Awesome vegan non-profit needs your help, STAT! »
Just last week, your Vegansaurs were kind enough to post a blurb I wrote encouraging everyone to come out to Food Empowerment Project’s first official event. It was a smashing success and I hope some readers were in the crowd.
BUT! I’ve returned with an even more important request.
For many years, folks have rightly bemoaned the lack of accessible resources and support for new vegans. Sure, there’s a constant push to “make new vegans,” to educate folks on the issues and encourage them to move away from consuming animals. That important work is going strong, and it’s part of what F.E.P. strives to do, too. But what about folks who come to agree but find themselves struggling, for whatever reason, a month or two in?
To plug this kind of gap, F.E.P. is trying to launch Food Chain, a vegan retention newsletter. In 12 monthly installments, it will provide new vegans with a booster of information, ideas, and encouragement to keep them in the fold. Our goal is to make Food Chain freely available to individuals who are considering veganism, or who’ve recently decided to pursue a more healthful and compassionate way of life.
The content’s already prepared and the layout done (and they look awesome – F.E.P. founder lauren Ornelas shows them in the linked video), but we need funds for broader production and distribution to make this work. The campaign is just past its halfway point and we’re more than halfway to our target, but we desperately need some help pushing it across the finish line.
I’m very aware that times are tough for a lot of us, but if you could chip in anything, it would be supremely appreciated. (You also get cool shit, so there’s that.) Maybe skip that last beer/coffee/ill-advised delivery order and donate instead? Hit up your friends/family/neighborhood tech billionaires? Share this on your networks, especially?
Anything would help, for real. This could be a rad thing that helps new vegans stay vegan, while drawing attention to a whole range of issues. It would be nice if F.E.P. could pull it off for free (like basically everything else we do), but we can’t on this one.*
So, HELP OUT IF YOU CAN is the point. And spread the word, please and thank you.
* (Unless you run a pro bono union print shop that uses recycled materials and environmentally safe ink, and also have a really profound in with USPS – in which case, call me!)
Guest post by Rick Kelley!!
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!!
Guest post: Support Food Empowerment Project by eating vegan food at Saturn Cafe. It’s easy! »
Hey, Bay Area vegans! Come on out to Saturn Café in Berkeley on Wednesday, Feb. 20, and 10 percent of your (vegan) meal will go to help fund the all-volunteer Food Empowerment Project.
If you aren’t familiar with Vegansaurus favorite FEP, we’re a vegan food justice organization focused on issues like food access, environmental racism, and workers’ rights. Here are the event details:
Come any time between 11 a.m. and midnight with the printable flyer on the page and Saturn will donate 10 percent of the cost of your vegan meal to help fund our efforts to create a more just and equitable food systems.
Volunteers will be hanging out from 6 to 10 p.m. if you want to learn more about how to get involved.
There will also be flyers up front assuring your 10 percent, so don’t worry about printing. Just come hang out! FEP’s Lauren Ornelas will be there, and we’ll have literature and what have you, but mostly you should just eat some food and say hi. Saturn Café is located at 2175 Allston Way in Berkeley.
Product review: Nibmor ethical vegan chocolate got FEP-approved just for this post! »
I love Nibmor chocolate. First of all, it tastes damn good, ticking all the boxes to make my vegan chocoholic heart happy: free from refined sugar, vegan, and organic. The two flavor varieties Nibmor sent me, original and mint, were both rich and smooth, the right balance of dark, fruity cacao and creamy richness.
But while Nibmor tastes like joy incarnate, what I may love most about it is that when I told the company I couldn’t review its chocolate until it was certified ethical vegan by the Food Empowerment Project, Nibmor jumped to the occasion, contacted FEP, and became certified! FEP’s Lauren Ornelas just did an amazing interview about the dark side of chocolate; I highly recommend listening to it!
Nibmor is truly ethical and delicious dark chocolate. Get some online, or at Rainbow Grocery and other local health food stores.
David Lebovitz’s chocolate sorbet, from his book The Perfect Scoop! Kristen Miglore at Food52 has the recipe and it looks gorgeous. Obviously, you conscientious angels would make it with vegan chocolate on the Food Empowerment Project's chocolate list, so please try this recipe AT ONCE. Eat your way through summer!
Tip: While you’re at Food52, check out the recipe for fried asparagus with miso dressing, from Nobu’s Vegetarian Cookbook. Holy moly. Laura’s right, frying is the superlative food preparation.
[photo by Nicole Franzen for Food52]
Update on the Real Bar! We knew it was vegan and yummy but we didn’t know if it was on the Food Empowerment Project’s green light list. I will keep you in suspense no longer!: FEP says it’s all good! Eat with reckless abandon! My words, not theirs.
Product Review: Endangered Species Vegan Chocolate! »
FEP is run by my friend and former co-worker Lauren Ornelas’ vegan advocacy nonprofit. While I interned at the Center For Environmental Health several years ago, she and I became acquainted through her work at Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. I saw Lauren speak at Vegan Prom in San Francisco, and am pretty much in awe of her dedication to protecting humans, animals, and the planet. Seriously, look her up! I am also so inspired by her work to promote ethical vegan chocolate companies that do not trade in human or animal suffering.
According to the Endangered Species media kit, the company donates 10 percent of net profits to support animal protection and sound environmental practices. And they also identify themselves as non-GMO, and 100 percent ethically traded.
Cacao good for people an animals? Sounds dreamy! But is their chocolate delicious? Yes! Sweetened with beet sugar, which is a better choice than refined white sugar, if you ask me (though I must admit tend to prefer raw cacao and raw sweeteners, being a good Vegansaurus raw correspondent!), the varying degrees of cacao intensity do deliver a punch. My favorite is the 88 percent dark bar, which is pretty damn close to pure cacao. It’s the darkest that ES sells, and comes with information on black panthers inside the package. How convenient! More cacao equals less sugar, and a greater benefit of magnesium, antoxidants. It also satisfies chocoholism. Enjoy whatever vegan (non-milk chocolate) version you wish! Note: Vegan chocolate by ES is very clearly labeled as “vegan,” so just make sure you see that on the label and you’re good to go!
Other great varieties of Endangered Species dark chocolate include their dark chocolate with cherry, dark chocolate with orange, and peppermint squares. They even sell individually-wrapped bite-sized chocolates that are perfect for stuffing in lunches/your unisex handbag/bra. Yay for ethical chocolate!
*Note: This post originally stated that Endangered Species vegan chocolates were approved by the Food Empowerment Project. In fact, it is Endangered Species organic chocolates that received FEP approval. Vegansaurus regrets the error.
Clif Bar + child slavery = sad everyone »
My coworker Andrew’s desk drawer.
As energy bars go, Clif is totally my favorite. Chocolate-dipped coconut Luna bars are essentially dessert, Clif shots and blocks power my running, and those Mojo bars are addictive. Part of the reason I’m such a Clif groupie is that almost everything they make is vegan, holla.
But it turns out Clif may have something to hide [pdf] about where it gets its chocolate. At the very least, the company is being disappointingly closed-lipped about its sourcing. Wanna bug them with me?
Since last May, the Food Empowerment Project has been asking Clif to disclose the country it gets its chocolate from. That’s because some countries, especially in West Africa, have high prevalence of child slave labor on cacao plantations, and no one wants to support child slavery. (Unless it involves getting me a beer, but that’s probably not the kind of stuff we mean here.) Clif ain’t talking. That doesn’t necessarily mean your Clif Crunch bar supports child cruelty, buy wouldn’t it be nice to know for sure? That’s FEP’s stance:
We all know why companies like Nike and Apple took so long to disclose information on their supply chains: because they had something to hide. But does Clif?
How could a company that prides itself on social responsibility choose to not be transparent about an issue as important as child slavery? What does Clif have to hide?
Join us in asking them.
You can email them, call them at (800) 254-3227, and write them at:
Clif Bar & Company
1451 66th St.
Emeryville, CA 94608
Let us know if you have questions and we would appreciate you sharing with us their response.
In the meantime, I’m cutting back to my Clif bar intake, which, as you know if you even read a third of this post, makes me very sad. Which brings me to my PS: what’s your favorite bar for hiking or running or snack or whatever?
Chickens are the 95 percent! »
Jan. 5 was National Bird Day, for which the Food Empowerment Project posted an amazing piece on chickens, who are the vast majority of animals used for food.
When discussing what to post on Facebook for National Bird Day on January 5, my partner and I agreed that although ducks and turkeys should be recognized, we should talk about chickens raised for meat. Why? Because of the 10 billion land animals killed for food in the U.S. each year, more than 9 billion of them are chickens. In fact, my partner said, they are the 95 percent, and that’s when the image you see was born.
Damn, that is sad. You hear so much about people giving up eating red meat for their health and you have to think, the chickens are still suffering. Now, this is a totally unresearched idea that I’m pulling straight out of my butt, but the amount of people I know who “just” eat chickens and/or fish often order the chicken and/or fish dishes when we’re out. It’s not like they get to tofu stir-fry, you know? If you eat that way, you’re not really helping animals; you’re just eating more dead chickens and fish.
Maybe giving up eating a few kinds of animals is part of your path to quitting altogether — and that’s rad! If it is, I’d think about that information up there, finish reading the Food Empowerment Project piece, and then ponder how awesome and special chickens are. Because they are SO RAD. Look how cute they are in sweaters! And how interesting and inquisitive they are, and how much they love dust baths! Then! Maybe just stop eating all the animals? There are SO MANY good vegan meats, especially ones that TASTE JUST LIKE CHICKEN—so really, there’s no reason to eat all that gross ol’ animal flesh. Do it, Rockapella!
Finally, this Mark Bittman piece about how American meat consumption is down is really hopeful. I wonder if that matches up with meat production at all? Or if the government is just buying off the excess and chucking it? Or you know, putting it into school lunches. So smart, our government! And it runs so well! Signed, SIR GRUMPS A LOT.
This is why you’re vegan: Your Halloween candy is made by slaves »
You read that article in Good last week by Kristen Howerton, about the big candy companies using child-slave labor to harvest the cocoa beans to make their chocolate; of course you did, you care about child-slave labor. It’s fucking disgusting, it’s outrageous, it’s major U.S. candy companies—“Hershey, Mars, Nestle, and the U.S. division of Cadbury"—directly profiting from child slaves. CHILD SLAVES
It’s also not the most shocking news we’ve ever heard. Nike, right? That scandal broke when I was in high school and I still can’t buy Nike. I read No Logo the year I graduated, and 11 years later (I’m an old), when my conscience feels weak, I still think about the international exploitation of people and animals, and think, yes, this is why I’m vegan.
U.S. candy companies did shock us this week when the New York Times reported on the Hershey Company’s exploitation of exchange students working in their factory IN HERSHEY, PA. Yes, for real: These people came over as Ph.D. candidates and were forced to work “physically arduous” jobs at $8 per hour with “steep deductions from their paychecks for housing, transportation and insurance.” They were kept isolated and poor, and the program’s sponsor ignored the students’ requests for help for months. Horrifying.
Sadie of Tiger Beatdown is sufficiently enraged. And what we—and our pal Kate Dollarhyde—would add to Sadie’s anger is relief, that being vegan, we don’t participate in the exploitation of animals, and now, because these companies don’t make vegan candy, we don’t participate in the exploitation of exchange students, either. Like it’s not enough to make the shitty chocolates from horrible cow’s milk, you have to force foreign engineering students to make the shitty chocolates, too? Hershey’s, you are the goddamn worst.
Fair Trade, you guys. It costs more because it isn’t made by LITERAL SLAVES. Thank goodness we’re vegan. If anyone wants to join us, we’re planning on taking over some abandoned suburban tract homes and growing our own food and never participating in the corporatocracy again.
Or you could just patronize companies on the Food Empowerment Project’s fair trade chocolate list. Might be simpler, though not nearly as fun.