Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Is Dr. Bronner's Vegan?

No.  Well, kind of.  Yes, their products are vegan-friendly and cruelty-free. 

The no is if you are someone that cares about companies as a whole, then no, they're not.

I was shocked when I saw this article from "Dr. Bronner's Supports "Humane Washing" Enterprise from United Poultry Concerns

Many of us animal rights activists have used Dr. Bronner’s’ “Magic Soap” for years, confident that the company’s lofty rhetoric reflected the highest ethical standards toward animals and the planet as professed in their Cosmic Principles of guidance “in everything we do, from soapmaking to peacemaking.”

Imagine our surprise on learning that Dr. Bronner’s business, which espouses “Be kind to animals, earth and body,” is funneling profits to Farm Forward, an organization that promotes farmed animal production and consumption, including the Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch in Kansas and the Good Shepherd Poultry Institute dedicated to preserving “heritage poultry breeds and helping rebuild an agricultural system that puts animals back in the center of farming.”

Um.  WTF?! Right.  Then there was this press release from Dr. Bronner's, that said in part:

Dr. Bronner's infographic showing support for Farm Forward
Support of Farm Forward and Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals
This year the company is proud to continue to support Farm Forward, an organization that supports advocacy around the New York Times best-selling book Eating Animals, which has been adapted into a documentary produced by Academy Award winning actress Natalie Portman and directed by Christopher Quinn, the award-winning director of God Grew Tired of Us. The film premiered at the Telluride film festival this past September. Farm Forward collaborated extensively with board member and author, Jonathan Safran Foer, for three years while he wrote Eating Animals and is planning to organize advocacy around the film. Just like Foer’s book, the documentary uses a combination of humor, adventure, muckraking, and memoir to explore the realities of contemporary animal agriculture alongside the complexities of food ethics.
“We’re incredibly grateful for Dr. Bronner’s generosity and commitment to an ethical, just, and sustainable food system,” said Aaron Gross, Founder and CEO of Farm Forward. “Eating Animals has galvanized resistance to factory farming like no other work. With the support of Dr. Bronner’s, Farm Forward and other animal advocates are able to leverage the book and ultimately the film in tremendous ways,” continued Gross.
When I tweeted them about it, this was their response:

Replying to  
Hey there! Our support for Farm Forward to date has been around their outreach related to “Eating Animals,” one of the most successful books of recent years addressing the problem of factory farming. -Stacey

Yay!  Supporting a book that promotes veganism!  Awesome.  Hey!  You know what else Farm Forward promotes? "Humane" animal agriculture.  Here's the mission statement from their site.

We pursue this work by:
  • Promoting agriculture that combines the best in traditional husbandry and animal welfare science by increasing the market share of more humane, sustainable family farms.
  • Eliminating the worst practices in factory farming.
  • Advocating an acute reduction in the consumption of factory-farmed meat, fish, eggs, and dairy by encouraging conscientious consumer and institutional decision making.
  • Supporting interdisciplinary research and undergraduate teaching about the cultural significance of animals and animal agriculture.
  • Stimulating the production of essays, books, films, and religious activities that raise awareness about the problems in animal agriculture and the deeper cultural issues behind them.

Let me say this.  I shop at stores that sell non-vegan products.  I bought a car that isn't vegan-friendly.  I have bought products from companies that sell vegan and non-vegan merchandise.  But here's the thing.  None of those companies are out there promoting themselves as a vegan-friendly company. 

For Dr. Bronner's to support an organization who is promoting the false idea of humane animal agriculture goes against everything they used to stand for.  And it makes their new campaign to "End Factory Farming" completely hypocritical in my opinion.

So you decide.  If they are supporting an organization like Farm Forward, are they really an company you still want to support?  Too bad really, I did like their products. 

What are you other options?  I like Mrs. Meyers.  Do you make your own with vinegar?  That's a bad idea, but I'll tell you why in another post.  Have a great holiday. 

All ideas in this post are my own opinions.  I have presented publicly available information and test directly from the groups involved.  I have a first amendment right to my opinions.  Just thought i'd add this in case Dr. Bronner's is the type to sue bloggers for pointing out what is going on.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Is Angry Orchard Hard Cider Vegan?

I never thought about booze not being vegan.  Apparently it is a thing.  Check out Barnivore.  It's a super helpful site that let's you know what's what.

In the meantime, here's why you're here.  I have recently fallen in love with Angry Orchard Hard Cider and thought, of course it's vegan!  Nope.  I was shocked when I saw on Barnivore that some of their ciders are not.  So, of course, I emailed for confirmation.

November 08, 2018

Dear Naomi,

Thank you for contacting us at Angry Orchard! Sorry for the delay in response. The following ciders do not use honey:

Green Apple
Stone Dry
Knotty Pear
The Old Fashioned

We hope you will get a chance to enjoy some of these vegan-friendly cider styles soon! Cheers to you for branching out and continuing to explore Angry Orchard!

Argh, I just had the Crisp Apple and loved it.  Oh well, thankfully, they have other options.

Remember to drink responsibily this holiday season.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Garden Tour - August 6, 2018

Remember last year, when over a dozen cucumber plants decided to appear along the side of my garden?  I wound up bringing over 40 pounds of overripe cucumbers to a sanctuary.  That doesn't count the ten plus quarts of cucumbers I picked.

Well, this year, I only had one cucumber plant survive.  None grew outside of the garden.  So far only three, oddly shaped, small cucumbers grew this year.  But instead of an over-abundance of cucumbers, I wound up with dozens of cherry tomato plants.  

Yes, those are all cherry tomatoes.  Here's another angle.

But wait!  There's more!

About a fifth of the garden that exists inside the fence is also cherry tomatoes!  But there's more!

There's more growing along and through the slats of my deck!  Geez Louise...

Don't get me wrong.  I do like cherry tomatoes.  I hate picking them.  And now I have a million pounds of them to pick.  I have no clue how they took over the yard.  And it seems bizarre that none of the cucumber plants returned.  My garden grows how it wants.  I'm just here to do the weeding.

Here is the one lone cucumber plant.

Last year this time, I also had a slew of ripe tomatoes.  This year, they're only turning red now.  

I don't remember if these are cantaloupe or watermelon.  I'll find out eventually. 

I planted at least 12 bean seeds, and only one grew.

We already ate quite a bit of the early sprouting broccoli, but now it looks like it's actually growing heads of broccoli.  The rest of my brassicas were eaten by a teeny tiny bunny I've named Cornelius.  He doesn't appear to be growing at all.  He easily squeezes into the garden.  He's cute, but apparently also a jerk.  It is what it is, he needs to eat too I guess.

I use a spray of a half gallon of water, two tablespoons of Super Clean Neem Oil, two tablespoons of Dr. Bronner's Organic Sal Suds Liquid Cleaner and 10 drops of Essential Oils (I mix clove, rosemary, orange, and peppermint) to combat the whitefly problem.  It's been the only thing that works for me.  I've included affiliate links for the specific brands I use.

The peppers are starting to flower.  I grew a mix of hot peppers and bell peppers.  Don't ask me what kind of which plant is which.  I like to be surprised, or maybe I just keep bad records.

The eggplants are starting to flower.  Asian and Globe, I believe.

Either the bunnies or the groundhog ate almost all my peas.  I knew there was a reason I wanted to plant them inside the fenced in portion of the garden...  Hopefully, I'll remember next year.  While badly weeded, here are the carrots.

And the beets.

Chloe loves to go outside, but I strongly feel letting your cat roam about outside unsupervised is a crappy idea.  Do you know some moron cop in Alabama (that statement does not mean I hate all cops or I am anti-cop, I am specifically referring to one cop...why do I need that disclaimer...yeesh) told my mom that it's fine for people to abandon cats outside because they can survive, no problem.  Seriously?  Good Lord, all this technology and information at your fingertips yet people continue to be incredibly dumb.  Point is, I don't let her walk outside because they can be exposed to parasites and I have had enough worm issues with the cat we adopted from the shelter.  So instead.  I tell her I'm going outside, she runs into her crate, and I carry her around and talk to her.

I might wire tie the giant dog crate my dog destroyed and see if I can bring her outside and let her hang out in that.  Either way, it's nice to have the company.

So that's it, folks.  Other than the overabundance of cherry tomatoes, it's been a weird and not super successful gardening year.  Even my gigantic kale plants called it a day.  I started new ones recently.  Hopefully, it wasn't too late.  I'll keep you posted.  Hope you're all enjoying your summer.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Quickie Garden Tour - May 4, 2018

I am so far behind on my gardening tasks, I can't even begin to explain.  The weather was wonky, so I started all my seeds late.  My seedlings are still tiny.  I did sow some seeds outside: cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelon, three different types of bush beans, dill, parsley, and basil.  I thought my asparagus were all eaten by one of my outdoor critters, so I started 12 new ones.  Then yesterday, I had asparagus popping up!  Who knows what's going on.

The Rutgers Scarlet Strawberry Plants started coming up.  I planted them in three boxes last year.  One is now pretty full, the second has not so much and the third has nothing.  While they are good strawberries, they were hella expensive.  I'm going to get some regular ones at the garden center and put them in late too.

The pear tree went from barren to covered in leaves and flowers in three days.  Literally, three days.

The mint patch is overrun with some random weed, but there is still plenty of mint growing.  I've started the tedious process of pulling those weeds out so the mint has room to grow.

The Early Purple Sprouting Broccoli overwintered, but was covered in whiteflies and their irritating eggs.  I mixed a batch of non-toxic whitefly killer (recipe to follow, I just want to confirm that it works long term).  It did kill all the eggs and the leaves are shiny, healthy and bug-free.  Let's see if this is the cure for my whitefly problems.

This zucchini was the first of my seedlings to sprout and looked just beautiful.  Then I put it outside, and we went from beautiful weather to freezing and it hasn't held up too well.  I am trying to give it some extra attention and fingers crossed, it will survive.

This is the first year I didn't plant my peas on St. Patrick's Day.  But they seem to be doing fine nonetheless.  I planted carrots and beets in the boxes with them.  Hopefully, this year I'll remember to harvest them instead of letting them rot in the box like an idiot.

The rain barrels are set up.  I'm going to turn the blue barrel someone gave me into an overflow barrel.  More on that later.

So not much to show yet, but come back soon.  That whitefly killer spray looks like it could be a winner and I'll post it as soon as I'm sure.  Hope you're all enjoying the warmer weather. 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

What's Vegan at Jose Tejas?

Image result for jose tejas eat sign
Image was found on Google, when you click on it, it brings you to Goodies First blog post (go check it out, it's not a vegan post so it should be informative to omnivores) but the picture isn't on that blog, so I don't know...

Let me start by saying, there is no way to contact Jose Tejas via email, messenger, or even Twitter.  They have no contact information listed other the number for each store, if they do, I couldn't find it.  There is no corporate information listed anywhere.  They apparently are owned by Border Cafe, who also has no contact information listed anywhere.  It's the most bizarre thing...

So, I could not contact anyone at their corporate location to confirm anything and I didn't personally call my local Jose Tejas in Woodbridge, NJ because someone from my Vegans of Central Jersey group on Facebook already spoke to the manager at the Iselin, NJ location for 45 minutes.  Yes, 45 minutes.

New flash, if you think they're accommodating to vegans, then you have been sorely misinformed!

Here's the 411 posted with permission from the person who wrote the post:

The beans, rice and all the veggies they serve contain margarine with dairy.  (Yes, you can buy margarine without dairy, but they don't.  The one they use contains dairy.)

Their flour tortillas contain eggs.  (I know, bizarre, but true as per the manager.)

The corn tortillas are grilled on the same grills used to cook meat and cheese.

The corn chips are sometimes cooked in the same fryers they use to fry animal products.

The ONLY vegan options are salad, steamed veggies, salsa, and guacamole.

What makes this whole situation disturbing is that their staff has clearly not been trained on what is in the food they are serving and have been misinforming people for years.  At the very least, they should be trained on known dairy and eggs... Not knowing at least that basic information is irresponsible and possibly dangerous.

And before anyone who half-reads this points out they have a "vegetarian menu" not a "vegan menu" I understand that.  But if you ask specific questions to your server, they should absolutely be able to give you accurate information or get you the information you need.  Why all restaurants don't provide a menu notating common allergens is beyond me.

Now you know, just in time for Cinco de Mayo, stay far away from Jose Tejas if you're vegan...or if you have a dairy allergy.  If you're in Jersey, there are a million restaurants serving authentic Mexican food....go there! Or try out the handful of restaurants that offer vegan options like Johnny Tequila's which I haven't been to yet, but plan on going to check it out very soon!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Vegan Options at Six Flags Great Adventure

I emailed the Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ last year to find out why they don't have an allergen menu and what their vegan options are.  Remember, this response may not be relevant to your local Great Adventure theme park so I would contact them directly.  

Also, always ask to see the packaging of the food their serving (don't feel weird, I do it all the time and no one ever cares.  Plus most theme park attendants are teens and could seriously care less about showing you the package).  Let me add that the salt ingredients explanation came from me asking about their popcorn, which I always ask now that I know a lot of places add dairy to their salt.

"... we prefer our guest to ask any stand supervisor to see the ingredient list on the box to ensure there is none of the allergen they are looking for in the product. Sometimes products may be switched throughout the year and we want to ensure the guest is getting the most accurate and up to date information as possible. J

As far as Vegan options are concernred, we do offer Gardein Black Bean Burgers at Garden State Grill, Yum Yum Café and Go Fresh Café throughout the year. We also have Vegan Tenders available at Go Fresh Café (Yum Yum Café during Holiday in the Park).

The ingredients in our salt used in our products are:
Salt, Sodium Silicoaluminate, Dextrose, Potassium Iodide and Sodium Bicarbonate."

I will admit I was super surprised they had any vegan options!  I would double check the bread on the Gardein Burgers, a friend went and at that time the bun had dairy in it.  I know they now serve hummus and falafel, which is usually a safe bet for vegans.  There are also random salads, but nothing to write home about.  I really do wish they would make this whole process easier. 

To be honest, we usually leave around lunchtime so it's not an issue.  Or we just stop at Gloria Jean's at the Jackson Premium Outlet (lots of non-dairy milk options and baked goods, love that place) or Chipotle in Freehold.  Ocean Organics in Jackson also opened near the park.  We went right after they opened and everything was just okay.  Now that they've been up and running and have probably worked out any kinks, I'll definitely head back to give them another shot.

Non-vegan related word of advice, they're sticklers for not bringing bags or having things in your pockets at the beginning of the season.  By the middle to the end, they let you bring whatever you want.  But seriously...don't come carrying a bunch of crap.  I mean really, you're going on rides, where do you think you're putting all of that?  I bring my keys and my cards to get in.  That's literally all you need.  Stop being insane carrying ten bags.  And no're whipping around on roller coasters, it's going to hurt your ears or get flung off.  Common sense people...

Also, as a side-note, you cannot wait in line and then have your twenty person party join you when you get to the front.  That's line cutting.  I will call your ass out on that.  Just saying.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Vegan Options at Arooga's

Arooga's in opening up in a town close to me, and they have the Impossible Burger!  Exciting, right?  I know some people don't consider it vegan because the company that took part in animal testing.  You can find a pdf of their statement, The Agonizing Dilemma of Animal Testing" here.  But I shop at stores that sell animal products and animal-tested products, and most of my favorite vegan products are being bought out by non-vegan companies.  If I villanize them for what they did, wouldn't I be a hypocrite?

Back to why you're here.  When I checked out Arooga's menu, I noticed their Impossible Burger comes on a brioche bun, with (what I'm going to assume is) a non-vegan-friendly special sauce and American or Cheddar cheese.  The rest of the menu seemed pretty non-vegan-friendly too.  I couldn't find contact information on their site, so I tweeted them asking for one.  Radio silence.  Then I messaged my local chain on Facebook and they did respond with the following:

"The Impossible burger is vegan but the process in which we cook and prepare it makes it vegetarian only.  Our brioche bun has egg as well as our faux wings.  Our vegan options are limited to our salads with a few replacements."

Well, that's disappointing.  I'm uncertain who they think they're marketing this burger too.  Vegetarians don't normally eat eggs and if you're cutting back on red meat as per doctor's orders, then why is there not-so-heart-healthy items like cheese, mayo, and eggs?  Even getting back to the vegetarian aspect, there are eight items listed on their menu as "vegetarian", most of which contain eggs.  So unless you're an Ovo-Vegetarian (Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian if you're eating eggs and dairy, FYI)...yeah, that stuff is a no-go too.

I'm always baffled why these chains understand there is a demand for vegan items, but half-ass add them.  How hard would it be to make actual vegetarian or vegan food?  I'll steer clear of Arooga's until they can, at the very least, learn the definition of a vegetarian...

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Sweet Potato Soul, Bringing Vegan Soul Food Recipes to the Masses

Yes.  I know.  I already reviewed Sweet Potato Soul: 100 Easy Vegan Recipes for the Southern Flavors of Smoke, Sugar, Spice, and Soul book for Blogging for Books.  But I had to post a follow-up review because I'm obsessed with this cookbook.  

I have only a small smattering of soul food prior to going vegan.  Maybe.  Honestly, I'm not even sure.  I watch Sweet Potato Soul's youtube channel, which is fine, but too much music and stuff for me.  I'm old and ornery and I like things simple.  When I got this book, I was feeling kind of "eh" about it.  I'm used to Asian cooking, which involves 500 million ingredients.  Short ingredient lists always underwhelm me when I see them.  Which is stupid, since I love Chloe Coscarelli recipes and they have short ingredient lists and easy directions.  Who knows.  I'm clearly just insane.

I decided to try out some recipes in here.  I needed a change of pace from rice and pasta bowls, Chinese/Korean/Japanese/Thai, Sri Lankan and "American" style food like burgers and pizza.  A while back, I bought a ton of vital wheat gluten believing I'd make a ton of seitan, and then never did.  When I saw her two sausage recipes, I thought this was a good opportunity to use some of it up. 

Holy crap.  Both of these recipes were banging!  It was like Tofurky sausage but better (sorry Tofurky, I still love you).  Want the secret for really firm seitan sausages?  Buy pre-cut foil like this one Pop-Up Aluminum Foil Sheets and use a sushi mat to roll it tightly.  The box of pre-cut foil is the way to go because you don't have to struggle with trying to tear foil the right size, you can just whip out a sheet, and they're the perfect size for sausages.

I haven't had Red Beans and Rice in a million years. These were great.  There was a little pre-prep with the sausage and making the creole seasoning (which I still have plenty of even after making a lot of recipes from her book).  My beans were old and refused to cook completely.  I gave up and ate them anyway.  I might use the pressure cooker next time, these do take a while to cook.  Old, under cooked beans aside, this was an easy to make meal with deep, rich flavor.  Definitely worth the wait.

Jambalaya.  OMG.  What an easy weeknight one pot meal! And I love that she used jackfruit for something other than bbq "pulled pork" which is literally everywhere now.  You were supposed to use fresh parsley, but I used dried since fresh herbs die in my house in five minutes no matter what I do.

Low Country Grits was listed in the breakfast section.  While I have had grits with my breakfast at random diners over the years, to me this is a lunch/dinner meal. Never had grits?  You're missing out. They're so smooth and creamy. You'll want to lick your bowl at the end.  I really appreciate her random mix of veggies.  Chickpea and jackfruit in the jambalaya and zucchini, artichokes, and corn in the low country grits.  She uses things you think don't make sense, and wind up being perfect.

Her recipe for Oyster Mushroom Etouffee tastes like you're eating seafood.  I don't know how, but it tastes so much like seafood that you could fool a non-vegan.  No joke. Vegan magic, baby! I've only used oyster mushrooms as a faux fried chicken (which is awesome btw) but now I understand how they got their name.  It really is like biting into a cooked oyster or clam.  

Lentil Loaf with Oooh Mama Mushroom Gravy was something in between a meatloaf and a vegan holiday roast.  When she says to chop the nuts finely, she means finely...I wrote myself a note for next time.  And don't forget to add the breadcrumbs like I did, or you too will have to dump the whole thing out halfway through its cook time, mix them in, squish it back into the loaf pan again. Yeesh. If you're not a gravy making master like me, this is a great one to add to your repertoire.

Sorghum Cornmeal Waffles, or in my case Maple Syrup Cornmeal Waffles.  I was going to grow sorghum once upon a time.  Then I realized the enormity of work that goes into harvesting it and turning it into a syrup...and so here I am still buying maple syrup.  Anywho, they were crisp with a little crunch from the cornmeal.  They were just as good the next morning heated up in the toaster.

And there you have it.  Literally, every recipe in Sweet Potato Soul: 100 Easy Vegan Recipes for the Southern Flavors of Smoke, Sugar, Spice, and Soul has been a winner.  Clearly, delicious food can be made with simple ingredient lists and easy instructions, who knew?  If you love soul food or have never had it, this is a book you need to get.  If you don't care about soul food or vegan food, and you just like really good food, get this book.  If you want to stop spending a million dollars of plant-based sausages, go buy this book, and try out her seitan sausage recipes.  This book will remain in heavy rotation at my house from now on.  If you do pick it up, let me know what you think in the comments.

Monday, February 26, 2018

What's the Best Cookbook for New Vegans? (Part 1)

Chloe Coscarelli's books are the books I recommend to every new vegan. Her recipes are easy to make and consistently amazing.  Well, some are just okay, but nothing is ever bad.  Ever.  Some reviews confuse me because they knock her books for not being healthy.  FYI vegan doesn't automatically mean healthy.  If that's what you're looking for, then go look for someone who claims to make healthy vegan food, don't knock someone who doesn't.  I think her recipes are the ones that can convince non-vegans that vegan food is good because it tastes like the things they are used to eating.  Her books are my go-to, especially for desserts when I go to parties.

Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen is pretty pasta focused, but amazing.  You have to make the apple cake.  Takes 5 minutes to put together, with an amazing result. You can feed any of these recipes to a non-vegan or even someone lactose intolerant and they'd never believe these recipes weren't full of butter and cream.

Chloe's Vegan Desserts is an amazing collection of easy to make desserts.  The lemon poppy seed muffins are amazing! Don't be a cheap ass like me and use almond milk instead of a can of coconut milk, it really does make a difference.  Bake some vegan treats yourself for an eighth of what they cost at vegan bakeries.  Then with all that money you save, go buy her new book.

What's great about those two books is also great about Chloe Flavor, the recipes have minimal, easy-to-find ingredients and simple instructions.  Normally, I'm the type that wants a picture per recipe, but I don't mind that this doesn't have that.  I know her recipes are going to be good, so if my choices are more recipes or more pictures, I'll take more recipes.

So far I've made the French Toast, Sweet Tamale Cakes, and the Fiesta Mac & Cheese.  The French Toast was really good, using something similar to a crepe batter to coat the bread.  The tamale cakes were a little sweet to me, similar to cornbread.  But the siracha mayo you serve it with was banging!  I wasn't sure about the Fiesta Mac & Cheese, it did have a picture and it wasn't that pretty.  Even my daughter, who likes mac n' cheese any way she can get it, was unsure about this one.  The end result was so good! Full-flavored, rich and creamy, it reminded me Hamburger Helper sans dead cow.


WOULD I BUY IT?  Hell yes.  Bottom line, Chloe Coscarelli makes great food.  If you get to go to her restaurant, go, it's worth it.  In the meantime, go buy 
Chloe Flavor, and then go buy her other books.  These are the recipes that will convince your family and friends that vegans aren't sitting around eating nothing but salad, tofu, and Buddha bowls.  You can thank me later.

I received a free copy of this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.  There was no obligation to give a positive review, and if you read my blog, you know I'm a tell-it-like-it-is kind of girl.  I mean what I say and say what I mean, that holds true for my review.