vegansaurus!

11/27/2013

Voluptuous Pumpkin Pie
 Mary Mother. This looks AMAZING. (Don’t forget to send in your Thanksgiving plates !!)

Voluptuous Pumpkin Pie

 Mary Mother. This looks AMAZING. (Don’t forget to send in your Thanksgiving plates !!)

07/16/2013

Product Review: Maple Bacon and Sweet & Salty Kettle Chips!  »

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Say what you will about the “hipster” movement over the last few years, but there is a silver lining in the black-Levi’s-with-keys-on-a-carabiner-dangling-from-a-belt-loop cloud. So-called “foodies” have been putting bacon on everything, which is pretty disgusting and unfortunate, but it’s provoked vegan and vegan-friendly food chemists to create some more mock-bacon food stuffs. The bacon craze has always been weird to me; even in my non-vegan days, I never understood the infatuation. I’ve even seen Torani, the company that makes sugary syrups for your coffee beverages, add a “bacon” flavor to their lineup. Seriously dudes? Bacon-flavored coffee? But I digress.

Kettle Brand certainly isn’t the first potato chip company to take a crack at bacon flavor, but as a company who is proud to stamp their bags with “GMO-free” labeling and as a company that knows what “vegan” means, I was pretty excited to try their new summer flavors, Maple Bacon and Sweet & Salty.

If you’re one of the many vegans who couldn’t care less about finding a bacon replacement, then these Maple Bacon chips are actually going to be right up your alley. They were incredibly delicious—they just weren’t bacony. At all. They tasted more in line with K.C. Masterpiece BBQ-flavored Lays, but with Kettle Brands’ better chip as the base. Plus, I can guarantee, with no prior research, the fine folks at Lays probably go to the same country clubs as the fine folks at Monsanto. Again, I digress.

After eating the Maple Bacon chips, I became curious as to what the Sweet & Salty were going to taste like, because that name easily could have gone to the bacon chip, and no one would be the wiser. The Sweet & Salty, however, are WAY sweet. Like, almost as sweet as I am (awww, also I’m single, just kidding (no I’m not)). My vegans-of-Instagram pal Chris, aka @dinotheman, said it best: “Imagine chips with a hint of pineapple flavor and [there] you have it.”

These chips should be already on your grocer’s shelves, just in time for summer cookouts, or in my case, dinner. I’ve eaten entire bags of chips in one sitting before and I’m not ashamed to admit it. They’re both a must-try and please let us know what you think! Kettle Brand deserves a Lays-sized display in the chip aisle. Say no to Monsanto. Monsan-no.

Andrew E. Irons is a blogger from Long Beach, California. He co-created and contributes to a Rhode Island-based hip-hop website, The Echo Chamber Blog, under the pseudonym Verbal Spacey. You can track his daily diatribes by following him on Twitter.

06/17/2013

Tattoo review: James Spooner’s vegan tattoos don’t hurt (animals)  »

imageI was always intrigued by tattoos in my early years, but never thought enough about them to ever want one. Thoughts like Why does that guy love barbed wire enough to have it tattooed on his arm? or I wonder what “tribe” that tribal tattoo represents? would cloud my mind and sully the idea of ever getting something meaningful tattooed on the temple I call my own body. Fast forward to my (really) late twenties, here I am thinking of different designs paying homage to my parental units to be permanently drawn on my skin. I knew I wanted something and began my research about two months ago.

In L.A., there’s really just one choice when it comes to 100 percent vegan tattoo joints. I came across a couple of artists that could use vegan inks, but James Spooner of Monocle Tattoo was the only one who would be using vegan-friendly soaps and aftercare, and, as far as I could tell, the only vegan himself. I remember either an old Quarry Girl post or tweet or something regarding Spooner a couple of years back, so when my own research came back to him, I shot him an email (or nine) with some basic questions. He was extremely helpful and informative, and once I met him in person and he was as excited, if not more, than I was regarding my idea. I knew it was a match. Plus the “Vegan Tattoos Don’t Hurt (Animals)” framed artwork in his shop warmed my heart more than standard adjectives can delineate.

I was ridiculously impressed on Spooner’s ability to put his art on paper based off of my descriptions. He sent me a drawing and the next day it was on my arm, permanently. I’ve never been as excited as I was, still am, about this tattoo. I have many more sessions left to fill in and have it colored, which I feel like a kid on Christmas morning in anticipation. This was my first tattoo but Spooner made it feel like I’ve been there before, and even after 3+ hours on the “table” (it was actually a chair) I was never uncomfortable (other than the needles-into-the-arm part.)

Southern Californian vegans would be making a mistake if they went elsewhere. And if you get a non-vegan tattoo because you like the artist’s work, it’s the same as eating a non-vegan pizza because you like the taste. Ya dig? If you want more information on vegan tattoos or if you’re serious about getting something done, for the first time or 100th time, hit him up. Tell him Vegansaurus sent you. 

Andrew E. Irons is a blogger from Long Beach, California.  He co-created and contributes to a Rhode Island based Hip-Hop website, The Echo Chamber Blog, under the pseudonym Verbal Spacey. You can track his daily diatribes by following him on Twitter.

05/01/2013

Cookbook Review! Plum: Gratifying Vegan Dishes from Seattle’s Plum Bistro  »

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There are a handful of vegan restaurants around the world that make such a lasting impression on their customers that word spreads like wild fire, then a cult following ensues, even among those who have never visited. L.A.’s Native Foods Cafe is like that for some, as are Chicago DinerMillenniumand Seattle’s Plum Bistro. And now you can bring Plum Bistro’s dishes to your home with a cookbook based on some of its most famous dishes as Sasquatch Books and restaurateur Makini Howell bring you Plum: Gratifying Vegan Dishes from Seattle’s Plum Bistro.

When my copy arrived, courtesy of the fine folks at Sasquatch Books, I was immediately taken with the design and feel, with its hard cover and bright yet matte colors. When I opened it and started thumbing through the recipes, I felt immediately intimidated. There is a “fundamental” section that prefaces the rest of the recipes, many of which include at least one of the “fundamentals,” like various soy creams, egg foam, pestos, relishes, etc. To someone who eats roughly 2 PB&J sandwiches a day, this seemed like a daunting task. However, I put my neuroses aside and got down to it.

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The first dish I attempted was something I had never successfully made since eliminating animal products from my life: French toast. More specifically, Plum’s “Good Old-Fashioned French Toast Stuffed with Strawberries and Sweet Soy Cream.” It was incredible. The “fundamentals” I needed to make first were super easy, much like most things in life I fret about it. The egg foam was like two steps, and the Sweet Soy Cream was me just using the blender—the complete opposite of daunting. I’d never made a cream of any sort before, and was a little apprehensive, since I’ve tasted some terrible vegan creams in my day. But the ease of this recipe made it my new jam (to borrow a phrase from our Jenny Bradley).

After pouring and mixing the soy milk, canola oil, lemon juice, vanilla extract (with no measurement suggested, I squeezed a little more than like 5 drops then panicked), and ground cinnamon (that I had to grate myself with a stick, which ruined my knuckles, but I did look classy doing it), I somehow, through science and prayer, turned it into a soy cream that I stuck in a mason jar and have used pretty much every day since. I’m literally in love. Figuratively.

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The French toast part was pretty much just like the French toast my mom used to make me. Except the mix has no unborn friends in it and, without insulting my mother, much better. The mix was vanilla soy milk (awesome), white vinegar (OK?), the vegan egg foam (weird, really really weird, but cool), vanilla extract (still scared of its potency), agave syrup (YES), more ground cinnamon (I put on medieval chainmail gloves this time), and canola oil (OIL RULES). This, also through science and vigorous whisking, turns into the French toast batter. The rest is easy, although Howell words the instructions perfectly for dumb-dumbs like me. The only other difference to my mom’s recipe was splitting each slice of bread down the middle, top-to-bottom, so they were connect by a sliver of bread much like a book is connected by the spine. This was so I could dollop some soy cream and strawberries on one half and fold over to make cute little French toast half-sammies. 

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Cookbook companies and authors use really good lighting and photographers, so the food we make almost never looks the same as their fancy pants pictures. Not this time. My dish came out almost exactly like the fancy photo, and my photo of it garnered many likes on my Instagram account. MANY.

The rest of the recipes range from just as easy as the French toast to extremely complicated and requiring devices like a Dutch oven. After laughing at the name “Dutch oven” I realized that I had to find something that was at or near my level of expertise, which can be described as infantile. But what a great idea: recipes all over the map so everyone feels both challenged and content at the tasks at hand. I approve. And to pay homage to the late film critic we just recently lost, I give it two green thumbs up.

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You can find Plum: Gratifying Vegan Dishes from Seattle’s Plum Bistro at your least favorite online book distributor. You can also visit Plum Bistro in Seattle and tell Ms. Howell she creates amazing dishes and you were sent there by a handsome man on the internet. 

Andrew E. Irons is a blogger from Long Beach, California.  He co-created and contributes to a Rhode Island based Hip-Hop website, The Echo Chamber Blog, under the pseudonym Verbal Spacey. You can track his daily diatribes by following him on Twitter.

03/19/2013

Guest post: Vegan Pierogie Night in Pittsburgh!  »

Pittsburgh is a pierogi town. Pittsburghers seriously love sports, and not only are pierogies for sale at all sporting events, but at home Pirates games, people dressed as pierogies race each other around PNC Park. One might wonder whether pirates weren’t an exciting enough mascot; well, sure, but it’s Pittsburgh, dammit, and the people of Pittsburgh are proud of their Eastern European foodstuffs! Plus, the sandwich-with-french-fries-and-coleslaw-on-it costume is pretty confusing, and an Andy Warhol race just didn’t have the same mass appeal.

Sadly, though, most places stuff their pierogies full of non-vegan ingredients. We’re talking cheese, meat, lots of butter. Some places even put eggs in the dough. But hope is not lost for the vegan who wants to eat an enormous amount of authentic dough pockets stuffed with (preferably) greasy goodies like any real Pittsburgher!

Tomasz Skowronski has been holding Vegan Pierogie Night for over two years, using mostly word of mouth to spread the joy of vegan pierogies to Pittsburgh’s herbivores and omnivores alike. “People think that the pierogie recipe is some sacred thing, but that’s the biggest misstep,” he says. “A pierogie is just supposed to be chewy and simple. You don’t need sour cream or fake things. The less artificial stuff you put into it, the better.”

imageTomasz preps and serves.

This more-or-less monthly event has been a true labor of love for him. “At first, we pressed all the pierogies by hand. That’s possible to do, but eventually your hands just wither and you do a lot of crying, so now we use hand presses.” As the event grew in popularity, his partner Kate Lasky signed on to split the enormous amount of cooking and prep, while helpful friends volunteer the day of, frying and flipping and running around. “I think they just appreciate what we’ve got going on and they want to be involved in it,” says Kate. “And they don’t mind us bossing them around for three hours.”

imageKate works in the kitchen while Tomasz serves in front.

With fillings like potato and red bell pepper coulis with sauerkraut and mushroom, or spicy carrot with stewed cabbage and cooked Jonathan apples, it’s no surprise that the line for food goes out the door, but Tomasz and Kate are committed to keeping it all-you-can-eat. Vegan Pierogie Night is a social event, where you get some food, sit and eat and talk, then go get some more food and do it again, rather than a pop-up kitchen or food truck. And pierogies are not the only thing served; there is always a second, unrelated food. Past pierogie nights have paired the Pittsburgh classic with such unlikely plate-mates as tacos, falafel, Korean barbecue, pizza, sushi, and banh mi.

imagePierogies, dipping sauces, and tacos from the Pierogies vs. Tacos night held in December 2012.

Although Tomasz and Kate love to eat at many ethnic restaurants in Pittsburgh, they do feel the lack of strictly vegan places. “It’s so easy to buy vegan food for yourself at the grocery stores in the states now, so we’re kind of done with the whole ‘one vegan option’ thing,” says Tomasz. He and Kate have plans in the (slow) works to open up what sounds like would instantly be Pittsburgh’s most rad place if it ever came to be, which it totally should. “It’d be like, a Pan-Eastern European place that always plays Depeche Mode and has a late-night drunk menu. And a bar! With disco and darkwave.”

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The next event happens on Saturday, March 23, from 6 to 9 p.m.  It’s at the Stephen Foster Community Center, 286 Main St., in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. This time around, it’s Pierogies vs. Sushi, and entry costs $10. Details on Facebook!

Melissa Balick is a blogger originally from Pennsylvania who now lives in San Francisco. She writes about vegan cooking, type 1 diabetes, and preserving marine biodiversity on her blog, Food and Loathing. You can also follow her on Twitter if you have a short attention span.

02/19/2013

Guest post: Support Food Empowerment Project by eating vegan food at Saturn Cafe. It’s easy!  »

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Hey, Bay Area vegans! Come on out to Saturn Café in Berkeley on Wednesday, Feb. 20, and 10 percent of your (vegan) meal will go to help fund the all-volunteer Food Empowerment Project.

If you aren’t familiar with Vegansaurus favorite FEP, we’re a vegan food justice organization focused on issues like food access, environmental racism, and workers’ rights. Here are the event details:

Come any time between 11 a.m. and midnight with the printable flyer on the page and Saturn will donate 10 percent of the cost of your vegan meal to help fund our efforts to create a more just and equitable food systems.

Volunteers will be hanging out from 6 to 10 p.m. if you want to learn more about how to get involved. 

There will also be flyers up front assuring your 10 percent, so don’t worry about printing. Just come hang out! FEP’s Lauren Ornelas will be there, and we’ll have literature and what have you, but mostly you should just eat some food and say hi. Saturn Café is located at 2175 Allston Way in Berkeley.

02/06/2013

Summer in Winter: a smoothie and salad to cure your winter blues  »

My “cooking” style can best be described as hodgepodge. The more I try new things in the kitchen, the more comfortable I get, just like most things in life. Even though I needed to text TWO separate people asking them how to work the rice cooker that was immediately in front of me, and even though I’ve never finished preparing a meal without my sous chef, Chef Google-Search, I’m always pleasantly surprised at the finished product. And that’s saying a lot because I am the most self loathing person I know. 

Back to the food. I say hodgepodge because I enjoy throwing many ingredients into what I’m making to try to find something that I haven’t tasted before or just switch things up from the monotony. Case-in-point, the rice cooker.  In an effort to save money and not waste food, I try to eat as many things left in the closets, cupboards, and ‘fridge on the day I bring groceries home. Rather than gorging myself on all the new treats. A couple months back I did a post on SooFoo and their grain blend. I came across the nearly empty bag, buried in our bulk-food drawer, and decided I was going to finish it off but with some new twists. Then saw a bag of salad about a day before it was set to turn slimey and dark, a bag of bread that only had one heal left, and a soft kiwi. It was like the Island of Misfit Toys, but with vegan friendly food from your local grocer. That’s when it hit me, let’s make a cheap meal that will bring all the boys (or girls, or both) to the yard. 

First up: the SooFoo.

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Normally, you follow your ricers directions of 1 cup (which isn’t a real “cup” and no one has given me an explanation of why) of the blend and some water up to the “1” line and a teaspoon of oil. I said, to myself, “NAH SON.” Threw the rest of the bag of the blend in the ricer, along with a handful of roasted/unsalted peanuts and a handful of raw pecans. For the water, I felt that was the easy way out, so I threw one part water and one part Trader Joe’s Low Sodium Garden Patch juice. Think V-8 but way less gross and actually good. And not disgusting. Then I pressed the button and let this interesting concoction boil in that plastic and metal cauldron. After it was finished, which I should have done way earlier but my kitchen neuroses kicked in, I threw in a gang of spices—thyme, garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper, chili powder, and cayenne pepper—then mixed it in and was taken aback by my its awesomeness. 

Next: The smoothie.

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I like to brag about my smoothie skills. But that’s like bragging about exercising and we all cannot stand that person who loves to tell you how much they just ran, all before the sun came up too. But I wear my smoothie skills like a badge of courage—or more realistically, a badge of healthy poo. Because let’s be serious for a moment, that’s all the really matters in this world. The smoothie began with an extremely squishy kiwi that would not have been fun to eat normally. Then half of an avocado. Then a good sized handful of that almost wet and slimey salad. Followed by some almond milk. After blending those ingredients and getting a nice green, milky consistency, I threw in the frozen portions. Blueberries, raspberries, and spinach. Then blended like crazy and poured into a re-purposed glass peanut butter jar that any hipster on Pinterest would be envious of. I garnished it with a cuke moon because I’m classy (ignore aforementioned poo reference in previous paragraph).

Lastly: the salad, which is English for ensalada.

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There was a giant Fuji apple nearby, that must have been in the bottom of a shopping bag because it had a dent and gash in it in the shape of a cereal box. Instead of doing some mouth-maneuvering around the bruise, I figured I’d use the apple in my salad. I chopped it up to 1 CM squares, which is way smaller than I usually make my salad-bound apples. I wanted each forkful to have as much of the many ingredients. After the apple came the other half of the avocado, cut, while still in its skin, into similar sized squares as the apple, then squeezed into the bowl. Next up with throwing the rest of the bag of salad in, followed by 1/3rd of a cucumber, cut into half moons. I toasted that lonely heal of bread and chopped it up to make semi-homemade croutons. Sandra Lee woulda been proud. 

Finally I threw a heaping of the SooFoo blend into the salad and mixed it all with some goddess dressing. Between the kiwi in the smoothie, the apple and avocado in the salad, the (relatively) cold SoCal winter seemed to wither away. It was like, all the way down to 59 today. But this extremely fresh, resourcefully made, and low budget-friendly meal was reminiscent of just 3 weeks ago when it was 70. (hash tag California)

Andrew E. Irons is a blogger from Long Beach, Calif. He co-created and contributes to Rhode Island-based hip-hop website The Echo Chamber Blog under the pseudonym Verbal Spacey. You can track his daily diatribes by following him on Twitter. 

01/24/2013

Eating raw will not ruin your life!  »

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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.

[Photo of Pure Food and Wine's tacos by Edsel Little via Flickr]

01/17/2013

Product Review: Emmy’s Organics Superfood Trail Mix and Peanut Butter Banana Granola!  »

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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

Ingredients
2 cups strawberries
2 bananas
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)

Instructions
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!

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