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!
Product Review: Sproutein, Epic Protein, and Sprout mixes turn smoothies into nutrition explosions! »
Confession: I think everything Alex Malinsky touches turns to gold. Known in the raw food world as the “raw guru,” Alex got into raw foods super young and has emerged and maintained his status as an A-list raw goods preparer and purveyor. Although Alex hobnobs with celebrities, he still takes time to let me know about his new products, and sends me free samples now and then. I’ve tried a bunch of his stuff over the years—Rawmio is sooo good—but I have to say that I think his new protein powders are the most delicious products of his I’ve ever tried!
I drink raw vegan smoothies almost every morning and I’m always on the lookout for newer and better protein powders and superfood add-ins. I’m not satisfied with enjoying the same smoothies every day, and I think variety is what keeps me coming back to the blender on the reg. Alex and his brother Mark’s Sprout Living's new line of Sproutein and Epic protein powders and sprout mixes are really, really high quality stuff. They come in a variety of really mild-tasting yet nutritionally dense flavor varieties, including Vanilla Lucuma, Chocolate Maca, Original, and Sproutein.
Anything Alex puts his energy into has to be organic, raw, vegan, bioavailable (read: has usable protein and nutrients), fiber, ethically sourced, low glycemic, sprouted, etc. but these really go above and beyond. The Sproutein contains high quality sprouts that are easier to digest than full-grown greens and high in minerals and chlorophyl. Ingredients include such dreamy ingredients as: Freshly Freeze Dried Sprout Powders (sunflower, amaranth, millet, kale, quinoa, mung bean, alfalfa, chia, and golden pea), Hempseed Protein Powder, Goji Berry Powder, Maca Root Powder, Yacon Root Powder).
All of the powders contain healthful ingredients, but If you’re particularly interested in bombing yourself with hearty protein, the Sproutein blends have nine grams of protein per serving, and the Epic Protein blends (my favorite is the Vanilla Lucuma, with Chocolate Maca in close second!) contain 19 grams (!!) per serving.
My verdict is that these powers are very low glycemic and blend so nicely with my typical berry-banana smoothie combos that they’re a no-brainer addition to my breakfast—and maybe yours? I also tried and loved the Sprout Living Broccoli and Kale Sprouts Powder Mix in the smoothie too, because superfood smoothies can have all kinds of rad ingredients!
I’ve included a recipe for an absolutely delicious smoothie I made this morning, topped with millet puffs and some Rawmio Raw Chocolate Truffle Cake shavings. I added in Vanilla Lucuma Epic Protein and Broccoli and Kale mix. Amazing!!! And my colon is so happy. Enjoy!
Strawberry Banana Epic Protein-Sprout Mix Smoothie
2 cups frozen strawberries
1 1/2 frozen bananas
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup water
2 heaping scoops Vanilla Lucuma Epic Protein
3/4 tsp. Broccoli and Kale sprout mix
5 small ice cubes
6-8 drops stevia (to taste)
Blend and enjoy with your favorite ingredient toppings.
Get Sproutein, Epic Protein, Sprout Mixes and all other Alex Malinsky-approved products online and in select health food stores nationwide.
Product review: Rawmio raw chocolate truffle cake! »
When I first got into raw foods in college, I was shocked by the amount of raw desserts that are mostly made of nuts and oil. I’ve got nothing against nuts and oil, especially when they’re high quality—it’s just a very different food experience than, say, fluffy vegan cake or a flaky crusted pie. I think a lot of folks experimenting with raw foodism get excited about raw desserts but end up not loving them due to their overwhelming density.
When Alex Malinsky, mastermind of Rawmio, told me he was coming out with a raw chocolate truffle cake, I was skeptical. Would it be way too dense? Would it go bad after only a few days? Would it have that funky aftertaste so many raw desserts have due to bad flavor combining? Most importantly, how could a raw cake be safely transported through the mail?
Turns out all my worries were completely unfounded—Rawmio Chocolate Truffle Cake is downright epic. It succeeds where so many other raw desserts, especially cakes, fail, because it doesn’t try to defy its nature. It doesn’t pretend to be a cooked vegan cake—it goes straight for the truffle-lover jugular. It is rich and fudgy, and uses only certified organic, vegan, raw, and gluten-free ingredients including stone-ground cacao, coconut flakes, cashews, and low-glycemic coconut crystals. It is rich in antioxidants and nutrients while being completely unprocessed, and—best of all—it lasts six months, even unrefrigerated! Talk about convenient!
You can buy a Rawmio cake and serve it on many occasions, or just eat it by yourself! I plan to share, but I could see a raw food lover or couple savoring this for a looong time. That makes it a superb deal, and would satisfy any raw chocolate cravings, for sure.
How does it taste? The crust (coconut flakes, almonds, currants, cacao) is like a Crunch Bar, super crispy and sweet. The topping, or “filling” (coconut flakes, coconut sugar, cashews, cacao, sea salt) is essentially a raw chocolate bar, and I have started using some of the shavings atop smoothies. I really love this cake, and I think those who love raw chocolate or want to give raw desserts another shot should definitely consider giving this a go! Order online at Raw Guru.
Happy Almost New Year: it’s the Vegansaurus best meals of 2012! »
You didn’t think we’d let 2013 come at us without a best of list, did you? OF COURSE NOT. So for your reading pleasure, we came up with our very favorite meals of 2012. Let’s do this!
Jenny (that’s me!): My new favorite restaurant of all time is Pura Vida in Las Vegas. I ate so many wonderful meals this year, but Pura Vida topped them all. Chef Mayra is a culinary mastermind—her dishes are vibrantly colorful and packed with so much flavor! Almost every day I think about the breakfast burrito I had about eight months ago, and I cannot wait to to get back to Vegas to hit her up again! I’ve actually planned my entire wedding in Vegas (sans groom) (for now) solely based on Chef Mayra catering the elegant debauchery that will no doubt ensue.
Latin’tude breakfast burrito, I love you!
Megan: ”For me, it was the year of chickpea flour—and more specifically, the Tuscan chickpea frittata. Oh boy did we have some good times this year! I made them every which way from Sunday. So easy and so yummy! And totes versatile. It’s the best!”
Man, that was a lot of fun, when Megan was making all those frittatas! I can’t believe I never tried one myself, but I suppose that will have to be what 2013 is for!
Vegan, gluten-free frittata; so many delicious combinations!
Laura: ”The VegNews all-cheese holiday party, catered by Miyoko Schinner was, in a word, mind blowing! Cheese, cheese, and more cheese!! Giant cheese-stuffed ravioli was maybe the best thing I’ve ever eaten in my life (SORRY ABOUT THE PHOTO, I’m too pretty to be good at anything!) and fried croquettes on amazing salad, and so much more. Vegan meringue, too! Holy mother!
"Vegan cheese, you’ve come a long way since your days of gross inedibility! Buy Miyoko’s book IMMEDIATELY!”
Hot dang, that VegNews staff knows how to get down!
Vegan cheese, you HAVE come a long way!
Meave: Of course, sometimes it is impossible to pick just one, so our Meave gives the lowdown on her top five! First, comes Isa’s Maple Pecan Pie, because what holiday is complete without this delectable dessert? (Follow Meave on Instagram to see how her beautiful pie turned out—I was blown away at its loveliness!)
Maple pecan pie, before meeting the oven!
Next up we have a filling and colorful veg bowl, to which Meave explains, “Angela Liddon, salad genius, made so many of my lunches better with her legume and veg bowls, but my favorite was her Lightened Up Protein Power Goddess Bowl. Meave is quite the salad dressing connoisseur (“I’m picky”), so if this made the list, you know it’s got to be good! Of course we can’t leave out the brunch at Donut Farm, which includes Meave’s personal faves — the winter hash, double-dipped donuts, banana fritters and potato works!
Winter hash forever! Or at least until spring!
Sarah: Keeping up with her title, Sarah dishes out some raw opinions, telling us her favorite dish of 2012 was “Cafe Gratitude’s I Am Whole bowl. Always”. I bet she’s missing that over on the East Coast! Hope you got your fill on your recent L.A. adventure, Sarah!
Sarah’s version of said bowl, via her personal blog queerveganfood.com.
Andrew: “I’m going to have to go with our recent Mexican vegan Christmas dinner menu—homemade refried beans, Spanish rice, homemade mole with tofu, three kinds of homemade tamales (soyrizo, mushroom and mole, and green chile and cheese); margarita pizza with soyrizo (definitely NOT homemade); and horchata made from scratch, which was used for Mexican White Russians. This fed seven of us at dinner and then everyone got some to take home. And we’ve had leftovers for one meal a day since.” I did manage to get myself invited to this magnificent dinner, but alas, Long Beach was just too far away!
Check out this magnificent plate, made complete with a Tecate, of course!
That’s enough about us and our favorites—now it’s your turn to rave about your absolute faves from 2012, so the rest of us can enjoy them in 2013! Happy New Year everybody!