• July 13th, 2011quarrygirlrants

    oh, green leaves, you never cease to boggle our minds! for those of you readers not familiar with the history of the dishonest establishment, i’ll make a long story short. green leaves is a “vegan” thai restaurant in los feliz. for ages, they blatantly lied to people about using vegan cheese (suspicions date back to 2008, see the review by happycow user brittany). when we proved that they were deceiving customers by passing off real dairy as vegan, they threatened to sue us. since then, they’ve been under scrutiny by the los angeles health department for displaying an ostensibly bogus “truth-in-menu” certification.

    cut to a few months ago. green leaves opened a new vegetarian restaurant on melrose and vine called green loves. basically a new outlet with the same menu and decor as the original restaurant. i guess that didn’t really work out for them—they reinvented themselves a pescatarian restaurant called sea minor…a pescatarian restaurant that serves real chicken, and specializes in vegan and vegetarian food. huh? i mean, have you ever seen such a confusing restaurant description?

    photo credit: queerveganrunner

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  • July 5th, 2011quarrygirlLA restaurants, vegan factory

    anyone who is familiar with the vegan scene in los angeles knows that in recent years there has been proliferation of vegetarian thai-inspired restaurants (all with the word “vegan in their name) serving up almost identical menus full of mock meats and salty asian dishes. i honestly can’t keep track of them all, and it seems like there’s one on every corner! vegan express, vegan world, vegan house, vegan plate, vegan glory, you get the idea…they all start to run together in my mind. vegan factory in tarzana (who we’ve featured on the blog before) went so far as to claim on their website, “Vegan Factory is not just another Thai-Vegan Restaurant…”

    that sentence will be especially true as of july 8th, when vegan factory will begin serving real animal meat. i think they should probably re-write the rest of the paragraph, though…

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  • April 25th, 2011quarrygirlLA restaurants, swingers

    i hate it when this happens. i mean, we have SO many great vegan-friendly eateries in LA. i’m talking about omnivorous restaurants that are willing to bend over backwards to give us plenty of options, restaurants that take the v-word seriously. unfortunately though, every once in a while (as we’ve seen before) a restaurant comes along and throws around the vegan word willy-nilly in order to make a profit, without knowing or caring what it means. i’m sad to say, that i think our previous favorite swingers is in that category.

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  • April 13th, 2011mr meanerrants

    UPDATE 4/18/11: VegNews has finally apologized and changed their policy!

    UPDATE 4/15/11: Someone left an unsubstantiated comment claiming the burger image we used earlier was vegetarian. I’ve replaced the photo with another real beef burger, as seen on VegNews.com.

    Do you like looking at pictures of meat? How about a juicy beef burger, covered in egg mayonnaise with cow fat dripping off? Perhaps some soft, meaty chunks of chicken breast in chicken stock and cream? What about a pork sausage, oozing in pig fat, fresh from the slaughterhouse? OK, let’s tone it down a little. Perhaps you like to look at egg mayonnaise potato salad, made with eggs from those poor battery hens that are dead basically from the moment they are born. How about creamy mac and cheese made with real cow’s milk, pulled painfully from their sore and tender udders, infused with antibiotics, pain and anguish?

    If so, you can find all this in the nation’s premier print and online vegan magazine, VegNews. Surprised? Shocked? Read on…

    real meat ribs have bones removed with photoshop to appear vegan

    We’ve always been fans of VegNews, since back in the mid-2000s when we’d wait with bated breath for the US Mail to deliver our copy. We’d eagerly flip through, reading all about the latest veg stuff, salivating over the amazing pictures, trying out a vegan recipe, and maybe even discovering a restaurant in our home town through one of their reviews.

    it’s sad, then, that the pictures we’ve been drooling over for years are actually of MEAT! Veg News has written tens (possibly hundreds) of articles extolling the virtues of a vegan lifestyle, while purchasing rock-bottom priced stock photos of MEAT, EGGS, DAIRY and other completely non-vegan things. You doubt this? See below:

    stock photo of real meat ribs. a doctored photo of this appears on veg news.

    We started searching for more examples of Veg News using meat photos next to “drool-worthy vegan recipes,” and the results were disturbing…

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  • February 3rd, 2011quarrygirlproducts

    wow, some hardcore vegan sleuthing has gone down. we posted earlier this week on some shocking findings by mr. wishbone (you all remember him from operation pancake, right?) regarding some completely non-vegetarian gummy bears that were mislabeled as vegan at whole foods. after some digging, it appears that whole foods isn’t entirely to blame; the fault actually lies with the distributor. please read the original story here, and check out the following update from mr. wishbone:

    After reading the comment from “LE” on the gummy bear post, (“I just had some agave-sweetened gummy bears yesterday from Rainbow Acres. They had the exact same ingredients list. Sigh… should have known it was too good to be true.”), I thought that if the Rainbow Acres gummy bears were from the same manufacturer/distributor then the error in labeling might not be Whole Food’s fault at all.

    I went to Rainbow Acres and found two products: Agave Sweetened Gummy Bears and Vegan Agave Sweetened Fruit Slices. I spoke with the Greg at Rainbow Acres, and he was happy to provide me with their distributor’s name, telephone number and item numbers from their catalog. I asked Greg to remove the two products from his shelves until we could determine if the ingredient listings were correct. Rainbow Acres should be commended for their transparency and genuine desire to please their customers and do the right thing.

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  • February 1st, 2011quarrygirlstores, whole foods

    sigh. sometimes meticulously reading labels just isn’t enough when it comes to determining whether or not products are vegan. this was true for mr. wishbone (you remember him from operation pancake, right?) recently when he bought some agave-sweetened gummy bears at whole foods. here’s his story:

    I bought some gummy bears that appeared to have vegan ingredients, but when I tasted them I knew they had to have gelatin as an ingredient. I wrote to Whole Foods Global Office the note below and they responded today that I was correct. If you read my email to them you will see that not only were some of the ingredients missing but the nutritional info area also failed to show the protein correctly.

    mislabled gummy bears

    Basically they checked their ingredient listing and it looked o.k., but after more checking with their supplier they found that the label had left out the ingredients Gelatin, Lactic Acid, and Purple Berry Concentrate!

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  • October 22nd, 2010mr meanerLA restaurants, mani's bakery (closed)

    UPDATE: please check out the official response that mani’s left in the comment section!

    Back in the 90s, Elton used to invite me to his Academy Awards after-party at Maple Drive, one of LA’s trendiest restaurants. Situated on the lower floor of then-Hollywood hot studio Castle Rock Pictures, Maple Drive was a stunning exemplification of the excesses of Hollywood at that time. Over the years, though, Maple Drive fell into decline, and perhaps the final nail in the coffin was the death of its owner, actor Dudley Moore. The restaurant closed not long after he passed away.

    The tremendous location on tree-lined Maple Drive in Beverly Hills remained boarded up for a while until one of our favorite vegan-friendly restaurants, Mani’s Bakery, took over the space recently and relocated their operations lock stock and barrel from the Fairfax district, naming the new location, fittingly, “Mani’s on Maple”.

    We’ve raved about the old Mani’s location a number of times before and even mounted a campaign to get them more customers when the owner put a message on the website saying that they were in danger of closing. We dined there nearly every weekend, I’d drive across town for lunches with colleagues and we blogged and tweeted about it until we were blue in the face. The rest of the vegan community clearly did the same, and we were pleasantly surprised to find familiar vegan faces at Mani’s just about every time we visited.

    Well, I’m sad to report that just like the former, storied Maple Drive Restaurant that plummeted out of fashion and into decline, Mani’s has done the exact same thing – at least as far as vegans are concerned. After all, our recent experience exposed non-vegan food served to us that wasn’t the usual kitchen mistake or hidden ingredient, but a complete breakdown of organization from the proprieter through to the serving staff. Read on to find out just how crappy Manis is for vegans.

    You’d think me nuts for saying this just by looking at the menu. It’s full of vegan offerings: burgers, sandwiches and even a Banh Mi-style sandwich. There are seitan and tofu options for most things, and a reassuring “V” sign next to all the items that are allegedly vegan. Indeed, the menu even goes so far as to have a whole call-out about how vegan the vegan offerings are:

    the legend as it appears on Mani's menu

    So, it was with a double dose of nostalgia that we hit up Mani’s on Maple for lunch this week. The space certainly reminded me of the old days, and I can still hear the echo of Elton’s distinctive laugh as he mingled through the crowd. Further familiarities included the friendly Mani’s staff, the beaming and bespectacled Mr. Larry Maiman (co-founder) buzzing around, the distinctive colorful menu sorted into tabs and large plates of delicious-looking food everywhere.

    We settled into a comfortable booth on the back wall and ordered the Vegan Sliders and Vegan Banh Mi asking the server to check with the kitchen to ensure that the bread and all ingredients were vegan, and she promised she would.

    "Vegan Sliders" as seen on Mani's menu

    "Vegan Banh Mi" as seen on Mani's menu

    A few minutes later, two wonderful-looking plates of food arrived. Again, we asked the server if everything was vegan and she said: “Yes, I asked the chef and everything here is 100% vegan”.

    Well, we snapped some pictures and began to eat our lunch. Very quickly, we noticed that the bread had a very “buttery” texture and taste. Again, we asked if everything was vegan: “Yes, I checked with the chef. Everything is vegan.”.

    We looked up the menu online, and noted that Mani’s serves by default “Brioche” bread (Wikipedia describes it thus: “Brioche is a highly enriched French bread, whose high egg and butter content give it a rich and tender crumb. It has a dark, golden, and flaky crust from an egg wash applied after proofing.”). Hardly vegan. I got up to find our server, and asked her to check again with the kitchen, while we stopped eating.

    A few minutes later, Christopher Hopgood, the restaurant’s GM, came to our table to apologize in a highly funereal tone that the bread we’d eaten wasn’t in fact vegan but contained egg and butter as we had suspected. Not only that, he said that none of the buns are vegan and therefore neither of the dishes that say “vegan” which we ordered actually are. Indeed, he wasn’t sure if any of the breads are vegan, stating that they used honey in many of them and “well, the bakery isn’t really ready yet”. When we asked him how they could have made such a mistake, and he responded “We all proof-read the menu, and these vegan dishes are a mistake. We will take steps right away to correct this.”.

    Don’t get me wrong, Mr. Hopgood was very polite and genuinely apologetic (especially as he had no idea that we had a vegan blog). He comped our lunch (no shit, considering we ate very little), and gave us a gift certificate which we’ll use one evening to go for a few drinks, as there’s no way I can trust the food at Mani’s ever again.

    We asked FOUR times if the food was vegan, and only on the final pushy request did somebody actually bother to find out for sure. I believe that Mani’s is one of the sad breed of restaurants in LA that are cashing in on the “Vegan” word, slapping some ostensibly vegan ingredients into non-vegan items they already have on the menu, as well as not training their servers and kitchen staff apropriately.

    Manis: if you can’t do vegan food properly then don’t do it at all.
    Vegans: You might want to AVOID MANI’S.

    Clearly, they’re not up-front about what’s in the food and the fact that we had to go through so much to get to the truth speaks volumes about the attitude they have not only about vegan customers but their clientele in general. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. And if you want to know why I don’t eat eggs? This report will give you some of the reasons.

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  • October 11th, 2009quarrygirlmorningstar farms, news, other, products

    i’m sad to report that one of my (previously) favorite fake meat brands has started being awfully cunty lately. morningstar farms has recently added both MILK AND EGGS to several of their formally vegan products.

    one of my favorite foods to be completely ruined by morningstar farms, was the meal starter crumbles. these things were perfect in any recipe that called for ground meat, and until recently they were vegan. then, without warning and without changing the packaging, morningstar farms added both skim milk and egg whites to the ingredients. gross, right? yeah.

    morningstar farms has added milk & eggs to thier vegan crumbles!

    morningstar farms has added milk & eggs to thier vegan crumbles!

    to make matters even worse, when morningstar farms wasn’t busy de-veganizing stuff, they were discontinuing other wonderful vegan products. like the meal starter steak strips, GONE. i used these strips all the time…in stir frys, in cornish pasties, in burritos, you name it. no more.

    morningstar farms steak strips discontinued!

    morningstar farms steak strips discontinued!

    this whole situation is pretty upsetting to me, and i probably won’t be buying much morningstar farms stuff in the future. if the crumbles are trashed, and the steak strips are gone, what else can they really offer me? if you buy morningstar farms products, i highly suggest you triple check the ingredients to make sure they haven’t snuck in any animal discharge.

    there is a thread going about this topic over on vegweb, complete with a response from the company that really doesn’t make me feel any better. buyer beware!

    oh, and special thanks to commenter Bil for bringing this all to my attention. you rock.

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