World Vegan Day is November 1st, kicking off World Vegan Month. This year, in conjunction with the 70th anniversary of the coining of the word "vegan," and in recognition of its place at the very origin point of American vegan advocacy, The City of Philadelphia is proclaiming November 1, 2014 as Philly Vegan Day, which will be noted with activities, celebrations and promotions of vegan eating and living.
Some organizations and businesses have very specific plans already in place, while others are still hammering out the finer points. Though most of those following are close to a specific plan, for any set to participate who have not submitted an exact quote with their details, we've simply said "Celebrating Philly Vegan Day (TBA)."
Individuals are also doing their own activities around the day. Whether you're vegan or non-vegan, everyone can do something to support Philly Vegan Day and have it listed here, as long as it's vegan-related and is happening on November 1st. Patronizing one of the fine establishments that is participating in the day counts as an activity, if you want that to be your thing. Send your Philly Vegan Day activity to VforVeg@phillynews.com, or just add it in the comments below. One particularly inspired event will be selected to win a copy of Plant Power by Nava Atlas.
"Oh, I'd love to be vegan, but I just don't have your willpower. It must be so hard!"
I've heard some variant of this all too often since I went vegan 14 years ago. Maybe some people are insincere and they don't care one way or another and the supposed difficulty is a convenient excuse. But for at least some of them, I know they're convinced there's something really hard about going, and staying, vegan.
But for anyone able to read this blog post, there really isn't. The only hard thing is everyone else not being vegan. And that's slowly, slowly changing.
There are many reasons people wind up as vegans. Health is a popular driver (though that one actually requires, you know, eating healthy), and increasingly as people learn about the toll animal agribusiness takes on the planet, that's also a factor for many. Then there are those of us for whom it's an ethical matter of justice vs. injustice to animals.
Related to the last but not quite the same is veganism as a spiritual practice, which some who have come to plant-based eating from one direction or another sometimes find themselves growing into. The 5th Annual Vegan Spirituality Retreat speaks to that aspect, and it will be held this Saturday, October 11th at Saunders Woods, 1020 Waverly Road, Gladwyne, from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Here's what the groups mounting the event have to say:
In Defense of Animals and Vegan Spirituality present our 5th Annual Vegan Spirituality Retreat to explore Veganism as a spiritual practice. We welcome Peace to All Beings author Judy Carman as our featured speaker and Ecco Bella as our event sponsor. Enjoy group discussions, guided meditations, yoga classes with yogis Dawn Reid, Fania Maria Tzakalakos, and Ioanna Tsakalakos, a delicious vegan lunch prepared by The Nile Café, a naturalist guided walk, an animal blessing with musicians Jim Harris and Lonnie Davis, and kirtan with the Indigo Twins. Free childcare is provided. Friendly companion animals are welcome at the Retreat and Blessing Ceremony.
In case you're wondering about that Blessing Ceremony, here are some more details on that:
Animal Blessing: Honor your companion animals and animals around the world through drumming and dancing in nature. Bring companion animals, a photo, or your own animal spirit! Everyone is invited to drum and dance in the Ceremony, which offers opportunities to celebrate animal companions, honor those that have died, empathize with animals suffering around the world, and create a vision of harmony between humans and other animals. Please bring leashes or carriers for your animal companions. You’re welcome to bring a vegan/synthetic drum!
Sunday is the big march against climate change - projected to be the biggest ever. It will be interesting watching what percentage of the event is given over to the topic of animal agriculture. I've heard that there was a vegan "hub" in organizing but I'd be dreaming if I said I expected meat and cheese to dominate the entire proceedings, except as something a lot of marchers will likely consume.
As Cowspiracy makes clear, though, it pretty much should dominate, if we were going by actual, abundant peer-reviewed data on what's killing the planet. The two most commonly-cited studies by international experts found animal ag at 18%, or 51%, of total greenhouse-gas emissions, and much quibbling has been done over those numbers, even though the lower result is still more than all of human transportation.
The movie starts with a guy who's trying to be as green as he can, riding a bike, turning off the water while brushing teeth, etc. but he eventually finds that all the heroic things he was contributing to the cause were dwarfed by the effect of his meals. While learning how to redirect his action, he keeps wondering why he was never told about this by any of his favorite brand-name environmental organizations, and he goes to find out from them.
With its opening just a month away, V Street, the upcoming vegan bar from Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby, continues to fascinate local foodies. While the full menu has yet to be revealed and the site is still under renovation, the vegan masterminds shared a few details during an exclusive V for Veg tour earlier this week.
For one thing, it still looks set to rock our tastebuds, if not our worlds: Landau called the current lineup of dishes "so good that the schwarma [a "mind-blowing" adaptation he was working on 6 months ago] didn't even wind up making the cut." He promised a boldly eclectic mix of foods and flavors from different global traditions, "doing the ethnic-street-food thing," explained Landau, "but going deep with the flavors," combining them in ways that - if history is any guide - will be totally offbeat yet surprisingly complementary.
Landau described a carrot-based Choripán - an Argentinian hot dog or sausage sandwich that he's not just veganizing but vegetable-ized. When I noted it as made from carrots, he said, "no, no, it is a carrot. One slow-roasted carrot," balancing the Latin spicing with "a little Americana" in the form of relish and other touches.
Vegan Commissary, the creative animal-free South Philly eatery at 1703 S 11th St. (215-964-3232), will see growing pains of a sort this fall.
Starting Labor Day, the Commissary will continue to expand its wholesale endeavors along with vegan wedding, shower and other special-event catering, while bringing a tighter in-restaurant focus to breakfast, lunch, and brunch.
And by tighter I mean: No dinner service. For now.
It's not that hard to make a vegan bagel. And nowadays, it's become easy to find gluten-free bagels. But gluten-free and vegan? Harder than you'd think.
Sweet Note Bakery, based in Manayunk, may be one of the few places anywhere to pull this off.
"Yeah, it's easy to do them vegan," said Michelle MacDonald, the founder and self-styled Head Bagelologist of Sweet Note, "but in the gluten-free world, we're the only one I know of."
Long story short, you send in your choice for Best Vegan Cheesesteak, plus, if you like, a reason you think it's the best. The first vote each place gets constitutes its nomination, and I will record those and their reasons in full here in updates to this blog post. The 2nd, 3rd, etc. votes just add up for that place, and at midnight on March 11 the top three vote-getters move on to the finals. I will keep the tally up to date as much as possible, but at least every 12 hours.
There are various ways to vote, as the rules specify. You can email me your choice for favorite Vegan Cheesesteak, or you can tweet it with the hashtag #vegancheesesteak, or you can send in the coupon that runs with my V for Veg column, OR you can simply indicate your choice right here, via a comment on this post. It's worth voting, not just because of your sense of civic responsibility, but because one person chosen randomly will win a delicious vegan dinner for two at Sprig & Vine in New Hope.