vegansaurus!

05/16/2014

5 adorable piglets who are so much more than bacon  »

imageJulia and her piglets! Julia was super abused before she was rescued by Farm Sanctuary, at which point she gave birth to a boatload of adorable piglets!

The pig’s sentience—its status as a non-object capable of suffering—morally trumps my desire to eat a BLT, no matter how much pleasure it gives. No life is worth a sandwich I don’t need. 
-James McWilliams for 
the Atlantic

The mere mention of bacon makes most meat-eaters giggle with glee. It’s basically the pinnacle of American gluttony, decadence, and indifference. It’s not just a food, bacon has become a punchline, yucking it up on Tshirts and memes across the country. Meanwhile, pigs, who are not only smarter than your dog but also emotionally complex, are suffering relentless anguish

According to the National Pork Producers Council, the numbers are reproachful:

Today there are more than 67,000 pork operations compared with nearly 3 million in the 1950s. Farms have grown in size; 53 percent of them now produce 5,000 or more pigs per year. Nearly 21 billion pounds of pork were processed from about 110 million hogs in 2011. A total of 2.3 million metric tons of pork valued at more than $6.3 billion was exported in 2012.

If I can translate that for you: a hundred million pigs are killed a year, and the factory farm industry is booming. That means gestation crates, pollution, disease, and cruelty. 

I know people like the taste of bacon. That’s not a justification for the suffering it causes. Maybe human babies taste great, that’s not a good reason to eat human babies. The “but it tastes good” argument is nothing short of vapid and shallow. You’re choosing sensory pleasure over morals. When is that ever the right way to make decisions?

In conclusion, here are 5 adorable piglets who were rescued from certain death and suffering. These are living beings who deserve more than being someones lunch. Take it away, cutie pies! 

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1. Leon Trotsky

Kicking us off is Leon Trotsky from Edgar’s Mission! Leon was injured at a farm and therefore “useless.” Thankfully, a kind person got Leon to the safety of Edgar’s Mission where he was fitted for his very own training wheels. 

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2. Edgar

This is Edgar! He’s one of those fell-off-the-truck rescue stories. Now he lives at Snooters Farm Sanctuary!

3. Marigold

Here we have Marigold from Animal Place! She’s playing in the straw like a total goofball! Her exact history is unknown, she was found roaming the streets in Sacramento, but they guess she was probably purchased from an auction for backyard slaughter. Not dice!

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4. Stanley

Hello, Stanley! Stanley is all growed up now but this is him getting some belly rubs as a baby. He’s another escapee found running up and down a busy road. Now he lives happily at the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary!

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5. Eric

And of course, we close out with wee Eric from Farm Sanctuary! Eric was left to suffer with a leg injury because the medical attention he needed would cost more than the farmer thought he was worth. We think Eric is worth a gagillion dollars and all piglets are worthy of a happy life without pain!

All of these piglets were intended to be meat on someone’s plate, but thanks to random events, they escaped their grim fate. But most pigs—billions of them—are not so lucky. The overwhelming majority of pigs are still suffering in deplorable conditions. What can you do? Click on any of the shelter links above and donate in the name of your favorite piglet. More ideas? Visit Mercy For Animals. But the best and easiest thing you can do is GO VEG.

Share this list with your friends and spread the message: animals matter!

05/13/2014

The 6 Best New Vegan Cheeses You Can’t Miss!  »

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Yes yes, you already know that the world of vegan cheese is wider and more beautiful than it’s ever been before. You’ve got your Daiya in all its myriad incarnations, your nachos are automatically slathered in Teese, your fancy dinner guests demand Kite Hill, and you’re scheduling a trip to NYC to celebrate the opening of the Dr. Cow storefront. In our current times of cheese wealth, how could things possibly get any better, you ask? Why, with more cheeses, of course! Here are a few newcomer brands ready to be shoveled into your gob.

Parmela

You already know Parmela from the very delicious Parmesean-style topping that’s likely been all over your pasta dishes for the last year. The three new spreads—in Kalamata Olive, Black Pepper, and Original flavors—from Parmela are just as rich and umami-packed as their predecessor. Try mixing a dollop of the Black Pepper onto pasta with veggies for a nearly instant and slightly spicy Alfredo.

S+M Vegan Cream Cheese

This one’s a bit of a tease (NY readers, avert your eyes!) since S+M Vegan’s cream cheese is only carried in the Bay Area so far at Republic of V in Berkeley. But, with top-notch ingredients and constant features in drool-inducing photos on S+M’s Facebook page, this bagel-topper might be worth a trip to the East Bay (from wherever you happen to be).

Miyoko’s Kitchen

Remember that time that Artisan Vegan Cheese came out and we all lost our collective minds? It’s happening again. Miyoko Schinner is taking every single away from not having her cheeses in permanent rotation in your fridge by launching a brand new company this summer. Consider the hive appetites whetted. (Creepiest way to say that I’d like to eat this cheese? Maybe!)

Ahimsa Organics

This artisan offering comes from Portland, OR, where it debuted in a pop-up shop at Herbivore Clothing Company, which is to say that it had a super auspicious launch. With offerings including Truffled Brie, IPA, and White Cheddar, Ahimsa is certainly not harming my desire to eat cheese! (Vegan jokes! The best ones!)

SunRawise

Who could have imagined five years ago that so many incarnations of aged nut cheeses were on the horizon? The Vegan Sun line comes in seven flavors including Rosemary, Italian Herbs, and Smoke & Spicy, these small wheels keep on turnin’ (us on to the idea of eating more cheese).

Vtopian Artisan Cheeses (pictured above!)

Oh, so you want fancy fillings in your fancy cheeses? Well fine then! Vtopian might be the most ambitious cheese-makers of the new crop, as their cheddars and bries come stuffed and flavored and topped. Peppercorn brie? Spicy white cheddar? Don’t mind if I do and then do again and again until all the cheeses are in my belly.

Elizabeth Castoria is a vegan cheese enthusiast and the author of How to Be Vegan. Find more at elizabethcastoria.com and follow @ecastoria on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest

12/12/2013

Your Vegansaurus 2013 Good Gifts Guide!  »

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Hello! It’s gift guide time of year! I wanted to find some good stuff that would also do some good. First up is the necklace above!

Sunday Frill Necklace
This cute necklace is handmade in Uganda: “Curated by Invisible Children in partnership with 31 Bits: Using fashion and design to empower women to rise above poverty.” And it’s adorable!

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Terra Cotta Pizza Stone
This beauty is from Ten Thousand Villages. It’s sourced through HEED Handicrafts, a job creation project of HEED Bangladesh. And OMG everyone who has a pizza stone is completely obsessed with them! My brother is head over heels for his. Like whoa. So if you want some DIY type or amateur chef to think you’re awesome, get them this.

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Science Club Binoculars & Wildlife Activity Journal
Dude, let’s be honest, kids are nerds. At least until about 12. They like nerdy stuff so I think these binoculars will knock the sox off of your little nephew or what have you. Plus proceeds benefit the Humane Society. Plus plus they can be spies!

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Mercy For Animals T-shirts
What vegan doesn’t like a t-shirt? NO VEGAN! I love this Mercy For Animals t-shirt and I love Mercy for Animals so it’s perfect for a vegan in your life! Or any old kind person you know.

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Lagusta’s Luscious Big Assortment
Now, if you really want to charm a vegan in your life—or any chocolate-lover for that matter—get them this giant chocolate assortment from Lagusta’s Luscious! The pic speaks for itself. Especially because when I downloaded it, the file name was “new_big_ass.” Hilar!

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Vegan Cuts’ New York for the Holidays Care Pack
Is there anyone you want to send a little New York goodness to? Then check out this new care package from Vegan Cuts. It’s filled with all kinds of stuff—including Sandcastle cookies!

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Brave Gentleman’s Innovator
If you want to go all out, these Brave Gentleman shoes are AMAZING and I LOVE THEM SO MUCH. And they are vegan and ethically made. If you want to go partially out, Brave Gentleman has some nice belts and wallets too. 

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Lil Bub tote
Do you have a hip friend or family member? Perhaps they are Lil Bub fans? Or they should be? BECAUSE EVERYONE SHOULD BE! Then a Lil Bub tote is a great, inexpensive gift. It’s totes current and it would make a great farmer’s market bag. Plus, a portion of the proceeds go to some of Bub’s favorite animal charities. Plus plus, OMG BUB I LOVE YOU.

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Found Dog Bed
If you want to go big for your own little (or big) animal friend, I like this bed from Found. This bed is handmade in Brooklyn by this dog rescue-focused brand. And it’s made super sustainably! But built to last. 

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Happy Carrot
If you know a kitty who needs a present, I’m into this Happy Carrot from Purrfect Play! It’s made in America with organic materials (mostly cotton) including organic catnip. They also donate 5% of sales to animal shelters. My Mitsy is BOUT IT for catnip! 

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Miakoda’s Crocheted Fingerless Gloves
Are you shopping for a fashion plate? Then these pretty fingerless gloves would be a super cute present. Great for biking in the fall or playing outdoor music! These are made in the US and they aren’t made with icky wool. 

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Green Toys Tool Set
OMG how much do I want this tool set?! Well actually I have a grownup pink tool set already so not that much. But when I was ten? All I wanted was a tool set and they never got me one! I would have been over the moon for this. And it’s made with recycled materials with super sustainable methods, etc etc etc. 

And that’s your Vegansaurus Good Gift Guide! Happy holidays to you and yours. 

10/24/2013

Buzzfeed does it again: 19 horrifying vegan problems  »

Oh Buzzfeed, you make the work day so much better. Jack Shepherd’s latest vegan list nails it. Here are some highlights:

Omg if I had a dime!

Right?

Read the rest here! Tell me the best ones!

10/10/2013

Dun-Well Doughnuts made it to Thrillist’s list of the 8 best donuts in NYC! You go, girl! 
I got Dun-Well for my bday party last year which was almost all omnis and they were totally ‘bout it for these vegan donuts. Not that omnis are the measure of goodness but it’s like I always say, those omnis are so ready to dislike vegan stuff before they even try it! So if they like something vegan, it says a lot.

Dun-Well Doughnuts made it to Thrillist’s list of the 8 best donuts in NYC! You go, girl! 

I got Dun-Well for my bday party last year which was almost all omnis and they were totally ‘bout it for these vegan donuts. Not that omnis are the measure of goodness but it’s like I always say, those omnis are so ready to dislike vegan stuff before they even try it! So if they like something vegan, it says a lot.

01/18/2013

Buzzfeed kills it with “The 19 Most Annoying Things About Being Vegan”  »

God bless Buzzfeed, amiright? Buzzfeed staffer Jack Shepherd hits the nail on the head with this list of annoying things. You have to read it and tell me if you think it’s as dead-on as I do. Did he miss any? Here are my favorites:

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I hate wraps so so much. Bread is why I eat sandwiches.

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So true. :(

And of course #19 is the truest annoyance of all: “The comment section for every article ever written about veganism.” And don’t worry, there are plenty of terrible comments on his post. I wish I could shock people through the internet. Just send a few volts per level of obnoxiousness. Disqus should add that feature. 

10/08/2012

Top 5 Reasons to do Walk for Farm Animals with Gene Baur  »

Hi everybody! Gene Baur (!) sent us this handy list about Farm Sanctuary’s Walk for Farm Animals. The SF Walk for Farm Animals is October 13th, who’s going to be there? Gene is! You can be there too, there is still time to sign up. I also want you to know that the cow in the picture above is named Meg. Twinsies! 

Top 5 Reasons to Walk for Farm Animals

1. Meet other people who care about animals! The Walk for Farm Animals brings together a compassionate community of individuals who support Farm Sanctuary’s efforts to rescue abused animals and advocate on behalf of millions more.

2. Support Farm Sanctuary—the largest farm animal rescue and protection organization in North America! Every dollar raised directly supports Farm Sanctuary’s life-saving work.

3. Fight factory farming! 96% of Americans oppose cruelty to animals and have no idea that animals are abused on factory farms. The Walk for Farm Animals educates the public about the horrors of industrialized agriculture.

4. Give animals a voice with every step you take! Farm animals can’t speak for themselves—be their voice and advocate on their behalf.

5. Make a difference and have fun! The Walk for Farm Animals features free vegan food, live music, pre-Walk yoga, and much more!

If you can’t make it to the SF one, check the site for when the walk is in your city. It’s in NYC on October 20th! If there isn’t one in your area or you’re a lazy bones, you can participate in the Sleep In for Farm Animals on November 3. That’s my kind of party! 

06/27/2012

Which coffee shops don’t charge extra for soy milk? Let’s make a list!  »


Beautiful coconut milk latte made for me by my dear brother. He’s fancy, right? It’s beautiful.

Reader Toshio emailed me the other day:

I was wondering if you’d consider posting a list of the cafes in SF that don’t charge extra for soymilk. The only one I know of is Peace Cafe on Haight Street, but there must be more. I would walk extra blocks just to avoid the charge. Much appreciated!

Let’s ask the readers! Who knows of a coffee shop in S.F. (or beyond) that doesn’t charge extra for soy milk?

Is there a legitimate reason for charging more for soy milk? It’s generally $.50 extra to get soy milk at a coffee shop. I’ve looked at dairy milk and soy milk prices online and it does seem soy milk is a bit more expensive—not more expensive than organic dairy milk, but maybe they are all only getting non-organic. But even non-organic is only like $.40 per gallon more expensive. That’s not nothing, but the cafe isn’t using more than a gallon of soy milk in your latte. If they really want to charge more because the soy milk they buy is more expensive, then it shouldn’t be more than a few cents per coffee, if we’re actually trying to make up the price difference.

Moreover, dairy milk prices seem to fluctuate quite often and kind of drastically. If we are going by this system of milk that costs more for the cafe costs more for you, when dairy milk prices go up, there should be an extra charge, no? But they don’t do that—people wouldn’t put up with it. But we soy milk drinkers don’t have the same kind of options as dairy-drinkers so we’re pretty much stuck with whatever they want to charge us. Bastards! They are exploiting our dietary needs!

I say to you, no more! Screw these extra charges! Next time they charge you $.50, you give them two pennies and say that is all they’re getting! Better yet, we should all walk out of our way to support the non-exploitative establishments! It’s time to RISE UP! Rage against the soy milk surcharges!

05/21/2012

How to STAY vegan: 13 tips!  »

 

Cleavage shot by yours truly

Anybody can GO vegan. Heck, my dad makes a joke that goes, “I’m vegan… BETWEEN MEALS!” Ha! Got me there, Dad!

The point is, many people decide to go vegan and they’re all about it for a while. Then they get frustrated. Or bored. Or lonely. Or demotivated. Or any number of less-than-optimal states of being. We’ve given you tips on how to GO vegan, now we’d like to tell you how to STAY vegan.

From Jenny and me, 13 tips on staying vegan:


1. Spread the word!
Tell everyone you’re vegan. Reaffirming this fact not only to myself but also to people I meet might make me obnoxious, but it also keeps me feeling like the public is watching my every move. And nobody likes feeling hypocritical. They tell you to do this when you’re going to quit smoking too—it just makes you more accountable. 

2. Get a vegan tattoo!
I’m sort of joking but not really? I got one (pictured above). It’s there to judge me, forever.

3. Remember why you’re vegan!
Re-watch Meet Your MeatEarthlings, or reread Diet for a New America. Listen to podcasts like Colleen Patrick-Goudreau and We Like It Raw. Revisit why you went vegan in the first place when you’re feeling shaky. Ask yourself on the regular, why you are doing this. Animals? Environment? To bring more compassion into your life? It will help remind you why this sometimes challenging way of life is worth it. And it’s fun to see how your commitments, ideas and thoughts about this way of life change over time. As my therapist tells me, check in with yourself on the regular!

4. Stay in the know!
Watch new exposés. Read new studies. Every time the “health community” “learns” something about food, pay attention—you might have forgotten all the pus and antibiotics in that hunk of cheese you’re craving. Have all the information in your grasp. This is particularly easy to do if you have the Internet. God bless the internet!

5. Take it easy on yourself!
Forgive yourself if you do something that’s not vegan. You’ll learn what to watch out for on ingredient lists and which brands of face lotion are tested on animals. You will learn SO MUCH, it’s crazy. You can always choose to do something different next time, and guilt-tripping yourself isn’t going to make you feel motivated to continue in this lifestyle. It’s okay if you’re not perfect, you’re human! Your lifestyle isn’t about being more vegan than anyone else and mistakes happen. This is especially important when beginning or coming back to a vegan way of life!

6. Listen to your body!
If you do slip up, pay attention to your body. If/when you do something that’s not vegan, on purpose or on accident, think about how it makes you feel physically in addition to mentally. You might notice you feel better without those eggs clogging up your arteries!

7. Build your vegan community!
Find vegan friends. You can do this through a meetup, through vegan blogs (ahem), or by complete accident. Talk to them when you’re feeling low about veganism. For every vegan you don’t want to talk to, there are at least five more you do. You have a vegan BFF out there just waiting to be found! It took me five years to find Jenny Bradley. Patience pays off.

8. Throw a party!
If you are a social being and like to have people over, throw a vegan party! I like to have monthly potlucks, in which I invite everyone I know and ask them to bring a dish, if they so desire! Of course it must be vegan! It brings out the creativity in my vegetarian and omnivore friends, and they get really excited when they veganize their dishes! I swear! It’s the cutest. Plus, everyone loves eating! Food at parties gives people something to do and talk about!

9. Experiment in the kitchen!
Try new recipes, like, all the time. Rice, beans, and kale are all healthy, but some deep-fried tofu cubes or a few bites of homemade vegan ice cream shouldn’t kill you (of course, consult your doctor if you’re at all worried about that). If you’re bored with what you’re eating, going back to the omni side could look terribly appealing.

10. Go to vegan venues!
Hit up vegan restaurants. Don’t have any near you? Make a point to take some road trips to the closest ones. There’s a big wide vegan world waiting for you!

11. Be prepared!
Traveling while vegan can be an adventure. Plan accordingly. You can always eat at Subway or Taco Bell on roadtrips, but bring snacks! Everywhere! Weddings, plane rides, whatever circumstance has you not eating for hours at a time. I have found this is especially important when arriving somewhere late or if you have a food allergy! I firmly believe raw, dehydrated foods are the best for these situations because they are healthy and flavorful. Basically, pack nutrient dense foods (bagels, pretzels and bread have a tendency to leave me hungry and unfulfilled as opposed to kale chips, dried fruit, nuts or a superfood Powerbar).

12. Let the vegan haters hate!
Don’t let assholes (I’m including myself here) shame you into quitting. I’ll be like, “Oh, people who support PETA are human lice,” but then I’ll totally forget to look at ingredients on some random granola bar I bought because I was hungry and end up eating something with whey in it and not feeling so high and mighty after all. Plus a few days down the road you’ll probably see me looking up a recipe on PETA’s website. The point is that this is your choice, and people who are jerks to you about it are just that: jerks.

13. Let the omni haters hate!
Pick your battles with omnivores. Haters gonna hate and you’ll wear yourself out when you feel like you are always on the defense to testy omnivores. Sometimes I just laugh jerks off, because in the end, I don’t care what they think of me and I know I gotta do me! Remember, it’s about you! This is your life, your diet and your choices! Everyone will have an opinion (they always do!) but in the end, my goal is to show everyone what a healthy, happy, satisfied, well-adjusted, fun vegan looks like.

There you have it! I hope this list helps you stay vegan and stay strong. It’s a great thing you’re doing, keep up the good work!

01/26/2012

Five ways to take your tofu scramble to the next level  »


Is your tofu scramble missing something—flavor, pizazz, less slime? I’m no professional chef, but I did consult her for this article. And I’m sitting on the bench in my tofu scramble game: That means I DON’T PLAY. After complaining about tofu scrambles on restaurant menus, it’s only fair that I help others get on my level. Am I full of myself? You bet! Let’s start:

1. Tofu texture
You’ve got to go with firm or firmer, folks. Soft, medium, or silken tofu? Not gonna work here. I’ve made this mistake before, and it turns your meal all slimy. Go for firm or extra-firm. If your tofu is packed in water (usually accompanied by a hard plastic tray), you should also press it first to expel extra liquid.

2. Herbs ‘n’ spices
This is god-damned crucial. Because tofu is designed to soak up the flavors of what’s around it, you don’t want to end up with a dish that tastes like … tofu. Some important items, not just for cooking a tofu scramble but also for cooking most things in the world: garlic, cumin (gives it that eggy flavor), salt, black salt (makes it even eggier), pepper, paprika, turmeric (makes it yellow, if you’re into that) and thyme. Apply liberally, and thank me in the morning.

3. Cooking time
Cook your tofu in your skillet (ideally cast-iron, but who has time/money for such frivolities?!) till you think it might be burning. Then stir it, because it probably is not burnt. The point is you want your tofu to be done, not still mushy. Here’s my process: I sautee onions and any veggies with a longer cooking time first, then I add garlic and spices, and then the tofu. After adding the tofu, I cook on medium-high heat and stir occasionally for at least 15 to 20 minutes. You want that shit browned, ya heard?

4. Veggies
You can’t just toss onions and peppers on top of cubed tofu and expect it to be any good. You want the tofu to soak up flavors, which is why I recommended in tip #3 to cook a lot of the relevant veggies first. Frozen spinach and potatoes are especially useful in this application. When something is frozen, I add it later, when I add the tofu to the pan.

5. Toppings
This is the final step before serving, right? So don’t scrimp! Hook yourself up with some salsa, Frank’s hot sauce (GOD FRANK’S I WANT TO DRINK YOU), avocado, tortillas, ketchup, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and whatever else you godforsaken heathens like to throw on top of your food. Serve with toast, duh.

If your tofu scrambles are lackluster, try a few of these tips, and let me know how it goes. Or show it to a friend who could really use some help. Whatever, I’m here to serve!

[Photo by Cowomally via Flickr]

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