Unilever drops lawsuit against Hampton Creek

Can you believe it? A couple of months ago, industry giant Unilever sued Hampton Creek over the use of the word “mayo.” Unilever, maker of Hellman’s mayonnaise, didn’t like that Hampton Creek named their eggless product Just Mayo.

Hampton Creek is a San Francisco-based food technology company that was founded in 2011. They focus on plant-based products and they currently produce Just Mayo and Just Cookies (both vegan). By comparison, Unilever is one of the oldest multinational companies, with over 400 brands in more than 190 countries. They’re the world’s largest producer of food spreads, with over 30% market share.

In a classic David vs. Goliath scenario, Unilever sued Hampton Creek over market share and claimed Hampton Creek is falsely advertising its product as mayo, even though it doesn’t contain eggs.

just mayo

Well Big Mayo lost this battle. They dropped the lawsuit amidst a flurry of bad PR. People were infuriated at the food giant’s bullying and sided with Hampton Creek. The lawsuit actually gave Hampton Creek millions of dollars in free publicity, and may people who’d never even heard of them vowed to buy Just Mayo on principle alone!

On a side, note, I encourage people not to buy any Unilever products for one other reason: They test on animals! Here’s some info on their testing (no graphic images), and an infographic with some of their most popular brands.

unilever

So, if you haven’t already, I encourage you to try Just Mayo. You can get it at Safeway, Costco, Whole Foods, Target, Walmart, and a host of other retailers.

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!

 

Vegan profile #5: Michael Glew

It’s time for another vegan profile! Vegans come from all walks of life and I’m using this blog to introduce you to vegans who might be very different than–or a lot like–you. Today, I’d like you to meet Michael, who has excellent tips for living vegan:

Pleased to meet you. I’m Michael and 40, but you know they say 40 is the new 22. My achey
breaky back might disagree. I have been kicking around this vegan thing for about two and a half
decades now. I could brag and say I have been vegan longer than I have not been vegan, but remember
this is not a beauty pageant or student election. Vegans don’t bother getting burdened with seniority or
street cred. Every minute, every day, every week, and every month you spend vegan you are changing
the world.

Don’t ever expect to live perfectly vegan. Mistakes will happen. You could misread a label, you might
assume a product vegan when it contains a vague dairy ingredient, maybe you eat a handful of
chicken in a biscuit crackers, or get sick and need a vaccination. Get a few cookbooks and the oops
incidents will decline.

Activism is not for all vegans. It does not negate all the good you have done by not eating animals if you decide to be more reserved. The best part is you can always change your mind later. The animals are not counting vegan points. The ultimate goal is to help animals and it takes all kinds of people with differing levels of interest and participation to make this work.

It would be a mistake to make vegan political. If you do you will lose. Politics in America is like global
thermal nuclear war. There are no winners. Don’t force it on the people around you. Believe me–curiosity will bring them to you. Be prepared to answer questions, keep cool, and offer to share your snacks.

It’s going to happen. Some fool will get his hose in knot and make some crack. Don’t be baited. Use this
phrase: “I used to (feel, think, want) the same thing. I grew up with a fishing rod in my hand, (or your
own anecdote) but then I found out about the way animals are treated in the (circus, factory farms,
rodeo, testing, etc.). It’s funny how when you talk to people like people you get stuff done.

Michael Glew with his daughter

Thank you Michael for such sound advice!

To contribute to this feature, check out the profile intro page and drop me a line.

Vegan winter boots

I’m spoiled. I live in Seattle where winter is essentially mild and wet. Any pair of rubber rain boots will do. But I grew up in Canada, where I needed warm, insulated, waterproof boots for the salt, snow, slush, and frigid temperatures. If you’re looking for vegan winter boots to keep you warm, look no further.

Women

If Winters are cold in Canada, then look to Cougar, a Canadian company. They have a few vegan styles–and they know winter!

The Canuck 3 is a tall, waterproof nylon boot that comes in black or white and is cold-rated to -30 Celsius (-22 Fahrenheit).

The Canuck by Cougar

The Cougar Como 2 is a nylon boot lined with polar plush. It’s also cold-rated to  -30 Celsius (-22 Fahrenheit) and comes in black, white, or gunmetal.

Cougar Como2 boots

Then there’s the Minty 6, a shimmery polar-lined boot. It comes in black and, my preference, a space-age gunmetal. Cold-rated to  -30 Celsius (-22 Fahrenheit).

Cougar Minty 6

There’s a great vegan shoe store in Vancouver called Nice Shoes. They ship throughout the US and Canada in case you’re not nearby. Nice shoes has an amazing assortment of all types of footwear. They sell the Baltimore by Kamik, a waterproof, nylon bootie that’s cold-rated to -40.

Kamik Baltimore boots from Nice Shoes

If you want a bit of color, check out the red Minx by Columbia. They’re lined in faux fur and are cold-rated to -32 Celsius (-25 Fahrenheit).

Minx boots by Columbia

Men

I won’t forget the fellows. I found a few styles of Men’s vegan winter boots too. Nice shoes carries Bogs, like this pair of Ultra Mid. They’re great on slippery surfaces, and are cold-rated to -40.

Bogs for men at Nice Shoes

There’s also the Utik, if you prefer a synthetic leather lace-up. Cold-rated to  -30 Celsius (-22 Fahrenheit) with neat grommet details and red piping.

Utik boots from Nice Shoes

These Kamik Canuck boots are another option. They’re at Zappos.com, a great online shopping site where you can filter for style, size, and material. The Canucks are nylon, with lots of grip and a warm lining. The toggle at the cuff keeps out the snow.

Kamik men's boots on Zappos

The Ice Patrol by Vegetarian Shoes is an amazing boot. Not only are they sturdy and rugged, but they have metal grippers that fold out of the sole and act like mini crampons. Theses come in sizes 36 through 47 so they’ll fit a wide range of people, making them a great unisex boot. Plus, Vegetarian Shoes, as the name implies, is an all-vegan company so you know you’re getting an ethical boot and supporting a vegan company.

ice patrol boot by Vegetarian Shoes

The Snowdon, also by Vegetarian Shoes, is another shoe great for anyone. Like Dr. Marten’s or Converse, these work for men and women. The snowdon has ski-boot laces and is a sturdy, three-season boot for hikes or urban treks.

snowdon boots by Vegetarian Shoes

Youth and Kids

Columbia also makes youth sizes in styles like the Minx. They’re cold-rated to -32 Celsius (-25 Fahrenheit) and are a woven synthetic textile with a faux-fur lining.

Minx youth sizes by Columbia

The Columbia Powderbug nylon boots are cold rated to and come in four cute patterns. The toggle helps keep the snow out.

Columbia youth Powderbug boots

Bogs are a great option for men, women, and especially kids (with their fun patterns and easy pull-on handles). Not all Bogs are vegan, but the kids’ boots seem to be. And who doesn’t love dinosaurs and flowers?

Bogs for kids

I hope the examples above will give you a good starting point for your winter boot shopping. Let me know what your favorite vegan winter boots are!

 

When you’re the only vegan

Whether you’re the only vegan you know, or you’re a vegan with a ton of vegan friends, there’s a good chance you’re the only vegan the non-vegans in your life know.

one vegan in a crowd

I didn’t sign up to be the spokesperson for veganism, and I don’t profess to know all the details about all the issues, but I do know that I am often the “real life vegan” example for many of the people I meet and know.

I don’t take this lightly. People are curious. They watch (and sometimes judge), but mostly, they just want to learn more.

Seeds of compassion

I’ve had people express surprise that I’m vegan because I don’t fit their stereotype of what a vegan is. I’m not a hippy (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I like fashion. I’m not angry.

When people tell me they appreciate that I’m not judgmental (not a “vegan Nazi” in some people’s words), I sometimes wonder if that means I should turn it up a notch. I don’t want people to be comfortable eating meat. But I also know when people are judged, they get defensive, put up walls, and stop listening.

So I live my life, true to myself and my values and drop gentle reminders about how animals are treated and how we can help them.

Super vegan

I’m not a super vegan, don’t get me wrong. But I have to remind myself that my life is different from most people’s in subtle ways. What is abhorrent to me (wearing animal skin, eating animal flesh, testing on animals, being entertained by incarcerated animals) is either normal or a non-issue to most. It’s hard to remember that I was once like that. But it’s important to empathize with people who are lulled into believing all this is normal–it’s certainly culturally acceptable.

I have to remember that people find it strange that I think of all animals (including people) equally. That I wouldn’t eat a pig because I wouldn’t eat my dog. That a pigeon in a city park is as valuable as a soaring eagle. That dolphins shouldn’t be hunted, but neither should tuna.

The big picture

There’s a balance between compromising one’s values and coming across as relatable. When I’m out with non-vegan friends, I focus on the big picture. It’s true, that I don’t eat foods dyed with carmine (from crushed up beetles), but when dining with friends, I focus on the big issues–where the most harm is done–and how to alleviate that. I probably won’t ask the waiter if the spatula used to flip my veggie burger is the same one used for the meat patties.

Of course I don’t want that tainted spatula to touch my food, but I also don’t want to make it seem like veganism is unattainable. Everyone is different. Your concerns and responses won’t be the same as mine. But do think of the impression others get. What’s the balance?

Signs of change

When people I know tell me they are eating less meat, going vegetarian, and going vegan, I want to do back flips! Every bit helps. Every person makes a difference. I  didn’t sign up to be a vegan role model, but like it or not, I am. And you know, I like of like it!

How have you influenced the people in your life? I’d love to hear what works for you.

Another Successful Walk for Farm Animals

This past Saturday was the 2014 Seattle Walk for Farm Animals, a fundraiser for the rescued animals at Farm Sanctuary’s three shelters. Walkers raised close to $12,000 and donations are being accepted until September 27th, so pitch in if you’d like!

Like last year, we met at Green Lake to walk the 2.9 mile path around the lake. Before the walk, participants stretched at a yoga class, ate Mighty-O vegan donuts, and bid on items in the silent auction.

auction collage

After the walk, Br-er Rabbit, a Bellingham-based band played for the crowd while we ate delicious vegan food by Field Roast, Chaco Canyon Café, Pizza Pi, Seattle Cookie Counter, and No Bones About It.

Br-er Rabbit

Auction winners took home prizes like gift cards to Café Flora, cooking classes by Fire and Earth Kitchen, and a pet portrait session by Vegan Me.

The best thing you can do to help animals is to not eat them. Being vegan makes a huge difference to the lives of so many animals–and you’ll feel better too! If you’ve never been to a farm animal sanctuary, I encourage you to visit one and make the connection between the “food animals” in the food system and the animals at these wonderful shelters.

NARN table

Anika will help you go vegan

Billions of animals are killed for food every year–a number too big to fathom. But seeing the individuals at Farm Sanctuary and other safe havens makes the issue personal.

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.

Remembering Donald Watson

Donald Watson was born in 1910. Today would have been his 104th birthday (He passed away in 2005, at the age of 95). Watson was a vegetarian for over 80 years and a vegan for 60!

Donald Watson

Donald Watson: September 2, 1910 – November 16, 2005

As a child, growing up in the UK, Watson would visit his uncle’s farm. At age 14, after hearing the screams of a pig being slaughtered (something I’ve also witnessed), he went vegetarian. As an adult, realizing that animal slaughter is a part of large-scale, commercial dairies and egg farms, Watson cut out animal byproducts and went vegan. He wasn’t the first to omit animal products from his life, but he (along with his wife Dorothy) was the first to coin the term vegan.

Watson invented the word vegan by taking the beginning and end of the word vegetarian and fusing them together.

vegan--cut out the crapIn 1944, Watson founded The Vegan Society, along with a handful of other non-dairy vegetarians. The Society, which has stuck with the vision of its founding members (working towards a world in which humans do not exploit other animals), is still going strong today. Watson ran the society, and created the first Vegan Society newsletter.

If you’d like to learn more about the father of modern veganism, check out the interviews and links below.

Resources:

Food for Life interview with Donald Watson

Veg News interview with Donald Watson

BBC obituary for Donald Watson

The Vegan Society website

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!

When animal welfare groups fall short

Many different types of organizations are fighting for animals. Some focus on companion animals, others advocate for wildlife or animals in captivity, like zoos and circuses. Still others promote vegan living. And while many groups don’t always agree with each others methods and priorities, they usually have the same goal: saving animals.

However, the Humane Society of The United States (HSUS) fell short of that goal recently.

I learned that they were the main sponsor of Hoofin’ It, a farm-to-table culinary tour in Denver where, as the website says, “a different hoofed animal will be featured at all of the stops each evening.” That’s right. The Humane Society sponsored an event where people eat animals. Bison on the first night, sheep on the second, pigs on the third, and cows on the last.

hoofin' it webpage

The HSUS celebrates that these animals were raised in a “sustainable” way and weren’t part of the factory farm system. Unbelievable! This highlights the main difference between animal rights organizations and animal welfare groups.

I’m an abolitionist. I don’t believe any animal should be exploited, abused, or eaten. That said, I also recognize that the world won’t wake up vegan tomorrow. So I appreciate efforts to make the miserable lives of farmed animals slightly less hellish. Ban gestation crates for breeding sows. Ban battery cages for laying hens. Ban tail docking, dehorning, and castration without anesthesia. Sure. It helps the animals in the system, but it’s not the answer. It’s not the end goal.

It’s one thing to fight for better conditions for farmed animals. That’s not a stamp of approval. But sponsoring a meat-based event is incredibly irresponsible and near-sighted. The HSUS is condoning the commercial exploitation and killing of animals by being a sponsor. They’ve made strange bedfellows by praising farmers who practice free-range animal-rearing methods while criticizing factory farms.

Let’s pretend Hoofin’ It was about a dog-eating festival, right here in the good ol’ US of A. Would the HSUS be a sponsor? No! Because we love dogs and cats. Sponsoring a let’s-eat-farmed-animals event is speciesist. “Grass-fed” doesn’t change the fact that an animal’s life is cut short by a brutal killing (no, there is no such thing as humane slaughter). Free-range animals fight for their lives just as hard as factory-farmed animals. And the slogan of the festival is “respect your dinner.” What a disgrace!

respect
I don’t usually criticize other groups’ tactics. But in this case, I have to speak up. The HSUS is setting back the vegan movement by condoning meat-eating. Additionally, grass-fed, free-range meat is expensive, so they’re being elitist. Even if everyone in the world could afford this type of meat, there wouldn’t be enough grazing land in the entire world to support it. Obviously the people at HSUS haven’t seen Cowspiracy.

I’m never donating to the HSUS again and I’ve told them. There are a lot of great cat and dog rescue groups that I’ll give to instead: Soi Dog in Thailand rescues street dogs and is fighting the dog meat industry in Southeast Asia, Rudozem is working to save street dogs in Romania, Best Friends Animal Society is a no-kill shelter that works nationwide in the US, the Beagle Freedom Project rescues animals from labs, and Darwin Animal Doctors helps wild animals in the Galapagos by promoting a spay/neuter program for cats and dogs. I’m sure you know of smaller, local groups that are worth supporting.

Furthermore, I’m going to continue to support Vegan Outreach, a group that promotes veganism and doesn’t pander to special interest groups that exploit animals.

I suppose the HSUS is doing what it always has. They don’t rock the boat–and as a result they rake in big donor dollars. They advocate for “pets,” they push limited farmed animal welfare changes, and everyone goes to bed at night feeling good about themselves. Discovering the Hoofin’ It event was like discovering there’s no Santa Claus. It’s disappointing, but I kind of knew it all along.