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Sustainability needs to extend to the menu

Have you seen the documentary Cowspiracy? It’s an informative, well produced film and is widely available on streaming platforms such as Netflix. If you haven’t seen it yet, carve out some time this weekend. I had the chance to see the film again recently as part of WMEAC’s Film Series. I was again reminded how powerful the narrative is in this film. If you have seen it, you know the drill. To save the planet we need to take action individually in our own lives. Yes, we need to be conscious of our water usage. Yes, we need to consider alternatives in transportation, and find other ways to reduce carbon emissions in our daily choices. But most of all, eating a plant-based diet easily has the biggest impact that we, as individuals can have on the environment. I won’t go into all their facts as to why in this post, but watch the movie and check out the site where they lay it all out. Sustainability is quite the buzz-word these days. Visit many of our wonderful local businesses in GR and you’re sure to hear it. Let me be clear about this before continuing this post. I truly believe that “perfect is the enemy of the good.” Meaning that any steps to help the environment are great, but if a business is going to tout themselves as sustainable, we need to understand what that means and they should be held accountable to that standard. The impetus for this post comes from a wonderful article in the most recent edition of Rapid Growth Media. A local entrepreneur, Stanley Samuel, has come up with an ingenious way of helping smaller craft breweries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions that are produced naturally as part of the brewing process. Awesome! Love to see Grand Rapids become greener. There are plenty of ways we constantly hear local restaurants getting “greener.” You produce zero waste…. Wonderful. You’ve reduced greenhouse gasses released at your business to zero…. Amazing. You installed a rain garden… Fantastic. But here’s the thing. If you’re serving 20,000 cheeseburgers every year – even from a local, “humane” farm – you’re not an environmentally sustainable business. Period. Eating one pound of beef is equivalent to showering for ONE YEAR. And a new study shows that you’re better off eating vegetables from Argentina than red meat from a local farm. More than one of our local breweries, companies that are...
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Humane Society’s Paul Shapiro to speak in Grand Rapids at Science on Tap event

Few people can claim to be as successful in their activism as Paul Shapiro. Currently he serves as Vice President of Farm Protection for The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), where he has been a leading force in bringing about positive change in the treatment of farm animals. His work at HSUS involves legislation aimed at forcing farmers to treat animals better, and consumer side efforts that force companies to demand change from their suppliers. Recently Paul’s team helped usher in a game changing moment for the movement when McDonald’s announced they would only source eggs from cage-free suppliers.  He’s an inductee of the Animal Rights Hall of Fame, and is the founder of Compassion Over Killing – leading the once High School club into a major national force for farm animal protection. On top of it all, he’s a helluva speaker. We’ve been lucky to see Paul speak a couple of times, and when we had the opportunity to bring him to Grand Rapids, we were all over that! We’ve partnered with Science on Tap Grand Rapids for this very special event. If you’re not familiar with them, Science on Tap, “is an opportunity for conversation, debate, and interaction between scientists and the public while drinking a beer.” Sounds pretty good, right? Throw in some great vegan food options at the SpeakEZ Lounge, and it’s going to be a great night. What: Science on Tap in Grand Rapids When: October 26th, 7pm Who: Paul Shapiro, VP of Farm Protection, HSUS Why: Because it will be awesome Where: Speak EZ Lounge. 600 Monroe Ave NW. So please, RSVP to this event and get it on your calendar. It’s free, and tickets are not required. You’re not going to want to miss this...
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The Great Vegan Grand Rapids Pop-up Bakery a Smashing Success!

The Great Vegan Grand Rapids Pop Up Bakery was a great success, with hundreds turning out to drink great coffee and eat awesome local vegan baked goods.


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Vegan Grand Rapids Guide to Breakfast

Like our shopping guide, we’re planning to keep this page up to date. So if you’re a lover of all things brunch, you might want to bookmark this page and visit often to make sure you never miss an update. I haven’t had an egg in…3 and 1/2 years? I’d be lying if I said I don’t miss omni-breakfast a little bit. I’ve always loved the ritual of heading out on a Sunday morning with the paper for an omelet and coffee. Thankfully, we have some great vegan brunch options in Grand Rapids where that ritual can live on (sans the omelet of course). In order of our favorites: 1. Bartertown – Since the diner opened the doors in 2011, Chef Onya has been putting out some of the best tofu scramble on the planet. Add tempeh bacon, legendary pancakes, tofu rancheros, biscuits and gravy, and amazing coffee (among other things – see the menu here) and Bartertown’s breakfast is truly special. The menu recently changed up and now has a Biscuit Sammie, Breakfast Tacos and a new “standard” breakfast with rice and beans – fans of the original standard, fear not, it’s still available. BT also has some nice GF options. Served Saturdays from  9 am to noon and Sundays 9 am to 2 pm. Bonus: A vitamix station means great green smoothies made from what’s fresh and in season. 2. Brick Road Pizza – It was a tough call to pick a favorite between Bartertown and Brick Road Pizza. Brick Road’s all-you-can-eat Sunday Brunch is unique, always delicious and a crazy deal for less than $10. In fact, it’s so great that getting a table at times can be tricky (it’s only available on Sundays from 11:30 am – 2 pm). Along with the buffet, you may order their insanely good breadsticks (regular or cinnamon) at no additional cost. The same with the vegan chocolate chip cookies. The menu on offer is always a nice mix of savory and sweet with items such as breakfast enchiladas, mac and cheese, french toast, quesadillas, and breakfast hash and gravy. Random pizzas also hit the buffet. Bonus: BRP also has a full bar which means mimosas and bloody mary’s. 3. Marie Catrib’s – The East Hills favorite puts up some of the best food out there for lunch, dinner and through their to-go deli. They don’t disappoint for breakfast, but they don’t quite rank as highly...
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Donkey Taqueria Arrives in Grand Rapids

When Paul Lee announced he was opening a new Taqueria across from The Winchester, to be honest, we didn’t have high hopes. Lee’s offerings at The Winchester are notoriously vegan-UNfriendly.


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Buckwheat Corn Cake Recipe

Over the weekend we had some friends over for a Mexican fiesta. The spread was pretty epic, complete with tempeh taco meat, seasoned tofu and Mexican jackfruit filling along side slow cooked pinto beans, Mexican rice, a brussels sprout/broccoli slaw, vegan nacho cheese and all the fixin’s! I usually go overboard and this time was no different. I wanted there to be a little nibble before the main event, so I tried to think of a great way to start a Mexican fiesta. While we were on our European vacation, we had these unbelievable corn cakes (traditionally called Arepas) at Terre à Terre in Brighton, and that’s what I wanted to do a (MUCH) simpler version of. I came across this recipe from Inquiring Chef and adapted from there. With one of the party guests being gluten free, substitutions were made for buckwheat flour in place of regular flour. If you’re not worried about gluten, the 1/2 cup of buckwheat flour can be easily replaced with AP flour. I also added in red bell pepper for some color. It’s an incredibly adaptable recipe. Wanna add some spice? Go with cayenne and maybe add some cumin or fresh jalapeño! I’m pretty happy with how these turned out. Easy and delicious!   Buckwheat Corn Cakes 1 1/2 cups cornmeal 1/2 cup buckwheat flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 red bell pepper, small dice 2 cups frozen corn 3/4 to 1 cup water 3 Tablespoons canola oil In a bowl, combine the cornmeal, buckwheat flour, baking powder, and salt. Add corn and mix just until combined. Add the water, 1/4 cup at a time, and stir just until the mixture holds together. Create evenly sized cakes (I used a 1/8 measuring cup. Place the cakes on a cutting board or plate. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Cook in batches until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side until golden brown. I precooked mine, just going about 2-3 minutes, and then reheated later in a 220 degree oven – that worked out perfectly. Serve the corn cakes warm, topped with whatever you like. I went with tofu sour cream and chives, but a guacamole, or fresh avocado would work nicely....
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Lab Created Meat – Would You Eat It?

You may have seen the news. Hell, you might have watched the live stream where a panel of three tasted the world’s first lab created hamburger. It cost a cool $325,000 to create, but the petri dish burger might just well be the future of food. Stem cells pulled from a cow’s shoulder muscle were cultivated into 20,000 strips of fiber. That fiber ultimately became a 5 oz. burger that was cooked during a live streamed event and served on a bun. The first stem cell came from a cow in a slaughter house, but the belief is that in time the cells could be humanely farmed. The taste testers say they were not overwhelmed by the taste. That it lacked flavor, and needed more fat – but clearly this is a HUGE leap forward. If stem cells can be humanely farmed, and grown in a lab with no suffering. Pretty great right? Well, that was my first thought. And then I started to wonder if I would eat it? For me, the answer is no. Even if the day comes that this lab created meat is entirely cruelty free…it’s *still* meat. I haven’t had a burger since 2006, and not once have I missed it (Ok, maybe once or twice late night post-bar). I don’t believe my body needs meat to be healthy – quite the opposite. So all in all, I am glad for this progress. Everyone on earth going veg clearly isn’t going to happen, so these kinds of leaps forward are critical. But it does beg the question… Would you eat...
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Vegans – Chill Out

Woah, big news today, guys! Bill Clinton was interviewed by the AARP about his conversion to a vegan diet! Isn’t it incredible? How cool that such an influential figure, I mean, an EX-PRESIDENT is talking about being a vegan? And not in some schlubby news rag, it’s on the site for the AARP, an influential organization that has a pretty darn big membership. So cool! Wait, I’m sorry, you say you’re not happy about it? How is that possibly true? Are you kidding? You’re upset that he ONCE A WEEK eats an omelet? Unfortunately, this kind of thinking is pervasive amongst many vegans. Some kind of gross feeling of ownership they seem to have around the term and lifestyle. The all or nothingness that often turns militant and incredibly judgmental. Well, let me let you in on a secret angry vegans. What you’ve been doing ISN’T WORKING! According to the 2013 Vegetarian Times Poll released last month, the number of vegans in this country is a paltry 1 million people. Sounds like a lot? Consider that there are 313,900,000 people in the US. So that equates to less than one third of one percent of the total population. I realize a lot of you come to veganism from a very emotional place. You love animals, and you think of the horrors taking place each and every day. It brews an anger inside. Listen, I get it. But every time you jump down the throat of someone *trying* to make a difference, it does a lot of harm. You know how a lot of people think vegans are crazy? I applaud the efforts of people like Mark Bittman. His latest book, VB6 explores the idea of eating a vegan diet before 6pm, and then all bets are off. Know why this isn’t terrible? Because 14 vegan meals out of 21 a week is better than none. Think of all the great things that will come for animals, and the environment if people adopt that plan? And you know what, I bet if people try that, many will come to realize how much they really don’t need meat, dairy and eggs. And maybe, just maybe, those 14 meals become 16, and then 18, and maybe finally 21. But even if it’s 20, so what? The world isn’t as black and white as we maybe wish it was. I believe it’s time to...
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Not all sugar is created vegan

Ever heard of bone char? It’s got a few names and according to wikipedia, you may also know it as bone black, ivory black or animal charcoal. It’s a pretty gruesome process as you can imagine, but the short of it is, animal bones are baked in an low oxygen environment to create a charcoal of sorts. It’s a 200 year old process, first patented in 1812! The applications for the finish product are plentiful. Tricalcium phosphate, the resulting product is used as an anti-caking agent in spices. Also this stuff is used in cheese, and as a raising agent. But the trickiest use of them all for vegans, is as a refining agent for sugar. Thankfully we live in a time where raw and natural sugars are more easily available. But sugar is in so many prepared foods. Is the sugar that went into those products vegan? So here are our questions for you. 1. Were you aware of bone char and it’s relationship to the refinement of sugar before you read this post? 2. If yes, are you concerned about your sugar? 3. Do you go so far with sugar to make sure that any product you buy that is made with sugar has only vegan...
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A Trip to the Farm

Along with the founder of Bartertown, we went on a trip to visit the Ham Family Farm in Allendale Michigan.


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