for at least six years now, and both Gita and our daughter are vegan.
Tell us about your IndieGoGo project.
After seeing a few vegan projects make their goals on IndieGoGo and Kickstarter, we thought that it would be an excellent way to raise a portion of the funds we need for opening the business. Crowd-sourcing would also get the vegan community involved with launching a store that so many have told us they have been wishing for. Our goal is to raise $15,000, but we are less than a week and a half from the deadline and are only around 23 percent of the way there. Any contribution is helpful and we are very thankful for anything we get. There are a variety of incentives for donations of $5 and up. The money will be used to secure the location, buy used shelves, a commercial freezer and fridge, the computer setup for handling sales/inventory, and some stock for the soft opening. The store will have a slicer and deli display, but we may need to introduce those after the opening.
Where do you think Vegan Bodega will be located?
We are going to open in Manhattan, most likely on the Lower East Side, as we really like the feel there, [and it’s] close to other vegan spots and lots of public transportation. We are willing to reconsider the location if we find a fantastic space.
What products and/or services will you offer at Vegan Bodega? Will you deliver? What about online ordering?
The plan for Vegan Bodega is to carry a broad spectrum of products, from healthy items to vegan junk food. [We want] to support other local vegan businesses by offering them a space to sell their goods, a focused vegan and vegetarian customer base, and a chance to connect with customers by doing in-store samplings. We are also contacting Community-Supported Agriculture farmers about being a drop-off point. Delivery is something we are looking into and how best we can offer it. Online ordering may be offered in the future, but it is dependent on the demand for it.
What is your planned opening date, and are you organizing an event for the big day?
We do not have one set yet. Currently our focus is on securing a space and locking down all the funding we need. In the meantime, you may soon find us at a weekend food market, as a prelude to what will be available in the store, but that has yet to be finalized. We intend to do a soft opening and get settled in, then have a grand opening party that will also double as a fundraiser for a to-be-determined animal welfare group. Vegan Bodega would also like to support different nonprofits by allocating a portion of the sales once a month.
We’re pretty excited about this project! If you want to help Vegan Bodega reach their fundraising goal, you only have FOUR MORE DAYS to pitch in at their IndieGoGo page. If you don’t have cash to spare, spread the word and show your love by contacting the Vegan Bodega family. The anticipation is killing us!
Read this: the Ration is great food writing »
Shocking revelation: your Vegansaurus is a media omnivore. It’s that pesky reading addiction; our eyes are probably ruined from all the reading we do, in print and online. The newest best thing to read on the internet is the Ration, “a project on food and health by the UC Berkeley along with students from University of Missouri, Harvard University and City University, London.” No, Michael “shut up” Pollan doesn’t seem to be involved with it, which is great, because man has that guy earned his nickname.
The Ration has only been up since last week, but its archives already look bountiful. They’ve got a story on prescription produce that’s informative without being (too) preachy, one on the health and well being of agricultural workers, one on a new aspect of the food industry’s stupidity, and an article on meat glue that is fascinatingly gross/grossly fascinating. The infographics are beautiful, like these interactive ones on the sources of calories in the U.S. and the changing nutritional density of our produce. Its videos are also quite compelling.
The Ration is gorgeous and interesting and I hope it fulfills its enormous potential. What we need more of is intelligent reporting on food.
Vegansaurus does an Organic Avenue juice cleanse! »
Last week I embarked on a five-day Organic Avenue Lovedeep juice cleanse. I did it for a number of reasons: I wanted to “reset” my body and system after developing some bizarre and detrimental habits (daily venti coffee, unreasonable affinity for sugar and candy, pigging out at night and not eating anything in the morning, etc.); I wanted to observe the effect it had on my body and my training regimen (muay Thai, running, Bikram yoga, four jobs); and of course sheer curiosity. I consulted with the folks at OA and told them my intention was to maintain my usual life/training schedule during the cleanse, and after their approval, I booked the dates and kept my fingers crossed. I went to the pick-up location near my office on Monday and picked up a big silver box of fresh-pressed fruit and veggie juices. Inside were six 16-oz. fresh juices and one chlorophyll shot, my food for the day. Organic Avenue also sent me a daily email explaining the benefits of each juice, and offering a suggested drinking schedule and words of encouragement.
I didn’t finish the juices; I couldn’t stomach all of that juice every day. And since I wasn’t hungry, I didn’t necessarily need them. I’d usually keep them and enjoy them the following day, and I have three leftover juices now that the cleanse is over, which I definitely intend to drink before returning my bottles! The juices themselves ranged from totally scrumptiously delicious—orange, ginger lemonade, grapefruit, pear—to borderline undrinkable—chlorophyll shot, Young Love (spinach/celery/cucumber). Pick-up/drop-off was easy, the staff was cheerful and accommodating, and the simplicity of the whole process really made it run smoothly.
The first day was the toughest; my moods swung like crazy and I was impatient and irritable for most of the afternoon/night. I had a brutal headache from Starbucks withdrawal, craved salt, and generally felt unlike myself. I made it through the workday without too much drama, but that evening’s seven-mile run was undoubtedly tougher than usual, and I realized I’d need to take it easier in the gym over the week. With no carbs in my system I wasn’t my usual Energizer Bunny self. I got home from the gym that night and passed out on my bed before I could even take my shoes off.
I was definitely a little out of it when my alarm went off, but I packed up for the gym and sipped a cucumber juice on the way. Muay Thai class wasn’t too bad, though again I noticed my stamina wasn’t up to par. The following run, this time five miles, wasn’t as rough as the previous day’s, but I was huffing and puffing more than usual. Once at work I was actually feeling good; though still a bit foggy I was in better spirits and enjoyed the juices. I wasn’t nearly as cranky or tired when I got home, though I still slept like a rock.
I woke up feeling decent, made it to work and coasted through what was to be the best overall day of my cleanse—no hunger pangs, no headache, no mood swings, decent energy throughout the day—I’d even say I was chipper! There was an orange juice on the menu that day, and after living on spinach, orange juice is the GREATEST THING EVER. I felt like I was cheating! Feeling great, I made it into the gym that night and blasted through five rounds of full-contact sparring and an advanced conditioning class. I felt tired when I got home, but that’s normal for me on a Wednesday night.
I woke up feeling clear-headed and was off to the gym. I took it easy in muay Thai, having noticed a significant drop in my stamina and endurance, but I made it through just the same. My run was, again, grueling: I took walk breaks and was certainly not as fast as usual. Though my patience was wearing a little thin at this point, my mood was good. Work was busy and I stayed focused through the day, and enjoyed the delicious grapefruit juice. Into the evening, I was having elaborate, borderline-romantic food fantasies; I missed my precious food! Got home that night a little grumpy, but as usual passed the heck out swiftly.
While I generally sleep until about 1 or 2 p.m. on my Fridays off, this time I was wide awake soon after 11 a.m. Feeling great, I got ready to run some errands and packed a few juices along with me in my gym bag. I made it through the day feeling really good; my energy was up, I felt clear and enthusiastic and focused, and my body felt rejuvenated from the good night’s sleep. When I started that night’s training, however, everything changed. My run was dismal; I could barely keep it up for more than five minutes at a time, taking frequent walk breaks and watching other runners leave me in the dust. Muay Thai was equally pathetic; though I made it through three hours of training, I felt like I didn’t have a shred of life left in me. I got home that night and did my best to get a juice down as fast as possible before passing out.
Breaking the Fast
OA sent me an email with directions for my first day after the fast: I could eat as much as I wanted of one fruit of choice, and enjoy a big green salad for lunch and another for dinner, adding some roasted veggies if I so desired. I had some water, then enjoyed CRUNCHING into an organic Fuji apple before heading to the gym again. That day’s training was the worst of them all—I barely survived the run, and opted for a beginner muay Thai class. Even still, I was wiped out by the end and couldn’t wait to get home for my salad. I took a quick nap before I ate, and truly enjoyed every forkful of greens and tomatoes and beets and kale. It felt so good - almost scandalous!—to chew mouthfuls of food again.
I made it through five days of juicing without any major adjustments in my work/life/training schedule. I didn’t cheat once, I followed my plan, and I feel great. Though my stamina and endurance in the gym were significantly lower, my energy levels were the same and I really wasn’t tempted to cheat very often. Hunger was never a problem—if I craved food it was its flavor, texture, familiarity. My skin never broke out like crazy and my digestive system didn’t react too violently at all. I’m so glad I had the experience and I feel pretty great. I learned so much about my body and the fuel I put into it, the importance of complex carbohydrates and balanced proteins, the benefits of a raw organic diet, and how fuel affects mood. I am excited to make changes to my old habits. No, I won’t be cutting caffeine out of my life—I am a sincere and dedicated coffee-LOVER—but it will be decaf for the most part. When I crave something sweet I’ll opt for organic pineapple or fresh berries instead of Twizzlers and Swedish Fish. And I’ll fuel my body on a more regular basis rather than that abusive binge-and-starve pattern. This was an incredible, educational, rejuvenating experience and I can absolutely recommend it to anyone interested in a kick-start to good habits. Organic Avenue offers many different levels of cleansing, and supports you the whole way through. If I can do it, anyone can: you just have to want to!
[Organic Avenue provided me a five-day cleanse free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion. You can order your own cleanse on their website or by calling 212-358-0500. First image via Organic Avenue. Also, check out how Maria did on the Blueprint Cleanse. Vegan cleanses galore, people! Now, back to your regularly scheduled binging!]
Source: a long-overdue review! »
This is a review in several disjointed parts due to several factors, such as: many of us wanted to review it; and the person who called dibs really dropped the ball. But finally we consolidate the opinions of three Vegansauri. Enjoy!
Source claims to be “a multi-dimensional dining experience,” but I can’t verify that because I was adrift in a delicious lagoon of faux meat and cheese the entire time I was there. Also, how cute is it that the meat analogs are named after the noises the real animals make? Answer: SUPER-CUTE.
The waitstaff was really welcoming and eager to explain everything on the menu; everything can be made vegan! Music to my ears. The owner I met is super-friendly and possibly a bit overzealous, but WHO CARES because the food is delicious. While the friendly, sexy cashier (he totally was) explains the food to you, you can gaze into the mouth of the DRAGON’S FACE OVEN, in which Source makes all its pita, bread, and pizza crusts from scratch. No small feat.
Disappointingly (for me!) Source doesn’t not serve alcoholic beverages. What they do serve are kombucha-like elixirs made with a fermented substance called Jun. They are made with raw honey, which may or may not jive with you. They also serve raw yerba mate lemonades mixed with strawberry, blueberry, or straight-up lemon! My dining companion ordered the strawberry lemonade and OMG! It tasted like a strawberry daiquiri. So delicious, I was able to forgive the absence of rum.
I also noticed that my water glass kept refilling, as if by magic. Good service here, folks!
Let’s run down some of the food. After struggling to choose a dish on the extremely extensive menu, I went with an avocado oink bits burger, with the homemade cashew-based vegan mozzarella. I couldn’t believe my taste buds. I haven’t eaten a burger in over four years, and this is what I remember it tasting like. Their version is hearty, and even kind of has the look of a burger, thanks to the beets. But not in a gross way, I swear! This isn’t a Boca Burger-like substitution; it’s just, I don’t know, meaty. It’s obviously made with vegetables, yet has that grilled, burger-y taste. My omnivorous dining companion completely agreed: I wasn’t just being a crazy I-haven’t-eaten-meat-in-so-long-these-tofu-dogs-taste-like-the-real-thing-right vegan.
The cheese was so tasty, I wanted double the amount. The avocado and oink bits were a little lacking, but the burger was so delicious and MIND-BLOWING, I totally forgot what I had ordered and therefore didn’t even notice the other parts of my burger were shoved sparingly in the back of the pita. This is saying a lot, because I usually don’t forget things like avocado and vegan bacon.
More food: Buffalo cluck: spicy and saucy. Baked VEGAN spinach artichoke fondue: really on-point with the flavor, but the texture was chunkier than I would have liked.
Fries: super-interesting salt and sauce choices (rosemary salt with spicy BBQ ketchup? Hell yes). Bahn mi pita: Similar to the oink bits burger, the veggies and sauce had slipped to the bottom of the pita and broke the back of it, turning it into more of a salad; also, I wasn’t crazy about the chewier texture of the quack, but then again, I’ve never had real duck, so maybe it’s spot-on. Kraut bow-wow: Most food is made in-house, but the bow-wows are Field Roast apple sage sausages. Fine by me!
Philly cheese moo: OH MAN this is yummy, but I could stand a little more strength of flavor in the “cheese.” House salad: comes piled super-high on a tiny plate, really full-featured with a tangy dressing. Country shepherd’s pie: too brothy and bland, would not order again.
Cluck parm: This is the king of all sandwiches. It’s just so “cheesy” and tomatoey and crusty and GOOD. Get it, girl.
On to the desserts! Twinkees: YUM! Nothing like the Twinkies you remember, no: much richer, softer, and sweeter. It’s like angel food cake with canned icing, so good. Cupcakes: dependent on availability, but it was a pretty good, standard vegan chocolate-raspberry cupcake.
You need this: Vegan Guide to New York City 2011 mobile app! »
If you’re a vegan living in the New York City area, or a vegan who spends a lot of time in NYC, or even just a human being who LOVES food, this app is for you! Created by vegan author and Historical Advisor to the North American Vegetarian Society Rynn Berry, this user-friendly app is seriously a vegan’s dream. Born from the original vegan-favorite paperback guides, it’s the only 100 percent vegetarian and vegan guide that is continually updated, with more than 120 professionally reviewed restaurants. Where Yelp, MenuPages and GrubHub fall short, TVGNYC2011 picks up all the slack and then some.
After launching the app, four tabs appear on the bottom of the screen: List, Map, Filter and More.
Under List, we find a comprehensive listing of every vegan/vegetarian option in New York City and its surrounding boroughs, and features the ability to search by distance (from your current location, or any location you enter), name (alphabetically listed), and price level (inexpensive, moderately priced, or expensive).
When we click on a listing (here we see vegan fast-food utopia FoodSwings Brooklyn), we’re presented with every detail we could ever need, with extras to boot! From this screen, we can find address, phone number, hours of business, price level and more. We can even read a detailed review, get driving or subway directions, and check in via FourSquare. Awesomesauce.
Under Map, we find a Google Maps-style map which first drops a pin at our current location, then fills us with glee as we watch dozens of beautiful little green pins surround us. Way up in the Bronx and all the way down to Flatbush, Brooklyn…this map has everything covered.
The real genius of this app lies under the Filter tab. From here, we can narrow down our search based on any number of tastes, price levels, and locations. Only want top-rated restaurants? Click the Critic’s Pick tab, and that’s all you’ll see. The Cuisine filter featured every type of grub, from raw to kosher to fast food. If you’re only on the search for a good spot to binge on vegan ice cream—as we often are—there’s a filter for that, too. The More tab is mostly informational, with details on the author and the app creator, Cutting Edge Consulting. But therein lies a little gem—a map with a list directing us to Rynn Berry’s top-22 favorite vegan joints in NYC, including Franchia, HanGawi and Candle 79. Neat!
Considering the wealth of veritable information and recommendations, and taking into account the continuous updates, The Vegan Guide to New York City 2011 mobile app is a steal at $4.99. It integrates fully with other social apps like Facebook and Twitter, so you can broadcast your near-orgasmic experience with vegan cannolis to everyone on your friends list. This app will only get bigger and better as more vegan menus pop up all over New York City, and it’s always good to be in the know.
Here is something amazing to do tonight. Go to El Rio, have a delicious alcoholic beverage for cheap and then eat some MOTHERFLIPPING FRY BREAD. Perfect Monday night!!
Rocky Yazzie of Rocky’s Frybread will be serving the most magical-looking fry bread that’s dusted with powdered sugar and honey (you can get without honey or bring your own bottle of agave nectar DO IT); so amazing. El Rio is pretty much the greatest place on earth and when matched with FRY BREAD??? Can I get a fuck yeah? Rocky will be in front of El Rio at 3158 Mission St. at Cesar Chavez Street from 9 p.m. on. Open up your mouth and feed it!
[Image from Tigers and Strawberries]