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Mayim's Vegan TableThere comes a time in every blogger’s life when she connects so deeply with a cookbook that she feels, while making the food described in it, that she and the author are inextricably linked. Food recipes can connect us across geography and time, and in the case of Mayim’s Vegan TableMore than 100 Great-Tasting and Healthy Recipes from My Family to YoursI felt super connected to the author, wherever she is, being a fabulous neuroscience PhD, television star, and all-around gorgeous vegan genius. Every recipe she included in here seemed as though aimed at me to love it, though I’m sure that’s how most feel. Brussels sprouts chips? Kugel? Taco salad? I also miss making a lot of my favorite Jewish foods like Matzo Ball soup, challah, sufganiyot, rugelach, kugel, and more. This cookbook is totally a resource for those of us who love vegan food that tastes like a Bubbie made it!

The beginning of the book includes some helpful tips on vegan food prep, some basics and some in-depth tutorials like meal planning for picky kid eaters and sections on the science and environmental arguments behind a healthful vegan diet. To be honest, a lot of that stuff didn’t appeal as much to me (I just wanted to make the delish recipes!), but I think for new and/or aspiring vegans, it’d be a big help! I’m glad she took the time to share her values and appeal to parents who may need more help to get junior to eat her broccoli.

I’ve made several of Mayim’s recipes, and here are some of my favorites so far:

Quinoa with Herbs and Veggies

Quinoa with Herbs and Veggies

Vegan challah! I actually used Mayim's Turtle Bread recipe and just substituted gluten-free flour.

Vegan challah! I actually used Mayim’s Turtle Bread recipe and just substituted gluten-free flour.

Taco Salad! Mmm

Taco Salad! Mmm

Brussels sprouts chips: easy to make (if slightly time consuming) and oh-so-good!

Brussels sprouts chips: easy to make (if time consuming) and oh-so-good! I added nutritional yeast.

These recipes for the photos above are each very easy to make, designed for busy parents and/or those who love delicious food but don’t have time to create crazy-elaborate dishes. I highly recommend picking up a copy, and not only because Mayim is so cool! Here’s a link to another great review of Mayim’s Vegan Table by my friend Jenny Bradley on Vegansaurus.

Buy Mayim’s Vegan Table online and at bookstores nationwide.

 

 

 

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Esther The Wonder Pig's Dads

I recently interviewed the beautiful gay dads of Esther the Wonder Pig on Vegansaurus! Pretty fun!

Thanks to her dads Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter, tens of thousands of fans get to peek into the surprising and always adorable daily doings of Esther The Wonder Pig, the clever, undeniably photogenic 400-pound pig! It’s truly a delight each day to browse Steve and Derek’s witty status updates and glamorous pics of Esther living her genius, safe, and cozy life in Toronto with her loving dads and dog siblings!

I interviewed Esther’s loving dads about life with Esther, how she came into their lives, and their future plans to continue spreading awareness about pigs as pets, not food.

Click here to read my interview with Esther The Wonder Pig’s Dads on Vegansaurus!

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Bleating Hearts by Mark Hawthorne

If you’re thinking of reading an animal welfare-themed book this year, make it Mark Hawthorne’s breathtakingly well-researched and expertly written new book, Bleating Hearts: The Hidden World of Animal Suffering. Following his activism-focused first book Striking At The Roots, Hawthorne examines the many unseen sources of animal abuse, mistreatment, murder, and exploitation rampant in our world.

Bleating Hearts features lesser-discussed stories in animal welfare that are incredibly relevant in our modern times. As a vegan who considers herself to be relatively well-informed, I am a little embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know about many of the specific animal abuses mentioned in Hawthorne’s book. There’s literally so much shit that people do to abuse animals that Hawthorne has painstakingly uncovered, it’s almost unreal. Hawthorne isn’t out to shock—he’s out to inform, providing generous research and sources to show the reader her blind spots and shines light on societal blights many of us have no idea about.

Vegansaurus! Review of Bleating Hearts

Continue reading my review of Bleating Hearts on Vegansaurus!

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Never Read The Comments On Queer Vegan Food

The infamous “Never Read The Comments” tote bag guest poster Jamie J. Hagen spotted after Vida Vegan Con this year.

Today, Queer Vegan Food readers are in for a major treat: a really amazing guest post by writer/activist and scholar Jamie J. Hagen. I’ve long been a fan of Jamie’s writing and strong feminist-vegan social media presence, and am SO excited that she volunteered to share this personal and important post about the feminist implications of comment sections on online articles and blogs.

Jamie’s discussion is drawn from her experience as an editor of queer lady site  Autostraddle, and other sites. As a speaker at Vida Vegan Con this year, Jamie led a discussion about how to keep comments sections respectful AND maintain healthy discourse. It’s got my wheels spinning; How do online communities enforce respectful commenting while simultaneously encouraging healthy debate?

I’d love to hear what others think about the comments sections in blogs and whether you think Jamie is right that feminist spaces can benefit from a well-enforced comments policy. Her great questions allow us to consider our own experiences with comments sections, and I’d encourage anyone who feels moved to share to do so.

And now, the post you’ve been waiting for… ~ Sarah

Why I Read The Comments: A Feminist Argument For The Value Of An Engaged Comment Community

By: Jamie J. Hagen

As a freelance writer I’ve received incredibly adamant advice to read the comments. I’ve also received incredibly adamant advice not to read the comments. The worth in responding to comments is a somewhat contentious and confused topic, often overshadowing the potential value of an engaged comment community.

During my time as a Contributing Editor to the girl-on-girl culture website Autostraddle I became a big fan of the potential for conversation and community in the comment space. As a regular writer and reader of the website, I value Autostraddle’s efforts to promote a “safe-space” conversation with a well thought out comment policy.

Their comment policy begins, “We have really funny readers, and we love getting to know you and hearing your opinions. Dialogue with readers is so important to us, in fact, that we are working hard to make sure that Autostraddle remains a safe place for discussion as we get bigger and better.”

Covered in their policy are issues such as bad faith, fat phobia, and trans* inclusion and this has led to many constructive, fun, lively conversations moderated by Autostraddle community moderators. Further vegan, queer food for thought: Some of the members of Autostraddle’s comment community became best friends and even lovers during Autostraddle sponsored events and other offline venues. Some readers aren’t out as queer anywhere but online. Some readers don’t find support for their thoughts and feelings as queers anywhere but on online. Knowing the editors, writers and the comment community are all invested in creating a space to support queer readers who may not find that type of support anywhere else is constantly lauded by many community members.

When writing for other websites I seek to bring this same ethic in responding to the comments. For example, while writing for PolicyMic.com it was made clear that promoting our pieces by engaging with the commenters was encouraged, essentially required, to be a successful writer for the site geared towards a millennial crowd working to create a bi-partisan political dialogue.

From the perspective of someone who has been involved in Autostraddle and other feminist comment spaces I pitched the “Comments Are Your Friend” workshop for the vegan blogging conference Vida Vegan Con II conference in May of this year. As I imagined the workshop, it would offer a space to create a conversation about whether people read the comments, why or why not, and how we can make sure we participate in self-care when writing and commenting about the personal as political. Only after learning I’d be welcomed to host the comment conversation at Vida Vegan Con II did I discover the “Never Read the Comments” tote for sale at Portland‘s vegan grocery story Food Fight – so there‘s that!

At the workshop I opened the conversation for all to share their experiences with comments. Many attendees spoke to the difficulty of discussing vegan politics on personal spaces such as Facebook, but agreed there was a valuable opportunity to educate readers on the web about veganism by simply responding with a non-judgmental factual comment when possible. Attempting to change the minds of those trolling websites to get a rise out of writers certainly seems a fools errand, but a well-articulated comment left in response to a nasty or confrontational comment may reach dozens or even hundreds of readers.

Jamie Hagen and Laura Beck of Vegansaurus and Jezebel At Vida Vegan Con Conference

Jamie Hagen, Laura Beck of Vegansaurus and Jezebel and panel participants at Vida Vegan Con Conference

It’s hard to ignore the impact of gender-based and homophobic attacks endured by female and queer writers online. The recent campaigns by Facebook and Twitter to address violent and repetitive rape threats and the posting of rape videos on their networks speaks to the extent of the problem. Because of this reality, I feel those of us with the ability to build and structure a more feminist space in a blog’s comment community should consider and explore taking the time to do so.

Writing about queer politics, vegan politics or any other ethically charged topic can lead to some difficult and exhausting conversations. Creating a valuable comment space requires work, a well-developed comment policy and the ability to enforce it.  Whether a writer chooses to read or engage with the comment community will vary on context, time commitment to community building and meeting the needs of her own self-care.

Do you have experience engaging with constructive conversation in your comment space? If not, do you think a comment policy and more active engagement from regular readers and writers could shift the tone of a comment space?

Jamie Hagen

Jamie J. Hagen is a writer and doctoral student of Global Governance and Human Security at the University of Massachusetts, Boston with a focus on gender and feminist security studies. As a freelance writer Hagen has covered queer and vegan politics, news, and culture for publications such as RollingStone.com, One Green Planet and Autostraddle

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The Vassar Eat Issue

As an alum of the college, former assistant staff writer at the publication, and ethical queer vegan, I’ve been pretty heartbroken since I received my copy of the Spring/Summer 2013 Vol. 109 Issue 2 of Vassar, the alumnae/i quarterly of Vassar College. I got chills when I saw the theme of the issue was “Eat.” Before perusing, I sensed that there was a significant chance that this issue theme would be grossly mishandled. I suspected that Vassar would likely glorify eating (and exploiting) non-human animals by highlighting the work of notable non-vegan alums like Anthony Bourdain, and other so-called food celebrity alums.

It turns out I was right about my suspicions: “Eat” issue is one of the most troubling things I’ve ever seen branded with Vassar’s name. There’s too much offensive material in this 91-page volume to cover all of it, but I’ll share some highlights:

On page seven, the article “The Gritty Life of a Food Activist” profiles a white male alum with a five-o-clock shadow staring at a dead pig head, ostensibly of one of the “heritage” varieties he purports to care about saving through–you guessed it–raising them to be slaughtered:

“[Heritage Foods]‘ mission is to preserve rare breeds of turkeys, pigs, cows, lambs, bison, tuna, salmon, chicken, ducks, geese, and goats by creating a market for them…Martins believes that eating heritage breeds is the only way to save them.” (p. 7, Vassar,  “Eat” Issue).

Anyone who has read Carol J. Adams’ work The Sexual Politics of Meat can understand the unique sexual politics related to a (white) man presiding over a dead pig’s head, ostensibly one he’s helped kill in order to “save” it. Hmm.

Page 16 features a recipe for Gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp) complete with shrimp pictures, courtesy of Vassar alum/cookbook author Penelope Casas. Yikes. No vegan option in sight, no explanation, just meat-eating continuing to be perpetuated as the norm and something to be celebrated.

Next, on page 17, there’s an article called “Conscience in the Kitchen” discussing how chef Seth Caswell cooks “fresh oysters right from the shell.” I couldn’t believe the article title. Where, exactly, is the conscience in Caswell’s cooking? I can only assume the writer is referring to the fact that Caswell works in a LEED-certified kitchen when he serves “ever-popular chicken Parmesan” The truth is, meat is not conscionable on any level, and certainly not to the chicken who needlessly gave his/her life.

Page 18 features an alum who runs a restaurant called “Fish Fowl Beef Pork”–I’m gagging. Of all the amazing work Vassar alums are doing in the world, they have to feature someone whose work glorifies killing fish, birds, cows, and pigs? There’s even a mention of this guy’s “grilled Sullivan County fois gras” — besides being incredibly cruel, I have to ask: is Fois gras even legal anymore?

Perhaps the worst article in this issue is “Greener Pastures,”on p. 21 featuring Justin Leavenworth ’96, who is characterized as an effeminate “skinny jeans-, hipster glasses-wearing guy” who somehow finds a way to get along with his fellow “macho men” of the meat industry. If this isn’t a classic sexual politics of meat trope, I don’t know what is. The message is, look, even effeminate Vassar men can be “manly” by showing they know what’s what about killing animals. There is so much wrong with this article, I don’t even know where to start. How about this:

“Some ranchers mistrust the grass-fed movement, considering it a way to move the country one step closer to the ‘liberal vegetarian ideal.'” (p. 21). Side note: Vassar editors, who, exactly, do you think your readers are?

Then there’s a fudge recipe with animal products making up about 50% of the ingredients hailed as “Vassar tradition,” no vegan option included. One could easily substitute coconut milk for the butter and cream and it’d be amazing. Why wasn’t a vegan option even considered? There’s way more offensive material in this issue, but I’m exhausted already. And yes: Anthony Bourdain gets his obligatory profile as well.

Based on my experience working for the Quarterly during my Senior year of college, I recognize that the primary function of the publication is to inspire alums to donate to Vassar through emotional stories relating to the school and its notable attendees, faculty, staff, and community members. What better topic to relate to our emotions than our food, our sustenance, our culturally-linked second heart? I get why the editors of this magazine chose this theme. But writing about food in a way that completely ignores vegan perspectives is really limited, and ignores the great work Vassarians do in this arena.

Couldn’t Vassar editors have chosen to profile even one vegan perspective? We have many notable vegan alums, including but not limited to: Haley Burke, a cancer center doctor living and working in Texas; Pulin Modi, a force for good in this world at Change.Org; activist Lauren O’Laughlin, and on and on.

There are also lots of other incredible current Vassar student vegan activists, like Ali Seiter, Alan Darer, Rocky Schwartz, and more. I met some of these activists at the Marti Kheel Ecofeminist Conference at Wesleyan, and THEY are what makes me  proud to call myself a Vassar alum. Vassar does great work in the field of human- and non-human animal welfare; why not highlight it, or at the very least, refrain from mocking it?

I’m pretty happy to report that there was at least one vegan mention in the publication–my contribution to Defiant Daughters: 21 Women On Art, Activism and The Sexual Politics of Meat gets a nod in the Mixed Media section on p. 40.

Final words: I am really disappointed by this issue of Vassar. It doesn’t include or recognize perspectives that are central to many Vassar community members’ activism. It certainly doesn’t make me feel inspired to pull out my wallet. Despite this, I am going to remain hopeful that the good work Vassar students, faculty, alumnae/i and others continue to do in this world for human- and non-human animals will ring far louder than puff pieces aimed to rake in donations.

I encourage anyone interested to e-mail the Director of Alumnae/i Communications, Editor Elizabeth Randolph and let her know what you think about this issue. She can be reached at elrandolph@vassar.edu.

Thanks.

UPDATE: Lagusta Umami of Lagusta’s Luscious has confirmed Foie gras is currently legal in New York State, but banned in California.

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This week, to celebrate our April birthdays, Courtney and I traveled to Colorado to enjoy a little vacation. Even though it snowed most of the time we were there, I was excited to see Colorado for the first time and connect with friends, vegan noms and activities located in the Rocky Mountain area. Here are the places we ended up visiting in Denver and Boulder, Colorado:

Boulder, Colorado

Dushanbe Tea House

1770 13th St. Boulder, CO

The tea menu and the gorgeous decor are the real reasons to visit Dushanbe Tea House, which is a local treasure. They also have several vegan options on their menu, which can be enjoyed alongside a freshly brewed tea or infusion.

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The Thai Panang Curry (with tofu option) dish at Dushanbe Tea house.

The Thai Panang Curry (with tofu option) dish at Dushanbe Tea house was delightful–it had a great spicy kick.

Drinking a delicate green tea at Dushanbe Tea House in Boulder, Colorado.

Drinking a delicate green tea at Dushanbe Tea House in Boulder, Colorado.

Interior view of Dushanbe Tea House in Boulder, Colorado.

Interior view of Dushanbe Tea House in Boulder, Colorado.

Alfalfa’s Market

1651 Broadway  Boulder, CO 80302

Alfalfa’s has tons of great vegan items, including fresh produce and local vegan treats and snacks. Boulder is a hub for many organic food companies, including BoBo’s, Goodbelly, and many more. It was a great place for us to stock up on snacks, organic toiletries and breakfast items to keep in our hotel fridge. I recommend checking it out over or at least in addition to Whole Foods if you’re in the area and need groceries or green juice–they sell that too.

Alfalfa's vegan-friendly market in Boulder

Alfalfa’s vegan-friendly market in Boulder

Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant

2010 16th Street
Boulder, Colorado 80302

The Asian Mizuna Salad  at Leaf Vegetarian

The Asian Mizuna Salad at Leaf Vegetarian.

The Asian Mizuna Salad  at Leaf Vegetarian. Made with wakame seaweed, mizuna, jicama, carrots, snap peas, bamboo shoots, sesame sweet chili vinaigrette.

The vegan soup of the day at Leaf Vegetarian. Made with squash and a delicate broth.

The vegan soup of the day at Leaf Vegetarian. Made with squash and a delicate broth.

The Kitchen Next Door

1035 Pearl St.
Boulder, CO 80302

When dining with a non-vegan friend, we found plenty to enjoy at The Kitchen Next Door, including homemade kale chips, beet-infused salads and a wonderful homemade hummus. Great choice if on Pearl Street, if you love craft beers, or if you’re dining with non-vegans. There’s also free music on many nights.

Menu selection from The Kitchen Next Door

Menu selection from The Kitchen Next Door. Loved the kale chips!

Here are some more pictures from our wintry explorations in Boulder:

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Courtney Pool and Queer Vegan Food, hanging out by the river in Boulder, CO

Boulder, CO in the snow

Boulder, CO in the snow

Boulder, CO in the snow

Boulder, CO in the snow

Denver, Colorado

Nooch Vegan Market

3360 Larimer St., Denver

What’s not to love about Nooch Vegan Market? Located in a cool part of Denver, there’s aisles of vegan treats and staples to enjoy, plus clothing, dog treats, household products, super-friendly staff. I highly recommend checking it out if you’re in town.

Nooch Vegan Market in Denver, CONooch Vegan Market in Denver, CO Nooch Vegan Market in Denver, CO IMG_2777 IMG_2778 IMG_2779 IMG_2780IMG_2782

City, O City

206 E. 13th Avenue Denver

City, O City offers tons of vegan options, though it’s not a fully vegan establishment. I got the baby kale salad and tried their homemade kombucha and onion rings. Everything was great! I forgot to snap pics but if you go, definitely check out their on-tap kombucha and some of the great vegan offerings.

City, O City in Denver, Colorado

City, O City in Denver, Colorado

Thanks for checking out my blog post on some vegan adventures in Boulder and Denver. There are more vegan-friendly places to check out than the ones we visited, so please share them in the comments if you know of them or link to beloved blogs/companies if you’d like to share your favorites!

 

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I did a fun interview with the wonderful Vance Lehmkuhl of VegCast. We chatted about veganism, Philly, and The Queer Vegan Food Cookbook.

Mentions: Defiant Daughters Carol Adams Ashley Maier Food Empowerment Project lauren Ornelas Hip City Veg Vedge Restaurant Nicole Marquis and more . . .

Listen: http://www.vegcast.com/vegcast114.mp3

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