Mad City Vegan Fest is THIS weekend! GO GO GO!  »

And it looks amazing! If you’re anywhere near Madison, you gotta go. The speaker lineup is outstanding, we love the Pacific Northwest (psych, I know it’s the Pacific Midwest!), and the organizers are hilarious and adorable and really fun, so you know the event is gonna be great.

You know how with some events the organizers are out of touch and weirdo mcbeardo, and then the whole event is just you eating melba toast and being depressed about the general state of veganism and maybe crying in the corner? I KNOW YOU KNOW. Anyway, this is the exact opposite, so go! Seriously, if I could go to one event this year and weren’t dying of a cold/crippling depression/lack of snacks, I’d definitely go with you! Live for those who can’t! LIVE, I BEG OF YOU!


Guest post: A vegan guide to Madison!  »

So, you’re a vegan in Madison, Wis. Maybe you live there, maybe you’re traveling through. You may have a lot of despair in your heart, because you know that in Wisconsin, underneath the earth’s crust is a river of molten cheese. You may have also discovered that everyone born in Wisconsin is composed of pure cheese. In fact, if you were to shake my hand right now, it would melt.

Yes, the dairy industry is a proud part of life in Wisconsin. It can seem that there’s cheese at every turn (the streets are made of cheese), butter on every vegetable, and mayo in every salad. But if you know where to look, Madison can be a vegan’s delight.

Things I, Rachel, a vegan, ate at Madison restaurants: a list for your pleasure

  • Lemon poppyseed cheesecake
  • A BBQ jackfruit sandwich
  • Tangerine champagne cake with raspberry filling
  • A crab cake sandwich
  • Split pea soup
  • A grasshopper (a brownie with mint frosting)
  • A scone
  • So many muffins I am now known as “The Muffin Man”

AND MORE! “Lead me to this smorgasbord, Rachel,” you are saying to me right now. Forward!

The Green Owl Café
Located on Atwood on the near east side, The Green Owl Café is Madison’s first vegan/vegetarian restaurant. I went there twice in two weeks and wish I could transport it to Oakland so I could LIVE there. The most outstanding part of both meals was the desserts, which they make in house. The waitress said “Vegan lemon poppy seed cheesecake” and I screamed so loud it deafened her. I was like a hippo, making loud noises and eating everything and probably sweating from all the joy.

BBQ jackfruit sandwich

Tangerine champagne cake

Himal Chuli
Did you know that Madison has more Nepalese restaurants than any other American town? We have two, and they are next door to each other. Himal Chuli is where you go if it’s 2 degrees and hasn’t stopped snowing in three months. The food will warm you AND prevent scurvy! Their vegetarian menu is extensive, but I recommend the momochas and the takari (your choice of 2 vegetable blends). WARNING: the roti is made with yogurt!

Chocolate Shoppe
You can’t go to Wisconsin without eating ice cream. IT’S THE LAW. Luckily for us, Chocolate Shoppe ice cream is locally made and has soy options! My favorite flavor is the espresso oreo. The photo you see before you was taken when I ate ice cream for lunch one day. TREAT YO SELF.

The Willy Street Co-Op
This is the Rainbow of Madison, y’all. I ate like 55 muffins here? I also consumed a grasshopper as big as my head (see photo). The baked goods at this place kind of put the Bay Area to shame, you guys. The only thing they were missing is Cinnaholic rolls.

I left Madison with a sad heart and tight pants.

Rachel orders one pancake with her breakfast burrito at Saturn Café, just so she can cover the burrito with maple syrup. She organizes the SF Vegan Bakesales and is the genius behind @sfveganbakesale. Will you marry her?


Guest post: Vegan Cookie Connoisseur Kelly Peloza goes to Mad City Vegan Fest!  »

The first-ever Mad City Vegan Fest was held last month in Madison, Wis., and I was lucky enough to be there doing a baking demo and speech. Over 1,300 people attended, and there were so many fantastic, inspiring presenters: Jasmin Singer and Mariann Sullivan of Our Hen House spoke about food activism; Terry Romero made chipotle seitan potato tacos; Kenny Torella of Mercy For Animals spoke about everyday compassion; and there was a nutrition talk, yoga session, and raw food demo! There were lines wrapping around the exhibitor room full of people eager to get their hands on lunch from local Midwest vegan food vendors like Dandelion Food Cart (I got a breakfast-y tofu ciabatta sandwich and it was yumz), Ste Martaen Vegan Food Truck, and a whole host of tables offering samples. A smashing success, and everyone was extremely friendly and super awesome.

It gets even better! There were Vegansaurus Happy Veggie Kids at the vegan fest! My friend Marla of Chicago VeganMania was there with Justice. Then I recognized Ayame, who sat in the front row at my demo and volunteered to be one of my cookie-decorators. I clearly need to be best friends with more eight-year-olds because Ayame said she loves cookies and bunnies, and OMG me too! I went vegan when I was 14 and grew up very much involved in the vegan community, and it’s wonderful to see these awesome vegan kids being a part of such a wonderful community at such a young age!

For my demo, I talked about cookbook-writing and the greatness of microplane zesters, then made Shirley Temple Cookies. They are a delicate, shortbread-like citrus cookie topped with cherry grenadine frosting, garnished with a cherry, candy straws, and a cocktail umbrella—just like the drink. Get the recipe here.

Sandi and Ayame and I piped frosting and garnished the cookies with all sorts of fun stuff. The audience also got samples of Chocolate Peppermint Cream Bars (such a summery recipe, I know!) and Hypnosis Cookie Lollipops. Jasmin commented that my dress matched the cookies—when you spend all your time making cookies, at some point desserts become your (subconscious) fashion inspiration. The demo went smoothly and everyone was gobbling up cookies by the end of it!

The after-party was held at High Noon Saloon, with pizza and cupcakes galore (the only food groups you’ll ever need)! My friend Jessica of Compassionate Cake baked a huge selection of GORGEOUS cupcakes, in flavors like Chile Chocolate, Death by Chocolate, and Maple Vegan Bacon, topped with intricate fondant and chocolate sculptures. I had met Jessica a few days prior to the event, after seeing her cupcakes and deciding we needed to be friends immediately. She is just starting her catering business and she’s an amazing lady. Just look at these cupcakes!

I always go home happy and inspired from vegan fests and other events, and Mad City was no exception (well, 8 a.m. class the next day was kind of a drag). I met so many wonderful people, saw some good friends, and made new ones. Go get your vegan fest on in a city near you, or get involved with starting one! Something about putting hundreds of like-minded people with great ideas and enthusiasm all in one place all day makes awesome things happen!

Kelly Peloza is the author of The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, which is great. Find her at The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur and Seitan Beats Your Meat online, or all over the place in real life! Thanks for the post, Kelly!


Happy Veggie Kids: Madison!  »

The above person is Madison with her adopted dog Larry! Madison is 12 and she’s a scrappy basketball player from Roseville, Calif. From her Auntie: “Her uncle Rod and I are vegans but we were completely, though pleasantly, surprised by her proud announcement that she is a vegetarian. She’s psyched about the Daiya grilled cheeses we’ve promised to make her.” Awesome! Daiya grilled cheese with tomato soup, holy cannoli! The best! Also the best? Indoctrinating your siblings’ children!

Vegansaurus: What is your favorite food?
Madison: Cheese. [Ed. note: We’ll get her eventually! I know it]

What is your favorite kind of birthday cake?
Red velvet!

Why are you vegetarian?
Because I love animals and the thought of meat grosses me out.

Do you like being vegetarian? Why?
Yes! Because I don’t like the thought of eating animals so when I don’t eat animals, I feel good!

Is it ever hard to be vegetarian?

What do your friends think about you being vegetarian?
Some of my friends are vegetarians, but the ones who aren’t don’t really care.

What is your favorite animal? Why?
Dogs! Because they are really sweet and cuddly and soft and nice!

Do you like pink dinosaurs?
I do.

Can you draw one for us? We would love it!
Madison: Umm, no. Wait, was that a real question?
Aunt: Yes. Their logo is a pink dinosaur.
Madison: Oh! OK, I’ll do it! I’ll find one on the internet and copy it

Madison was moving and couldn’t draw a vegansaurus for us so her uncle Rod was kind enough to draw one on her behalf:

Rod should be a professional vegansaurus drawer! As usual, if you have a vegan or vegetarian kid who wants to do the interview, email me!


Today’s news: Jon Stewart breaks my heart.

For a Daily Show stunt surrounding the Madison, Wisc. labor protests, this poor camel is dragged around in the cold until he gets his foot caught in a gate and topples to the ground. In the video filmed before this one, you can see 1.) You “handle” a camel by hits to the jugular?; and 2.) the trainer actually walks the camel right into the gate. Genius. I’m sure it was so totally worth it for whatever amazing segment this was supposed to be a part of. I doubt it will ever see the light of television though, right? Man, Jon Stewart, I used to love you.

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