Small-Bite Sundays: August 20, 2017

Small-Bite Sundays

Last weekend I was in Austin, spending a quick couple days with friends and spending less time on social media. It was like a little break from the news, which is almost universally shitty and painful. And then I saw something about what was going on in Charlottesville and realized how lucky and privileged I am to be able to disconnect like that.

I have so much to say (and so many feelings) about this, but who needs to read another white girl’s thoughts. Here are some other things to read instead.

Small bites: to read

Ijeoma Olua has some of the best, most provocative pieces on contemporary race issues in America. Her piece about fighting white supremacy is timely and well-worth your time. Anyone can make a Facebook post expressing outrage or shake their head at the water cooler and talk about how horrible the Charlottesville situation is, but we have to do more. White people have to do more. We’ve enabled and been complicit in perpetuating white supremacy, and we have to be the ones to take it down. Olua’s list gives concrete ways to start.

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I was planning to share Jaya Bhumitra’s “Celebrating the Globalization of Animal Advocacy — and Avoiding Imperialism” before Charlottesville, and it seems extra relevant now. This piece is a crucial reminder that as wonderful as it is to see many U.S.-based animal protection groups expanding internationally, we need to be mindful of how we work with  other nations. While her tips are geared towards organizations doing this kind of work, they’re also applicable to other endeavors that expand across the globe.

Bhumitra’s piece is hosted on the Encompass blog. If you haven’t heard of it, Encompass is a timely new organization dedicated to building a more racially inclusive animal welfare movement. While there are absolutely vegans of color doing amazing work, the movement as a whole has not prioritized diversity. Encompass wants to change that. As they say, “If we want our collective mission — to reduce suffering — to take hold, our movement must reflect the country we are trying to change. We must be the change.

What really excites me about Encompass’ work is that it’s not just rhetoric. Instead, they’re grounding their philosophy in concrete work. On an individual level, they plan to “empower advocates of color by cultivating leadership potential.” On an organization-wide level, they will “work with professional farmed animal protection organizations to maximize staff impact, recruit more people of color, and more authentically conduct outreach to communities of color.” Yes.

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On another topic… if you interact with any millennials, you’ve probably heard at least one of us complain about adulting. I’ve probably done it myself, but to be honest, I’ve always felt a little uncomfortable with the phrase — even if I couldn’t articulate why. This piece from Sian Ferguson at The Establishment shares one reason that resonated with me: The way we use the phrase is often classist.

Ferguson’s argument, in brief, is that many children (those who grow up in poverty; those who grow up with mentally or physically disabled parents) have to “adult” at a young age. Ferguson speaks poignantly about her own childhood and how she had to worry about adult things at a young age.

The idea of “adulting” also rubs me the wrong way because people seem to use it to tacitly beg for praise. “Look at me; I paid a bill! Hey, I did <a thing> on my own! #adulting!” Big deal. Maybe I’m revealing my own misanthropy here more than anything, but, yuck. It’s also bizarrely self-infantilizing phrase, one that exempts the speaker from responsibility in anything other than the single task they’ve managed to accomplish. Again, yuck.

Small bites: to watch

I both want to watch and dread watching the Vice News Tonight episode on Charlottesville.

Small bites: to eat

Vaishali’s carrot almond breakfast pudding. Maybe I just love the phrase “breakfast pudding,” but this date-sweetened dish has me salivating.

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Vegan Haagen-Dazs ice cream!The new vegan Häagen-Dazs ice cream — specifically, the chocolate salted fudge truffle flavor. This is really, really good. Absurdly creamy mouthfeel with a really wonderful, high-quality chocolate flavor. I did not expect to enjoy this ice cream as much as I did! And as far as I can tell, it’s a water-based gelato — pretty darn allergen-friendly. Available only at Target for now, but worth your while to seek out. I loved this ice cream so much that I ate it from the container, a practice I generally find distasteful. Here is a picture for proof (a rare selfie, and rarer to post it here!).

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Let me know if you’ve read/watched/eaten anything noteworthy lately.

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Ethical Product Review: Oka-B Taylor Flats

I am not exactly a shoe fiend. Sure, I like shoes, I admire different styles, I enjoy wearing everything from cute heels to kick-ass boots, but I’m not the type of person who gets buried under an avalanche of footwear when opening her closet. I prefer to keep things minimal and to identify gaps in my footwear wardrobe before buying another pair. My desire to purchase only ethically made, cruelty-free, vegan footwear* certainly helps; there are fewer options that fit those criteria, especially affordable ones.

So when I realized I was sorely lacking in work-appropriate shoes for summer, the search for a pair of flats commenced. I have very few light-colored shoes (beige or tan), so I focused my search on that color.

Oka-B Taylor flats in blush. Image copyright Oka-B.

Oka-B Taylor flats in blush. Image copyright Oka-B.

Eventually I settled on the Taylor ballet flats by Oka-B, and here’s why. Oka-B is a woman-owned company that produces affordable shoes in the United States and has a real focus on sustainability. What I really love is that they’re recyclable: You can send your worn-out Oka-B shoes back to their factory, where the company will recycle them and use the material in new products. This sort of closed-loop production really gets me excited. What makes this possible is that the shoes are made of a patented plastic blend. Yes, I know — plastic shoes. I realize that for many folks, this might put you off if you try to avoid plastic altogether or if you’re worried about sweat. I am #blessed with feet that are never particularly sweaty, so I wasn’t too worried about any stink. And the plastic does have an up side: You can wash these babies in the sink or in the dish washer with just water and soap.

Although there are some reviews of the Taylors floating around the internet, none are particularly comprehensive. So I ordered the Taylor flats in blush and tried them for myself. Here’s my experience.

How do Oka-B Taylor flats fit?

The best I can say is, “They fit OK.” Unfortunately, Oka-B does not offer half sizes. This is a real bummer for those of us whose feet fall smack-dab between two whole sizes! I typically wear a 7.5, so first I ordered a 7. I’d read that the shoes can sometimes stretch, and I have narrow feet, so that seemed like a safe bet.

It was not a safe bet. I should not have taken that bet. Oh man. The first time I wore these all day long, I was in pain by 5:00. They squeezed, they pinched, and I was in agony. Instead of stretching, they seemed to contract, while my feet swelled in response. The result was… not good. That night, I gave the pair a thorough cleaning and immediately exchanged them for an 8.

Oka-B Taylor flatsAhh, [relative] bliss. Or so I thought.

Unfortunately, the 8s are just a smidge too big for my feet, just a little bit too loose. They’re serviceable, though, so I kept this pair. But when I’m walking downhill they sometimes slip off my heels, and overall they just don’t feel perfect.

If Oka-B would only offer half sizes, this would not be an issue. I hope they consider doing so in the future!

How comfortable are Oka-B Taylor flats?

My experience with the Taylors has been mixed, even aside from the sizing issue. Although the site’s ad copy touts “soothing massage beads” and “premium arch support,” anyone with high arches (me!) will unfortunately not notice these perks. My arches sit well above the massage beads, although they do look comfortable. To be clear, though, these shoes are definitely more comfortable than cheaper ballet flats I’ve owned in the past, the ones with totally flat footbeds and no cushioning to speak of.

Unfortunately, I also experience toe pain with these shoes. Although these flats are somewhat flexible, the tops of the shoes dig into the bone of my right big toe. Though the pain isn’t acute, after a full day of wear, I’m definitely ready to take my shoes off. This seems to be a very specific problem though; if you read the reviews for the Taylor, many people find them absolutely comfortable.

One aspect I do like is the sole: These shoes have nice grippy soles; no slipping here!

Are Oka-B Taylor flats a good value?

With a list price of $40 (less on Amazon), I’d say the Taylors are a great value for made-in-the-USA vegan shoes! They come in a ton of colors, so if you find a size that fits, you could get a few pairs.

Oka-B Taylor flats

Would I buy them again?

Honestly, no. The size is not perfect and my stupid toe anatomy means these are comfortable only up to a point. (A day in the office is fine; two days in a row, not so much. And I would not walk long distances in them.) I’m disappointed; I’d hoped they’d fit well so I could buy a second, more colorful pair at some point.

I might experiment with another Oka-B style. I think I might be able to get away with a 7 in the open-toed wedges, for example.

Would I recommend the Taylor flats?

I recommend at least giving them a try. Thousands of positive reviews should count for something, and perhaps you can find a size that fits.

Note that Oka-B has a sister company, Okabashi, that makes casual sandals; I have a two-year-old pair that’s still going strong. So the quality seems good.

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All in all, I’m glad I tried the Taylor flats, even if they weren’t a perfect fit for me. Let me know if you’ve tried them or other Oka-B styles!

*I’m not perfect. Desperate for shoes to match a specific dress for a wedding, I’ve purchased heels that were likely not made ethically. Vegan, yes, but not necessarily cruelty-free if you consider unfair working conditions a form of cruelty (and I do).

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Oka-B Taylor flats: an ethical shoe review on govegga.com~~~

Disclaimer: I was not provided with free shoes from Oka-B nor compensated in any way for a review. I simply bought the shoes and wanted to share my thoughts in an Oka-B shoe review. This post does contain affiliate links, which come at no additional cost to you.

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Make-Ahead Vegan Breakfasts to Save Time and Keep You Full!

Moment Cafe PragueBreakfast: allegedly the most important meal of the day, and almost definitely the most easily skippable. As a reformed chronic breakfast-skipper, I can sympathize with anyone who just isn’t hungry enough to eat in the morning. (And don’t let the breakfast evangelists get you down — it turns out that the science behind breakfast’s importance has been over-stated and misinterpreted.)

These days, I nearly always eat something within an hour or two of waking up. On weekdays, that means I’m eating at my desk; I’m just not hungry enough to eat before I leave for work. (And, to be honest, I simply don’t want to get up early enough to make and eat breakfast at the house!) So I’ve come to rely on to-go options that will give me a burst of energy and keep me full.

If you, too, are in search of vegan breakfasts that you can make ahead of time and take with you, I have you covered! Here are some of my favorite ways to eat breakfast without digging into that stash of Clif bars you keep in your desk. (Save those for afternoon slumps!)

Top-down view of a metal baking dish filled with a casserole-like baked oatmeal studded with blueberries. To the right is a tan baking mitt, and across the top of the dish is a wooden spoon.

Make-ahead oatmeal breakfasts

There’s a reason overnight oat recipes are still popular: they’re awesome! Overnight oats are portable, dead easy to make in advance, and quite healthy. (As long as you don’t sweeten them into oblivion.) Put together your jar of ingredients before bedtime and by morning, you’ll have breakfast ready to go. You can even make a large amount and parcel it out for a few days’ worth of breakfasts!

Here are my favorite easy overnight oat recipes:

If cold oats don’t appeal (especially during the winter), you can always heat up your overnight oats. Or you can make fresh hot oatmeal in the morning, provided you have access to a microwave at work. I do this frequently — before I leave for work, I’ll fill a jar with a big scoop of quick oats and a handful of frozen berries. When I get to work, I’ll pour everything into a bowl and add some soy milk and hot water, then cook it in the microwave. The berries add flavor and a little extra nutrition; I don’t need to sweeten my oats when I use them. No, quick oats aren’t as nutritious as rolled or steel-cut oats, but they’re certainly better than no oats at all!

Baked oatmeal is another oat-based breakfast favorite of mine. You’ll need to prepare the baked oats in advance, but then you can reheat portions for a hot, oat-y breakfast that’s not quite oatmeal and not quite a breakfast bar. My banana bread baked oatmeal or baked blueberry oatmeal would both work here!

(Semi-)healthy breakfast bars or cookies

Pumpkin Spice Baked Oatmeal BarsIf you’ve overdosed on oats or just want something a little more indulgent, a batch of breakfast bars or cookies might fit the bill. (They could also be a great option if you’re used to eating sugary muffins or pastries for breakfast and want to transition to a slightly healthier baked good.) What moves a bar or cookie into breakfast territory? Well, my completely unscientific definition is that if it contains less sugar than a normal recipe and has other redeeming factors (whole grains; extra protein to keep you full), it counts! Perhaps best of all, you can make a batch on the weekend and it’ll sustain you for the entire week.

Here are a few options to get you started. I’d pair one of these bars or cookies with a piece of fruit for a rounder meal.

Easy vegan pudla

My love for pudla (savory chickpea-flour omelettes) never wanes! Although I typically enjoy pudla for dinner, you could make a double batch and save one for breakfast. Just reheat and serve with your favorite toppings. My basic recipe is here, but you can also make them smaller and thinner, like crepes. Play around with flavor profiles and mix-ins for infinite pudla fun!

Leftovers for breakfast!

Greens & Grains Bowl // govegga.comWhat? Last night’s dinner for today’s breakfast? Why not?! Plenty of folks enjoy savory food for breakfast, and you can too. If last night’s kale and grain bowl was particularly tasty but didn’t leave enough leftovers for a full lunch, why not just eat it for breakfast? There are worse ways to start the day than with veggies. You could even purposefully make extra roasted or pan-fried potatoes and call them home fries the next day. Now that’s thinking ahead!

Filling breakfast smoothies

Although I prefer to make my smoothies right before eating them, some recipes handle overnight refrigeration just fine. I personally wouldn’t do it with a banana-based smoothie (because I find that the banana flavor and texture get a bit odd), but any other fruit and nondairy milk smoothie should work OK! Add protein powder for even more staying power.

PB granola and vegan yogurt // govegga.com

Other easy vegan breakfast options

Let me know if I’ve missed any other great make-ahead vegan breakfast recipes!

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Make-ahead vegan breakfasts // govegga.com Make-ahead vegan breakfasts // govegga.com

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Small-Bite Sundays: July 30, 2017

Small-Bite Sundays

Hello, hello! I began writing this post at 11:30 this morning from my bed as I enjoyed a Lazy Sunday morning. I slept in (a rare treat), and then Steven brought me coffee (I’m spoiled) before he left to go see a movie. I read for a while, then got up to make myself some breakfast — coffee on an empty stomach never ends well. Although I’m pretty lukewarm on Follow Your Heart’s VeganEgg, I somehow always seem to have some in the pantry, so I made myself a scramble for breakfast. By itself, the “egg” is pretty bland, so I doctored it up with garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, black beans, and some Daiya cheddar. Not bad!

Back to the Lazy Sunday concept. I often have difficulty accepting that I “deserve” a lazy day of doing almost nothing. It’s not like there are rules writ in stone for what a 30-year-old woman must do on the weekend, yet I feel guilty if I’m not spending time outside or accomplishing household tasks or working on one of my side projects. Overall, I keep a pretty healthy work-life-physical-activity-side-project balance, so there’s nothing inherently wrong with tipping the scales in favor of restfulness for a single day, right?  A week of indolence might be cause for concern; a single day (morning!) is not.

(And, for what it’s worth, I spent the early afternoon weeding the patio and then went thrifting with a friend. I couldn’t even allow myself a full day of laziness!)

Well. On to this week’s small bites, and here’s to taking time out of your day to read, watch, and eat the things that make you happy, even if you feel lazy while doing so!

Small bites: to read

First, a science-based review of What the Health from the incomparable Ginny Messina, aka the Vegan RD. It’s so crucial to have folks like Ginny in the movement, people who are willing to speak out against the frequently unfounded claims that veganism is the only way to eat, in terms of healthiness. I haven’t watched What the Health (and, to be honest, I don’t plan to do so), but many of my fellow vegans have been absolutely gushing about it all over social media. Ginny provides a rational, science-based counterpoint to the movie, arguing that it’s harmful for quite a few reasons: for the overblown claims about how veganism affects one’s health; for its reliance on cherry-picked and even willfully misunderstood data to support those claims; for presenting an unrealistic picture of veganism that ultimately hurts the movement.

I am vegan, first and foremost, for the animals. The health benefits are secondary for me, and I do not believe we can say that veganism is the “healthiest” diet with a good conscience. Nutrition is a complex and misunderstood science, and when folks try to simplify it and sway the data in favor of a single way of eating, it’s harmful in many ways. I appreciate Ginny’s review and wholeheartedly agree with her sentiments.

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Jennifer Weiner’s piece in the NYT Sunday Review section on the men who “never have to grow up” is a reminder of the ways in which our society makes excuses for (white) men and paints their misdeeds (criminal or otherwise) as “youthful indiscretions.” Pegged specifically to Donald Jr.’s dirt-gathering meeting with the Russians — and his dad’s attempt to excuse it by saying that Don Jr., a 39-year-old man, is “an honest kid” — the piece briefly covers other (white) men who benefit from this phenomenon before pointing out that women and black men never receive that benefit. It’s short and surface level, but if you’re unfamiliar with this concept or haven’t really thought about it much, it could be worth a read.

Small bites: to watch

Umm… I’ve got nothing. We just finished a Parks and Recreation rewatch and have started in on The Office. The latter is basically the television equivalent of comfort food for me. :)

Small bites: to eat

Doughnuts, always doughnuts. We have a fabulous vegan doughnut shop about 30 minutes away up in Frederick, but I’d been hearing about a Baltimore-based do[ugh]nut bakery for a while now. Donut Alliance had a booth at Baltimore VegFest this spring but were sold out by the time Steven and I realized it. So when I heard they’d be peddling their sweet, sweet wares at a small vegan marketplace event this weekend, I decided we had to check it out. We did! And we bought doughnuts!

Clockwise from top left, that’s strawberry margarita, birthday cake, Samoa, and maple bacon. YUM. These were super light and fluffy doughnuts, and I enjoyed them all. That lime-infused strawberry margarita might have been my favorite!

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Since we’re talking  vegan junk food, how about this cheesy pull-apart pizza bread from Vegan Richa? I feel like maybe I need a kid or two to come visit as an excuse to make this, but then again, I’m an adult! I can do what I want and eat what I want!

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Let me know if you’ve read/watched/eaten anything noteworthy!

Editor’s note: This post includes an affiliate link. If you purchase something through my link, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies. I’m not looking to make a fortune, just to cover hosting costs.

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Vegan in… Bethel, Alaska?

If you haven’t heard of Bethel, Alaska, no worries — you’re not alone. Until a few weeks ago, neither had I. Located in the expansive state’s southwest coast, nestled into the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Bethel is 400 miles from Anchorage and feels worlds away from the tourist-filled hotspots of Denali or the Kenai Fjords. Inaccessible by road, the only way in is via plane. Some folks are lucky enough to get on a 737, but I made my way from Anchorage to Bethel on a prop plane. The clip-clip-clip of the propellers became background noise as I watched soaring snow-capped peaks give way to marshy, flat tundra, with a series of increasingly frequent rivers snaking their way through the Alaskan bush.

Flight from Anchorage to Bethel -- propeller over marshy tundraAlaska was not on my already-extensive travel list for this year, but when I had an opportunity to travel there for work, I responded with an immediate “Yes, please, when does the plane leave?” I won’t scoop my own story, but I was there to report on (and help with) our work providing vet services and supplies to three villages in the Y-K Delta. It was a surreal six days, easily the most unique and unforgettable week of travel I’ve ever had. We traveled by boat, by 4-wheeler, by large jet, by tiny Cessna, by our own two feet, and — once — by bicycle.

Because all groceries and supplies must be flown in to Bethel and the surrounding villages, you’ll pay a pretty penny for nearly everything, even more so than in locations closer to Alaska’s “big” cities. Plus, the villages themselves have only small general stores with limited provisions. So our team came prepared, with suitcases loaded full of veg-friendly staples. I personally packed my weight in bars: Clif, Luna, Lara, and all their friends. I fully expected to subsist wholly on processed proteins for six days.

"Be Healthy in Bethel" public artwork on a dumpster in Bethel, Alaska

But! Bethel had some surprises in store. While on a group food run at the local grocery-cum-hardware-cum-everything-else store*, I was flabbergasted to see not one but two brands of vegan yogurt: Daiya and, absurdly, Kite Hill. (I can barely find Kite Hill around here!) Next to the yogurt was a row of Daiya’s new-ish farmhouse block cheeses. A few rows over, we found Califia brand almond milks, along with the more common Silk and Almond Breeze. And there were two — two! — types of tofu. Yes, everything cost more than you’d pay in the Lower 48, but darn it if we didn’t buy a block of Daiya Gouda. Voting with our dollar, indeed. (One thing we could not find? Hummus!)

I didn’t snag a photo of the nondairy display, but you can use your imagination. Just include an image of me, jaw dropping Home Alone-style, and you’ll have an even more accurate picture.

So, vegans: If you’re heading to rural Alaska, you might just get lucky when it comes to nondairy delights. It never hurts to look!

*I can’t remember the name of the store with 100% certainty, but I’m pretty sure it was Swanson’s. It was definitely not the flashy, new-looking grocery store, though — that one had an “organic/natural food” section but did NOT have nearly as many nondairy treats!

Small-Bite Sundays: July 16, 2017

Small-Bite Sundays

Just popping in briefly tonight. I’ve been in Rhode Island visiting family for two days, and I’m heading out on a six-day work trip tomorrow. It’s a busy summer. And a busy past week — I haven’t spent too much time  on the ol’ interwebs, so I have just a few bites to share today.

Small bites: to read

From rock-star feminist Lindy West, this piece about how men can truly be there for women. It’s not exactly groundbreaking advice; in short, she’s telling men to stand up for us and use your voice to fight against sexism. But West also candidly acknowledges the risks men take when they do so: that they’ll be considered “a dorky, try-hard male feminist stereotype;” that they’ll “lose their spot in the club.” I think it’s always helpful to honestly acknowledge what’s at stake when you ask someone to use their privilege for you, and I appreciate West doing so. I’m also excited that this is just the first installment of West’s new weekly column on the New York Times’ Opinion Pages. Get it, Lindy.

(P.S. Her piece introduced me to the new (?) concept of the “dirtbag left,” which makes me sigh loudly and want to go to sleep for a million years.)

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Amey’s wrap-up of her time in Tallinn, Estonia, has me itching to book a flight! I’ve been reading great things about Estonia, and Amey’s post about the incredible vegan options in Tallinn just helped this country rocket up my travel bucket list.

Small bites: to watch

This clip has been making the rounds, but it’s too good not to share. The inimitable Andy Serkis brings back his Gollum voice to… read a few classic Trump tweets. He’s a great sport about it, too.

Small bites: to eat

Vaishali’s cauliflower makhani dosa crepes are going on my to-make shortlist. Creamy makhani gravy and a quick dosa recipe? I’m there.

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Colorful rainbow saladSalad days. I’m finally becoming a master of the kitchen-sink salad. Salads don’t need a theme; who knew? This one features mixed baby greens, tomatoes, roasted Turkish eggplant slices, sautéed paprika chickpeas, and a zesty lemon-turmeric-tahini dressing. I also added a crumbled veggie burger and hemp seeds for extra protein. Side note: those Turkish eggplants (also called scarlet or Ethiopian eggplants) are a new favorite. I spotted them at the farmer’s market and had to try them. They look like persimmons but taste like  a slightly milder version of the regular ol’ eggplants we all know and love (or tolerate).

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Right! Now to sleep. Expect some radio silence for the next week or so; I’ll be off the grid. :) Happy Sunday!

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Vegan in The Hague

I had grand plans for my trip to Amsterdam: I was going to take SO MANY DAY TRIPS to the little cities and towns dotted around Amsterdam proper. Delft, Utrecht, Leiden, Haarlem, The Hague… they’re all just a quick and inexpensive train ride away! I could be there and back in an afternoon! I would see it all!

…yeah, no. Sure, I technically had the time to fit in all (well, most) of those little jaunts, but I would have had to travel every single day. And I would have missed out on the absolute best parts of this trip: wandering around Amsterdam, savoring meals slowly, and leisurely strolling through museums. I’m glad I lifted the burden of trying to see it all from my shoulders and opted instead to do what I wanted to do in the moment. I ended up taking just one day trip and decided on the destination with pure pragmatism: I was going on a Sunday, and many of the museums in my potential destination cities would be closed.

View from the Mauritshuis in Den Haag, the Netherlands

View from the Mauritshuis in The Hague

The Mauritshuis in The Hague, however, was open for business. Considering that the Mauritshuis is home to Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, two special Rembrandts (The Nightwatch and The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp), and a particularly charming Jan Steen (As the Old Sing, So Pipe the Young), The Hague (or Den Haag, if you prefer the Dutch name) seemed like a fine choice.

And it was. The Sunday crowds were sparse, the sun was out to counteract a chill in the air, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time in this internationally important city. My only real disappointment? The Den Haag location of De Vegetarische Slager (the Vegetarian Butcher) was closed! This purveyor of vegetarian and vegan meats runs a “concept store” in The Hague, with a fully vegan menu of deli sandwiches and other lunch specialties. Sigh.

De Vegetarische Snackbar

De Vegetarische Snackbar, Den HaagMany of the other vegan places on my list were also closed, so I meandered through the city to De Vegetarische Snackbar instead. The walk took me through some more residential neighborhoods, which I always enjoy, and led me to an unassuming storefront in a little row of restaurants.

In my experience, old-school veg joints go one of two ways: There are the hippie-inspired, sprouts-n-tofu, peace and love joints (see: De Bolhoed in Amsterdam), but there are also the more hardcore, punk-inspired, surly-tattooed-server joints as well. De Vegetarische Snackbar falls into that latter category (minus the surliness).

The massive menu is all vegetarian and heavy on the junk food, with lots of burgers and fake meats. Clearly-labeled vegan options make ordering relatively simple, although it took a few tries for me to communicate my order (the lupine burger) to the server. Whereas almost all vegan-friendly restaurants in Amsterdam had staffers who spoke very good English, there was a little language barrier in The Hague. (Not, of course, that that’s a bad thing; just something to be aware of. I tried learning some Dutch before I went but found it bizarrely tricky. I usually have a knack for foreign languages, so that was a bit of a surprise.)

My lupine burger, though impressive to the eye and just fine to the palate, was nearly impossible to eat as assembled. I am developing something of an aversion to these massive buns. Honestly, can anyone actually fit that whole thing in their mouth?! It’s impossible and painful, like you’re going to either dislocate your jaw or rough up the sides of your mouth. So instead you have to deconstruct it and either shovel bits and pieces into your maw or weirdly eat it with a fork and knife, which is somehow nearly as inelegant as using your hands! I think menus should come with a warning if a given burger features a massive bun. Then you could ask for a smaller, softer one instead.

Anyway, my experience at De Vegetarische Snackbar was clearly marred by my discomfort and irritation at trying to eat a giant burger without looking like a total fool. I should have gotten the bitterballen instead.

Other options

I truly wish I’d had more time to try some of the other vegan joints in The Hague, because this seemingly buttoned-up city has plenty to offer.

  • De Vegetarische Slager: The aforementioned vegetarian butcher. Closed Sundays and Mondays, alas.
  • FOAM: The name stands for “Fresh Organic And Meat-free.” All-vegan restaurant open for breakfast and lunch only… maybe dinner if you eat on grandparent time. :)
  • Quinta Verde: Vegan “lunchroom” open from 9 am to 6 pm, serving breakfast, lunch, and even a prix-fixe brunch.
  • Veggies on Fire: Vegan restaurant serving dinner nice and late, from 5 pm to 11 pm, Wednesdays through Saturdays. Great reviews and lots of creative raw options.

Along with De Vegetarische Snackbar, these four eateries were the ones that caught my eyes and made it on to my shortlist. But check out the HappyCow listing for The Hague: This city has tons of veg-friendly establishments! It’s really quite impressive.

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Vegan in The Hague // govegga.com

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Small-Bite Sundays: July 9, 2017

Small-Bite Sundays

One thing I particularly enjoy about putting together these weekly posts is that they give me the chance to stop and reflect on what I’m reading, rather than finishing an article and moving on.

I say “reading” purposefully — I’ve noticed that I really don’t watch many videos and clips online. I prefer reading partially because I’m a pretty fast reader, whereas sometimes videos aren’t paced to my liking. It seems like more of an investment to stop and watch a video. When I’m reading, I can scan ahead and decide whether a story or article seems worth my time; it’s much harder to do that with a video. So if my posts tend to include videos only sparingly, that’s why!

Small bites: to read

When I think of media outlets that excel at investigative reporting, USA Today isn’t exactly top of mind. But maybe I’ve been doing them an injustice, because this piece on labor abuses in the trucking industry was really eye-opening. It’s a sadly familiar story: Large corporations exploit their employees — in this case, mostly immigrants — by taking advantage of the language barrier and their workers’ desperation for a job. In this case, the truckers sign on to purchase a truck through their companies, with installment payments coming out of their weekly paychecks. At the end of the week, one of the men interviewed for this piece took home just 67 cents. And if they get fired or quit, the workers’ stake in the truck — no matter how many tens of thousands of dollars they’ve contributed — is forfeited. On top of that, managers routinely coerce the drivers into working far more hours than the mandated maximum, after which drivers are required by law to rest. If the drivers say no, they’ll likely be fired… and lose that investment in the truck.

What’s extra disturbing is how many mainstream retailers rely on these companies to transport their goods from the port of Los Angeles to warehouses for further distribution. But because these retailers (Target, Walmart, Home Depot, various clothing brands, and even the usually-ethical Costco) don’t directly employ the shipping companies, instead outsourcing that work to logistics companies, they don’t feel responsible for these labor violations. It’s a grim read, but worth it. (There’s a second installment in the series, but I haven’t read that one yet.)

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From one of the few fashion bloggers I follow (thanks to her focus on ethical and sustainable fashion), this piece about why she doesn’t cover ethical men’s fashion. In a nutshell, it’s because her husband simply can’t find ethical options that fit him. He’s larger than an XL, and ethical men’s fashion companies just don’t stock those sizes. (Plus, ethical men’s fashion is less common than ethical women’s fashion in general.)

I completely understand why Leah takes this tack; she has no personal frame of reference to review men’s fashion because her husband literally can’t try on or evaluate the existing options. I appreciate that she mentions her own thin privilege in being able to fit into nearly every brand she finds, but I think there’s more to be said about women who can’t find ethical fashion that fits. At the end of the day, most ethical women’s clothing retailers are doing the exact same thing that she’s deriding the men’s brands for doing. We need to push companies to do better.

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For something lighter, this tongue-in-cheek interpretation of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s Instagram feed. I lived in Wisconsin for three and a half years and developed a healthy dislike for this union-busting governor, so I found this piece particularly amusing.

Small bites: to watch

Season two of Aziz Ansari’s Master of None! We’re only three episodes in and so far, so good. This show is consistently enjoyable in so many ways. I loooved the episodes set in Italy in particular. Those shots of the Tuscan countryside made me want to book a flight!

Small bites: to eat

These chimichurri chickpeas from Food52. What a creative way to dress up chickpeas! And the salad recipe would be super easy to veganize — just sub your favorite tofu feta or use a cashew cheese spread. Mmm.

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Vegan burgersALL THE VEGGIE BURGERS! We’ve been digging the Amy’s quarter pounders lately. With 20 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber in each burger, they’re super filling. (They do have 600 milligrams of sodium each, but you probably won’t need or want more than one!) We made these with the Daiya cheddar slices, but they don’t do much for me. I much prefer Chao. We’ve also been on a sparkling water kick. Spindrift’s grapefruit flavor is my personal favorite. No added sugar, no artificial flavors, just fizzy, fruity, deliciousness.

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I haven’t made them yet, but Mihl’s vegan brownies look absolutely killer. I’m always there for Mihl’s approach to desserts: Unlike many vegan bloggers, she’s not into healthifying treats that should be, well, treats. So she uses plenty of sugar and regular white flour in most of her dessert recipes. I mean, I like black bean brownies just fine, but sometimes I want to some regular ol’ sugar-laden brownies too, y’know?

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And that’s a wrap. Tonight Steven and I are going to see Neil Gaiman at Wolf Trap, a local indoor/outdoor venue. We bought the tickets today, pretty spontaneously, but I’m excited! I saw him once seven years ago (!) at an incredible weekend event at Wisconsin’s House on the Rock, a tourist attraction that defies description. You should visit, if you ever get the chance.

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Vegan on Etsy: Ethical Women’s Clothing!

vegan on etsy cruelty free etsyToday, I’m sharing some great options for purchasing handmade (women’s) clothing on Etsy! In my last Vegan on Etsy installment, I offered up a bevy of bags and a… sackful of satchels? Sure. I’ve also got a post on lip balms, which are plentiful on Etsy.

The pursuit of ethically made clothing is near and dear to my heart. (See: this post about ethical fashion and a few mainstream purveyors of ethical vegan clothes.) I’m on a constant quest to whittle my wardrobe and populate it with clothing that’s made to last and that fills multiple purposes. Yes, this often means spending more than you would if you went bargain-hunting at the mall, but it also means you’re (typically) investing in businesses who value treating their workers right. That’s worth it to me, especially since I put a premium on well-made clothing that will last and not need replacing in just a few years.

And the good news is that Etsy is chock full of independent makers who are doing great things with fabric. Here are a few standouts, with the important caveat that — just like I mentioned in my previous post on ethical fashion — there is a long way to go in terms of accommodating all body shapes and sizes. Sigh.

Blue Ridge Stitches

With its affordable cotton basics handmade in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Blue Ridge Stitches is a gem. I love this open jersey-knit cardigan; those giant pockets are extremely appealing.

Image copyright Blue Ridge Stitches

Image copyright Blue Ridge Stitches

Prices are fair for handmade clothing, and there’s even a sale section with quite a few ready-to-ship options.

Ellaina Boutique

Image copyright Ellaina Boutique

Image copyright Ellaina Boutique

SaveThe cotton dresses, shirts, leggings, and other apparel at Ellaina Boutique are all simple, sweet, and versatile. Shop owner and seamstress Sue chooses fabrics in rich tones and vibrant patterns and creates timeless pieces that should fit in just about anyone’s wardrobe. I took advantage of a sale last summer to purchase a sweetheart crossover dress in a gorgeous blue floral pattern (not currently available). It’s incredibly comfortable (yay, cotton jersey!) but looks dressy because of the pattern.

This day dress (above/left) is another cute style that would look great on quite a few body types. Note that while you can choose from straight sizes, you can also provide your own measurements. Sizes only go up to XL in the drop-down menu, but it does seem like she’s able to customize these garments.

Loft 415

Don’t let Loft 415’s “minimalist bohemian” descriptor deter you: This California-based shop offers plenty of basics that should appeal to folks with a variety of styles. For example, this simple black pencil skirt is a wardrobe staple, whereas fans of a more boho aesthetic might like this dolman-sleeved shirt. There’s even a maternity section!

I particularly appreciate Loft 415’s ethics. They source the raw fabrics from a company in LA, use eco-friendly inks on their screen-printed tees, and are committed to paying workers a fair wage.

PlatForma

For slightly pricier — but more design-forward — options, check out PlatForma. These carefully designed and crafted clothing items run the gamut from crisp cotton frocks to summery linen blouses.

Image copyright PlatForma

Image copyright PlatForma

This linen shirt with a tie-neck collar intrigues me! It’s such a wholly unique design, and I love the look of that linen.

Everything at PlatForma is made to order and ships from Bulgaria — a boon for you Europe-based readers!

Yana Dee

Whereas most of the other shops on this list rely solely on cotton for their ethical vegan clothing, Yana Dee also uses hemp, cotton, and soy fabrics. They also offer a wider range of styles than many competitors, with pants, scarves, jackets, and even casual wedding dresses alongside the usual suspects (skirts and dresses, mostly).

Note that Yana Dee has a few leather headbands on sale, but at least they’re using salvaged leather and not the brand-new stuff. There are also a few wool and silk items, unfortunately. But on the bright side, Yana Dee includes sizes up to 3XL as part of the standard offerings, and you can also request a custom size.

Other options

Never fear if none of these styles appeal — Etsy is a treasure trove for vintage clothing! Of course, you’ll pay more than you would if you hit up some Goodwills yourself, but if you’re not into the thrill of the thrift store hunt, you might appreciate someone else doing the hard work for you. Here are a few of my favorites, but there are hundreds of other shops out there. Don’t forget to check out the sale sections, too!

If you happen to be handy with a sewing machine, Etsy has quite a few makers who sell original patterns. I really love Hey June Handmade‘s clean, modern styles, though I have yet to try one myself, while OhMeOhMySewing has some pretty vintage-inspired dresses and shirts. You can also search for knit or crochet patterns if that’s more up your crafty alley.

Have any other favorites? Let me know what I missed!

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Finding vegan clothing on Etsy // govegga.com

Cruelty-free and vegan clothing on Etsy // govegga.com

Editor’s note: This post includes affiliate links. If you purchase something through my link, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies. I’m not looking to make a fortune, just to cover hosting costs. And my primary purpose here is to connect vegans with quality, handmade goods that help support small businesses and indie designers. :)

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Small-Bite Sundays: July 2, 2017

Small-Bite Sundays

Ugh. That’s all I can say about this week. I was beset by a mystery stomach ailment that manifested Wednesday night with terrible pain — I could barely walk straight! Since then it’s returned without warning a few times, although less acutely. I wasn’t exactly nauseated, but I didn’t feel much like eating. (Don’t worry, I forced myself to do so.) It was time for my physical anyway, so I scheduled a doctor’s appointment for later this month.

Neil the dogBoring illnesses aside, it’s been a relaxing Fourth of July weekend. Note that I didn’t say long weekend… I don’t have Monday (the third) off, alas. Kind of odd to have a Tuesday off for a holiday, but I’ll take it. We’re dogsitting sweet and spirited Neil (see left) till Wednesday — which we do every year while his parents hit the beach for the Fourth — and it’s nice to have two puppers in the house again. :) Mostly I’ve been spending the past few days embroidering fresh feminist and vegan-friendly designs for my Etsy shop and re(rererere)reading Harry Potter.  Not a bad way to spend a weekend, right? Anyway! On to the bites.

Small bites: to read

This long read on the comparisons between the Nixon and Trump presidencies, and why — in this writer’s view — the Trump administration will follow a similar path of self-destruction. As horrifying as this administration’s slide towards authoritarianism is, it’s also morbidly fascinating. In this New York Magazine story, Frank Rich draws parallels between both the two presidents’ White Houses and their actions, and suggests that Trump’s failure to learn (or care about) U.S. history means he’s doomed to repeat it. Rich also draws a parallel between the two presidents’ characters. The similarities are a bit uncanny:

“No matter what success he achieved, as Drew wrote, Nixon “never lost his resentments” or “his desire for revenge.” Success also failed to tame his kleptomaniacal tendencies; he was caught using government funds to pay for luxurious improvements to his private residences in Key Biscayne, Florida, and San Clemente, California, and manipulating his tax bill to near zero even as he became a millionaire in office. (Like Trump, he gave virtually nothing to charity.)”

This reminded me that not everything that’s happening now is quite as new and unprecedented as we think it is. So many of the tactics in Trump’s playbook (as much as he has one; I’m not convinced he’s strategic enough to plan all this in advance) seem taken directly from the Nixon era, from discrediting the “eastern media conspiracy,” as Nixon called it in the 70s, to his ridicule of public servants, to his updated (yet equally disgusting) Islam-centric version of the despicable southern strategy. Here’s hoping this administration implodes before it can do any (more) real and lasting damage, both in the States and abroad.

Small bites: to watch

Steven and I watched It Follows a few days ago, and we enjoyed this smart horror film with an indie aesthetic. I won’t give away the creep-o-riffic premise, but you’ll find yourself thinking up ways to outsmart the monster as you watch.

Small bites: to eat

Meh! My appetite is finally back after my mystery mid-week ailment, but I haven’t been eating too creatively. Trying to gorge myself on fresh summer veggies to temper the increased amounts of ice cream I’m also consuming. Speaking of which — did you see that Häagen-Dazs is now offering vegan ice cream?! I’m so fascinated by how quickly all these mainstream dairy brands (Ben & Jerry’s, Breyers) are jumping on the dairy-free train. I know that some vegans don’t want to buy anything from these companies, based on the argument that they’re still lining the pockets of an industry that is immensely cruel, and I respect that position. But we live in a capitalist society, and demand drives supply. So I’m going to buy these non-dairy options to show that the market is there, and to encourage these companies to reduce their dairy-based products in favor of more humane ones. (Don’t worry, I still support (and usually prefer) 100% vegan companies too!)

Watermelon basilTonight we hit up Paladar Latin Kitchen to grab drinks (plus chips and guac!) with a few friends. This watermelon-basil margarita hit the spot on a hot day, especially after my “I don’t want to eat or drink anything!” week. (The fact that we accidentally arrived during happy hour certainly didn’t hurt.) I followed it up with a white sangria, which featured lots of fresh mango. Summery perfection. Plus, we sat outdoors and got to see lots of adorable doggos hanging on the patio with their parents.

 

Well. Not the most exciting Sunday. :) Have you read, watched, or ate anything great lately?

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