A Way with Words: Vegan Town

Free sticker from Country Financial

As you surely know, I developed the title of this blog into a new term of art.  To “vegan town” is to make your town more vegan-friendly by winning food prizes away from meat eaters, finding vegan food freebies and bargains, demanding vegan options, and sharing your research results.

#VeganChalkChallenge

Before I named this blog, I did a search on the term “vegan town” to see if anyone was using it for a business or web page.  Nope.  Nothing of the sort came up in a search.  Yet, years later I discovered on my own that a UK vendor started using the term on social media around the same time I started publishing this blog.  It’s funny that I’m the first person to point out the coincidence.

Further research reveals more.  There’s a UK charity called Viva! which has a “My Vegan Town” directory.  Newtown is Sydney’s Vegantown. (Jennifer Duke, Sydney’s vegan heartland: The battle between two suburbs (July 26, 2016).)

Free vegan lunchbox from a cheese company.

Last year, I asked the UK vendor on their Facebook page where they got the idea for “vegan town,” but the owners didn’t want to say.  I can tell you where I got the idea from. San Diego used to be known by some as Dog Town, USA (until a TV series adopted the term), so I figured it should also be Vegan Town, USA.  Any Town, USA has long been a generic example used in catalogs selling address labels.  So I say, make it Vegan Town, USA!

Remember, anyone divergent enough can start their own Vegan Town blog or web page!  Just be sure that it actually relates to the concept of “vegan town” that I developed (getting vegan freebies.)  Yes, it will take more effort and thought than simply posting photos of your food on social media, but it will be revolutionary.  We can network and make the world more vegan-friendly.  Vegan solidarity.

Coolest radio prize is Suja.

Ignorant comment by Cass Payne

Did you know there are Facebook trolls like Cass Payne who argue that the vegan diet is unaffordable?  She calls it “classist.”  She really has it backwards now.  The ruling elite profits off of meat eaters and exploits desperate labor.  They don’t mind murdering animals (in a non-homicidal way) and polluting the environment because it’s profitable.  Adopt the vegan-town lifestyle if you oppose this type of classism.

 

Paipa’s Buffet – Sycuan Casino (El Cajon)

An employee at Paipa's Buffet said they had nothing vegan.

An employee at Paipa’s Buffet said they had nothing vegan.

Years ago (when Sycuan Casino was promoting its remodel), I called Paipa’s Buffet to ask if they had anything vegan.  The woman who answered the phone said, “No.”

I thought, “That’s funny. That means they don’t even have lettuce at the salad bar! Weird!”  Turns out she was full of it because I visited (after winning a gift certificate on the radio) and found lots of plant based food to choose from.  Salad bar, veggies, hummus, tacos, burgers.

Yes, I ate two plates of food and still have flat abs.

Yes, I ate two plates of food and still have flat abs.

They have black bean veggie burgers.  The waiter said the veggie burger was “vegan,” but the guy behind the counter just said “veggie,” so I don’t have conclusive information on its vegan-friendliness.  The bun, however, appeared to be not vegan because it had a yellow tinge, which suggested egg yolk or butter (you’d think the waiter would say specifically if the bun was vegan.)  But you can get a lettuce wrap instead.  I liked adding grilled pineapple, tomato, and pickle spears.

Even better was the vegan taco I made with black beans, guacamole, salsa, and lettuce.  Although, it would be better if the taco shell was Non-GMO Project Verified.

Next time I'll add the beans first, then the guacamole, then the salsa, then the lettuce.

Next time I’ll add the beans first, then the guacamole, then the salsa, then the lettuce.

Paipa’s Buffet could be more helpful by labeling questionable stuff vegan, such as the pita bread or the veggie spring rolls (and the burger and bun, of course.)

I couldn’t get anyone to answer any questions about the desserts, so I had to just presume that nothing was vegan except the cherries jubilee (although, I also presumed that it contained high fructose corn syrup.)

Welp, there’s my review of Paipa’s Buffet at Sycuan Casino.  Don’t forget I also reviewed Wachena and Sycuan Café Grill (now called Red Tail Grill.)

Small amount of cherries jubilee with chopped nuts.

Small amount of cherries jubilee with chopped nuts.

Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza & Grill: Don’t Resist the Vegan Demands

Willamina visiting Sammy's Woodfired Pizza

Willamina visiting Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza

Prior to winning gift certificates to Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza & Grill (locations in California and Nevada), I had heard of it from a restaurant guide by the San Diego chapter of Last Chance for Animals (revised 04/03/2012.) However, I didn’t visit until years later after winning.

When I first visited in early 2016, their menu indicated vegan options (01/28/16.)  The key had a V for Vegan and a leaf emoji for Vegetarian.  (It also had and still denotes GF for gluten-free.)  However, on subsequent visits I noticed that they took “vegan” right off the menu, which seemed passive aggressive.  Now the V is for “vegetarian” even though cheese aint a veggie (see their latest revised menu, 01/18/17.)  The waitress, however, informed me that none of the ingredients had changed and thus, whatever was vegan before was still vegan (that would be Baba Ghanoush, Edamame, Hummus, Wok’d Sesame Shishito Peppers, and Red Quinoa salad.)  No, not pizza!

BABA GHANOUSH. Yum.

BABA GHANOUSH. Yum.

Thus, I always got Baba Ghanoush and Red Quinoa salad. Both are quite good.  However, I felt that the salad had too much raw onion in it.  I once read in a cookbook called Blissful Bites by Christy Morgan that people consume too much onion and garlic and I agree (because then you can’t share with your dog!)  (By the way, the Scripps Ranch restaurant has a patio where you can bring your dog, but they don’t seem to like it.)

quinoia-salad

WILD ARUGULA AND RED QUINOA SALAD

Not until my last visit (after working a full day of temp labor) did I find out that I could order a vegan pizza.  At the Del Mar restaurant, an exceptionally knowledgeable waitress, Rachel S., explained how to modify a Margherita pizza to make it vegan.  I should have taken notes because I can’t remember what she said exactly, but it was something like rejecting the roasted garlic sauce, doing something with tomato sauce (maybe replacing marinara?), and substituting vegan cheese for a $2 surcharge.  Well, it was great!  I highly recommend that you win gift certificates on Entercom stations.

Vegan version Margherita pizza with Daiya Vegan Cheese

Vegan version Margherita pizza with Daiya Vegan Cheese

Sammy’s also sells cocktails with Han alcohol, so I decided to do my research and find out if it’s vegan friendly.  In March 2016, Michael Bacco of ProBev, Inc. said, “Yes. As are most all beverage alcohol products, HAN is vegan. No animal ingredients are involved.”  That’s good news, but are “most” beverage alcohol products vegan?  I hope so!

Margarita with Han tequila

Margarita with Han tequila

Here’s another tip about gift certificates.  If you win one that doesn’t have an expiration date, try to use it sooner than later because the restaurant could go out of business!  That happened to me with two (2) sushi restaurants, actually!  However, it turned out that one of them, Roppongi, was owned by the Ladeki Restaurant Group, the same company that owns Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza & Grill.  Thus, I contacted them and was pleasantly informed by Shannon Grillo from the Las Vegas Office that I could redeem my Roppongi certificates at Sammy’s.  Yay.

 

Broke Vegans Should Review Vegan Products on Social Nature

Vegan breakfast: GoodBelly Probiotic Juice Drink, Kim’s Simple Meals Organic Breakfast Sausage, Parisian Star Bake at Home Baguette slices, scrambled tofu topped with salsa.

Vegan breakfast: GoodBelly Probiotic Juice Drink, Kim’s Simple Meals Organic Breakfast Sausage, Parisian Star Bake at Home Baguette slices, scrambled tofu topped with salsa.

Have you ever heard of “Broke Vegans”?  They have a Facebook page!  They should review vegan products on Social Nature; not just to get free vegan products, but to raise the bar in reviewer quality.  Here are some examples of vegan product reviews by meat eaters if you want to see what I mean:

vegan-mac-n-cheese-review-capture review-gluten-free-mac-n-cheese-capture

I first heard about Social Nature from Heavenly Steals and it’s cool because they want people to #TryNatural.  Just avoid the non-vegan items since raping bovine is unnatural.  The good news is I have VIP status now.  I’m so special.  My reviews of vegan products follow. (The only one I didn’t know for sure if it was vegan was the Diabolo Soda, because of the vitamin enrichment, so my review is basically about the ingredients.)

 

Beverages

GoodBelly Probiotic Juice Drink (Pomegranate Blackberry)

GoodBelly Probiotic Juice Drink (Mango)

GoodBelly Daily Organic Probiotic Shot

Harvest Soul Superfood Juice (coming soon)

Marley Coffee Organic K-Cup Compatible Coffee

GURU Organic Energy Drink

Diabolo French Soda

Amazing Grass Green SuperFood Tri-Pack

 

Food

Kim’s Simple Meals Organic Breakfast Sausage

Kim’s Simple Meals Organic Breakfast Sausage

Emerald Valley Kitchen Organic Salsa

Lightlife Smart Dogs and Organic Fakin’ Bacon Tempeh Strips

Cuisine Adventures Organic Fiesta Quinoa

Kim’s Simple Meals Organic Macaroni Casserole

Kim’s Simple Meals Organic Homestyle Burger

Muir Glen Organic Tomatoes

Brewla Bars Ice Pops

(The Kim’s Simple Meals were so good, I bought the vegan sausage and waffles varieties, which were $1.99 each at the Grocery Outlet.  Plus, Grocery Outlet gave out a $5 off of $20 purchase coupon.  Thus, good deal.)

 

Products

Xlear Natural Nasal Spray

Kiss My Face Paraben Free Sunscreen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BJ’s Desperately Needs a Vegan Entrée

If you’re an intelligent vegan, you should win prize packs with BJ’s gift cards so you can vegan-town this place.  Why? Because their typical clientele is the type of oblivious consumer who doesn’t mind ordering animal products and leaving the faucets on in the Ladies Restroom.  I kid you not!

BJ's

BJ’s Garden Vegetable Potato with Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

I vegan-towned BJ’s three (3) times for lunch and each time ordered the same thing: Garden Vegetable Potato (without the dairy-laden sauce or cheese) and Raspberry Sparkling Lemonade.  The potato comes with a salad, which you have to specify to be made vegan because otherwise it includes animal products!  Fortunately, their Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing is vegan-friendly.  By my third visit I learned to request an extra dressing, since I am rejecting the dairy sauce and all!

Here is the weird thing.  If you analyze BJ’s Food Allergen Sensitivities Menu and Gluten-Free Selections (2016) guide, you might think you could order vegan pasta.  The guide does not disclose any “egg, fish, milk” in their marinara sauce.  BJ’s Nutritional Guide (May 2016) lists “Kids’ Spaghetti Marinara” (why only for kids?) as having 0 mg. cholesterol.  This nutritional guide also lists “Italiano Vegetable Penne” as having 0 mg. cholesterol, but the allergen guide says it has “milk.”  However, the servers and even the manager insist that none of their pasta is vegan.  One waitress said “all the noodles have dairy in them,” which sounded inaccurate.  The senior manager of the Escondido restaurant, Ron Tucker, said that really their “marinara sauce contains Parmesan cheese.”

BJ's in Escondido, CA is next to this freeway. (Easy to find.)

BJ’s in Escondido, CA is next to this freeway. (Easy to find.)

Perhaps their allergen guide had a mistake in it.  Who knows?  But how weird that you can get a potato and salad without dairy, but not pasta.  I actually sat down and talked with Tucker in person to discuss what he makes for his vegan daughter.  He basically just substitutes avocado for meat in the wraps.  So, there’s another idea.  But how about BJ’s just simplify and improve the situation by adding real-deal vegan entrees to the menu?  Give them a push if you’re clever enough to vegan-town.

If dairy is rape and penne is mightier than the sword, then the two don't belong together.

If dairy is rape and penne is mightier than the sword, then the two don’t belong together.

Oh, and the good news is that BJ’s complied with California CIVIL CODE §1749.5(b)(2) when I asked for the balance of my gift card in cash.  I had to wait because their cash register supposedly didn’t know how to do that, but at least they complied with the law! (Giving them a flyer stating the law helps.)  Can you believe someone tried to post a comment insulting those who invoke their consumer protection rights?  My notes are vague because I only jotted down “shit-talker on WordPress,” but it may have been someone called Jes “Dazey33_420” at a Yahoo account from Sacramento.

But the good news is I’ve got Blogger status at SheSpeaks.com. Wow, I’m cool.

She sure does speak alright.

She sure does speak alright.

Which Vegan Wich

Great news. Which Wich takes away the guesswork and just tells you right on its own web page which options are vegan.

Which Wich

Which Wich

I visited five (5) times to get a free 7” Wich each time (radio prize.)  I took one for the team and ate white bread, which is “poison” according to commentator Dave, but my gift certificates didn’t say I could get a Lettucewich or a Bowlwich.  As you probably have noticed, the wheat breads at these types of establishments don’t tend to be vegan because they contain honey, and if that honey contains the herbicide glyphosate, then it could be “poison” as well.

What you do is walk in and grab a paper bag that says “Vegetarian” and a red Sharpee (bring hand sanitizer!)  Then you select the options based on your knowledge of which ones are vegan-friendly.  You also select “Hotwich” or “Coldwich.”

You could eat outside next to idling vehicles. Pollution is so appetizing.

You could eat outside next to idling vehicles. Pollution is so appetizing.

I tried two (2) different basic vegan Wiches: a light and delish Tomato & Avocado style one and a heartier and spicier Black Bean Patty one.  (I eventually figured out that the latter is better as Hotwich.)  Their other vegan Wich is Hummus, but you can add hummus anyway at no extra charge.  However, there is an extra charge for avocado (unless you choose the Tomato & Avocado Wich.)

Wedgie @ Which Wich (I see this fashion faux pas everywhere and I hate it!)

Wedgie @ Which Wich (I see this fashion faux pas everywhere and I hate it!)

Here’s my tip: don’t select too many spicy options because once I got jalapenos even though I didn’t select them.  So, basically assume your Wich will be spicier than you expect it to be.  Also, bring your own plastic fork!

For more sub reviews, see my post on Subway and Jersey Mike’s.

Generosity: Veggie Grill Rewards App

The first time I downloaded the Veggie Grill Rewards app, I got this cauliflower appetizer for free.  Then  I downloaded the new version of the app and got an $8 credit. Sweet.

The first time I downloaded the Veggie Grill Rewards app, I got this cauliflower appetizer for free. Then I downloaded the new version of the app and got an $8 credit. Sweet.

Has a stranger ever approached you in the parking lot asking for “money for food”?  I usually just advise them to apply for food stamps, but now there’s an even better response:

Download the Veggie Grill Rewards app using my code and receive an $8 credit to spend at any Veggie Grill! 

Some douche-bags wearing In-N-Out hats outside the Veggie Grill.

Some douche-bags wearing In-N-Out hats outside the Veggie Grill.

Generosity.  Unlike with food stamps, food bank distributions, and soup kitchens, the recipient will only get vegan food with this freebie, the most generous gift.  (A dead animal might be free, but you wouldn’t take it, right?)  Of course, beggars like FatCatSegat won’t appreciate it because they want money, but oh well, so does everyone’s creditors.  So do the Kardashians-Jenners-Wests.

Hey, look at the Veggie Grill in La Jolla!

Hey, look at the Veggie Grill in La Jolla!

More vegan restaurants should do this kind of marketing, but the Veggie Grill is the first one I’ve noticed that does.  They e-mail out some decent coupons too!

Downloading the Veggie Grill Rewards app is a no-brainer.  But I’m not sure FatCatSegat has the brains sufficient to complete the task.