vegansaurus!

08/25/2014

Beginners Guide to Eating Vegan Around Highland Park in L.A.  »

Move somewhere new, and then pinpoint the nearest vegan donut. That’s the best practice, right? Luckily for me, I moved to the Eagle Rock-Highland Park border in Los Angeles, where there just happens to be a gooey epic of a donuttery rightfully named Donut Friend.

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Ah, Donut Friend, the glaze-coated BFF you’ve always dreamed of, topped liberally with rainbow sprinkles.

Owned by musician-record producer Mark Trombino, Donut Friend on York at 51st has all kinds of crazy delicious donut combos — or “signature combinations” — named after bands. All the donuts are vegan and most of the fillings and toppings are vegan too (everything is clearly marked).

Recently, I got the Nutellavision, a fluffy sugar donut injected with vegan Nutella and topped with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of salt. WHAT. I would also recommend Rites of Sprinkles, Drive Like Jelly, and Bacon 182, with vegan bacon.

Also on the same strip of York there’s new-ish pizza place, Town. They always have two vegan slice options behind the glass along with regular pizza, and those vegan slices are thin crust heaven. They do one with Daiya vegan cheese and one cheese-less option, with rotating toppings.

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Sandwiched in between Donut Friend and Town, there’s Scoops, which is another branch of the popular LA ice cream shop with inventive flavors including many vegan scoops. Recent non-dairy options include salty chocolate, maple Oreo, and Cinnamon Coconut Burnt Sugar. So yes, three amazingly vegan/vegan-friendly none-to-healthy shops dotting the same small strip of land. It’s all just so decadent.

I promise there are other streets besides York. Highland Park also boasts tempeh-bacon experts/mostly vegan & gluten-free Kitchen Mouse Cafe on Figueroa. The adorable breakfast spot serves the popular Buffalo Bowl with brown rice, black beans, collard greens, yams, and topped with dill cashew and buffalo sauces, along with more perfect brunch dishes like the smoky Tempeh Reuben, served open-face, with caraway sauerkraut, cashew cheese, and chipotle aioli. Not only do they have a way with tempeh bacon, they’ve really mastered sauces here.

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For a tad fancier evening out than say, splitting a jelly donut on the walk home, there are a few vegan options at popular sit-down Italian eatery Maximiliano, including the vegan pizza with pomodoro, spinach, mushroom, kalamata olive, eggplant, and best of all, truffle oil.

You could also try Good Girl Dinette on 56th at Figueroa, a very vegan-friendly Vietnamese diner with vegetarian pho with rice noodles and tofu, mushroom imperial rolls, and rice cakes with crisp scallion tofu.

Around the Highland Park-Eagle Rock border, there’s also pop-up Plant Food for People, which shows up regularly at vegan grocer-deli Organix in Eagle Rock on Colorado, the Eagle Rock Brewery in Glassell Park, and many neighborhood spots. They make the best jackfruit tacos you’ve ever had, hands down.

 And speaking of Organix, stop by this small grocer for your essentials (Earth Balance cheddar squares and Kombucha) but also for that little window of a deli. It’s a porthole to sandwich paradise.

Their sandwiches often come decked out in Beyond Meat and Veganaise, or in the case of the Pulled Pork, shredded jackfruit and cabbage slaw. The seasonal menu also includes gourmet vegan hot dogs, a fried “chicken” sandwich, veggie burgers, and the Poncho (Vegan Carne Asada) burrito. Everything I’ve tried there so far has been worth the wait.

In fact, Organix is the first spot a friend recommended when I mentioned I’d be moving to the area. And what a great suggestion it was.

This leads me to my next point: Surely there are more spots I haven’t yet discovered in the Highland Park/Eagle Rock/Glassell Park region — vegan meals that I’ve missed with this tasty breakdown. Let me know in the comments. And hey, let’s split a vegan donut when you’re in the neighborhood. 

07/31/2014

Hold onto your Beer Steins, LA: Vegan Oktoberfest is Coming!


You heard that right. On October 4th, one of the most non-vegan events in a beer lover’s life is going vegan, complete with traditional German eats and bevvys. Who’s donning their best lederhosen and getting their vegan drink and eat on? Prost!
Jessica Schoech is the founder of The Vedge App, an up-and-coming app that will revolutionize the way we find veg food worldwide. She is a self-professed crunchy vegan mom (cloth diapers, anyone?), wife, and foodie, who finds the most joy in welcoming people of all backgrounds to the green side, especially vegan parents and children. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and at Power to the Veg! on Facebook.

Hold onto your Beer Steins, LA: Vegan Oktoberfest is Coming!



You heard that right. On October 4th, one of the most non-vegan events in a beer lover’s life is going vegan, complete with traditional German eats and bevvys. Who’s donning their best lederhosen and getting their vegan drink and eat on? Prost!

Jessica Schoech is the founder of The Vedge App, an up-and-coming app that will revolutionize the way we find veg food worldwide. She is a self-professed crunchy vegan mom (cloth diapers, anyone?), wife, and foodie, who finds the most joy in welcoming people of all backgrounds to the green side, especially vegan parents and children. You can find her on InstagramFacebookTwitter and at Power to the Veg! on Facebook.

07/29/2014

Youth Empowered Action vegan summer camp? Sign me up!  »

… said my inner 13-year-old. When I first heard about Youth Empowered Action (YEA) camp, I started mentally packing my bags. All of the food is vegan, though the campers, kids ages 12 to 17, range from vegan to vegetarian to omnivorous and everywhere in between.

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I got the skinny on YEA from founder and executive director Nora Kramer, and man, does she make me wish I could relive my teenage years. This is not your run-of-the-mill soggy-sandwich, papier-mâché-crafts, learn-to-swim camp. This camp is something incredibly special. Campers who attend YEA are on a mission to make effective change in one area of their choosing — factory farming, vegetarianism, the environment, gay rights, bullying, education. Talk about covering the spread! I don’t remember being half as passionate about anything more than how many inches of exposed leg I could get away with at that age.

At YEA, campers build skills to address the issues most vital to them. YEA covers four core areas of activism: knowledge, skills, confidence, and community. By the end of the weeklong stay, campers will have created an action plan to hopefully implement in the real world. YEA alumni have done some incredible things! Some campers have successfully petitioned for veg options at their schools; others started animal rights clubs, organized fundraisers for charities, created online stores for cruelty-free crafts, and gotten rid of dissection in their classrooms. It’s no wonder YEA camps are fostering the next generation of game-changers, law-makers, activists, environmentalists, and vegans. These kids are set up to succeed through confident and effective activism.

YEA camp is structured to allow every camper to tell their story and share their cause with their peers. By the end of camp, everyone has learned something new about the issues of their peers, and some even take steps to live a cruelty-free life once they leave camp. That, in addition to the vegan camp food, really makes YEA not only the perfect place for budding philanthropists, but for helping shape the future generations of our compassionate world.

A typical day of food at YEA camp looks like this:

  • Breakfast: French toast or pancakes, with cereal, soy milk, and fruit.
  • Lunch: veggie burgers, burritos, and sloppy Joes.
  • Dinner: pizza, pasta, vegan sushi, and a veggie tofu curry.
  • Dessert: brownies, chocolate chip cookies, and s’mores.

ALL VEGAN. You know I had to leave you with the goods.

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These kids not only learn how to better care for the world and solve its problems, but, most importantly, they develop sense of community with their peers who are doing the same. And Nora, if you ever decide to start an adult YEA camp, sign me up!

You can find more info about YEA and their ongoing summer camps online. This year, there are sessions in Oregon, California, and Massachusetts; the California session began on Sunday, and Massachusetts’s begins August 9. If you have a young activist on your hands, check this place out, and help them become the leader they were born to be.

Jessica Schoech is the founder of The Vedge App, an up-and-coming app that will revolutionize the way we find veg food worldwide. She is a self-professed crunchy vegan mom (cloth diapers, anyone?), wife, and foodie, who finds the most joy in welcoming people of all backgrounds to the green side, especially vegan parents and children. You can find her on InstagramFacebookTwitter and at Power to the Veg! on Facebook.

07/25/2014

Guest Post: My favorite masculine vegan has a pussy  »

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As of late, conversations about masculinity and meat eating have re-emerged, partially in response to John Joseph’s book, Meat Is for Pussies, and also from a segment on NPR about masculinity and veganism. But this conversation has left a lot to be desired from many vegans, especially feminists.

It’s great to see traditional assumptions about masculinity challenged by veganism, but we can do better. I date a butch lesbian vegan who is training for a marathon, lifts weights, is masculine, and has a pussy. Below are five of the most frustrating aspects of the conversation.

1. Hardcore veganism is feminist
The idea that there is a real man or that one type of man is a “pussy”* and another is more masculine is a) homophobic and b) misogynist. There is nothing hardcore about reclaiming traditional patriarchal language and behavior in the name of an ethical movement. And remember: If you aren’t sure how to do better please ask a vegan feminist. We would love to help!

2. Ethical veganism is not a diet or about controlling your body
All people who are vegan eat a plant-based diet and strive to live a compassionate life towards human and non-human animals alike. This extends to varying degrees into all consumer products, as well as different practices one supports. There’s plenty of debate about how veganism extends beyond the plate.

One thing that is not up for debate, however, is that ethical veganism is not about restricting food as a diet or about controlling your body. With the emphasis on proving vegan diets can also provide for the nutritional needs of those who run ultra marathons and body-build, the conversation seems to have become confused. As the NPR segment argues, men are generally the face of this misconception.

3. Veganism doesn’t need to be saved from feminity
A lot of this conversation about masculinity and veganism is people reacting to being bullied for being too feminine or behaving like a girl (or a “pussy”)  for being a vegan. The basic premise that this is something to tolerate or build a defense against is offensive in its own right.

Eating plants is not an inherently feminine behavior, nor is eating meat an inherently masculine behavior. Anything that encourages either side of this argument is essentialist and tired. This is not to say that being treated as an outcast or ostracized for making an ethical choice many people consider weird is not difficult, just that it’s part of the patriarchy, man. Making ethical vegan choices is something to be proud of for no reason other than the inherent virtue of making the right ethical decision, which has nothing to do with your gender.

4. Veganism shouldn’t need a mainstream male stamp of approval to be taken seriously
If you’re going to get media attention for being male and vegan, please say something feminist and mention some of the inspiring feminist vegans who you know and love!

5. Where are my male feminist allies?
It’s very annoying to see instances of misogynistic language promoting veganism get the seal of approval by prominent male vegans. Those in the position to hold the microphone with the most amplification have a responsibility to say something and push our movement to be less homophobic, and more feminist. And if you aren’t sure how, please pass that microphone on to a #feministvegan who does. 

*Similar to queer, the word pussy has been reclaimed by some feminists, probably most notably the feminist Russian punk band Pussy Riot. Read more about that here. 

Jamie J. Hagen is a Boston-based writer who writes about feminism, feminist security studies, and LGBTQ politics for such publications as Rolling Stone, Autostraddle and RH Reality Check. She tweets @jamiejhagen and you can visit jamiejhagen.com for more of her work.

Photo via The Animal Blog

07/09/2014

Vegan Travel, Romance Novel-Style in Mendocino  »

Up a small highway from the beach cliffs of Mendocino, surrounded by lush, color-popping gardens, sits the breezy Stanford Inn by the Sea eco-resort. I mean, don’t you already feel more relaxed?

Perhaps you’ve heard of it. Maybe you’ve even visited? I went for the first time a few months back and I can’t believe it took me this long.

Full disclosure: while still a bit folksy, this was a luxurious vacation for me. I normally crash on friend’s couches or find the cheapest possible sun-bleached California motel. While The Stanford Inn is no such place, it’s also not a hyper modern or glam resort of the boutique hotel variety.

It does, however, serve you fresh, warm vegan chocolate chip cookies upon arrival, and every day after that. God, I wish someone would leave gooey cookies out for me nightly back in the real world.

There’s also a complimentary dessert and tea-time nightly for guests. And this was my introduction to the Stanford Inn at the Sea, after a windy drive from San Francisco. With my husband and rescue chug in tow, I walked past an already-crackling fireplace in the modest, lodge-like common area and devoured a rich chocolate torte with hints of orange along with a mug of hot mint tea.

When we made it to the room, there were vegan dog treats wrapped in plastic with a bow and the aforementioned chocolate cookie plate — because we needed more desserts — along with a rustic bedroom set and wood-burning fireplace, already roaring.  We opened the picture window porch doors to views of endless greenery and far off waters. It’s all feeling very Danielle Steel at this point.

We traipsed through the gardens to meet the lodge’s elderly llamas, who lived up to their expected cuteness, along with a few donkeys and at least one pony. Below that we walked down to Catch a Canoe & Bicycle Too, on the edge of the river. The inn has a deal with Catch a Canoe, and guests can ride complimentary mountain bikes during their stay.

Later, we made it back to the saltwater pool and Jacuzzi at the Inn, essentially enchanted in the atrium trimmed with wild plants.

Throughout our stay, we munched complimentary breakfasts at the Raven’s Restaurant (attached to the inn) of delicious, decadent vegan Florentines and benedicts and the signature brunch dish: The Stanford Citrus Polenta over braised greens with cashew cream sauce. We returned nightly for the excellent tempeh burger, tamari-maple glazed tofu, and winter ravioli with butternutsquash filling in beurre blanc sauce.

Did I mention that our dog happily sat at our feet during the entire stay?

Perhaps it all sounds a bit (cashew) cheesy, but the comfort of knowing everything you’ll be eating is both vegan and yummy, matched to all those romance novel touches of crackling fireplaces, windswept beaches, colorful gardens, and secluded-feeling saltwater pools makes the Stanford Inn a rather irresistible spot for veg couples. 

06/10/2014

Oakland’s Awesome, Sun-Baked, Line-Filled Vegan Food Fest   »

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Let’s get this out of the way: the lines were long. And I mean like, crazy long. Long enough to wind through the outdoor patio lined with pop-up vegan restaurants and snake back around on themselves.

The first annual Oakland Vegan Beer & Food Festival this past Saturday was well attended, almost shockingly crowded. We knew Oakland loved a good vegan dish (and beer), but wow. Some reported waiting in line for up to two hours.

Although certainly frustrating, I’m going to look at the silver lining here and posit this simply means they’ll need more space and more food booths next time, which the organizers know—not such a bad thing.

After the fest, Hella Vegan Eats posted a love note to the community on their Facebook page that included this insight: “We are overjoyed that there was such a positive response to this event even with the crazy long lines. We can’t wait to begin planning next year’s #OAKVEGBFF with way more vendors, more space, better organization, etc. Now that we know to expect so many people, we can plan accordingly!”

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Personally, I waited half an hour in line then another half hour for one of the most delicious dishes I’ve ever had, courtesy of S+M Vegan. The flavorful Okonomiyaki (savory Japanese pancake) stuffed with tots and veggies and topped with pickled relish and sweet soy was succulent and satisfying. Standing while eating, I finished it far too quickly.

While waiting, we sipped tart ciders and sampled decadent pastries including a gooey chocolate grasshopper bar and caramel cupcake from Timeless Coffee. As the Oakland sun beat down, I tried tastes of a dark Ale Industries Rye’d Piper and the Linden Street New Oakland Glow.

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I also got a chance to chat with the duo behind Rhizocali Tempeh. They mentioned that they were surprised, coming from Gainesville, Florida, a town with two independent tempeh-producing companies, to find no other locals currently producing tempeh in Oakland. Nuts, right? The organic tempeh-makers based in the same commercial kitchen as Hella Vegan Eats and S+M Kitchen.

Wildly popular fest organizers Hella Vegan Eats had some especially long lines as well, but I saw many a vegan walk away ecstatic with a glistening plate of fried “chicken” and waffle or mac-n-cheese Lusty Lovers tacos from their booth.

While the food vendors were all lined up in the outdoor patio, inside we got to check out some rather shiny classic cars and art installations.

Outside, dogs roamed the lines, some very cute pups up for adoption via Rocket Dog Rescue—which received 20 percent of the event’s proceeds—and others brought by attendees, just stretching on leashes and seeking fallen drops of precious veggie meats.

To see more yummy photos of the event, creep on the #OAKVEGBFF hashtag on Twitter and Instagram.

06/03/2014

First ever Oakland Vegan Beer & Food Festival is THIS WEEKEND  »

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Bay Area: Did you also watch the drool-worthy photos from the second annual La Vegan Beer & Food Festival roll in on Instagram and Twitter with stomach-rumbling envy a few weeks back? Just me? Well surprise, surprise, we’ve got our very own (granted, relatively more intimate but just as fun-sounding) vegan beer and food fest going down this weekend! Envy-drool no more.

The first ever Oakland Vegan Beer & Food Festival takes place this Saturday, June 7, 11am-5pm, in the beer garden/art gallery space Classic Cars West, 411 26th St., Oakland. It’s free entry but like all food pop-ups, you’ll pay for your eats as you go.

The awesome ladies behind popular vegan pop-up Hella Vegan Eats will be serving up their signature blend of out-of-this-world colorful dishes:  Lusty Lover mac & cheese tacos, mini potsticker burritos (yep), “chicken” and waffle bites, and smoked seitan reubens.

And Black Spring Coffee, Curbside Creamery, Timeless Coffee Roastery and Bakery, S+M Vegan, Rhizocali Tempeh, and more will join Hella Vegan Eats in the gallery.

I recently got on the S+M Vegan tip when I discovered their cashew cream cheese in specialty flavors, which you can pick up at Berkeley’s newish vegan store, Republic of V. The plant-based couple behind S+M is also know for pop-ups and cooking classes. Their Saturday menu is still being fine-tuned but they say it will be a selection of their favorite foods from different countries, inspired by their travels. That will likely include a Drunken Chicago Dip sandwich featuring savory beer-infused seitan served au jus with crunchy giardinera and sweet peppers in a Dutch crunch roll, a Drunken Croque Monsieur sandwich with thin slices of hickory smoked tofu, secret cheesy sauce, pickles and mustard au vin rouge, a take on Okonomiyaki (savory Japanese pancake) stuffed with Tater Tots and veggies brushed with sweet soy glaze and a Kartoffelsalat (German potato salad).

On the sweet side, Black Spring Coffee, which opened its doors last year, is known for yummy vegan pastries, as is fellow Oakland coffee shop, Timeless, which has warm house-baked treats. Black Spring will have pastries and iced coffee; Timeless is bringing pour over coffee, chocolates, and even more pastries. Oh and Curbside Creamery will have vegan ice cream sandwiches!

CommonWealth Café & Pub is bringing a variety of beers and ciders.

Plus, there’ll be DJ sets by Alexa Pantalone and Melissr Elliot. Even cooler? It’s for a good cause: 20% of food sales benefit Rocket Dog Rescue.

Better start warning your friends of an onslaught of incoming vegan food photos. Come to think of it, is there an official Oakland Vegan Beer & Food Festival hashtag yet? I’ll keep a look out.

The goal is make this a biannual event, with one in the spring and one in the fall, and smaller nighttime versions taking place once a month. 

05/28/2014

Bikini Bites’ wants to open a vegan taco cart in Orange County and they need your help!  »

image"Don’t discriminate, accomodate! Vegans need food too!”

UPDATE: Bikini Bites reached their fundraising goal! Yay! BUT you can still donate so Bikini Bites can get an extra awesome cart with totally metal accessories!

Bikini Bites embodies the DIY punk spirit, as its creator Betty Mankiller is a one-woman vegan catering rock star specializing in tantalizing on-the-go food! She regularly serves up her all-vegan noms at various concerts, record release parties, and other special events around Orange County and LA. Besides running her own catering business, she recently created the all-vegan menu for the Black Rose Tavern in Los Angeles, regularly hosts fundraisers for animal rescues, and donates a portion of her profits to animal welfare causes.

I have had the absolute pleasure of enjoying her home-cooked comfort food at various shows and events, and can attest to her wizardry with vegan food! Her specialty is vegan tacos, and let me tell you, once you have tasted her spicy tofu tacos or carne asada tacos you won’t be able to resist going back for seconds (and thirds, and fourths)!

Good news for Orange County vegans: Betty’s goal is to purchase a mobile taco cart so she can make more of her tasty tacos and cater more events! She is currently fundraising to help purchase one, so please consider donating to make this happen! OC definitely needs a vegan taco cart, and how great would this be at various venues, concerts and events?!

Take a look at some of her specialties (all vegan!) and join in drooling with me:

Seitan buffalo wings with bleu cheese dressing
Crab cakes
Jackfruit sliders
Mac & Cheese with coconut bacon
Bleu cheese wedge with coconut back
Irish nachos
Black bean burgers with bacon vegenaise
Loaded nachos with spicy sunflower cheese
Carne Asada tacos with citrus cabbage slaw
Spicy tofu tacos with citrus cabbage slaw
Jackfruit margaritas
White russians

Betty is almost at her fundraising goal, but needs a few more donations to make it happen! Please consider donating to Bikini Bites, whose motto is “changing the world one bite at a time”!

Please donate at: http://www.gofundme.com/8mwv8o!

Visit and like Bikini Bites on Facebook!

Sarah Jahier is The Spooky Vegan, an Orange County-based blogger who wanders the night in search of vegan options. She writes about the vegan lifestyle and her other two obsessions, Halloween and horror, on her site, The Spooky Vegan. You can follow her daily esoteric ramblings on Twitter.

03/31/2014

Faux Moccs: Stylish vegan shoes for kids are here!  »

Finding vegan shoes for children isn’t very easy. I had been searching high and low for about six months with only a few questionable pairs to show for it when I heard about Faux Moccs, a company created by Kortney Campbell, one of the Vegan Housewives, I knew that I had found my solution. I interviewed her for an in-depth look into this vegan mom-run company. 

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According to Kortney, the soft-bottom design of Faux Moccs is especially important for the development of baby and toddler feet. The sylish design of the Faux Moccs encourages babies and toddlers to spread their toes and feet naturally while still offering protection from the outdoors. The fact that children’s developing feet were taken into consideration in the construction of the shoe makes them worth their weight in eco-friendly material. They are made from either nylon or polysester fiber matric manufactured in the USA (the vast majority being nylon). They are breathable and water resistant with no PVC, vinyl or plasticizers. Eco-friendly, vegan, AND biomechanically sound? This is a combo unlike any I’ve ever seen in the kids’ shoe department.

Kortney came up with Faux Moccs when she was having a hard time finding cruelty-free footwear for her 17-month-old son, Judah. Once she realized that other moms were probably having the same issues, she decided to veganize a shoe that would fit her (and his) needs. She tapped into her love of moccasins, her degree in fashion design, and her hero, Betsey Johnson, for inspiration. The resulting design is nothing short of genius. The array of colors offered combined with the handsome look of the shoe are sure to make any mom happy to dress up her little one for a playdate. Kortney says she hopes to release new designs with each season — our kids can be fashionable all year long as they outgrow their stylish vegan shoes.

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Check out Faux Moccs here.

Jessica Schoech is the founder of The Vedge App, an up-and-coming app that will revolutionize the way we find veg food worldwide. She is a self-professed crunchy, vegan mom (cloth diapers, anyone?), wife, and foodie, who finds the most joy in welcoming people of all backgrounds to the green side, especially vegan parents and children. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and at Power to the Veg! on Facebook. Images courtesy Faux Moccs.

03/17/2014

Calling All Vegan Families: Welcome to Generation Veggie!  »

Is there anything cuter than vegan babies playing together?  I mean, look at these faces! Image by Todd Moore.

When you’re fortunate enough to know other vegan families and have your children meet for the first time, it is nothing short of inspirational.  Seeing children not only living, but thriving on a vegan lifestyle, sends the message that you are indeed on the right track and your children are walking billboards for compassion. Whether they were born vegan or you’ve helped them transition to veganism at some point in their young lives, raising vegan children comes with challenges and hurdles not unlike the ones you encounter as an adult vegan. If only there were a community that tied solutions to all of those challenges together with a pretty bow to help make our lives a little more simple, sign me up!

Cue the GenerationVeggie.org Indiegogo campaign! The non-profit site promises to bring a smorgasbord of vegan family resources, including yummy recipes for kids, the low-down on how to have a healthy vegan pregnancy, tips for hosting vegan kids’ parties, and even—get this—a list of top vegan kid-friendly restaurants. Now that’s what I’m talking about!

I’m excited to see this campaign succeed and can’t wait to delve head first into this magical Internet land of vegan families. Check them out and toss them some support.

Jessica Schoech is the founder of The Vedge App, an up-and-coming app that will revolutionize the way we find veg food worldwide. She is a self-professed crunchy, vegan mom (cloth diapers, anyone?), wife, and foodie, who finds the most joy in welcoming people of all backgrounds to the green side, especially vegan parents and children. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and at Power to the Veg! on Facebook.

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