Category: Vegan


Dining well in Las Vegas, part 2

By Midge Raymond,

Continuing our vegan dining coverage in Las Vegas, we had a couple meals at the Wynn and Encore hotels. While both places have vegan-friendly restaurants — a few items on each menu — the online menus have more items listed than the restaurants do. We hope this is a temporary oversight.

We began with brunch at Jardin, which is in the Encore. The only vegan item on the menu, other than oats, was a kale scramble, with a note that it could be made vegan. When I mentioned to our server that the pancakes were listed on the online menu as vegan, she checked with the kitchen to confirm that they are indeed vegan. So, ordering our vegan brunch was a bit less seamless than we’d hoped (always remember to ask! we were very glad we did).

Still, it was worth it. The kale tofu scramble, which came with potatoes and red peppers, along with toast, was sublime.

And the whole wheat pancakes, topped with berries and powdered sugar, were thick, sweet, and about twice as much as a person can eat in one sitting (though I did my best).

We loved that the toast came with vegan butter, a joy to find in any omnivorous restaurant. Because we were there for work, we sadly weren’t able sample the brunch cocktails, but all looked incredible and well worth ordering.

Jardin is also a lovely place to dine. Wynn and Encore are among the mellower hotels on the Strip (if such a thing is possible).

For a lovely vegan dinner in the Wynn, try the Italian restaurant Allegro, located near the casino; accordingly, the restaurant keeps casino hours and is open from 5 p.m. until 6 a.m.

Allegro is an inviting place with a lovely atmosphere and wonderful service; however, there were only three vegan options on the menu during our visit: vegan pizza, chicken parmigiana, and pasta.

We did not have a chance to try the pizza, but the organic ancient grain penne was amazing, gorgeously flavored with garlic and basil, with fresh zucchini, asparagus, and cherry tomatoes.


We also tried the chick’n parmigiana, which was made with Gardein and covered with vegan mozzarella and tomato sauce and served over linguine. It was slightly less inspired and flavorful than the pasta but was still very good.

It would be nice if Allegro offered a couple more vegan choices (and we were told that, unlike Jardin, they did not have vegan butter), but the offerings are delicious and maybe one day these two restaurants will offer even more.

Dining well in Las Vegas, part 1

By Midge Raymond,

When in Las Vegas recently for a conference, we were delighted to have found Vege-Way, an amazing vegan fast-food restaurant that made it easy to stop for food both in and out of town.

Located well off the Strip, Vege-Way is nonetheless well worth a visit; there’s also a drive-thru for those in a hurry. 

The food at Vege-Way ranges from fast food fare (burgers, fries, milkshakes) to more healthful options like chick’n wraps and salads. Check out the full menu here … best of all, it’s entirely plant-based.

We tried the chick’n burger (which comes in blackened or ranch style — we went for the recommended ranch style), which was okay — the patty was a little mushy, and the ranch dressing was a bit bland.

We also sampled the regular vegan burger, which was delicious, in a junk-food sort of way (which is, in our view, high praise). We also got the curly fries, which are spicy, salty, and fried to absolute perfection.

On our next visit, we tried the chick’n wrap, which was gigantic and incredibly flavorful; it was a mix of chick’n and rice in a wonderful, tangy sauce, along with diced cucumbers and tomatoes and romaine lettuce. We’d also recommend the chocolate shake, which was a bit more icy than creamy but a treat nevertheless.

We loved seeing how crowded and busy Vege-Way was; there was a steady stream of customers, both eating in and going through the drive-thru. Inside the restaurant are vegan brochures and stickers; we also appreciated this touch on the entrance door, letting customers know they’re entering an animal-product-free zone.

Don’t miss Vege-Way on your next visit to (or past) Las Vegas … we can only hope to see more of these on future road trips!

An inspiring visit to Farm Sanctuary

By Midge Raymond,

I was so glad to be able to join Love Rhymes with Everything authors Dana Feagin (a Sanctuary One board member) and Kat von Cupcake (a Sanctuary One former board member and adopter) for a visit to Farm Sanctuary in Orland, California, for the sanctuary’s Twilight Tour (followed by the best vegan happy hour ever).

It was a wonderful opportunity to visit with the sanctuary animals (who loved the additional affection from visitors) and to learn more about how their lives have turned around thanks to those who do the important work of rescue and providing a safe home.

It was a broiling-hot day in Orland, but all of the animals were cool and happy; the barns had misting fans, and staff and volunteers made sure to keep the animals comfortable…such a contrast to their former lives on factory farms. The Orland sanctuary is on 300 acres, with more than 300 rescued farm animals, including pigs, sheep, goats, cows, chickens, turkeys, chickens, and waterfowl.

Because this was a Twilight Tour, one of the topics was bedtime for the animals, most of whom are only able to sleep for the very first time once they arrive at the sanctuary. Due to the horrible conditions at factory farms, animals from pigs to chickens don’t ever get to fall sleep (to lower one’s guard even for a moment means getting trampled or suffocated), which means they live their entire short lives under unbearable stress.

National Shelter Director Susie Coston talked about how the animals’ lives change so much when they arrive at the sanctuary; they can finally sleep in peace, for the first time in their lives, in addition to being able to enjoy other natural behaviors, like snuggling with others and being able to stay with their families. The animals also tend to sleep very deeply; Susie says that the sanctuary staff often receive concerned calls and emails from people watching the Farm Sanctuary Live Cam: the animals sleep so soundly that viewers worry they may be sick or injured. (Visit explore.org to virtually visit the sheep and turkey barns, the pig and cow pastures, the cattle pond, and more. And don’t panic if the animals don’t move for a while! When we visited the pig barns in person, the pigs were so happy and relaxed they didn’t even look up; they enjoyed belly rubs and ear scritches with their eyes closed.)

During our visit we also got a chance to chat with President and Co-Founder Gene Baur, who gave an inspiring talk about reaching out with kindness to educate those who don’t realize how much these animals suffer, and how making compassionate choices leads to a better world for animals, humans, and the planet.

Our 2017 Siskiyou Prize judge is Jonathan Balcombe

By Midge Raymond,

We are thrilled to announce that our 2017 Siskiyou Prize judge is Jonathan Balcombe.

Jonathan’s most recent book is the New York Times bestseller What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of our Underwater Cousins, an extraordinary journey underwater that reveals the vast capabilities of fishes. He is also the author of the books The Exultant Ark, Second Nature, Pleasurable Kingdom, and The Use of Animals in Higher Education.

Jonathan has three biology degrees, including a PhD in ethology (the study of animal behavior) from the University of Tennessee, and has published more than 50 scientific papers on animal behavior and animal protection. Formerly department chair for Animal Studies with the Humane Society University and senior research scientist with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Jonathan is currently Director of Animal Sentience with the Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy in Washington, DC. Learn more at jonathan-balcombe.com.

This year marks our fourth annual Siskiyou Prize, and we are delighted to be offering a $1,000 prize and a four-week writing residency thanks to the generosity of our amazing prize partner PLAYA. All manuscripts submitted for the prize will be considered for publication by Ashland Creek Press.

Please visit the Siskiyou Prize website for complete details about the prize — submissions open September 1, 2017. We look forward to reading your work!

Saving the planet begins on our plates

By Midge Raymond,

It’s frustrating to go to an fundraiser for an animal rescue and find animals on the menu. Many organizations that believe in saving cats and dogs unfortunately do not believe in sparing cows, pigs, or chickens. Slowly, education and progress is happening — Animal Place‘s Food for Thought program offers wonderful tools to help organizations see that all animals matter — yet many organizations still resist.

Likewise, very few environmental organizations make the connection between animal agriculture (which is responsible for more greenhouse gases than all forms of transportation combined) and the environment — and yet this is a vital connection to make, especially during a time when our government is rolling back environmental protections. We as citizens and consumers can do so much good simply by making wiser choices — not only in how we get to work but what we put on our plates. Consider these statistics, from the Cowspiracy website (Cowspiracy is a must-see film about the connections between environmental degradation and animal agriculture):

  • Even without fossil fuels, we will exceed our 565 gigatons CO2e limit by 2030, all from raising animals.
  • Animal agriculture water consumption ranges from 34-76 trillion gallons annually, compared to 70-140 billion from fracking.
  • Growing feed crops for livestock consumes 56% of the water in the US.
  • 2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef.
  • 5% of water consumed in the US is by private homes; 55% of water consumed in the US is for animal agriculture.
  • Livestock covers 45% of the earth’s total land.
  • Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.
  • 3/4 of the world’s fisheries are exploited or depleted — we could see fishless oceans by 2048.
  • For every 1 pound of fish caught, up to 5 pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as by-catch.

There is good news, however: Increasing numbers of animal rescues see the myriad benefits of protecting all animals, and some environmental organizations do realize that saving the planet means being plant-based. I reached out to many of them to learn how they came to this realization and how they deal with those who challenge them … and most of all, to thank them.

All rescue and environmental organizations need to consider their food policies in order to truly do their best for animals and the planet. Oceanic Preservation Society executive director Louis Psihoyos puts it well: “You have to walk the walk in the environmental movement. I don’t believe in gray areas in this issue…People are starting to understand that the best way to make changes for the environment is to change what’s on your plate.” And GREY2K USA president Christine A. Dorchak says, “Helping dogs while hurting cows, pigs, or chickens just doesn’t make sense.”

I spoke with Barbara Troyer of Food for Thought, as well as the executive directors of Alley Cat Allies, Animals Asia, the Beagle Freedom Project, Foster Parrots, Grey2K, Oceanic Preservation Society, St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center, Sanctuary One, and the Washington Federation of Animal Care and Control Agencies. I ended up so inspired by their passion for and dedication to the animals, the environment, and to making the world a better place. You can learn more about all these wonderful organizations in these two articles in Barefoot Vegan Magazine and in VegNews.