vegansaurus!

09/06/2012

Guest post: My top 10 vegan reasons to be in love with New York City, part two!  »


As I said yesterday, I just moved to California from New York City. It happened very suddenly, and as I’ve gotten more settled, I’ve found a much greater appreciation for how easy and wonderful it is to be a vegan in New York. I miss it, and I wanted to tell you all how much I love it. However, in an effort to spare you all from the longest post in the free world, I have managed to narrow it down to a top 10 list. Yesterday, Nos. 10-6. Today, the thrilling conclusion!


No. 5: Quintessence
When I first got excited about raw food, I had a number of negative experiences with raw food restaurants. I was convinced that it was disgusting and I might never like it. Quintessence changed all that. By far one of my favorite vegan restaurants in the city, Quintessence makes incredibly yummy, indulgent, and healthful raw dishes that put all that other raw food to shame. A pearl in alphabet city’s clamshell, I fantasize about their Caesar salad on the regular. Oh Quintessence, I miss your tiny tables and huge salads.

No. 4: The Vegan Bodega
Eric Hopf and his family are in the process of opening an all-vegan store in downtown Manhattan. Although it’s not open yet, I’m already in love with the products they’re providing and their dedication to the cause. They currently operate as a pop-up until their storefront becomes a reality. If you can, support these awesome people and their endeavors because this store is going to rock. 

No. 3: Honey LaBronx
Yes, it’s a bit ego-stroking to put my own podcast co-host on this list. Still, she is one bad bitch. This crazy activist is constantly spotted marching through crowds with a bullhorn, and waving her homemade protest signs in Christine Quinn’s face, and occasionally getting arrested. This queen fights for the animals, she’s exciting, and if it wasn’t for her, I never would’ve ended up in front of a microphone answering questions to new vegans. Check out her cooking show, our podcast, and go see her hot ass live. She is a freaking inspiration, and she looks good doing it. She’s also an okay friend, too, I guess.


No. 2: Soy and Sake
Another of my favorite restaurants in NYC. Soy and Sake saved this sushi-lover from a life of fishless moping. They have most delicious vegan sushi rolls, as well as a plethora of dishes to die for (bourbon chicken! rock shrimp!). It is without question the one restaurant I will always visit in New York. It’s also killer for large parties, and I’ve seen countless omnivores be blown away by their food there. Go! Take friends! EAT SUSHI!


No. 1: Sweet & Sara
Sweet & Sara is basically my favorite vegan company. Their origin story is beyond inspirational, founder Sara Sohn is one of the nicest people you could ever meet, and their products are amazing. AMAZING. The s’mores were one of the first treats I had that made me stop and say, “You know what? I should be vegan. This is awesome!” and I’ve continued to love them with a passion ever since. The last year I lived in NYC I was working in Queens off the 7 train, and I rode by the S&S factory every day, and every day I was reminded that being vegan is fun, delicious, and exactly what I want to be. I love that Sara and her little bunny, Skipper, too. I have half a mind to get a S&S tattoo. Too much? I’m doing it anyway.

Laura Yasinitsky is a writer, comic, waitress, and animal-lover based in California. She has appeared on Comedy Central’s Open-Mic Fight, and writes for US Weekly's Fashion Police. You can follow her silliness on Twitter @LaraYaz.

[photos: Empire State Pigeon by ZeroOne via Flickr; Quintessence raw pizza by Robyn Lee via Flick; vegan sushi from Soy and Sake; Sweet & Sara peanut butter s’more by Veganbaking.net via Flickr]

09/05/2012

Guest post: My top 10 vegan reasons to be in love with New York City, part one!  »


For those of you who haven’t heard—and honestly, I don’t know how you couldn’t have, I have been tweeting about it like crazy—I have moved to California!

It happened very suddenly and I’ve been a whirlwind of a hot mess the last month. As I’ve gotten more settled I feel I have grown a true appreciation for how easy and wonderful it is to be a vegan in New York City. I miss it, and I wanted to tell you all how much I love it. However, in an effort to spare you all from the longest post in the free world, I have managed to narrow it down to a top 10 list. Please enjoy Nos. 10-6 today!

Cue the Letterman drumroll!

No. 10:  Westerly Market
I doubt I’ve ever left this place having spent less than $200 and I have never regretted it. Westerly Market is a magical place filled with all the hard to find vegan goodies as well as an incredible selection of organic produce, bulk dry goods, and frozen meatless wonders—what we all secretly wish Whole Foods actually were. Even while living in Brooklyn I would pack a backpack with Westerly groceries and haul it all the way home. The staff is also incredibly nice and they will order almost any product you are interested in them carrying. I love you, Westerly Market.


No. 9: The Cinnamon Snail
This food truck tops the list of awesome things NYC has stolen from New Jersey. Incredibly yummy food, addicting baked goods, and the nicest crew ever, I found myself hunting down the Snail every chance I could and I downright stalked them in my final week as a New Yorker. Cinnamon Snail, I could not love you more. If you don’t follow these dudes on Twitter already, you best get to it. Life is empty without you, Cinnamon Snail!


No. 8: May Wah
Thank dog May Wah ships nationwide (I would be inconsolable without access to its vegan pork buns), but there’s nothing quite as fun as shopping in this Chinatown gem and stocking up your freezer with the best of the best meatless meats. It’s cheap, the food is great, and on request the employees will quickly steer you away from any non-vegan products (although there are only a few). I love you, May Wah! I wish I could go buy some dried noodles and frozen faux shrimps right now! [Ed. note: 99 Ranch, Laura!]

No. 7: Vegan Shop-Up
The Vegan Shop-Up rules. It’s an awesome pop-up market with only 100 percent vegan goods, from soap to brownies. This bi-monthly event is beyond fun, and a great way to stock up on hard-to-finds. It’s also how I discovered some of my favorite vendors, like Rescue Chocolate, Gone Pie, the Vegan Bodega, and Cake Bites. If you’re in NYC and you haven’t been to this yet, you are MISSING OUT! Get your butt there ASAP. 

No. 6: The Vegan Guide to New York City 
This book does exactly what its title promises, and awesomely, its authors release an updated version every year. There is an iPhone app as well, but it’s from 2011 and they’ve yet to update it, so I’m on the fence about recommending the download. Might be better toget this year’s book. It’s still the flipping handiest thing in the world. Meeting someone in Midtown and you’re pretty sure there are no vegan restaurants in the area? Consult the guide! PROBLEM SOLVED.

Come back tomorrow for Laura’s top five vegan reasons to be in love with New York City!

Laura Yasinitsky is a writer, comic, waitress, and animal-lover based in California. She has appeared on Comedy Central’s Open-Mic Fight, and writes for US Weekly's Fashion Police. You can follow her silliness on Twitter @LaraYaz.

[photos: Empire State Pigeon by ZeroOne via Flickr; Cinnamon Snail by Megan Rascal for Vegansaurus; May Wah vegan meats by Shira Golding via Flickr]

03/23/2012

NYC: The Vegan Bodega is having a pop-up shop at Moo Shoes this Sunday! Holler! I’m very excited about the Vegan Bodega and Moo Shoes is my favorite place (that’s where they keep all the vegan shoes!) so this is kind of perfect. The Vegan Bodega is planning on bringing their A game with these fine products:

Monks Meat (Made in BK) Standard and Chipotle-Adobe flavorsFood for Lover’s Queso DipBee Free HoneeSweet & Sara’s Easter Skippers & SunnysCaviart Seaweed Caviar Baked goods from Gone Pie (Made in NY)Vegan Vitamin D3 from VitashineLip Balm from Pretty Monsters (Made in BK)Vegg, the New to Market Egg Replacer

You hear that? Your chance to get the Vegg! And a bunch of other stuff! Feed me, Bodega, FEED ME!

NYC: The Vegan Bodega is having a pop-up shop at Moo Shoes this Sunday! Holler! I’m very excited about the Vegan Bodega and Moo Shoes is my favorite place (that’s where they keep all the vegan shoes!) so this is kind of perfect. The Vegan Bodega is planning on bringing their A game with these fine products:

Monks Meat (Made in BK) Standard and Chipotle-Adobe flavors
Food for Lover’s Queso Dip
Bee Free Honee
Sweet & Sara’s Easter Skippers & Sunnys
Caviart Seaweed Caviar 
Baked goods from Gone Pie (Made in NY)
Vegan Vitamin D3 from Vitashine
Lip Balm from Pretty Monsters (Made in BK)
Vegg, the New to Market Egg Replacer

You hear that? Your chance to get the Vegg! And a bunch of other stuff! Feed me, Bodega, FEED ME!

09/16/2011

NYC may get a vegan grocery store! Help make it a reality!  »


As you may have heard, New York City is mighty close to having its very own vegan convenience store. The brainchild of Eric Hopf, Vegan Bodega is currently in its early stages of development, with an IndieGoGo page up for community fundraising and awareness. Vegan Bodega plans to carry everything a vegan could need—healthy food items, vegan junk food, household products, vegan condoms, baby food, beer—imagine not having to read a label! Finally, a real one-stop-shopping experience right here in the Big Apple.

I talked to Eric about the project and how we can help bring it to life!

Vegansaurus: Tell us about Vegan Bodega. What inspired the idea?
Eric Hopf: Like many other vegans, I traveled to the Pacific Northwest with my partner Gita and we saw Food Fight Grocery and Sidecar For Pigs Peace. I remember thinking, “This is fantastic, we should have something like this in NYC.” Once I returned home, I went back to working in photography and didn’t think about it again until a year ago. The arrival of my daughter was close at hand and I was well overdue for a visit to Orlando, Fla., to see my family; I went down for a long weekend, and that was where the idea came from, that this all-vegan convenience store could be something real. There is a small shop near downtown Orlando that I happened upon [called] Artichoke Red, it’s all-vegan and it’s succeeding. The owner was nice enough to talk with me and answer some of my questions. Again I asked myself: Why doesn’t New York City have something like this? Once I arrived home I started thinking about an all-vegan grocery store and shared my idea with Gita. It was going to be a huge undertaking and very expensive. We scaled back the concept. The name came naturally, as there is nowhere in NYC I can think of without a corner store or “bodega,” as we have all become used to calling them. So the inspiration came partially from other business and from my family who support this dream.

How long have you been vegan? Is your family vegan as well?
Actually I don’t keep track of the length of time, but I know I have been vegan for at least six years now, and both Gita and our daughter are vegan.

Tell us about your IndieGoGo project.
After seeing a few vegan projects make their goals on IndieGoGo and Kickstarter, we thought that it would be an excellent way to raise a portion of the funds we need for opening the business. Crowd-sourcing would also get the vegan community involved with launching a store that so many have told us they have been wishing for. Our goal is to raise $15,000, but we are less than a week and a half from the deadline and are only around 23 percent of the way there. Any contribution is helpful and we are very thankful for anything we get. There are a variety of incentives for donations of $5 and up. The money will be used to secure the location, buy used shelves, a commercial freezer and fridge, the computer setup for handling sales/inventory, and some stock for the soft opening. The store will have a slicer and deli display, but we may need to introduce those after the opening.

Where do you think Vegan Bodega will be located?
We are going to open in Manhattan, most likely on the Lower East Side, as we really like the feel there, [and it’s] close to other vegan spots and lots of public transportation. We are willing to reconsider the location if we find a fantastic space.

What products and/or services will you offer at Vegan Bodega? Will you deliver? What about online ordering?
The plan for Vegan Bodega is to carry a broad spectrum of products, from healthy items to vegan junk food. [We want] to support other local vegan businesses by offering them a space to sell their goods, a focused vegan and vegetarian customer base, and a chance to connect with customers by doing in-store samplings. We are also contacting Community-Supported Agriculture farmers about being a drop-off point. Delivery is something we are looking into and how best we can offer it. Online ordering may be offered in the future, but it is dependent on the demand for it.

What is your planned opening date, and are you organizing an event for the big day?
We do not have one set yet. Currently our focus is on securing a space and locking down all the funding we need. In the meantime, you may soon find us at a weekend food market, as a prelude to what will be available in the store, but that has yet to be finalized. We intend to do a soft opening and get settled in, then have a grand opening party that will also double as a fundraiser for a to-be-determined animal welfare group. Vegan Bodega would also like to support different nonprofits by allocating a portion of the sales once a month.

We’re pretty excited about this project! If you want to help Vegan Bodega reach their fundraising goal, you only have FOUR MORE DAYS to pitch in at their IndieGoGo page. If you don’t have cash to spare, spread the word and show your love by contacting the Vegan Bodega family. The anticipation is killing us!

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