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!

Vida Vegan Con 2015

Two years ago, I wrote about Vida Vegan Con II, the vegan blogger conference I attended in Portland.

This past weekend was VVCIII, the third–and final–conference. Last time I learned so much and met so many great people, and I couldn’t wait to pick up where I left off.

I flew into Austin, Texas on Thursday and met up with friends at Counter Culture, a vegan diner. I loved walking onto a restaurant in a new city and seeing familiar faces. During our meal a few others from the last VVC said hello. The city was buzzing with vegans already!

counter culture meal

A burrito and potato salad to kick off the weekend

Friday, vegans from around the country–and world–convened on the Vegan Bazaar. We nibbled on vegan cheese from Miyoko’s Creamery (and got to meet the wonderful Miyoko herself). We heard Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, speak at a breakout session. And we got to shop!

I finally met Nikki, the owner of CykoChik Custom Handbags (and yes I bought a tote I’d been eyeing for a while).

cykochik

I also met Kat, creator of Kick Butt Boots–custom, handmade vegan cowboy boots. Everyone had their eye on a striking red pair. How cute would they be with jeans or a fun, flowy dress?

kick butt boots

We sampled food (The Vegan Nom and Cool Beans food trucks stole the show), bought clothing, jewelry and beauty products and then headed our separate ways. I ended up having drinks at a T.O.F.U Magazine-hosted album release party and then dancing the night away with friends at a bar playing 80s dance music.

Saturday was the first official day of the conference. We picked up our swag bags and we were all treated to a delicious breakfast buffet and coffee bar with so many creamer options: coconut, almond, hemp, soy–awesome!

I attended sessions on science, feminism, health, entrepreneurship, and activism. Lunch was also fantastic. We filled up on the most delicious foods. The day was so inspiring. I learned so much, met new people, and was motivated to do more with blogging and veganism in general.

That evening, we attended Capital City Bakery’s third-year anniversary. I’ve never seem so many people in line to buy cupcakes, and I’d never seen people so happy to be in a line!

capital city bakeryUpton’s Naturals was also on hand, serving up BBQ jackfruit sandwiches. I’ve never had pulled pork, and you’ll never need to, with this cruelty-free version.

Upton's BBQ Jackfruit sandwich

After eating sweet and savory goodness, a few of us bar-hopped until, one by one, we faded. Our crew got smaller as the night got later and eventually I also retreated to my apartment.

Sunday was another packed day of conference sessions, buffets, and socializing. The conference ended in an emotional goodbye and heartfelt thanks to the three founders who turned a dream into a reality and changed the lives of so many others. It was bittersweet to say the least. I’m sad to see VVC come to an end, but I’m excited for what’s next. There’s a new vegan economy springing up and I can sense a change for how people eat, how people think about animals, and the types of businesses that will grown out of this conference.

I loved seeing how bloggers had evolved and progressed. Several attendees had written cookbooks or started vegan businesses since I’d seen them last. VVC played a big part in that, I’m sure. It helped so many of us grow.

After a teary farewell, we ended on a high note. Burgers at Arlo’s! Austin, with its warm nights, knows how to do patios. Days were indoors at the conference but nights were for being out. Sunday evening was no different. We socialized, drank margaritas, and ate burgers and ice cream (from Sweet Ritual) on the patio of Cheer Up Charlie’s.

kale margarita

Monday, I squeezed in one last breakfast with a group from the conference and then hopped over (see what I did there?) to Rabbit Food Grocery to check out the vegan nibbles and wares (rumor has it I bought another bag, but you’ll have to check my fashion blog to see if that’s true).

vvc goodbye breakfast

The weekend was as fun as this post is long. But unlike a too-long post, I didn’t want the weekend to end. It might seem like us bloggers were food obsessed. Perhaps. But it’s because we are enjoying and promoting a world that could be. A world without animal exploitation. It’s a marvelous goal and it makes us passionate and keeps us motivated.

Special thanks to Janessa, Jess and Michelle, without whom none of this would be possible.

My evening with John Salley

I spent last night with John Salley.

No, wait. That doesn’t sound right! Last night, I attended “An Evening with John Salley,” a special event at Plum Bistro. The event was a fundraiser for Pasado’s Safe Haven and was also an opportunity for John Salley to share wines from The Vegan Vine with the crowd.

Salley collage

John Salley, as any self-respecting sports fan will know, is an NBA superstar. With four Championships under his belt, he’s played with the Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors, Chicago Bulls, and LA Lakers–that’s quite a resumé!

What you might not know, though, is that Salley is a long-time vegan, wellness expert, and animal advocate. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing his story, learning about how he connected with Makini Howell, owner of Plum Bistro, and also how became the owner of a winery. And not just any wine: Vegan wine.

vegan vine wine

Many people don’t think about animal products when they drink wine, but many wines are fined (or finished) with clarifying product that include gelatin (from cows or pigs), casein (a milk protein), albumin (from egg whites), or isinglass (from fish bladders). Now I’m a fan of voting with my dollar. So why support a company that uses animal products (even if they’re not in the final product)? There’s no need.

John Salley is such a genuine guy. You can feel his love for animals and people and being vegan when you’re in the room with him. He also happens to be really funny! I felt like I’d known him for a long time and even though I was a bit star struck, talking with him was fun and comfortable.

jean, john, steph and amy

Plum didn’t disappoint either! We nibbled on decadent vegan hor d’oeuvres and drank plenty of The Vegan Vine wine. All proceeds went to Pasado’s, a farmed animal refuge right here in Washington. Pasado’s fights against animal cruelty, helps pass animal laws (and enforce them) and is a sanctuary for abused and neglected who would have ended up on the dinner table.

I knew a number of people at the event and it was a great way to catch up with friends. Best of all, I didn’t know a lot of people. I love meeting vegans and that’s what I did. It was a great night all around–right to the very end when I won an auction item: an autographed (by Mr. Salley) bottle for Vegan Vine wine.

The event sold out in days, but you can ask for The Vegan Vine wine at your local Whole Foods. And if you ever have a chance to meet John Salley or hear him speak, don’t miss it! You won’t be disappointed.

Champs Diner in Brooklyn

My parents and I were recently in NYC again so we retraced our steps from last year on a quest to eat at Food Swings again. Sadly, the storefront was boarded up and Food Swings was nowhere to be found. I did what anyone else in my position would have done. I went to Vaute Couture, the vegan clothing shop down the street, for ideas. The sales associate gave us a hot lead: “Go to champs,” she said. “And order the mozzarella sticks.”

So we did (but not before cuddling with Pepper, aka Concerned Dog, and buying a tank top (hey, I’m easily distracted).

Champs Diner is an all-vegan restaurant not too far from Vaute Couture in the Williamsburg neighborhood. My parents and I didn’t have to wait long before a booth opened up. As instructed, we got the mozzarella sticks.

champs mozzerella sticks

They were  fantastic! breaded, fried, and ooey, gooey. I also had a no-tuna melt. Again, fantastic fare. Filling, delicious, and vegan. My criteria!

champs tuna melt

My parents shared French toast. We didn’t even care how Champs worked their magic–just bring it on!

champs french toast

Not shown: The mint chocolate ice cream. We ate it too fast to capture on film.

I love travelling, meeting other vegans, and discovering new places to eat. Brooklyn is a fantastic, vegan-friendly place and Champs exceeded our expectations. If you’re ever in the area, you’ve gotta go!

Vegan Thanksgiving at Plum Bistro

For Thanksgiving this year, hubby treated me to a four-course meal at Plum Bistro, a vegan restaurant in Seattle. Most restaurants were closed today, but Plum had a special prix fixe menu. Hubby thought it would be nice to eat without cooking or cleaning up. He was right!

We started our meal with roasted heirloom carrots and Brussels sprouts with a maple and thyme glaze. I could have gone home happy at this point, but there was more.

starter

Our appetizer was Plum’s famous smoky mac and yease. It was creamy and delicious–vegan comfort food at its finest.

mac and yease

For the main course, we dined on smoked seitan roast with gravy and cornbread stuffing. The stuffing, with cranberry reduction on the side was so satisfying I didn’t need dessert.

main course

But when dessert came–a bourbon chocolate pecan pie–I didn’t hesitate to devour it. It was drizzled with caramel, covered with a dollop of smooth, dairy-free whipped cream, and garnished with pomegranate seeds and a pecan.

pecan pie

I have a lot to be thankful for, and this meal was no exception! I enjoyed a cruelty-free meal and I loved seeing everyone in the packed restaurant enjoying healthy, vegan food too.

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. If you’re in Seattle, you’ve got to visit Plum!

Dining at Candle 79

I met up with my parents in New York this past August and every night, for over a week, we dined at terrific vegan places. The city is a wonderful place to eat meat-free.

The first thing I did when I started planning my vacation was make reservations for Candle 79, New York’s premier vegan oasis (yes, it says that on their website and it’s so true!). On our first night in the Big Apple. we left our condo in Harlem and went to Candle 79’s two-story location on the Upper East Side.

candle 79

I never thought I’d forget the exact names of what we were eating, but I did. And being an organic, local, seasonal eatery means the menu changes often. So forgive my inaccuracies–and believe be when I share how delicious it all was!

First, we were treated to an amuse-bouche. A delightful teaser and hint of things to come. I tasted chickpeas and cucumber in a smooth creamy sauce.

amuse bouche

My parents split an order of spaghetti and wheat balls. It’s a classic simple dish but Candle 79 put their own unique twist on it and my parents couldn’t get enough!

spaghetti and wheat balls

I ate a seitan (or possible tempeh) cutlet with apples and beans. It was divine. The best part about eating in a vegan restaurant (aside from knowing it’s a cruelty-free place and everyone is not eating animals) is that I can order anything off the menu, no questions asked! So I asked very few questions and now I can’t tell you the specifics of what I ate (except I’d be eating there right now again if I could teleport).

seitan cutlet

Finally, we had chocolate peanut butter bliss for dessert.

pure bliss

Happy, healthy dining!

mom ans Jean

After our meal, we walked toward Central Park along Lexington, took in the quintessential New York streets, and caught a cab back to our place.

What a fantastic way to start a vacation. If you’re ever in New York, don’t miss the Candle 79 experience!