If the government thinks we should eat more vegetables, why don’t they put cash money behind it?  »

Veganism is more accepted than ever, and vegetarianism is downright mainstream, but I’m a realist: Herbivores are still in the minority. Further, we North Americans aren’t ingesting as many veggies as we ought to, and major health bodies have made statements to the effect that we should all give up processed meats and cut our red meat consumption considerably, at least for the sake of our health. So why is that so difficult? Money.

I’m sure you all saw the Myplate food diagram that was released by the USDA earlier this year as an update to the food pyramid. On the plus side, it recommended that people fill fully half of their plate with veggies, which is an impressive goal for anyone—vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore. The problem is that though the government tells people to choose vegetables often—definitely more often than now, since Americans eat about 50 percent more dairy products a year than veggies—they aren’t backing that suggestion up with money. Particularly in regard to agriculture subsidies, which play a huge role in what gets grown—and therefore eaten—around the country.

As the Washington Post explained recently, agriculture subsidies began in the 1930s to help farmers weather the Great Depression. It was an incredibly hard time for a lot of people, and food production was not globalized in the way it is today. What American farmers grew was, by and large, what American people ate.

Today the subsidies seem less useful, especially when you consider what they’re supporting—$200 billion was spent to subsidize commodity crops in the U.S. from 1995 to 2010, and about two-thirds of that went to cotton, tobacco, and crops used to feed animals. I think we can all agree that tobacco is not a crop that people need to live. Cotton is not a food crop either. Growing crops to feed livestock raised for food is far less efficient than growing crops to feed directly to humans. Farmers growing fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts don’t get direct subsidies at all. And a not-insignificant portion of the crops that are subsidized go towards uses like corn and other things grown to make sweeteners—again, directly opposite to the goal of getting people to eat more vegetables.

And yet, last week leading researchers, published in Nature, advised people to eat less meat if the world is going to have enough to eat. The researchers pointed out that even eating just one or two meatless meals a week will have an impact. I can see why people are confused: scientists say we need to eat less meat, the government says we need to eat more vegetables, but the dollars support meat and dairy, and give fruit, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains the shaft. The best way around this is to exercise your consumer-power: Spend your money on vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, and whole foods.

If you’re looking to add more vegetables to your diet—an excellent goal!—check out this vegan food pyramid for guidance.


Sura Korean BBQ: Oakland’s unlikely gem of vegan awesomeness  »

Once upon a time I was walking down Telegraph Avenue in Temescal with a friend when we passed this restaurant that I would never in a zillion years have chosen. But this certain meat-eating person was like, “Oooh, Korean BBQ! Let’s go there!” and since I wasn’t really hungry I was like, “OK fine, whatever you want, friend-from-out-of-town, I will go sit with you and try not to grimace.” We sat down, ordered (seemingly) overpriced appetizers, and sat back to wait. Then Sura changed my life.

You know how some restaurants give you bread or chips and salsa to munch on before your meal? Here, they’re like, “Bread, schmead, let’s give people 18, maybe 21 different little side dishes to eat while they wait for their food.” Free. Without you ordering them. Each different, each incredibly yummy. We felt like we’d won the lottery or something.
The little dishes change often so you never know what you’re going to get, but can include pickled vegetables, spicy tofu, black sesame squash, sprouted mung beans, seaweed salad, kim chi, etc., etc., etc.

I’ve been there three times now, and though they don’t explicitly cater to vegans, with a little work a mind-blowing meal can be yours. UPDATE: This may be trickier than I thought. Fish sauce is a hidden challenge, sorry guys. Still, I think it’s worth trying to navigate, but do so at your own risk I suppose. Here are my pro-tips:

  1. Tell them right away, as soon as you walk in/sit down, that you don’t want any meat or egg dishes (dairy doesn’t seem to be so much of a problem). Every time I’ve been there they’ve brought out a weird hot-pot egg dish without asking. My omni friends ate it but you can Just Say No.
  2. You don’t need a barbecue table. Sit far away from them, as that is where people grill raw meat. Ick.
  3. When you order, tell them again about the vegan thing and make sure they don’t bring you any small plates with egg or meat. The vast majority of what they bring out is vegan anyway, and I’ve had them bring me EXTRA vegan stuff. Just be clear. UPDATE: MAKE SURE TO ASK ABOUT FISH SAUCE TOO! FISH SAUCE WARNING ALERT WARNING!
  4. While there’s no separate veggie section on the menu, they put little stars next to everything they can make vegetarian. Some things come with egg but they’ve been really good about following my requests to leave it out.
  5. Ask for barley tea.

The food is awesome:
Sanchae sotbap/herbed vegetables—
herbed vegetables and mushrooms over rice

Doenjang bibimbap/House special green tea bean paste—seasoned vegetables with green tea rice and soybean paste. SO GOOD!

Other delicious things I’ve eaten but don’t have photos of:

  • Hyunmi doenjang bibimbap/sweet brown rice—seasoned vegetable with sweet brown rice and soybean paste, cold.
  • Beoseot/mushroom—tofu, mushrooms, and vegetables in hot pot. SO GOOD!

Sura Korean BBQ is located at 4869 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland, and is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. No website, but call (510) 654.9292.

Bonus: Sura’s only a few blocks from Scream Sorbet’s new shop. Waddle over for dessert, if you can manage.


Vegetables Make the List for Best of New York  »

In New York Magazine, the “Best of New York 2011: Eating" list includes vegetables alongside donuts, breakfast tacos and lamb (always got to have some baby sheep). What up, vegetables?! You’ve arrived! Stars from "the best of this year’s vegivore bounty" include carrots at Dirt Candy, Brussels sprouts at Carmine Club Cafe and turnips at Dovetail. I’ve never been to any of these places, but I have been meaning to go to Dirt Candy as it is vegetarian.

I say the more attention non-meat gets in the foodie community, the better. It’s just funny that it’s like people have just discovered vegetables and that they are some kind of trend like slap bracelets and Skip Its. Little do they know, vegetables have been here the whole time!


Take me to Plum right now!  »

Grub Street SF got lots of pretty pictures of the dishes on Plum’s menu, and oh happy day!, even without our beloved vegetable chef, there are a number of vegetable-friendly items. For example, this beautiful soup!

Mushroom Dashi with yuba, tofu, and greens

Doesn’t it look lovely? Oh PLUM. Oh Daniel Patterson, you wonderful man with your wonderful vegetables. Look at this menu! I count about nine other dishes with vegan potential.

A proper review with your Vegansaurus’ signature underlit photos and totally relevant digressions coming up soon! Please excuse us today, we are having “technical issues.”

[photo by Brian Smeets/Grub Street]


Appalled Jamie Oliver is appalled because these students at a West Virginia public school don’t know a tomato from a potato (literally). Thank god for his new TV program, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, in which he’ll teach us lardy American barbarians about beets and greens and not stuffing our faces with frenchy fries 24/7.

Of course Vegansaurs have been on top of this for ages—remember the Healthy School Lunches program?—but as none of us has a proto-mullet, a foreign accent, or an array of best-selling cookbooks, ABC has yet to offer us a “Vegansaurus in Your Kitchen” (or whatever) show.

I promise it’d be better than fully 50 percent of the “original” programming on TV today, plus EDUCATIONAL! But whatever, ABC, go with Jamie Oliver, child-humiliator. Your choice.

(thanks, Grub Street San Francisco!)


I have to pack a lunch RIGHT NOW and there’s NOTHING TO EAT (a parable)  »

Somehow, dear Vegansaurs, I keep finding myself in this position. My day is perfectly planned, I’m about to go, and I suddenly realize I haven’t eaten anything. There’s plenty of food in the fridge, but all of it requires cooking time. And I don’t have time! And I also don’t want my housemates to get mad at me for leaving tons of pots and pans in the sink. I could make peanut butter and jelly, but: vegetables, I LOVE THEM SO.

Now, I live in New York, land of expensive shit. I am not super-rich. I can’t afford the frozen Amy’s dinners. Hell, I can’t afford baked tofu. I eat cheap, but I still eat healthy, and that means lots of un-organic vegetables, discount tofu, and legumes/rice. So, what  to do when I need to get my ass out the door? Here are two recipes, born of desperation yet surprisingly tasty.

Tofu Salad Sandwich
Time: Five minutes
Ingredients: bread, raw tofu, random condiments & spices
Dirty dishes: one spoon
Directions: Wash hands. Lay out a strip of Saran Wrap/foil on the counter; put two slices of bread on it. Squeeze out as much water as you can from the tofu with your hands. Put it in a Tupperware container. Add a big spoonful of mustard/Vegenaise/tahini; mash it all up with a spoon. Add other spices/condiments as you wish—curry or dill, salt, pickle relish, etc. Mix. Taste. Spoon it onto bread, add some vegetables if you like, wrap sandwich up. Slap a lid on the Tupperware container and stick it in the fridge for later. Done!

"But I don’t have bread OR tofu," you say. "I only have leftovers from last night, and I can’t eat curry standing up, and OMG I need to leave NOW."

Spring Rolls with Leftovers
Time: Five minutes
Ingredients: miscellaneous fridge leftovers, lettuce leaf, spring roll wrappers (ideally you’d buy these in advance, for just such an occasion)
Dirty dishes: one spoon
Directions: Wash hands. Lay a square of Saran Wrap on the counter. Next to it put a dinner plate, one that’s not entirely flat. Take a cup, get hot water from the sink, carefully pour onto plate, put cup back in cupboard. Take two spring roll wrappers out of the package. Jiggle one around in the water until it’s soft—about 10 to 15 seconds. Lay it out on the Saran Wrap, add lettuce leaf, spoon in some leftovers. Roll it up like a burrito, as tight as you can without ripping it (here’s a guide to rolling your own). Repeat with other spring roll wrapper. Bind it all up with Saran Wrap, stick it all in a Tupperware, put everything else in the fridge, rinse off plate and stick it back in cupboard.


Happy Vegina Day!  »

Here at Vegansaurus, we love V-Day! We know there’s a lot of haterz out there. And rightly so! Who the hell was St. Valentine anyway? We have no idea!

But we do know that we love what V-Day is REALLY all about, it’s Hallmark-Catholic unholy alliance origins be damned: Vegans, Vaginas, Vegetables. That said, here’s your guide to V(egansaurus) Day!

Despite their deeply offensive meat-based nicknames (fish tacos? roast beef?) (why, I never!), both penis and vagina are 100 percent vegan (deep-fried seitan tacos! Tofurkey lunch slices!).

Birth control pills? Not vegan. Condoms? BE CAREFUL! That’s not to say we don’t advocate birth control, because we do, fools! If you happen to not be careful, though, do not ask us whether abortions are vegan or not. WE HAVE NO IDEA. THAT IS A COMPLEX MORAL QUESTION!

No seriously: While Trojan still does make gross lambskin condoms that are made out of real animal membrane (I think using these should be counted as bestiality and necrophilia together it’s so nasty), some latex condoms have milk protein in them. And it’s not man-milk! So do some research, folks! There look to be some good ones here.

Unless you’re really into dry-humping, chances are you might like to purchase some lube at some point in your life. The bad news is that lubes can contain lots of weird shit that is bad for your vegina and bad for the animals that are sometimes squeezed into those tubes. The good news is that apparently everyone out there is obsessed with having anal sex, because there are a TON of lubes for you to chose from! Personally, I’ve had some great times with a bottle of Liquid Silk. You can buy it a Good Vibrations online or throughout the Bay Area; their helpful staff will be happy to tell you which lubes are animal-free, as well as which is the best for your junk. You can also check out the selection at The Sensual Vegan.

I have no idea which dildos and vibrators are vegan and which are not. Holy fuck this stuff is complicated. I just pulled these up from a Google search. Any of you vegan perverts want to enlighten us? Please take advantage (shut up, not in THAT way) of our comments section.

Oh, and ALSO. What do you people think about sex toys that have animal faces on them? I think it’s fucking weird, but if you want a vegan rabbit in your rabbit hutch, then whatevs—I won’t judge.

These are just wrong. So, so wrong.

Most dungeonmasters like to use leather straps and silk ropes for their hogtying and Japanese rope bondage. That SUCKS for vegans! After all, just because vegans are nice to animals doesn’t mean they have to be nice to people. People are assholes! And way more fun to beat than puppies! While Sensual Vegan is pretty light on the heavy bondage and sadism, the totally non-threatening-sounding Extreme Restraints offers a variety of cute, animal-free restraints, which are curiously mostly in pink.


And, if you’re all alone for V-Day, you can check out Veg Porn, which isn’t this, despite what you might think. Veg Porn’s motto is “Eat Pussy Not Pork.” Ha! Hahaha! And the site features pictures of people who don’t eat meat bearing their meat. Judging from some of the pictures, that was probably the only qualification for models (OK OK, that’s actually just a mean way of saying that they have representatives from a variety of body types and personal styles among their 32 models—SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE! EVEN YOU, PERVERT!). And, it’s all PC and non-exploitative and stuff, so you might not even be able to rub one out to it. But hey, who are we to judge?! After all, we’re the losers looking at internet porn instead of enjoying an authentic and meaningful physical experience with someone we care about.


Masturgardening: cheap, easy, and fun things to do with your hands and your seeds!  »

OK, Vegan gardeners. I know it has been a long time since I’ve written any articles for you, and no doubt you are crying into your broccoli right now wondering how you can bear to go on without my wisdom. Well, I’m here to tell you that you can do it! Yes, my articles are the best, I know, but there are other places to learn the secret skills of the garden and I am here today to reveal a pretty neat looking one to you.

The Master Gardeners are a secretive, elite organization associated with elite higher education (in this case, the University of California system) and dedicated to witchcraft, sorcery, ninja skills, and gardening. Just like the Freemasons and the Skull and Bones, except with plants! These powerful individuals devote their lives to disseminating gardening know-how to those in their communities. They offer seminars and classes on a variety of gardening subjects, and they also publish useful information on their websites. If you think you have what it takes, you can also apply to become one of these mystical agrarian do-gooders — if you’re accepted, you’ll receive some pretty awesome training.

Due to their secretive nature, they are divided into sleeper cells along California county lines. San Francisco and San Mateo County readers go here. Alameda County readers go here.  You can find other California county chapters here.  Those living out of state, well, good luck with that whole thing.

Gardening columnist Ben Pearson is back with a little more sexual innuendo to enrich your existence. He has a lot of degrees so he can be as lewd as he wants and still be an “intellectual.”


Summer vegetable soup!  »

After sitting near the open windows during so many workweeks, I’ve become used to the smells and sounds of the neighborhood. Mostly it’s cars and kids and fresh summer air (read: cold-ass wind), but on the warmest evenings, it’s backyard barbecue, and it’s starting to make me nuts. A person can only stand the delicious smell of barbecue for so long before she absolutely has to do some grilling as well.

Unfortunately, grilling isn’t the thrill that it once was, back in those halcyon days of ignorance (read: animal cookery). Your only real outlet for creativity is with vegetables, and grilled vegetables are extremely delicious, yes, but a person can tire of grilled vegetables.

Today in his Bitten blog, Mark Bittman shares a recipe for grilled vegetable soup, which solves a lot of problems and sounds super-good. It seems like you can get pretty creative with it, and I’d bet you could eat it cold, too, making it a most superior summer soup indeed.

Maybe the next time you’re invited to a barbecue, you can bring extra vegetables specifically to grill for the soup. That’d be smart.


We have come FULL CIRCLE, you guys. Despite this illustration’s beginning as a cutesy-pie, tongue-in-cheek, you-ladies-have-no-actual-autonomy-but-you’re-totally-the-fastest-gun-in-the-kitchen-honey-I-need-another-martini reminder to serve your husband and children some vegetables along with whatever piece of animal you’ve cooked them. Instead of having rage-induced fantasies about shooting produce (i.e., men), modern ladies can actually shoot whomever they please, while their partner stays in the kitchen and does the vegetable-killing.
It makes sense to me anyway shut up.
via pleasedontsqueezetheshaman, via  Miss Retro Modern from The General Foods Kitchens Cookbook, 1959 

We have come FULL CIRCLE, you guys. Despite this illustration’s beginning as a cutesy-pie, tongue-in-cheek, you-ladies-have-no-actual-autonomy-but-you’re-totally-the-fastest-gun-in-the-kitchen-honey-I-need-another-martini reminder to serve your husband and children some vegetables along with whatever piece of animal you’ve cooked them. Instead of having rage-induced fantasies about shooting produce (i.e., men), modern ladies can actually shoot whomever they please, while their partner stays in the kitchen and does the vegetable-killing.

It makes sense to me anyway shut up.

via pleasedontsqueezetheshaman, via  Miss Retro Modern from The General Foods Kitchens Cookbook, 1959 

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