@Ruby_Roth: Vegan Children’s Book Writer and Illustrator (and, Pet Portraitator)

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Anyone who knows me knows I was born a cartoonist. This is something that I can’t get rid of if I wanted to. Ever since I was a kid, I could draw. There was nothing more exciting to me as a 10-year-old than my mom buying me a ream of paper. A ream. That was like a million blank canvases to attack with my pencils and Sharpie markers.

Sharpie is the official marker of cartoonists and breast-signing rockstars.

I’ve said for years that when I “retire,” I would live on Cape Cod and illustrate children’s books for fun. I love kids and I love cartooning and I love Cape Cod … so, there you have it.

Flash forward a couple decades and my God-given talent for art translates into graphic design and a career. Meanwhile, especially with two little babies at home, I’m still a fan of children’s books and right now I am an admitted #fanman (the grown up version of #fanboy) over Ruby Roth. I blogged about her a while back.

Her style of drawing is so unique and magical and her vegan messaging is … relentless. She is gorgeous, intelligent, and talented and can go toe-to-toe with any media outlet accusing her of being too honest, and possibly morbid, in her writing.

Ruby tells it like it is. Animals are raped, tortured, and killed so kids can have a “Happy” Meal.

Want to see what I’m talking about? Watch this. The reporter in this introduction actually says, “… the kids hear the lines, then they repeat it and then they don’t want to eat meat.”

Um, yeah. That’s the point. Seriously, watch this now. The blog will wait. I have NO idea how Ruby keeps her cool.

il_570xN.743947785_9zoqOkay, this was a very long introduction to my surprise gift for Jen.

Jen is a cat person. In spite of the fact she is followed everywhere she goes by Kimchi (known by some as either “Shadow” or “Kiwi,”) our rescue vegan poodle mix, she’s still not a dog person; she’s a Kimchi person.

It was my encouragement that we got a dog and Jim at the SPCA hooked us up with the best little dog possible. Kimchi is great with the kids and is spoiled whenever Cooper eats (as more than half of what he eats ends up on the floor). Kimchi is a part of our family.

So, when I discovered that THE Ruby Roth does pet portraits … well, I had to have one (shown at top). He style translates beautifully into this arena and, since the portraits are of animals, it fits right into her vegan messaging.

Amazingly, yesterday, I also had the privilege to talk with Ruby over the phone and she is every bit as delightful as you’d imagine. Enter: #Fanman. She was so generous with her time to talk with me about her career, cartooning, children’s books, veganism, and the relentless media. As it turns out, we were both in Anaheim at the same time but didn’t know it (hoping to actually meet her in person soon).

I really can’t encourage you enough to get your own portrait done of your pet from Ruby. Support a true vegan!

This illustration of Kimchi is a surprise gift for Jen … who is only finding out about it by reading this blog post. Love you, Jen.

Go vegan.

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#MeatOut: A Vegan Curmudgeon’s Perspective

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Today is MeatOut 2015. One of these days where we encourage omnivores to set aside their bacon, put down their turkey, and give their beef a rest. Like its weekly counterpart, Meatless Mondays, I’m really not a fan.

Enter the Grumpy Vegan.

Sure, asking the masses to embrace veganism (a plant-based diet) for a day is a nice concept. Those who commit to it wake up and have toast (probably with butter), a bowl of cereal (most likely with dairy milk), and a cup of coffee with cream. Hardly vegan but they’ve only committed to no meat— good for them.

For. One. Day.

Big whoop. I am unimpressed. These same people have had countless meatless days in their lives and they never even knew it. Oatmeal with fruit and juice in the morning (not to mention they will eat as many eggs as they want today). A salad at lunch with a crust of bread and vegetable soup. Pasta with tomato sauce for dinner. This is a plant-based day and somehow having them say they are taking part in MeatOut …well, it’s meaningless.

If these same individuals actually cared about animals or the environment at all, they would stop the rape, torture, and ruthless killing of animals full time. They don’t. They haven’t made the connection or they simply don’t care. I really don’t want them on “my side.”

Guaranteed, tomorrow they will eat extra bacon. Order a meat lover’s pizza, and swallow down two dozen chicken wings because “they earned it” for what they endured. They will do all this in their leather sneakers and wool socks while adjusting their silk underwear.

Poor bastards. So glad they lived through today … tomorrow the animals won’t.

Go vegan.

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Miyoko’s Kitchen, Part Two: Cutting the Cheese

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Originally posted on BitterSweet:

Before embarking on a cheese-tasting journey, one must will themselves to forget everything previously assumed about the essential experience of vegan cheese. Erase those early memories of eating yellow-colored wax back in the early 90’s, concocting funky wallpaper paste in home kitchens during fits of DIY determination, and even the reasonably melted shreds smothering dairy-free pizzas today. Even as a cheese-lover in a previous life, the flavors contained in these small, simple packages are a step up from anything I had enjoyed as a child. With or without that frame of reference, I’ll spoil the suspense right here; anyone with taste buds would be impressed by these offerings.

As mentioned briefly in part one, the whole line of Miyoko’s Kitchen cheeses are cashew-based, seasoned, inoculated, and aged in different ways to create a whole rainbow of flavors. Most wheels are firm, sliceable numbers ideal for fancy cheese platters (or…

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PlantPure Nation: The truth is a stubborn thing …

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In my business I am so fortunate to work with like-minded clients. When I launched ThankTank Creative, there was risk associated with being so niche or targeted but I knew where my beliefs and passions resided and moved forward building an agency focused on veganism, social justice, and environmentally-conscious companies … and the risk has paid off.

All of our clients are on the same path as we are: working toward a better future and, in many cases, working toward a vegan (or, plant-based) future.

Late last year I was contacted by the producer of Forks Over Knives, arguably the most important documentary touting the benefits of a plant-based diet. John Corry, along with an amazing team of film professionals and Director Nelson Campbell (son of T. Colin Campbell) were working on a “follow up” film titled, “PlantPure Nation.” After talking with John and Nelson at length, I knew we had to work on this project and help bring the film’s message, and longer-term mission to the masses.

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Today this film’s Kickstarter campaign has launched. 

I could go on here with reasons why you should support this film but I urge you to watch the video attached to the campaign. No one can say it better than T. Colin and Nelson Campbell.

www.PlantPureNation.com/OurKickstarter

Please support the campaign (any dollar amount). Share the link. Share this image (above). Share this blog post and help bring this message to America and beyond. We can control our own health and our own health can be controlled by diet.

Go vegan.

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Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Spicy Mexican ChorizOats

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This recipe for Mexican-style chorizo made with gluten-free steel cut oats (vegan, soy free) was originally created for a contest that Bob’s Red Mill (a company I love) was conducting. Create your best recipe with steel cut oats. I thought this recipe would win based on the clever name alone: ChorizOats. Get it? It’s chorizo combined with oats. You probably didn’t need me to explain, huh?

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Anyway, it turned out amazing. It’s not unlike soy chorizo except that you use cooked steel cut oats (gluten-free) and therefore this is health food. Seriously, there is nothing wrong in this list of ingredients.

I brought a huge container to one of our local Tex-Mexican restaurants (Viva) and we spiced up the already vegan burritos with this delicious addition.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free Steel Cut Oats
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium green pepper, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed or finely chopped
  • 1 6 oz. can organic tomato paste
  • 3 T. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 T. (or more, depending on preference) favorite hot sauce
  • 2 T. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T. vegetable bouillon
  • 2 T. chili powder
  • 1 T. paprika
  • 1 T. smoked seasoning
  • 1 t. black pepper
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. cumin

Vegan sour cream (optional, depends on recipe but is worth every extra calorie. I prefer Tofutti brand), and vegan cheese (optional, but get your hands on some VioLife or Chao).

Cook Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free Steel Cut Oats according to package (1 cup oats, 3 cups water). Add vegetable bouillon just before adding oats and covering (will take 20 minutes to cook covered, stirring occasionally).

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In heated skillet, saute onions, pepper, and garlic in 1 T. olive oil (you can do this step oil-free if you’re one of those people) until soft, stir in tomato paste and lower heat. Add apple cider vinegar, hot sauce, cilantro and stir. Continue stirring over low heat for five minutes.

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Combine all dry ingredients in separate bowl and stir into tomato mixture and set aside.

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Once Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free Steel Cut Oats are done (can be left a little chewy) combine in large bowl with tomato mixture. You now have enough Chorizoats to fill six burritos, tacos, or quesadillas. The Chorizoats is also an excellent addition to vegan chili or cook further in medium heat frying pan and add as a healthy, spicy vegan pizza topping.

Go vegan.

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@BeyondMeat: Or, Beauty and The Beast

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I’ve been a fan of BeyondMeat pretty much since the beginning. In fact, certain people at BeyondMeat headquarters in California refer to me as “Superfan #1.” No idea if I am actually the first of their Superfans (formerly Brand Ambassadors) but I like to think I am. It gives me something to tell my mom so she can tell the girls at Mahjong and pretend she’s proud of me. 

This past weekend I flew to Anaheim to attend ExpoWest, the world’s largest natural products tradeshow. This is the one. 

In addition to meeting virtually every vegan ever, I got to visit all the companies I know and love since becoming vegan; including BeyondMeat. 

Last year their booth mimicked Taco Bell, this year they took on McDonalds. Topple the Golden Arch on its side and it makes a pretty sexy letter “B.” Last year they were releasing their beefy crumbles, this year it’s The Beast (burger) and breaded “chicken” fingers. Fast food fare. 

As I approached the booth and soaked in all the aromas that one would expect, I suddenly made eye contact with one of the BeyondMeat marketing team members, the beautiful Emily. 

We smiled. I was swept away by either her big brown eyes or by the fact I knew she was going to feed me. Either way, I heard angels. 

We chatted for a bit and I asked about Justin, another team member who I’ve known since coming on board. Justin is a dude. Probably the quintessential Californian but I can’t really say since this was only my second time setting foot in the state. 

We found him. Did some sort of handshake thing. Took this photo (above) and grabbed Josh, who will forever be known as “the man who put The Beast in me.”

Resting peacefully in a logo takeout tray was a wrapped mini burger (slider) alongside three breaded chicken strips (with a squirt of ketchup). I had been waiting months for this bite and it was about to happen. 

I heard angels. Again. I should have that checked out. 

The first bite of the beast was better than anything I could have imagined. If you’re still transitioning or you’re a vegan who craves a good burger. This is it. Firm and juicy. Slathered in ketchup. Resting in a soft slider roll. I could have eaten 50 of these little beasts (as an aside, the original Beast is BIG … haven’t had a chance to try it yet). Everything I miss about White Castle was in my hand and no one had to be killed to make it. 

Then I grabbed a chicken finger and dipped it into the ketchup. Crunchy. Juicy. A little bit of spice in the breading. Absolutely incredible. I ate all three and didn’t want it to end. Again, with the angels. 

I have to say in all honesty, I do wish the chicken fingers were gluten-free, I feel like this is a bit of a step back for the company since all their other offerings are GF. 

However … this little meal was a major highlight of the weekend and one I will cherish forever. Just like this photo of me and Justin that I am having blown up to poster size to hang over my desk. 

Go vegan. 

* In all fairness to my mom, she doesn’t play mahjong and she’s always been proud of me. Love you, Peg!

#ExpoWest: Great Expotations [#vegan #glutenfree #govegan #vegansatexpo]

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As I type this blog post I am on my way to Anaheim, California for ExpoWest, the world’s largest natural products tradeshow in the world. It’s so huge I mentioned that it’s the world’s largest twice. In fact, attendance to this one show is more than the entire population of Ithaca, New York (when all three colleges are in session). It’s so huge it has its own zip code. It’s so huge it can be seen from outer-space. It’s so huge that there are people still lost in the convention center from last year.

It’s huge.

And I have Great Expotations.

This is the show where all my favorite brands (and some newcomers) release their newest products. While this show covers everything from furniture to clothing, I am most interested in the newest foods being launched. With America finally “waking up” to the benefits of a whole-foods, plant-based diet, I am anxious to see how the leading food manufactures are going to embrace plant-based, vegan, non-GMO, and gluten-free products.

And make them taste amazing.

The time is now. With book’s like The Campbell Plan coming out (based on The China Study) and the new film “PlantPure Nation,” the United States has reached its tipping point and ExpoWest is where many companies either incorporate this direction into their offerings; or, they ultimately fail.

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As I browse the listings for which companies I want to visit (of which there are over 2,500), taste a sample, and eventually review/blog about them, I am limiting my list to vegan companies first (and hoping they recognize that certifying their foods gluten-free is the next logical step) and no other companies second.

These aren’t food trends. Plant-based, whole-foods, are the only way we are going to save ourselves and the planet. We cannot continue on the track we are on, where the average adult male is prescribed expensive medications instead of a healthy diet … let food be thy medicine.

The tide’s are turning. Vegan options are showing up everywhere. When you can control your health through what you eat, isn’t this the most obvious path to take for a long and healthy life?

Of course, during ExpoWest, I am probably going to eat my weight in potato chips.

Go vegan.

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MeatyVegan note: Animals (and their excretions) are not food.

Wild, Wild West – ExpoWest 2015

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This morning when I woke up the air temperature in Ithaca, New York was -20° F. This was the actual temperature, not the wind chill or “feels like.” This was it. The nose-hair-freezing, finger-numbing, water-bottle-in-your-car-exploding, actual temperature. So, I thought it was the perfect time to blog about my upcoming trip to California!

Go west, young vegan.

ExpoWest, held from March 6-8th in Anaheim, California, has called my name. In addition to soaking up some much-needed sun (even if it’s only 50° there … that is still 70° warmer than where I am now), I am honored to be working with the team at Miyoko’s Kitchen on expanding their already very successful vegan cheese company into a broader wholesale market. While most of my time will be spent there, I am also going to finally meet some of my other contacts established over the years since starting this blog.

Specifically (and I hope I am not leaving anyone out), I am thrilled to meet my friends from VioLife who are using ExpoWest as a launching pad to finally bring their amazing products to America (from Greece). Over the past two years I have built such a valuable relationship with this company and am so looking forward to meeting face-to-face. If you’re going to ExpoWest, I highly recommend you to visit their booth and sample their products.

I also can’t wait to meet Justin and Emily from BeyondMeat! I’ve been a Brand Ambassador for over two years (although I think they call them Super Fans now) and I’ve been such a huge (super) fan of all their products. Last year they exhibited with an actual full-scale Taco Bell restaurant as their tradeshow booth so I can’t wait to see what they’ve come up with this year!

Other companies on my “must-see” list are also the companies that have been with me every step of the way toward my transition to veganism:

… and … there are no words that can describe the anticipation I am feeling about finally meeting, in person, so many of my fellow vegan bloggers (ironically, some of these first meetings are going to be with east coasters):

First timer like me? Then you have to download the “Insider’s Guide to Natural Products Expo” from the wonderful Whitney Lauritsen, aka Eco-Vegan Gal. This is the complete guide to the Expo. Written by a seasoned expert, Whitney has attended for nine years and provides “all you need to know … Expo.” Judging by the size of this event, we can all learn a thing or two (or ten or twenty, if you’re me) from this new e-book.

There are also business meeting, contacts, and connections I will make while there (which is actually the point of the trip). And, of course …

Food. Endless and endless amounts of food to sample. I do think it’s kid of ironic that everyone I know is SO excited to go to a natural products expo … only to load up on junk food.

I don’t think anyone is going to try apples.

Are you going? Comment here or send me an email … would love to meet up with other Expo-pros or newcomers — like me!

Go vegan.

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Organ Lickin’ Good!

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I have to laugh when I read articles like this one in Time Magazine today: “Teen Found a Chicken Organ in His KFC Order.” Of course I can laugh, I have the privilege of being vegan so this will never happen to me. However, I laugh more thinking about this kid, and probably thousands more around the world, who find a dead body part in their fast food lunch or dinner order … which, ultimately, contains dead body parts.

That poor woman who was horrified finding a chicken foot shrink-wrapped in the chicken breast packaging at her local grocer. You know … that shrink-wrapped packaging that was keeping dead body parts fresh long enough to bring home in time to cook? Well, that very same package contained dead body parts.

The disconnect still baffles me.

Sure, it is disgusting. Consider that other unfortunate woman who found a fully-fried chicken head in with her … um, fried chicken body parts? Not sure what she was expecting when she ordered it but the chances of finding a dead animal in your order of fried dead animal is pretty high. That’s no Happy Meal … for anyone.

Well, today’s Time Magazine article concluded with:

Cobarubies (the victim) says he eventually heard from a KFC official, who said that the organ was probably a gizzard or kidney and was completely edible. Still, the episode may deter the teen from visiting KFC again soon. “I’m probably just going to have to start packing my own meals, making my own sandwiches,” he said.

Sandwiches, which, I am pretty sure have a 100% chance of containing dead body parts.

Go vegan.

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“Most Vegans I Know …” ~ Guest Blog Post

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Guest Blog Post by Jen

Most vegans I know are introspective and give deep meaningful thought to how their actions and choices affect others and our planet. Most vegans I know think critically about social, political, and economic disparities. Most vegans I know are trying to live an ethical and moral life and help others along the way. Most vegans I know are concerned about the health and well-being of themselves and their loved ones. Most vegans I know are nonviolent folks who wouldn’t want to permanently and severely damage or kill other people, including innocent babies.

Most vegans I know wouldn’t drink and drive, endangering their lives and others, even though it’s their personal choice to drink. Most vegans I know have a visceral reaction to the unnecessary suffering of animals and also don’t like the thought of seeing their fellow humans suffer. Most vegans I know wouldn’t visit an oncology ward with even a head cold knowing a simple cold to someone with a compromised immune system could give them pneumonia. Most vegans I know don’t exercise their constitutional right to bear arms thereby making it impossible for them to accidentally shoot other people, even though it would be their personal choice to own a gun. Most vegans I know are loving and compassionate and I’m fortunate to have them in my life.

Most vegans I know are anti-vaxxers because vaccines are not vegan.

And yet it is indisputably the fault of anti-vaxxers that we are seeing a serious, highly contagious and potentially deadly disease reemerge in this country of wealth and privilege and education and freedom. Most vegans I know, my friends, wouldn’t want my baby to suffer brain damage or blindness or deafness or even death. Yet their very presence in a room with my daughter could kill her. Most vegans I know want to do the right thing for themselves, their families, their friends, and for the good of public health.

Most vegans I know strive for an organic lifestyle free of toxins, yet most vegans I know breathe air (polluted with toxins), drink water (polluted with sterilizing chemicals), eat out at non-organic restaurants, touch plastics, wear non-organic cotton, buy clothes and use iPhones and droids and computers made halfway around the world in sweatshops, use unsustainable energy, drive cars, fly in airplanes, and generally leave a carbon footprint everyday despite recycling efforts, water conservation, and being vegan. Most vegans I know believe in the science of climate change, the science of nutrition, and science in general, but choose to deny the science of vaccines. Most vegans I know aren’t perfect people, but they’re doing the best they can.

Please vegans, vaccinate your kids. Save lives. Do what you say you are all about: compassion, nonviolence, love for all living beings which includes doing your part to not kill babies and those who cannot get vaccinated because of weakened immune systems. Your emotional politics are making people suffer unnecessarily and we will start seeing deaths in this country as a direct result of your in-action. The time to vaccinate is now. You won’t be any less-vegan, less-pure, less-organic for doing so. We can save lives together while at the same time advocating for veganism.

Jen is a mother of 2 under 2, an ethical vegan, a social justice educator, a public health advocate and a pro-vaxxer.

Go Vegan (and vaccinate).

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Vegan Protesters Shut Down Oklahoma Production of Hamlet

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[Center City, OK] A Center City production of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet was shut down amid disruptive protests by members of the Oklahoma Vegans United March (OVUM). The play is scheduled to begin again on February 2nd, pending repairs required to the damaged set and costumes.

“The performance had just resumed from intermission,” said Derrick Longfellow, an Oklahoma actor who is overacting in the role of King Claudius. “I was about to exit stage left when we were attacked by a group of exceptionally angry, and dreadfully frightening, vegans. I was terribly distraught. Will you require a headshot for this?”

According to the Center City Police report, OVUM, “needed the community to understand that pigs are sentient beings and that any reference to ham or pork should carry with it a level of accountability.” The report continued to mention that OVUM will be charged $350 for repairs required to a theater backdrop and for rips sustained to Gertrude’s gown.

Vegans abstain from consuming or using any products derived from animals and “… have been known for creating a ruckus around these parts and shoving their ridiculous beliefs down the throats of the ‘Merican general public,” Officer Wainright added during the county’s weekly press conference. “It’s as if they think animals aren’t food.”

An online statement from OVUM also claimed responsibility for recent attacks on area BBQ restaurants and for a recent string of prank calls to Hollywood actor Kevin Bacon.

Go vegan.

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Ivy League Vegan Conference: @Cornell University

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For the past three years the Ivy League Vegan Conference has moved from one Ivy League University to the next (Princeton … Yale … UPenn) and now, in the event’s fourth year, it’s landing in my backyard: Cornell University (Ithaca, New York).

This one-day event feature speakers, special vegan dining options (by our favorite Chef Tony), a vegan career fair, and tabling for vegan companies and organizations (like www.ThankTankCreative.com). In fact, ThankTank Creative is assisting with marketing the event as well as taking event photographs (these photos in this post are by ThankTank Creative).

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There are numerous reasons this event will be a huge success. Cornell Dining has been ranked very high for vegan offerings; Ithaca, NY, ranks very high for being “vegan friendly”; and this year’s keynote speaker is none other than T. Colin Campbell, leading plant-based nutrition scientist and co-author of The China Study.

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How do you top all this? How about a talk by vegan chef and cheese genius Miyoko Schinner (of Miyokos Kitchen). She is traveling from (warm and) beautiful Fairfax, California to talk about the changing times she has personally witnessed for vegan businesses since starting her first vegan business back in the 80’s.

Ever dreamed of starting your own vegan business? Miyoko Schinner shares an insider’s perspective on launching vegan companies, including her artisan vegan cheese company Miyoko’s Kitchen, and explores where they are headed and how they impact the world.

Other speakers include: Dr. Gary Wu, Master Chef James Corwell, Amber George, Vlad Chituc, Sherry Colb, and Michael Dorf (Sherry and Mike are close friends and professors at Cornell). This event is open to the public (costs less than $15 … which is amazing) and open to non-vegans and vegan-curious. Registration can be done online, here … hope to see you there!

Go Vegan.

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“We’re Vegan” by Anna Bean “… this season’s must read children’s book!”

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This past Christmas was the best. All three of my kids were very excited to see what Santa brought and both sides of the family got to spend time together. We had Christmas morning at our house (complete with two gluten-free, vegan quiches) and Christmas Day at my mom’s (complete with a bathtub full of my vegan gravy). What more could you want for the holidays?

Maybe a wonderful new vegan book for the kids (and, as it turns out, the grown ups, too). Santa delivered!

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We’re Vegan (2013) by Anna Bean (drawings by Andere Andrea Petrlink/Shutterstock) is the best children’s book I’ve read about veganism since Ruby Roth’s Vegan is Love. Bright, beautiful illustrations and the the perfect amount of prose to inform and entertain; touching on all the key points of being vegan.

I recently had an opportunity to talk with the author about her book and ask her what she wanted readers to get from it.

“I want readers to gain an understanding of what veganism is – that it is not merely a diet or a lifestyle, but a philosophy based on the values of compassion and justice, and seeks to end ALL animal use,” Anna said. “I want children (and adults too, of course) to understand that there is another way to live, without relying on the use and abuse of animals. I’ve tried to explain this in a way that a small child can understand.”

While I agree that the writing is perfect for small children, I really think the writing is also perfect for large adults. As an ethical vegan I am constantly asked the usual “why” and “how” questions and Anna’s book answers them in a very approachable and thoughtful way. This book is for everyone who ever wondered what it means to be vegan.

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Anna went on to say, “The book kind of just “arrived” in my head one day! I’ve been a vegan for over 30 years but have only just started writing children’s books. I will be releasing another one soon.”

IMG_1129“Ever since I was a small child I wanted to dedicate my life to helping animals, and eventually I worked out that rather than be a vet (my initial career choice) the best way I could help animals is to be vegan and to promote veganism. I am so grateful that now there are many others who share this view and are working together to end the use and abuse of animals by humans,” Anna concluded.

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You can purchase We’re Vegan here (it also has been translated and is available in a variety of languages). All proceeds from the sale go towards feeding rescued animals.

Go vegan.

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