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Monday, June 28, 2010

Good Veggie Eats in DC

A big reason I started this blog was to find good places to eat out... humanely.

I already have a great base of vegetarian restaurants, but I would like to find more places that serve humane dairy and eggs. And those that don't, I would like to encourage them to try -- There are a lot of farms (for example, Keswick) who sell their humane dairy to stores and restaurants who clearly have the capacity (and the need!) to sell more.

Before I begin investigating, I wanted to share a list of veggie restaurants that I have been to, or want to go to. Stay tuned to see which of these have humane dairy and eggs, and what we can do to help them serve humane:

Amsterdam Falafel - All veggie, and in my opinion, the best falafel in town!
Humane? The only dairy on the menu is their taziki. I need to see if they buy it wholesale or make their own...

Asylum - They offer a bad-ass vegan brunch. Best tofu scramble... ever.
Humane? Easy to eat humane, for sure. But for all those egg-and-cheese lovers out there, I need to check.

Duccini's Pizza - Fake cheese!!!!
Humane? I wouldn't push my luck. Getting vegan jumbo slice is already amazing.

Nirvana - All vegetarian Indian food in the heart of downtown DC.
Humane? Although Indian food typically doesn't use a lot of dairy, they do serve amazing dishes with cheese. Need to check.

Banana Leaves - Great asian-fusian restaurant. It is the only place I have ever been able to find vegetarian hot-and-sour soup! Plus, they have a great veggie-tempura roll.
Humane? By default, yes.

Luna Grill and Diner - I love this place for their great veggie chili, veggie taco salad, and more!
Humane? Definitely need to see... Stay tuned!

Cafe Green - Officially my favorite vegan restaurant in DC. Great vegan mac-and-cheese. Oh, and they allow pups outside.
Humane? You betcha!

Pizzeria Paradiso - One of the best pizza places in DC (or so everyone raves).
Humane? They do have vegan cheese, but as for their regular cheese? Nope. Not at all. But they certainly could and should be!

Straits of Malaya - Okay. Definitely my favorite restaurant in DC.
Humane? By default, yes.

Coppi's Organic - Delicious local Italian food!
Humane? I am told, yes. But I need to check to see which farms their cheese comes from.

Full Kee - Best vegetarian pan-fried noodles in DC. And eggplant in garlic sauce rocks!
Humane? No dairy there. Love the restaurant, but have to face away from the door so I don't see the dead ducks hanging in the window.

Dolcezza - I hear this place is awesome, and I can't wait to try it.
Humane? It may be the only humane ice cream shop in DC...

Pasha Bistro - A great Mediterranean restaurant. They serve a great falafel platter, delicious salads, and good veggie burgers.
Humane? Sadly, no. But I hope to be able to convince them. I know some farmers who sell great feta!

Taylors Gourmet Deli - Their fried risotto balls are delicious, but they are expensive as they ship their bread daily from Phili.
Humane? Nope... but they do charge an enormous amount for a sandwich. With these prices, I think they could afford to be humane!

Bens Chili Bowl - Hands down, the best vegetarian chili in DC.
Humane? Don't think so, but need to check. Their cheese fries are delicious, and it would be even better if it was humane!

Dupont Italian Kitchen or DIK - Great Italian restaurant in the heart of boys town. Offers late-night karaoke.
Humane? Need to check this one out!

The Greek Spot - For our friend Andrew's birthday, they ordered in from The Greek Spot, and got veggie gyros! Delicious!!!
Humane: Would like to check to see if the taziki is...

Floriana - This place has peaked my interest, as it looks like it has delicious pasta.
Humane? I called and asked where they got their cheese, and was informed all local farms. We need to dig further though, and find out which farms!

I plan on developing a running list of restaurants of where you can a humane vegetarian meal, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Paul Konerko and Hot Dogs

My lovely (and missed!) friend Courtney sent me an email a few weeks ago, with PETA's top-ten vegetarian-friendly ballparks. Courtney's email exemplifies 2 goals I have for the Humane Food Finder:
1) To start a dialogue about our food -- to get people talking about humane food, and
2) To find something that I love more in a ballpark than the Chicago White Sox!
So, without further ado, here are PETA's top-ten vegetarian-friendly ballparks:
  1. Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia Phillies) - Never been there, but they offer:
    ficken (fake-chicken) sandwich and vegan rice krispy treats, along with old faves such as veggie burgers, Southwestern black-bean burgers, veggie dogs, feak sandwiches (fake steak), ficken feaks, frab cakes (fake crab), hummus and pita chips, and fresh fruit.

    Cross our fingers for an inter-league series in the City of Animal love!

  2. AT&T Park (San Francisco Giants) - Also never been, but they offer:
    veggie dogs, Gardenburgers along with a brand-new mixed vegetable sandwich, a portobello mushroom sandwich, a vegetable roll, vegetable burritos and tamales, a broccoli tofu platter, and vegetable chow fun.

  3. Minute Maid Park (Houston Astros) - PETA says that Carlos Lee might be coming up empty at the plate (former White Sox, I might add), but fans are loading their plates with:
    veggie burritos, quinoa tabbouleh, sun-dried tomato rigatoni, veggie dogs, Thai noodle salad, hummus and vegetable wraps, vegetarian sushi, fruit smoothies, rice and beans, and organic baby-vegetable ratatouille.

  4. Comerica Park (Detroit Tigers) - While I hate the Detroit Tigers (sorry, Chaz), I may have to go to a winning White Sox game there. They serve up:
    black-bean burgers, vegetable fried rice, and a hummus plate as well as veteran favorites such as veggie burgers, veggie dogs, and vegetarian taco salads, stir-fries, and veggie sushi.

  5. Coors Field (Colorado Rockies) - Ubaldo Jimenez provides the hot sauce to put on your: veggie burgers, dogs, wraps, burritos, kabobs, and paninis as well as fresh salads and fruit, roasted portobello sandwiches, and made-to-order potato skins.

  6. Turner Field (Atlanta Braves) - The White Sox beat them last night (who's number 1 now???), but surely not because of their:
    veggie dogs, meatless tacos, burritos, baked beans, Asian noodles, and organic zucchini dip.

  7. PETCO Park (San Diego Padres) - My friend Sara work(s/ed) there---we need to catch up --so I hope she's enjoying the:
    veggie burgers and veggie dogs, vegetarian sushi rolls, roasted corn, vegetarian burritos, and hummus and vegetables.

  8. Angel Stadium (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) - Next time I go visit my Aunt Amy and Uncle Charlie, we can go enjoy some:
    veggie dogs, edamame, Gardenburgers, California cucumber rolls, veggie paninis, bean burritos, and roasted vegetable sandwiches.

  9. Miller Park (Milwaukee Brewers) - While everbody around you is doing a continuous Sarah Palin impression, it is also fun to eat:
    veggie dogs, veggie wraps, baked potatoes, made-to-order pasta, build-your-own burritos, and portobello mushroom focaccia sandwiches.

  10. (tie) Target Field (Minnesota Twins) A rival of my beloved White Sox, the Twins offer:
    veggie dogs, veggie burgers, veggie burritos and tacos, and fruit kabobs.
    (tie) Progressive Field (Cleveland Indians)- Perhaps one of the MOST insulting mascots (a laughing Native American), so I'm not eager to go there. Period. But if you're at a game, they serve:
    veggie dogs, veggie subs, wild grain and tofu curry, veggie pasta, veggie wraps, fruit cups, and roasted vegetables.
Sadly, the White Sox didn't make PETA's top-ten list... this year. They came in with an honorable mention with:
eggie dogs, veggie burgers, made-to-order vegetarian burritos, vegetable wraps, char-roasted vegetables, and crispy chickpeas.
To see the full list, please visit:

Thanks again, Courtney, for alerting me to this, and hats off to
ARAMARK (where Courtney works) as providing food for 5 of the top 10 winners!!!

Now, take me out a humane ball game!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

What if you DON'T have a farmers market near you?

My grandfather who reads my blog -- he also has a blackberry, a laptop with which he skypes and looks at the latest pictures of my niece (his great-grand daughter) on Snapfish -- asked me after reading The Chicken and the Egg Part I and II where he could get humane eggs if he doesn't go to a farmers' market.

Well, it just so happens that certain brands are certified humane. This is an amazing resource if you want to see where you can get humane animal products. They don't just rate dairy and eggs, but also meat.

The organization that certifies humane is called Humane Farm Animal Care. They are a non-profit that was
"created to improve the lives of farm animals by setting rigorous standards, conducting annual inspections, and certifying their humane treatment."
I have met farmers who have gone through or are going through the process to become certified humane. They define certified humane as food that:
*Meets the Humane Farm Animal Care program standards, which includes nutritious diet without antibiotics or hormones, animals raised with shelter, resting areas, sufficient space and the ability to engage in natural behaviors.
In my first blog, I wrote about deciding to go humane. Certifying an animal product as humane means much more than what the USDA defines as "free-range" or "cage-free." It is a standard, that in my opinion, you could apply to how you treat your best friend: ^..^

So the BEST part about this is that you can search for products at stores that are certified humane!!! So, in response to my grandfather's question as to where he can buy certified humane eggs in Chicago (near his home), here is the answer, Papa:

The Whole Foods on 30 W. Huron St. sells Phils Cage-Free Eggs, Born Free Eggs.

Happy humane hunting, everybody!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Today's Dupont Farmers Market

Dupont Circle is by far my favorite Farmers Market in Washington, DC. The wide variety of dairy, eggs, fruits and vegetables is amazing, and the market's standards for humane treatment are extremely high (I will delve into the standards of DC Farmers Markets in another post).

I found this out when I first began asking questions about humane treatment after I had read Eating Animals. The first farmer I spoke to at Keswick Creamery informed me that they:
1) do not dock their cows' tails
2) anesthetize their cows before they remove their horns
3) have their cows graze outdoors and not eat in a barn on cement

This is all critical information to know when finding out if a dairy cow is treated humanely.

So, today I bought some Quark -- very similar to cream cheese -- and Wallabee -- a smooth, light, hard cheese from Keswick.

I then headed over to Blue Ridge Dairy (run by a farmer whom I also interogated previously) and bought some Mozzarella (with which I made pizza tonight) and Honey YoLight (light honey yogurt).

There are many other dairy and egg farmers there, so stay tuned for next week!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

It's like clipping toe-nails

After I investigated hatcheries that did not clip beaks or claws, I emailed Randy from Star Hollow Farms. (As you may recall from The Chicken and Egg Part II, I spoke to Randy at the Adams Morgan farmers market, and he said that he could not get chicks with their beaks intact.)

This is the email I sent to Randy:

Hi Randy:

My name is Emily, and I met you last weekend at the Adams Morgan Farmers Market --- We discussed your chickens, and you told me that you got your chicks with their beaks already clipped, because you couldn't get them intact. As you may remember, I told you that I could not buy eggs from someone who got their chicks with their beaks clipped, and also could not partake in your CSA for that same reason.

As you may know, there are a lot of folks like me who want to get their eggs from farmers who raise their hens with their beaks intact. I believe that people will be more inclined to get eggs from you if you started buying chicks who were not debeaked. From our conversation, and from what I gathered from your website, this is the one element of humane treatment that is lacking in the rearing of your chickens.

I spoke to another farmer (also from Pennsylvania), who told me that he was able to get his chicks with their beaks and claws intact. I got the names of the hatcheries, and thought you might be interested in looking into that option. I have included their contact information below:
- Reich Poultry Farm, Inc.
- Moyer's Chicks (215-536-3155),

I write a blog called (, and wrote about my experience last weekend. I would love to let readers know that you switched to chicks who were not debeaked, and who are able to carry out natural instincts like pecking.

Please let me know if I can help in calling the hatcheries, and I look forward to hearing from you and updating my blog, and specifically coming to buy eggs from you!

Many thanks!
Randy responded a few days later after looking into the hatcheries.

First, I would like to state that Randy owns the type of farm you want to buy food from. When some crazy person with a bullhorn and a bone to pick (a-hem... me) emails him and asks about debeaking chickens, he did not dismiss me as the bullhorn, bone picker that I am. He instead looked into my concerns, and addressed them. Here are some highlights from his response:
He looked into both of the hatcheries I referred him to. He explained that Reich's Hatchery is out of the question because they only sell chicks (not debeaked), and in order for him to raise baby chicks, he would need all kinds of expensive chick-raising equipment, and that does not interest him.

Therefore, he needs to get ready-to-lay hens. He spent 15 minutes on the phone with Moyer's Chicks, and learned that they do clip the beaks (contrary to what Pecan Meadows Farms told me) and they told him that
"clipping the beaks at a very young age is about the equivalent of clipping toe-nails on us." They went on to tell Randy "if enough people requested unclipped beaks, they might try it. I added my name to a list of interested persons," he emailed me.

He also told me the producers' reasoning for clipping the beaks, primarily that hens end up hurting each other when they are trying to establish their pecking order, sometimes killing other hens. And he asked me, "
I guess one of my main thoughts is, if I got such a flock, how willing am I going to be to have birds killing each other mercilessly, as is their nature, even with complete freedom, just so I can say they have unclipped beaks. Not an obvious benefit for them, or us, if you ask me. Just so you know, I consider myself a strong proponent of animal rights, and we treat our birds very well. So why change when it will mean dead birds vs. clipped beaks?"
So, like I said, Randy is a farmer you want to buy from. He is thoughtful. He is a strong proponent of animal rights. And he is doing the best he can. (Go read his bio on his website, if you don't believe me).

But what I need to find out (and not from PETA or a hatchery) is if debeaking is really like clipping toe-nails. Some consider neutering or spaying a dog inhumane, but, as a strong proponent of animal rights, I think I treat my dog very well, and decided it was best to neuter Winston.

And if we do find out that debeaking chicks is like clipping toe-nails, then that is great. (I love clipping my toe-nails. I clip them too short, even.) But if we find out that it is not, I hope more farmers will contact their chicken suppliers, especially Moyer's Chicks, and ask them for chickens with their beaks intact.

My Dairy Daddy

I have a Dairy Daddy. A Dairy Daddy or DD is like a Sugar Daddy, except...

Sugar Daddy: A man who lavishes a woman with money,gifts,etc.

Dairy Daddy: A boyfriend who lavishes his girlfriend with inhumane cheese, eggs, icecream, etc..
(Sugar Daddy definition courtesy of Urban Dictionary)

So, Alex is my Dairy Daddy. Having a DD is essential for me in going humane. Today, my DD was uber clutch (not only at Cornhole/beanbags at this great BBQ where we were), but also when it came to the ice cream cake.

No... I did not get any delicious, chocolate, inhumane ice cream cake of my own... But Alex did. And I had a bite... or two... or four. But I did not get my own plate.

And that is what makes him my Dairy Daddy.

I will be sure to always let folks know when I ask my DD to share some of his inhumane dairy. It won't be often, but just as there are few times when a White Sox baseball player is clutch, there will be few times when my Dairy Daddy will come in handy (Chicago deep dish pizza, Dairy Queen and White Russians come to mind...) Nevertheless, I recommend that anyone who is trying to go humane get a Dairy Daddy. Priceless.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Chicken and the Egg Part II

So, last Saturday I was craving an egg-and-cheese on a bagel, something that I have mastered in the kitchen, now that I no longer eat eggs out. (Sidenote: to all my friends who have been thinking about visiting me, there is no bigger enticement than a homemade egg-and-cheese on a bagel...or croissant).

Alex had mentioned the Adams Morgan Farmers' Market, one that we had never been to. When we got there, it was small and dismal compared to the Dupont Circle Farmers' Market. I was not on the hunt for produce, so I started asking if folks had eggs. One farmer said he did. So, I went into my usual questions (for those who have asked what questions I ask --- cough: mom--- here they are!):

Me: Are your hens roaming freely outside?
Farmer: Well, they are not kept in cages.
Me: That's good. But are they kept outside?
Farmer: Well, they are my neighbor's chickens. And I don't think they are outside because the foxes will get them.
Me: Okay, well... do you know if they clip their beaks?
Farmer: No, they don't.
Hmmm... That did not sound convincing to me. It looked like it was soy milk and cereal for me. I saw another vendor, one that Alex had looked into for a CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture), Star Hollow Farms. So, I went over and asked him the same questions:
Me: Are your hens roaming freely outside?
Farmer: Yes.. They have a quarter-acre pasture.
Me: Oh, that is great! Do you clip their beaks or claws?
Farmer: Well, we get them as chicks, and their beaks are already clipped.
Whoa. In the Chicken and the Egg Part I, I wrote that many farmers cannot escape the grasp of the factory farming industry, and this was one such farmer. He was doing the best he could, much better than most, but he didn't hatch his own chicks. From what I have read, hatching chicks is not an easy thing just to pick up, even for a farmer who has hens. It is comparable to asking a guitarist not just to learn how to play the instrument, but also how to make it.

So I told him that I valued what he did, but that humane treatment of animals was not something I could compromise on, and thanked him. He was understanding.

Well, Alex took Winston home because he seemed tired and hot, and I bustled over to the U Street Farmers' Market to get eggs from a trusted source, Pecan Meadow Farm. When I got there, I asked them how they got their chicks with their beaks on, since I had learned during prior interrogations that they did not have a hatchery. (As you may know, farmers are not subject to Miranda warnings: 7-2 decision in 1997, Thomas and Scalia dissenting because the constitution does not mention Miranda by name, but if everybody else has the right to Miranda warnings, farmers should be too.)

The farmer at U Street informed me that he called the hatchery and specifically asked that the chicks come with their beaks and claws on. He gets his chicks from Reich's Hatchery and Moyer's Chicks. He has never had a problem getting chicks with their beaks and claws on.

So, it is possible to get chicks with their beaks and claws on. Maybe Star Hollow doesn't know about Reich's Hatchery or Moyer's Chicks. (Note to female Phillies fans: there is a rumor that the first 5000 females in attendance at any Jamie Moyer start get to keep their beaks. Robert Reich fans: there is no equivalent promotion at this time.) But I will be sure to email Star Hollow and let them know that it is possible to get chicks that haven't had their beaks and claws removed and there is a demand for eggs from those hens.

If you have ever seen a photo of a little chick getting its beak clipped, I suspect you demand it too.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Chicken and the Egg Part I

By far, one of the hardest parts of eating humane all the time is breakfast (breakfast is the only challenge I have encountered thus far... I am sure once I go out for Latin food, I will write a tortured post about how I was not able to eat the cheesy goodness).

So, being humane means eating free range eggs. Not "free range" like Land O Lakes (which only means that they are not kept in cages), but free range meaning:

- Their beaks and claws are not clipped. Mass egg and chicken producers clip their birds beaks and claws so that they don't peck and scratch at each other. Chickens in confinement of course peck and claw at each other because they are packed together. Luckily I don't have a beak, or else Alex, my boyfriend -- we share a 1-bedroom apartment-- would be one unhappy duck.

- They actually go outside... Not just have access to outdoors. Most companies that advertise their eggs as "cage free" or "free range" are only using those terms in the sense that the Tobacco Industry uses terms like "low-tar cigarettes." The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) explains that,
"The truth is that the majority of egg labels have little relevance to animal welfare or, if they do, they have no official standards or any mechanism to enforce them."
The HSUS does an excellent job of explaining what "certified organic," "cage-free," "free range," and "free roaming" mean and how they differ. Unfortunately, eggs sold in a supermarket may be labeled as free range, cage-free, blah blah blah, but
"... the amount, duration, and quality of outdoor access is undefined."

Really, the only way to find out how the eggs you are about to eat were hatched is to ask.

So I end up asking a lot of questions, and it is a great way to get to know the farmers. They are usually excited to talk about their farms and practices. And after having spoken with many farmers, I have learned that even they cannot escape the grasp of the factory farming industry......... I'll write up today's experience at the farmers' market in part II.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Deciding to Eat Humane

My eating habits have been as varied and fickle as my life choices... From childhood to adulthood (if that is what you can call the time when someone is 29 and sang 8 songs at karaoke last night), I went from being an omnivore to a pescetarian to a vegetarian to a humane-omnivore to a vegetarian. And now, as more undercover videos are released that detail the rampant abuse at dairy farms (thanks to the courageous work of leaders at The Humane Society, PETA, and especially Mercy for Animals), I have found it harder and harder to eat factory-farmed dairy.

Except that I love dairy products. I am a foodie at heart, and my friends (some who have meat daily) often marvel at the fact that a vegetarian can cook really good food.

So, how do I make my mom's neighborhood-favorite spanakopita or my brother's gourmet eggplant parm? Easy: I go the farmer's market and get mozz, parmesan and eggs from farmers who don't allow their animals to live a tortured existence, as Jonathan Safran Foer eloquently detailed in his book Eating Animals.

But how do you know if the farmers are actually humane? The USDA criteria for "humane" does not meet the standards of how we would classify "humane." And by humane, I mean if we saw a video of how the animals spend their day, we would not turn our eyes away in shame and agony. (That is an entire blog post for an entirely different time, but it is something that I consider every time I eat or buy an animal product.)

This blog is going to chronicle my journey from being a vegetarian to being a humane vegetarian. While I have already found some amazing farmers (like Keswick Creamery) and delicious restaurants (like Java Green) in DC, I want to find many more. This blog will include farmers who are humane, restaurants that have humane dairy and eggs (and those that don't), and how one goes about eating humane without wasting food or being rude to beloved hosts who don't buy humane dairy and eggs.

Many thanks to my friends who asked me to share the ongoing humane vendors and restaurants I have found, and to the animals rights groups who have inspired this exciting choice. And thanks in advance to those who won't judge me when I fail on both accounts and grab a jumbo-slice on a late Saturday night/Sunday morning.