Vegan Top Chef!  »

Vegansaurus loves Top Chef. Strictly speaking, 25 percent of us write about the show for money, and another 25 percent of us have this problem called “an inability to turn off the TV, despite not actually owning one.” So!

When the sixth season of Top Chef begins later this summer, we vegans are getting an extra-special treat, and I mean aside from the return of Gail’s dresses and Padma’s bizarrely apt diction. This season, one of the guest judges is Natalie Portman! A vegan! And presumably the cheftestants will be cooking her vegan food! One can only hope they didn’t also make it a “raw” challenge, to give the whiny-baby omnivores even more to complain about.

Viewers have many, many criticisms of the show, but my foremost complaint is that the meals are, with rare exceptions, entirely meat-focused. When they talk about a “protein,” they mean “a piece of a dead animal, probably cut in a particular manner.” We haven’t heard anyone ever turn down foie gras, and I don’t give a shit if it’s a “chef’s indulgence” or whatever the fuck, the process by which foie gras is obtained is totally inhumane, and no one needs to eat a bird’s liver.

I don’t expect one episode with one vegan actor to make some enormous difference on the cheftestants, and certainly not on this season of the show. But if we watch Natalie Portman’s episode, and give Bravo our feedback en masse, that could encourage repeated vegan-focused episodes. Should they fuck it up, we can tell them how to improve. We can make this an opportunity to promote a cruelty-free diet without even leaving the house, and that is all right.

Please, dudes, I can’t take another season four-style kitchen full of gutted pigs’ bodies, waiting for dismemberment, all bleeping out the curse words and shooting close-ups as they hacked the pigs apart. I mean, what the hell kind of conclusions can you draw from that segment: Say, that when confronted by the fact that their dinners were once living animals, the chefs take responsibility for that and eat them, good? Or, it is beyond fucked-up, them looking those pigs’ bodies and getting all thrilled about cutting them up?

In sum: Natalie Portman, a vegan, is a judge on this season’s Top Chef; and, the show is actually pretty obscene and gross, so we are hoping the vegan food will mitigate that a bit.


Review: “The Goode Family”  »

The Goode Family
Episode 1, Season 1
A review, by Meave and Joel

Because we are the/a definitive (/arbitrary) guide to modern vegan living, I felt obligated to watch The Goode Family, to see how exactly these ca-razy vegans were being portrayed. I cajoled Joel into watching it with me, to make it less of the drag I feared it would be. This is our story.

(outside the Goodes’ house, the parents are arguing about “what to call” black people.)
Meave: do people still argue about this? I mean, people who grew up post-Civil Rights Act?
Joel: I doubt it.
Meave: Okay, I get it’s “ironic” that the dad elephant dung from circus, but it’s not like a clever aside or anything.
Joel: yeah.

(Che the vegan dog salivates over the neighbor’s beef jerky)
Joel: do you want to write about Hazel, and how she eats chicken bones off the street?
Meave: Hazel likes vegetables, and she’s not starved on her vegan diet. maybe she would like meat, but she gets plenty of sidewalk snacks, and it’s not like she’s vegan “for the animals,” so.
Meave: But she’s definitely not a bloodthirsty predator.

(the parents are remembering the story of adopting their son, Ubuntu, from Africa, and being surprised that he was white instead of black. then they say something about rescuing him from his “viciously racist” birth parents)
Meave: why are parents so obnoxiously naive?
Joel: (shrugs)

(The parents are deciding where to do their grocery shopping)
Meave: why are their two choices the Whole Foods stand-in or the FoodsCo stand in? it seems like really dedicated “good” people would go to farmers markets or use a CSA.
Joel: but it’s necessarily one-dimensional. It’s for people who know what “Whole Foods” is but not what Rainbow is, or who don’t have a Rainbow.
Meave: Yes fine, but now the thing to do is go to farmers markets. There are eight in the city alone, and they’re them EVERYWHERE in the world, once a week in tiny towns, fruit stands off the 80 open six days a week—they’ve been around forever, but now we all go there because we love heirloom tomatoes and independent farmers and no pesticides and so on. I mean, they even have unofficially sanctioned farmers markets in North Korea. This show is so clearly written by people on the outside, as it were.

(mother’s friends brag about the openness of their relationships with their daughters, as opposed to Mrs. Goode’s adversarial relationship with hers)
Meave: Are “modern” mother/daughter relationships really like this? “It’s skanky out there” is kind of a funny line. but “total” openness and honesty is gross. Even my mom, the at-home nudist, knew better than to ask for full disclosure. Ugh.

(dog sniffs at bowl of VEGAN dog food, groans, walks away)
Joel: Dogs will eat anything. A dog would not turn its nose up at a dang thing.
Meave: Dogs eat poo; they’ll definitely eat flaxseed dog food.
Joel: Dogs don’t eat cats.

(Ubuntu has a deep voice, and does not always speak in full sentences)
Meave: Is Ubuntu functionally retarded?
Joel: I don’t know, he might just be fat.
Meave: And that is his “fat” voice.

(closing scene)
Meave: The stuff at the Purity Ball is pretty all right.
Meave: This grandpa is just the the grandpa in—
Joel: —King of the Hill.
Meave: Except with legs.

Joel: That wasn’t quite as terrible as I expected, but it was pretty terrible.
Meave: I didn’t laugh. If they could develop it into a show that’s about more than, “Ha ha, look at the try-too-hard neo-hippies,” it might be all right to see a vegan family on TV.
Joel: Might be.
Meave: But this isn’t the most promising start. It’s not that it’s offensive, you know? It’s that the jokes are old, the references are lame, and it’s boring.

Joel: Would not watch again.
Meave: Would watch one further episode, just in case.


Friday Odds & Ends  »

Your Vegansaurus spends a lot of time reading the internet. Today, we share with you some sites we’ve been enjoying of late.

Especially for the gentlemen, we present The Discerning Brute. Joshua Katcher created this site as “a resource for intelligent men who want to make ethical, informed decisions concerning their lifestyles.” It’s really great, especially the delightful “Concrete Catwalk.”

It is pretty all right, right? We recommend The Discerning Brute for anyone looking to dress an ethical man, or dress like an ethical man, whichever.

We also like our friend Marijka’s brand-new blog, Vegan in the City. The titular city is Berlin, and Marijka writes about her vegan lifestyle in Germany. She writes in English, too, not her first language, and we are very impressed with her skills.

Next-next Monday, 16 March, the documentary Death on a Factory Farm premiers on HBO. Filmed undercover on Wiles Hog Farm, it took three years to make, and looks to be serious Real Talk. We don’t have HBO, but then some of us have very, very low tolerance for onscreen violence and probably shouldn’t watch anyway.

Another “Modern Food Production Is Fucked Up” film to look out for is Food, Inc., which is apparently doing very well at film festivals, and will open to wider audiences later this year—not entirely sure when, its sites are fuzzy on detail, but check out a (strangely unembeddable) preview here. This isn’t news-news, as other food sites have been talking about it since its debut at the Toronto Film Festival in September, but that’s ok, because OTHER FOOD SITES are all excited about a documentary that shows (among other things), the treatment of animals on factory farms. Imagine that! Of course Our Lord and Savior Michael g-d Pollan is all over it, as well as Alice Waters, both of whom are all crazy for “humane” meat and all that nonsense, and their names lend the film a lot of weight in Serious Food Persons circles. (and you know Serious Food Persons are way too Serious About Food to ever stop eating animals, that’d be like a Serious Literature Person giving up fiction! A TRAVESTY MY GOD.) In this case, it benefits the vegan agenda as well: come for the yelling about corn syrup and seasonless produce, stay for the insane violence perpetrated against your fucking “protein,” home chefs. Clearly we have high hopes about Food, Inc.; may they not go entirely disappointed.

Any recommendations for your Vegansaurus? Do please share them in the comments!

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