Vegan Roadtrip: Vegas, take two!  »

In under one year I’ve been to Vegas twice! And I don’t even gamble (unless we’re talking about the guys I date, but we’ll save that for another time). I went with another femme fatale you may have heard of—Sarah M. Smart, anyone? Sarah was in Vegas for work, plus it was her birthday weekend, so this whirlwind vacay was taken with our friends Brent and Britney. Party time! Sarah and I often get asked how we have solidified such a strong, vegan friendship and we’re like, “Trips to Vegas, Katy Perry, and a mutual affection for cake vodka!” That’s how it’s done.

imageUnfortunately, I was a little under the weather for this trip, which meant more poolside lounging and eating, as opposed to a little something I like to call “elegant debauchery.” Poor me, right? Poor, hot-tub soaking me.

I like to stay at the Hooters Hotel and Casino, which boasts three pools and two hot tubs! Don’t forget, they have a sandwich that can be made vegan and eaten poolside, the Sassy San Franciscan!

Now, let’s get to the food! In terms of eating, Vegas has got it going on, if only for a little (entirely vegan) place called Pura Vida. Pura Vida is located in downtown Vegas, which is few miles off the strip. It’s like a part of Vegas only the locals know! And now ME!

imageThe brunch I had at Pura Vida was one of the best vegan meals I have ever had. Chef Mayra is creative, brilliant, and quite the spitfire! It may sound as though I’m exaggerating with my whole “It was the BEST,” but I sent my vegan friend and co-worker, Nate, there a few weeks later when he went to Vegas and guess what: He said the same thing, and also that chef Mayra remembered me! How sweet. Next time you go to Vegas, make Pura Vida your first priority! (Maybe go to Vegas just to eat there?) And make sure you talk to the chef, she will brighten your day!

Brent ordered the empandas for an appetizers and they were delicious! I especially liked that they were very light and not greasy. I can’t find them on the online menu, and also cannot remember what they were filled with! Oops. However, everyone at the table agreed they were tasty and that the chutney they came with was superb! Look how vibrant the colors are!

I am going to Vegas again, hopefully in the very near future, to chow down on this baby: the Latin’tude breakfast burrito. It changed my life. Look at all those colors! So fresh! So beautiful! I might go back to Vegas and ask it marry me; I mean, when in Sin City, right? Another note on chef Mayra’s food—it’s organic, and she has many gluten-free options available. Now go!

Sarah, Britney, Brent, and I also hit up the Cheesecake Factory in Caesar’s Palace. (Please don’t tell anyone I made them go to Kardashian Khaos in the Mirage afterward, okay? Like, for an unsatisfying dessert.) I’m okay with eating at the Cheesecake Factory, because they have this cocktail called the Asian Pear Martini that I just adore! Plus, they have this new Skinnylicious menu, with many vegan or easy-to-veganize options.
I like to get the beets with goat cheese salad, minus the goat cheese. It is still very satisfying, with beets, arugula, pecans, apples and a vinaigrette dressing!

I also like to get the mushroom lettuce wraps! They come with shitake mushrooms, ginger, garlic, water chestnuts and green onions, all sauteed in a light soy dressing. They are very refreshing, especially wrapped in the crisp, lettuce leaves.

Lettuce taco, coming atcha!

Another place the four of us went that is worth mentioning is Red 8 in the Wynn hotel. It is an Asian Fusion bistro, with many vegan options, including vegan dim sum! How exciting!

We ordered dim sum, which I sadly do not have a picture of. I also cannot find their dim sum menu online, but I will say that the jade dumplings feature another love of my life, spinach!

Britney and I split the Gardein cashew Chick’n, celery, mushroom, and ginger entree, as well as the tofu and shiitake. So delicious! Now that I’ve broken the bank at both of the vegan restaurants I wanted to at the Wynn, I don’t feel the need to go back in the near future—unless of course my future sugar daddy is paying.
Chick’n, cashew, celery, mushrooms, and ginger plate!

Tofu and shiitake plate!

I know there are tons of places I didn’t get to in this last trip, but I will eventually. I can’t wait to get back to Vegas! It is my vegan haven!


Vegan Roadtrip: Las Vegas!  »

Hey everyone! Two weeks ago I went to Sin City and OMG. Even though the idea of Las Vegas depresses me (casinos in the middle of the desert, half-naked girls dancing, gambling addictions) I always end up having a blast! Probably because I’m like, the most fun person I know.

Everyone keeps asking me what I possibly could have eaten there. I’m like, guys, it’s super easy to be vegan in Vegas when you subsist on margaritas and Bud Light for 2.5 days. In the (paraphrased) words of my idol, Chelsea Handler, “I prefer to be on a liquid diet on my vacations.” Half-kidding! I had at least three meals.

The first night was not about eating: I ate before I left, knowing I would not be up for finding vegan food at 9 p.m. in Vegas. I did buy some vegan Power Bar-type thing and wasabi edamame in the airport, ‘cause I like eating while doing everything, especially waiting to board a plane. The Southwest terminal at SFO is not nearly as exciting or vegan-friendly as the Virgin America terminal.

The next day began with a Bud Light (seriously, I’ve never had so much Bud Light in my life. I can’t bear to look at another bottle right now) and then lunch at Chipotle!

My standard, a veggie burrito bowl: black beans, fajita veggies, NO RICE, both tomato and corn salsa, guacamole, and lettuce.

Dessert came in the form of a margarita at a bar stand outside of Caesar’s Palace. Now, normally I don’t drink margaritas because of the sugar in the mixes, but the people at this little tent-bar made theirs with lime juice, AGAVE NECTAR, tequila and Cointreau. Delicious! So worth the $12.

I know you are all wondering, DID SHE HIT UP LA CAVE? Of course. The second I made my plane reservation I knew I’d be eating there. After many hours and many Bud Lights (did I mention we stayed at Hooters Hotel and Casino? $30 rooms and $1.50 Bud Lights. SCORE.) I put on one of the 30 dresses I brought for my three-night stay and headed to the Wynn with my roommates.

Waterfall at Hooters. The pool and the hot tub are open 24/7! Drinking in them is totally acceptable. Even spilling a shot of tequila in the hot tub is fine!

Walking into La Cave, I felt like a vegan Kardashian. It’s so fancy! Now, one thing I didn’t know about the place is that it’s small plates/tapas-style. I did get a dirty look from one of my roommates (“I’m paying $15 for tapas?!”) but once we got our food, everyone was stoked/the evil stares dissipated.

The most important section of the menu.

Gardien Chick’n, Celery Root Puree, Lemon Caper Sauce

Mushroom Tortellini, Arugula, Tomato “Cream” Sauce.

You guys, go to Vegas just to eat at La Cave. Though I have to warn you, being fancy does not come cheap.

After some more Vegas shenanigans (Old Vegas is super fun. It’s like being in an episode of Mad Men; the casinos are so retro), we ended up back at Hooters. You know, because it’s where we were staying. The boys wanted wings (so gross boys, SO GROSS) and luckily for me, there was totally a sandwich I could veganize on the Mad Onion menu: the “Sassy San Franciscan.”

Take out the cheese and mayo, sub mustard on this veggie sammie, please and thank you!

On our final day, I simply could not be bothered to leave the pool, so I ordered the sandwich AGAIN! There were plans to go to Ronald’s Donuts, but in the end, pool > donuts. I know, you guys are all “WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU,” but the thing is, I didn’t eat donuts before I was vegan and I’m not going out of my way to eat them now. Sorry I’m not sorry!

That’s all the vegan-ing I did in Vegas. I know there’s a lot of places I missed (drinking Bud Light all day really kills motivation) so let me know what to hit up next time! Because even though I don’t think I get Vegas, for some reason I always miss it when I leave. I’m already itching to go back. Sin City, I might love you.


Humans: selfish, murderous, totally gross  »

Hearst Castle (one of the most beautiful places in California!) has zebras on its grounds. They’re descendants of the original zebras that comprised part of ol’ William Randolph’s enormous private zoo during his castle-dwelling years, and they’ve been there for over 80 years.

Occasionally the zebras wander off the 128-acre property, which two did last Wednesday, Jan. 5. Usually, according to current ranch owner Stephen Hearst, when someone finds a zebra somewhere it doesn’t belong, the finder calls him up to fetch them home. These particular zebras must have been of the carnivorous variety, however, because a cattle rancher called David Fiscalini shot both of them about as soon as he noticed them on his land. The zebras “spooked his horses,” you see, which gave him “the right” to just kill them. Even better, after murdering the lost zebras, he took their bodies to a taxidermist and had them skinned and tanned. The taxidermist, naturally, obliged, and now David Fiscalini has himself a lovely zebra-skin rug. Charming!

Humans are seriously the best sentient beings to ever have a thought. In Las Vegas, tiger-collectors Siegfried and Roy have a Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat in which visitors can gawk at “white lions, white tigers, panthers, leopards, and [Siegfried and Roy’s] family of Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins.” What are all these animals doing in the city of neon lights? Living it up in “serenity,” duh. Dolphins love “extreme temperature changes, from extreme cold (snow flurries) to extreme arid, dry conditions and pollution from a nearby highway.” The constant sound means they’re never bored! And only, what, 13 have died so far, that’s like a baker’s dozen, barely even counts. Especially when you can pay $4,000 plus $125 to throw a party “with” the dolphins and tigers! That’s eminently reasonable, certainly no reason to sign’s petition to get rid of this “exotic, enchanting and wondrous world.” It just sounds so great!

If we’re not doing things, let’s not stop shooting at super-endangered whooping cranes. They might spook the horses! Or look remarkably like chupacabras from far away! Whatever seems best in the moment, you with the gun; you’re the king of the world.

[zebras by marlin harms; whooping cranes by DaseinDesign]


Paris Hilton, human being, loves Lied Animal Shelter!  »

[photo via
Las Vegas Sun]

Paris Hilton: she has to perform 200 community service, because jail. And she gets to choose where to work off those hours, because—well, she worked a day at Lied Animal Shelter in Las Vegas, and at the end adopted a dog. Aww! An idle rich using some of that endless free time to do something good! Do you think she’ll add to her menagerie in the future exclusively by adopting animals?

Mike from Occupied Las Vegas, our number-one source for Las Vegas animal news, nots that, reputation aside, if “[Paris Hilton] can influence legions of slack jawed gossip zombies not to buy dogs from pet stores then that’s a win. You know, the demographic who fills the shelters with dalmatians and chihuahuas after the release of a popular Disney movie or a Taco Bell commercial. If Bruce Willis would just make ADOPT HARD, the shelters would be empty tomorrow.”

[Pearl—furthest right—with the rest of her team in Haiti. See more photos here!]

Lied Animal Shelter, if you recall, is the home of Crosby and many other potential search and rescue dogs. The ASPCA Dog of the Year 2010 is a search and rescue dog, actually; her name is Pearl, and she was deployed to Haiti to help save lives after the earthquake. Pearl is A HERO*, you guys, and two nice teachers from Rancho Romero School in Alamo, Calif. wrote a book about her. It’s called A New Job for Pearl, and all the profits from its sale are donated to the Search Dog Foundation center in Ojai, Calif. AWWW, YOU GUYS, buy the nice book for your little relations! Then you can explain why no one should ever, ever buy a dog when they can adopt one, because the dogs who don’t get adopted and don’t find good jobs WILL BE MURDERED.

Merry Christmas! Adopt an animal!

*You know “heroine” is going the way of “actress,” right? English allows for gender neutrality, let’s embrace it. Imagine if we still used “authoress” or “poetess”—BARF.

[Thanks to Mike from Occupied Las Vegas for the tips!]


News from Las Vegas: Why adopt Search and Rescue dogs when you can buy them?  »

Mike from Occupied Las Vegas sent a couple of photos of some adorable, adoptable dogs living at Lied Animal Shelter! This is Crosby. He has a 20 percent chance of not being euthanized!

Mike also sent us some information about a new fun way the U.S. government is helping promote dog-breeding! 
He writes,

As you probably know shelter dogs are commonly used in Search and Rescue work. They have been used successfully at Ground Zero, the recent Haiti earthquake, and, oh fuck it, here’s a listIn fact a dog named Sonic was rescued from Lied and is now working with both the Dallas, Texas Fire Department and FEMARecently the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) decided to BUY 3,000 dogs from BREEDERS at a cost of $4,000 EACH. On any given day there are an average 260 dogs available for adoption at the Lied “Adoption Bungalows,” many of whom meet the breed, weight, temperament criteria to be a candidate for Search and Rescue testing; 80 percent will not find homes. They euthanize 80 to 100 dogs a day here.

I don’t have to point out the madness of a government agency paying $4,000 for a dog, while cash-strapped municipalities bear the cost of euthanizing clearly qualified animals on the other. I have been unsuccessful in trying to contact DHS to get information on how to submit candidates for their program. Sorry to be such a bummer, but I’m hoping Vegansaurus can use the power of its mighty bully pulpit to help get this changed. I’ll bet Rocket Dog Rescue has a couple of candidates right now too. Sometimes the very qualities that get a dog kicked out of his home, like hyperactivity and obsessive toy-playing, are the very qualities that make a great SAR dog. 

A couple of weeks ago I enlisted the help of a former Department of Defense Navy procurement employee who speaks fluent Governmentese. She located the phone number of the Customs and Border Protection Canine Center in Front Royal, Va. and spoke with Tim Spitler. He stated that although they had used shelter dogs in the past, their legalstaff has stopped the practice of accepting rescue dogs until they can come up with a way to do it legally, because it constitutes a gift to a federal agency.

I’m guessing the shelters would be happy to charge DHS the $4,000 if it would help them satisfy their financial regulations. I was at the Animal Shelter yesterday and there were a half-dozen Lab mixes who met the criteria for the DHS Canine Program. Crosby has the intelligence, high energy and personality to make a great service dog, but the very boldness and hyper-energy that make him such a great candidate freaked out potential adopters.

Lied is a high-kill shelter; 80 percent of these dogs will probably not get adopted.

So what can we do? Obviously, we can contact our government officials to tell them that allowing hundreds of dogs to die every day because of a legal loophole is fucking disgusting. Every patriotic reader can agree to that, regardless of where you stand on animal rights.

Look at all the adorable dogs on Mike’s Flickr page. How many of them could be living the American Dream right now? They should be given the chance to turn their innate qualities into gainful employment, just like everybody else. Why can’t they have it? Would it be so hard to write some kind of shelter dog acquisition policy? Even dog-haters can agree that saving government money is a net positive.

Tell everyone you know about this problem, and get them to contact their officials and representatives, too. If “everyone you know” are all jerks, just send them this photo of Crosby, and ask how many of them think it’s acceptable to let him die because legal issues are complicated. COME ON.

[Send your adoptable/adorable animal photos/stories to Vegansaurus!]


Vegan Food Bar at Las Vegas Whole Foods!  »

Yet another Whole Foods that is superior to our weak-ass SF Bay Area ones and this time it’s in LAS VEGAS. Yes, the land of strippers, hookers and stripper hookers has superior vegan selection to the land of liberal whiny assholes. I can’t even begin to explain it. Where’s our vegan Kung Pao chicken, HUH? These fools have vegan pizza made with Daiya cheese, an entire vegan hot food bar and more delicious vegan desserts that you can shake your angry fist at. I WANT MY VEGAN BEEF JAPCHAE AND I WANT IT YESTERDAY.


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