Visiting the Outer Banks, North Carolina

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,...
Whale Watching, Cape Cod

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...
Green Lotus Cafe, Hyannis

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...
Dog Days of Summer in the Hamptons

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. For dinner there on our most recent visit, we started with the amazing Living Room Salad (love the pine nuts and shaved zucchini!) and then each had the roasted root vegetables entree. 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...
Hoe Down at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen

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...
Philadelphia’s Finest: Vedge Restaurant

Philadelphia’s Finest: Vedge Restaurant

Earlier this week, I offered a lengthy list of places to check out while in the City of Brotherly Love — Vegan In Philadelphia. As promised, here’s a more detailed report on one amazing meal at Vedge, complete with pictures of many of the fantastic tapas-style plates we enjoyed while there. This upscale, lively vegan tapas place on Locus Street features an open kitchen and three separate dining rooms that keep this atmosphere balanced between “happening” and intimate. We were highly impressed with the exquisite tastes on our plates; and our non-veg friend was equally enthusiastic about the various dishes, including some superb desserts. Here’s a look at some of the delectables: In addition to the small plates and entree plates we selected, Vedge offers a “Dirt List” —  a half dozen vegetable specials of the day featuring whatever is  available at the moment from the local farms. During our visit, we tried the Wood Grilled Broccolini cooked in smoky shitake dashi with crushed white sesame and the Brussels Sprouts served in a light mustard sauce that was out of this world (my fave of the night). In other dessert news, there were several vegan ice creams and sorbets to choose from: at our table, spoonfuls of coconut and pecan pie sorbets and habanero (!) ice cream. Vedge also has an impressive wine list and selection of cocktails. Celebrating my roots, I indulged in a wonderful glass of bianco from Sicily. Tip: even during the week, this place is bustling — be sure to make a reservation....