Katzentempel: Germany’s first cat café

During my trip to Germany this past summer, I got to visit Café Katzentempel, Germany’s first cat café. What made this place extra special was the 100% vegan menu.

menus

Katzentempel (Cat Temple) is a wonderful café and restaurant in Munich. Students from the nearby university sipped on cappuccinos worked on laptops, while at other tables, groups dined on delicious vegan fare.

The food was ganz lecker (totally delicious) but the cats stole the show. Six rescued resident cats made themselves at home in the café.

Balou

Gizmo

Even the artwork was cat-themed.

cat art

I liked that the cats’ wellbeing was paramount. No flash photography and no manhandling of the cats allowed. Of course, we were lucky and some of the cats visited us. On their terms, of course—as cats prefer.

Jack naps

Ayla rests after a drink

Robin on his perch

Sleepy Saphira

I was lucky that one of the café owners was there so I learned firsthand about how the café was created. Thomas Leidner came from the world of finance but wanted to do something completely different. An ethical vegan, he knew the cats would be a huge draw, and would help him reach more people with delicious vegan food. He’s helping people improve their relationships with animals in more than one way!

Thomas and friends

Balou sees an opening on the calendar. Next time you’re in Munich, stop by—the cats will be waiting for you!

Balou and calendar

Vegan Philadelphia

I got to spend the 4th of July weekend in the City of Brotherly Love. My friend Donna and I enjoyed all the city had to offer: shopping, art, American history, and of course, food.

Philly is a great city to be vegan. We tried a few different vegan restaurants and found vegan options at omni restaurants. People knew what vegan was and were happy to accommodate me. Here’s the rundown:

Blackbird Pizzeria is a small, all-vegan casual dining environment. Order at the counter and your food will be brought to the table. I didn’t have a chance to try their pizza because I had a vegan Philly cheesesteak and the hottest seitan wings I’ve ever had. This meal was delicious! The cheesesteak was seitan-based too, making this a gluten-licious meal. The wings had a cool dipping sauce that redeemed me after every scorching bite.

blackbird pizzeria

Vedge is the opposite of Blackbird. A vegan fine dining experience, reservations recommended. The plates were small and artistic, making it perfect to try a starter, hot course, and side. I didn’t have a lot of room for dessert, but I ordered one anyway. We had soup, salad, golden beets, grilled tofu, Brussels sprouts, and cheesecake. Their cocktails are beautiful and refreshing.

vedge

Charlie was a Sinner is a dimly-lit fancy vegan bar. Small plates are great to nibble on while enjoying a cocktail. The kitchen is open late. I wasn’t too hungry at midnight, but I tried the crab cakes anyway.

crab cakes

At El Vez, the waiter helped me pick out tacos that I could veganize. It’s worth a stop at this restaurant for their house-made guac alone. The frozen cocktails are an added bonus.

tacos

The menu at Fuel proudly states that all salads and entrees can be made vegan, so that’s what I did. I had a healthy sandwich with tofu and tons of veggies. It was flavorful and healthy.

sandwich

While exploring the city, we grabbed quick meals here and there. It seemed like every place had at least a veggie burger—even the burger stand in Franklin Park!

veggie burger

The avocado toast with gazpacho and salad that we ate on the patio of a cute sandwich shop was a nice treat on a hot day.

toast and soup

We didn’t get a chance to try Hip City Veg or V Street, so I have at least two more reasons to go back to Philly.

Also, those wings!

Vegan Thanksgiving options

Being vegan doesn’t mean you have to give up Thanksgiving. In fact, a big portion of the dinner is probably vegan–or could easily be made vegan. As for the turkey? Swap out the carcass with a delicious vegan loaf!

When I think of Thanksgiving, I think of sharing precious time with family and friends. There’s no better way to show people how easy and delicious being vegan is. And if you can share your vegan food with others, they’ll know so much more about how to be vegan.

Here are some options for the holiday:

Host a dinner

Having dinner at your place guarantees you can make it an all-vegan meal and show others the joy of eating cruelty-free.

Mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, dinner rolls, soup, sweet potatoes, stuffing, and pumpkin pie are all dishes that are vegan or easily can be. Substitute butter and milk with dairy-free options and you’re set. You can find lots of vegan recipes online–even for things like gravy.

 

Field Roast, made from seitan (a wheat protein), and Tofurkey (made from soy beans), make delicious prepackaged loaves that easily take the place of a turkey on the table. Doing an online search for “vegan turkey loaf” will return great recipes for a DIY version.

Attend a dinner

There are two types of dinners I’ve attended. My favorite are ones hosted by vegans. I get to try all the food, and I get to spend time with like-minded people.

Attending a dinner with people who aren’t vegan is a great opportunity to bring a dish and show people you can still enjoy holidays and that vegan food is awesome! If being around a murdered turkey is too disturbing, plan to arrive for dessert–with your favorite vegan sweets!

Go to a vegan restaurant

Sometimes vegan restaurants will offer a Thanksgiving meal. You’ll likely have to make reservations in advance, but it will be worth it. It’s also a great chance to take friends who still eat meat and show them vegan options.

 

starter

No matter how you plan to celebrate the holiday, have fun, be safe, and enjoy the vegan food!

 

Hoot for Chimps

I recently attended Hoot, benefit gala for the residents who live at Chimpanzee Sanctuary NW. The gala was at Bell Harbor, an event space on Alaska Way in Seattle, with views of Puget Sound. What a wonderful excuse to dress up!

My husband and I started the evening by buying raffle tickets from our friends Carol and Rachel, who were volunteering at the event.

raffle

We listened to a live band while perusing the auction items and learning about the chimps’ interests and habits at interactive stations. I visited all seven stations and had my chimp passport stamped so I could enter a drawing.

At the stations we learned about Foxie’s love of troll dolls. That Jodie likes to make nests out of blankets. Jamie is the boss. Burrito loves food. Negra is besties with Burrito. Missy loves playing chase. Annie likes to wrestle.

Friends of ours bought a table’s worth of tickets so we could all sit together. In exchange for their generosity, and instead of paying them back, they asked only that we spend money at the gala. Done and done!

I bid on several items at the silent auction and won a Lush gift certificate and a gift certificate for Café Flora. During the live auction, which happened during dinner, I won a two nights’ stay at Someday Farm vegan B&B! I can’t wait to go.

Speaking of dinner, the all-vegan feast was scrumptious. I was happy that there weren’t meat dishes. People helping some animals by eating others doesn’t make sense to me. Chimpanzee Sanctuary NW got it right. We ate a wonderful tomato salad, lasagna, and best of all, cake from Violet Sweet Shoppe.

vegan dinner

Dessert was offered in a contest of sorts. The table that pledged the most money got to pick first. There were 20 tables and 20 cakes. We were 10th in line, and we got our peanut butter chocolate cake! But honestly, you can’t go wrong with anything Violet Sweet Shoppe makes.

Violet Sweet Shoppe's vegan cakes

The entire evening was smoothly run. There were lots of opportunities to contribute, but it was all fun, and never felt like a sales pitch. The wine was flowing, which I think was an effective way for people to loosen their purse strings! When all was said and done, we raised $179,000.

It’s important to remember that the evening was about seven wonderful animals who suffered for decades as research test subjects. I wrote about them in an earlier post. Please read their stories. The least we can do is provide some semblance of normalcy in their golden years. Humans made their lives a living hell and we owe it to them to give them the best lives possible. The gala raised a lot of money for the chimps, but with voracious appetites and regular vet needs, running the sanctuary is expensive. If you can, please make a donation. The gala is over for this year but the bills won’t stop coming in.

Nacho time!

Why haven’t I made vegan nachos before? This meal wasn’t even planned, but you can bet I’ll make it again.

I had company last weekend and was left with an abundance of tortilla chips. I “lamented” to a coworker today that I had too many chips. He said, “why not make nachos?” Best idea ever!

vegan nachos

And by a stroke of luck, I had all the ingredients I needed for my 8-layer nachos:

  • Tortilla chips
  • Pico de gallo salsa (mine was store-bought but you can make your own)
  • Daiya vegan cheese shreds
  • Vegan ground “beef” (I used Tofurky Chorizo style)
  • 1 avocado, mashed
  • 1 tomato, diced

Place a layer of tortillas on a plate, sprinkle tomatoes over them. Add a layer of ground “beef” and top with Daiya shreds. Add another layer of chips, sprinkle with salsa or pico de gallo, add a layer of ground “beef” and top with Daiya.

Microwave for 1.5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Use avocado as a dip.

I made individual portions, but you could make one platter and serve as a side dish. You could also stick a load of these in the oven and bake them. They’d be perfect for book club or watching the game.

This would be great with other things on it as well, like green peppers or black olives. Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream would be a nice, cool dip.

You can’t go wrong with nachos. Super easy and delicious!

nachos for dinner

Simple ravioli lunch

Ravioli is a delightful food. Little pockets stuffed with yummy goodness. A lot of times, though, ravioli is filled with meat or cheese. Boo! That’s not good at all. I made this meal with Rising Moon vegan ravioli. It’s stuffed with butternut squash. Mmm. So delicious!

ravioli

Rising Moon Organics is a Portland-based vegetarian pasta company. They’re not all vegan, so check the package before you buy. Luckily, they do carry several flavors of vegan ravioli, including spinach, veggie, and garlic-herb. They also offer vegan lasagna and manicotti.

I found this package at my local Whole Foods, in the refrigerated section.

I topped my ravioli with a garlic and Merlot red sauce, also from Rising Moon, and paired it with a delightful Washington Riesling.

Beyond Meat: Chicken-free strips

I spiced things up in the kitchen recently with Southwest style chicken-free strips by Beyond Meat.

I first learned about this company when I read a blog post about the future of food by Bill Gates. Gates is financially backing Beyond Meat, in part because he recognizes that increasing meat consumption is bad for the environment. The global population is growing, and as people become more affluent, they often transition to western-style diets. That’s neither healthy nor sustainable.

I searched for Beyond Meat at my local Whole Foods and ended up getting a couple of ready-made wraps for a picnic. So yummy! Until now, I hadn’t cooked with it, so I gave it a whirl.

ingredients

I made a simple stir-fry using red pepper, broccoli and zucchini, added spices and the Beyond Chicken strips, which I’d cut into cubes.

stir-fry in progress

Beyond Chicken is made primarily with non-GMO soy and peas. It’s a complete protein, has plenty of fiber, and isn’t loaded with fat or cholesterol (in fact, it has no cholesterol, saturated or trans-fat and is just 5% fat).

I served my stir-fry over a rice pilaf for a quick, simple, and delicious meal. I’m going to try their beef-free crumble next for a taco meal!

simple dinner

I like that technology is helping reinvent meat and that through technology we can harness plants to create healthy delicious meat alternatives. It has a lot of potential in developing nations too, not just on the plates of people in the developed world.

Biz Stone, vegan and founder of Twitter, is also financially invested in Beyond Meat. Perhaps the future of meat is vegan.