The Veg 25

Tap into VT's 2009 hot list of fresh voices, ingenious products, and handy resources that make the vegetarian life more fulfilling every day
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The Veg 25

1. Iced Bliss
We've tried many tasty soy- and rice-based vegan ice creams, but Luna & Larry's Coconut Bliss blew us away. It's dairy-free, soy-free, and gluten-free, and is made with certified-organic ingredients, including coconut milk and agave nectar. Creamy, decadent, and oh-so-satisfying, it might be the best vegan dessert on the market right now. The VT staff is particularly fond of the Dark Chocolate, Cappuccino, and Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge flavors. coconutbliss.com

2. Cruelty-Free
Crafts Etsy is an online store where creative types sell handmade goods. Given how many talented veg folks we know, it's not surprising that a community of artsy vegans has set up a sub-shop at veganetsy.etsy.com. Here's a sampling of vegan-friendly wares the 100-plus members offer: homemade soaps, lip balms, journals, jewelry, photographs, paintings, ceramics, and pet toys. In addition, many artists donate a portion of their profits to animal charities.

3. Meatless Markets
You know that limitless feeling you get in a veg restaurant, when you can order anything you want off the menu without having to ask if the soup is made with beef stock or if the beans are cooked with lard? Down to Earth, the largest natural food chain in Hawaii, is the grocery store equivalent—every product they sell is free of meat, fish oils, gelatin, and animal rennet. They also offer vegetarian nutrition and cooking classes, store tours, and a strong commitment to local organic farmers. downtoearth.org

4. Vegan Blog Hub
Whether you drool over amazing food photography, crave new recipes from creative home cooks, or relish reading updates on the latest veg issues in the news, vegblogs.com has you covered. Browse the feed of most-popular blogs on the front page, explore links to more than 100 others, and contact the site if you'd like your vegan blog to be listed.

5. Veg Booze Finder
What do Pabst Blue Ribbon, Yellow Tail Shiraz, and Absolut vodka have in common? They're all made without the use of animal products. Some companies use gelatin or isinglass (made from the air bladders of fish) in the finishing/clarification process. Check out barnivore.com to see if your favorite pale ale, Pinot Noir, or rum is on the veg-friendly list.

6. How About Some Cheese with That Wine?
Love 'em or hate 'em, cheese substitutes offer far more variety than in years past, when the only available styles seemed to be mozzarella or Cheddar. Vegans can now indulge in Edam, Gouda, blue, Monterey Jack, and creamy herbedstyle "cheeses." From soy-based (Cheezly, Teese, Vegan Gourmet, Vegan Rella, Tofutti) to nut cheeses (Playfood, and VT online editorial director Andrea Kowalski's favorite, Dr-cow Tree Nut Cheese) to rice cheeses (Galaxy Nutritional Foods) to varieties made with nutritional yeast (including my beloved Nacho Chreese Dip from Road's End Organics), the odds are good that you can find one to suit your taste.

7. Veg in the Afternoon
When she followed her wedding ceremony to Portia de Rossi with a vegan reception menu, some fans wondered if Ellen DeGeneres—a known animal lover—had also committed to a compassionate diet. On September 29, just before World Vegetarian Day, Ellen hosted Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine president (and VT columnist) Neal Barnard, MD, on her show to promote a vegan diet. While only Ellen can confirm it (and as of press time, she hadn't), green gossip blog ecorazzi.com reported on October 2 that she had gone vegan.

Oprah Winfrey went vegan for 21 days last May after having author Kathy Freston (Quantum Wellness: A Practical and Spiritual Guide to Health and Happiness) on her show. Oprah's "cleanse diet" was actually more restrictive than a vegan diet: she avoided sugar, gluten, and alcohol, as well as all animal products. Oprah has dedicated several shows to topics like puppy mills and factory farms, raising the consciousness of countless viewers.

8. Gourmet Sampler
Have you ever wondered what kind of gourmet dishes chefs like Charlie Trotter or Thomas Keller would create if they were vegan? So did Great Chefs Cook Vegan author Linda Long. She asked 25 culinary stars to come up with a three- or four-course menu, all worthy of a top restaurant. While the recipes are more suited for confident home cooks than beginners, the mouthwatering photos will tempt anyone who loves food.

9. Goode TV
It's healthy to poke fun at yourself, so we're excited to check out The Goode Family, a new animated show premiering on ABC in March. The show revolves around a family who tries to always do the right thing —they're vegan, politically correct, and environmentally aware. Created by Mike Judge (Beavis & Butt-Head and King of the Hill), the show promises plenty of good-natured mocking of the best intentions gone awry.

10. Tips from the USDA
Pretty much anyone who announces they're going veg finds themselves bombarded with questions about where they'll get their protein, omega-3s, iron, you name it. The USDA's Vegetarian Nutrition Resource List directs you to the most helpful books, pamphlets, and Web sites—all organized by topics such as pregnancy, sports nutrition, and vegetarianism for kids and teens. nal.usda.gov/fnic/pubs/bibs/gen/vegetarian.pdf

11. Meat-free Web Browser
Vegblogsearch.com will search more than 400 vegetarian and vegan blogs, so whether you're trying to remember where you saw that recipe for chili lime tofu or are curious to see what veg bloggers have posted as their New Year's resolutions, you can plug in any search term and get browsing.

12. Humane U.
Humane Society University is a new educational program from the Humane Society of the U.S. that provides training for animal care professionals and advocates through online classes and on-site courses at locations across the country. HSU offers the first undergraduate major in Humane Leadership, a graduate certification program in Community Advocacy for NonProfit Organizations, an online graduate degree in Community Leadership, workshops for disaster animal response teams, and more. humanesocietyu.org

13. Green Film Fest
The 17th annual Environmental Film Festival in Washington, D.C., takes place from March 11 -22, 2009. Last year, more than 120 eco-minded documentaries, features, and animated and children's films from the around the world were screened for 24,000 attendees. If you can't get to D.C., you can view dozens of short films for free online at dcenvironmentalfilmfest.org.

14. Pedestrian's Paradise
How walkable is your neighborhood? Visit walkscore.com, enter your address, and see how your area rates on a scale of 1 to 100. You can view nearby restaurants, grocery stores, parks, libraries, and more, with the distance to each listed. The Web site also ranks the walkability of 2,508 neighborhoods in the 40 largest U.S. cities, a great resource if you're considering a move.

15. Whole-Life Guide
Emmy Award winning Christina Cooks host Christina Pirello wrote This Crazy Vegan Life after realizing that even as a vegan, she wasn't making the best food choices and had lost sight of the importance of exercise. Christina offers encouragement and information, including an in-depth look at nutrition, lists of pantry staples, meal plans with more than 100 recipes, a fitness program complete with instructional photos, and tips for living a more earth-friendly lifestyle.

16. Down to Business
Geared toward the upscale ethical consumer, NOHARM dress shoes for men are handmade in Italy with fair-trade, vegan materials using socially responsible business practices. Designers in the United Kingdom collaborated with the Italian shoemakers on the stylish shoes, which can be purchased Stateside from amazon.com. noharm.co.uk

17. Video How-tos
See why veg cooks can't stop blogging about Everyday Dish (everydaydish.tv) host Julie Hasson's popular vegan sausages, which she makes by steaming a mixture of vital wheat gluten, herbs, and spices. Julie's cheerful cooking videos offer step-by-step instructions with ingredient information and recommendations as she cooks. Past guest chefs have included cookbook authors Bryanna Clark Grogan (vegan crêpes and dulce de leche), Dreena Burton (of Eat, Drink & Be Vegan and Vive le Vegan!), and the up-and-coming Hannah Kaminsky (Butterscotch Blondies and Whoopie Pies from My Sweet Vegan).

18. Hunger Relief
The world's largest vegetarian nonprofit hunger relief organization, peace advocate Food for Life Global distributes more than 1 million free vegetarian meals daily in 60 plus countries. The group has coordinated many disaster-relief projects, including responses to the 2004 tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. For more information, visit ffl.org.

19. A Matter of Taste
How many times have you heard someone say they enjoyed the taste of meat too much to give it up? According to research published in the Journal of Consumer Research last August, that preference has more to do with perception than the actual flavor of the food. Participants rated what they thought were meat items higher than vegetarian alternatives, even though the two items were the same. The authors concluded: "Participants who ate the vegetarian alternative did not rate the taste and aroma less favorably than those who ate the beef product. Instead, what influenced taste evaluation was what they thought they had eaten and whether that food symbolized values that they personally supported."

20. Your 15 Minutes of Fame?
Eric Prescott recently completed funding for I'm Vegan, a documentary project he will shoot throughout the U.S. this spring. His goal is to "address preconceived notions about vegans and veganism" by offering a diverse array of intimate vegan profiles you'll be able to share with your friends, family, and even complete strangers via blogs, social networking sites, and the like. Eric writes at ananimalfriendlylife.com and is the director and cofounder of the Boston Vegan Association. To learn more about I'm Vegan, or to get involved, visit vegandocumentary.com.

21. Fresh Intelligence
If you want to know everything that's happening in the world of vegetarianism or veganism right now, check out addictomatic.com/topic/vegetarian or addictomatic.com/topic/vegan. On a single page, you'll be able to see the latest news stories, YouTube videos, Flickr images, blog posts, and more relating to those topics. It's overwhelming in the coolest way possible.

22. Veg Mixers
New York vegans, it's time to mingle: Vegan Drinks, a social networking event for people interested in veganism and animal rights, is held monthly in the Big Apple. It's sponsored by SuperVegan.com, the Brooklyn Law School Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, and Angels & Kings bar; you can fi nd information on upcoming events at vegandrinks.org.

23. Compassionate Charities
If you want to support medical research but feel conflicted because some charities end up supporting animal testing, look for the Humane Charity Seal of Approval. Backed by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the seal can help you direct your dollars to research efforts that do not involve animals. For lists of charities that do and don't support animal research, plus information about animal research alternatives, visit humaneseal.org.

24. Vegan Agriculture
The latest trend in gardening seeks to make organic vegetables truly vegan. Organic farmers are allowed to use animal products such as fertilizer (including manure, blood meal, and bone meal), but veganic agriculture removes the animal-farming link entirely to focus on sustainable, plant-based techniques to grow organic vegetables without relying on the exploitation of animals. This movement is catching on around the country, with veganic CSA memberships available through some farms. For more information, visit goveganic.net.

25. Green Business
Summit Check out Green Festival, the world's largest sustainability event, featuring hundreds of green businesses exhibiting everything from the latest green collar jobs to home improvements to sweatshop-free clothing and fair-trade goods. Cosponsored by Global Exchange and Green America (formerly Co-op America), the event is scheduled to hit Seattle, March 28 -29; Denver, May 2 -3; Chicago, May 16 -17; Washington, D.C., October 10 -11; and San Francisco, November 13 -15. For more information, visit greenfestivals.org.