vegansaurus!

05/02/2011

Every day is Earth Day when you’re vegan  »

For Earth Day this year I celebrated by attending Berkeley Vegan Earth Day, hosted by eco-friendly event planner Karine Brighten. Though you may be thinking, “Earth Day was soooo last week, why are you getting around to this now?” I have two reasons: One is that I am a slacker. Two is that it doesn’t matter because EVERY DAY SHOULD BE EARTH DAY! And the information is still relevant!
What was special about this particular Earth Day event was the link Brighten emphasized between veganism and its positive impact on both animals and the environment, as well as exploring “reasons and ways to take that commitment even further.” Mission accomplished, girlfriend! 

Berkeley Vegan Earth Day included a screening of the documentary Call of Life: Facing the Mass Extinction, followed by a panelist discussion and catered reception. 

To put it mildly, Call of Life was intense. Really, read its tag line: “If current trends continue, scientists warn that within a few decades at least HALF of all plant and animal species on Earth will disappear forever.” We live on a planet full of ecosystems that depend on each other for survival. When one species, whether plants or animals, begins to dwindle or become extinct, it causes a ripple effect to which human animals are not immune. The scientists, anthropologists, philosophers and psychologists featured in this documentary are hypothesizing that if we don’t fundamentally change our behavioral and societal patterns (RIGHT NOW) we are going to contribute to both the extinction of the plants and animals on our planet as well as ourselves.

Another point this movie touched upon was that as humans, we are not oblivious to this going on around us and may suffer from feelings of terror, anger, and despair. Yet our society is adept at pushing consumerism as a way to suppress those feelings, or block them out entirely. We buy the things we “deserve” to feel better, and indulge in meat though we know factory farming is vicious and inhumane, as well as a direct reason for clear-cutting rain forests. The longer this movie sat with me, the more powerfully my thoughts centered around throwing myself off my second-story balcony, but then I remembered I was hosting Easter this year, which would hopefully save at least one pig sent for slaughter this spring (nothing like an agave-brown sugar seitan roast). Activism, people! It saves lives!

Next up were the vegan panelists: David Vlansey, the executive producer of Call of Life, Lauren Ornelas of the Food Empowerment Project, Hope Bohanec of In Defense of Animals, and Alex Eaves of Stay Vocal.

My favorite points from the discussion include:

Lauren Ornelas:

  •  In the US farm workers are not paid overtime, though in pretty much every other professional it is mandatory. There are laws against compensating them for overtime.
  • Environmental racism—it’s no coincidence that oil refineries, land fills, truck depots,etc happen to be located around low income neighborhoods and communities of color. These areas have higher rates of cancer and pollutants along with less access to health care or healthy foods. Examples of these regions in the SF Bay Area include Richmond and Martinez.

 Hope Bohanec:  

  • The only difference between organic beef and conventional beef is what they are fed. Eating organic beef doesn’t effect green house or fossil fuel admissions.
  • It’s not feasible to have enough grass-fed, free-range meat to feed 6 billion people (the Earth’s population). There simply isn’t enough room.
  • Eating vegan is eating green. Two vegan meals a week is better than eating an organic, locally sourced lifestyle.

Alex Eaves:  

  • Recycling is failure to reuse.
  • It takes 400 gallons of water for all the cotton that goes into one new t-shirt.
  • If his friends that own coffeeshops were to charge everyone that brought in their own travel mug $1 and $5 for every paper cup, people could then pay for their ignorance and denial.

The reception was catered by Millennium, which was great for me, as I’ve never eaten there.

Brighten said she is “extremely happy to have had such an amazing turnout, and so much support from the community.” Sign up for her newsletter to receive updates on upcoming events here! I may have heard a rumor about vegan speed dating in Berkeley in the near future.

04/27/2011

Hello, friends! It’s WTF Wednesday!  »

You guys, I was wrong about only my pride being hurt in my fall down the stairs the other week. Turns out my body lulled me into a false sense of security with this whole “you only twisted your ankle” bit, and then threw me a curveball by taking my back out again. Honestly, I do not know how long I am going to survive, considering how often I’m falling down stairs, having my feet run over by shopping carts, and laying around watching Pawn Stars in an ibuprofen haze (600 mg! Holla!). Actually, the last part is pretty OK, considering that I could be doing much worse TV-wise. I’ve also been swearing a lot more now that scientific studies are telling me that it has a numbing effect and am enjoying flashing the webpages that informed me of this at Allen every time that he informs me that referring to things as “goddamn dinner, fuckers!” instead of saying “I’m hungry” is “not very nice.”

Speaking of Allen, we had our third anniversary last week. Trust me, no one is more surprised that he hasn’t yet murdered me and left me at the bottom of a lake somewhere than me. Instead, he actually bought me a new pair of professional shoes (sensible!) and took me out to dinner at Millennium (delicious!). I hadn’t eaten at Millennium since about 2005 because I am a bigger fan of shiny electronics than food, but goddamn (stop telling me not to swear, mom! It’s numbing my pain!), you guys, it was amazing, and I have the least refined palate in history! The best part of the dinner (besides spending time with my sweet babboo), was our server, Elizabeth, with whom I share an allergy to Codeine, and the table behind us that was made up of four middle-aged men talking about show tunes and bitchy out-of-town guests. I cannot tell you how much I wanted to turn around and screech “OH MY GOD! I ALSO LOVE THAT RECORDING OF FOLLIES!” at them, but making sure that I was not the only one having a good time really sobered me up. God, I hate being in a stable and responsible relationship.

Here’s something else that sobered me up: The comments that I got two weeks ago that suggested that the cow in the “jumping cow” video may have not been unhappy. I have to admit, my first thought was also “man, this video is cute” but changed to “WTF!” the second I saw the riding crop. I see a lot of these kinds of videos, though, and so I thought that this week we could all play a game: Cute, or OFFENSIVE and WRONG.

Our subject is the now-infamous baby-penguin-getting-tickled video. This video is adorable because the penguin seems fairly happy wandering around being cute, but here are my questions: Is it okay to tickle a baby penguin? And does the fact that this penguin is at a zoo cancel out any cuteness inherent to the act of a penguin freaking out by the affection they are receiving? On one hand, sure, penguins need love, but on the other, I see the tag on the penguin’s wing. Seriously? We couldn’t not tag and cage a penguin? Is it really necessary to do that for our amusement? Because here’s my issue: There is no reason for zoos other than to show us animals for amusement at the cost of the animals’ freedom. Therefore, is looking at these cute videos and hoping for more of them morally and/or ethically wrong? I honestly don’t have an answer for that and would love to gear your thoughts. NOW BACK TO THE OUTRAGE!

You know what I’m outraged about today? Butchering. It’s not enough that we have to deal with this whole “happy meat” and “humanely raised and butchered animals” myth (pro-tip: If an animal is butchered for food, it is not humane and they are not happy), but now there is this whole new “woe is me, the Bay Area only has one humane slaughterhouse left. Seriously? Animals are getting killed and your one concern is that we can’t “eat local”? You know what we can eat local? Fruits and vegetable and grains! We can make some delicious food out of that!

I guarantee that if you choose to click on the link and read the article, you will be sure that you are reading something from The Onion. What really does it for me is the fond memories that people have of slaughtering animals. You know what I have fond memories of? Going to Disneyland! Who in their right mind not only has fond memories of a hog-slaughter, but then decides to actually talk about it to the press? That is not even a thing! Just a quick reminder: Kissing your boyfriend on Space Mountain is a fond memory that you can tell your grandchildren about. Watching a hog defecate as its throat is slit, pumping geysers of blood into the air, should never be considered a fond memory.*

You know what, though? You don’t even need to have fond memories about butchering when you can take part at a Butcher Party. What continues to be wrong with people? Who decided that this was a good idea? The article mentions that one of the events featured a real gallows where dead animals hung by their necks and manipulated goat heads greeted the patrons! Delightful! Who needs a garden party or a barbecue when you can rent out a butcher to show you how to best desecrate a corpse! Way to go, humanity! Each week I think we can’t get any lower and each week you say “You know, Mark, there’s this thing on the internet…”

That’s it for this week! Send me links for next week and have a butcher-free Wednesday!

*Yes, this image is taken directly from Carrie.

03/23/2011

Eat at delicious Millennium, help relief efforts in Japan!  »

From Thursday, Mar. 24 (that’s tomorrow!) through Saturday, Mar. 26, Millennium is serving a menu that honors Japanese Cuisine and supports those affected by the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Very nice. It’s a four-course prix fixe menu (served in addition to their regular menu) and it’s $58, plus an additional $25 if you want to booze it up with a wine pairing. You charitable lush, you. $10 from the menu will be donated to relief efforts in Japan.

The menu appears to be off the hook, as well. It’ll include red-miso-glazed silken tofu, sweet potato and lotus root crisp dumpling, seared shiitake mushroom and yuba cake, and a sweet surprise with green tea ice cream! I wonder what the sweet surprise is? I have some guesses but they’re all too sexual to list here.

Reservations are available, so call 415.345.3900, ext. 10, and let them know you’re calling for the Japan dinner, because you’re a good person, and deserve a parade.
Coconut crusted tofu curry photo from Yelp! What? It’s hard to take good savory food shots in a restaurant! Trust that this tasted DELICIOUS.

03/10/2011

GIVE IT TO ME: Gluten-free winemaker dinner at Millennium!  »

It’s gluten-free and it’s booze and it’s happiness. What more can you drunkard celiac vegans hope for?? Don’t say I never did anything for you!

Here are the details; when you’re convinced, email Alison for a reservation because this shiz be filling up fast!

Urban Legend Cellars winemaker dinner
Tuesday, Mar. 29
Five-course prix fixe menu
6 to 9:30 p.m. (ish)
6 p.m. wine reception; dinner served promptly at 6:30.
$85/person (before tax/gratuity)

From Millennium:

The East Bay has been referred to as “the most densely concentrated urban wine region in the nation” and Steve and Marilee Shaffer, through their hard work at Urban Legend Cellars, contribute to the exciting once-prospect and now-reality of wine tasting by public transit. This inspiring husband and wife team sources certified organic whenever possible, produces certain wines that are only available in refillable containers and does it all in their West Oakland warehouse near Jack London Square in Oakland. Eric carries the Urban Legend Sauvignon Blanc currently at Encuentro Cafe & Wine Bar and is excited to create and pair a five course gluten-free meal with these delicious local, sustainable and award winning wines. Steve Shaffer says, “The grapes don’t care where they’re made into wine.” We are just glad Steve and Marilee are the ones making it and that we have Eric Tucker to prepare the food. Join us for a very special evening and for what is also Millennium’s first gluten-free winemaker dinner!


That’s probably not entirely gluten-free but it’s from Millennium and it’s very delicious. A taste of things to come! If you go eat at Millennium! Which you should! UGH I LOVE THAT PLACE. TAKE ME THERE AND I WILL MARRY YOU. (I am desperate to get married!) (just kidding, Jonas!) (KIND-OF)

02/07/2011

Beer Cooking class at Millennium!? There are still spots!  »

Not sure how we missed this but it sounds fucking awesome! I can’t do much better than just copy and paste the details because well, it’s Monday. 

February 2011 Beer Cooking Class!

Celebrate the last day of SF Beer Week by joining Eric Tucker in the Millennium kitchen for a hands-on, beer-themed cooking class!  Learn  that beer can accompany food in more ways than one from someone who truly enjoys it. Sit down after a long day in the kitchen and enjoy your family style meal with new friends and of course, with beer pairings. You will also have the opportunity to meet Eric on Saturday, Feb. 19 for a guided tour through the Ferry Building Farmers’ Market!

 Sunday, Feb. 20
 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (ish)
 $155 per person [pricey! but you’re rich, right?]

Space is limited, please call Alison to make a reservation at 415/ 345.3900, ext. 13.


11/18/2010

Quick-Ass San Francisco Bay Area Thanksgiving Guide!  »

You guys! We’ll add to this but for real right now, here’s what you can do if you have no family because of distance or fighting or deaths or what have you. HERE GOES:

Restaurants serving vegan Thanksgiving!
Millennium is having an amazing Thanksgiving meal, as always. It’s $60 ($30 for kids under 12!), and the menu looks unsane. Go on, get fancy!

Souley Vegan is doing a special Thanksgiving menu (info is further down the post). I’m hoping for a veganized deep-fried turkey leg. I wanna get Medieval on your asses! 

Café Gratitude returns with their FREE VEGAN THANKSGIVING! No matter that it’s raw, it’s free! I mean, you’re already vegan, might as well become a full-on holiday meal weirdo. Oh, and it looks like you might have to work? But, er, FREE FOOD!

If you want to get a meal at a supermarket and bring it home, check out:
Whole Foods
 varies what it offers store-to-store. Our pals in Los Angeles, quarrygirl, got the Whole Foods dinner last year and looooooved it. Search by store location on their site, or give your closest store a call and find out what they’re offering!

Andronico’s has a pretty rad deal at their eight Bay Area locations! They’re introducing a vegan meal this year and it sounds delicious:
Field Roast: Wild rice, cranberry, fig and grain roast en croûte (1 pound)
Roasted root vegetables (1 pound)
Vegan yukon gold mashed potatoes (1 pound)
Vegan mushroom gravy (½ pint)
Cranberry orange chutney (½ pint)
Vegan pumpkin pie (6 inches)

It’s only $30 for all that awesome food! GET ON IT! 

AND NOW: it’s DESSERT TIME! That means PIE!!
You can get vegan options at Mission Pie (order ahead!), Bike Basket Pies (OUR FAVORITES! Best pie in the Bay Area! Order ahead!), or pick one up at Rainbow Grocery or Whole Foods. Also, check out all our our local vegan bakeries and see if they might make you up something special? Bet they will! A cake from Sugar Beat Sweets? Cupcakes from Fat Bottom Bakery? A giant cinnamon roll from Cinnaholic? A toffee treat from Wholesome Bakery? Nabolom Bakery has lots of good vegan options! There are pies and Weekend Ruiner cinnamon rolls from A Fire Inside. Idle Hands Baking Company makes cupcakes and cakes if you aren’t a pie person. Or get a pumpkin pie ice cream cake from Maggie Mudd—that flavor’s coconut milk-based, it’s intense. The options are endless, but you better call now!

Also, if you don’t want others to do the dirty work, you could totally make your own fabulous Thanksgiving, lazy!

Now, let’s get fat, American-style! Happy Thanksgiving!

[photo credits: top, QuintanaRoo; middle, digiyesica; bottom, sweetbeatandgreenbean]

11/11/2010

EVERYONE! Please please please come to the super-fun Paws n’ Play benefit for Rocket Dog Rescue this Saturday, Nov. 13 at The Women’s Building in the Mission! 
From 6 to 8 pm. there’s a FREE pet fair with all sorts of awesome vendors and tons of vegan food and drinks! We’re talking vegan sandwiches from Ike’s Place, cupcakes from Fat Bottom Bakery and Sugar Beat Sweets, and cookies made with Eat Pastry Cookie Dough! There will also be tons of beer, wine, a raffle with awesome prizes, great vendors (get your holiday gifts!), adoptable ADORABLE dogs, and MORE! 
Then, from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. there will be BINGO! Served up with vegan chili pie, cornbread, and the best fucking prizes ever, including a $100 gift certificate to Millennium, Southwest plane tickets, and a signed SF Giants cap from MVP Édgar Rentería. Seriously, you gotta be there so COME! Please!
Rocket Dog is so desperate for funds right now. We want to keep up our legacy of saving the dogs that nobody else can—your pit bulls, your tripods, your one-eyed chihuahuas! Play Bingo for those who cannot! I’m crazy! See you there! Etc.!
This benefit is sponsored by The Bold Italic and Pawesome because they are the raddest best!

EVERYONE! Please please please come to the super-fun Paws n’ Play benefit for Rocket Dog Rescue this Saturday, Nov. 13 at The Women’s Building in the Mission! 

From 6 to 8 pm. there’s a FREE pet fair with all sorts of awesome vendors and tons of vegan food and drinks! We’re talking vegan sandwiches from Ike’s Place, cupcakes from Fat Bottom Bakery and Sugar Beat Sweets, and cookies made with Eat Pastry Cookie Dough! There will also be tons of beer, wine, a raffle with awesome prizes, great vendors (get your holiday gifts!), adoptable ADORABLE dogs, and MORE!

Then, from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. there will be BINGO! Served up with vegan chili pie, cornbread, and the best fucking prizes ever, including a $100 gift certificate to Millennium, Southwest plane tickets, and a signed SF Giants cap from MVP Édgar Rentería. Seriously, you gotta be there so COME! Please!

Rocket Dog is so desperate for funds right now. We want to keep up our legacy of saving the dogs that nobody else can—your pit bulls, your tripods, your one-eyed chihuahuas! Play Bingo for those who cannot! I’m crazy! See you there! Etc.!

This benefit is sponsored by The Bold Italic and Pawesome because they are the raddest best!

11/08/2010

Annals of self-promotion: Laura interviews Carmen Vazquez of Gracias Madre!  »

Remember Brassica Supper Club? Oh, we loved it so much! Did you know that it is now considered defunct? DEFUNCT. Such a sadness. However, you can still eat food made by one-third of Brassica, creative genius Carmen Vasquez, who makes desserts at Gracias Madre! Yes, she makes that flan you can’t stop eating! Our Laura interviewed her for SFoodie blog, and because we love Carmen (and also self-promotion), we’re reposting most of that interview right here!

photo of cashew-milk flan by Gil Riego, Jr. for SF Weekly

Laura Beck: What inspired you to make the flan?

Carmen Vazquez: I can’t really say what inspired the creation of the flan. Ever since I found out about this new organic vegan Mexican restaurant, I knew I wanted to be part of it. I originally wanted to help with the development of the savory menu, but when I realized that was already done, desserts it was. I asked my Latino coworkers for ideas on traditional Mexican desserts and flan was the clear winner. It was a challenge, but I like challenging myself—maybe it’s the reason why I enjoy veganizing dishes no matter how “traditional” or difficult they may seem.

LB: Favorite veg food in the city?
CV: I LOVE our house-made corn tortillas! Wow, I’m a sucker for those things: fresh off the griddle with a couple slices of avocado, a sprinkle of salt, and some fresh ground pepper…it’s the best thing ever! But other than Gracias Madre, I really enjoy Millennium. They’ve really been an inspiration in my culinary career.

Ultimate cooking goals?
I’d like to eventually open up my own place. I’d also like to learn more about ingredients and food I’ve yet to experience. To veganize other traditional dishes. To influence other restaurants to choose organic, local, and sustainable produce. And to inspire non-vegans to make healthy and compassionate choices through food.

10/26/2010

Jenn Shagrin of Veganize It…Don’t Criticize It and new cookbook Veganize This!  »

Introducing Jenn Shagrin (aka, Jenn Shaggy!) from the fantastic vegan blog/vegan blog with BEST NAME EVER, Veganize It…Don’t Criticize It! and the upcoming cookbook, Veganize This!. We love her and her blog, her new cookbook appears to be UNSANE; this lady can veganize pretty much anything and her recipes freak us out, in a totally good way. You need to get to know her and then buy her book and bookmark her blog and be a better/fatter person because of it!

Are you vegan for health, environmental, animal rights reasons, or a combination?
I’m definitely a vegan for a combination of reasons. First and foremost, I’m against cruelty to animals of any kind. I even feel guilty when I have to yell at my dog for chewing up my undies. I also don’t want to contribute to the negative impact that animal-product consumption has on the environment. As for health reasons, that’s probably the lowest on the list. It’s great that I’ll most likely have low cholesterol, but I also occasionally veganize some fried or comfort foodie goodness, so I’ll leave it up to chance.

How long have you been vegan? Why did you become vegan?
I’ve been a vegan for about six years now. My path to veganism started many moons ago when I read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle and realized exactly where that steak on my plate was sourced. Reading that book sparked my interest in animal rights, and vegetarianism onto veganism seemed the obvious path to travel. My best friend going vegetarian in our early teens additionally motivated me to cut meat out initially, then meeting my first vegan friend when I moved to California helped me realize I could make the full transition.

Do you have any companion animals? Where are they from?
I have two adorable dogs. Izzy, a Cairn terrier mix, who we rescued from a shelter here in Los Angeles. He’s a lucky dog, as he was abandoned as a puppy and fell ill with parvo. He’s definitely our little survivor. Our second dog, Pepper, we rescued from Louisiana just days before he was going to be dropped off at the pound. He’s a Miniature Pinscher mix, but believes he’s the size of a Bullmastiff.

Do you have any super-cute photos of animals to share with us? Favorite animal videos on YouTube?
Here’s a great picture of our pups laying together. All right, maybe it’s a little TMI (which you’re used to if you read my blog), but they’re total gay lovers.

What is your favorite animal? I know, this one is REALLY TOUGH.
Well punch me in the gut and call me sissy, because I couldn’t pick one from the other. Actually, I take that back. My family’s dog, a bluetick Beagle named Farfel, was my favorite animal ever. He was such a bad ass. No one could tell him what to do.

When did you start Veganize It…Don’t Criticize It!? What’s your favorite recipe from the blog?
I started Veganize It…Don’t Criticize It! in April of 2008. It’s my weekly creative release. My current favorite recipe is the "Turkey," Tarragon, and "Mascarpone" Lasagna, but that’ll probably change in about a week, so you may want to check back.

How did your upcoming cookbook, Veganize This! come about? What’s your favorite recipe from the book?
Veganize This!
 was definitely the spawn of my blog. Everyone I knew kept asking why on earth I didn’t just put all my recipes and ramblings together, and I finally just sat down and compiled the first manuscript in two very sleepless weeks. The process of finding a literary agent and publisher happened so fast after that, I’m inclined to believe someone sprinkled fairy dust on my mom’s womb prior to my birth. My favorite recipe has to be a fusion dish called "Chicken" Marsala Masala with Fresh Morels. It’s divine.

What’s your favorite other vegan cookbook?
To be perfectly honest (and I’ll probably get my ass kicked for this one), I don’t read a lot of vegan cookbooks because I’m so focused on veganizing the un-vegan. But if I had to pick just one, I’d have to say Vegan with a Vengeance. It really inspired me.

Favorite vegan dish at a restaurant? 
This also changes constantly, but as of late, Masa of Echo Park’s vegan Chicago-style Deep Dish Pizza is off the chain.

Favorite vegan restaurant?
In Los Angeles, I’m a huge fan of Madeleine Bistro and Vinh Loi Tofu. Not only is the cuisine amazing at both, but I highly respect the chefs that run both establishments.

Are you willing to have Vegansaurus over and cook us a vegan feast? If so, what day?
No. Haha…gotcha! Of course I will. Next time I go visit my parents in SF, I’ll whip up a buffet.

Any questions for Vegansaurus? Anything!
Boxers or briefs? Wait, wait. I can do better. What am I missing out on food-wise when I visit SF? What’s the best of the best? Some of my favorites are MillenniumIke’s Place, Herbivore and Cha-Ya…just so you know where I’ve already hit up. (Ed.; That’s hard! Email me and let me know what your favorite kind of food is and I’ll customize a  SF restaurant guide for you!)

Yay, thanks Jenn! Check out our other Vegansaurus interviews and apply to be interviewed YOURSELF! Just email and we’ll totally interview your fascinating ass.

[All photos from Jenn Shagrin, except that delicious Vihn Loi Tofu shot from quarrygirl!]

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