A peek inside The Compassionate Closet: your new source for gorgeous vegan products! Plus 15% off for Vegansaurs! »
What a suave, ethically fancy belt!
Stephanie Boyd is the owner of the brand-new gorgeous vegan online store The Compassionate Closet! Vegansaurus spoke to Stephanie about how and why she decided to open the store, where she finds her inspiration, and more.
Vegansaurus!: When did you start The Compassionate Closet, and where is the HQ located?
Stephanie Boyd: We launched in July 2014, making our debut at the VegFest CO and launching the website later that same month. We’re based in colorful Colorado.
What inspired you to start the store? What were you doing before Compassionate Closet?
My inspiration came from my very own closet. After going vegan and sort of “mastering” what’s on my plate (a task that’s never really done with new veggie food brands, new restaurants, and endless recipes to try!), I turned my attention to my wardrobe and realized that my closet was
a cemetery! Full of wool, cashmere, leather, and silk—I was shocked and disappointed by the lifetime of cruel choices I had made. So when I set out to turn over my closet, I quickly realized that—although there are vegan, cruelty-free, and fair-trade choices out there—you really have to search them out. That is when I decided to help bring vegan fashions to the marketplace and launch The Compassionate Closet!
Damn these shoes are fine.
Why did you choose to make Compassionate Closet online-only? Will there be a physical store in the future?
Although we’re primarily online, we are working hard to open a physical store in the Denver-Boulder area soon. Meanwhile, we’re making our way around to meet-ups, pop-ups, and festivals to promote and to connect with other like-minded, and inspiring people.
How do you choose which products to feature and sell in the store?
Great question! There is a lot of thought that goes into which brands and products we carry. We look for designers with the same values—ethical, sustainable, vegan, cruelty-free, and that give back—and with awesome style, of course! We look for both well-known and aspiring brands, but brands all must be trusted brands. We want to support designers that are leading the way in creating sustainable styles!
Vegan forever! So cool.
You feature some truly amazing, unique vegan products that can’t be found elsewhere (like the Colorado-Vegan sweatshirt I love!) Were you frustrated with other vegan stores’ limited offerings, or did you have a personal “aha!” moment that prompted you to create your own?
All of the above. I love so many of the vegan styles out there, but few one-stop vegan apparel stores exist, and I have a lot of ideas and inspiration spilling over! For example, I am a proud native of Colorado, and as one of the healthiest states in the country, a Vegan Colorado shirt
seemed like an essential for fellow Coloradans to show off their state pride and their vegan values. Now a best seller! Stay tuned for more original styles coming soon!
Cute mini goat bling you can buy from The Compassionate Closet!
Who are your vegan inspirations?
In this meat world, I am inspired by the growing community of fellow vegans and activists! No matter how long or the reasons that led you to veganism, we all have something in common (a core value that shouldn’t be downplayed): we strive to make compassionate, peaceful choices. We all have our own stories of struggles, transition, limitations, and support (or lack thereof); I am inspired by every vegan that has persisted, lives by example, and goes out of their way to educate others of the benefits!
This sweatshirt is great if you’re a vegan who lives in Colorado, or you happen to love Colorado vegans!
How has the reception been to Compassionate Closet? Are you finding it easy to spread the word about it?
A-MAZING!! Feedback and demand have been overwhelmingly positive! I get so many compliments on the website and, most often, “thank you for starting this business! We need more vegan apparel options!” The vegan community has been very supportive helping spread the word. Thank you for your continued support!
Is there anything else you’d like to add for readers?
Yes! We are committed to providing a better life for animals in need. Toward that goal, 5% of all purchases supports the admirable work being done for animal welfare by the people of Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary. WEAR NO HARM really means something and we want you to know every time you shop with us!
Vegansaurus readers! Save 15% OFF your shopping excursion on The Compassionate Closet with discount code SAVE15 through October 31st!
Forget tuna: Delicious Tomato Sushi is the cruelty-free future! »
Above: Homemade Tomato Sushi rolls made by yours truly!
Above: The finished tomato sushi is supposed to look like this, per the Tomato Sushi genius experts. Source: TomatoSushi.com.
Mistress Ginger Cooks: Vegan ShowGirl Supreme creates cruelty-free recipes for all! »
Mistress Ginger, the self-identified “vegan showgirl supreme,” has created a new cookbook that’s aimed at “burly truckers” and “pink-haired divas,” and everyone in between.
With recipes like “French-Kissed Toast,” “Drizzle Me Dressing,” “Miso Sexy Soup,” and “Flaming Stir-Fry with Hot Mess Dressing,” this is definitely not your average cookbook. In between lasciviously described culinary creations (each recipe sets the scene for a different scandal, like having a male suitor up for chai, or preparing “love juice” for your boyfriend), Mistress Ginger includes lots of fun photos of brawny men bedecking her, sometimes in suggestive poses. Let’s just say it’s really clear what she means by “Pound-Me Cake” (a real recipe!). In addition to the clearly fabulous stories and sass interspersed, I also love that Mistress Ginger brings an intersectional perspective on LGBTQ rights and animal rights:
I hope that we can recognize how all movements for liberation have striking parallels, how no one is free when others are oppressed, and how our daily choices can support freedom for everyone on all fronts.
I couldn’t agree more! Here’s one of my favorite recipes from Mistress Ginger Cooks: Kickass Guacamole!
posted with permission from Mistress Ginger Cooks!
3 ripe avocados
3 tablespoons diced onions
3 tablespoons diced seeded tomato
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced jalapeño chile
Freshly ground black pepper
Here are Mother Nature’s instructions for making gorgeous guac. I am just the messenger. She said, and I quote, “Mash the avocados in a medium bowl with a fork. Stir in the onion, tomato, cilantro, lime juice, garlic, and chile. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.” Mother Nature cuts to the chase, doesn’t she? Use within 2 days, as if that will be an issue.
Exclusive Interview: Meet the Dads of Esther the Wonder Pig! »
Thanks to her dads Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter, tens of thousands of fans (us included!) get to peek into the surprising and always adorable daily doings of Esther The Wonder Pig, the clever, undeniably photogenic 400-pound pig! It’s truly a delight each day to browse Steve and Derek’s witty status updates and glamorous pics of Esther living her genius, safe, and cozy life in Toronto with her loving dads and dog siblings!
Vegansaurus’ Sarah E. Brown interviewed Esther’s loving dads about life with Esther, how she came into their lives, and their future plans to continue spreading awareness about pigs as pets, not food.
Vegansaurus: What surprised you most about adopting Esther when she was a “mini-pig”?
Steve & Derek: How much attention she needed. It was like having a child running around the house. We couldn’t let her out of our sight or she would get into everything!
V: How did you two meet? How long have you been together? How long into your relationship did Esther come into the picture?
S&D: We’ve been together for over 13 years now. Steve is a realtor, Derek is a professional magician. We met as teenagers working at a restaurant. Esther didn’t come along until about 12 years in.
V: On social media, we all get to see the amazing images of Esther in her full glory—we also get to see her sassy personality. How did you decide to start documenting her presence in your life through social media and your website? And who posts most of the updates?
V: How did you decide to name her Esther?
S&D: We just wanted a fun and “comfortable” name. For whatever reason, Esther seemed like a very traditional, human name and it just clicked. There wasn’t really any sort if inspiration in particular, it just worked.
V: You’ve recently gotten a lot of press, and over 76,000 followers on Facebook (congrats!). In your recent Mercy For Animals (MFA) interview, you talked about how people have reached out to you. What’s the coolest connection you’ve made so far since adopting Esther and telling your story?
S&D: That’s really hard to answer. We’ve heard from some incredible people. Some that still make our heads spin to be honest. We got to do an interview with Sam Simon, and we’ve been on Ellen’s good news blog. Friends at Mercy for animals and PETA have shared about us. There have been some amazing people that run blogs of their own, and have become good friends already. We even have some celebrity followers on Twitter. It’s really crazy.
V: Besides apples, what are Esther’s favorite foods?
S&D: She loves pretty much any fruit or candy. They’re just like humans so if it’s a treat for us, it’s a treat to her.
V: Do you recommend adopting a pig? What is your advice to someone thinking of adopting a pig in an urban setting?
S&D: Be super careful. They are a ton of work and will require some major life adjustments. We had to pig proof our house, learn how to manage and train her and it’s way different than a dog. Pigs are so smart! Esther can open doors, cupboards, and even our fridge. We had to re-evaluate where we keep everything! It was a huge learning curve. We wouldn’t really advise it only because if the work it took. She’s awesome now but caused many a soul searching conversations. It was tough. We wouldn’t trade her for the world but it definitely wasn’t easy. Our advice is do plenty of research and make sure you’re up for the challenge. If you do decide you’re up for it, know it is the most incredible and rewarding experience of our lives. She really opened our eyes and as far as we’re concerned, made us better people. We love her like you wouldn’t believe.
V: Are there any resources that helped you when you first went vegan or first adopted Esther (i.e. pig care tips, etc.) that you’d like to share?
S&D: We found it really hard to get information and hope to change that. We learned on our own as we went along, taking the odd note from websites or our vet. That was the hardest part: How the hell do you teach a pig?
V: Do you have any future plans you’d like to share with our readers?
S&D: We do want to start a sanctuary and will start fundraising very soon. We’ll be opening the Esther store on our website
Thanks so much, Esther’s Dads, Derek and Steve! And thanks to Esther for being so, well, wonderful!All images included with permission by and courtesy of Derek and Steve and Esther the Wonder Pig.
Uber delivers kittens to offices in honor of National Cat Day. What do you think? »
To celebrate National Cat Day (meow!), Uber, the transportation service best known for connecting rich people to high-end transportation, has teamed up with Cheezburger to deliver kittens to people’s offices for 15 minutes for $20 bucks in Seattle, SF, and NYC. They’re calling the campaign ICanHazUberKITTENS, and I feel really conflicted about it!
On one hand, all proceeds of this PR stunt purportedly go to local animal shelters, and as Megan Rascal pointed out to me in an e-mail conversation, kittens do NEED to be held. However, I wonder what kind of message do we send about cats that they are objects to be delivered on command, like any old non-living consumer good?
While Uber does support kitten adoption through its app, how likely is it that 15-minute cat-holding sprees at random offices will lead to any actual adoptions? Does this stunt really promote adoption instead of animals as entertainment? How is it affecting the kittens being used in this service?
I’m still so conflicted! What do you think?
Product Review: GalloLea Gluten Free Vegan Pizza Kit »
My amazing high school sexuality and society teacher (it was Quaker School, OK?) taught me pizza is like sex; there’s tons of different ways to enjoy it, and sometimes you just want a slice and other times you want ten pies and you want them NOW. (Watch his Ted Talk to learn more!)
Speaking of pizza and unlimited choice and sex, last night four of my nearests and dearests and I made some GalloLea gluten free vegan pizza! GalloLea sent me three of their gluten free pizza starter kits, all of which come in this cute box that contains the basic necessities for fomenting an at-home pizza-making revolution: crust and sauce ingredients. The only things you have to bring to the pie are your favorite toppings, a bit of oil and water. Pretty groovy, right?
There are a lot of frozen pizza options these days, some of which even contain vegan cheese, and you can buy a crust or maybe crust plus sauce pre-made, but this is a really solid option for those of us who want to pretend we’ve cobbled together all the homemade pizza fixings and slaved over a hot baking tray without, you know, actually having to do that.
Toppings included: daiya, spinach, onions, olives, Brussels sprouts, and fresh tomatoes.
I highly recommend getting one of the GalloLea pizza kits and making it with friends or a significant other/crush. You can learn a lot about each other based on topping preferences, and discover how everyone’s respective booties look when bent over the stove checking AGAIN to see when it’s finally gonna be done, because the package lies and it took us twice the time it advertised on the box.
The pizzas turned out great! The sauce wasn’t my favorite part, but the crust was super solid and it definitely held up well under the weight of the massive amount of toppings we used. Thanks to GalloLea, I ate some delicious homemade pizza AND I learned that all of my friends want onions on their pizza except Jenna, who is weird and should really think about her life priorities.
The Queer Vegan Food Cookbook launches today! »
Hi, Sarah E. Brown, Raw Sass here! Shameless plug alert: I’m the editor the following cookbook, but it’s OK I think because 100% of the proceeds go to Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary so it’s really not my cookbook, it’s all for the animals! [Ed. note: Silly Sarah! Of course it’s OK, free stuff and self-promotion is why we write for this money pit]
The Queer Vegan Cookbook showcases the unusual, creative, and amazing recipes by beloved vegan chefs and bloggers! This cookbook features recipes that do not use animal products of any kind and are truly queer in an effort to expand the vegan culinary canon beyond traditional vegan cuisine, which tends to imitate the non-vegan food world (vegan ice cream, hot dogs, hamburgers, fake meat, mac n’ cheese, etc.)
The most delicious part of this culinary assemblage is that 100% of proceeds from The Queer Vegan Food Cookbook will go to Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in Woodstock, New York!
Everyone can benefit from adopting a diet that prevents cruelty toward animals. A vegan diet helps improve personal health and the health of the planet, and promotes freedom and joy for all human- and non-human beings.
This cookbook features the most delicious recipes from Carol J. Adams, Gena Hamshaw, Rory Freedman, Jason Allen, Allyson Kramer, Christy Morgan, Mish Wish, JL Fields, Lisa Pitman, Courtney Pool, Rande McDaniel, Marlie Centawer, Erika Reir, Eric Levinson, Mariano Caino, Sara Jane Kurpeski, Rochelle Koivunen, Jason Das, Joan L. Brown (my mom!), Stephanie Austin, Heather Pace, Kelly Peloza, Mark Hawthorne, Rachel Lee, Alessandra Seiter, Lee Khatchadourian-Reese, and Heidi George.
Visit QueerVeganFood.com to get your copy of The Queer Vegan Food Cookbook!
Eating raw will not ruin your life! »
When Megan Rascal sent me this article asserting that a mostly raw diet is inherently unhealthful, I debated whether to write a response or just ignore it. It’s always a toss-up when ill-informed crap ends up in my inbox; I thought I might ignore it because I believe that giving press to bullshit can sometimes just perpetuate the bullshit, but I decided to respond because of the (growing? I hope not) misconception that raw food = crazy people food, and that high-to-fully raw people know nothing about nutrition or how to take care of ourselves, and are basically just all counting our days until our nutritional deficiencies kick in and turn us into vegetables.
The article I’m referring to, also published on a “science” blog, claims that a raw vegan diet is super unhealthful. I’ll be honest, it’s got some good (if obvious, already widely known) points in support of expanding a raw diet to incorporate cooked food. Yes, some cooked food has value, and yes, if you don’t supplement your B12 or take a multivitamin bad things will happen, but how the author takes these points and comes to such rash conclusions makes me wonder if he had a bad break-up with a raw vegan or something. When I read lines like “You have nothing to gain and much to lose by going totally or even mostly raw,” I wonder if this article was written to prove that the author’s target was on the wrong path, damn it, and look! now it says so on the Internet!
The piece completely misses the point of a high-raw vegan diet, which incorporates tons of raw greens, veggies, and fruits in whole, unprocessed form, and just picks on the zealots who refuse to supplement and only eat bananas. It even brings up the “you’ll kill your kids if you feed them raw food!” argument, which we have heard about all forms of vegan diets and continue to prove wrong.
(Side note: I hate it when vegan doctors are cited to prove that one vegan diet is better than another. This article cites Dr. Eseystein and Dr. McDougal, both of whom have made millions hawking their unique brands of veganism, as evidence against a high-raw vegan diet, which has its own doctors rooting for and staking millions in its value.)
I really appreciate Gena Hamshaw’s balanced, science-driven approach to raw food in her post “Why Raw? Revisiting the Question.” I love Vegan RD Ginny Messina’s compassionate post, “Raw or Cooked Foods? Which Is the Best Diet for Vegans?,” on why raw foodists should consider incorporating some (or lots) of cooked vegan foods to round out their diets and have an easier time staying vegan. There are plenty of folks who jettison veganism or raw veganism when health issues come up, and while I have no judgement for them I supremely admire folks who take every measure to hold true to their values while minding their health needs. Bonzai Aphrodite recently posted this beautiful long-read about how she’s navigated health issues while staying vegan. Brava! I wrote a Vegansaurus post about why there are so many ex-raw vegans and advocated for folks to consider adopting a more expansive raw vegan diet. In the context of these articles, the anger and all-or-nothing conclusions made by this article and many like it baffle me and make me think there’s a personal grudge.
Closing thoughts: Some (but not all) raw foodies are inflexible and unrealistic, just like some (but not all) vegans and some (OK, most) meat-eaters. Everyone should be taking B12, and probably a multivitamin, omega-3, and maybe a D supplement, too. Mostly raw vegans can be very happy and healthy. I am doing pretty damn well on a high-raw vegan diet that includes lots of raw greens-rich salads and raw smoothies and juices on the reg, as well as a variety of cooked foods. I just got my bloodwork done as a routine every-few-years thing so I can brag in articles like this, and my doctor said my blood is so groovy it makes her want to go vegan. So to the author of these articles, I say this: Please don’t judge all high-raw vegans based on a tiny fraction of us who go to extremes, and in return, I promise not to call the raw vegan who broke your heart and alert this person that you’re hella casting aspersions on them.
Product Review: Emmy’s Organics Superfood Trail Mix and Peanut Butter Banana Granola! »
Emmy’s Organics is a pretty amazing company. The owners met at a music festival, and the good vibes seem to permeate their raw macaroons, granolas, trail mixes, and other tasty all-gluten-free raw vegan products. sent me a complimentary batch of their new Superfood Trail Mix featuring cacao, goji berries, raisins, and cashews. I used the superfood trail mix and Emmy’s outrageously yummy Peanut Butter Banana Granola containing hearty buckwheat, and rich large chunks of nuts and banana atop a homemade raw vegan strawberry banana smoothie. It was the most delicious and decadent breakfast I’ve had in a while!
Raw vegan strawberry banana smoothie
Serves 1 to 2
2 cups strawberries
1 cup almond milk
6 to 7 drops Stevia, or maple syrup, or coconut nectar, or agave
1 tsp. maca
1 tsp. cacao powder
1 Tbsp. chia seeds
1/4 cup ice (optional)
Blend and top with superfood trial mix and granola!
It’s rare to find raw food that hits the mark in multiple categories—savory, breakfast, and dessert—but Emmy’s truly do. I approve of these products! Check them out online and in stores!
Product Review: Williams Sonoma and Navitas Naturals smoothie mix belongs in your porridge! »
I rarely make it to big-chain malls these days (I mean, who has the time!) but I do remember visiting the Williams Sonoma at the mall as a tweenager—and that it didn’t have too many veg options. When I heard the exciting news that Vedge Restaurant co-owners Kate Jacoby and Rich Landau are doing a deal with them for all-vegan sauces and they’ve now teamed up with beloved raw vegan company Navitas Naturals to make superfood smoothie mixes, I got so excited! Looks like Williams Sonoma has totally decided to make vegan deliciousness happen on a large scale (they have more than 250 stores nationwide).
I haven’t tired the Vedge Sauces, but Navitas Naturals and Williams-Sonoma did send me a complimentary bag of one of their three new organic superfood smoothie blends—the Protein Smoothie Mixer! It’s high quality (As you’d expect from Navitas) and made with the nutrient-densest superfoods, including hemp powder, maca, and cacao powder. You can definitely taste the hemp, but the low-glycemic sweetener lucuma (grown in Peru) helps offset that a bit. This certified organic powder blend is super simple to use, making smoothie-making a no-brainer: Just toss it in a blender with ripe fruit and and any other nut milk or fresh ingredients you like. No guessing, no measuring. It’s superfood smoothie-making for the average bear! Get it at Williams Sonoma stores and online.
While smoothies are great, sometimes you’re living with five people in a two-bedroom apartment in the Mission and your roommates left for Burning Man and forgot to pay the electric bill, and the Vitamix just won’t run that day. Or maybe you just don’t feel like slurping your breakfast all the time—chewing is nice, too. Regardless of your motives for going blender-free, this superfood smoothie mix chia porridge will satisfy your palate and keep you going for hours!
Superfood smoothie mix chia porridge
Serves 2 to 3
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup Navitas Naturals-Williams Sonoma Protein smoothie mix
1/4 cup raisons or goji berries (or both!)
1/4 cup blueberries (optional)
7 drops liquid Stevia
2 cups almond milk
1/4 cup water
Mix all ingredients in a bowl or container. Let sit for 20 minutes or overnight in the fridge. Enjoy!