Thursday, July 28, 2016

Oregon: Home of Awesome Vegan Brands

I remember a time when I didn't really pay attention to where things were made…nor felt a need to... 

...when I trusted that the products on a store's shelf were safe, I thought, or else wouldn't be there... 

…and when shopping was a whole lot easier, despite the many added conveniences we enjoy today.

That was before I was vegan, which bears its own shopping challenges, but even more crucially, it was before I was alerted to some of the environmental and health hazards and rights-betraying atrocities imposed by the under-regulated, if not exploitative, activities of negligent (and sometimes corrupt) corporations that don't just exist in lands afar. 

These days, I'm one of those label watchers who studies not only what's in it but also who made it and where before adding anything to my cart, physically or digitally. And the product and packaging marks that give me the most comfort anymore bear words and phrases like organic, veganiccruelty-free, non-GMOfair trade, RSPO and Green Palm

Made in Oregon sign
I'm far from alone, as is evident from the skyrocketing demand for organics and mounting pressures for labeling laws, among other trends. But there's another marking I like to see that doesn't attract quite the same following, at least not on a global or national scale, and that's Made in Oregon

Turns out, I'm not alone there, either. As an Etsy seller, I frequently see traffic coming to my store via “Made in Oregon” searches, and I don’t think that's simply because many Oregonians regard buying local as the right thing to do. I like to believe it has at least something to do with knowing that the wonderful, like-minded peeps who live here and who care as much as we do about our environment and collective well-being are creating products and processes that frequently do more than self-serve.

The fact that several of those brands are also vegan is the animal-free icing on the cake, and I want to acknowledge these companies for doing what they're doing, which includes taking extra measures to support the health and safety of not just consumers but also the planet and her many inhabitants. So, I've listed them here with a few clips from their websites that explain some of the ways they're going above and beyond providing plant-based and cruelty-free products (which, in and of itself, is fabulous). Take a look:  

      So Delicious 

So Delicious Dairy FreeOur philosophy is simple: conserve what you can, and work to restore what you can’t. We’re taking steps to reduce our water consumption wherever we can, from little things like using water-saving hose attachments in our frozen dessert factory to tackling bigger projects that have the potential to save much, much more.

Thanks to an innovative product offered by the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF), businesses like ours can now restore a portion of the water we draw from municipal water sources to critically dewatered rivers and streams. Since 2010, the Water Restoration CertificatesTM (WRCs) we’ve purchased from BEF have kept 10 million gallons of water annually in stream in Oregon’s critically dewatered Middle Deschutes River. All BEF restoration projects are certified by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to ensure that water is returned at a time and place that will produce real environmental benefits.

We’ve adopted an environmentally friendly purchasing program for all of our facilities, so we now use 100% recycled paper products, biodegradable cleaners and soaps, energy-efficient lighting, low-flow water fixtures, and we do our best to recycle wherever possible.  

We’re proud to be recognized for our efforts, as we were recently certified as a RE:think Business! The RE:think certification is awarded to businesses in Lane County, Oregon that are committed to reducing waste, conserving resources, and improving their environmental performance.

We recognize the responsibility of being a good corporate citizen in the local communities where we live, work, and play, so we’ve initiated a program where all team members can take one day of paid time off each year for volunteering at a charitable organization of their choice.

We live, work, and play in the bike-friendly communities of Eugene and Springfield, Oregon, so we thought, why not make it easier for people to leave their cars at home? Our solution was to create the Alternative Commuting Program, which rewards our employees for taking alternative forms of transportation by collecting and redeeming points for each mile traveled, whether it’s by bike, bus, or carpool. Points can then be redeemed for gift certificates at locally based, sustainable businesses in our community.

We even have a “grant” program where employees can receive a $500 discount off bike gear to help get them started!

Sources: &

Tofurky (Turtle Island Foods) 

In addition to donating our foods to homeless shelters, food banks and festivals, we give a portion of profits to support organizations out there working on behalf of the furry/feathery/scaly guys.

The sanctuaries we support rescue, rehabilitate and re-home farm animals. And they welcome visitors! Meet some four-leggers and two-wingers face-to-face. Plan a field trip to your local sanctuary and tag us in a social post; we have gifts for kind-hearted-types.

Animal advocacy groups work to make the world a safer, friendlier place for all animals, including the ones who live on farms. They fight for legislation, file litigation and launch campaigns to protect animals.

Meat reduction initiatives work with big institutions like schools and hospitals to help them serve less meat and create more animal-friendly menus. We support these groups who get the word out here at home and around the globe.

We love our little town. In addition to supporting local animal rescues, we fund community scholarships and bolster groups who protect our forests and watersheds. We also have a special devotion to those who provide nutritious food for folks in need.

At Tofurky, we’re striving to leave a better planet for future generations. Our packaging is made from mostly FSC-certified paperboard (that’s the Forest Stewardship Council, who ensures that the paper comes from responsibly-managed lumber sources). Whenever possible, we partner with sustainable, organic and Fair Trade vendors to do business.

Our 400 solar panels generate enough electricity to power 12 Oregon homes for a whole year. Electric car drivers can tank up at the charging station in our parking lot.

A rainwater harvesting system and a rooftop garden give us a hydroefficiency score that’s 40% above the Oregon building code’s minimum requirements.

Our "Green Team" is enthusiastically working toward a zero-waste goal – thanks guys! Thanks to them, we now compost all of our food scraps – that’s 2,750 pounds a week kept out of the trash can.

We only use non-GMO ingredients, period. It’s an issue close to our hearts, and we donate and campaign in favor of GMO labeling.

What is B Corp? It’s like Fair Trade, but for our entire business, not just the foods we make. Certified B Corporations have met or exceeded a set of standards for the treatment of their workers, the sourcing of their supplies, their engagement with local communities and their impact on the environment. Tofurky is proud to be in the B Corp club!


Coconut Bliss 

Our company culture values a lifestyle of sustainability, and we work to bring sustainable practices to all levels of our operation.

Three days a week we offer vegan, organic lunches to our staff, which saves time, water and electricity. The meals are prepared using produce from a local farm CSA when seasonally available. Our compost is taken to the Food for Lane County Gardens, and we recycle everything that qualifies. Our office is powered by EWEB’s Green Power program, and we are members of the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, through which we purchase Water Restoration Credits.

For the majority of our printing needs, we’ve partnered with Green Solutions in our hometown of Eugene, Oregon.


Vtopian Artisan Cheeses

Big on organics, all major and readily obtainable ingredients are organic. The business also uses eco-products such as recycled wrappings, recycled eco-labels, and plant-based containers whenever possible.


Surata Soyfoods

Early on, Surata made and has maintained a commitment to using only organic, non-GMO soybeans and other ingredients in all its products.  All our beans are purchased from certified organic growers inside the U.S. or Canada, and Surata itself is certified organic by the USDA through CCOF (


Masala Pop

Masala PopAt Masala Pop, we're committed to making not only people-pleasing popcorn, but also a difference in the community and for our planet. We support local community efforts through in-kind donations, fundraising campaigns and volunteerism; in our operations, we follow sustainable practices wherever we can. One of our highest goals is to grow the good we do and inspire other business to do the same.


Genesis Organic Juice 

We’re small so we can be picky about our 100% organic ingredients because we don’t need a lot. We use the fewest possible ingredients (just check the label!), of the highest quality, sourced locally from farms we trust, and processed minimally.


Brew Dr. Kombucha 

We believe in having as little impact on our natural environment _as possible. Here are our current sustainability practices:
             Supporting ECO: We support Ecology in Classrooms and Outdoors (ECO), an Oregon non-profit organization that provides hands-on science enrichment programs to elementary schools. Learn more at
              Fueled by Biofuel: We power our delivery fleet with fuel made locally and sustainably by SeQuential Biofuels. Learn more at
              Renewable energy: We use renewable power from PGE and Pacific Power at our teahouses and kombucha brewery.  
              Responsible waste disposal: We compost all compostable byproducts including tea leaves, SCOBYs and paper towels in our teahouses and Brew Dr. Kombucha brewery. We're diligent about recycling everything that can be recycled.
              Toxic Prevention: We utilize non-toxic and biodegradable cleaning products.


At Pacifica, our goal is to have zero product-manufacturing waste in our factory. We recycle and use post-consumer materials. Our boxes are all 100% recyclable. We work to use components that are recyclable and with suppliers who share in our vision. We offset our company travel by purchasing carbon credits.


Most of what we do is made in the U.S.A. This gives us greater control over ingredients, the manufacturing process, product quality and the working conditions of our employees. When we do not manufacture in our own facility in Portland, Oregon, we make sure that all of our products and ingredients meet our high standards. Nothing we do is tested on animals. And we never use animal ingredients.

Pacifica supports our local economy, working with local box manufacturers and other suppliers. This requires less shipping of goods into our facility, which in turn means less energy use, less green house gas emissions and reduced carbon footprint.

Another reason we believe that supporting local businesses is healthy for our community is the fact that many studies have shown that locally owned businesses are less likely to leave, and are more invested in the community's future. This means more jobs, better tax revenues and a healthier, more vibrant community for our employees and their children.

Pacifica supports local charities and donates products to local women's shelters. Studies show that working with local charities can have an immediate positive effect on a local community.


Heidi Ho 

We embrace economic freedom, voluntary exchange, combined with social and environmental consciousness. This is our commitment, giving all of us the ability to engage in positive activity based upon creativity, optimism, and personal initiative. Our steadfast convictions are at the forefront of action in honor of the health of our stakeholders and the health of this planet.


Merry Hempsters 

We strive to be responsible for the entire life span of all of our products from start to finish. Environmental sustainability, from the creation of the lip balm tubing we use (including all who take part in its creation) to the disposal of that tubing, is of utmost concern. We use only tree-free paper produced from hemp stock, soy based inks, and post-consumer recycled content in our correspondence and packaging. Our ultimate goal is to one day use only tree-free hemp stock for all our paper and packaging needs.

Herbivore Clothing

The Herbivore Clothing Co. Store
We do our very best to make sure nothing we sell was made under exploitive labor conditions like those in a sweatshop.


Blue Lotus Chai Company
Blue Lotus Chai Mandala

At Blue Lotus Chai Company, our commitment to serving the greater good has inspired us to donate 10% of our net profits to charitable organizations that are important to us.



Jem Nut ButtersWe source fair trade ingredients of the highest quality,    including Spanish Almonds, which we hand-select for their exceptional flavor profile and raw integrity. Our ingredients are all 100% OTC-USDA Certified Organic, truly raw, and free from pesticides, gluten, dairy, soy and processed sugar, so you can indulge in Jem guilt-free.

Rox Chox

Rox Chox: Delicious Organic Chocolates made with raw Cacao and Sweetened only with Birch.Our ingredients are organic, fair-trade sourced, and mostly raw (unroasted), preserving the beneficial minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants found in unprocessed cacao and coconut.

Rox Chox are individually packaged in compostable cellulose bags.  Our shipping materials are gleaned from local co-ops.

Other awesome Oregon-based vegan brands include:


vegan cheese, vegan parmesan, non-dairy cheese, gluten-free, cheese alternative

Missionary Chocolates 



Organicos Bakery and Donuts

Julie’s Original

So what did I miss? Know of any other great Oregon-based vegan brands? Post ‘em in the comments so that I can add them to the list.

Photo credit for "Made in Oregon" sign:

Friday, July 22, 2016

Moon Bear Spotted in Oregon + a Vegan Handbag Review

***Updated 1/20/17 (see below)***

Check it out! This week in Oregon…

moon bear in the Oregon woods
Okay, yes… you’re right. That’s not a bona fide moon bear…  just me in a moon bear-inspired t-shirt hanging out in a tree. But hang with me because it's for a good cause, and that cause supports moon bears.

moon bear
If you haven’t heard about moon bears before, or understand why they may need our support, please allow me to explain. 

Moon bears are Asiatic black bears (more formally referred to as Ursus Thibetanus), and they reside in Asia’s forested mountain regions. Like many wild species, they are threatened by habitat loss, as well as poaching and hunting. But even more disturbing, they are frequently captured, confined and enslaved in tiny, filthy cages on bile farms where they may be strapped into rusty, Medieval-looking devices designed to keep them still as bile is continuously drained from their bodies via permanent fistulas, inserted catheters, implanted tubes, or repeated punctures.

Image credit: Wikipedia 

moon bear in a crush cageAnd we think the gestation crates used on pigs are horrendous…  It’s no wonder mortality rates are high. 

It’s estimated that at least half of bile bears die from complications that occur during this surgery and extraction process. Those that do manage to survive endure anywhere from five to twenty or more years of misery and pain, muscle atrophy and severe mental stress, along with a variety of physiological issues.

Image credit: Wikipedia

The sole reason for this draconian affair is to collect their bile, which contains a relatively high amount of ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) valued for its use in traditional Chinese medicine. When the bears are no longer considered useful in that regard, they are usually slaughtered so that other body parts, such as their paws, fur, meat and gallbladders, can then be harvested.

Currently, more than 10,000 bears are being subjected to this torture in China, with another 1,600 or so in Korea and around 1,200 more in Vietnam. But the good news is that a number of good, loving souls have come together to set up sanctuaries and organizations designed to rescue, rehabilitate and care for these animals. One such organization is Animals Asia.

Animals Asia
Headquartered in Hong Kong, with offices in China, Vietnam, Australia, Germany, Italy, the U.K. and U.S., Animals Asia works tirelessly to help these bears, along with victims of the cat- and dog-meat trades and animals abused while in captivity at Chinese zoos and safari parks.  

Miomojo for Animals AsiaRecently, as I was perusing Twitter, as I often do, I came across a post from fellow animal lover and activist @AmCuriousNJ that told of an Italian company called Miomojo which has created a line of PETA-approved, certified vegan handbags and accessory bags that support Animals Asia. (At that time, they were also offering the lovely moon bear-inspired shirt I'm wearing in the photo above.) 

I purchased the Essential Tote in grey polyester tweed with black vegan leather handles (also available in a natural cream color with brown vegan patent leather handles). It arrived pretty flat, but it didn’t take long to fill out and look great.

Miomojo for Animals Asia Essential ToteI’ve received numerous compliments and find it to be very functional, with a large zipper pocket on the front and a smaller one inside, a nicely lined interior, and a section to house a small laptop or tablet.

Animals Asia logoI must say that the materials seem to be of high quality, and the “leather” not only looks nicer than pleather but is also environmentally friendly. That’s right – no PVC. Or heavy metals. Or carcinogenic AZO dyes or phtalates.

And Miomojo has other styles to choose from. Also available in the same colors and materials are a backpack version, a weekender bag, makeup and cosmetic bags, a unisex washbag, and a pencil case

Miomojo for Animals Asia Essential Tote in actionAnd everything is 100% cruelty-free. Plus, 20% of each sale goes to Animals Asia. AND right now they’re having a sale on the cream-colored styles. Talk about win-win-win! So if you’re interested, I suggest heading over to before that sale ends.

Note that I have no affiliation with this company and do not receive anything for writing this review. I’m just happy with my purchase, and I think you will be, too.

***UPDATE from Miomojo on January 20, 2017:
Thanks to you, our donations to charitable causes this past year surpassed USD$15,000, and together we could help in Animals Asia’s recent rescue in Vietnam, transporting six beautiful moon bears 1300km, from their tiny cages in a bear bile farm to the unfettered freedom of sanctuary life. After a nearly 10 year existence in unimaginably restrictive cages, in December the six bears found safe haven at the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre in Tam Dao, where their long journey of mental and physical rehabilitation from a lifetime of chronic pain, trauma and cruel captivity immediately commenced. At the sanctuary they will receive expert health care, be introduced to a community of friendly bears and begin a new life free from cruelty and exploitation.

Know of any other great vegan products that also benefit good causes? Please comment and share! And while you're at it, connect with me on Twitter so that we can continue to share the goods and generate more awareness for animal rights.