After 17 years here, 16 of them spent writing regularly about veganism for the Daily News and/or philly.com, this will be my last V for Vegan post as an employee of Philadelphia Media Network. Long story short, I'm taking a buyout, and today is the last at my day job. Whether or not there will still be V for Vegan content, if it's from me it will be on a freelance basis.
It's been great fun and I want to thank Michael Days for greenlighting my Daily News column, V for Veg, in 2011, and also Debi Licklider and Laurie Conrad, tireless editors who got me writing for the food section back in 2001. Here's that first piece, for anyone who wants to take that memory-lane excursion. (It was not, subsequent research showed, the first time "vegan" had appeared in the Daily News. But it was early enough that we had to do a whole sidebar explaining the term to readers.) Now after a couple hundred columns, blog posts, op-eds and Food section cover stories, we're officially at the end of an era.
Of course there will continue to be exciting news about vegan dining in Philly and I'll hope to be among those filling you in on it. There's some still on the horizon, or that I hadn't yet got around to mentioning here, so read on for a few final items "for the road" for those interested in vegan-friendly eating and living...
* NEW PIZZA JOINT IN RITTENHOUSE
Mark Mebus is aiming for a spring opening of his new pizza restaurant, which will not be another Blackbird location, but a slightly different concept "more of a straight-ahead pizza-slice shop," he said. All vegan, of course.
* DOTTIES DONUT SANDWICHES AT BLACKBIRD
Mebus also told me that Blackbird will very soon debut two sandwiches in collaboration with Dottie's Donuts (helmed by former Blackbirders, with their second location next door to the first Blackbird). Both of these will use plain donuts in place of buns. One will be a fried-chicken-style offering with habanero buffalo sauce and garlic dill mayo, and the other is a BBQ seitan sandwich, with mushrooms, onions and coleslaw. "We've been wanting to do something with them for a while," Mebus said, "and they just got their kosher certification [Blackbird has been Kosher since its very early days], so now we can do stuff like this."
* DELICIOUS WARM HUMMUS
Hummusology invited me, no strings attached, to visit and try a platter of their warm hummus and once I did I had hoped to put that experience together with a couple other spots for hummus and/or falafel but the Philly Vegan Awards came up and I didn't want to do individual spotlights during that period, and the post didn't materialize. But I can tell you now, without prompting, that these folks know their authentic Israeli-style hummus. I got the 'shroomed' version, topped with sauteed mushrooms and warm chickpeas, paprika cumin, olive oil, green sauce, and tahini. It was delish, but the whole menu looks tempting. (1112 Locust St, 215-592-6505)
* UNCROSSED SISTERS
This summer I talked with Anne Dinshah and Alexandra Golaszewska about a project they were collaborating on called Uncrossed Sisters, named after the Cross Brothers slaughterhouse Jay Dinshah - the man more responsible than anybody for vegan ideals taking root in the U.S. - visited in 1957, at which point he vowed to go vegan, soon thereafter founding the American Vegan Society. The consulting 'Sisters' help restaurants and other food establishment to add vegan items to their menu, sometimes by reformulating something that's not vegan, but could be. As more Philly-area venues are trying to keep up with the wave of interest in vegan offerings, this looks like a worthwhile service.
* VEGAN FIXIN'S
Just yesterday I received, unbidden, a small sampling of TopBit, a crunchy protein-rich vegan topping to add to foods; looks good, haven't yet tried. And a while back I agreed to a sampler from Bob's Red Mill that just arrived this week, featuring coconut flour, coconut sugar, farro, tricolor quinoa, whole wheat pastry flour and gluten-free baking flour. I'm looking forward to doing some holiday baking with this and will, if nothing else, clue you in on the results on social media.
* THE ODDS
So what, indeed, are the odds? More people every day are learning the truth about healthful eating, about livestock as a main driver of climate change, and about animals' sentience - and more are opting out of their exploitation. So will animal-free living become not just the next big thing, but... you know... the only thing?
I've heard "the world won't go vegan overnight" for a couple decades now, but every time I hear it, the world has moved closer to that goal. Since my first DN piece veganism has gone from something almost no one had heard of to a trend that's showing up everywhere, impacting several different sectors of present-day society, including but not limited to food. The vegan singularity is a big enough threat that animal-agriculture trade magazines are doing pieces on diversifying into "plant-based," and enough that a comically needless study was commissioned to examine the near-impossible hypothetical of what would happen if the U.S. went vegan "overnight" - i.e. without the gradual transition occurring before our eyes.