Friday, December 23, 2016

Where to Eat Vegan in Eugene / Springfield

A small gift from me to you...

I recently helped the Eugene Veg Education Network (EVEN) put together a portable PDF guide to vegan restaurants and vegan carts in the Eugene/Springfield area.

It lists 47 locations, separated into 3 categories: 100% Vegan, Vegetarian With Vegan Options, and Vegan-Friendly Restaurants (i.e., those that serve all sorts of food but have vegan options listed on their menus). 

Print yours out here

Enjoy!  :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

5 Tips for Finding Vegan Options at Restaurants

'Tis the season, and you know what that means...

It's time for celebration and gatherings of all sorts, which should be loads of fun, right? Except there's always that group that isn't quite in tune with our dietary needs, and they've opted to meet at a nice restaurant this year… perhaps even one with the words “Steak House” in the name (the horror!). 

Or, you're traveling to be with family and while en route find yourself ravenous in some unfamiliar place, only to find that the usual search on HappyCow returns zero promising results. 

So what's a vegan who desires more than a dry baked potato or crappy house salad with oil and vinegar to do? Here are some tips: 

1.   Make a call: Phone ahead and find out what your options at the restaurant may be. Speak to a manager when possible, as a manager is usually very knowledgeable about what goes into every dish (your server might not be).

Bonus tip: Try not to call during popular meal time hours when management and staff have their hands full. In general, they’ll be much more helpful when they’re not stressed for time.

2.   See if there’s a secret menu: Ask whether the restaurant has a special menu for vegan diets. More and more restaurants are starting to do this! And even if they don’t have one yet, they might in the future if enough people ask.

3.   Ask about substitutions: Ask if vegan substitutions for non-veg ingredients in menu items can be made – like a little avocado in place of the cheese. Some restaurants even keep things like tofu, Veganaise and Daiya on hand just for customers like you and me! Do note, however, that you may be charged extra for this, but it’s a small price to pay for more substance than bread rolls.

4.   Go ethnic: Look for Asian- or African- inspired options that include plenty of veggies. These types of dishes can often be easily vegan-ized without greatly altering the taste when they’re made to order without animal protein or other animal products. 

5.   Get confirmation: Verify that menu items that appear to be plant-based are indeed vegan. Hidden ingredients such as butter, milk, cream, eggs or honey may not be listed on the menu, especially for items that include bread, pasta or salad dressing, etc.

Last but not least, be polite and graciously thank your server for working with you to find plant-based options. Someone who feels appreciated is generally more willing to assist and will be more inspired to find solutions to your needs. Plus, a little kindness goes a long way for all of us, and our cause.

Got any other tips for finding vegan options at restaurants? Share them below.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

8 Kind & Compassionate Thanksgiving Recipes [Vegan]

I’ve been rather quiet since the election, busy reflecting and trying to understand all sides. A few of my most trusted confidants have been invaluable during this time—namely, love, compassion and gratitude… gratitude for our right to choose and speak up for what we believe, even when we don’t all quite agree… for family and friends, whose beliefs may differ from mine but who will always hold a special place in my heart… for the like-minded folks who keep me inspired and sane… for my four furballs who bring me so much joy, and all the other precious beings that share this Earth with us… for Mother Earth herself, and the lovely space on her crust that I call home… for clean air to breathe and healthy food on the table…  

It seems timely that our annual celebration of thanks is about to arrive (was that the plan all along when they designated November as election month?), and of course, we’re keeping it vegan in my house (because, among other reasons, this is even harder to swallow than our current events). I thought I’d share a few of my top contenders for this year's menu, in case you’d like to join us (…in spirit).

vegan caramelized onion and barley soup

This is one of my all-time faves, and it’s just as excellent with thyme in place of rosemary.

vegan autumn harvest salad

Not everyone’s a fan of Brussels sprouts—but I am!—and the rest of the fall flavors combined with the creaminess of the avocado really bring this dish together.

vegan pumpkin challah rolls

I haven’t tried these yet, but they look amazing (and anything pumpkin is a winner in my book). I'm not known for my baking skills, so wish me luck!

vegan shepherd's pie

This is a regular feature in our house, and we never get tired of it. For deep, rich flavor, I suggest using Oakshire Brewing’s Overcast Espresso Stout (yes, it’s vegan) and adding more simmer time both after adding the beer and again after adding the Worcestershire sauce.

vegan pumpkin risotto

I’m a sucker for risotto, and thank goodness it tastes just as good without the cheese. Plus, I already mentioned how I feel about anything pumpkin.

vegan quinoa stuffing

Not all of Marla’s recipes are vegan, but this one is, and I especially love the addition of Oregon hazelnuts.

vegan sweet potato casserole

This has just the right amount of sweetness and turns out great every time. It’s perfect for potlucks and pleases even the non-root-vegetable-lovers in the house.

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

And, of course, dessert! This is so easy to make, and the crust is absolutely divine.

So what’s on your menu for this Thanksgiving?

Monday, November 7, 2016

Cast Your Vote Today (& Everyday) For Rainforests, Orangutans & Personal Health

Rainforests and their inhabitants are under serious threat because of palm oil, a widely-used substance that also presents a danger to our own health. Learn all about it and what we can do.

Orangutan threatened with extinction due to palm oil industry
Orangutans are threatened with extinction due to palm oil
Voting is a hot topic these days, but it’s important to keep in mind that each and every one of us casts powerful votes on a daily basis. Every single day, regardless of the month or year, we decide what to buy, what to eat, what to wear, what to take from the environment and what to introduce back in, and no matter how deep our pockets, those decisions bear influence through the laws of supply and demand. Moreover, when we are united and cast our votes collectively, we become a commanding force capable of transforming the world into the kinder, healthier place we all seek.

That’s why it’s so important that we come together now in a collective stand against unsustainable palm oil—for the sake of orangutans (some of our closest relatives in the animal kingdom), for Sumatran rhinos and tigers and pygmy elephants who are on the cusp of extinction, for native villagers whose voices are silenced as their homes and livelihoods are mercilessly seized, and for future generations, both here and abroad, whose rights to clean air and a habitable earth are deteriorating by the minute.

You see, the problem with palm oil lies in how it is being produced—a process that is carelessly ravaging the world’s rainforests, decimating habitat for critically endangered species, and contributing greatly to global warming—and those issues, along with the damage palm oil can cause to our own health, are why we all need to care.

Let’s take a closer look at palm oil and how it relates to these issues. 

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Thursday, August 18, 2016

5 Spots for Cool Vegan Treats on the North Oregon Coast

Hug Point State Park on the Oregon Coast
Hug Point State Park on the Oregon Coast
With lots of sunshine forecast for the Oregon coast this week and next, what better way to celebrate than with a lazy day on the beach… feet in the sand, dogs by my side, a good book and cool vegan treat in hand… oh, I can hardly wait. If you’re headed that way, too, or more specifically to the northern stretch of coastline between Astoria and Nehalem, then let me save you some trouble by telling you exactly where to go to find those treats:

Frite & Scoop [Astoria] 

175 14th Street #150, Astoria in the 14th Street Pilot Station

Conveniently located on the Astoria Riverwalk, and just steps away from where the sea lions congregate under the trestles, sits a small-batch ice cream shop called Frite & Scoop. Flavors change regularly, and generally include one or two vegan options. The day’s selection is posted everyday at noon on the store’s Facebook page; however, you’ll need to inquire within to confirm which of those flavors are vegan.

Open Thursday through Saturday from noon ‘til 8pm and Sunday and Monday from noon ‘til 7pm.

Bridgewater Bistro [Astoria]

20 Basin Street in Astoria

Planted at the foot of the Astoria-Megler Bridge with a wonderful view of the Columbia River, you’ll find Bridgewater Bistro, which offers vegan lunch and dinner options, vegan sorbet for dessert (try the Mango Coconut Lime), and a lovely, relaxing atmosphere, to boot.

Open ‘til 9pm Sunday through Thursday and on Saturday and Sunday until 9:30pm.

Sea Star Gelato [Seaside]

8 N. Columbia Street in Seaside

vegan sorbet from Sea Star Gelato in Seaside Oregon
Berry Lemon Sorbetto from Sea Star Gelato
If you’re looking for a wider selection to choose from and/or closer proximity to the beach, head to Sea Star Gelato in Seaside, where six to seven clearly marked “dairy free” sorbettos are made fresh each day. Some of the frequently offered favorites include Berry Lemon, Blood Orange Lemon, Fresh Pear, Watermelon Mint, and Chocolate Cashew. Or, if you have a special flavor in mind (like hazelnut, pistachio, peanut butter, or perhaps a favorite fruit combo), simply leave a message via the shop’s Facebook page the evening before, or really early on the morning of, and the owner says he will do his best to make it happen.

Open weekdays from noon ‘til 8pm and on Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 9pm.

Cannon Beach Café [Cannon Beach]

1116 South Hemlock Street in Cannon Beach

Is any trip to these parts complete without a visit to Cannon Beach? Whether you’re bound for Haystack Rock, Ecola State Park, or Hug Point (my personal favorite), plan a stop at the Cannon Beach Café, which in addition to vegan fruit sorbet offers one heck of a sweet potato burger.

Open Tuesday through Sunday from 11am to 3pm for lunch and 5pm to 9pm for dinner.

Buttercup [Nehalem]

35915 Highway 101 North in Nehalem

Nestled among the antique shops lining Highway 101 in the quaint village of Nehalem sits a sweet little gem called Buttercup, where the list of revolving flavors has included such vegan treats as Cherry-Chocolate Sorbet, Strawberry-Basil Sorbet, Summer Sangria Sorbet, Rhubarb Ginger Sorbet, Passion Fruit Lime Sorbet, Lemon Violet Sorbet, Coconut Pistachio, and Almond Milk Mint Chocolate Shard, all of which can be paired with a specialty vegan cone. For today’s list, check the shop's website or Facebook page.

Open Wednesday through Monday from 11:30am until 6pm.

Know of any other great spots that offer cool vegan treats on the Oregon Coast? Post ‘em in the comments!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Vegan Beers: Oregon Edition

What??! Beer isn’t vegan?! 

It’s true, many beers aren’t considered animal-product-free—even those that don’t contain any honey, lactose or other animal-sourced ingredients—because of the products brew masters often use to process, filter and clarify the beer. These can include things like gelatin, egg whites, or isinglass, which comes from fish bladders.

Fortunately, not all brewers engage in such practices, and the good news is that many of those who do not are based right here in Oregon (see, I told you Oregon is cool!). So, vegan peeps, the next time you’re in the mood for a cold one, do yourself a favor and stick to one of these brands (listed alphabetically):

Please note (#1): Some of these brands may also create varietals containing honey (which is sometimes featured in the varietal’s name, but not always), lactose (which is milk sugar), or lactobacillus (which is a brewers bacteria used to make sour ales and is sometimes used in yogurt form**) to achieve certain flavors or textures, so it’s still a good idea to check, especially if it’s “creamy” or "sour."

When in doubt and the bartender isn’t quite sure, you can always do a quick search on or try one of these apps to be in the know on the go.

PLEASE NOTE (#2): Honey malt is vegan**, so no need to worry if that shows up in the list of ingredients.

PLEASE NOTE (#3): Even those verified as vegan may still include refined sugar.

* Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Ninkasi Brewery in Eugene, and Bridgeport Brewing in Portland were also recently recognized by Vinepair for their environmentally-friendly operations… double bonus!

** Special thanks to McMenamins for these tips!

Know of any other vegan-friendly Oregon brews? Post ‘em in the comments!