vegansaurus!

12/10/2012

Confirmation: Loving Hut in Istanbul is legit  »

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YOU GUYS THIS IS VERY EXCITING. It’s a dispatch from my sister! Something you should know about my sister — she is a world-traveler extraordinaire/jet-setting juggernaut. She recently lived in Istanbul for awhile and explored many of the tasty vegan eats there with her awesome fiancee and my niece WHO IS THE CUTEST AND SMARTEST AND BEST CHILD ALIVE. I currently have it in the works to baby-nap her but let’s just keep that between us. Moving on!

One of my sister’s favorite places to eat in Istanbul was Loving Hut! The Supreme Master’s cult chain of delicious-ass eats is perfect for when you need a dose of yummy vegan meat in a foreign (to you!) land. Here’s what my sister had to say:

I’m not sure what all the Loving Hut restaurants have in common other than their names and veganism because LH Istanbul bears no resemblance to any of the other ones I’ve been to.  That doesn’t matter though, because LH Istanbul is DElicioius!  It’s a teeny-tiny little place with maybe five outside tables and a chalkboard menu.  It’s known for its burgers and they didn’t disappoint.  The burger patty was moist and flavorful and it came with a yummy vegan mayo plus pickles, lettuce and tomato.  My VERY non-veg boyfriend even enjoyed it.  I had a pasta topped with veggies and seitan sausage.  It was delicious, although, I have to say, my American stomach was not happy with the tiny portion.  Veggie baby Jane enjoyed both the burger and pasta immensely.  

All in all, we had a great experience.  On a side note, Turkish vegans are all about respecting animals and healthy living…except when it comes to smoking, ‘cause they were all lighting up!  Oh, and absolutely NO signs of Supreme Master. No Supreme Master TV, no pictures of her or of veggie celebrities, no sort-of-Vietnamese food — nothing!  

There are only a handful of veggie places in Istanbul and this one is consistently rated the best on HappyCow.com. So, if you’re in Istanbul, head to the Besiktas neighborhood (which is a really fun neighborhood to hang out in) for a meal and some shopping and sight-seeing.  

Update:  I just asked about SMTV and lo and behold, there’s a teeny-tiny TV screen tucked away inside playing it!

ROAD TRIP???

08/27/2012

Guest post: Eating vegan in Barcelona!  »


At first glance, Barcelona doesn’t seem like the vegan-friendliest city. This is bull-fighting country, after all. You see butcher shops everywhere, tempting though completely NOT vegan pastries in bakery windows, and smell not-so-pleasant wafts of seafood in the air. But frankly, I was surprised with how many vegan choices I’ve stumbled upon during my various visits to this city. Barcelona is not only full of amazing buildings, museums, and churches—it is quite progressive when it comes to food. I’ve been lucky enough to travel here three times (for work, mind you, but yeah, I know) and I always discover new vegan or vegan-friendly restaurants.


I found the awesomely named Cat Bar on my last trip to Barcelona. An all-vegan bar named after my favorite animal!? Oh my, I think this could work. Owned by U.K. ex-pats, Cat Bar is a cozy little joint in El Born (the best neighborhood!). Weirdly, it is located right next to a cycling shop that sells San Francisco’s Chrome Bags, so I felt very much at home. I was super-hungry from a morning trip to Park Güell, so I ordered a veggie burger and a pint of BrewDog, a vegan beer brewed in Scotland. They have an eclectic, ever-changing menu with options like quiche, sushi, hummus plates, goulash, and gluten-free chocolate balls, as well as local beers from Barcelona and the Catalunya region. Cat Bar’s website is terrible, so just check out their Facebook for more information. They also have this handy map to navigating Barcelona’s vegan scene.    


Juicy Jones
is another favorite when I’m visiting BCN. They have a large, sit-down restaurant in the Raval neighborhood (which, to me, is the most intriguing and mysterious of all the Barcelona neighborhoods) as well as a smaller spot with counter-only seating near the Barcelona Cathedral. Juicy Jones is crunchy. This is dreadlock zone, folks. But having living in Santa Cruz for many years, it’s not a big deal to me. As the name implies, you can get various kinds of freshly-made juices and smoothies. They have rotating specials, including an Indian-inspired thali rice plate. My favorite, however, is the tofu bocadilla. A bocadilla is a sandwich on a hard roll, and in Spain, they loooove them bocadillas. The roll at Juicy Jones is fantastic; crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. My bocadilla was garnished with sprouts, lettuce, tomato, and some sort of vegan pâté. The hummus plate is also quite good, though it has nothing on Maoz.

Oh yeah—they have Maoz here! Vegansaurus has already sung the praises of the mind-blowing all-veg falafel joint that is Maoz. There is one location in Barcelona close to La Rambla on Carrer de Ferran. Another great “para llevar” (takeout) place is Wok 2 Walk, which is just up Carrer de Ferran from Maoz. When I’m working, I live off this place. You pick a noodle or rice (stay away from the egg noodles, obviously), your favorite ingredients (vegetables, tofu, pineapple, etc.), and a sauce (I like the curry coconut). A dude whisks it all up in a wok and in minutes, you have a giant to-go container of stir-fry. While it might be tempting, don’t grab an Estrella Damm beer with your dinner. Sadly, Spain’s ubiquitous cheap beer is not vegan. 


La Bascula is a rustic restaurant in a defunct chocolate factory tucked away in an alley in El Born. The old-school European ambience alone is enough to visit at least for a café sin leche, but the food is pretty good too. It is mostly vegetarian, but there are a few solid vegan options. I went there for lunch and had a satisfying seitan bocadilla, but when I went back for dinner on another visit I had a fantastic zucchini, tofu, and lentil dish served with basmati rice. Sesamo is a little fancier, and perhaps more “autentico” than some of the other restaurants listed here. They have vegan and vegetarian tapas (small plates), and the standout is a dish of roasted vegetables with vegan goat cheese. The rocket salad with pear (pictured) is not only beautifully presented, but also damn tasty. They also serve ENORMOUS cocktails.

Cruising around La Rambla and need a pick-me-up? The open-air market off the Rambla, La Boqueria, sells fresh juices for just 1 euro. Gelaati! has both soy and rice milk-based gelat,o as well as fruit sorbetto, which is a must if you’re visiting Barcelona in the summer. I ate it in February, however, because a little rain can’t keep me away from my gelato. If you run out of cruelty-free toiletries on your travels, the chain Natura is a good bet for picking up soap, shampoo and more. They’re everywhere—even in the Barcelona airport!

If you’ve tried all of these places (I salute you!) and want to find something else, Barcelona has its very own guide to vegan/vegetarian restaurants and shops, aptly called Sin Carne. ¡Felices viajes! 

Ginny Mies is a lifelong Northern Californian who loves long -istance running, metal, margaritas, and is way too amused by her cats. She’s also Mission Mission’s vegan correspondent.

[Photos: Top, the author; second, Niklas Pivic via Flickr; third, David Boudreau via Flickr; fourth, Emilie Hardman via Flickr]

07/12/2012

Guest post: Eating vegan in Mexico City: Yug Vegetariano in Zona Rosa!  »


Welcome to Vegansaurus’ weeklong guest series on eating vegan in Mexico City! All content by Rika of Vegan Miam!

I spent all of April in Mexico City (Distrito Federal), the capital of Mexico and the largest city in North America. Mexico City is divided into colonias (neighborhoods). In this series, I’ll guide you through a few of the colonias I explored, and some of the beautiful, delicious vegan food I ate.

All the neighborhoods are unique in their own ways; you just have to decide want you want to do, and eat. Tip: If you don’t speak Spanish, have some phrases prepared about to your dietary preferences. Many people speak some English, but there’s no guarantee.

Zona Rosa is a business district that includes a gay center. There was a strong Korean presence in Zona Rosa, including Asian supermarkets and restaurants, which are very useful for vegan cooking. Asian supermarkets were especially refreshing because while the grocery stores in Mexico City have a great deal of local products, they don’t have the best international selection. I ate Ramen noodles and fried rice few times a week.

Yug Vegetariano was the first local vegetarian restaurant I went to, and I ate there so often I tried almost everything on their menu. It is within a block from El Ángel de la Independencia, in the corner of Paseo de la Reforma.


A few of my favorites from Yug Vegetariano are the bread and the enchiladas de mole. The bread slices are vegan (but the rolls, sticks and butter aren’t) and served as complimentary appetizers, which was nice, but save them for soups. I had enchiladas de mole without cheese. I thought the flavor of the mole was very delicious, slightly bitter and savory, and the enchiladas were filled with textured soy protein and vegetables. The dish also comes with yummy refried black beans.


The carnitas vegetarianas con guacamole y frijoles refritos (vegan roasted pork with guacamole and refried beans) were fantastic. You can taste the creamy refried beans, guacamole (it contained too much onions for me, but sometimes they vary) and the soy carnitas. They aren’t that chewy, but they are a bit salty, greasy, and tasty with guacamole, beans and salsa. They are a must!


The pancita de setas (literally “tummy mushrooms”) soup was unique, with mushrooms and vegetables. The mushrooms were very tough and chewy. The broth was a bit watery, but the soup was overall light and interesting. Definitely eat it with complimentary vegan bread slices.

Based both in Oregon and worldwide, Taiwanese vegan Rika has run an international and travel vegan blog since July 2011. She documents and photographs vegan cuisine, airports/lounges, groceries, products, and home cooking. She also spends her time abroad caring for and feeding feral cats and dogs. You can find her on Twitter and PinterestCheck out all her posts for Vegansaurus!

07/11/2012

Guest post: Eating vegan in Mexico City: Pulqueria Las Duelistas in Centro Histórico!  »


Welcome to Vegansaurus’ weeklong guest series on eating vegan in Mexico City! All content by Rika of Vegan Miam!

I spent all of April in Mexico City (Distrito Federal), the capital of Mexico and the largest city in North America. Mexico City is divided into colonias (neighborhoods). In this series, I’ll guide you through a few of the colonias I explored, and some of the beautiful, delicious vegan food I ate.

All the neighborhoods are unique in their own ways; you just have to decide want you want to do, and eat. Tip: If you don’t speak Spanish, have some phrases prepared about to your dietary preferences. Many people speak some English, but there’s no guarantee.


The Centro Historico district is largely known to tourists since it embraces Zócalo (aka Plaza de la Constitución), the largest square in Latin America. There are plenty of historic colonial landmarks to see in that area, but this is about the food! So let’s drink some pulques at Pulqueria Las Duelistas. (Drink along on Twitter!)

Pulque is a traditional alcoholic beverage made from the fermented sap of the maguey plant (known for fermented agave), and most of them are made vegan. They are a must-try! However, I wouldn’t recommend drinking them on the day of your departure, they move through your digestive system quickly.


Guayaba (guava) pulque; apio (celery) pulque in a glass rimmed with lime, salt, and chile, and in a pitcher. The glass of guayaba cost 20 pesos (approximately $1.50 US), and the pitcher of apio cost 40 pesos (approximately $3 US).

Based both in Oregon and worldwide, Taiwanese vegan Rika has run an international and travel vegan blog since July 2011. She documents and photographs vegan cuisine, airports/lounges, groceries, products, and home cooking. She also spends her time abroad caring for and feeding feral cats and dogs. You can find her on Twitter and Pinterest. Check out all her posts for Vegansaurus!

07/10/2012

Guest post: Eating vegan in Mexico City: Nevería Roxy in Polanco!  »


Welcome to Vegansaurus’ weeklong guest series on eating vegan in Mexico City! All content by Rika of Vegan Miam!

I spent all of April in Mexico City (Distrito Federal), the capital of Mexico and the largest city in North America. Mexico City is divided into colonias (neighborhoods). In this series, I’ll guide you through a few of the colonias I explored, and some of the beautiful, delicious vegan food I ate.

All the neighborhoods are unique in their own ways; you just have to decide want you want to do, and eat. Tip: If you don’t speak Spanish, have some phrases prepared about to your dietary preferences. Many people speak some English, but there’s no guarantee.

If you are a luxury hotel or fashion fanatic, I would recommend staying in Polanco, which is a trendy, upscale neighborhood situated at the edge of Bosque de Chapultepec. You might expect to pay more in Polanco when it comes to dining or shopping.


Tamarindo (back) and mamey ice cream.

If you want to get some vegan ice cream, try Nevería Roxy in Polanco in front of Parque Lincoln (Lincoln Park). It’s a classic ice cream parlor that has been around for years. Get a bola grande scoop, but make sure you get it without a cone since it may not be vegan (most cones are not vegan). I got mine in a traditional glass cup.

Vegan flavors include chico zapote (similiar to kiwi), fresa (strawberry), guanábana (soursop), guayaba (guava), lima (lime), limón (lemon), mamey, mandarina (mandarin), maracuyá (passionfruit), melón, naranja (orange), piña (pineapple), tamarindo (tamarind), and zarzamora (blackberry).


The mamey was smooth and delicious. The mamey fruit made the sorbet creamier due to its thick, soft texture. Tamarind gave the ice cream a very sweet, nutty, and tangy flavor.

Based both in Oregon and worldwide, Taiwanese vegan Rika has run an international and travel vegan blog since July 2011. She documents and photographs vegan cuisine, airports/lounges, groceries, products, and home cooking. She also spends her time abroad caring for and feeding feral cats and dogs. You can find her on Twitter and PinterestCheck out all her posts for Vegansaurus!

07/09/2012

Guest post: Eating vegan in Mexico City: Tacos Hola (El Güero), Azul Condesa, and Nirvana Vegetariano in Condesa-Roma!  »


Welcome to Vegansaurus’ weeklong guest series on eating vegan in Mexico City! All content by Rika of Vegan Miam!

I spent all of April in Mexico City (Distrito Federal), the capital of Mexico and the largest city in North America. Mexico City is divided into colonias (neighborhoods). In this series, I’ll guide you through a few of the colonias I explored, and some of the beautiful, delicious vegan food I ate.

All the neighborhoods are unique in their own ways; you just have to decide want you want to do, and eat. Tip: If you don’t speak Spanish, have some phrases prepared about to your dietary preferences. Many people speak some English, but there’s no guarantee.

Condesa-Roma was my favorite neighborhood in Mexico City; it reminded me of Berlin and Portland, Ore. If you are traveling on a budget, I would recommend staying in Condesa-Roma, where you can also enjoy food and architecture at the same time.

One taqueria in Condesa offers delicious, vegan-friendly, slow-cooked tacos: It is officially known as Tacos Hola, or El Güero, and has been open since 1968. It is located on the corner of Amsterdam and Michoacán. Vegan fillings offered include guacamole (so creamy and good!), acelgas (braised chard), nopales (cactus), and arroz (rice). Add condiments like pickled vegetables (onions, peppers, jalapeños), salsa verde (very spicy pureed raw habañero), salsa roja (medium-hot), and lime wedges.


My first time at Tacos Hola I had tacos with acelgas, nopales, and guacamole (15 pesos, approximately $1.12 US). The second time I added rice to make a perfect vegan taco. The addition of pickled vegetables turned out to be delectable, along with the heat from the jalapeños. I couldn’t taste the nopales very much, but I could taste the creamy guacamole and braised chard very well. 


My partner got nopales and arroz, and added the spicy pickled vegetables and medium-spicy salsa roja. If you really want a spicy salsa, go for the green one!


At Azul Condesa, I ordered a vegan-friendly dish from their seasonal mango menu: guacamole with chunks of fresh mango, served with tortilla chips.


My partner ordered organic hibiscus flower enchiladas, served with light tomato and smoky chipotle sauces. Make sure to ask for it without cheese (“sin queso”)! 

If you would like to try something different, such as a fusion of traditional Afro-Carribean and Mexican dishes incorporating a variety of tropical fruits, I would recommend the buffet at Nirvana Vegetariano. You can get lots of food for not much money (60 pesos, approximately $4.50 US).


The tamales are freshly made with grilled vegetables. They were really yummy! Best tamales ever! You’ll want to avoid the tamales a block of feta cheese on top, though.


Nirvana Vegetariano also offers fresh corn tortillas, rice, plantain and eggplants, vegan gyro-like meat with hint of pineapples, and much more to make your own tacos. I really like the plantain and eggplants; it tasted sweet and roasted, especially creamy. Everything was very delicious—I had no complaints!

Based both in Oregon and worldwide, Taiwanese vegan Rika has run an international and travel vegan blog since July 2011. She documents and photographs vegan cuisine, airports/lounges, groceries, products, and home cooking. She also spends her time abroad caring for and feeding feral cats and dogs. You can find her on Twitter and Pinterest. Check out all her posts for Vegansaurus!

11/17/2011

Pamper your pets at animal-only resorts and spas  »


I have long been an animal-lover who also enjoys traveling. As a result, I have often hired a petsitter or boarded my pets in kennels before heading out of town. Times have changed since I bid temporary farewell to my first pet, however; nowadays, pet resorts and spas are popping up all over, giving pet owners the chance to treat their companions to a little luxury while their humans are at play. As someone who thinks “roughing it” is a hotel without room service, I have been more than happy to board my spoiled pets in a little style.

The simple fact is that some of the pet resorts I’ve researched treat pets better than humans. Specialty services I’ve seen offered include “pawdicures,” and dog treadmills, where canines can get some indoor exercise. At first I didn’t think there was a difference between treadmills for humans and treadmills for dogs, but I was wrong. I hadn’t considered how much pets shed—my life is so covered in animal hair that it’s second nature to have a lint brush in my hand. Dog treadmills are equipped to handle inconveniences like that pet fluff and, like human treadmills, can be a great way for animals to get a little exercise, especially during inclement weather or if they’re unable to get outside for regular activity. I like knowing that my vacation means a vacation for my pets as well, and that they’ll be well looked after when I can’t take them for daily walks.

Some pf the amenities that pet spas offer are a little silly—limousine rides and spa treatments? I love my animals dearly, but my cat normally spends her day sleeping on top of a box lid, and my dog, although discouraged, drinks out of the toilet. I’m thankful for realistic-sounding folks like those at San Francisco’s Pet Camp. The services offered make me want to move to the West Coast so that my dear feline could experience the Cat Safari or my pup could romp with dogs his age and size at Dog Camp, as well as go for a dip in a heated indoor pool. It’s great to know that there are pet get-aways that treat animals well—probably so well that I would have trouble getting my buddies to come back home!

As people travel to see family at holidays and look for reliable and fun places where four-legged family members’ needs will be well looked after, I think they’ll increasingly turn to high-end pet-boarding. Amenities like catered meals, beds that look more luxurious than those humans sleep in, and fancy meals certainly make a gal want to vacation with her pets instead of boarding them.

Danielle Rhodes, who blogs on behalf of Sears and other prestigious brands, enjoys baking vegan brownies and volunteering a few times a month at her local animal shelter.

[photo by Jorge Quinteros via Flickr]

07/07/2011

Squatters Pub Brewery: vegan surprise in SLC!  »

I did some aeroplane-travel last week and had more than one layover in Salt Lake City, Utah, known mainly for Mormons and, I guess, the Great Salt Lake. So imagine my surprise when, during my famished, jet-lagged stagger through the Delta terminal, I stumbled upon Squatters Pub Brewery, an establishment featuring craft beers and oodles of vegan options! Never mind the beer, I would come here again just for the food!

On the way to my very exotic, secret destination, I ordered the Tofu Scrambler (comes with a bagel!). Although it came in a cardboard tray reminiscent of TV dinners, it tasted amazing, and not just because I was running on two hours of sleep. It featured tomatoes, parsley, and tasty salsa, and it wasn’t too moist or soupy, a common problem I find with restaurant tofu scrambles.

On my return trip, I went with the Fresh Veggie Wrap, which had the tofu scramble as a main ingredient. And again, it was amazing, just what the doctor ordered while recovering from a mad case of Montezuma’s revenge. I also ordered the Brewhouse Hummus with veggies AND chips (yeah, I got style), and that was yummy and healthy-feeling, although a tad heavy on the tahini.

Squatters’ (Ugh, I hate just typing the name, but it’s so worth it) menu has icons showing what can be made vegan and vegetarian as well as into what dishes you can substitute the tofu scramble. The proprietors should really look into vegan cupcakes, though.

So if you’re traveling by air and have to stop, try to make that stop in Salt Lake, and get your surprise vegan nom on!

07/05/2011

How turtles got their groove back  »

Oh, turtles, you and your sexytimes. More than 100 diamondback terrapins shut down a runway at JFK Airport. Haha! The turtles were looking for a good place to lay their eggs, and they had to cross the runway to get to the water. Wildlife specialists moved them out of harm’s way so that those at the top of the food chain can get on with their nature-subjugating lives. PRIORITIES, y’all. But seriously, work what your mamas gave you, turtles! GET IT ON!

06/11/2011

YO! Laura here! I’m travelling to Moscow, Athens, & Crete. Know of any veg eats???  »

Hello, friend! It’s Laura! I just wanted to give you all a heads-up that imma be out of the country for a couple weeks and the other Vegansaurs got your back and the site will be better than ever in my absence. I also thought maybe these fine (as in good looking) readers of ours might have some tips for me?

Have you been to Moscow, Athens (and day trip from Athens suggestions!), Santorini, Hydra, or Crete? And if so, what did you do/see/EAT (of particular interest)? Any travel tips or anything useful you wish you’d known before you went to those places. Let me tell you, getting that Russian visa was NO JOKE. I chronicled some of my issues here but HOO BOY—that Russian consulate is a TRIP! I can say this because I know some Russian people and we’re cool and also I’m totally racist, but GOD LOVE A RUSSIAN WOMAN. I dealt with at least three who looked exactly like Danny Devito, just with all different colors of dyed hair. You have not lived until you’ve been yelled at by a yellow-haired Danny Devito, a red-headed Danny Devito, and an orange-headed Danny Devito, all in the same day. ANYWAY, I’ve got my visa so I’m legit to enter the country (I PRAY) and now I need to know what to do! HELP! One lovely reader has already hooked me up with some info but I’m always looking for MORE!

And if you must know—the reason for the trip is some good friends are getting married in Crete and my shit hasn’t been anywhere in five years and you’re all driving me crazy and MOMS HAVE LIVES, TOO. We’re flying through Moscow because those were by far the cheapest tickets and who doesn’t want to see the Cosmonaut Museum? Plus, I plan to bring blue jeans and pens and be greeted like savior! I am a little worried about flying on Aeroflot since they don’t have the BEST history of not crashing in fiery flames but KNOCK ON WOOD.

From the many reviews for the airline I’ve read in attempt to make myself even more freaked out about flying them, I learned three things: 1. There might be chickens just wandering the aisles on my flight; 2. There will definitely be lots of cigarette-smoking on my flight (didn’t even know you could still do this!); 3. I will definitely be yelled at by a flight attendant at least once and maybe be made to sit in a seat that’s basically in the lavatory. Also, check out their uniforms! Hammer and sickle!
VACATION ALL I EVER WANTED!

And with that, leave your tips below or please email me! Oh and I’ll try to tweet a bunch so you can follow me on twitter if you wanna get the 411 on who is pissing me off while on VACATION ALL I EVER WANTED: 2011.

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