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Abandon All Hope (of meat) Ye Who Enter Here- Candle Cafe and Other Musings

Posted Jan 22 2009 6:46pm

Yes, I paraphrase Dante's Inferno quite liberally. I am not making any kind of analogy whatsoever- it is just a great line that's stuck in my head. In Dante's poem, the phrase is inscribed at the entrance of hell. However, there is nothing hellish about Candle Cafe, if anything I should quote Dante's Paradiso instead. This is a vegan paradise, except for the fact that they only offer one soy cheese which contains casein. Despite the dairy derived snafu, everything else in the place is pure perfection. The food is organic, delicious and well-prepared. The restaurant also buys carbon credits to offset the output of their daily operations. The waitstaff are extremely nice and service-oriented. So, what better way to celebrate recovering from my cold then a Sunday lunch at Candle Cafe!

The entrance is covered with stickers of vegetarian sentiments- my favorite one is inside. It says "Compassion- one meal at a time." From time to time, people enter wearing fur and it makes me sneer at them, but I remind myself to be grateful that they are at least having an animal-free meal.

Seitan definitely rules here. The Cajun Seitan Sandwich is so delicious- spicy pan-seared seitan, steamed greens,caramelized onions & avocado on toasted foccacia with ancho chili aioli & coleslaw.

Fanning the flames of delight with the Barbecue Tempeh Sandwich- this sandwich is all things good- barbequed tempeh, wilted kale, grilled red onion & roasted sweet potato on multigrain bread with shallot sage aioli & mesclun salad.

Alas, the pictures do the food no justice. Everyone will enjoy themselves here- vegan or omni. There are those who associate veganism with asceticism. The concensus is that vegans deny themselves because what is there left to possibly eat if one does not relish flesh or animal secretions? There is a whole other world of indulgence and the food at Candle Cafe is one of the best responses to "but what do you eat?". I love this place and everything it stands for- I will be back to order more delicious things to eat and post again and again...

After a perfect lunch, onto picking up a few necessities- toothpaste, bodywash, facial cleanser and eye-cream...all vegan and only companies on the super-strict no animal testing list of the Coalition for Consumer Info on Cosmetics. The CCIC has the most thorough process, even more so than the Peta list (which is surprising) to ensure that the cosmetics & household products are not tested on animals nor do they pay other companies to test for them. So many companies nowadays like to say that they do not test on animals, but until they register and are researched by the CCIC, any company can make that claim that they don't test, but they can certainly pay another to do so for them. For instance, Bath & Bodyworks products are on Peta's list of no animal testing companies, but I have seen some of their products printed with 'Final Product Not Tested On Animals' which means that of course everything else leading up to it was. Other companies may genuinely not test, but there's no gurantee unless they open their process up to a thorough audit. For my peace of mind, I only buy from brands from THE list.

My vegan beauty necessities: Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap, Juice Beauty's facial cleanser (Juice is great- they use all organic ingredients, don't be fooled by the name and expect it to smell yummy & fruity, it doesn't, but it's a great line nonetheless), Juice green apple eye cream (yes, I should have started on the eye cream long before, but hope springs eternal...), two fun sample pots of Juice green apple full strength peel and Jason's Healthy Mouth- Cinnamon & Tea Tree toothpaste.

We had picked up my Juice Beauty items at Sephora where the boyfriend was given a sample of eye cream from Doctor's Dermatologic Formula (DDF) and was told that it would definitely fix his oncoming deep-set creases. I scrunch my face up and tell him that it's not on the CCIC list. To which he replies that if it can fix his creases, he could try it. To which I then start reminding him about Draize's Tests and how rabbits put in full body restraints for testing are so desperate to get away from the painful test irritants that they have been known to break their backs in the process and then I ask him if that animal's agony & fear is worth it. Being thus thoroughly reminded, he acknowledged how terrible for animals to be subjected to cosmetic testing. So he shall use the sample because we are not wasteful, but he is eager to know more and to live by THE list...

I end with a picture of my little friend, Snickers. Snickers is a rescued dwarf rabbit with sharp blue eyes. Can't imagine any cosmetic or household product worth torturing an animal like Snickers. Snickers had been hired for a shoot that I did last summer. Snickers is from The Sanctuary for Animals a permanent home for animals of all species in upstate NY and they raise some money for the upkeep of their animals through commercials & photo shoots. Snickers had a recurring role on a soap opera!

We should strive to protect and speak for those who do not have a voice in our society.

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."- Mahatma Gandhi

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