When we found out we’d be in Fort Worth, Texas to support a rodeo protest, we immediately wondered what we’d do for food. But if Fort Worth isn’t on your vegan radar screen, it should be. Not only does the Dallas – Fort Worth area have a burgeoning animal-advocacy community full of warm, welcoming activists; it’s also the home of the Spiral Diner and Bakery—a community-oriented and proud-to-be-100%-vegan diner that’s worthy of a big yee-haw.
We were in Texas for four days, and ate every meal at Spiral Diner, sampling a large portion of the Southern-inspired and eclectic menu.
The diner is located in a part of Fort Worth where eco-businesses are popping up and international restaurants dot the streets. The diner itself is large, airy and high-ceilinged. Industrial but warm , it’s metallic-painted converted garage meets art gallery. The light fixtures and ceiling fans are fashioned from car parts and local art.
The place is noted for winning local awards, and is highly popular. Often, patient customers chatted while waiting for tables, or perused the display of varied and hard-to-find vegan body-care products, numerous mock meats and cheeses and vegan pantry staples, as well as the Spiral’s homemade ranch dressing and attractive promotional t-shirts. The shop complements the supportive community philosophy, also well represented by flyers, leaflets and information about many local and progressive issues, events, and people.
Spiral Diner’s key contribution to vegan cuisine is joining Tex-Mex burritos, wraps, dressings and salads with vegan staples like seitan, tempeh and tofu. Many dishes feature salsa, guacamole, black beans or the house Mexican quinoa. The Ate Layer Burrito shames its Taco Bell namesake; it features vegan sour cream and a spiced ranch dressing so good it can be enjoyed with a simple plate of steamed broccoli. The weekly list of Blue Plate Specials includes a giant baked potato with rotating choices of accompaniments.
The Taco Salad has salad greens peeking out from under mounds of avocado, black olives, carrots, green peas, salsa, dressings and a choice of tortillas or white corn chips. The addition of grilled seitan easily makes this a meal for two. The Agave Mustard dressing perfectly balances mild sweetness and tangy bite.
We tried several sandwiches, including Grilled Tofu, Chopped Bar-Be-Que, the Philly Cheesesteak, the Tempeh Rueben, and the Parmigiana Wrap. We’d pass up the McNut Burger next time and go for the Southern-inspired dishes, like the sandwich made with grilled seitan, homemade barbeque sauce, dill pickles, red onion and mayo on grilled bread. The Premium Potato Salad is uniquely creamy and tangy, made with Yukon potatoes. Such accompaniments to our sandwiches were a welcome change from French fries. The side salads options were ample and ripe, with corn, olives and black beans or bright, tempting greens and a choice of delectable homemade dressings.
Ramsey’s Perfect Protein Platter is a plate of black beans, quinoa and fresh salsa topped off with avocado and tahini. We happened to meet Ramsey, who explained how his unwavering dedication to the dish led to it becoming his namesake.
An unusually rich fruit smoothie called The Biz consisted of blueberries, banana and almond milk. Spiral Diner makes soy ice cream, too, to top gooey brownies; and the giant peanut butter cups are splendid, as are the freshly baked pies, cookies, cupcakes, muffins and cakes. The Chocolate Mountain Mudslide sundae is not for the faint-of heart, and should only be taken on by the most die-hard chocolate lovers. If you happen to be in that category, this array of chocolate soy ice-cream, chocolate fudge, sprinkles and chocolate kisses atop a chocolate brownie will be perfect for you.
A pancake buffet is featured all day Sunday. The Nighthawk, with its heaping portion of seasoned scrambled tofu eggs, two slices of vegetarian sausage, and a fluffy and dense biscuit, would satisfy any Southerner.
Spiral Diner is earnest and good natured, and tries to keep prices as low as possible, pay workers a living wage, use environmentally friendly packaging and cleaning products, and integrate as many organic products as possible. The service staff is warm and helpful, and their advice plentiful. Spiral Diner and Bakery is special because of its people: the caring staff, the activists who frequent the restaurant, the buzz.
Yes, the food is varied and delicious, but the Southern hospitality — the smiles and charm that welcomed us for four consecutive days — make this place feel like a second home. We’re both looking forward to going back. A second Spiral Diner is set to open in nearby Dallas, so there will soon be double the goodness to go around.
1314 W. Magnolia Ave. Fort Worth, TX 76104
Phone & Fax: 817-3-EatVeg (817-332-8834)
Organic Vegan Cuisine Blossoms on Manhattan’s Upper West Side
Manhattan ’s Upper West Side is now on the map for creative organic vegan cuisine, thanks to the October 2007 opening of Café Blossom. The innovative team behind this spot must have a knack for making history by changing Manhattan neighborhoods that hadn’t a thing resembling a purely vegan restaurant before. Their wildly popular Blossom, in Chelsea, was, in 2005, the first purely plant-based, upscale and gourmet organic restaurant of its kind in that area of New York City.
The first one did so well that the Blossom team decided to open Café Blossom in another area not yet known for vegan restaurants: the Upper West Side. We’re just down the block from New York City’s famed Museum of Natural History when we spot Café Blossom’s inviting green awning, advertising “Organic Vegetarian Cuisine.” Entering the soothing, earthy atmosphere of Café Blossom is a pleasure. We relax in an airy room with cream walls, wood chairs and floors, stone tabletops and sculptures. For those just nipping in, there’s a juice bar with counter seating and high, wood stools. Glass-topped platters of freshly baked cakes, muffins, biscotti and cookies are placed enticingly along the juice bar, daring customers to resist. A chalkboard above the bar offers an impressive list of fresh juice concoctions, smoothies and shakes.
I decide to give the 16-ounce Field of Greens a try. It’s a fresh juice of kale, cucumber, spinach, apple, lemon and ginger. Those hesitant to try a green juice for fear of a bitter, unpleasant taste would forever get over their fear after trying Café Blossom’s lovely version. Another interesting juice is the Pink Lady: beet, pineapple, ginger and pear. Those looking for an even sweeter start to their meal can try the Hawaiian Smoothie, made with coconut, pineapple, banana, almond milk, hemp protein, and agave nectar.
Teas, coffees and cappuccinos are also served, in addition to an impressive organic wine list.
Not only is the Blossom team devoted to serving fresh, organic ingredients, but they also purchase from local farms and small distribution companies. And while the organic ethic is central to the restaurant’s mission, so is this statement: “We at Blossom are first and foremost animal caring.”
We’ve heard Café Blossom planned to feature some of the original Blossom’s signature dishes, and indeed, here’s the scrumptious Black-Eyed Pea Cake. Newer dishes include the wonderfully moist and tender Seitan Skewers, flame-grilled in a slightly tangy sesame tomato sauce, served on a bed of mixed greens.
Not to be missed for mushroom fans is the Cornmeal Crusted Oyster Mushrooms, sesame soy marinated mushrooms served over herbed coleslaw and dressed with basil oil — simply magnificent. Raw-food aficionados, and everyone else, will be thrilled to choose from starters such as the remarkable Mushroom Bianco Tart, made with macadamia nut cheese, fresh herbs and oyster mushrooms with truffle oil. Another raw offering is an appetizer of Autumn Sweet Potato Rolls, made of coconut noodles, jicama, carrot and red pepper with almond ginger dipping sauce — pleasing to the eye and the palate. The Old World Pizza Tart, made with spinach walnut pesto, roasted eggplant, vegan soy cheese, olives and bell pepper over lime basil greens is also sublime, and both the raw and the cooked pizza tart are uniquely luscious.
Café Blossom offers several gorgeous and ample salads, including a Caesar Salad, a Rocket Arugula, and my favorite, the simple and satisfying Blossom Greens, consisting of spring greens tossed with cucumber, cherry tomato, marinated chickpeas and maple balsamic dressing.
Those looking for heartier lunch fare can enjoy a sandwich big enough for two: All are served with a choice of French fries, sweet potato fries, Cajun potato fries, herbed potato salad or house salad. There’s a Seitan Philly Cheese Sandwich; and the Southern Seitan Sandwich is divine, made with spiced seitan with caramelized onions, avocado, lettuce and chipotle aioli, served on rustic ciabatta bread. Then there’s the Portabello Panini, made with grilled mushroom, zucchini, peppers and vegan soy cheese, with spinach walnut pesto, also on ciabatta bread.
Café Blossom boasts a stunning array of inspired main dishes, including raw options. Mixed Mushroom Pesto Pasta is angel hair pasta tossed with Portobello, crimini and oyster mushrooms, bell peppers, spinach and eggplant in a spinach walnut pesto sauce. On the lighter end is a raw zucchini linguine topped with almond pesto, sun dried tomatoes, portobellos, kalamata olives and vegan parmesan. There’s the Pecan Crusted Seitan, or the Seitan Scallopini, which combines pan-seared seitan cutlets and eggplant with a white wine caper sauce, complemented with mashed potato and sautéed greens. The Raw Pecan and Cranberry CousCous with Green Curry Sauce is truly unique dish, made with pecan and cranberry couscous with green curry sauce, sautéed vegetables and spicy chili oil. Café Blossom even offers a Mix & Match of eleven side dishes as a customized, main-course meal.
After the meal, we consider the shakes. Chocolate-peanut butter is a classic; and there are strawberry and root beer floats. Or we could have freshly basked pumpkin-curry and raisin-coconut muffins. There’s also carrot cake, lemon cake, and chocolate cake, or apple crumb pie, cheesecake or biscotti, and even raw raisin or oatmeal cookies.
A visit to Café Blossom is highly recommended. The attentive, and knowledgeable staff will welcome you warmly, and you’ll be supporting a fully vegan business — something that’s good for the entire planet.
466 Columbus Avenue , between 82 nd & 83 rd Street
New York , NY 10024
Open Monday-Friday 11am-10pm; Saturday 11am-10:30pm; Sunday 11am-9:30pm
Daily Local Delivery & Event Catering Available
Frogs have been around since the Jurassic era, when they hopped and croaked during the age of dinosaurs. They currently exist on every continent except Antarctica, having adapted to environments ranging from tropical rainforests to deserts to tundra. Some can endure extreme cold: Gray tree frogs can survive in temperatures as low as 20 degrees below zero Fahrenheit by producing an antifreeze agent, glycerol, in their bloodstream. If frozen in ice, they will simply hop away when the ice melts.1
But this evolutionary success story has taken an alarming turn, as frog populations have diminished dramatically around the globe.2
In 2004, the Global Amphibian Assessment, spearheaded by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), found fully one-third of the planet’s roughly 6,000 kinds of amphibians at risk of extinction. Amphibians include frogs, toads, salamanders, newts, and caecilians; and frogs comprise two-thirds of all amphibian animals.
Large predators such as the Mexican gray wolf and the snow leopard are endangered, but frogs are just as crucial to the balance of their ecosystems, and have roles as both predators and prey. “Who could resist the red-eyed tree frog, poster child for the rain forest,” asks Jeffrey Masson. To raise awareness about the amphibian extinction crisis, the IUCN and other scientific and research institutions have named 2008 the “Year of the Frog.”
What causes the decline of amphibians? Frogs face a variety of threats: habitat loss, pollution, global warming, human appetite for their legs, and the lethal chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis).3 Humans are responsible for most or all of these threats, possibly even including the spread of the chytrid fungus, which is currently untreatable.4
The chytrid fungus was discovered a decade ago. African clawed frogs (apparently carriers of the fungus, but resistant to it) have been shipped around the world for laboratory testing as well as the pet food industry for decades. This may have been responsible for spreading the disease.5 The spread of amphibian chytrid may also be exacerbated by global warming.6
The Last Golden Toad
Amphibians such as frogs and toads (toads are really a kind of frog, explains Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson) 7 have revealed ingenious and myriad survival mechanisms, but the challenges they face now are both pervasive and abrupt. According to Tim Flannery’s book The Weather Makers, the golden toad of Costa Rica “was the first documented victim of global warming.” The golden toads were indigenous to the Monteverde Cloud Forest.
These toads, only discovered in 1966, lived on the upper slopes of a mountain in the cloud forest. Field researcher Marty Crump saw the extinction process first-hand. During the late 1980s, as climate change caused the area to become drier, the cloud moved higher. The wet breeding season became shorter, and the pools with tadpoles dried up quickly.
In 1987, the end was near, as only 27 tadpoles survived for a week before the pools dried up. The following year, Crump observed a solitary male during mating season. In May 1989, she again observed a single male, about 10 feet from where a male stood last season — likely the same one. That lonely toad was the last one seen.8
The Year of the Frog is alerting people to the threats facing amphibians, so people will increase their efforts to stem habitat destruction and pollution and to mitigate climate change. A commitment to vegan living can help reduce the tons of frogs caught each day and sent to the world’s restaurants; more fundamentally, cooking without meat, eggs, or dairy products is a highly effective way each of us can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If each of us would go vegan, we’d spare the planet’s atmosphere a ton and a half of greenhouse gas each year.9
As scientists Andy Dobson of Princeton and Andrew R. Blaustein of Oregon State University wrote in the journal Nature, “The frogs are sending an alarm call to all concerned about the future of biodiversity and the need to protect the greatest of all open-access resources — the atmosphere.”10
Astonishing Variety of Survival Strategies
Frogs can be found in the searing heat of the Southwest desert as well as in the humid rain forests. Joseph Wood Krutch, in his book The Desert Year, marvels at the flora and fauna of the Sonoran desert that “manage to survive on a quantity of water which would soon bring death to those of any other climate.” Couch’s spadefoot toads hibernate underground for most of the year, only to emerge to mate during the brief and undependable rainy season. On a warm summer night after the second rain, Krutch heard the spadefoot toads make “the whole desert…suddenly vocal.”11 The toads reproduce in temporary rain pools, and the tadpoles must mature quickly to survive. They can metamorphose into froglets in as quickly as nine days.12
I encountered a Colorado River toad, also known as a Sonoran Desert toad, in Paradise Valley, Arizona. My rescued dog Ross proudly entered the house with an enormous toad hanging from both sides of his mouth. The toad was successfully dislodged, apparently unharmed, and released. But a few minutes later Ross’s breathing became labored, and he starting barking and running into doors. Lucky a vet was near. A Colorado River toad’s glands secrete a poison that can kill a full-grown dog.13 The large toads also secrete psychoactive substances, causing hallucinations.14 Some people, unfortunately, have found the hallucinatory effects of these substances enticing.
Thousands of miles away, in Central and South America, poison dart frogs have similarly evolved toxic skin secretions. The frogs are often spectacularly colored —bright blues, green and black, gold, or yellow and black — which sends a warning to potential predators: Don’t eat me. They vary in toxicity — the frogs may kill their victims or paralyze them or simply leave a bad taste in their mouths. The golden poison frog may be the most poisonous animal on the planet: A single frog contains enough toxins to kill some 20,000 mice or 10 humans. Some frogs mimic the vivid colors of dart poison frogs without having any toxins but still scaring off would-be predators.15
But once again, we humans have exploited these amphibians by using their toxins, in this case for hunting still other animals. An indigenous people of Colombia, the Emberá Chocó, rub their blowgun darts along the backs of these small frogs to make their darts poisonous.16
Frogs have survived for 200 million years. So even as they face a large number of threats, there is cause for some optimism. But as the Year of the Frog campaign reminds us, it is our duty to be vigilant and to do what we can to save all amphibian species from the oblivion of the golden toad.
- 1. Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, Altruistic Armadillos, Zenlike Zebras (Ballantine Books, 2006), at 117.
- 2. An overview of frogs and their interactions within their biocommunities is provided online by the American Museum of Natural History. “Frogs: A Chorus of Colors”; available: http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/frogs/ (last visited 28 Apr. 2008).
- 3. Jane E. Brody, “Increasingly in Decline, Frogs Face a Deadly Fungus”—The New York Times (29 Jun. 2004).
- 4. Recent research has suggested, however, that a bacterium can ward off amphibian chytrid. “Bacteria Show Promise in Fending off Global Amphibian Killer,” Physorg.com (23 May 2007), available: http://www.physorg.com/news99134333.html (last visited 28 Apr. 2008).
- 5. Amphibian Ark press release, “Amphibian Crisis, Amphibian Ark and the 2008 Year of the Frog Campaign.”
- 6. Andrew C. Revkin, “Frog Killer Is Linked to Global Warming”—The New York Times (12 Jan. 2006).
- 7. Altruistic Armadillos, Zenlike Zebras at 116.
- 8. Tim Flannery, The Weather Makers (Grove Press, 2005) at 116-17.
- 9. This was shown by geophysics professors Pamela Martin and Gidon Eshel. See University of Chicago press release, “ Study: Vegan Diets Healthier for Planet, People Than Meat Diets” (13 Apr. 2006).
- 10. “Frog Killer Is Linked to Global Warming” (see above).
- 11. Joseph Wood Krutch, The Desert Year ( University of Arizona Press).
- 12. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, “Couch’s Spadefoot”; available: http://www.desertmuseum.org/books/nhsd_spadefoot.php (last visited 28 Apr. 2008).
- 13. Steven J. Phillips, Patricia Wentworth Comus, eds., A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert ( University of California Press, 2000), at 537.
- 14. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, “Sonoran Desert Toad”; available: http://www.desertmuseum.org/books/nhsd_desert_toad.php; and
Wildlife Conservation Society, “Colorado River Toad Factsheet”; available: ( http://www.wcs.org/7490/factsheetarchive/factsheet-rivertoad (both last visited 28 Apr. 2008).
- 15. American Museum of Natural History. “Frogs: A Chorus of Colors” (see above).
- 16. The Encyclopedia of Earth, “ Biological Diversity in Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena”; available: http://www.eoearth.org/article/Biological_diversity_in_Tumbes-Choc%C3%B3-Magdalena (last visited 28 Apr. 2008).
Cheers to Julliard-trained pianist Soyeon Lee , who performed the second half of her recital at New York’s Zankel Hall in a dress made of 6,000 recycled grape juice containers, to promote recycling. Lee contacted TerraCycle Inc., a company that produces products out of garbage, and Honest Tea Inc., an organic bottled tea company that uses recyclable children’s juice pouches, to help present the recital.
Lee was featured on the cover of Symphony Magazine’s annual Emerging Artists issue in 2006, and released a debut CD featuring the sonatas of Scarlatti to critical acclaim in 2007. How wonderful to see such talent together with a desire to raise our ecological consciousness. The environment is the animals’ home; they will benefit from Soyeon Lee’s important example.
Soyeon Lee is represented by:
Concert Artists Guild
850 Seventh Avenue, Suite 1205
New York, NY 10019
You may e-mail Soyeon Lee at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cheers to Hello Kitty, the designed-in-Japan line of toy and accessories from the Sanrio company, which has become part of the style of celebrity singers worldwide. The Hello Kitty line has introduced several new, non-leather items through the Loungefly Collection: retro and Union Jack style tote bags ($65.00) and wallets ($35.00). These items are available at Alternative Outfitters Vegan Boutique.
To go to the page, type in: http://tinyurl.com/6f63qo
Or call toll-free: 866-758-5837 (United States & Canada)
And on the subject of fashion, a cheer to designer Gina Ferraraccio for launching a new vegan footwear line. Cri de Coeur, which literally means “cry from the heart,” aims to “change the face of the fashion footwear market” with shoes that are entirely free of animal products, and ethically produced. For each pair of shoes purchased, Cri de Coeur will plant a tree.
To view the shoes, and to find out where they are available, visit: www.cri-de-coeur.com (then click on “store locator”).
Or phone (in the United States): 917-770-9734
Last but not least, a cheer to Veganu, the company that features soaps, body care and household products that are all-natural, vegan, and inexpensive. Veganu features recycled or recyclable packaging with non-polluting ingredients. The entire product range is biodegradable.
To find stores or online retailers, phone: 877-834-2683
Jeers to the Rocky Mountain states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho — three states wedded to ranching interests, who’ve wanted to promote wolf trophy hunts around Yellowstone since the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed protection under the Endangered Species Act for some 1,500 wolves. In Wyoming, trophy hunt permits will cost $15.00 for residents and $150 for nonresidents. Talk about obscene tourism.
Please write to the governors below to halt wolf persecution and killings. If you are one of these states’ residents, or travel frequently to the state, say so; your letter will hold more weight.
Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter
P.O. Box 83720
Boise , Idaho 83720
Gov. Brian Schweitzer
Office of the Governor
Montana State Capitol Bldg.
P.O. Box 200801
Helena MT 59620-0801
Electronic correspondence:http://governor.mt.gov (Look for “Contact Us” section.)
Gov. Dave Freudenthal
State Capitol, 200 West 24th Street
Cheyenne, WY 82002-0010
Electronic correspondence: http://governor.wy.gov/contact-dave/default.html
Jeers to Professional Golf Association member Tripp Isenhour. While filming an instructional video, Isenhour killed a migratory red-shouldered hawk, according to witnesses, by repeatedly hitting balls at the bird. Investigators said Isenhour was annoyed that the hawk’s squawking was disrupting the filming of the video, according to the article “Pro Golfer Defensive About Killing Hawk” by the Associated Press on March 8.
PGA Tour players didn’t seem too shaken, added the AP article. “It’s a bad break for the bird, but it sounds like there are a lot of other things people should be worried about,” pro golfer Mark Calcavecchia said. Please contact the PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, and let him know that such disrespect and violence is intolerable, not to mention illegal (the hawk was a legally protected bird), and to request that the PGA work to rectify this terrible mistake by funding bird protection efforts, just as we at Friends of Animals do.
100 PGA TOUR Boulevard
Ponte Vedra Beach , FL 32082
Show Your Advocacy for Animals and Our Planet With Our Handsome Reusable Bags
Next time a cashier asks whether you want paper or plastic, consider giving the environmentally aware answer: Neither, thank you..
As our marine animal rescue specialist Peter Wallerstein says, plastic bags end up in waterways and kill thousands of marine mammals every year, because the animals mistake the floating bags for food.
Plastic bags in landfills slowly break down into smaller and smaller toxic particles that contaminate soil and water and are ingested by animals. Worldwide, more than a million plastic bags are discarded per minute!
Even paper bags have their own set of environmental problems. Trees are used to make them, and their stacked weight translates into a lot of fuel in shipping.
And disposable shopping bags are not free. We all pay for them, because they cost retailers about $4 billion annually.
We’re now offering an alternative. Our quality reusable shopping bags are easy on the planet and the eye. Getting your reusable bag here will help support our rescue, rehabilitation, and advocacy work.