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Visiting the Outer Banks, North Carolina
Jul08

Visiting the Outer Banks, North Carolina

I just got back a few weeks ago from a family vacation to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I’m happy to hear reports that the area made it safely through the holiday weekend’s storm, and that both locals and tourists are once again enjoying the beauty of their surroundings. The main goal of our trip to the Outer Banks was to witness the wild Colonial Spanish Mustangs that wander the beaches in Corolla, but it also was about spending some quality time together — lots of long walks with the pups on the beach in the cool summer evenings. And I couldn’t resist the opportunity to strike an “Airplane” pose at the Wright Brothers National Monument. As always when visiting a place new to me, part of the fun is exploring local offerings for vegans and, when traveling with Otis and Galileo, a few spots that make family vacation extra fun for our canine kids. Here’s what I discovered in the lovely First in Flight state: Thai Room (Kill Devil Hills) This little unassuming place is a great inexpensive option for dinner. My husband Seth is pretty committed to trying a Pad Thai wherever it’s on the menu (just make sure to let the server know you’re vegan so that the kitchen makes it without egg and if used, fish sauce). I wanted something lighter than a curry (they offer red and green options), so I went with Vegetables with Basil, a nice assortment of seasonal vegetables with a very subtle sauce. Thai Room lets you choose just how spicy you want your sauce, whichever sauce you select. As an appetizer, Seth and I split the Summer Rolls, my favorite part of the meal here. Ocean Boulevard Bistro & Martini Bar (Kitty Hawk) I loved the vibe of this place and the Martini Menu can be a lot of fun for adventurous spirits (pun intended). When it comes to martinis, it’s a rare indulgence for me and I like to stick with the simplicity of a vodka martini with one olive. Seth chose the Hot & Dirty, a mix of Absolut Pepper, Absolut Citron, and Chipotle Tabasco. This cocktail usually comes with a bleu cheese-stufed pepperocini, so Seth asked them for three plain olives instead. A great thing about this place is that they have a full separate Vegetarian Menu, though you have to know to ask for it. The menu here is seasonal, so it will change. Unfortunately, on the night we visited (when we made our reservation, we gave them a heads up that vegans were coming), there wasn’t anything vegan on the vegetarian menu, and the selection consisted of...

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The Nutmeg Cookery in Hartford, Connecticut
Mar03

The Nutmeg Cookery in Hartford, Connecticut

A couple of weeks ago, I was in Hartford for Voices for Animals Day at the State Capitol Building, organized by the ASPCA. Connecticut citizens gathered to speak with their individual legislators in support of prohibiting the sale of puppy-mill puppies in new pet stores (and phasing out sales in the sixteen pet stores that still have them). The day started with a welcoming breakfast and — wow — what scrumptious vegan goodies The Nutmeg Cookery had put together for us. A perfect start to the day while people mingled before the press conference and presentation. If you’re in the Hartford area, I hope you’ll keep in mind The Nutmeg Cookery if you’re looking to bring a little extra special vegan love into your home or office. Jenny and her husband mostly work as personal chefs but, as you can see, they are a dynamic duo for events, too. Voices for Animals Day and other “Lobby Day” Events If you have yet to participate in a Lobby Day event at your state capital, I highly encourage you to do so.  They are so uplifting — how inspiring and empowering when kids and adults come together for a few hours to lend their voices on behalf of the voiceless. For kids and adults alike, it also can be both fun and educational. Most of all, it’s incredibly rewarding to meet with your local representatives or their staff members in person. So how do you know when events like these are happening in your own community? Here’s one easy way: sign up for the ASPCA’s Advocacy Brigade. And, if you’re in New York, you can count on seeing me in Albany in...

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Whale Watching, Cape Cod
Oct07

Whale Watching, Cape Cod

During my travels, I’m always looking for ways to interact with animals — whether it’s by visiting a local animal sanctuary, hiking through the woods, or walking along the beach. When in Cape Cod, one is almost certain to feel the pull of the whale watching opportunities. I was just a young girl the first time I experienced the thrill of the whale watch, with my family during a a stay on the Cape. A little later in life, I would be privileged to receive a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities to spend the better part of a summer researching and discussing with a select group the different aspects of Herman Melville’s work — Moby Dick, of course, a focal point of our work. The magnificent white whale. Mythic. Epic. And, just as in literature, sighting a whale is among the  most mesmerizing and humbling experiences in life. Responsible Whale Watching: WhaleSense.org We know too much about the horrors of Sea World or other similar entertainment parks to partake in those kinds of interactions. However, it’s also important to do a little homework before signing up for a whale watch. As always, the idea is that we want to observe wildlife without being disruptive; and whale-watching is largely a self-regulated industry with few laws looking out for the welfare of the mammals. I was happy, then, to discover Whale SENSE, an organization whose mission is to ensure the safety and well-being of the whales and other sea animals while allowing us to enjoy these commercial whale watches. Participating companies agree to: Stick to responsible whale watching guidelines Educate naturalists, captains and passengers to have SENSE while watching whales Notify appropriate networks of whale problems (injured or entangled whales) Set and example for other boaters for responsible whale watching practices Encourage ocean stewardship Check out the Whale SENSE web site to look up the company and see if it is a participant. The site lists whale watching companies in Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. You’ll also find some great information about the different species of whale and dolphin there.  ...

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Green Lotus Cafe, Hyannis
Sep30

Green Lotus Cafe, Hyannis

During a recent stay in Cape Cod, I was ecstatic to discover a relatively new vegan cafe in Hyannis, Green Lotus Cafe. Located on the town’s quiant Main Street, this cafe is an absolute vegan haven in a place that is only slowly getting on board with accommodating vegan diners. (I’m encouraging local pancake houses to include vegan pancakes on the menu — craving a short stack with local blueberries!) Owner/Chef Nate Fanara opened Green Lotus about five months ago. A native of the Cape, he lived in San Diego for many years before heading home and realizing there was a need for vegan fare that was based more on whole foods — no tofu here. He makes his own seitan on the premises, and will soon also be making tempeh on site as well. And, other than offering Daiya cheese as a vegan option (the menu caters to both vegetarians and vegans), look for ingredients like cashew cream and eggplant bacon rather than the usual processed vegan substitutes. Everything sounded so enticing here that my husband Seth and I made two separate trips for lunch during our vacation. On the first day, we shared the E.L.T. and the Veggie Reuben. We came back a second time to try a couple of the other sandwiches. What I love about this place is the unique touches — such as using shaved slices of seitan in the Reuben or the eggplant bacon on the E.L.T —  as opposed to the more typical vegan versions that use tempeh. And the coconut bacon on The Maui was a revelation. Wow.   Other delicious-sounding menu items include a roasted seitan wrap and a roasted red pepper hummus wrap. Beyond sandwiches and wraps, daily specials include vegan soups and seasonal ingredients for a “Build Your Own Salad” menu option. Finally, the cafe has a nice selection of organic coffees and tea and some vegan baked goods if you’re looking for an afternoon spot to just sit and read for a while. What a wonderful addition to the Cape Cod community — I’m looking forward to revisiting the next time I’m in town… and wishing Green Lotus great success! Moreover, I’m hoping Green Lotus will inspire other existing restaurants to start offering more vegan options, and maybe some additional new vegan-friendly places on the Cape as...

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Dog Days of Summer in the Hamptons
Aug19

Dog Days of Summer in the Hamptons

Our companion animals Otis and Galileo deserve a respite from the city as much as we do. Lucky for us, c/o The Maidstone in East Hampton offers the perfect family getaway for all of us. This boutique hotel’s rooms are named after various Swedish authors and artists, and come with a nice supply of bath and body products by Malin + Goetz.  The Maidstone makes every aspect of one’s stay relaxing and dog-friendly, including suggestions about where to enjoy some beach time with the pups or places to explore in East Hampton and the neighboring towns with them. Late afternoons, it’s time for “Yappy Hour” in the cozy lounge or on the patio; sip one of Leandro’s amazing Strawberry Mojitos while the pups enjoy something off the Woof Menu. And, in the evening, the four-legged guests are invited to dine along with you in The Living Room Restaurant. The Living Room embraces the slow-food philosophy and is vegan-friendly, with plenty of fresh, local produce at work in the kitchen. Beach time! In the mornings and early evenings, we enjoyed long family walks on Main Beach, just three minutes from the hotel. (During summer season, dogs are allowed on the beach before 9am and after 6pm.) Other great spots for some beach time with the pups: the area surrounding Montauk Lighthouse, undeveloped coastline with pretty views into the horizon, and Maidstone Park Beach, secluded and serene. The Faves List The Hamptons has so much to offer when it comes to dining, wining, and relaxing. Here are some of my favorites — from the upscale dining experience to the super-casual neighborhood coffee joint. Nick & Toni’s (East Hampton) The fine dining experience you won’t want to miss. Great atmosphere, food, and wine. Reservation is a must during the summer season. Seth and I ordered the same thing: Seared Herb Polenta served over an array of roasted vegetables. To start, try the Watermelon Salad: a beautiful combination of melon, spearmint, red onion, and Kalamata olives (hold the pecorino romano cheese!) Babette’s (East Hampton) Babette’s is hugely popular for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It’s a great place to dine outside and people watch, too. You can go for something simple and classic like Bucatini Pomodoro with shitake mushrooms and basil (add pan-crisped tofu); or, get adventurous like I did and order the Creole Casserole. Definitely a culinary experience outside of my usual focus on whole foods, this dish is an insane (indulgent, gooey, delicious) combination: garlic mashed potato, layered with kale, succotash, roasted garlic pecan, bbq tofu, salsa, and baked-on soy cheddar. On a healthier note, my usual pick would be the Pistachio-crusted...

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Hoe Down at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen
Aug08

Hoe Down at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen

It was a special treat to visit Farm Sanctuary and participate in the annual Hoe Down weekend. Farm Sanctuary has been doing amazing work on behalf of farm animals for more than 25 years — rescuing animals who often have been left to die in stockyards, working to educate the public and promote the plant-based diet, and contributing to legal efforts on farm animals’ behalf. The hoe down is a celebration that brings advocates together to discuss what’s happening, celebrate recent milestones in animal rescue and protection, and spend time with the animals that call the sanctuary their home. What Came Before In addition to all the wonderful activities of the weekend, my husband Seth was honored with this year’s “Friend of Farm Animals” award for his work as producer of the short film What Came Before. The number of viewers is now in the millions, and the film is currently being translated into several languages. Over and over, we’re hearing from people that say this film was what made them decide to go vegan. WOW. While visiting the sanctuary this weekend, we were able to meet two of the three animals featured in the film — Fanny the dairy cow and Nikki the pig (and three of Nikki’s piglets!). If you haven’t watched the film yet, I encourage you to do so and please share: the stories of these three animals are so extraordinary, and they’re also a reminder that each animal has a story all her own. Turkey Time! Which brings me to to the highlight of all the highlights of the weekend: meeting Victoria, my little girl! Each November, we adopt a turkey through Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt a Turkey program. Our Kima is no longer in Watkins Glen, and our Raphael lives at the California sanctuary; but what a treat to hold out my hand and offer my little one a clump of grass. Loved loved loved my “mama” time with her. Watkins Glen travel tips: Although most of our time was spent on the sanctuary premises, and lots of delicious vegan food was provided for everyone throughout the event, we did venture out into the surrounding area towards the end of our stay. Watkins Glen and Seneca Lake are absolutely gorgeous country, and we discovered a couple of great little local spots: House of Hong is a Chinese and Sushi place with lots of vegan options. We were pleasantly surprised that such a quaint little town could have such a happening place. Our table of friends enjoyed the steamed vegetable dumplings, edamame, and a couple of specialty rolls before our entrees. Glen Mountain Market is...

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