Giving Thanks...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Since I'll be spending Thanksgiving away from my husband and family this year, I was glad to have a pre-Thanksgiving celebration yesterday with a bunch of rocking vegans. I made tangerine cranberry sauce from the recipe in this Vegan YumYum post (seriously, it is the easiest, most delicious thing to make. Why does anyone buy that gelatinous crap in the can?) and a whole wheat stuffing with homemade sausages. I've been on a diet that's eschewing refined sugar, refined flour and oils, and I had to break it to try the biscuits, mashed potatoes, and all sorts of desserts. Back to steamed greens for me today!

Anyway, one of the things I am thankful for this year is having found a community of awesome vegans, both here in San Francisco and online, with everyone I've met through blogging and Twitter. So often (especially around the Thanksgiving dinner table) vegans can feel weird and alienated, so it's great to remember that there are so many of us out there.

Here are some other things I am thankful for this year:

  • Being lucky enough to have not been hit by this economy. My husband's job has been solid enough that I was able to quit my soul-crushing job this summer, without worrying about how we'd paid the bills. I sincerely hope things turn around for my Dad, brother, and anybody else who's been out of work.
  • The ability to travel. The stars aligned for us this year to move abroad and I am thankful we have the freedom to pack up and move.
  • The friends I've made in San Francisco who, despite my east-coast upbringing, have really made California the place I consider "home."
And of course, a million other little things every day, but these are the big ones that stick out from this year. I'll be away from the blog next week while I'm in NY, so I hope you all have joyful Thanksgiving celebrations this year!

Become a Veg Table Tour Guide!

Friday, November 13, 2009

In planning my upcoming trip to Brooklyn I've been overwhelmed by how many great vegan and veg-friendly restaurants there are in the area. It's hard to know which ones are worth it, which I should skip. And of course I'll probably want to spend some time doing something besides eating, so if I'm making a trip to go to a special restaurant, what else is nearby and worth checking out?

With that in mind I've decided to add a new feature to Veg Table: Veggie Tours!

Veggie Tours will be guides written to cities around the world, from a Veg perspective, and I'm recruiting Tour Guides to write these features. Whether it's your home town, or just your favorite city to visit, if you know hot spots, insider dining tips, and attractions off the beaten path, I want to hear from you!

Potential Tour Guides can submit their Veggie Tours to Here are some guidelines:

  1. Focus on the reader. While it's ok to throw in anecdotal experiences you've had, Veggie Tours should not be just a re-hash of your last vacation. Let the reader know what they should check out to have an awesome experience. Be creative, funny, whimsical, snarky, whatever!
  2. There's no word requirement, but think maybe a little longer than a typical blog post.
  3. Imagine the reader has 4-8 days to spend in a given locale. It might be helpful to list recommendations day by day and then include links to additional ideas.
  4. Photos make everything better. While not required, links to photos you've uploaded to Flickr (that we can publish) are very helpful.
  5. Submission deadline is Friday, Dec. 4, 2009. You can submit as many cities as you'd like.
I'll only be choosing one Veggie Tour for a given city. Chosen tours will be published on Veg Table on Friday, Dec. 11. Here's where your incentive comes in:

Why should I become a Veg Table Tour Guide?

  1. Once Veggie Tours are published on Dec. 11 I'll be holding a contest for readers to vote for their favorite. There will be prizes, including an iTunes gift card, assorted vegan cook books, and more! Look for more details on this coming soon.
  2. Self-promotion. Each Veggie Tour will link to whatever blog, website, cause you'd like to promote and we will include your Bio on our Tour Guides page.
  3. Nothing feels better than helping out a fellow vegan. Except maybe prizes and fame. (See #s 1 and 2.)
Feel free to comment or write me with any questions, and please help spread the word to any if your fabulous, well-traveled, creative, word-slinging, veggie friends!

Vegetables, yo! They're hella good for you!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I ended up signing up for the Plant-Based Nutrition course I was pondering a few months back. I have rather mixed feelings about it which I'll save for another day, but tonight I found myself in a class discussion of how to reach out to teens about nutrition. A classmate of mine had, I kid you not, written a "rap" to appeal to a young audience. I won't quote the lyrics, but the lead in was a list of diseases like Cancer and Diabetes, that can be prevented with a plant-based diets.

I can distinctly remember my 6th grade English teacher rapping a lesson one day. Even as an eleven year old white girl in the suburbs, I was pretty sure this was the lamest thing ever. Jason Schwartzman parodies this ridiculous trope of connecting with urban youth in a very special "Yo Teach" episode.
As I told my classmate, teenagers are actually pretty savvy about knowing when adults are co-opting their forms of expression in order to teach them a lesson.

At any rate, this is to say nothing of the bigger point which is that warning an eighteen year old about preventing heart disease is about as productive as warning your six year old about saving for retirement. You may plant a tiny seed, but they are not at an age where they're thinking that long term.

When I think back to high school it's almost infuriating that I ate after school at McDonald's and Dunkin Donuts on a very regular basis, yet I had the energy to dance in the Color Guard, perform in every school play, and stay on the honor roll while being ridiculously skinny. And now, ten plus years later with my vegan diet my BMI puts me at just slightly overweight.

I don't want to emphasize weight too much, but it's worth noting that since going vegan not only have I gained significant weight, but my skin has gotten worse, I've developed joint pain (I may have patellar tendonitis in my knee) and those superficial signs of aging are starting to appear. Wrinkles not just around my eyes, but on my hands too. Joy.

Of course many of these changes are just symptomatic of aging, but even in a relatively healthy vegan diet, there are certainly changes I can make (and am!) to my lifestyle to help slow and reverse these things. More on this to come. But my point is, it wasn't until I started actually experiencing these things that I started to care about the health aspect of my veganism.

So for people who do want to reach out to teens and young adults I would suggest appealing to them with tangible concepts that are relevant to their lives. Focus on the increased energy to help them in sports or dance. Mood-elevating benefits, boosts to cognitive function, clearer skin, shinier hair.

Just, for the love of god, don't rap about it. Don't spray it in graffiti. Don't hire kid actors in urban streetwear. Don't text them health tips. Don't try to use their lingo. You'd be amazed by how much kids will respect you when you're just real and honest with them.

Jonathan Safran Foer: Cute Jew; Domestic Terrorist?

Friday, November 6, 2009

I've always had a thing for adorable, nerdy Jewish boys. Blame my Long Island upbringing. So it should come as no shock that I've had a crush on Jonathan Safran Foer, ever since I discovered his vegetarian leanings in a video he narrated called "If This is Kosher" while researching vegan passover recipes a few years ago.

It doesn't hurt that he bears a striking resemblance to my husband. Y/N?

Anyway, I ended up not being able to go hear him speak at the local JCC last night as I'd hoped to. He's been getting some major buzz lately for his new book Eating Animals. (Like, every other article on vegansaurus has been about JSF this week.) While some might criticize him for not committing to being fully vegan, I personally think this is exactly the kind of outreach that helps our cause immensely. It's both a logical and emotional approach to the subject that can hit people on a personal level. And it doesn't hurt coming from a prolific author who's not necessarily dragged down with the label of "crazy animal rights activist."

Or is he?

This article from Huffington Post labels JSF as a domestic terrorist in its slightly sensational headline. I'm not going to summarize the article here because I actually want you to read the whole thing. It brings up a lot of important information that many people may not be aware of regarding the way our government regards terrorism, and which industries it's protecting.

I'm just going to share my takeaway thoughts after reading it:

#1 - Dennis Kucinich is awesome.

#2 - I'm blown away that animal rights groups are classified as greater threats to America than, say, right-wing activists that bomb abortion clinics and murder doctors who make this right available to women.

#3 - Where exactly is the terror here? Specifically in the case of JSF where the author of the article makes the case that his illegal exposure of the practices of a factory farm constitutes terrorism. Yes, I can see why this might scare or shock people, but he's not throwing buckets of fake blood and crying "murder." He's simply exposing people to the truth of what's actually happening in the animal enterprise industry.

#4 - While the author encourages readers to repeal the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, he doesn't give any resources for change. So, you can sign a petition and write to Congress here. This page also has links to further information and advice.

Kudos to anyone who can bring light to such important issues!

No Sleep Till Brooklyn

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Last time I was in New York was July, right as I was starting to work on Veg Table. I did my best to document my food finds, like Lula's Sweet Apothecary and  Curly's but damn, New York has so many awesome vegan restaurants I feel like I only dipped my foot in the pool. I've been to a decent number in Manhattan, but only one in Brooklyn, and that was five years ago.

You see, when I lived in Brooklyn I was vegetarian, but not yet vegan and it was during the poorest time in my life. My bank account didn't see triple digits for months some times. I almost never ate out, let alone at fancy vegan restaurants. (The fact that I lived in Bay Ridge, which is really more like North Staten Island didn't help.) So this makes me all the more excited that I'll be spending a week in Brooklyn over Thanksgiving break! I'll be staying with one of my best friends who I don't get to see nearly often enough, and hoping to catch up with other East Coasters before I flee the country.

So what restaurants must I check out? Within Brooklyn, I'm thinking Foodswings, Boneshakers, V Spot Cafe, and Organic Heights. In Manhattan I'll probably do peacefood cafe and then I've got a few more upscale restaurants to choose from. How would you rank the following:

Candle 79 - I ate at Candle Cafe for lunch on my last visit and wasn't blown away by the food, considering the price.
Blossom - They have a crappy website which is a pet peeve of mine, but perhaps I shouldn't judge.
Dirty Candy - I've honestly not heard much about them, but I love the name and their menu sounds awesome, though not all vegan.

I can probably only go to one of those three, maaaaybe two, so what should I prioritize? Also, any opinions on 4 Course Vegan in Williamsburg? I love me a good underground supper club. Is it hard to get a reservation? What's the experience like?

Let me know if there are any other restaurants worth checking out, or ones I've listed I shouldn't bother with. I'm also open to suggestions on how I should spend the few hours when I'm not eating. Got any favorite off-the-beaten-path things to do in Brooklyn? (Or, you know, those other boroughs?) And if you're a frequent diner in NY if you could take some time to update the Veg Table NYC pages, you'll be my hero. Maybe I'll even buy you an ice cream cone at Lula's out of gratitude.

The Next SF Vegan Bake Sale!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The next SF Vegan Bake Sale is coming! Mark your calendar for Dec. 5th from 11-4. Same great location outside of Ike's Place, so while you're waiting a well-worth-it hour for your sandwich, you can fill up on vegan doughnuts. We've got not one, but two awesome non-profit organizations lined up as beneficiaries this time:

Food Empowerment Project, whose website is a little light on details, but from what I understand, works with youth and low-income populations to make healthier, more informed food choices. And Save a Bunny, who, well, they save bunnies! Like these guys:Since our super crazy successful event a few weeks ago raised $2600 in under three and a half hours, one thing was certain about our next sale: we need more bakers!

Friends, even you non-vegan ones, would you be willing to spend a little time baking for the bunnies? If you're intimidated by vegan baking I can point you towards recipes that are delicious, virtually impossible to screw up and don't require any "weird" ingredients. (Like these banana chocolate chip muffins from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's The Joy of Vegan Baking. You can borrow my book!)

And, though I've not yet bought it, you can check out VegNews' recent foray into digital cookbooks, appropriately enough a collection of holiday cookies! VegNews is also sponsoring our bake sale this time around because they are awesome like that.

Anyway, if you want to bake, please let me know and I'll getcha more details. And if you just want to stop by and eat some scones and save bunnies, that's cool too. We recommend getting there early! And it will be my LAST bake sale in San Francisco before I move. Sadface! So now you have to come.

P.S. Don't forget you can follow our updates on Twitter!