Lyfe Kitchen: Tal Ronnen, Art Smith, and a couple of dudes who used to work for McDonald’s want you to eat their healthy food  »

Guess what, vegans and the people who love them: restaurateurs really do want your money! Seriously! They are starting a chain of restaurants called Lyfe Kitchen, which will serve “healthy” omnivorous and vegan dishes. Art Smith, Oprah’s totally not-vegan chef who was once on Top Chef: Masters, has of late eschewed his creamy-buttery-cheesy cuisine for less artery-clogging death food at his own restaurant, and is in charge of the omnivorous part of the menu, and Tal “Mr. Gardein” Ronnen will be developing the vegan section. Plans are to open the first Lyfe Kitchen in Palo Alto, Calif. this summer.

This sounds kind of great, right? Except it also sounds a little, um, nutty. The chain will be marketed to “women age 18 to 49, hoping they’ll like the food enough to bring back friends andfamilies. While she’s enjoying a grain salad, there’s a beefy burger for her husband. While he’s munching away, he might try a bite of hers, and even like it.” Wait, what? Yeah, who wants to puke after reading that? Three sentences packed full of gnarly stereotypes, but stereotypes sell! And this isn’t a “vegan” restaurant: “The menu so far avoids modifiers like ‘vegan,’ ‘gluten-free’ and ‘dairy-free,’” despite offering such options. Because “vegan” is “scary” and “gluten-free” is for “crazies” and Lyfe Kitchen isn’t for scary crazies, it’s for Middle American Families and the Moms Who Run Them.

So definitely this is a positive idea coming to fruition, right? We shall see—you know your Vegansaurus will be checking this place out once it opens. What do you all think: is marketing to McDonald’s Moms the right way to sell a chain of semi-vegan restaurants? I mean, in Tal we trust, but as for the rest of the business partners and the model, who knows.


Vegan baked goods taking over: Babycakes opens in Disney World!  »

YOU GUYS! There is a Babycakes in Disney World! Can you imagine? Vegan, gluten-free, refined-sugar-free baked goods at DISNEY WORLD? News like this is what keeps us going when the bestselling cookbooks are all about dismembering animals at home. Vegan diets are the future, and our first victory will be over baked goods.

OK mrs. philosophical, but how did Babycakes even get to Orlando? Well! Disney at large, in an effort to be healthier, ended their contracts with McDonald’s. Just dumped them! And then invited, “among many, many, many others” Babycakes to be part of a healthier Disney project. Erin McKenna, being a clever and enterprising lady, agreed, and two years later, we have Babycakes Disney World!

Remember when all the promotional Disney movie toys came in Happy Meals? I remember specifically really wanting a cheap plastic Ariel toy and getting a really terrible Prince Eric toy instead. He came in a boat that did not float, and his hands were molded all poorly so he didn’t really have defined fingers. Also his skin was gray. I really hated that thing. Those days are over now, right? Or will McDonald’s continue its reign of terror even after Disney has divested itself of all that evil?

Or maybe, be quiet and be happy now, Babycakes is in Disney World!!

[photo by Brianna]


Whoops, PCRM’s not perfect  »

Good old Deceiver. Usually they totally stick it to the hypocrites, and we can all roll our eyes and giggle and wonder about the stupidity of the world.

But just like the rest of us humans, sometimes they take it a bit far. Implying that PCRM President Neal Barnard is hypocritical for having worked at McDonald’s, because PCRM has a new anti-McDonald’s ad campaign doesn’t actually make sense. It’s certainly not “ironic.”

No one’s led a blameless life—even Jesus of The Bible had his inexplicably rude moments, remember? And we’re all allowed to change our minds. Rarely do you find a committed vegan who was born and raised that way. Most of us had to learn, and for some of us that took exposure to a lot of gross stuff first—perhaps working at a McDonald’s.

As Laura says, it’s like, remember how you used to believe in Santa Claus, and sleep with men who undervalued you? You live, you learn!

[disclaimer: our Laura was at one time a contract employee for PCRM, and Vegansaurus continues to advocate for the Healthy School Lunch Program as proposed and lobbied for by PCRM. That said, come on.]


The truth about mechanically separated chicken  »

I want to leave the second person plural a minute and talk to you all, editor-to-readers, about this mechanically separated chicken monstrosity Laura posted on Wednesday. You remember; it was pink and beautiful, before the realization that it was made of chickens. And then we all wanted to barf for about 10 years? Most of us did, anyway. It appears that some of you readers don’t believe that that photo is accurate; some doubt both the photo’s veracity and the facts we included from the original post about mechanically separated chicken.

That’s fair. I can understand not wanting to believe such a process exists, or that companies like McDonald’s don’t serve such a substance to their customers. Unfortunately, it’s real and true.

This is an image of mechanically separated chicken that has been divided according to the part of the chicken it came from. Note that while two of the three raw globs are quite pink, all three of the cooked globs have turned white or nearly white. This image comes from an article written in 2005 about University of Georgia professor Daniel Fletcher, who is “highly regarded and respected by poultry instructors and researchers in industry, government, and academia,” according to the World’s Poultry Science Association, which inducted him into its Hall of Fame in 2008. Professor Fletcher had used a centrifuge to help separate the meats.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Services Poultry Slaughter and Inspection Training publication called "Plant Familiarization: Characteristics and Manufacturing—Poultry" [.pdf], “Often, the industry searches for ways to yield the maximum edible, wholesome product from the meat or poultry carcass. The mechanical separation process is a technology that industry uses to obtain more usable product from bones from which the muscle has  been removed.”

The USDS FSIS glossary defines mechanically separated chicken (and turkey) as “a paste-like and batter-like product…intended for use in the formulation of other poultry products…. Mechanically separated chicken and turkey are used in products such as chicken and turkey franks, bologna, nuggets, and patties.” National Geographic's video of processing hot dogs rather graphically illustrates the meat-slurry creation process.

One final note: Should anyone seriously doubt any claims made by any Vegansaurus contributor again, please contact us (me or Laura) about such matters. We will take you seriously. However, no writer would deliberately post something untrue, and we always do our research; we respect you and ourselves too much to lie.

(Besides, we aren’t your confused great-uncle sending warnings about deserted highways where scary strange man drivers flash their headlights at lady drivers who drive faster to get away when it turns out the man driver was trying to warn the lady that the scary strange man is in her backseat so when she drives really fast to get away from the flashing-lights guy she’s actually driving faster toward her imminent RAPE and DEATH, LADIES DON’T EVER DRIVE ALONE AND ALWAYS LISTEN TO MEN!!! Seriously.)


Advertising beat: McDonald’s is for Old Spice-lovers, please  »

[can’t see the video? watch it on!]

Since our sneakers correspondent is also our crack advertising reporter, and that Megan Rascal is still gallivanting about Europe, we’re on the advertising beat today! This 30-second spot hasn’t aired on U.S. television yet, but presumably it will, considering how hard commercial media want us to admire/be/get wet for dudes who do Manly Things. The manliest thing a man has ever done, of course, is stuffed some meat down his gullet. Also, the voiceover guy has an “American” accent, and you know ‘murrican Manly Men don’t respond to “foreign” voices—unless they’re selling “foreign” products, like Dos Equis beer, or Grey Poupon mustard.

Obviously McDonald’s can’t pretend their products are anything but chemically enhanced food-like substances, so now they’re making an appeal to the same people Manly Men who are all about smelling like Old Spice and bringing back chivalry. Cool idea, so original! You all are the smartest ever. Maybe it’s all the sodium that reminds you, a Manly Man, of your innate responsibility to open doors for Ladies. Maybe it’s the weird dairy products in the processed cheese-food that give you super-strong hands!* Or maybe all that gnarly cholesterol is actually brain food, and BAM you can fix cars you’ve never even seen before! Honestly, we have no idea; as vegans, we’ll never eat that much cholesterol, and most of your Vegansaurus was born XX, so we’re doubly stupid about the wondrous effects of McDonald’s on Manly (Omnivorous) Men.

Has anyone is Australia seen this commercial yet? Does it make you want to puke as much as we wanted to when we watched it? This play-pretend admiration of the super-fixed gender roles of the last century is unbelievably fucking stupid—it’s not even a binary!—and emphasizing its importance is pathetic. We are moving on from “Manly,” and we’re moving on from McDonald’s. If you want to make it in this century, you’d better evolve, you creeps.

*Note to fellow homo sapiens without much hand strength: wrap a rubber band around the lid of the jar. That provides much more traction than those ridiculous rubber opener-things and you can leave it on the jar for future use. It is brilliant and amazing and another small way of maintaining your independence.



Yes, McDonald’s has a “Head Chef”  »

Meet the enemy, the anti-Tal, or, as he prefers to be called, Chef Dan. Daniel Coudreaut is the head chef at McDonald’s, officially known by the wonderfully corporate title “Director of Culinary Innovation, Menu Management,” and is in charge of their research and development lab for new menu products.

Time magazine’s profile is a rare look into the creative process behind Western Civilization’s slow walk toward nutritional suicide. For each new product innovation (notice how I’m avoiding words like “food” and “recipe”), Chef Dan works with every corporate division to get approval, from supply chain management to legal to franchise relations. I’m getting hungry already! Each new ingredient risks sending shockwaves in food markets if farmers are unable to keep up with the demand, while others pose a lawsuit risk, like stray pits from cherries. And anything he dreams up in the lab has to be easy enough for any McDonald’s employee to prepare.

Chef Dan’s crowning achievement? The Mac Snack Wrap: a “healthy” version of the Big Mac, with a wrap instead of a sesame seed bun, and 690 mg of sodium. That’s 43 percent of the US RDA of sodium. I’m lovin’ it!

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