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.

Vegan wine and cheese party

Moo-ve over dairy, there’s a new kid in town.

Last night I had the most amazing time at a vegan wine and cheese party that NARN put on at Ltd Art Gallery in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. The event was a fundraiser for Precious Life Animal Sanctuary in Sequim, WA. We were really lucky to have Ralph and Caryl Turner, the sanctuary founders, at the event.

Ltd Gallery

We were treated to an array of non-dairy cheeses. I’m not talking about weak substitutes; I’m talking creamy, rich, tangy, flavorful spreads and slices that hold their own. I’ve already written about what’s wrong with dairy, so you know I was thrilled to taste cruelty-free cheeses. No cows harmed. For a lot of people, cheese is one of the hardest things to give up, and with options like these, you don’t have to.

The generous companies that donated cheese for the event included Wayfare, Treeline, Punk Rawk Labs and Field Roast. Additionally, Joyce Huesemann made several delicious spreads. Thank you all!

So what’s vegan cheese made from? Lots of things. It was a diverse grouping of cheese with ingredients like cashews, nutritional yeast, tofu, garlic, herbs, oatmeal, sesame seeds and macadamia nuts.

food collageAs for wine, it’s a much subtler offender. All wine is technically vegan–it’s grapes! However, many wineries use animal products like egg albumen (from egg whites), gelatin (from boiling animal parts), and isinglass (from fish bladder membranes) in the refining process. But there are vegan alternatives. Until recently, I hadn’t paid much attention to whether or not wine was vegan, but I like to vote with my dollars and choose companies who are striving for a better world.

That’s why I was happy to taste the delicious selections from The Vegan Vine and Frey Wine. These two vegan wine companies generously donated wine to the event. They had a delicious selection–from sangiovese to chardonnay. Perhaps I woke up without a headache today because these companies are organic and don’t add sulfites to their products.

And of course (probably because the organizers knew I was coming), there were other vegan wines too. You can use Barnivore to find out which of your favorite wines (and beer and spirits) are vegan.

DJ and raffle queen collage

The best part of the evening was spending time with like-minded people and catching up with friends. We listened to swingin’ tunes by DJ Dubonnet and took in art by Siolo Thompson. The event was a hit–tickets went on sale in August and sold out in less than two days! I hope that means there will be more vegan wine and cheese events in my future. After all, the future is vegan!

Jean in Lois Eastlund dress