Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bergenfield, or Mexico?

If you haven't caught the charming film Ratatouille, I recommend checking it out on DVD. It's about the great love of food, and the inspiring notion that "anyone can cook." My favorite scene is when the jaded food critic Anton Ego takes his first bite of ratatouille, and it instantly transports him to his youth, when the dish brought such comfort to him on a dark, dispiriting day. Just a bite of food has the power to bring you back to another place and time, and can nourish the body and the soul.

When I walked into La Batalla, I felt like I was back in Mexico, which I have such fond memories of and am very saddened by the swine flu pandemic and drug violence troubles that so burden our Southern neighbor.

A quaint atmosphere greeted me, as did very friendly service. Note the cloth (not paper) napkins. Fifty extra points! There weren't a lot of obvious vegan choices on the menu, but it's easy to veganize Mexican food. Just ask!

Who doesn't love free chips and salsa?

I shared the guacamole, $6.50, to start. Pretty tasty, but my meal was so filling, I probably could have skipped it.

Vegetable enchiladas ($9.95) weren't on the menu, but they were happy to make them. I know when I'm still reminiscing about a meal the next day on the bus ride to work, it was really good. The rice was cooked in chicken stock, so I got a salad with avocado instead. No complaints here! I washed this down with an Herbal Mist Yerba Mate iced peach tea, $2.

I couldn't resist the jukebox. For $1, I got three lively salsa tunes.

Visit La Batalla, 83 N. Washington Ave., Bergenfield, NJ

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Not Being a Silent Witness to the Events of our Times

Werner Herzog's "Encounters at the End of the World" is an insightful, haunting and dreamy look at the personalities who live in Antarctica, including its scientists. Many of these scientists, Herzog observes, doubt man's long-term existence on the Earth. Nature, they believe, will regulate us. I couldn't agree more.

Our exploitation of the land and its resources is shameful. Here is just one way we disrespect the Earth: garbage. Many throw things "away" giving little thought to where "away" is and its impact. Unfortunately, "away" often means our waterways, to the great detriment of the fish, birds and other living creatures that depend on these waterways. That includes us too. In our road to a disposable society, we have disposed of our responsibility and ethics along the way.

I participated in Hackensack Riverkeeper's annual clean-up of Overpeck Park in Leonia. Seeing the amount of garbage, you can completely understand how humans created the atrocity that is the Great Garbage Patch.

I spent nearly two hours in the 90 degree heat picking up bottles, mostly water, but also beer, soda and Gatorade. Tires, food containers, plastic bags and other items were in the mix too. Here are some of the frightful images, which speak for themselves.

The cleanup is just 10% of the effort. The rest is about education and changing behavior. We have become waste enablers, allowing for massive consumption and thoughtless disposal. The trick is to enable better behavior and more responsible choices. At my office's kitchen, for example, I've picked up reusable plates, bowls, silverware and glasses at my favorite thrift shop, which many people are now using instead of the disposable alternatives. If you give an easy solution, some (not all) will change their behavior. The same can be said for a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle.

And please, avoid bottled water, which is not a "healthy" choice. On the contrary, it causes great detriment to our health, when you take into account the oil used to produce it, the fuel spent transporting it, and pollution it creates sitting in the landfill. I always find great irony that many of the people who insist on consuming it are willing to pay a premium, but short change animals by buying the cheapest eggs, milk and meat available, which we all know means the worst welfare standards possible. Many of these same bottled water consumers seem to show little concern about the pesticides their food is grown with.

Please be an activist in your own microcosms (your workplace, home and among friends), both for the animals and the environment. Ingrid Newkirk tells us, "Most important things have been done because just one person cared. Please, don't ever be afraid of seeming radical. All the best people in history have been radical." The only thing radical to me is being a silent witness to this environmental destruction and not being an activist.

The next Hackensack Riverkeeper clean-up is Saturday, May 16, in Staib Park, Hackensack. Click here for a full list of clean-ups.
If you haven't already, check out FLOW (For Love of Water), about the world water crisis. Check out their extensive Take Action page to learn what you can do.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Springtime Visit to Demarest Farm

Even though New Jersey is called the "Garden State," there aren't too many gardens, or farms really, where I live. When I was a child, I had fond memories of our trips to Tice Farms in Woodcliff Lake. It's since been developed into a strip mall, which contains a Gap, Victoria's Secret and a hodgepodge of other depressing retailers. Nearby Van Riper's Farm, which had been farming since the 1700s, was transformed into an A&P.

Thankfully, there are still some farms, including the Demarest Farm in Hillsdale, which has been around since 1886. While I prefer shopping at Old Hook Farm in Emerson since they are organic (Demarest Farm is not), it's still a pleasant outing for an afternoon.

If only cows were really as happy as this one on our nation's farms. There aren't any actual cows here, just the usual feel-good imagery. I think the only cows this happy are the ones who get to live at animal sanctuaries.

At the deli, I ordered the avocado supreme, which includes red onion and red wine vinegar, hold the Swiss cheese, for $5.95. Paired with a pickle, 99 cents, and an organic cranberry lemonade, $2. We brought our own real silverware and cloth napkins so we could avoid the disposables.

There was a pleasant breeze at the shaded picnic benches, a welcome relief from the unseasonable 90 degree temperature.

A vegan will never go hungry when a salad bar is around.

There's always homemade tasty vegetarian chili. Two soups are featured daily, but today's were both chicken.

Not too much homegrown produce is in season yet. Check out what is.

Every Thursday, beginning June 18th through August, they have a BBQ buffet for $16.95 with live music. Veg options appear to be corn-on-the-cob, salad, watermelon and soda or water. Baked beans are on the menu, but not sure if they're vegetarian. Recreate their BBQ feast at home with Gardenburger BBQ Riblets and Lightlife Smart Dogs. End with a Tofutti Cutie. Throw on the Johnny Cash records to make it festive.

Visit Demarest Farm, 244 Wierimus Rd., Hillsdale, NJ

There are no vegan options for dessert, so we headed to Old Hook Farm for a bumbleberry pie (all their fruit pies are vegan, except apple crumble). Washed down with an iced coffee with Trader Joe's soy creamer, and followed with a nap.

Johnny with his beloved June.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bea: "Thank You for Being a Friend" to the Animals

Today our animal rights community lost a great supporter, and the public lost a wonderful comedienne, Bea Arthur. I am a huge fan of the Golden Girls, on which she was a co-star. Intelligently written, superbly acted and with great chemistry among its cast, such comedy is hard to find nowadays in a television age of vapid reality shows focused on some ridiculous obsession with wealth. Check out PETA Vice President Dan Mathews' tribute to Bea.

As the theme song of the Golden Girls goes, "thank you for being a friend," I will say, "thank you, Bea, for providing the world with so much laughter, and for being such a tireless advocate of animals."

Bea's Dorothy Zbornak character was a strong, vibrant, intelligent woman, with witty comebacks never in short supply. She was a great role model, both on TV and in real life, for women of all ages. We live in an era when so many are obsessed with pursuits of vanity and material possessions. Bea lived in pursuit of a better world, and making us all smile.

Bea participated in this PSA for PETA with co-stars Betty White and Rue McClanahan
Golden Girls Fur PSA

Goodbye Bea. Surely, there will be more laughter among the angels now that you have joined them.

Like my latest cute top? Oh, thank you. It was $4.

If there's anything good that's come out of this terrible economy, it's the new American thriftiness, and alas, the return of the word "budget" into our lexicon. What an idea...not buying something unless you can afford it?

American women have been marketed to death in the clothing department. While I loved the writing and acting on Sex & the City, what I did not love was its shallow worship of the $500 a pair Manolo Blahniks and Jimmy Choos. The founders of those companies are undoubtedly laughing all the way to the bank. What's more frightening is the legions of young women they've influenced. Isn't it a bit unnerving to see all these young teen girls with designer handbags? These companies have conned women to obsess over some over-priced, fleeting fashion, and worst of all, fashion that causes needless suffering to innocent animals if it's made of leather, wool, silk, or some other animal-derived product. Learn more at Farm Sanctuary's Veg for Life site.

While there's a lot of talk about "green" clothing (i.e., organic cotton), I'm an avid advocate of the recycling method of thrift store and consignment store shopping. Find one near you through or At my my favorite shop, the C.A.T.S. resale shop in Westwood, NJ, I recently scored a $4 peasant top, $8 GAP pencil skirt, and $4 Nine West summer dress. I've also had luck at Fabulous Finds, also in Westwood, where I found almost new grey Chinese Laundry flats for $14 and a black Max Studio dress for $39 that I wear constantly. Best of all, it's all vegan.

The key to successful shopping: frequency. Don't be discouraged if you go in a shop once and don't find anything. Treasures await. But don't be greedy...put things you once loved, but no longer use, back into the universe.

The Green Life, the blog of the Sierra Club, also gave some great tips for buying used.

Of course, then there's always the idea of, gulp, using what you already have in the closet and not consuming so much.

While we're all packing up those winter clothes and bringing out the spring/summer clothes, now is a perfect time to reassess your wardrobe. How about organizing a clothing swap? I've always wanted to do one, and in about two weeks, several of my coworkers and I will be exchanging clothes, handbags and jewelry. I can't wait.

So vow to be to the honorary, unwritten, fifth Sex & the City character, and look stylish, green, vegan and thrifty...all at once.

Mark your calendars:

The C.A.T.S. store will be hosting a green fashion show on Sunday, May 3rd at the RV Community Center in River Vale, NJ, as part of the the Pascack Sustainability Group's GreenFest.

Also at the fair:
*Weigh the benefits of adding solar panels to your home
*Find ways to get green healthy lawns without chemicals
*Run your house more efficiently with less energy
*Save money on home heating
Learn more.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

For Earth Day, Oprah Shines the Spotlight on Waste

What millions of Oprah viewers saw on Earth Day, images of what scientists believe is the world's largest garbage dump: in the Pacific Ocean! The Great Pacific Garbage Patch stretches from the California coast to Japan, and it's estimated to be twice the size of Texas. Learn more about this man-made floating nightmare, which is estimated to be about 90 percent plastic and goes 90 feet deep in some spots.

Photo courtesy of

Just when you think you've seen it all as an environmentalist, you can still be blown away. Oprah Winfrey devoted an entire show to environmental issues.

Brilliantly, Oprah constantly worked the economic angle, reinforcing making simple solutions (using a water filter; energy efficient appliances, reusable dishes for office/school lunches, etc.) will save money. America's radar is focused toward their wallet, no matter how disturbing the images and facts are, and selling them on environmentalism with economic incentives is a must. Frankly, I think our own vegan community could be doing a better job of doing just that right now. How about teaming up with a renowned economist and devising hard statistics about the money vegans can save in the long-run?

Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemna, was a guest, encouraging Americans to go meatless one day a week. I know, there will be grumbling in our community about this, but I disagree with any dissent. Yes, veganism is the ideal, but we do not live in an idealistic world. Meatless Mondays are a far easier sell, and once people gradually reduce meat consumption, the shift toward vegetarianism will come more organically. We cannot take a world from point A to point Z overnight.

Breaking the addiction to disposables was constantly reinforced. By switching from using disposable items in your lunches to reusable ones, you could save as much as $320. In keeping with that theme, these special offers are now available:

*Get a free Whole Foods reusable lunch bag (while supplies last), good through April 26th. Click here.

*Get 20 percent off any purchase (through July 31st) at Download the coupon. Check out their reusable portable utensil set (fork, knife, spoon, chopsticks) made from bamboo. This is the perfect item to carry around in your purse, backpack, or briefcase, so you can avoid the plastic alternatives

*Get 20 percent off any purchase at SIGG (through May 31st). Download your coupon, and redeem at While most famous for their water bottles, they also offer small lunch boxes.

Check out Oprah's Going Green Resources Page.

This Sunday, April 26, I will be participating in the first of the Hackensack Riverkeeper's cleanups in Overpeck Park, Leonia. Learn more here. Activism in own communities is crucial. Wherever you are, think about your own waste, how to reduce it, and how other's can follow your lead.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

On this Earth Day...

...some words of wisdom from one of the founders of the animal rights movement, Ingrid Newkirk.

"Human beings should be in awe of all the other animals. They're never greedy. They live well on the Earth. They don't despoil it, they don't pollute it. They live simply. It isn't because of them that the sun is searing into the Earth bringing starvation to the peoples of Africa. That no one can drink from our waterways. That sparrows are dying throughout Europe, frogs are disappearing in South America, and penguins are found floating dead in the Antarctic."

"We should be in awe. Our own species has trashed the place."

On the disappearance of the Congo and its vast natural resources, she bemoans, "We humans here have so much greed, not need, but greed, that we want more rubber, more minerals, we want more logs, more lumber. We just want more. That's what our species is defined as."

How green is your diet? Find out.

In the 19 years I've been a vegetarian, it calculated I saved 5,320 animals. By sticking with it, I will save 13,160 more animals from death and 155,100 lbs. of CO2e from polluting the Earth in my lifetime. Learn more about the environmental impact of that steak on your plate.

"Can you blame nature if she's had enough of us?" Tori Amos, Father's Son.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Who Says Nothing in Life is Free?

If I'm needed to show the corporate world that there's a market for vegan products by boosting demand, I'm there! After work, I hit the Ben & Jerry's on the 4th floor of Macy's on 34th St.

Lines were surprisingly short, maybe because of the location. When I went to the now-closed location on Eighth Ave. near Times Square last year, there was actually a scoop shop 'bouncer' handing out napkins and demanding we all make our flavor decision before getting to the counter so not to hold up the line.

Tah-dah...isn't it a thing of beauty? Price, free! There was only one sorbet flavor available here, but luckily it was a good one...mixed berry. Yum!

I asked about the sugar cone's ingredients, and the counterperson showed me the box. My eyes glared over looking at the long list of ingredients, but I didn't see anything animal-derived. The boxed was marked "Contains Wheat, Soy" but nothing about dairy or eggs (both allergens to some), so I think they're safe. Phew, I didn't want a wasteful plastic spoon anyway.

Thank you Ben & Jerry!

Get Your Sorbet Fix (Free!) at Ben & Jerry's Today

It's here...Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's. Yeah! Vegans need not be deprived on this day. They offer several refreshing varieties of sorbet, all of which are vegan. Find a Scoop Shop near you, then wrestle internally with which flavor to choose...Strawberry Kiwi, Jamaican Me Crazy (pineapple sorbet with a passion fruit swirl), Berried Treasure (blueberry, blackberry and lemon sorbet), or something else?

I'm unclear if the cones are vegan friendly, and I'm awaiting a response to my e-mail, so when in doubt, ask the counterperson, or go with a cup.

Write to Ben & Jerry's, and tell them how great it would be to have a non-dairy ice cream. Soy Cherry Garcia or Chunky Monkey, anyone?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Happy "Hanging Out" Day!

I bet I was the first one to wish you that. Fellow environmentalists are always challenging us to think about our energy consumption and providing easy ways to reduce it. One simple solution, according to a group called Project Laundry List, is to hang dry our clothes.

Nearly 6 percent of residential electricity use goes towards the clothes dryer, according to DOE EIA statistics from 2001. That doesn't even take into account the millions of Americans who do their wash at commercial Laundromats and multi-family housing units, nor does it factor in the 16 percent of U.S. households that use gas dryers. If all Americans would use a clothesline or wooden drying racks, the savings could shut down several power plants. Project Laundry List, you are so wise!

They encourage investing in a clothesline for homeowners or a drying lack like this, which is great for apartment dwellers like myself. I purchased one at Bed Bath and Beyond when I moved into my first apartment.

Each load I don't dry saves $1.50, which quickly adds up. I also just put most of my clothes right on a hanger and leave them to dry on my shower rack. Easy!

Have more questions, such as what to do about stiff towels and jeans; how to use vinegar in your laundry, and if you should be concerned about germs washing in cold water. Find the answers here.

How green is your laundry? Take the Sierra Club's 10-question quiz and find out.

Flashback to my entry on greening your laundry routine. In addition to the Method dryer sheets I recommended if you do wish to use a dryer, I've also discovered lavender dryer bags at Trader Joe's. They come four in a box (each bag will get 5-10 uses), and after their life cycle is over, you can sprinkle the florets on the carpet and vacuum.

Project Laundry List states among its principles that "Frugality, or thrift, needs to be a universally practiced virtue." Amen to that! Money is power, and it is time that Americans take charge and save money on their utility bills, which will certainly benefit Mother Earth.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Declaring War on Junk Mail

Advocating for a better world for animals includes not only their treatment, but the environment they - and we - live in. One of the needless ways we destroy the environment: junk mail. A waste of trees, money, and our time.

Here are some startling facts from ForestEthics:
*More than 100 billion pieces of junk mail, nearly 900 pieces per household, arrive in American mailboxes each year.
*Junk mail in U.S. accounts for about 30% of all the mail delivered in the world and more than 100 million trees a year are cut down to produce it. Almost half of it goes to landfills unopened.
*It takes the equivalent of 290,000 garbage trucks to dump unrecycled junk mail into landfills and incinerators each year.
Check out ForestEthics' Youtube Channel.

What can you do?
Sign ForestEthic's petition to support a Do Not Mail Registry. Learn more about the campaign here.

New American Dream gives tips on reducing your junk mail.

When you receive an unwanted catalogue, take a few minutes to call the 800 number to be removed from their list. Unfortunately, this takes time out of all of our busy schedules, but this will put a dent into your junk mail.

A fellow friend of animals who runs a blog called "On Loving Animals" recently bemoaned in one of his posts the number of mail he receives from animal advocacy groups. I'm glad I'm not the only one whose noticed this.

In an "after the fact" move, I decide to check out the privacy policies of some of the groups I support. The wording of their privacy policies vary, but they all essentially say the same thing: they share your personal mailing address with other groups:
Humane Society of the U.S. Opt-out: e-mail
PETA Opt-out: e-mail or call at 757-622-7382.
Farm Sanctuary Add your name to their do-not-share list, e-mail or call 607-583-2225 ext. 221.
ASPCA Opt-out: email:, or call 800-628-0028

Check out privacy policies before you give, and if you do not want your name shared, let the group know. In my case, I feel frustratingly that my information is now out there, so I now have to spend more time e-mailing groups to not send me any more solicitations.

If you only want to be contacted once a year, make sure you tell them, otherwise a stream of letters will undoubtedly arrive asking for more.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Heartland Brewery: Union Square

An evening of doggie and kitty-socializing at ASPCA Day works up one's appetite. Luckily, Heartland Brewery was right across from the event.

I never acquired a taste for beer, so I went with my favorite alternative, hard cider. This was a half-pint of the Vermont-based Woodchuck brand, $4.95, which says is vegan-friendly.

On a crisp, cloudy evening, this vegetarian chili (hold the sour cream) and mesclun side salad, $13.25, hit this spot.

Visit Heartland Brewery, Union Square West at 17th St. or other locations in New York City (menus vary).

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

ASPCA Day 2009: NYC

I was completely overcome with canine- and feline-envy at ASPCA's annual celebration in New York City. A curse, a curse to my cat allergies, and a bigger curse to my apartment building's owner, which discriminates against dogs. Even though the clouds hovered, the rain held off for our four-legged friends and their two-legged guardians, and we partied the evening away.

A band entertained the crowd at Union Square.

Free cotton candy! There was popcorn too.

The cat-mobile had feline friends up for adoption.

Dreaming of a forever home with a big picture window, a fleece blanket for long naps, and a big bowl of cat food.

Do you know that saying about people resembling their dogs? Well...

um, and...I kid, I kid. Cute!

All the NYC-hipsters were donning the "it" color of the night, orange, the official color of the ASPCA.

These ASPCA Day-goers enjoyed some time in the doggie run.

Support the ASPCA. Become a member, and if you donate $25 or more, you will receive the quarterly ASPCA Action.

Give a gift membership of $25 or more and your recipient will get a membership card, an ASPCA calendar, an ASPCA Action subscription, and an ASPCA wristband.

Tying the knot? Donate to the ASPCA in lieu of wedding favors, and you'll get place cards for your tables. Learn more.

In New York City, search their adoptable dogs and adoptable cats. Guess who's hiring? The ASPCA is.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mercy for Animals Investigates Egg Production: Please Avoid Eggs this Easter Season

Cheap eggs and poor animal welfare. The connection is irrefutable, yet with the economy suffering, people are cutting corners everywhere, including at the grocery store, and eggs produced by battery caged hens, the cheapest option available, are the norm.

That is why this new Mercy For Animals undercover investigation comes at a crucial time. Early this year, the group had hidden cameras in Quality Egg of New England in Turner, Maine, the largest egg factory farm in New England.

What did they find?
*Rotting carcasses in cages with live hens still laying eggs.
*Employees killing birds by grabbing their necks and swinging them around in circles; and throwing live birds into trash cans, leaving them to be slowly crushed under the weight of other birds' corpses and unable to access food or water.
*Hens confined four to six in wire cages so small they could not stretch their wings, move freely or engage in other basic behaviors.
*Birds trapped in the wire of their cages or under the feeding trays with no access to food or water, some with body parts, including their faces, pressed against moving conveyor belts.

Among other horrors. Here is the video:

Some updates I received via e-mail:
*Officials with the state police and Maine Department of Agriculture executed a court ordered search warrant, raiding the Turner facility seeking additional evidence of animal cruelty. Officials removed hens and documented evidence of mistreatment, which is being reviewed. The case is in the hands of the Franklin County District Attorney's office.
*Eggland's Best said it would immediately end its supplier relationship with the facility.
*Radlo Foods, the distributor of eggs from the factory farm targeted by MFA's investigation, also terminated its relationship, which means that eggs from the facility will no longer be found at Walmart, Stop & Shop, Hannaford, or Shaw's. Radlo Foods also said that it would become the first national egg producer to commit to ending its confinement of hens in battery cages, following the public release of MFA's undercover findings.

Easter season is here. Please educate people about battery caged eggs and persuade them to ditch the cruel tradition of coloring eggs. Eggs were viewed as symbols of new life and fertility through the ages, and it is believed that for this reason many ancient cultures, among them the Ancient Egyptians, Persians, and Romans, used eggs during their spring festivals, according to TheHolidaySpot. Yet we have corrupted this image of new life beyond our worst imagination, all over greed, and the desire to save a few pennies.

This Easter season, instead of buying eggs, I will be making a donation to Mercy for Animals.

Learn more about the investigation, click here.

Monday, April 6, 2009

European Flair (and Vegan Food!) at Cafe Angelique

Whenever I go to Cafe Angelique in Tenafly, NJ, I feel like I'm transported back to Zurich, Paris or some other desirable European city. So it was fitting my recent visit there was after catching "Shall We Kiss?" a French film at the theater across the street.

Located in a restored railroad station, this charming cafe also has outdoor seating. On a leisurely, sunny weekend afternoon, I enjoyed the Vegan Angelique: avocado, greens, tomato and olive tapenade on toasted seven grain bread, served with a mesclun salad, $9.95, and a lemonade with fresh mint, $2.75.

I didn't have room for their chocolate whiskey cake, $7.50, which the waitress said was vegan. Sounds intriguing, although a bit pricey. Soy is also available if you want to indulge in a cappuccino, although they charge 40 cents extra. Definite discrimination, but at least they have it as an option.

Visit Cafe Angelique, 1 Piermont Rd., Tenafly, NJ. They have two New York City locations: 49 Grove St. and 68 Bleecker St.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Cool Beans: Get Your Organic, Fair Trade Java Fix Here

In our Starbucks world, independent coffee houses aren't exactly on every corner, unless you live in Seattle. I adore the cafe culture of many European cities, but unfortunately we don't have that here. Americans seem to be perpetually on the go. But if you're looking for a relaxed, home-away-from-home vibe (think Central Perk on Friends) and want to support the independents, Cool Beans in Oradell, NJ, may be your place. You can linger with a good book or read the paper with little interruption.

There's only one vegan dessert. Luckily, it's a tasty one. Chocolate polenta cake ($3.96 + tax) and a small coffee, $1.54 + tax). Very decadent...probably enough to share. ZenSoy brand organic plain soy milk is available. They always have one fair trade, organic coffee option (this was from Nicaragua). Take a pound home for $14.50 (half pounds available for $7.50).

A tall soy cappuccino, $3.75.

A hodgepodge of kitschy second-hand furniture is in the shop, which I love. It's a form of recycling, and who wants scary over-sized leather couches? PETA's Cows are Cool site gives the low-down on the horrors of leather.
A meditative rock garden outside. With the arrival of warmer weather, outdoor seating is now available.

They also have Heart Thrive vegan energy bars for sale, but I'm not an energy bar fan.

Visit Cool Beans International Coffee & Teas, 304 Kinderkamack Rd., Oradell, NJ

Learn about Oxfam America's fair trade coffee campaign.

In New York City and looking for the Cool Beans vibe? Check out Grounded Organic Coffee & Tea House in the West Village (28 Jane St.) Vegan breakfast options include a tofu scramble wrap and bagels with Tofutti cream cheese.

Friday, April 3, 2009

One More Time: Home on 8th

Despite my uneasiness over the disposable dishes they use to serve meals in-house, I decided to give Home on 8th (near Madison Square Garden) another try.

The vegetarian steamed dumplings, $5.50. They taste as bland as they look in this photo. Skip these.

The Peanut Butter Lover's Tofu (with carrots, broccoli and cabbage in a peanut-vinegar sauce), $9.95. I'm a peanut butter lover. Heck, I'm a borderline peanut butter enthusiast. But can I get some tofu and veggies with this peanut butter sauce?

I paired it with a teany peach berry green tea, $2. Okay, but so much cheaper and eco-friendly to brew your own at home and sweeten with agave nectar. Learn about the health benefits of agave here.

So that was take 2. I don't think take 3 will be on the horizon soon. I'll stick with my favorite, Empire Hunan, in Fair Lawn, NJ. Those disposable dishes just irk me too much. There's unfortunately a need for disposables sometimes, but it doesn't seem necessary here. I often look out the window on my bus ride to work each day and view the mini-landfills of trash on the roadside (consisting of water bottles, Doritos bags, Dunkin' Donuts cups, you name it) and think about our excessive waste and how we pollute, yet people justify the killing of geese, starlings, and even deer for supposedly polluting. Trying to cut down on our waste, and educate others on this, is a great resolution for the upcoming Earth Day and always.

Looking for vegan restaurants in New York City? Check out this Friends of Animals guide. (PDF)