Exporting Japan: A Live Episode with the ‘Gunma Vegan Project’

Episode 12 of the Vegan-Carne Alliance podcast is live (and is also our first live episode!).

For our twelfth episode, Brian Moeljadi joins C.W. Moss to experience new vegan ingredients from Japan. This experience is part of the ‘Gunma Vegan Project’, a food-focused Japanese-government initiative to expand veganism in and outside of the country. Two mini-courses are served, one by LA chef Kajsa Alger and another by Japanese chef Kazuki Arai (14:49). We discuss how ingredients spread, our experiences in Japan, and how a name can affect a product. Then, C.W. talks with chef Arai about experiences with veganism in Japan (53:46). After, C.W. is joined by chef Kajsa to discuss using Japanese ingredients to make other cuisines (1:03:09).

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Beer Snobbery, Corporate Brewery Takeovers, & Recording While Drunk with Podcaster Jeff McAuliff

Episode 8 of the Vegan-Carne Alliance podcast is live.

For our eighth episode, vegan-food lover C.W. Moss talks with beer podcaster Jeff McAuliff. We hear about what he thinks makes a great brewery (12:24), beer-vs.-wine snobbery (20:30), and the dangers of live recording while drinking for his podcast Bev Boyz (32:06).

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Japan’s Vegan Olympic Dreams and Intimate Dumpling Dinner Parties with Chef Kajsa Alger

Episode 7 of the Vegan-Carne Alliance podcast is live.

For our seventh episode, vegan-food lover C.W. Moss talks with Chef Kajsa Alger. We hear about her life and work directing culinary at places like Veggie Grill, and how she’s helping Japan get vegan-friendly for the 2020 Olympic games through the Gunma Vegan Project (15:01), the joy of Mad Misha’s intimate dumpling dinner parties (38:05), and how novels sometimes help menus take shape (52:43).

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‘The Most Important Restaurants of the Decade’

I’m a sucker for lists like this, and I love seeing such strong representation for places that love vegetables. And two especially stood out on Food & Wine’s list:

Vedge, Philadelphia, 2011

The expressions “plant-based” and “vegetable-focused” feel borderline cliché at this point, but that wasn’t always true, especially not in the elevated dining space, where patrons historically expect steep checks to include showy meats, or at the very least caviar. At Vedge, husband-wife chef team Kate Jacoby and Rich Landau made it dangerously easy to justify spending lots of money on vegetables—with surprising dishes like a giant wood-roasted carrot that easily rivals any steak, broccolini “carbonara” made with Israeli couscous, and a luxurious rutabaga fondue. Jacoby and Landau, who helped pioneer this new mode of plant-based dining back in the ‘90s with Horizons, cracked a new level of visibility with the critical success of Vedge. —Maria Yagoda, Digital Restaurant Editor

Vedge is the restaurant I want to eat at most. It’s a bright star in the vegan sky, and it may be *the* North Star for people looking to think about vegetables in a different way.

Superiority Burger, New York City, 2015

Brooks Headley had a laser-focused mission, succeeded wildly at it, and made the restaurant world a better place. Six years ago, he was an award-winning pastry chef who would make veggie burgers just for kicks. Then he did a veggie-burger pop-up, which eventually became a six-seat East Village institution with groups of people always eating outside. It’s not like Headley invented plant-based fast food, but he’s the best at it, and he’s influenced so many other concepts in the past few years. The Superiority staff never stops churning out experimental vegan hits, like their Italian hoagie, cold pizza salad, and tahini ranch romaine salad. Last year, Headley thought it’d be cool to get intensely into focaccia and sell it only on Fridays. May this place stay open for a thousand years. —R.G.

And Superiority is just special in every single way. I adore so many parts. Weekly-repeated specials, daily specials, small menu, and a constant focus on seasonal things. All those combine to make for a unique experience every time I’ve visited, and I’m grateful for it.

It makes sense that Sqirl and LocoL are on the list too. All are ambitious and interesting in their own ways.

I hope in the next few weeks we see more lists that help contextualize America’s invigorated interest in vegetables and fresh eating more.

‘Top 10 Vegan-Friendly Cities’

From sprawling metropolises to small towns, businesses are updating their menus with exciting animal-free options—which isn’t surprising, considering that the number of vegan Americans has increased by 600% in just three years, according to research firm GlobalData. In fact, The Economist dubbed 2019 “the year of the vegan.”

PETA’s annual top 10 list of vegan-friendly cities is always a fun list for me. I wish they were a little more clear about how they’re making their decisions and rankings. Is it based on the amount of all-vegan spots in that city? The quality of the food? The average Yelp score? The percentage of how many places offer vegan options? Whether anyone still pronounces “vee-gunn” as “vay-gun”? How many people inform the decisions on this list? I have lots of questions.

It’s been a few years since I was really eating in San Francisco much, but I’m really surprised that it’s number one. Shizen is great. Same with Berkeley’s Butcher’s Son — but that’s not really in SF. They must have made tremendous leaps, because when I was there it was sometimes difficult. Of the things they list, I have only had about half — so honestly I should probably bite my tongue. I’m excited to get up there and try everything they mention.

For the record, I also have lots of problems with their LA list too, but that’s a whole nother post.

I couldn’t believe Austin isn’t on the list. Just because of how people talk about its hippie culture, I assumed it’d be somewhere on the top 10. Or Philadelphia. I assumed Vedge and V Street would have some pull there. Lots of people think Vedge is in the running for best vegan restaurant in America. I really want to go to Detroit, and this list makes it seem even more appealing. And Orlando using the pull of The Mouse is a glorious move.

Does anyone else do lists like this? I’m looking forward to HappyCow’s too.

Mezcal and Mole: A Year in Oaxaca with Jesse Mullenix

Episode 5 of the Vegan-Carne Alliance podcast is live.

In this episode, vegan-food lover C.W. Moss (aka me) talks with carnivorous chef Jesse Mullenix about his time in Oaxaca, Mexico. Jesse talks about drinking the finest mezcal from a gas can (1:10:50), radish festivals (53:25), exploring the massive food markets to find the best food (1:18:08), and how to barely survive the Day of the Dead festival (1:27:20).

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‘The village that’s been vegan for 50 years’

Abigail Klein Leichman for ISRAEL21c:

Everyone knows that Tel Aviv is the vegan capital of Israel, right? After all, it’s home to scores of vegan restaurants and many of the 5 percent of Israelis who eat a plant-based diet.

Well, here’s a surprise: Long before you could get veggie shawarma in Tel Aviv, a community in the desert town of Dimona pioneered the vegan lifestyle in Israel.

They’re called the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem and they live in a compound called Neve Shalom (Village of Peace). The original 138 members of the community, mostly natives of Chicago, arrived in Israel in 1969.

I found many parts of their veganism fascinating. For them, it stems from specific Bible verses:

They are not Jewish, but they consider the Bible their history and guidebook.

In Genesis 1:29-30, a plant-based diet is prescribed for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden: “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree on which is the fruit yielding seed; to you it shall be for food. … everything that has the breath of life in it, I give every green herb for food.”


“We eat foods in season and no foods that are seedless. For example, no seedless grapes or watermelon. That goes back to the biblical verse about ‘every herb bearing seed.’ There’s something about the seed that makes it the proper food for our consumption and if you tamper with that it would have a negative effect,” says Ben Yehuda.

And I love this bit showing their dedication:

In the early days, the Hebrew Israelites could not find vegan staples like tofu and soymilk in Israel. So one community member was sent to Japan to learn how to manufacture them.

“When he came back, we invested in a factory producing tofu and that led to an entire range of foods that [we] began to develop from soy and other sources,” says Ben Yehuda.

The company they started has gone on to produce over 200 products, including the cheese for Domino’s vegan pizza in Israel. It shows what a little dedication and time will do.

‘United Airlines overhauls its 2020 menu to cater more to the vegan crowd’

Barbara Booth for MSNBC:

Although the airline started introducing healthier options this year, with gluten-free alternatives, the carrier is now focusing heavily on plant-based options, said United Airlines’ Executive Chef Gerry Gulli. Among United’s 2020 offerings: red beet hummus with roasted vegetables; roasted curry cauliflower with whipped hummus and pomegranate; and vegan stuffed grape leaf with dolma infused yogurt.

United is not alone. Turkish Airlines, Air New Zealand, Emirates and Aegean also offer plant-based options. In July 2018 Air New Zealand collaborated with Silicon Valley food tech start-up Impossible Foods, becoming the first airline to serve the plant-based Impossible Burger as part of its Business Premier menu on flights from Los Angeles to Auckland. Emirates claims it has more than 170 plant-based recipes in its kitchen to cater to its vegan customers, and vegan meals rank as the third most commonly requested special meal in economy class.

I’ve had some terrific food on international flights in the past few years. British Airways, Virgin, and Delta all offered flavorful vegan options—usually a curry with rice and vegetables. And always with fresh berries or a wonderful raw, chocolate cake.

‘Disney’s US theme parks are going vegan’

In a sign that veganism is making its way into the American mainstream, Disney announced Tuesday that plant-based food options will be added to every dining location in their US theme parks.

Now, it’s the happiest place on earth.

Greta Thurnberg Travels

From Charlotte Pointing:

Greta Thunberg is traveling to America in the most vegan way possible.

True to her message, the 16-year-old Swedish vegan environmentalist is boycotting carbon-heavy planes and hopping on board the Malizia ll — a 60-foot yacht fitted with solar panels and underwater turbines, which generate zero-carbon electricity.

I think this is a radically fun thought experiment. Essentially, what’s the most environmentally friendly way of traveling? How much does a ticket like this cost?

Thunberg’s method of crossing the Atlantic ocean is environmentally-friendly, but it is undeniably inaccessible to most people. She has emphasized that she doesn’t believe that everyone should stop flying, but that we need to make the process kinder to the planet.

I think this is something we’ll be talking about a lot more in the future—not only in air travel but also cars, bikes, clothes, et cetera. How far things have to travel to get to us, or how far we have to travel to get to something. It’s all relative and has an effect.