Viva La Vegan!

TUESDAY 6th July: Hanging out with Mandi in Portland

Before I left for my US adventures, my friend Mandy from Vegan Era suggested that when I was in Portland, I should contact another Mandi from Chic Vegan who had just moved to the West Coast.  Mandi and I sent each other a few emails before I left as well as when I had arrived in Portland and today was the day we were to meet!

I caught the bus into Portland and while I was waiting for Mandi a local African American guy tried to work his magic on me with his smooth (!) talk, designer branding on EVERY piece of his outfit, plus of course his gold and diamond accessories.  Obviously didn't work at all and when he asked me for some money (!) I told him he should sell his (insert ridiculously expensive designer brand) diamond watch... He was devastated that my watch ring had fake diamonds and when Mandi arrived we tried explaining to him about the ethical issues for most diamond cultivation, but he didn't care.  There is quite a lot of homeless people in Portland, but this guy was definitely not one of them.  Most unusual.


Mandi and I walked around for a bit before deciding to go to Prassad for breakfast which is right next to a Yoga place.  Mandi had already eaten so she got to watch me!  I ordered Toast with Sprouts and Avocado US$4 which was amazing, along with the Melody Juice: greens, apple, lemon and ginger US$6.  Plus I could not pass up one of their truffles: goji berries, raw chocolate, agave, cocoa nibs and cherries US$2 this was divine and the picture below is the best one I've taken so far on my US adventures trip!! Prassad has a great, relaxed, casual vibe and a healthy menu as well.


After breakfast, Mandi and I wandered around the streets of Portland and stopped at one of the local parks to do an interview.  Mandi runs a great website Chic Vegan that is full of great tips and information on how to be the best ethical and fashionable vegan you can be!  We got on famously and I had a great time getting to know Mandi.  For lunch we headed to the vegan foodcarts on SW 4th and College.  The cart we wanted to try was Asaase Ital Palace the winner of Portland's Vegan Iron Chef 2010 competition that had taken place a few weeks ago, hosted by Jess from Get Sconed! Unfortunately for us, Qausu & Paapa were moving back home for family reasons and wouldn't be back until about 7 months time.  Mandi and I fortunately had the chance to meet them as well as the new owners of the colourful cart, who would be selling meatballs ("But we'll have vegan options") hmm... Very disappointing. I had hoped to get an interview with Qausu and Paapa but this would have to wait until I returned to Brisbane and set up Skype.


We decided on Vegan burritos for lunch at Fernando's Mundo Fiesta foodcart: black beans, avocado, vegetables, rice in a wheat tortilla US$5.50.  They are not a vegan foodcart, but very vegan-friendly.  I also had a Banana Smoothie (meant to be Mango) from Buddha Bites with almond milk US$3.50.

After lunch Mandi and I headed to another vegan foodcart, Homegrown Smoker to interview Jeff.  Jeff became vegan due to his son, Jared and he was a great person to interview! Jeff ended up making us some deep friend coconut Oreos, which was one of the most unusual tastes I've ever had!  If deep fried and comfort food is your thing, you'll love this foodcart!

Both Mandi's and Jeff's interviews can be found HERE.

THURSDAY: Vegan Mini Mall

Today I bused in with Imber to Portland, as we were staying in Lake Oswego.  My aim for the day was to interview all the great people at the Vegan mini mall.  I started the day with breakfast at Sweetpea Baking Company with Chad from Food Fight! Grocery and Brian from Scapegoat Tattoo.  I had a poppy seed bagel with strawberry cheese US$3 and got a chocolate peanut butter (people in the US have peanut butter in EVERYthing!!) slice to takeaway US$3, sorry, no pics ;(  It was a lovely day out in the hot sun.


See above for what the vegan mini mall looks like!  Now, in Australia, we've heard that this is actually a huge vegan shopping centre, this is not the case.  No disrespect to the stores here, but four stores doesn't make a shopping centre!!  Obviously the power of Chinese whispers has made the mini mall to be a LOT bigger than it is ;)

There are four amazing vegan stores here on SE Stark Street: Sweetpea Baking Company, Herbivore Clothing, Food Fight! Grocery and Scapegoat Tattoo All the owners are friends who relocated here from various other areas about three or four years ago.  There's really a great community vibe in Portland and these guys are one of the reasons for this.  I headed to Herbivore Clothing first to do an interview with the lovely couple who run Herbivore, Michelle and Josh.  They are very passionate and creative people who have a young vegan daughter who is already a great activist!  I then headed to Scapegoat Tattoo parlour which is an amazing gothic/retro/macabre-esque feel to it to interview Brian T Wilson who I'd loved hanging out with at the Let Live Conference a few weeks previous.  Brian is a great guy with wonderful artwork who gives great bear hugs!

After that I went next door to Food Fight! Grocery which I hadn't been in before.  This is a great all-vegan grocery store that has just about everything vegan you can think of! I did an interview with Chad Miller who along with Josh from Herbivore organised the Let Live Conference that I had attended a couple of weeks previous.  Chad organises a lot of vegan and activist events in Portland which keeps him on his toes.  Then I headed to Sweetpea Baking Company where I had wanted to interview owner Lisa Higgins, but as she wasn't in today, I ended up interviewing Ben, who I had also met at the Let Live Conference, he has worked with the company longer than any other job he's been in.  We ended up hanging out in the sun for quite awhile - note how the sun changes position in the interview video!  It was very warm, my chocolate peanut dessert thingo melted...

I then headed back into Portland centre, walked around a bit more and bought some books at Powell's bookstore.  Then headed back home to Imber and Mark's.  See HERE for all the interviews.

FRIDAY: train travels to Seattle

Late Friday afternoon I took the Amtrak train from Portland to Seattle.  This, I have now decided, is one of my favourite things to do in the USA.  We travelled from Portland through Vancouver, Kelso-Longview, Centralia, Olympia-Lacey, Tacoma, Kent then into Seattle.  I'd never been on a train long distance before and I thoroughly enjoyed this trip.  See the Coast Starlight Route Guide for more information on my trip.

From this moment on I have decided I need to take more scenic photos.

Rex (who I had met at the Let Live Conference in Portland, had offered for me to stay at his place) and his wife Rebecca picked me up from the station and we headed back to Wayward Vegan Cafe where they had been hanging out watching punk bands as part of a fundraiser for a local sanctuary.  Not my sort of music at all.  Don't know the names of the bands playing, but one of them was Chad from Food Fight! Grocery's band.  We ended up heading to a party at Derrick's place after this where there was a keg in a bar fridge and a lot of guys named... I can't remember now!!  This one guy entertained us for hours! Rude of me...

SATURDAY: a lot of fun in Seattle hanging out with Rex & Rebecca


Rex, Rebecca and I started off the day with breakfast at Georgetown Liquor Company with Anika and Kirby from Lions Share Industries who I'd also met when I was in Portland for the Let Live Conference, plus a few of their friends and family.  Rebecca had the Hogthrob's Sandwich (above) US$8 and I decided to get in the spirit of things and eat something I never would have before and so I had the vegan eggs benedict (below): English muffin with happy ham, spinach, tomato, tofu egg, housemade hollandaise and vegan herb cream cheese spread.  US$10 with some fruit on the side.


Then the gals (Rebecca, Anika and Anika's cousin, Arianne) and I went to the Chocolate Shoebox, a new store that sells vegan shoes and vegan chocolate - what more could one want?!  I bought a few different pairs of shoes as well as a great Gourmet Vegan Fudge Sensation Bar from Chocolate Inspirations Inc. Rebecca picked out some shoes and bags for a Chocolate Shoebox photo shoot that she was doing for the store.  Rebecca Bolte is a great photographer who has some of her work on show at Wayward Vegan Cafe.

The gals then headed to Healeo to meet Rex and Kirby who hadn't wanted to join us on our shoe expedition, but had been looking for a part for Rex's boat motor.  I had a liver detox juice US$6


And we all had soft serve with a choice of topping.  I chose wild blueberries US$4 YUM!  Healeo is a great lil' juice bar, health store and soft serve place all in one.


Rebecca, Rex and I headed to the pier to Rex's boat to fix something little that would take a lot longer than it was meant to.  After hanging out there for awhile, speaking to some of the other boat owners and eating my divine Gourmet Vegan Fudge Sensation Bar from Chocolate Inspirations Inc we headed back to Des Moines where Rebecca and Rex live.


When we got home, Rebecca and I did a photo shoot in her studio for Chocolate Shoebox that consisted of me wearing some shoes and showing off my legs, holding a bag whilst wearing shoes and showing off my legs, as well as eating and posing with chocolate (see below) oh, it's a hard life I lead at times, I know ;) We had a great time as Rebecca loves to take photos and I love to pose!! Rebecca still has a couple of other shoots with various other people, but the other images of our shoot will be on her website or mine in the future, so keep an eye out.


Rebecca and Rex had come up with this idea of a Recipe Challenge where I would cook some sort of dish with whatever they had in their cupboards and fridge.  I was up for the challenge, which ended up being Rebecca and I cooking different versions of a similar dish while Rex filmed it all.  Footage will most likely be up in the Audio/Visual section or on Vegan Threat or one of Rex or my YouTube channels.  The footage goes for at least 30 minutes which will have to be edited down a lot as YouTube videos have a maximum of 10 minutes...  Stay tuned I guess.

So, the Recipe Challenge meal ended up being Fried Tortillas, refried beans with a stirfry of brocolli, sweet potato, corn, capsicum (peppers) and sesame seeds sprinkled on top (see below).  Rebecca's had some sort of sauce as well as onions and tomato and Rex had a mixture of both!  This was great fun as part of our great day together - oh how I love these two!!


After dinner, I interviewed Rebecca and Rex filmed it.  Rebecca and I speak about her transition to veganism, her photography work and a not-for-profit group Animal Rights Education Alliance that her and Rex run.  We then recorded a podcast for Rex and Josh Harper's podcast website Vegan Threat which has a great lil' motto: "Threatening to make the world a better place" which doesn't sound that threatening really ;)  We spoke about my many different passions: promoting veganism and health, music, my Green Earth Festival and much more.  Josh wasn't with us so Rebecca stepped in to do the interviewing.  See Vegan Threat for this episode soon.

I had such an amazing day with Rex and Rebecca and I'm so glad that I came to Seattle as I've been having a great time!

SUNDAY: more fun (and food) in Seattle

Rex, Rebecca and I had breakfast at Wayward Cafe with a couple of other lovely people: Sara and Michael. I'd met Sara's partner, Alex at the Let Live Conference and we got on really well, so it was great to met her!  Sara and Michael were going to be models for Rebecca's Chocolate Shoebox photo shoot as well.  I really would have liked to interview both Sara (as she's a great cook) and Michael as he has a few stories to tell and works at an anti-tobacco company, but I just ran out of time.  I had the Shortstack (2) Pancakes (above) with housemade maple syrup US$6 plu US$0.50 for banana.  (Tallstack US$8 for three) this was filling.


Rebecca had the Burrito US$8:


Rex had the Griddle Combo: French toast, cream cheese, tofu scramble, sausage patty and tempeh bacon US$8.  Wayward Cafe is a great, casual place to hang out and catch up with friends.


Rebecca, Sara and Mick headed to Des Moines to do their photo shoot in Rebecca's studio, so Rex and I headed to one of Rex's favourite hangouts, in front of the Ballard Bridge over the Ship Canal at Salmon Bay, then we went to Healeo for juice and to meet Kirby and Anika.  Rex and I both got the Pure Simple Health juice: carrot, apple and ginger, yum! US$6. We stayed there for awhile until we went to Kirby and Anika's unit a few block away so that I could interview Anika about her blog on the Seattle vegan scene, Vegan Score, as well as Kirby and Anika's clothing company, Lions Share Industries.  I have also interviewed Kirby previously at the Let Live Conference when I was in Portland, OR.  Then Rex and I walked into the main city of Seattle for awhile and then hung out at Pier 62/63, I got to work on my tan and we chatted for ages.  Was great relaxing and hanging out.  Rebecca met us at the pier after her photo shoot finished and the three of us went to Highline Vegan Bar for lunch.  We shared potato skins US$8:


I had a Capanota Wrap: chunky eggplant capanota, avocado, spinach, sundried tomato cream cheez and vegan cheese curds US$7  (large US$10) below.  Rebecca has the Caeser salad US$8 and Rex had the spinach salad US$8


After lunch the three of us went to Sidecar (a vegan grocery store run by volunteers with funds going to Pigs Peace Sanctuary) to say goodbye to Kirby & Anika.  We just got there in time to say goodbye and get some photos. After this, the three of us went around a few corners to meet Josh Harper and interview him at a local park.  We walked around until we found a suitable place in Cowen Park. Rex and I had been walking around all day, myself in unsuitable-for-excessive-walking shoes, so this hurt a bit.  Josh is one of the SHAC7 group who was imprisoned due to the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act and his interview is about what lead him to being imprisoned as well as a very sad story about how his eyes were first opened to veganism.  I also have another short interview with Josh that was part of the main interview, but together it was just too long, so I've edited it so Josh is speaking about the vegan scene in Seattle only.


Pic (above) with my new favourite friends, Rex and Rebecca at Chaco Canyon where we went along with Josh after our interview.  We ordered some juice and smoothies at Chaco Canyon which is a great organic vegetarian place near a lot of other vegan places.  Rex ordered a green juice and I had a Raw Tropique: mango, bananas and apple US$5.75


I also got some takeaway to eat back in Des Moines when we were watching Big Brother US!  Raw Green Coconut curry (below) US$10.45 which was great.


Plus a Raw Fudge Brownie: cacao with hazelnuts and dates US$4.95.  This was divine.


(This is about where my camera battery stopped so I couldn't get too good a picture of the above dessert)

MONDAY: back in Portland & Papa G's

In the morning, Rex, Rebecca and I headed to the Button Makers store that Rex and Rebecca own and run in Seattle.  If you're into buttons (who isn't?!) this is the best place for you!  Button Makers sell and hire out equipment so you can make all your merchandise needs.  After a quick look around, Rex dropped me off at the train station to go back to Portland.  I travelled back on the Amtrak backwards to how I arrived ;) See the Coast Starlight Route Guide for more information on my trip to and from Seattle.  I had an amazing weekend with Rex and Rebecca, they are now my new favourite friends!!


Back with my Portland friends, Mark and Imber picked me up and then we headed to Papa G's organic deli for a late lunch/early dinner.  Mark had the Mac and cheeze with potato mash and vegetables US$9 (above) Imber had the Tofu Dog: roll, tofu dog, ketchup, mustard, relish and onion US$4.50 as well as Mac & Cheeze US$4.99


I had the Organic Nachos: Kettle corn chips, taco tofu, black beans, salsa, local corn, gluten free notcho cheeze US$8.75 I also ordered a Organic Raw Avocado sandwich to have later on US$8.50 consisted of purple cabbage leaf, avocado, cucumber, shredded carrots, mixed greens and Papa G's cashew mayo.


Mark also had a slice of their raw chocolate cake.  Excuse the photos, these are from my phone camera as my camera battery had run out in Seattle.


After lunch, Mark, Imber and I went to check out the People's Food Co-Op in Portland, this is a great health food style store, with bulk goods, fresh produce and a lot of vegan options.  There's a great foodcart right in the same area called Sip Juice Cart where I got a great berry smoothie with rice milk, yum. Quite expensive (can't remember the price, sorry) but well worth the money.


Today Rex sent me some great video footage that he'd filmed on my last day in Seattle, encompassing hanging out at one of Rex's favourite spots in front of the Ballard Bridge over the Ship Canal at Salmon Bay, Healeo for fresh juice with Anika and Kirby, Pier 93 (I thought it was Pier 62/63 as per my photo) for sunshine appreciation, interviewing Josh Harper at Cowen Park, saying goodbye to Kirby and Anika at Sidecar for Pigs Peace - YAY!  L-C's Seattle adventures ;) LOVE it!

TUESDAY 13th July - Last night in Portland

Today was my last night in Portland, it had come quickly though sometimes not, it's weird how we interpret time...  Most of the past 3 weeks I had spent in Lake Oswego with my Australian vegan friend, Imber and her husband, Mark, and their two dog friends, Samba and Choco.  I was glad I finally got to know Mark and spend some quality time with him as I'd only had dinner with him and Imber the night before their wedding about a year ago on the Sunshine Coast in Australia as well as a bit of time at the wedding, obviously.  Unfortunately, Imber had started full-time work the week I arrived ;( so we hadn't spent that much time together.  Other than my motorcycle adventure with the lovely Jackson to Mt Hood National Park and Mt Hood, as well as my Seattle adventures with my new favourite friends, I'd spent most of my time in Portland since coming to the USA.  Portland is a great town where everyone is environmentally aware, quite liberal in thinking and most people ride their bikes everywhere.  Portland is one of the vegan meccas in the USA and I'm very thankful that I had a great base when I was here as well as getting to met some wonderful Portland locals.  I WILL be back.

We decided to try Vege Thai for dinner, which was a great idea as I love Thai food.  We ordered Spring rolls to share (3 pieces) US$3.95 which as you can tell from the below photo were freshly made and not just the frozen ones some places serve as their own.  They were delicious.


I ordered the Panang curry with Tempeh US$8.50: YUM!


Imber ordered the Garlic Chicken US$8.50 which was also very good:


Mark ordered the Pad Thai with tofu US$7.50


Mark ordered Black sticky rice with coconut cream US$3 and fried banana US$3.50 for dessert



Vege Thai was a great place to dine with really friendly staff, very quick service, great food and great prices.  Great spot to eat on my last night in Portland.  Bye for now Mark and Imber!


USA_Adventures_CoverMy USA Adventures - the Book by Leigh-Chantelle (ISBN 978-0-9808484-2-7) is now available to purchase in paperback on Amazon US & Amazon UK, Barnes & NobleEspresso Book Machine and other online retailers. Wholesale info for Retail Stores, Libraries, Colleges, Schools, Universities: Ingram Books.
See HERE for more information.



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