Monday, March 25, 2013


There are many great organizations that are helping to advance veganism.  I love them all, and I especially love the people behind these organizations.  Even if I don’t always agree with their tactics, I have a very deep respect for their motives.

One organization that I feel every vegan needs to know about is PCRM – the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine.  PCRM is run by 1. medical professionals and 2. people who work in politics. Here is why this mix of people is so impactful:  The medical doctors and researchers understand scientifically why animals should not be used in research, and what good models can be used in in their place that are as good – or better – at getting research results that are truly applicable to humans and medical research.  They also understand how a healthy vegan diet can reverse diabetes, heart disease, and even affect autoimmune disorders, and are studying these conditions (using sound research methodologies) with a vegan diet.  The people who are working on the political side of this organization understand who is who on Capitol Hill, how to network in Washington DC, and how to get legislation passed.  I think this last piece is crucial if we ever want to enact sweeping change.  For example, we can try to convince our friends, one-by-one, the importance of feeding their children healthfully (and cringe when we see their kids popping chicken nuggets into their mouths just a few days later), or we can support organizations like PCRM who have the scientific data and the political know-how to march into DC and pass legislation to clean up the school lunch program.  Or, instead of conducting “extreme activism” and breaking into research labs at medical schools and setting all the animals free, we can support organizations like PCRM who can march into DC and demand that medical schools quit testing on animals (which are nothing like humans) and start using human models of anatomy and disease instead, which are far more relevant and humane.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t advocate at a personal one-on-one level – that is still important, and there is nothing like one-on-one conversations with someone we trust to get us to see things differently.  However, to make sweeping changes, we usually either need such a huge groundswell from the people that they eventually enact change from a grassroots effort, or we need the government to change their laws and enforce change. 

In addition to all their medical research and political work, PCRM also has a great outreach program to the public.  They have a 21 Day Vegan Kickstart program in several languages around the world, where they teach people how to live healthier through a low-fat vegan diet.  They also have cooking classes called “Food for Life” where people like you and me are trained to teach vegan cooking classes in our communities!  If this interests you, you can sign up to get trained and become a Food for Life instructor for your area – in fact, the next instructor’s class is in late June.

There is much, much more to PCRM than I am writing here in this short blog, but they really are worth checking out.  I do not let anyone pay me or “encourage” me to blog about their products or organizations, so anything you see me write about here, you know I am writing about because I am a true believer. To learn more, go to  If you have an organization that you feel should be recognized as well, make a comment below!

With Love and Ahimsa,

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Paris Goes Vegan!

The last time I was in Paris in 2004, I literally ate a salad or a baguette for every single meal.  A week later, I came home a size smaller.  It was likelier that Napoleon would rise from the dead than to get a vegan meal in Paris that wasn’t a salad.

So you can imagine my extreme delight when I arrived in Paris last week to find that, not only are there a few vegan restaurants that have sprung up, but that the French also now have a word for vegan – vegetalien!  Having said that, trying to get a vegan meal in a regular restaurant is like throwing yourself back ten years in the United States – if you say “Je suis vegetalien” the waiter says “Wi! Wi!” as if he completely understands what that means, and then suggests the fish.  In a better restaurant, I was given a plate of vegetables, but when I got to the mashed cauliflower, there were strings of cheese hanging from my fork.  So, the result is that if you eat in a regular restaurant, you’ll still end up with a salad. 

However!  Don’t let that keep you from going to Paris!  Just mark the GPS on your phone for The Gentle Gourmet (24 Rue de la Bastille – and you’ll agree with food connoisseurs around the world that Paris is the best city in the world for food.  The owner, Deborah Brown Pivain, creates some of the most delicious vegan food I have ever tasted.  My favorite was the lasagna, which took me back to my childhood. Even the mixed greens salad had a light vinaigrette that was unique and delightful – even memorable!  Not many mixed green salads are memorable.

But the dessert is what I will remember the most.  As a vegan, I passed dozens of gorgeous patisseries every day as I walked through the city, knowing that there was nothing I could have in the windows.  The Gentle Gourmet has a pastry chef that made me feel sorry for all those non-vegans eating at the patisseries!  I was given the Chocolate Bavarian, which was not on the menu that day, but the wonderful host, Caroline Pivain (Deborah’s daughter), treated me thanks to my having a mutual friend, Mark Reinfeld.  

The people two tables over were audibly commenting about it for so long that after I was done taking photos, I walked it over to them and gave them the first bite.  The Chocolate Bavarian is a light chocolate mousse, with a chocolate crust and a center of peanut butter.  Peanuts roasted in agave and sugar topped off the dish, and caramel, I think, was drizzled on top. In fact, it was also completely gluten-free, if you worry about your gluten intake.  Each bite was a little piece of heaven. 

If you are looking for a reason to travel to Europe – or an opportunity to get in the Guinness book of world records – mark your calendars for October 12, 2013.  Paris will be hosting Europe’s largest vegan festival, and with 50 cooking demonstrations, will make the world’s record for largest vegan cooking session in the world.  (  Bon apetit!