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VegFest 2016! A Big Success!

Big crowds came out to enjoy great food, informative presentations, and cruelty-free shopping!  

Attendees browse the many unique vendors

The Best Mac and Cheese in Michigan from Detroit Vegan Soul

The Best Mac and Cheese in Michigan from Detroit Vegan Soul

John Salley talks about living a better life.

John Salley talks about living a better life.

Let them eat cake!

Free cake samples! Yum!

The Carnival Room was fun for the kids!

The Carnival Room was fun for the kids!

V is for Vegan


V is for Vegan

by Renee Ratliff

_MG_4830_copyWe had the pleasure of meeting Ruby Roth at VegFest this spring, where she presented on The Transformative Power of Veganism. She captivated the audience sharing her journey and exploring her controversial children’s books.

Author of Vegan is Love and That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals, Roth is at it again with her new book, V is for Vegan: The ABCs of Being Kind. Audiences of all ages are taken on a journey through memorable rhymes and charming illustrations presenting the basics of animal rights and the veganism. 

We had the chance to interview the author on her life and her new book. Here is what she had to say:

How/when did you become vegan?
In 2003, a friend pointed out that my eating habits did not match my morals and values. I had always been interested in health, social justice, and politics, counter-cultural movements and activism. I was raised by a vegetarian mom and had lived on an organic tree farm. At that moment, I had to question what kind of person I really was! I ended up trying veganism for a summer as a health experiment and I stopped getting tonsillitis, lost weight, and had so much energy, it felt like taking off a heavy jacket and starting to run. I started researching the underbelly of the animal agriculture industry and never went back.

Are your family and friends vegan? Are they supportive of your lifestyle choices?
Yes! My parents and sister are now vegan as well—though my mom was already vegetarian since her teenage years. My honey, Justin Bua, has been vegan nearly 17 years and his 8-year-old daughter is born and raised vegan. We are part of a large community of Los Angeles vegans, but of course we have non-vegan friends, too. If anyone is unsupportive, I suppose they keep it to themselves…or they’d be met with a tsunami of information from me! Even if I were the only one in my community, I’d still be vegan!

What does veganism mean to you?
For me, veganism is the most far-reaching political tool we have today, much more powerful than the voting booth. From our economy to healthcare, energy, water shortages, environmental degradation, and pollution, we’re facing many grave issues—most of which we’ll never have legislative control over. But we do have de facto control over the markets. By pushing and pulling our support in the public realm, our vegan choices affect every major industry and every corner of the earth. My motto is “Love deeply, think critically, and act responsibly”—I believe veganism has provided me the vehicle through which I can effectively exercise my values.

Why did you choose to focus on writing children’s books?
I have been aiming for a career in the arts since childhood, but I’ve also loved social justice studies and politics since high school. In college I doubled majored in art and American Studies and later put those two loves together to create resources for a new generation of kids who will eat, think, and live differently. I don’t think we can wait for the next generation to grow up before we teach them to live consciously.

What inspired you to write this book?
The vegan population has more than doubled since 2009—we are the fastest growing food movement there is! I wrote V Is for Vegan as a prequel to my other works to serve a demographic I know will continue to grow over the years. More and more parents are experiencing the practical and far-reaching benefits of veganism and want to bring their children on board. I believe kids need to understand the motives as much as adults do, especially when veganism is a new practice to the family.

VIV_cover_10x10_72How is this book, V is for Vegan: The ABCs of Being Kind, different then your first two books?
V Is for Vegan is written for my youngest audience yet! It’s a bright, rhyming, funny book that provides a joyful overview of the lifestyle that even the youngest of kids will understand. The first two books delve deeper and introduce the concept of personal agency. That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals addresses the emotional lives of animals, factory farming, the environment, and endangered species in regards to our food choices. Where it covers the “why,” Vegan Is Love covers the “how,” offering the many ways we can put our love into action—from food and clothing to entertainment, zoos, and circuses.

What was the most challenging part creating V is for Vegan: The ABCs of Being Kind?
Narrowing down what to cover! I had 26 sentences in which to embody a whole philosophy and practice—and I decided it needed to rhyme to make it as fun as possible. I covered what I believed were the most important and pertinent ideas for the youngest of kids to know—and I trust that those 26 sentences will serve as a jumping off point for everlasting discussion and discovery.

Was there any difficulty illustrating topics such as factory farming?
Yes, I didn’t want to sugarcoat the paintings and yet I didn’t want to illustrate horrors as they would have appeared in photos. I had to balance the images delicately so that they were honest depictions while being manageable for a child’s capacity. With color, composition, and character, I believe I created imagery that piques interest and gets kids to engage without turning away in fear.

Your books are written for children, however a lot of adults also don’t understand the issues. How do you think these books have helped share your message with an older audience?
I always say…these books are so easy even adults can understand! It can be hard to articulate why we’ve gone vegan to others because the motives are overwhelming and complex—it’s animals, health, dirty politics and corruption, violence, environmentalism, philosophy, and more. These books put the main tenets in the simplest, most stripped-down terms. That’s why I suggest that adults keep the books on their coffee tables, office desks, or in their waiting rooms! Because veganism is still so relatively new to the mainstream, the concept can still spark controversy. I think a lot of non-vegan adults pick up the book out of sheer curiosity for this reason—to see what in the world is inside! And they might learn a thing or two in a non-threatening way since it’s not addressed directly to them.

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding your books, how has the media responded to this book? How is it different from when you published your first book, That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals?
There’s not as much “outrage” this time around! I truly believe it’s a result of every year past since 2009 in which veganism has made its way further into the mainstream lexicon. More people understand the definition, know vegans, are borrowing eating habits from the movement, and are experiencing the benefits. The information-sharing is working, y’all, so keep it up!

Final words of advice?
Let’s work to increase our knowledge of health and the animal agriculture industry and grow this network of activists! Please join my mailing list at so we can continue the conversation!

Vegan School Lunches


Vegan School Lunches

by Renee Ratliff

It’s that time of year again cool weather, football, pumpkin spice and… school. As the kids go back to school preparing creative, nutritious, vegan lunches that your kids will eat can be a challenge. Here are a few websites that will help ease the transition back to packing lunches this school year.

Cheeky Kitchen

The Flaming Vegan

Peas and Thank You


Vegan Peace Blog



50 Shades of Greens

50 shades

Vegan Food Options at the 2013 Woodward Dream Cruise

Dream Cruise

Vegan Food Options at the 2013 Woodward Dream Cruise

by Renee Ratliff

Dream CruiseThe Woodward Dream Cruise, which started as a small fundraiser to raise money for a soccer field in Ferndale, Michigan is now the world’s largest one-day automotive event. The event now draws 1.5 million people and 40,000 classic cars from around the world. The cruise runs from Pontiac through Bloomfield Hills, Birmingham, Royal Oak to Ferndale.





Vegan Food Options Along The Woodward Dream Cruise

Take me out to the ballgame

photo 2




Take me out to the ballgame

by Renee Ratliff

photo 2








As vegetarian and vegan is becoming mainstream, food options are becoming readily available anywhere you travel. No longer are the days where you need to eat before you go out to a ballgame! Detroit Tigers’ Comerica Park is number 2 on the list for vegetarian-friendly major league ballparks for 2013! They offer Italian mock sausage, vegan riblet sandwich, a veggie dog, black-bean burgers, vegetarian sushi and other meat-free favorites!  Visit the Brushfire Grill section 131 to check out these options!


New Vegan Resturant open in Ann Arbor


The Lunch Room Restaurant Now Open in Ann Arbor, Michigan

LunchRoomNew vegan resturant, The Lunch Room, celebrated their grand opening this week in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Between catering private group meals and opening a food cart at Mark’s Carts, The Lunch Room owners have been sharing their love of vegan food with the Ann Arbor community for three years.

Phillis Engelbert and Joel Panozzo, good friends and next-door neighbors who love to cooking and serving vegan food are the people behind The Lunch Room. Their goal is to bring the most interesting, fresh, delicious and diverse food that vegan imaginations can cook up at affordable prices. The restaurant is now open with a vegan menu, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner and weekend brunches.

The Lunch Room began as a twinkle in Joel’s and Phillis’ eye in the summer of 2010 that started out by preparing dinner parties and brunches for friends, featuring experimental vegan dishes. The Lunch Room’s next step was to open a food cart. The Lunch Room cart operated during the 2011 and 2012 seasons at the downtown Ann Arbor food cart courtyard, Mark’s Carts. In October 2012 The Lunch Room wrapped up a successful second season at Mark’s Carts and decided to move on to bigger adventures.

Read more on their website

VegMichigan members get a 5% discount with their membership card! Learn more here

Vegan food truck Shimmy Shack parks at farmers market

Vegan Food Truck

Vegan food truck Shimmy Shack parks at farmers market

 Vegan Food Truck







The Shimmy Shack is a new food truck that wants to show that plant-based food isn’t boring. “We aim to show that vegetarian food is sexy, tasty, fast and healthier,” says Shimmy Shack owner Debra Levantrosser.

Look for the mint green Shimmy Shack at the Farmington Farmers Market at Riley Park from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday (also Aug. 10, 17 and 31). The cute cartoon gal on the side of the truck was designed by “Ren & Stimpy Show” animator and creator John Kricfalusi. Shimmy Shack will also be part of a food truck rally at the Rust Belt Market in Ferndale on Sept. 7. Visit­eatshimmyshack for more dates.

From The Detroit News:

‘Blackfish’ Takes Aim At SeaWorld


‘Blackfish’ Takes Aim At SeaWorld

by Barbara J. King at








Blackfish, a movie opening Friday in New York and Los Angeles, takes aim squarely at theme parks like SeaWorld where captive dolphins, including orcas or killer whales, perform in entertainment shows for the public.

“Nothing at [SeaWorld] is what it seems,” Blackfish director Gabriela Cowperthwaite has said, as reported in The Boston Globe.

I have not yet seen the film, which goes to wide release in subsequent weeks and will air this fall on CNN. Judging from the trailer and other advance material, Blackfish focuses heavily on the 2010 death of SeaWorld-Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau caused by the orca called Tilikum. Blackfish claims that the psychological stress of captivity and being made to perform caused Tilikum (and other cetaceans as well) such stress that severe trauma and aggression is the result.

For its part, SeaWorld released a statement on Saturday calling Blackfish “shamefully dishonest, deliberately misleading, and scientifically inaccurate.” SeaWorld made a case against the film in a series of 8 points, and the filmmakers have responded.

Last year at 13.7, I wrote about another incident, this time at SeaWorld-San Diego in 2006, in which an orca named Kasatka pulled trainer Ken Peters under the water repeatedly (Peters survived). For that post, I turned to David Kirby’s book Death At SeaWorld, and this week I invited Kirby to participate in a Q&A with me about Blackfish. Our exchange, which was conducted by email, went like this.

Barbara: What impact do you hope Blackfish will have on the movie-going public?

David: I hope it will make movie-goers think; though how you could leave the theater without thinking about the plight of captive orcas is beyond me. This movie — and this terrible saga of marine mammal display — makes us question and judge ourselves, as humans and consumers of entertainment. The verdict is still out on us, but Blackfish presents its evidence powerfully and wrenchingly. Many people are on the fence about killer whale captivity — they won’t be after seeing this movie.

Barbara: Can you help us make sense of the debate between SeaWorld and the makers of Blackfish about the accuracy of the movie’s content?

David: It was one of the clumsiest, most ill-advised acts of corporate crisis-management [by SeaWorld] I’ve seen in decades — think New Coke — and it’s driving ticket sales, and sales of my book, so it already backfired. SeaWorld listed 8 complaints, all of them easily disputable. It suggested, among other things, that orcas live as long in captivity as the wild — false; that SeaWorld orcas are not bullied by tank-mates — false; that SeaWorld orca families are not broken up unnecessarily — false; and that trainers were warned about the dark history of Tilikum, who did not “attack” Dawn Brancheau when he killed her — false and patently false. I wrote my own rebuttal [available online].

Barbara: The stance taken in your book and also in the movie is a strong one against SeaWorld. Do you believe that the public is beginning, or will begin, to look differently at SeaWorld and similar cetacean parks?

David: My book is not against SeaWorld, nor is Blackfish, per se. The message is against keeping killer whales in captivity, wherever they are held. SeaWorld does do work with animal rescue, conservation, and outreach to local schools, though contributions to science and to the education of park guests are meager, at best. But the public is getting the message that captivity is wrong, and Blackfish will really help. Besides, SeaWorld can survive and thrive without live whales and dolphins. Look at the hugely popular Monterrey Aquarium in California: Not a cetacean in sight, by design.

It’s a good point that David makes: For theme parks, certainly, not a cetacean in sight, by design, is the desirable wave of the future.

Article from

Vegan firefighter revives kitten


A Fresno firefighter rescued a kitten that was barely clinging to life, and it was all captured on his helmet camera. Stepping into a burned home in Northwest Fresno, the firefighter is told to took for salvage. What he finds, lying lifeless on the floor, is a kitten.
“I looked down and you can actually see the cat shining in the spotlight of my flashlight. And I looked back and that’s when I saw the cat and grabbed him,” said Cory Kalanick, the firefighter who found the kitten.

The kitten was limp as Kalanick picked it up and took it outside. He grabbed a mask and an oxygen tank, setting the kitten on his glove to protect it from the hot asphalt. After pouring water on him and using an entire tank of oxygen, within 15 minutes, Kalanick massaged life back into the tiny animal. He affectionally nicknamed “Lucky the Cat.”

It was a fitting job for the ten year veteran. He’s sometimes teased for being an eco-friendly vegan.

“They raz me or give me garbage for it. It’s a pretty cool thing that we get to help a kitten out,” said Kalanick.

Back in the neighborhood where it all happened, kids who witnessed the fire several weeks ago are shocked the kitten made it. They also say, not only did Lucky survive the fire, he was originally found in a shopping cart just down the street.

The people renting the apartment have moved, but Kalanick hopes Lucky is still alive and well.

“I really hope that cat is being loved,” said Kalanick.

The fire department says the kitten was handed over to the Central California SPCA which said it returned it to the owners. CBS47 is looking for those owners to see how Lucky is doing today.

To see the firefighter’s edited “movie trailer” of the rescue, click on the related link.

Article from CBS47

Patriotism: The #1 Reason to Eat a Veggie Dog on July 4th

Yes, It's Vegan and It's Amazing!

We Americans celebrate lots of things on July 4:  Independence — whatever it might mean for each of us. Family. Friends. Summer. And hot dogs. Yes, Americans celebrate hot dogs.

According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, Americans consume 155 million hot dogs each July 4: That’s enough to stretch from L.A. to D.C. more than five times. And the iconic Coney Island hot-dog eating contest celebrates its 98th year this Thursday, with 12 men and women competing in hopes of winning the title of hot dog eating champion. These are but two examples of our love affair with a cylindrical tube of by-products known as hot dogs.

This post is an invitation to reconsider your Fourth of July menu. Here are five reasons to celebrate your independence from a diet that promotes environmental devastation, obesity, disease, and animal suffering.

Reason 1: You love America.  July 4 is a day not only to celebrate our good fortune to be American, but also to consider our individual responsibility for America’s well-being. As confusing as it was before I began to educate myself, I now understand that the very best way I can care for my country, truly, is to refrain from eating animal products. I used to love burgers as much as the next person. But the truth is that animal agriculture is destroying America — our air, our water, our topsoil, our biodiversity. And as the leading cause of global warming, it is destroying entire communities, and costing human lives. (Think of the devastation caused by Irene, Lee, and Sandy.) Here are just two of thousands of ways that our beautiful country is struggling under the weight of industrialized agriculture: 1) Midwestern farms are pumping 13 trillion gallons of water a year from the Ogallala aquifer that supplies water to a multi-state region. Why? Mostly for beef production.  Many believe that the aquifer will be dry in 25 years, rendering states like Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and Texas uninhabitable. 2) Because animals are so densely packed on today’s industrial farms, they produce more manure than can be absorbed by the land as fertilizer.  The resulting manure runoff has created 230 dead zones along much of coastal United States, including much of the once pristine Chesapeake Bay.

2.You love animals. If you do, I invite you to consider that the hot dogs and hamburgers you eat on July 4 are made from pigs — some of the most exceptional individuals I’ve ever known — and cows — gentle, kind, and sensitive animals. To consider that just as your dog and cat greet each new day with anticipation, pigs and cows do, too, if given the chance.To consider that any ten pigs are as individual as any ten dogs, or any ten humans. At Catskill Animal Sanctuary, for instance, Franklin is high strung and moody, Nadine is sweet and serene, and Amelia is a goofy, in-your-face imp. I’m sure it will surprise you that many pigs love to swim. As I wrote in my new book, Animal Camp, all hearts yearn to sing. I don’t think this to be true. I know it to be true. Even if you differ with me on this one — if you believe, for instance, that cows, pigs, and chickens were put here for us to eat — at least acknowledge that you’re eating a someone, not a something. And acknowledge that they suffer mightily for your choice. At least give me that. And then think about what you really mean when you say the words, “I love animals.”

3. While you may not be a health nut, you probably don’t want to eat toxic food. Many doctors acknowledge that eating animal products is unhealthy. The facts are compelling: vegetarians are less likely to develop many forms of cancer, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. They’re less likely to be overweight, and less likely to have chronic conditions like allergies and acne.  Yet as bad as the consumption of animal products is for us, eating highly processed meat is one of the worst dietary choices we can make. After reviewing 7,000 clinical studies of the links between diet and cancer, The World Cancer Research Fund concluded that processed meats (hamburgers, hot dogs, meat in frozen dinners, sandwich meats, bacon, etc.) are dangerous for human consumption, citing numerous studies including one that noted a 67 percent increase of pancreatic cancer among those who regularly ate processed meat.

4. Hot dogs are made of throats, nerves and blood vessels, etc. The spices that make a hot dog taste good, like paprika, are in veggie dogs too. But what’s not in a veggie dog might be the best part about them. Conventional dogs are made using a process called Advanced Meat Recovery, which “squeezes cow bones to force out any meat still clinging to them after the animal is slaughtered.” According to the USDA, this can include any “part of the muscle…  which is found in the tongue, diaphragm, heart, or esophagus, with or without the overlying fat, and the portions of bone, skin, sinew, nerve, and blood vessels which… accompany the muscle tissue.”

5. Veggie dogs TASTE BETTER. Mind you, not all of them. Some are disgusting, frankly. But others taste better than the most delicious Ball Park Frank I ever ate. For instance, Field Roast, my favorite veggie dog company, “believes ‘real’ is better than fake.” The Field Roast Frankfurter has a wheat base, with other tasty ingredients like garlic, paprika, onions, sea salt, and celery seed. They are available at Whole Foods and many other food stores. Tofurky dogs are another tasty option. Use their “find a store” link, or pick them up at your nearby Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.

I’m not an angry person. I’m not a militant animal rights activist. I’m an American who loves my country, loves animals, and who knows that a plant-based diet is not only better for the Earth and the animals… it’s better for me, too. I’m hoping that on this special day, my words might resonate with those who would ordinarily dismiss them. I’m hoping that when I check the comments section after my post, that mixed in with the predictable knee-jerk comments from people too frightened to see the truth in almost any issue will be some from folks who say, “Ok, Kathy. I hear ya. I’m serving veggie dogs this July 4.”

Now that would be something to celebrate.

Article curtesy of the Huffington Post

Please Visit our Restaurant of the Month


On Main St. in downtown Ann Arbor

You will surely find something wonderful.

Give them a try in August.

Save room for dessert!

Upcoming Events

6:00 pm Farm to Fork Dinner @ Willow Pond Farm
Farm to Fork Dinner @ Willow Pond Farm
Aug 27 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Enjoy a four course vegan meal and presentations featuring Carolyn Trapp, director of diabetes education and care with the Physicians ... Read More >
all-day VegMichigan’s September Mason, M... @ Mason MI. Library
VegMichigan’s September Mason, M... @ Mason MI. Library
Sep 1 all-day
VegMichigan is expanding its reach promoting a plant-based diet at the Mason, MI. branch of the Capital area district libraries.
all-day VegMichigan’s September Royal Oa... @ Royal Oak Public Library
VegMichigan’s September Royal Oa... @ Royal Oak Public Library
Sep 1 all-day
Please check out our library display located at the Royal Oak Public Library, 222 E. 11 Mile Rd., Royal Oak, ... Read More >
all-day VegMichigan’s September Southgat... @ Southgate Veterans Memorial Library
VegMichigan’s September Southgat... @ Southgate Veterans Memorial Library
Sep 1 all-day
Please check out our library display located at the Southgate Veterans Memorial Library 14680 Dix-Toledo Southgate, Mi. 48195. Contact: Joyce ... Read More >
4:00 pm College Outreach @ Eastern Michigan University
College Outreach @ Eastern Michigan University
Sep 5 @ 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm

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