vegansaurus!

10/07/2010

Chickens don’t belong in bags: Protest THIS SUNDAY!  »

If you shop at the Heart of the City Farmers’ Market at all, you may be familiar with the subject matter of today’s post: live chicken sales. Yes, somewhere beyond those dry-farmed tomatoes and kettle corn, there is a booth that sells live chickens in paper bags to anyone who can cough up the $6. It’s horrible for the chickens, and gives vegan shoppers like me unpleasantly mixed feelings about one of the cheapest and most accessible farmer’s markets in the city.
Thankfully, LGBT Compassion stepped up; they’ve been campaigning to stop live chicken sales at the market for over a year, and they’re still gaining momentum. What started as a few volunteers wearing sandwich boards and handing out information to market-goers has grown into 50-plus people showing up and speaking up for the chickens. They’ve planned their biggest protest yet for this Sunday, Oct. 10 at 9 a.m., and they want YOU to show up.

Aside from the obvious fucked-upedness of selling living chickens in paper bags, the sales violate California Health Code 114371(d), which prohibits bringing live, non-service animals within 20 feet of food for sale; the terms of the operating permit of the market, which requires that vendors comply with applicable laws; USDA Food Stamp programs; and, unsurprisingly, animal cruelty laws. According to LGBT Compassion, the live chicken vendors have been cited for a whopping 700 violations of various anti-cruelty laws, but the District Attorney has elected not to prosecute (so, in addition to showing up to the protest on Sunday, consider writing a letter to San Francisco D.A. Kamala Harris telling her you’re not pleased that she has ignored 700 documented violations). In addition, live chicken sales create scores of problems outside the market, including people bringing the chickens onto BART and Muni, where they may pass on pathogens to people with compromised immune systems; homeless people adopting them as pets—cute as the image of the lovable hobo adopting a chicken friend is, chickens don’t do well on the mean streets of San Francisco; and would-be do-gooders buying the chickens in order to “set them free,” which doesn’t help the chickens all that much if they aren’t “set free” to somewhere like Animal Place or Harvest Home Sanctuary.

Vegans, this is your rallying cry! Get out there Sunday and protest your hearts out! Let’s reclaim the Civic Center market and make it a happy place for chickens and for vegans. See you there!

09/29/2010

Dead bear found discarded outside strip mall, or What the fucking hell is your problem, Humans?  »

SFist reported that a dead bear was found abandoned outside a strip mall taqueria in San Leandro late Sunday evening. Apparently, the 300-pound bear had been shot somewhere else and then transported to the strip mall, where it was left. It is black bear hunting season right now (which in and of itself deserves a resounding What the Fuck), but authorities don’t seem to think a licensed hunter, the most responsible and reputable of humans, would simply dump a black bear carcass on a taqueria’s doorstep.

Now, I was raised to live in stupefying fear of bears, not shoot and discard them. Bears will fuck you up good and proper, and after reading this story, I honestly wonder why they don’t do it more often. I’m no fan of hunting—I think it’s a bullshit excuse to act like a macho asshole, and most of the time, the arguments that say we “need” hunters to keep populations in check seems about as legit as the Williamsburg caveman diet—but simply throwing away a dead animal is such a fucking disrespectful piece-of-shit thing to do, I just can’t even articulate how sad and fucked up it is.

Sorry, bears.

To avoid bumming everyone out completely and totally, please check out the American Bear Association and their bear sanctuary in Minnesota; maybe shoot ‘em a couple bucks, become a member, or even sponsor a bear. Also, check out this heartwarming tale of two blind bears who were rescued and taken to a sanctuary in Romania

[Image courtesy American Bear Association]

What’s wrong with organic eggs?  »

As new photos reveal, PLENTY. I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds that eggs are one of the most difficult foods to talk people out of. We’ve all had that conversation with that person who insists that they are totally down with your veganism but you see, they eat organic eggs, so there’s no, uh, foul. Try as I might to talk about the essential meaninglessness of feel-good labels like “free range” or “organic,” it can be hard to combat those pleasant misconceptions without any shocking, awful photo evidence.

(Un)Fortunately, we now have it.

The Cornucopia Institute, an organization that promotes family farms and more sustainable farming, visited 15 percent of egg farms in the United States, and released a report titled “Scrambled Eggs: Separating Factory Farm Egg Production from Authentic Organic Agriculture.” While the report is aimed at protecting the interests of smaller-scale family farmers rather than ending animal agriculture altogether, it’s a useful read for vegans looking to combat the “happy egg” myth.


The conclusion of the report is something vegans should already know: most “organic” eggs aren’t really any different from regular eggs, with the sole exception that layer hens who produce “organic” eggs are fed “organic” food. The chickens are still kept confined in too-tight quarters, denied access to the outdoors, prevented from exhibiting their natural behaviors, and generally treated horribly their entire lives. To the large industrial farms examined in the report, “organic” is just another brand, and the current standards for what can be labeled as organic are a joke. The report shows how many of the larger producers are playing the system, providing “outdoor access” to chickens in the form of a tiny skylight or window.

What reports like this really mean is something everyone who eats food in this country needs to recognize: we can’t trust big agriculture to give us the food they’re marketing. If it’s cheap and convenient, chances are someone got screwed in its production. What’s the solution? This Vegansaur says cut it out with the eggs already. TOFU OMELETTES FOR LYFE!

09/23/2010

Movie Night at Hayes Valley Farm: FRIDAY!  »

The very, very cool Hayes Valley Farm has started screening movies! That’s right: movies at the farm! You can learn all about it here (and maybe get inspired to get involved and volunteer). The film starts at sundown, but the gates open at 6 p.m., PLUS, it’s by donation (they suggest $5), so if you’re seriously down on your luck, you can name your price (but don’t be a dick).

The movie for tomorrow is the very apt Vanishing of the Bees, a documentary that traces the earliest reports of Colony Collapse Disorder, and offers plausible causes and solutions to curb the systematic loss of bees on a global scale. The choice was made “in response to the violence against our hives at Hayes Valley Farm, [so] we wanted to transform the incident [wherein 100,000 honeybees living in the Hayes Valley Farm hives were killed] into an opportunity for education and outreach within our community,” according to the press release from the HVF.

For those of you not aware of the good doings at the HVF, tomorrow’s movie night is a great opportunity to come and check the place out. It’s pretty darn awesome that a group of dedicated volunteers has managed to turn an abandoned on-ramp into a functional, permaculture-based farm. They’re always having neat events (yoga at the farm? Awesome!), and their website is loaded with recipes, permaculture/farming/gardening tutorial videos, and other assorted farmly goings-on. Highly recommended!

Thursday: A good day for marble bundt cake (and its recipe)!  »

Knowing how to bake vegan is awesome. Sure, in larger cities, we’re pretty spoiled, and we can find vegan baked goods in cafes and grocery stores and sometimes even in vegan bakeries. However, even in the larger cities, there are still a lot more non-vegan baked goods than vegan ones, and there’s nothing worse than spying a lovely vision of a pastry or cake and then realizing it’s not vegan and that there’s no vegan version to be found… which brings me back to my original point: knowing how to bake vegan is awesome. Why? Because next time you see a sweet little non-vegan thing at the store or on a blog or in the newspaper or in a cookbook, you can smile to yourself and whip yourself up a superior vegan version at home.
This is a recipe that I doctored up when I had an insatiable, need-it-now craving for bundt cake this weekend (what, like you don’t get bundt cravings?). I came across this recipe for a marble bundt cake during an epic internet session this weekend, and I tell you, it spoke to me! The blogged recipe is for a chocolate-and-lemon marbled bundt, but since this Vegansaur thinks chocolate and lemon is a nasty-ass combo, I veganized it AND made it into a stately, elegant vanilla/chocolate combo.

The result, if I do say so myself, was pretty bangin’. Here’s the veganized recipe, and remember, bundts travel well, so this is a great cake for bringing to work (either to share or to hide in your desk and eat solo), on picnics, to the beach—whatever. This recipe makes a cake good enough to eat unadorned, but you can also top it with jam, vegan whip (whatever kind floats your boat), chocolate sauce, or fruit compote. The possibilities are endless!

Ingredients
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 cup Earth Balance(or your butter analog of choice)
egg replacer for four eggs (I used a combo of 2 Ener-G eggs and 1/3 cup plain soy yogurt)
3 1/2 cups cake flour (you can use regular if it’s all you’ve got, but I like the cake flour—it’s so fancy!)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups nondairy milk (I use almond)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 to 3 Tbsp booze, such as Kahlua, rum, Frangelico (optional)

Directions
1. Prep your bundt pan (grease it and then lightly flour it) and preheat your oven to 350.

2. Cream together your “butter” and sugar. Make sure to mix it until it gets slightly fluffy and the color lightens slightly. Add in your egg replacer slowly and continue to beat the mixture until all the ingredients are incorporated, and it’s silky-looking.

3. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Then add half the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir to combine. Add half the nondairy milk and the vanilla to the mixture and combine. Repeat addition of dry and then wet until the batter is smooth. Warning: do NOT overmix, unless you’re into dry, tough cakes.

4. Pour half the batter into prepared bundt pan; keep the other half in the mixing bowl. Add the cocoa (and booze if you are using it) to the reserved batter and mix to combine. Then pour the chocolate batter into the bundt pan. Use a butter knife to swirl around the batters and incorporate them into each other. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Let the thing cool for a while before you try to take it out of the pan—attempting to remove it while it’s still warm will only result in tears!

Enjoy for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

09/22/2010

Chipotle, I am skeptical of your “revolución!”  »

So, Chipotle is calling for an end to the mistreatment of pigs, and now I feel conflicted.

My attention was alerted to this call to arms by the very excellent Suicide Food Blog, which has written up the Mexican food chain in its Monday, Sept. 20 post. Chipotle has a new ad campaign, and it’s all about feeling good about what we eat. The ad in question is actually printed on Chipotle’s bags and features a hip, hand-drawn-looking manifesto, complete with cute little drawings and flourishes. The text reads:

¡Viva La Revolución! Okay Pigs, It’s time for us to get together and start fixing this system. We see the way that our pig friends get treated at their factory farms, and it’s time we fight so all pigs can have the same rights we have! No more tight, confining pens! No more antibiotics or non-vegetarian feed!!!!!!!! We can do it! Yours Truly, el Pig”

Now, I’m all for a total pig revolution, and failing that, I’m all for reforms that lead to better lives for pigs, but I’m not sure I buy it coming from Chipotle. As this post on vegan.com points out, major companies that consume a lot of animal product calling for better treatment for pigs is a good thing with the potential to positively impact a lot of piggies’ lives. And that’s all well and good, but a slick, focus-grouped advertisement on a fast-food takeout bag does not an actual, accountable commitment to animal welfare make. Is Chipotle going to use meat only from pigs who were not raised in confining pens and were given vegetarian feed? Who knows!

I find this ad to be more of a call to complacency than anything else, which disturbs me. A major restaurant chain is co-opting revolutionary language and imagery to sell “ethical pork” to what it must know is an uneducated population—how many of Chipotle’s customers know about harmful pig-farming practices, animal welfare issues, or animal agriculture at all.

The Chipotle website dedicates a full section to “Food with Integrity,” which functions basically as their dictionary. According to Chipotle, “Naturally raised” means “raised in a humane way, fed a vegetarian diet, never given hormones, and allowed to display their natural tendencies.” There’s a lot that that warm-n-fuzzy definition doesn’t cover: the contents of the vegetarian diet; how often the pigs are bred; how long they’re allowed to live before being sent to slaughter; and what kind of stockyards and feedlots they are sent to come slaughter-time. By creating their own animal agriculture lexicon, Chipotle gives customers license to feel good about eating their Chipotle pork products without any verifiable reasons to. The company’s ultimate goal is perfectly clear: “We believe pigs that are cared for in this way enjoy happier, healthier lives and produce the best pork we’ve ever tasted.” And there you have it. While Chipotle may want pigs to lead better lives, their bottom line is how good the pigs taste, and that isn’t something I can get behind.

I’m not writing off this campaign completely. As I mentioned, if this move toward more humanely raised pigs is sincere, then it is a good thing; and more than most fast food chains are willing to do. Further, as the vegan.com article points out, sometimes this kind of incremental, populist movement can be the thing that starts people down the road to veganism, and that’s great. Still, though, as a vegan, I’m uncomfortable with trumpeting a corporate happy-meat ad campaign as a real step forward, not to mention that I’d feel like a hella sellout carrying my vegan burrito in one of these cheeseball bags.

08/20/2010

A little self-promo because it never hurt anyone (it only just annoyed many! and still I rise!). My band (that’s right, I said BAND, I am in a BAND because I am VERY MUSICALLY TALENTED), Dino Bike, is playing at Hemlock Tavern on NEXT Sunday, Aug. 29. We do amazing shit like medleys from Top Gun and throw vegan cupcakes into the audience. Also, there might be some stripping involved and playing of cow bell by Leanne from Vaute Couture! OH and our opening band, Red Light Circuit. Oh, they’re just OPENING FOR HANSON NEXT MONTH. That’s all.
SERIOUSLY, it’s gonna be ridic. and IN ADDITION TO THE RIDICULOUSNESS:
Every penny raised will go to help pay for TPLO surgery for my dog, Hazel, who is the most beautiful, wonderful, perfect pit bull in all the land and also, ONE EXPENSIVE BITCH! This year on self-care, I’ve spent about $5 (showers are for fools! I will not conform to society’s arbitrary* standards for hygiene!) and on Hazel-care, about $6,000. So anyway, the show is only five bucks and you’re gonna get some vegan treats out of it (uh… anyone want to bake??) and I’ll pass around donation jars and you might get to see some bazoongas. Not a bad deal, at all!
Also, Jonas from Vegansaurus is in the band, and Jordan is maybe in the band. So really, it’s a Vegansaurus spectacular! And I’m gonna write this all up in The Bold Italic so if you come and make a big enough scene, your name will be in print!
Now, please, RSVP, s’il vous plaît!
*read: practical

A little self-promo because it never hurt anyone (it only just annoyed many! and still I rise!). My band (that’s right, I said BAND, I am in a BAND because I am VERY MUSICALLY TALENTED), Dino Bike, is playing at Hemlock Tavern on NEXT Sunday, Aug. 29. We do amazing shit like medleys from Top Gun and throw vegan cupcakes into the audience. Also, there might be some stripping involved and playing of cow bell by Leanne from Vaute Couture! OH and our opening band, Red Light Circuit. Oh, they’re just OPENING FOR HANSON NEXT MONTH. That’s all.

SERIOUSLY, it’s gonna be ridic. and IN ADDITION TO THE RIDICULOUSNESS:

Every penny raised will go to help pay for TPLO surgery for my dog, Hazel, who is the most beautiful, wonderful, perfect pit bull in all the land and also, ONE EXPENSIVE BITCH! This year on self-care, I’ve spent about $5 (showers are for fools! I will not conform to society’s arbitrary* standards for hygiene!) and on Hazel-care, about $6,000. So anyway, the show is only five bucks and you’re gonna get some vegan treats out of it (uh… anyone want to bake??) and I’ll pass around donation jars and you might get to see some bazoongas. Not a bad deal, at all!

Also, Jonas from Vegansaurus is in the band, and Jordan is maybe in the band. So really, it’s a Vegansaurus spectacular! And I’m gonna write this all up in The Bold Italic so if you come and make a big enough scene, your name will be in print!

Now, please, RSVP, s’il vous plaît!

*read: practical

10/14/2008

Review: Baladie Gourmet Cafe  »

The lentil soup at Baladie is one of the best deals in the Financial District. A mere $3.25 for 16 ounces of delicious, hearty, spicy-if-you-want-it vegan lentil soup, plus toasted pitas, should you care for them. You know what you get for $3.25 at the wretched San Francisco Soup Company? NOTHING.

I had falafel in a pita once and it was all right; the hummus was good but the actual falafels were giant and dry. The dolmas are tasty. There’s a guy in the kitchen who wears two thin braids at the top of his forehead stuck straight up like antennae. Service is fast, even when they’re crowded. There is a big mural of Petra, the ancient rose city of Jordan, on the righthand wall; it is a little bit garish and absolutely beautiful. What I mean is, do not pass by Baladie on your way to Boxt Foods Co. or some other place to eat an overpriced salad on restaurant row (Kearny Street. You know). You will regret it in an hour when you are starving again.

What you should’ve ordered, especially on cold, bright, windy days, or foggy days, or rainy days, is LENTIL SOUP. It is so, so good. Everything you could want in a yellow lentil soup: carrots and potatoes and crispy little pita chips, and enough spice to break a little sweat along your hairline. I’d compare it to the first lentil soup I ever loved, namely my mother’s, but they are so different you couldn’t really compare them. And you can’t buy my mother’s soup from friendly people in an adorable little nook of a restaurant for $3.25, so Baladie it is.

I mean, I really love that soup.

[lentil soup photo via yelp; Petra photo by Shelby PDX]

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