Product review: Lydia’s Kale Krunchies!  »

Remember that lecture your mom gave you when you were a kid about how it’s better to pour your servings out into a bowl or individually-portioned baggie before chowing down? Your Mom never tried Lydia’s Kale Krunchies.

A food that we don’t bother pouring into a bowl speaks more to its unspeakable goodness rather than, say, our innate inability to wait until we can get to a proper serving vessel. It’s undeniable that kale chips are a messy endeavor; whether baked or dehydrated, the toppings inevitably cascade off the chunks of shriveled greens onto your face, clothing, and sustainably designed floor, and to avoid spillage should probably be served in a sensible bowl.

Lydia’s kale chips defy sensibility—there’s no logical reason why her curly greens doused in a nuts-and-spices purée should taste so out-of-this-world good, but sweet lord they do. While I have enjoyed various versions of kale chips served by friends, ex-lovers, LA’s Flore Vegan, and the cafe at my raw vegan workplace, the Tree of Life in Patagonia, Ariz., and I can honestly say Lydia’s kale chips are hands-down the best chips around.

My favorite blend is Herbs de Provence— the delicate, herb-infused flavor reminds me of  summering in the south of France with my family. That’s right, I’m high class! Now excuse me while I spend 20 minutes scrubbing these kale crumbs from underneath my fingernails. Here’s to low-calorie, ethical, messy cuisine!

This is Vegansaurus raw correspondent Sarah E. Brown’s latest post, originally published here. Read more by Sarah on Vegansaurus, and visit her personal blog, Spiritual Hipsteria. Thanks, Sarah!


Guest post: Why are there so many ex-raw vegans?  »

Friends, strangers, vegans at large, please welcome back our official raw food writer—and our favorite eater of raw food in general—Sarah E. Brown!

For more than six months, I’ve served as the Vegansaurus raw vegan correspondent, and I’ve been delighted to report about Bay Area raw food awesomeness in a light-hearted fashion.

But this is a serious post. A very, very serious one. It’s about the very real, growing epidemic of ex-raw vegans. First, I should say that this is not a post aimed at typical vegans who sometimes cook food and sometimes don’t. Please understand, I’m not out to lord raw veganism over anyone trying to live compassionately (and deliciously) as a plain old awesome vegan. This post is directed towards ex-raw vegans, many of whom (though certainly not all)  came into the vegan movement for health reasons, then left it for health reasons that are downright avoidable.

Many find they feel better for a while when they incorporate more raw, plant-source-only food in their diets, and eliminating the dense animal proteins, processed sugars and refined carbohydrates that are endemic to the Standard American Diet (SAD).

Yet it is commonly observed that many raw food vegans eventually start feeling “less-than-optimal,” and begin reintegrating animal products into their diets. So why do many mostly live, plant-source-only eaters switch to animal products? It could be that the typical, raw-cacao-filled, high-glycemic, raw vegan diet is the culprit of this lifestyle conversion. How could plants, especially plants in their raw state, be high-glycemic? Of course fruit sugar is better than processed sugar, but it still affects our bodies. In addition, many of our essential minerals, amino acids and essential fatty acids (including the all-important mood and health-boosting Omega-3s) come from lower-glycemic, raw vegan foods. What does this mean? It means the “fun,” dried fruit-filled, agave-filled, high-sugary-fruit-filled raw diets, which initially draw people into the lifestyle and can help them initially get healthier—because they are still taking in less harmful stuff than on the SAD diet—cause them to burn out. Cacao can also fatigue the adrenals when it is not eaten in moderation.

The problem with formerly raw vegans who eat this way is that they often believe their imbalanced diets to be due to the fact that there are no animal products, when many health experts, including Dr. Gabriel Cousens, M.D., have shown that this is not the case. Instead of eschewing their ethical diets in favor of animal products, raw vegans can feel better by changing the nature of their raw vegan diets. Perhaps that might mean incorporating some more grounding cooked vegan dishes like quinoa or lightly cooked soups and vegetables. It might also mean cutting down on high-glycemic, raw vegan foods and desserts in favor of a more balanced diet.

The secret to sticking with a vegan diet long-term is to focus on longevity. If being a vegan for the long haul means you’ll need to kick ass and take names at every vegan bake sale, then honey substitute, DO IT! But if you’re a raw vegan in it for health, that means eating more mineral and essential nutrient-dense, lower-glycemic, raw vegan foods and supplements. Dr. Cousens has recently published an article that explains how both meat eaters and vegans—raw and predominantly non-raw—need to supplement their diets with essential nutrients such as B-12 and essential fatty acids like DHAs. So we can all keep living this way, it’s good to pop a pill every once in a while and eat some greens. OK? That’s all I’m saying. Here’s to ex-raw vegans realizing you can be healthy and avoid killing and exploiting things, because that means less overall suffering.

This is the latest in Sarah E. Brown’s raw vegan series for Vegansaurus. Thanks, Sarah!

[top photo by joana hard; bottom photo by Urban Mixer]


Dusker at Hayes Valley Farm tonight!  »

Usually this would go in the links, but it’s happening early and the links are not an “early afternoon” kind of post, so we’re giving you plenty of warning so you can be there!

What is Dusker? It’s “an end-of-summer celebration,” dummies! There’ll be music, a whole bunch of food for sale—produce, booze, and edibles—Hayes Valley Farm merchandise, “multi-screen visuals,” “live henna tattooing,” and more. Not being hippies, your Vegansaurus strongly advises against henna tattooing (whether live or recorded from a previous broadcast), but if Gaia tells you to cover your white skin from elbows to fingertips in pretty swirls, you listen to her.

The event runs from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m., and a $5 donation is requested, which will benefit the Hayes Valley Farm Structures Fund. There will be hot cider, and dancing on the former freeway is threatened mentioned as a possible activity as well. Hayes Valley Farm is located at 450 Laguna St. at Fell Street, which they are now calling “Greenhouse Plaza.”

Incidentally, there’s a rumor that our own Laura will be there tonight “selling” as well! Selling what, we cannot say, but look for the hot redhead and you’ll find out.

Alas, it was unfounded. You weren’t going just to ogle Laura though, right? Of course not, grossy. You’re going for the Farm.


Product review: Ultimate Superfoods chlorella spirulina tablets!  »

Have you ever wanted to drop E but not really because you are on a more orthodox spiritual path and, like, this isn’t sophomore year of Vassar anymore? WELL, guess what? This is your jam. Spirulina-chlorella tablets are chewy, cheese-like, protein-filled algae pills that you crush up with your teeth—you know, like most pills. Similar to the drug that my neurologist papa says puts Swiss-cheese holes in your BRAIN, these tabbies make you feel like you are swimming in a pool of happy feelings without causing you to wake up in your roommate’s bunk bed wearing only her little sister’s boxers.

This is the latest post by Vegansaurus raw correspondent Sarah E. Brown. It originally appeared here. Thanks, Sarah!


Have Cake, Will Travel, win a book!  »

Celine of Have Cake, Will Travel has a copy of Becoming Raw: The Essential Guide to Raw Vegan Diets that she wants to give to you! All you have to do to enter it is leave a comment on her excellent, fact-filled post no later than noon on Friday, Mar. 19 (that’s Pacific time!); a winner will be selected at random. Good luck!


Raw vegan food from Vivapura rocks!  »

Unless you’ve been living in a fantasyland that involves subsisting on only defrosted leftovers from SF Vegan Bakesales (hey, I don’t judge!), you probably know we vegans can benefit greatly from supplementing our deep-fried vegan Twinkie intake with some raw greens now and then.

Whether or not you fall into the camp that refrains from cooking their food, if you enjoy yummies that taste amazing and are still healthful for you, I highly recommend checking out the excitingly awesome products from the brand-new raw vegan superfoods company Vivapura, located super-close to the Tree of Life raw vegan retreat center in Patagonia, Ariz., which is a tiny town (pop. 1,000) 20 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border where approximately one in 10 residents is a raw food vegan.

Since I live just up the road from Vivapura (I’m currently living and working at working at the Tree of Life), I recently had a chance to drop by the Vivapura warehouse factory and sample a bunch of their stuff. According to Vivapura’s website, superfoods are “plant-based foods that boast extraordinary energizing and healing properties due to their abundance and density of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, proteins, and other vital nutrients.” From the stuff I tried, I have to say I can’t feel a noticeable change in my body, but either way, Vivapura’s stuff tastes amazing. Their superfood products range from raw regulars like cacao nibs, cocounut flakes, gogi berries etc. to more obscure items like wild-harvested spirulina crunchies (spirulina is a protein-packed algae that tastes way better than it should) and several proprietary blends of upscale, nutella-like coconut chocolate crème spread. All of their products are organically grown, ethically sourced and sold at really reasonable prices! (Note: Vivapura does sell a few bee-derived products, which I avoid of course, but everything else is animal-product-free.)

As of right now, Vivapura is only available to SF Bay Area folks through ordering directly from the company’s website or the Tree of Life Culture of Life Store. The good news is Director of Retail Sales Erika Rier assures me Vivapura has laid the groundwork to get their loveliness into Rainbow Grocery, and other local Bay Area independent organic stores really soon. If you want Vivapura products sooner rather than later (which, trust me, you do!) Rier says to request them from your independent local organic retailer.

This is the latest post by Vegansaurus raw correspondent Sarah E. Brown. Thanks, Sarah! [image from Vivapura]


I am Seva, hear me roar! Raw vegan adventures at the Tree of Life  »

Today I awoke to a gorgeous sunrise over the desert mountain range of Patagonia, Ariz. The wispy clouds swirling around the peaks in the distance reminded me of the geography of my previous hometown, San Francisco. Besides that, the red rock and cactus-infused landscape here at Tree of Life, which is nestled in the midst of highly spiritual nexus of several energy meridians, is a totally new environment for me. But with each day, this oasis feels more like home.
It is my fourth day here at Tree of Life, or as many folks here affectionately call it, “the Tree.” I was brought in to be the Tree’s newest Seva, which is “a deeply intense spiritual journey of commitment, intimacy and transformation.” Being a Seva provides an opportunity for those with spiritual perseverance (or, netzakh in Hebrew, a language spoken in the Essene Kabbalistic Jewish tradition that, along with the American Lakota tradition and the Nityananda Yoga traditions, underpins the spiritual foundation of the community here) to do an individualized work-trade that harmoniously links their particular gifts and the needs of Tree of Life community. 

Besides paying for my flight from SFO and transportation from the Tucson airport, situated an hour and a half from the Tree’s location in Patagonia, and a small fee to live in the staff dorms, every other aspect of living here is included in the work-trade arrangement. This includes yoga classes, meditation and chanting sessions, Inipi (sweat lodges), access to hot tubs, a sauna, personal growth workshops, music and dance programming, incredibly delicious, mostly local and all-organic vegan live food cuisine, and most importantly, the invaluable chance to immerse myself in a unique, spiritual, raw vegan community. All of this is in exchange for my commitment to help Tree of Life to innovate and expand its online media presence to spread the organization’s beautiful teachings of peace, spiritual living and live food veganism to heal the planet.

From just a few short days here, I can already see how much this place changes lives. The day after I arrived, I attended a women-only Inipi, which involved howling and crying and singing and sending out prayers for women in our lives and all women everywhere in a steam-filled, womb-like cavern under the guidance of the fabulous, highly-respected live foodist, dance, spiritual and energy healer Parashakti. Afterward, as we 15 or so women toweled off while sipping organic green juice and grapefruit juice in a warm teepee, people shared the most beautiful words of gratitude for the experience. I felt myself getting wet around the eyes, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just leftover steam!

Thanks for reading! I’ll keep try to keep Vegansaurus updated with my raw vegan Tree of Life adventures, including copious pictures of the amazing things the live vegan café prepares.

This is the latest post by Vegansaurus raw correspondent Sarah E. Brown. Thanks, Sarah!

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