McDonald’s to open all-veg restaurants in India! Globalization party!  »

Veg combo from McDonald’s in Jaipur

Turns out McDonald’s, with is half-vegetarian menu in its Indian restaurants, isn’t “capturing the market” on the subcontinent as successfully as the great McDonald’s globalization overlords would like. How do you successfully sell your chemically delicious, primarily cow-based edible food-like items to a country where many citizens eschew cow-based foods, many others abstain from pig-based foods, and many others don’t eat animal flesh at all?

When the McAloo Tikki isn’t enough: the homemade vegan McAloo Tikki.

McDonald’s, in its infinite wisdom, has chosen to open an all-vegetarian restaurant in Amritsar, a Sikh holy city. When it opens “in the middle of next year,” it will be the world’s first meatless McDonald’s, to be followed by the second meatless McDonald’s in Katra Vaishno Devi, near the Hindu holy site of Vaishno Devi. There just aren’t enough Indian citizens eating at McDonald’s, see, and opening restaurants that serve food that conforms to most of the religious and cultural diets observed by Indian people will fix that, for sure.

No word on how much of the menu will be vegan, but we’ll take this. When a major international corporation chooses “less harmful” over “totally and completely harmful and cruel and awful,” we’ll take it. Abolition would be best, but abolition doesn’t sell. What does sell? Fried potatoes. Baby steps won’t help the animals being tortured and killed today, but it will prevent some from being tortured and murdered tomorrow.

Vegansaurus still hates McDonald’s on principle, and of course this move is completely profit-driven. Still, we appreciate them seeing the potential profits in meatless. Congratulations, India; enjoy your chemically delicious meatless menu.

Original story and quotes from Agence France-Presse.

[top photo by Owen Lin via Flickr; vegan McAloo Tikki by k. christensen via Tumblr]


Happy Veggie Kids: Ruby!  »

Ruby is a four-year-old vegetarian living in Oakland, Calif. The girl knows how to wear a hat!

Vegansaurus: What is your favorite food?
Ruby: Fruit. Especially Plums and Blueberries from our garden.

What is your favorite kind of birthday cake?
Strawberry…no…chocolate…um…actually…I mean…all kinds of cake! [Ed. note: WORD]

Why are you vegetarian?
We’re vegetarian because we don’t want to hurt animals.

Do you like being vegetarian? Why?
Yup. I love all the good food my puppa makes.

Is it ever hard to be vegetarian?

What do your friends think about you being vegetarian?
They think it’s great.

What is your favorite animal? Why?
I like giraffes. I like them because of their long necks and long purple tongues.

Do you like pink dinosaurs? Can you draw one for us? We would love it!
I love ‘em! I’d love to draw one!!

Yay Ruby! This dino rules!


Redefining vegetarianism: Oh NO he didn’t!  »

Chef Yotam Ottolenghi, who I’ve never heard of, is redefining vegetarianism. BECAUSE HE CAN. JUST KIDDING who the fuck is he? I know you’re on TV, Mr. Ottolenghi, but your name isn’t Webster, bitch, you’re not the damn dictionary. Get it straight: you can always make up NEW words but not just anyone can redefine old words. Like if I want to make up the word “sandwish” (1. the sandwich you wish you had; 2. fictitious sandwich you dream of), that’s cool (actually, that’s awesome and you’re welcome), but you can’t run around saying a slice of pizza can now be called a sandwich! THAT’S CRAZY TALK and NARCISSISM.

Here he goes, “‘You can be vegetarian and eat fish,’ he says. ‘It’s your choice, just say: “I am what I am.” There are no hard core divisions any more.’” As a Popeye fan, I’m all for I am what I am, but if you eat fish, what you am ain’t a vegetarian. What you are is someone who doesn’t eat any meat besides fish. How hard is that to say? It’s no more difficult than saying “I’m vegetarian but I eat fish” and it has the bonus of not being TOTAL BULLSHIT.

(via Vegetarian Star!)


Rumor-mongering about Source, the new veg restaurant coming to SF!  »

There’s a new vegetarian restaurant, Source, which according to Inside Scoop SF is opening sometime in March. This is mighty exciting! It’s going to be “multi-dimensional dining” (??) and offers up a menu that’s so broad, it kinda boggles the mind. I mean, they’re serving everything from dosa to pizza to casseroles (???). I am hoping they can pull it off because I want to eat all of those things. At the same time. Seriously, this place looks fairly nuts.

Inside Scoop says:

The “modern, funky”[*] design will follow the New Age vibe as well. There will be 40-50 seats inside, plus another 30 on a heated patio. Air will be filtered and ionized. There will be a 8×10 foot water wall installation.[*] A special sound system will be in place and a light system will help create the mood via color therapy.[*]

Instead of a normal alcohol bar, there will be an iridescent elixir bar*, with things like euphoric elixirs,[*] calming elixirs[*] and energetic elixirs,[*] all served in cocktail glasses,[*] mixed with fresh pressed juices.

COLOR THERAPY. ELIXIRS. Is this a dare?? Bring it, Source!

I will reserve judgement but I think it goes without saying that this could be the greatest crazy place since PeeWee’s Playhouse (or, maybe Straw??).

Fuck it, I’m ready to don my gay apparel and swim in an insane sea of color therapy and filtered air and eat pizza and dosa together so let’s do this.


[Photo via Inside Scoop SF!]


“ But why anyone would question the benefits of vegetarian diets, or diets that are largely vegetarian, is beyond me. People who eat vegetarian diets are generally healthier than people who eat large amounts of meat. „

Vegan diets get some love (from Marion Nestle)

So shut up already, every jerk ever.


"Beautifull!" open in the Inner Sunset  »

If you haven’t been acquainted, “Beautifull!" is a semi-recent addition to the Bay Area’s "fresh, healthy" prepared foods scene. I’d had their stuff before, since they’ve catered some work-related events and also sell to-go foods in the Capay Organic store in SF’s Ferry Building. It’s decent stuff for pre-packaged food; it’s clear they use quality ingredients and make it as wholesome and appetizing as cold prepared foods can be. I think their main kitchen is in Emeryville, but they also have a retail store/restaurant in Stroller Heights, at 3401 California St. That is a genius location for them, as they no doubt do gangbusters business selling kombucha, quinoa/edamame salad and salmon filets to busy rich skinnies with nannies moms-on-the-go.

So, this new location, 816 Irving St. between 9th & 10th Avenues, is mostly of interest to me because it is half a block from my house. The thing is, there are about 100 other things to eat within a one-block radius, and in light of this, Beautifull! (don’t forget the exclamation!) is pretty-good-to-OK, for the price.

Let me break it down for you: the format of the store is basically an exact replica of Whole Foods’ prepared foods area. The main menu features are pizzas (whole wheat crust, natch), sandwiches, curry/rice bowls, and cold-case things like fruit salads, couscous salads, and a lot of meat and fish choices (so relevant, right?). It’s priced very similarly to Whole Foods, and there is a wall of cold prepped dishes for you to heat & eat at home, soups, and bottled kombucha. They also have some baked goods like big cookies and muffins. (None of the baked goods are vegan, just FYI. But if you’re vegetarian, try the blueberry ginger muffin or spelt peanut butter cookie.)

On the plus side, it’s good to have a place that is at least conscientious of the ingredients and wants to help you find something nutritious and veggie to eat, and I think it’s good to have these places penetrating the mainstream and opening new branches. The ladies working there are SUPER-friendly, and it is completely wack that their POS system doesn’t allow you to add a tip to credit card purchases. Seriously, that is a bad management decision. But anyway, they were very informed on what was vegan vs. vegetarian, and very helpful with choosing menu items. You can sample anything, as much as you want. Other positives: they deliver orders over $50 and their catering menu has a few more vegan options—I’ve gotten their catering at my office and had great experiences with it.

Many things you will want to eat are vegetarian but not vegan. I could see this being very frustrating for you, the vegan. However, I can attest that the Moroccan Butter Bean Tagine and Thai Vegetable Curry would be delicious choices for you or anyone.

The cold case is a good place for vegans, too. I got a half-pint of the kale and arame salad for $2.40, and considering that eating cold kale is a bit like going into battle, it was a decent price for a side dish that lasted me two meals. Beautifull!’s Red Quinoa & Edamame salad is a signature for them, and very enjoyable as well.

So fundamentally, if you’re a fairly well-versed home chef or a very strict vegan, you might not really have much use for it. Their food is pretty simple, and not beyond the capabilities of your average food blogger, but they use good ingredients and it could be handy for a night you don’t feel like cooking. I wouldn’t call it a “destination” or sit-down restaurant.

And I feel slightly nervous for them, because their menu is huge and varied (not really sustainable from a cost-containment standpoint, for most restaurants), and a lot of what they’re selling is duplicated in existing, well-loved neighborhood places. Often, as with the thai curries, you can get these elsewhere in the ‘hood for cheaper at ethnic dives (although maybe without such explicit access to the ingredient list—every item at Beautifull! lists all the ingredients in plain sight.) Some of us in the ‘hood had hoped for a replacement option for the now-closed Cafe Gratitude, and this isn’t exactly it, though you can get a bowl of veggie curry over brown rice, quinoa or couscous, for about $10 (which is admittedly less than Gratitude’s, with a lot less fanfare involved in procurement).


Encuentro!  »

Encuentro, a new vegetarian restaurant in Jack London Square, is a pretty modern, minimalist space. Floor-to-ceiling windows and corner wood tables create a hip ambiance. I went with two other people, and a quasi-filling lunch for us cost $30 (which is a bargain, especially compared to its creator’s flagship Millennium in SF). Note that the menu is not entirely vegan—many dishes contain cheese and I believe one menu item has eggs. We got a bunch of dishes and split them; I highly recommend doing this as the portions are on the smaller side, and you want to taste as many different things as possible.

Between the three of us we split the arugula and pear salad with Banyuls vinaigrette, hazelnuts, hazelnut-vanilla oil; avocado, olive oil and cilantro bruschetta with chile jam and black salt; the tempeh bacon sandwich with sun-dried tomato jam and avocado topped with romaine; and a split-pea soup [Ed.: all menu titles are [sic]]. The salad had by far the most interesting flavors. You can really taste the vanilla oil, and the hazelnuts add such an important crunch texture to the dish. The bruschetta had perfectly toasted bread. As a huge fan of avocado, I couldn’t not love the dish. An order consists of two pieces of bruschetta—more than enough for one person, but kind of difficult to split between three! I found the sandwich definitely underwhelming. I think the flavors could have been more pronounced and the tempeh a little crispier to add some texture to counterbalance the gooeyness of the avocado.

Overall, Encuentro strives to create a place where people can gather. I do think that the menu offers ample opportunity for people to share many dishes; however the space and the ambiance did not. It seems a little bourgeois, like it’s catering to a very specific crowd of people—maybe the power/business lunchers. It’s so hip and modern—almost in a frigid way—that I can scarcely envision people hanging out there. The food is very delicious, though, and when ordered smartly you can get a pretty reasonable deal. The portions are a bit smaller, maybe a testament to the bourgeois attitude I couldn’t help but feel. Perhaps their ideal customer has the luxury of not being completely filled up by the food, the luxury to simply order to taste instead of to nourish.

That said, I do recommend that you experience Encuentro for yourself. It may be different things to different people, and I don’t want to color your perceptions too much!! We left the restaurant feeling a bit unsatisfied, like we could go for another light lunch or something. I wouldn’t recommend this place to someone who is completely famished!

[All photos by Brianna]


Vegansaurus Wants You!  »

But only as a friend.

No, seriously. Vegansaurus is looking to expand and take over the world and dominate in every way possible. We’re looking for writers.

Specifically, we’re looking for people who are way into vegan food. We are especially interested in people who are really into cooking, baking, and creating amazing recipes. Also, someone with a good eye for current events, especially (obviously) vegan news. Certainly being a witty genius is a plus because we need more of that. this could be one person. or it could be two. You don’t have to be in San Francisco as we’re looking to expand our reach. But we need people who can contribute two to three times per week.

If you’re interested, send a couple samples of your writing to laura @ vegansaurus dot com, even if it’s just your blog or some scanned-in poetry. Actually not that second thing. Please god.

Vegans, vegetarians, and yes, even omnivores are invited to apply. And maybe your dog too if he can use a computer.

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Road Trip: Mineral in Murphys!  »

Okay Bay Area fat-asses, time for a road trip!

Murphys, California is about a two-hour drive from SF, or maybe more if you obey the rules of the road. Not me! I drive like a bat out of hell because YOUR LAWS DO NOT APPLY TO ME, I MUST BE FREE! Also, I have no regard for human life, yours or my own. However, should an animal cross my path, I will cause a 10-car pileup to avoid hitting it. I am a total asshole. Murphys the quaintest, cutest, most adorable, pinch-its-cheeks-and-show-me-where-the-hookers-lived little Gold Rush town in all of creation. I seriously love anything and everything having to do with the Gold Rush. If I could be alive during any other time, I would choose to be Queen Victoria. After that, I would choose to live during the Time of the Unicorns. After that, I would choose to live in a gold-mining town in the Sierra foothills. I would most likely mine billions of dollars’ worth of gold and spend the rest of the day sunbathing and eating bonbons. In the evenings, I would do it with lots of hookers and have shootouts with my twin brother, who looks just like me but is EVIL. My name would be Wild Laura Quick Draw. Seriously, does anyone have a DeLorean?

Anyway, things you expect to find in Murphys are: antiques shops; things with “Frog” in the title (it’s Mark Twain country, baby!); Local Experts on the Gold Rush who might also be Skeevy Old Dudes Who Want to Do It with You; more antique shops; people who collect things like “Mountain Man Doll” (see photo—it’s great); wineries, a.k.a. FREE ALCOHOL; and more antiques shops. Oh, and a few cowboy/biker bars because rape was really big during the Gold Rush. Listen, I never said history was pretty.

One thing you might not expect to find is ONE OF THE BEST VEGETARIAN RESTAURANTS I’VE EVER EATEN AT. Jigga what? THAT IS CORRECT. Jigga who? YOU HEARD.

Mineral is an intimate (read: hella teeny tiny), super-cute vegetarian restaurant right on Murphys’ Main Street. Yes, it is called Main Street. I told you this town is fucking adorable. Inside, it gets even better. The lighting is amazing, even dogs* would look super-hot in this space. It has an exposed kitchen so you can watch the chef do his thing, and his thing is making the most goddamned delicious food you ever sunk your fat face into! Some of the food was so good, words failed me. It’s kinda like a fancified California Cuisine, I guess? My menu favorites were the Red Miso and Mexican Lime Bisque with House Made Smoked Tofu, Potato Coriander Seitan in a Hemp Fondue with Chive Oil, and Indian-Spiced FRIED CHOCOLATE. HELLO! Everything is vegetarian and most everything on the menu is vegan or can be made vegan. I went to dinner with some talkative bitches but I’m telling you, the entire meal was basically silent with the exception of a few “HOLY SHIT!”s.  I don’t know how to grammatically work “HOLY SHIT”s out so I’m moving on.

Afterward, the chef and waitress/hostess/co-owner sat with us and shared some wine and we talked about how amazing they are. They are both completely down to earth and sweet and welcoming and fantastic. It’s not the cheapest place I’ve ever eaten but it’s on point with the other nice restaurants in the area, and when you see the quality of the organic, local ingredients they use, it’s more than reasonable. Apparently the lunch is off the hook too with the best homemade veggie burgers on EARTH. I tried to get back but didn’t make it out of bed on time and they close at 3 p.m. for lunch. WHAT? I WAS ON VACATION.

If you are a veggie or vegan or AWESOME in the Bay Area or Sacramento (it’s only about an hour from Sacto and don’t you want to get the fuck out of Sacramento anyway?!), I definitely advise a road trip up to this area with a must stop at Mineral for both lunch and dinner. Also, if you bring a lady friend, you will totally get laid. Just saying.

*ugly people, not real dogs, that is a health code violation!

[photos by the author]


Review: Udupi Palace!  »

The first time I went to Udupi Palace, we were a group of eight, and our bill for eight dosas, four (or five) appetizers, and six (or seven) beers was something like $120. That is (hang on, I have to work out the math) $15 per person, for that much food! Incredible. I guess their overhead is lower because they are a vegetarian establishment and do not have to pay for things like the bodies of murdered lambs, which tend to cost more than vegetables and grains. Their dosas are enormous, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and the different fillings are delicious. They have a large selection of vegan tidbits, but look carefully for yogurt sauce, it is a wily foe. The plain coconut chutney is scrumptious, though not very adventurous for the spicy-minded among us. You get two other, spicier chutneys for dipping, so worry not.

That first excursion was on a Tuesday night during its first month of business, and by 8 p.m. the place was packed. At that point they had a few kinks to work out with service; that said, they certainly were generous with the water, which is very smart and considerate, especially of weaklings like me who can’t handle even moderately spicy food.

I had the Udupi special spring dosa, which came with the standard Mysore Masala filling plus spring vegetables ($7.95). It was delicious, and way too much for me to finish at one meal. One of my dining companions got the spinach masala dosa, which made me want to order next time, it was so good. The fried idli and sambar vada were really, really tasty as well.

My gentleman friend and I stopped in for an early dinner last Sunday, four months after my first trip (eating in is saving money!), and we split a Mysore Masala dosa and an idli, which was plenty of food to carry us through until bedtime. It’s still delicious, and your water glass never stays empty.

In sum, Udupi Palace’s menu is quite superior to its neighbor Dosa’s, and significantly less expensive as well. It is the best South Indian food I have had in the city, and I will definitely eat there again. And again and again. Nuts to you, Dosa the restaurant, with your overpriced menu and your pushy waitstaff and your pretensions. Udupi serves the dosa of the overprivileged middle-class, and we will have our meal for $3 cheaper, and we will use that $3 to buy an expensive gourmet coffee, which will make us feel guilty for wasting money we could have saved by drinking coffee at home, so when we arrive at our extremely overpriced apartments that we can afford because of our low-level white-collar jobs, we will use our computers to donate money to causes like the Yes on 2 campaign because by god we are overprivileged jerks who appreciate our ability to buy Indian street food at 500 times its price in India, and we show it by giving some of our wardrobe money to charity! DAMN IT!

[photos via yelp]

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