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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@Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret to Screen in #Ithaca

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 COWSPIRACY: the Sustainability Secret,” the documentary uncovering the immense environemental impact of large-scale factory farming, to Screen in Ithaca, NY in October …

Cornell University Vegan Society and ThankTank Creative Present

[ITHACA, NY] Cornell University Vegan Society and ThankTank Creative present a limited screening of the controversial documentary “COWSPIRACY: the Sustainability Secret” on Thursday, October 23, 2014 at 7:30 PM at Regal Ithaca Mall Stadium 14. Reserved seating tickets are currently available and recommended.

“COWSPIRACY: the Sustainability Secret” is a groundbreaking feature-length environmental documentary following an intrepid filmmaker as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today – and investigates why the world’s leading environmental organizations are too afraid to talk about it. As eye-opening as “Blackfish” and as inspiring as “An Inconvenient Truth,” this shocking yet humorous documentary reveals the absolutely devastating environmental impact large-scale factory farming has on our planet.

“This is an important film for everyone to see,” said Eric C Lindstrom, President of ThankTank Creative. “Every few years a documentary comes along that everyone who cares about this planet needs to see, this is one of those documentaries.”

“COWSPIRACY: the Sustainability Secret” has been screening across the world since its release and this limited engagement screening at Regal Ithaca Mall Stadium 14 provides the Finger Lakes Region an opportunity to learn more about the environmental impact of large-scale factory farming around the world.

For more information visit and to reserve your seats, www.tugg.com.

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Pumpkin Hill Bistro: 30 Minutes from Ithaca but a Million Miles Away

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Drive up Route 34 to Route 90 toward Aurora, NY, and you’ll pass two exceptional wineries as you come up on a bistro unlike anything you can experience anywhere else. Pumpkin Hill Bistro and Vineyard, a 30-minute drive from Cornell Campus is situated on a grassy hill and vineyard overlooking Cayuga Lake. The old farmhouse is welcoming with its outdoor, indoor, upstairs and downstairs seating.

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Jen decided to take us there for the first time for a very special occasion … it was Sunday and we were hungry and wanted to try something new. She called ahead and found out that the Executive Chef, Cookie, would accommodate our gluten-free and vegan diet. And she did. She really did.

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Our meal was comprised of a starter of hummus and olive tapenade with homemade fresh out of the oven gluten-free vegan toasted bread triangles. This was one of those moments when I asked the server 5-6 times if they knew what gluten-free vegan meant … because this bread was that good.

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I ordered a black cup of coffee that was also delicious and our main course consisted of black bean burgers stacked high with vegetables on Cookie’s homemade gluten-free vegan buns that were so good … I had to ask the server 5-6 times again if she knew what “gluten-free vegan” meant. She did.

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The entire meal was fantastic. Truly beyond anything we could ever get in Ithaca (which is known for its amazing restaurants for omnivores). Besides the ambiance, the flavors, the company, and the location … what made this trip so special and this meal so memorable was, Cookie.

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She takes such pride in what she is preparing. She later mentioned to us that she believes everyone should enjoy what they are eating and not be limited by what they can/not eat. She is what every chef should be … passionate about her food and focused on the patrons.

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The entire day was so great, we vowed to return and return we did. Calling the morning before we left lets Cookie know to pre-make the gluten-free vegan rolls and to let the servers know we’re coming. We asked her to make extra rolls this time so we could bring a half dozen home. This time I ordered the grilled portobello burger and a side of rosemary-infused gluten-free pasta and Jen got the black bean burger again with homemade kettle chips. All of it was so good. I also love that these vegan burgers are served with a steak knife and homemade vegan mayo.  Every item offered on the menu is made from scratch.

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The meal was just as delicious on our second visit and the waitstaff just as attentive. There are very few restaurants we have visited that are this accommodating and generous with their time. While Ithaca may boast an incredible diversity of dining options for omnivores, we were hard-pressed to think of one place that would put this much effort into two (and a half) gluten-free vegan patrons. I cannot recommend Pumpkin Hill Bistro and Vineyard enough.

One other important thing to note: the owner is vegan. Boom.

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We’ll go back.

Go vegan.

DFMavens. Why Does Everything Amazing Come from Queens, NY?

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Earlier this year there was some buzz on Cornell campus by the Cornell Vegan Society about this “new” vegan ice cream’s availability at a few locations around the university. I shrugged it off thinking this would be “just another dairy-free dessert” and didn’t really make it a priority to try it. The dairy-free frozen dessert I’m referring to is DF Mavens and it’s probably a good thing I didn’t discover it months ago since that would be been another 5-10 quarts I would have consumed since then.

It’s pretty amazing.

We were lucky enough to buy a variety of flavors at the Ivy Room and sample each and eventually devour them. From their Madagascar Vanilla Bean to their New Orleans Salted Praline to my personal favorite, the Mint Almond Cookie. We took home 5-6 quarts and some minis and have been getting fatter by the minute. You can browse all their offerings on their beautiful website.

And, with the variety of varieties they offer ranging from soy to coconut, to no sugar and almond, they also cover all the common allergens so that everyone on the planet can enjoy their desserts. This is very important to the future of our planet, after all.

Something else amazing about this company? They give back. A portion of their proceeds goes to Mercy for Animals, so you know this company backs up what they believe in.

But what’s most exciting about DF Mavens? It’s comes from New York. As in, New York City. As in, the borough of Queens. Which, as it turns out … is also where I come from.

A little meaty vegan to be in Queens, NY (1969)

This is me in 1969 in Queens Village at my second birthday with my Nana, my mom, and my big sister who also blogs about being vegan. Our little sister is inside my mom and would make an appearance in August of that year.

If only DF Mavens were around back then, it would have gone great with that cake!

Go vegan.

Kimchi, Our Vegan Dog

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Kimchi, our poodle mix recently got her hair cut in time for a recent 80° day. The following day it snowed and was 20° and she needed a sweater. Welcome to an Ithaca spring.

When we went vegan we decided we would do what we could to have our companion animal vegan as well. In addition to loving her vegan dry dog food, she loves kale, bananas, apples, and gluten-free waffles. Pretty much everything every vegan eats.

Dogs are natural omnivores and can thrive on a plant-based diet just as easily as humans. All the required nutrition she needs can be found in plants and she has boundless energy can can jump at least four feet straight up in the air.

Kimchi was adopted three years ago from the Tompkins County SPCA, one of the nation’s premier no-kill shelters. When I started learning more about SPCA and no-kill facilities, it also happened to be the time that Nathan Winograd was the Director. He has since moved to California and continues to be a prominent voice in animal rights and celebrated author.

“Millions of healthy animals are [killed] in shelters every year. Nathan Winograd wants that reduced to zero … Winograd is helping to save thousands, even millions.” – Reader’s Digest

Kimchi would have loved Nathan (and she loves, Jim, the current director who helped place her in our home). In addition to barking whenever someone walks into a shared hallway, Kimchi loves to frolic across all of Cornell University and is friends with all the other dogs on West Campus. Duncan, Pepper, Molly, and others love to spend time with Kimchi and are constantly asking her where she gets her protein.

She ignores them.

Go vegan.

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Who Wants: Gluten-free Vegan Steamy Stretchy Homemade Bready Goodness?

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On Jen’s request this weekend I made a loaf of my gluten-free, vegan bread. This also gave me the opportunity to portion out the ingredients for testing since this is the bread that I am taking to market and last night’s loaf is a testament to it’s steamy, stretchy, yeasty goodness that I know those living wheat-free will love.

IMG_5812I put aside all the dry ingredients, and one yeast package, with hand-written instructions for a newly-diagnosed Celiac I know who works at Cornell University. She is going to test my recipe for ease of preparation and to see if this satisfies the one major craving most wheat-free individuals are seeking: really good bread.

IMG_5818This loaf turned out particularly good and we couldn’t wait for it to cool before slicing into it. I always (after learning the hard way) check the center temperature of a loaf of bread (205°) for doneness. Tapping on the bottom is for the real experts, sticking a thermometer into the middle … well, that guarantees success every time.

IMG_5820This is the kind of real bread that makes people who are gluten-free ask a few times, “are you sure this is gluten-free?”

IMG_5827When these initial test results come back, I will price out all the ingredients, create some stunning packaging, and offer it to the masses. All you will need on your end is a mixer (standing preferred), 4 X 8 loaf pan, 1 1/2 cups of warm water, and 3 T of olive oil. Oh, and an oven.

IMG_5833With last night’s loaf I made another VioLife grilled cheese sandwich (this time with their Olive Oil flavor). I know I am prone to be hyperbolic, but this was the best grilled cheese I ever had. I later followed it up with a piece of toast topped with Manna Organics’ Coconut Cashew Butter. Delicious!

Think you’d like to purchase this gluten-free, vegan bread for yourself? Fill out this form and I will put you on my list to let you know when it’s ready to go!

Go vegan.

A Vegan Korean and Koko

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Jen was born in Seoul and spent some years in Korea teaching English. Since knowing her, I have come to truly appreciate the delicious differences in Korean cuisine over every other cuisine and, especially, over other Asian foods.

One of our regular places to eat is a small restaurant near Cornell University called Koko. We ate there before becoming vegan and they were always very accommodating with Jen’s vegetarianism, and they are just as accommodating with our vegan requirements. If all the area restaurants took their same approach to customer service, vegans could dine anywhere.

Traditional Korean dishes, especially barbecue, center around meat or fish. Even some dishes, like kimchi, may contain fish sauce and other non-vegan ingredients.

At Koko, we have our usual items (shown) but the staff and kitchen crew are always willing to adjust items as needed.

We will always order soon dubu chigae, a very spicy soft tofu soup that comes with rice. And, while we may have to pass on their kimchi (I plan on publishing my vegan kimchi recipe here), they are always generous with other Korean vegan side dishes to round out the meal. Most times, we will also order duk boki, rice cakes swimming in a spicy sweet sauce with onions and peppers. Even on the hottest days, this meal is satisfying and filling; without ever making you feel stuffed. Koko also offers dol sot bi bim bop, in a hot stone bowl. This is a blend of vegetables and tofu over rice (obviously, ordered without the egg).

Whenever we travel (including a recent trip to Paris) we always find one or two Korean restaurants to try.  What’s your favorite?