Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Invisible Vegan: A new inter-sectional documentary REVIEW!!!

 A few weeks ago I went to the premiere screening of the new inter-sectional vegan documentary, The Invisible Vegan. The documentary focused on veganism and its positive aspects on the African American (black) community. It follows Jasmine Leyva, who is also the director, on her own personal journey of coming to terms with her diet, health, and happiness.

I was also fortunate enough to see the Q&A after the premier where many of those featured in the film answered questions from a very curious audience. Hearing the questions I immediately realized, this was an audience of primarily non-vegans, which was great! I have been vegan for over 8 years, so this documentary was not for me in that respect, I have often been the only black person, so it was refreshing to see a documentary catered to my specific issues. Knowing that, I watched it to see how it spoke to the black community and addressed some of the general concerns with veganism and food in general.

As someone who has watched vegan documentaries for years, seen all the major ones from Cowspiricy, to Earthlings, to What the Health, etc, it was immensely refreshing to see a vegan documentary speak on the concerns of black people adopting this lifestyle. It focused more on "plant based" veganism, which is the new terminology for more healthy eating veganism as opposed to simply not eating animals, which is fine. I wanted to clear up how they address veganism in the documentary as more personal health related as opposed to ethical related. That's all the beauty of inter-sectionalism.

By far, the strongest part of the documentary was the health aspects that specifically related to the black community. I'd never heard a documentary address the lactose intolerance issue among PoC, though I'd been saying it for a long time. It also spoke on food deserts. It was utterly refreshing to hear information like that brought up and addressed. I wish with all my heart there was more of that focus in the documentary. It was by far the most sound information a meat eater and an already established vegan could walk away with.

Knowing that this documentary was made for the meat eater, I felt the segments where Jasmine was having meals out with her friends were incredibly strong. That first person/word of mouth instant reaction material caught with the friends was fantastic. I wished it were threaded through the film with more consistency, intersected with the really strong speakers that she had, but as it felt in the viewing, they felt like afterthoughts to the larger narrative, when I felt they could have been used as real game changers to the views with the audience. I strongly wish there was more of that content in the film.

The speakers and interviews in the documentary were great. Many of them I had seen before but the two that stuck out to me most were of course Dr. Milton Mills, and the unknown to me, fantastic Christopher-Sebastian McJetters. He was my favorite part of the documentary. What he said, how he said it and the scope to which he spoke addressing the black community, Christopher-Sebastian was a fantastic voice.

Seeing how this film was to bridge the gap black people and questions on veganism, there are a few things I wish were different. There were a few instances in the documentary, mainly among the friends at the meals, where stereotypes of veganism were spoken but often the documentary didn't pause to address those stereotypes in that moment.

There are A LOT of visuals of meat cooking in this documentary. I'm not talking about animal exploitation, but more when someone would talk about meat, it would cut to stock footage of meat being cooked, or carved, or seasoned, or BBQ or roasted, etc. So much so to the point I noticed it. I thought that was very strange as I felt the footage wasn't presented as being a negative thing, but almost an advertisement. There was no gradual transition to non-meat alternatives with those visuals to bridge the thoughts of the audience to "you can eat this instead".

My last critique is the pacing. The documentary is divided into "chapters" with a title card at the start of each segment that is being addressed. It was clean and polished and looked very nice, but at the start of the film as a whole,  I wish I had known how many chapters there were in the film.  When it broke into double digits (I think there were 12 altogether), it started to make the documentary feel longer than it was.

If there had been a visual "chapter list" at the start of the film, not even so much that we can read all of their descriptions, but like an "okay, there are 12 segments in this film" I think that would have helped with pacing tremendously.

For the most part I was thrilled with the documentary, I think it speaks to an audience that is greatly undeserved and takes its own space in the vegan world. The director mentioned in the QnA that this is a rough cut and their could be some reworking. I would hope so because the information expressed in the film is fantastic.

Check out the trailer, and consider backing the film for distribution.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

My vegan goodies haul was super cheap with coupons!

As you all know, I'm a festival goer. 

I love Eat Drink Vegan



and even VegFest


I've been to them all. The cool thing is, for a few dollars more than admission I spring for the VIP pass and in most cases, the VIP passes to events like these come with some real nice goodies that far surpass the price of the VIP ticket.

You can get express lines, free drinks, special seating, exclusive beer pours and lately, merch bags. All three events had merch bags for the VIP goers. These are samples and coupons that can total quite a nice chunk of change.

I sampled the snacks and shampoos, but I had dollars upon dollars of coupons. Too many to throw away, so I decided to make a trip to Whole Foods and use as many as I could in one shopping trip.

It. Was. Worth. It.

The prices.


The savings (in red).

 Most of the coupons were for a free item or for 50% off an item. Some were for 25% off or buy some get one free (the burritos) so I just went with it to try things I've never tried before.

My total of the coupon purchases was $57.96
Coupon savings was $27.95
My total spent on these items was $30.01
That ain't too bad!

The Sweet Earth Burritos were okay, and the Tofurky sausages are eh. The Califia cold brew was nice, but I don't like sugar in my coffee and they didn't have their unsweetened one there which is delicious. Frankly most of the stuff ended up in the freezer, along with this.

It was on sale for $6. Man, that is A LOT of protein. I've had this at Veggie Grill and it was...alright. Tasted like a veggie patty to me, so I guess that goes to show you how detached I am form the real meat "flavor" to begin with. 

I should note that I didn't get to use about 6 or 7 remaining coupons because the items were not in stock. I do plan on going to a different Whole Foods to see if I can find them. 

When I do I'll be sure to let you spend concious people know! See, you can have fun at events and still save money!

More later! Thanks!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

I bought a Jackfruit and I cut it open!

Hi everyone. Wow, it's been over 10 months since I wrote a blog post. Geeze.
It's not because I've neglected FSV, on the contrary, I'm quite active on Facebook and Instagram, and if you don't follow both, now you know they are there!

I had a very shitty year. Not so much vegan related, but a bad living situation, a disappointment from someone I thought was a friend, and a hectic time finding a regular job.

Now I'm settled and feeling normalized and adventurous in my vegan cooking again.
So I did what anyone would do, when my local grocery had fresh jackfruit for sale, I bought one just for the adventure of cutting one open.

The fruit was 79¢ a pound and that totaled a bit over $12 for me. I thought that was a lot, but since I figured I would get a lot of meat from the fruit, I did it. And adventure. I'm all about adventure.

I've had non-brined jackfruit before and it's particularly sweet. Kinda like if pineapple and a banana had a fruit baby. That's the flavor. The texture is something else, but we'll get to that later in the post.

When I got the fruit home it totally smelled like bubble gum. I read online that jackfruit have a very sweet smell. After a while, when I couldn't make the time to cut it, I put it on my balcony, as the sweet smell became a it overpowering for me.

Then on Saturday I took the time, got some plastic gloves, some oil, and cut open the fruit.

There are many tutorials online on how to cut this stuff, but I'm going to go over what I found interesting about the process.

With jackfruit, there is no particular designated meat. I mean, the yellow part is the part you eat, but the white part (I have no idea as to the names of the anatomy of jackfruit) is fused to the meat like a layered onion skin, so you have peel that off. On some of the tutorials I read, you eat it (the seeds too) but I didn't bother.

The thing is, the meat of the fruit is the casing for the seed. A big ass seed, a 'is this worth the effort' seed. And THAT SEED had a skin that you have to rip from the fruit! The good thing about the seeds is that they are very easy to cut, so you don't have to worry about your knife. Once you pull out the pod, you peel off the white part, open the meat, take out the seed, and rip off the seed skin that remains.

After all that, from this roughly 15 pound fruit, over an hour of work, and quite the clean up if you are not careful, you get about two pounds of actual eatable fruit.

Fresh jackfruit is a very tough chewy texture, almost like fruit jerky. Combine that with the banana/pineapple flavor, and it is a very unique experience.

I'm a vegan who does not think jackfruit tastes like pulled port (and most of that is the white part of the jackfruit, BTW) so I didn't get it for that (I hear you can roast and eat the seeds too). I plan on using this as a puree for ice cream or some other cake. Right now some is in the fridge and some is frozen for later.
The fruit is the bottom center.

Am I glad I did this? Yeah.
Would I buy this again? Probably not. It's too much work. You must wear gloves so your hands don't get all sticky, and it's a lot of clean up.

Who knows, a few months from now I might have a change of heart and go for it again. But for now, I gotta find a use for all this sweet, sweet fruit.

Keep bein' vegan.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Potstickers, for science.

Hi everyone.

Over the past few weeks, I've pondered the age old question of, "can one eat 'too many' potstickers"? It's a blight on my conscience, and as I try to figure out the true meaning of this, for science, I took on the cause to investigate.

Thus far in my studies, I have found that, no, one can not eat 'too many' potstickers. The real conundrum lies in how the delicious dumplings are prepared. And to this I have crafted an answer.

I'm not a potsticker connoisseur, and mostly I can't eat the ones in restrauants, as they overwhelmingly have animal ingredients, but these Trader Joe's gyoza are delicious. WAY better ( and I can't stress the 'way' enough) than the ones at Whole Foods. Cheaper too, as this bag is about $3.79 (sometimes cheaper at other Trader Joe's).

I do the fry/water fry method which makes them crispy on the outside but warm on the inside. You can deep fry them, or microwave them as well, but I like the taste of the fry/water fry method.

This is what you need. I HIGHLY recommend coconut oil for the frying part. It makes them delicious. I mean the word delicious. Not over using it in this case. Delicious.

I use an iron skillet but I'm sure using anything you have on hand will suffice. I lay them in flat side down on a really low heat until I hear them sizzle. A couple minutes and when they are brown (I stepped away in these photos), I turn them over and then turn up the heat to a good med.

After the second browning, I use the veggie stock. Now, I've used water and it works fine, I just wanted to use up the veggie stock I already had open, so don't go out and buy it just for this unless you are hard core about your potstickers, and if that's the case, much respect to you.

Pour in enough to not even cover the bottom of the pan. Too much liquid and the potstickers will be doughy. Too little and they will still be frozen inside. The liquid should sizzle upon pour. Cover with a lid and let it steam a while, then flip them. At this point you may need to add more water/broth. 

The potstickers would look all glazed and be soft. I turn down the heat at this point and let them warm good and through. Then I transfer them to my dish, add dumpling sauce, and consume. 

That's it. I've damn near perfected it at this point, for science and all. Why not? Everyone needs a good amount of potstickers in their life.

Until next time!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Vegan Beer Fest: Eat Drink Vegan 2016 review

Me getting my supplies ready for the event.

Hi all. Sorry it took me so long to get this review up. Things have been crazy on my end and saying that seems to be my new normal. In any account, I had a blast at the Vegan Beer Fest this past month.

First things first, the event changed it's mane to Eat Drink Vegan. It seemed to be a sudden change, as many people were surprised by it, especially when their glasses had no commemorative date on them. Banners at the even were all Eat Drink Vegan, and only special purchasable $20 glasses had the old logo on it. I was tempted but didn't get one.

The event was held again at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Ca., but the adjacent gold course and it was a good choice.

I again had a VIP pass, which is the only way to go at these events. We got to go in an extra 2 hours early! So by the time the line really started, I was already buzzed.

My friend Liz grabbed a table really close to the stage. There was tons of room to lay blankets out beneath large trees and plenty of standing tables and just space in general. It was a very spacious set up this year.

I was really impressed with the charging station. There was a water station as well.

My goal this year wasn't so much the food, but I did grab a few tastes. This was the darling of the event, The Herbivorous Butcher, and I gotta say, it was really underwhelming. 

There was another 'chicken' sandwich that as AMAZING last year called The Thrillest by Garden Grill that was all the rage. This year, not so many people but it's way better.

In any account, after I ate (and what I didn't eat I packed in tupperware) I went looking for beers.

I took a photo of most of the 24+ beers I samples from sours (in the VIP section) to reds, to fruit beers, to ginger beer, to stouts to browns and everything in-between.

Some members of my Lady's beer drinking group.

I had a really good time! Lost of beer and food and meeting new people and just a lot of camaraderie among many fellow vegans.

Can't beat that. If you haven't been, this is really the best vegan event in the LA area, and there are many. I've gone to 3 of the 7 and this event just keeps getting better and better!

Nothing really bad to say, just more beer, more time and more more!
Okay lovely people I'll talk with you all soon!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Product Review: V-dog jumbo veggie chew

I love my dog. 

Everyone knows that. But, he isn't vegan. He eats more non animal products than I know your average dog eats, but he does eat salmon based foods about 90% of the time. I mix his foods with beans and chickpeas and veggies, and no beef or chicken. So I guess you could say my dog is pescetarian.

He is also a power chewer, and in the past I've tried everything I could to satiate his chewing. The Himalayan dog chew (milk based), deer antler (salvaged alter), kongs, bully sticks which were like crackers to him various puzzles and the like. None of them worked and a lot of them were insanely messy. It can be a nightmare when you have a power chewer.

The only thing that keeps him going is pressed rawhide which is the inner skin of cow. I don't like that this seems to be his only avenue,, and even though it is, I continue to look for alternatives.

When V-dog announced their vegan dog chew, I was over the moon. I waited a few months until I could find it readily available, and I ordered one from the UK.

I got the largest one they sold and total it was about $10 US, that's the price of a moderately priced rawhide bone, so that was good to me.

It smelled great and seemed dense. Its made of mint and rice and when I realized that I thought, great, this is gonna last all of 2 minutes.

I gave it to Brian, my 100 pound bullmastiff, and at first he didn't know what to make of it. Then he LOVED it, like carried it around the yard in delight loved it.

That thrilled me! Next was his test, how ling would it last. Let's say it had a good 10 minute run. When it got soft, it was over. The rice casing just softened too much and he inhaled it.

Bone coma. 

Another failure, partly. He did love the flavor, it's ethical, it just didn't last long, and I think that's the downfall for power chewers, especially the small demo of vegan alternatives for them.

In the end, I'd get 20 if they lasted even a couple hours, but at $10 each, to last 10 minutes is just too much. If you have a moderate chewer dog, those are fantastic and I believe they could last quite a while.

Perhaps I'll get more for an occasional treat for him, but this dog needs to chew and I reluctantly have to go back to the pressed rawhide.

But I will stay on the lookout for more vegan dog products.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Vegan Street Fair: Review

Hi everyone. 
Today I'm going to talk about this past Sunday's Vegan Street Fair that was hosted in North Hollywood (Burbank).

This was the second year for this street festival that brought together many vegan street vendors and tons of delicious vegan eateries and merch from all over. The first year was met with much, and frankly justified, criticism, with its ticket system, tiny space, extreme over crowding, and just lack of overall planning for the crowds, if you were looking at it from a customer's point of view. This past Sunday was try #2, and for the most part, it was a stellar improvement.