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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 Restaurant Week 2014

Restaurant Week GR 2014 is here! August 13th-24th gives you twelve days to wine and dine your way through the Grand Rapids culinary scene. Last year’s line up in terms of vegan dishes was pretty impressive. Sadly, that’s not the case this year. Maybe we didn’t eat out enough as vegans last year? Looking through all the options has left us a little perplexed, however. Quite a few restaurants are only offering one, or two courses vegan. Why not go all the way? Hard to understand, as vegans are not likely to flock to your place for a small starter salad and leave because they can’t have anything from the second or third course. We’ve only included one of those on our list, as we feel like the offerings from Rose’s will be a complete enough meal. No matter, check out your options below and be sure to get out there and support these restaurants. You’ve got twelve days to do it! Amore Trattoria Italiana– Located in Comstock Park, Amore is known for having something for everyone. If you get a chance to meet owner and Chef Jenna, you’ll immediately understand that she has a passion for her food and love for everyone who comes through the doors. Known for making special requests to vegans upon arriving, it’s no surprise that her Restaurant Week menu extends to our subset. Warning, you will leave here stuff! Course One: Antipasto, Garlic rubbed crostino topped with savory Sicilian eggplant relish Course Two: Insalata, Baby spinach, Michigan beets, apple, vanilla balsamic and toasted pinenuts Course Three: Zuppa, Cucumber and parsley Gazpacho with fried chick pea garnish Course Four: Bucatini alla Puttanesca – Bucatini in spicy tomato sauce with roasted pepper, caper, onions, olives, basil, garlic and chili pepper flakes. -or- Penne Boscaiolo – Penne with a porcini, portabella and button mushroom marsala sauce Course Five: Sorbetto, Blood Orange Sorbet -or- Michigan Blueberry Bourbon Granita CitySen Lounge – Located in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, CitySen offered up a great trio of vegan items for RW2013, so we’re glad to see they’re a stand out again this year: Course One: Chili – Stewed tomatoes, hot chili beans, onions, herbs, and spices. Served with jalapeño cornbread. Gluten-free. Course Two: Lentil Loaf – Fresh herbs, rolled oats, lentils, and onions baked and dressed with barbecue sauce. Served with garlic mashed potatoes. Gluten-free. Third Course: Southern Banana Pudding – with Vanilla Wafers. Grove – It’s no secret that Grove is...
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Paul Shapiro from HSUS to speak at Wake Up Weekend

Each year we’re excited for Wake Up Weekend, a celebration of compassionate living in Grand Rapids. The 2014 version is coming up April 24-26th, 2014. In its 7th year, there’s always a great line up of events, including wonderful speakers. One of those is Paul Shapiro, the Vice President of the Farm Animal Protection division of The Humane Society of the United States. Paul’s presentation is Forward Progress for Farm Animals: How and why the animal movement is winning.  Do not miss Paul speak at Calvin College in the Commons Annex Lecture Hall on Friday, April 25 at 3:30 pm. I had the opportunity to interview Paul and talk with him about his upcoming visit to Grand Rapids. Tell me about yourself. In what ways were you raised to treat animals humanely? Like a lot of kids, my family always had dogs and we were taught to treat them as family members, not just as pieces of property. As a child, I had a real fascination with animals, so much so that I really just wanted to be around them all the time. I also hated bullying; the thought of anyone dominating someone else simply because they were weaker immensely bothered me. Whether it was on the playground between kids or it was in human-animal relations, the “might-makes-right” mentality was so offensive to me that I knew from a fairly young age that I wanted to defend those who couldn’t defend themselves. And of course, there’s hardly anyone weaker than nonhuman animals. Do you currently have any pets? Three felines: Emma, Calvin and Sam. They’re like three little insatiable monsters. How long have you been vegan? Just over 20 years. I know—that makes me sound pretty old. I used to joke when adults lamented that they don’t know where the years went. Now I know what that’s all about! What was the catalyst that inspired you to adopt the vegan lifestyle? I saw a video of what happens to animals—on factory farms, in slaughter plants, on fur farms, in circuses, and more. It shocked me, and I knew my life would change as a result of it. Out of a desire to avoid supporting such violence and cruelty, I decided to adopt a live-and-let-live mentality toward other creatures as best as I could, starting with my diet. That’s the power that just one video can have on someone—it’s really incredible. What...
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The Ghosts in Our Machine free viewing

The Ghosts in Our Machine is a powerful new documentary by Liz Marshall that aims to highlight the lives of animals that are used for food, fashion, entertainment and research. The film asks the question: Why do we value domestic and wild animals over others? It’s something I, along with many others have tried to figure out over the years. I see all creatures as equal and my best answer when asked why I don’t eat meat is simply this; I love all animals and don’t want to eat my friends! Many vegans turn to a plant-based lifestyle because of these reasons. If you need affirmation about your decision, this is a great opportunity to be reminded of this. If you want to help a friend understand your decision, this is a wonderful chance to open their eyes. We have a chance to see the film locally, for free, at the Fountain Street Church on Wednesday, April 30 at 7 pm. There are only 150 seats available so you must claim a free ticket from EventBrite. A discussion will follow the movie. Do not miss your chance to see The Ghosts in Our Machine!...
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August’s Kitchen Vegan Chef’s Table, May 4

Every month, Chef August “Auggie” Treu of August’s Kitchen creates a special dinner for a small group in an intimate setting. The Chef’s Table event is special and only a handful of people have the opportunity to experience it. Chef August’s last vegan event featured such delicacies as Tofu Tom Yum soup, Eggplant Gratin w/ Mushrooms & Artichoke, and a delicious CranApple cobbler for dessert. MI Local Food Beet wrote about the dining experience here if you’re interested. Chef Auggie learned about vegan food from Chef Kevin Dunn at GRCC, who introduces many of his students to vegan cooking. Many of Chef Dunn’s students have ended up embracing vegan cuisine and incorporating it into their post-college careers, like Chef Auggie. His next vegan dinner will be May 4 at 6 pm. Seating is limited to 16 and will sell out quickly, so be sure to get your reservation today! The menu for the “Chef Inspired Vegan Dinner” includes 7 courses and is just $50 per person. Here’s what you’ll get: Belgian endive tapenade amuse bouche Celery root soup with granny smith apples (recipe by Tal Ronnen) Potatoes & shallots with rosemary & thyme (recipe by Peter Berley) Vegan “meatloaf” with mushroom ragu gravy (recipe by Kevin Dunn) Cole slaw (recipe by Juliano) Sourdough wheat rolls with garlicky tofu spread (recipe by August Treu) Chocolate cake with raspberry sauce (recipe by Peter Berley) Tea, coffee, and water will be provided but you are welcome to bring your own beverage as well. Bring your own bottle of wine or beer! Chef Auggie will provide wine glasses, beer glasses, and a cork screw if you need it. To sign up, please call (616) 340-1160. Payment is due on the day of the event. Cash or check only. August’s Kitchen is located at 1604 Diamond NE in Grand...
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August’s Kitchen Vegan Dinner

Every month, Chef August “Auggie” Treu of August’s Kitchen creates a special dinner for a small group in an intimate setting.


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Vegan Drinks at the SEZ

Last week, nearly 50 people descended upon the SpeakEZ Lounge for the first Vegan Drinks of the new year. The SpeakEZ Lounge is known to be one of our favorite local establishments to grab a drink and a meat-free dish. As usual, the SpeakEZ did not disappoint us. They turned out a few appetizers from their regular menu, the Mad Mushroom Bruschetta and Ripe Tomato Basil Bruschetta, their Sweet Thai Chili Potato Hash entrée, and some lovely little sandwiches that flew off the plates before we even had a chance to grab one! They also offered up some creative drink specials, as we knew they would. The Andromeda Strained was a house infused starfruit-vodka creation with a piece of star fruit floating in the glass. The melon-ball martini was a house infused cucumber vodka served with a watermelon ice cube to keep it cool. And last, the Lebowski, a vegan version of a white Russian using coconut milk instead of dairy – it was a popular choice. Of course, we’d be remiss to talk about SpeakEZ’s drinks without mentioning their large selection of beers. Surely, no one left thirsty. What really made Vegan Drinks a success was not the drinks or the food, but the fun and engaged people who came out on a cold Tuesday night to hang out with old friends and make new ones. It is always a pleasure to see so many new and enthusiastic faces show up at our events who want to talk about food. We love chatting with all of you about where you are in your plant-based journey, where you’re struggling, or celebrate your successes. It’s truly an honor to be able to create something that allows you all to gather to share ideas and forge new friendships. So thank you to everyone who attended. We are so looking forward to the next one. Mark your calendars for May 13!  ...
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Vegan Wine Pairing Dinner being offered at the Heritage Restaurant

We’re so excited to tell you about an upcoming vegan wine pairing dinner being offered by the Heritage Restaurant at the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education and Chef Kevin Dunn. Chef Dunn is one of the leading vegan chefs in the country and is a professor at Grand Rapids Community College. On February 25th, you’ll get a chance to have a fine dining meal paired with wine. The cost per person is $39.99 (plus tax and gratuity). For reservations, call (616) 234-3700. Here’s the menu: 1st course (Amuse Bouche):  Tofu Ceviche with Mangos, Cucumbers, Citrus and Red Bell Pepper and Plantain Crisps 2nd course: Grilled Romaine Hearts Salad with Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette, Pine Nuts and Cipolini Onions Wine pairing: Rodney Strong Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma, California  3rd course: Onion Tart Tatin, Upside Down Bermuda Onion Tart in Puff Pastry Braised in Maple Syrup and Balsamic Vinegar Wine pairing: Hess Select Chardonnay, Monterrey, California 4th course: Grilled Mushroom Wellington, Wrapped in Wilted Spinach, Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Buttercup Squash in Flakey Puff Pastry. Served with Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Romesco Sauce Wine pairing: Franciscan Estate Merlot, Oakville, Napa, California 5th course: Japanese Kabocha Squash Crème Brûlée with Brandied Apples Wine Pairing: St Julian’s Catherman’s Port...
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A Visit to Vegfest 2013

Editor’s Note: As sad as it makes us, we can’t be in every place all the time! However, there are lots of cool vegan related things happening around the state that we still want to make sure you hear about. Our hope is that guest posts like the one below can help make sure we cover all the things! Our first ever guest post comes to you from rockstar-for-animals, Alexis Croswell. She attended VegFest in Novi over the weekend, and wrote up her experience. If you have interest in being a guest blogger, make sure you drop us a line.  When I heard about this vegan food celebration (put on by VegMichgan), I was eager to attend Vegfest 2013 and sample vegan food from vendors who are mainly located in the southeastern Michigan area (which also happens to my my hometown). Walking in to the Suburban Showplace I was handed my Whole Foods paper bag to carry goodies I’d collect throughout the day. Since everyone received a bag, on first glance the room looked like one big Whole Foods convention. The Showplace was, happily I might add, packed. Once we entered the main room, my friend Chelsea and I immediately entered the food line and waited to taste our first food sample, Bolthouse Farms Berry juice. Then there was a warm chocolate infusion and chocolate covered mango from Schakolad. Then there were wraps from Upton’s, and dips from Teta Foods (Fattoush and Garlic sauce? Be still my heart!) and Brown Rice Stir-fry from Om Cafe, the list goes on! I couldn’t do it justice trying to recall each booth we attended, but I can say that there was not a sample I tried that I didn’t enjoy. I do have to give special mention to the Ice Cream stand, Treat Dreams located in Ferndale, Michigan for their wonderful Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream. Kudos to you, Treat Dreams, by embracing the vegan customer in your business. By the time Chelsea and I had been walking around for about an hour we were sufficiently full from all of the wonderful food samples we had tasted. I not only appreciated the food, but I also took notice of the EcoTaster spoons that many of the vendors chose to use. They look a little like a tongue depressor, and then they fold up into a spoon! They’re also biodegradable, and I applaud...
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Vegan Grand Rapids first pairing dinner

We started VeganGR about two years ago. It’s been a crazy fun two years, but up until yesterday we had not taken our online project into the “real world.” For a while we had been trying to pull off an event like this, but we were just looking for the right opportunity. We found that with Eric Albertson at SpeakEZ Lounge who was as excited as we were to put on a dinner for 35 hungry vegans, vegetarians and omnivores looking for a great meal, paired with great beers. And of course, the opportunity to meet other foodies in Grand Rapids as a bonus on top of it all! The first course was a chilled cucumber melon shooter. A fresh cantaloupe, cucumber & honeydew melon blend with hints of lime & jalapeño served in a shot glass. It was really light and refreshing. It was served with the New Belgium Shift American Pale Lager. Next up was the Tempeh “Crab” Cakes. Sweet peppers, dijon and panko breadcrumbs came together with tempeh and a sprinkle of wakame for a “hint of the ocean” in the words of SpeakEZ Chef Scotty Peterson. It was served with a Vegenaise caper remoulade and paired with New Belgium’s Red Hoptober. The third course was Butternut Squash Bisque served with a Walnut Quinoa Salad. The soup had a dollop of Sriracha that paired well with the Stone Brewing Company Ruination IPA. The walnut quinoa salad was one of my favorites of the night. The fourth course was the Autumn Wellington. This was puff pastry filled with bulgur wheat, quinoa, walnuts & a mushroom duxelle and topped with a burgundy wine vegetable demi glace. This was served with the biggest beer of the night, Founder’s Old Curmudgeon. Some of us didn’t think we’d make it, but we reached the dessert stage. A generous portion carob laced shortcake. Served on top was a berry port wine reduction. It was served with Innes & Gunn Rum Cask. An incredible way to finish off a terrific meal. So what did everyone think? It was a smashing success! Here’s what some of the attendees had to say in our post-event survey: I really liked that it was a relatively intimate setting and there was an opportunity to converse with other people who care about food and the community that food can create and bring together in Grand Rapids. Both the pairings were fantastic and...
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