July 2011


August is just around the corner. For serious summer enthusiasts, this change in the calendar can be a bit of a let down. But it’s still one whole month! Here’s one way to make the final weeks of summer last longer: travel.

I don’t mean the staycation, one-state-over, bus or train kind of travel; I’m talking about really getting out there and immersing yourself in a totally new environment. Visit that one country you’ve been dying to see for years. (Yup, turn off your air-conditioning now to save those extra pennies.)

Travelling on a vegan diet can be scary… From language barriers to cultural ones, it’s hard to find the balance between sticking true to your morals and not offending your host country. Here are some helpful sites and sources to bring your best vegan self across the world.

Guides and Info:

Veggie Passport: First things first: download this app from Lior Weinstein to help your express your dietary restrictions in 33 languages. The 99 cents spent on the Veggie Passport could save you a lot of discomfort (and hunger) later on.

Happy Cow:  Many savvy vegans and vegetarians are familiar with the Happy Cow site which offers everything veg from recipes to forums to no-no food lists for the meat-free. But if you didn’t know about Happy Cow’s restaurant feature,
now is the time to get familiar with it. The website helps you track down vegetarian restaurants all across the globe; they even recommend reading for you while you’re there. Wait – it get’s better! While you’re busy looking up “I don’t eat meat” in Bulgarian on your iPhone, a friend can be searching the Happy Cow Mobile App on their Droid to find the best vegetarian restaurant in downtown Sofia (that’s the extent of my Bulgarian knowledge). Ah, technology.

Vegan Around the World Network:  If you’re a vegan staying right on your couch, I still urge you to join the VATW network. It’s a pretty small site with just over 1,000 members, but there’s plenty of valuable information scattered around the website. Check out the Vegan Travel Questions and Ideas  to find some helpful information for your trip.

Vegan Travel Blogs:  Here’s a list (courtesy of Circle Our Earth) of various vegan travel blogs across the web.
Some of the pictures on these blogs are reason enough to visit (see: The Healthy Voyager), but the content is what will make you stay. No better way to get tips about travelling vegan than from those who have already done it before!

How to Travel the World as a Vegan:  This book by Maria Giurcan is the ultimate international vegan travel guide, best for those planning a multiple-country trip. Available electronically only, the book starts you from square one (vegan luggage) all the way to Asia and beyond. Giurcan introduces her book by mentioning her initial fear of flying: clearly she’s overcome that by travelling to almost every country on planet Earth.

Travel Recommendations:

Veggie Tours: Withtrips running just over a week located in Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador, the Veggie Tours trips are ideal for a traveler looking for a bit of structure. With organized trips and free days, these trips take you into the hearts of these beautiful countries. Aside from shuttling you to marketplaces and touring you through ruins and trails, the Veggie Tours group offers vegetarian meals every day. You can ditch the Veggie Passport if you opt into one of these programs.

Vegan Caribbean Cruise: The thought that it may be less humid on the Caribbean ocean than it is in downtown Boston right now may be blurring my logic a bit, but this trip seems perfect. The catch is that the ship doesn’t leave from Florida until March, but my guess is that I would be equally happy to get out of the city then as I am now. This Holistic Holiday at Sea trip is all-inclusive, offering everything from lectures to Pilates classes to cooking courses and more. And of course entirely vegan cuisine offerings. The boat stops in at ports in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Nassau, Bahamas…Sign me up.

La Maison du Vert (Normandy, France):  Set on 2.5 acres of organic gardens in the small town of Ticheville, La Maison du Vert is housed in a 1903 bakery of red bricks. The inn only has three bedrooms, but their fourth option is pretty spectacular: La Petite Maison Blanche is a little cottage in the backyard of the hotel that fits up to 6 people. A beautiful place for a vegetarian retreat – and probably the only location in France with an organic, vegan wine list!

Green Lodge (West Cork, Ireland): Located not too far from the small town of Bantry but removed enough for privacy, the Green Lodge has fully stocked apartments available for families, couples, or singles. With a stunning ten acres of land surrounding the hotel, it’s hard to imagine being pulled by any attraction other than the land. With seasonal organic vegetables and daily homebaked organic bread, the Green Lodge is a must-visit for those visiting South West Ireland.

South East Asia Hotel (Singapore, Singapore): The South East Asia Hotel in downtown Singapore houses the Kwan Im Vegetarian Restaurant with an impressive and varied menu of Asian vegetarian cuisine. But it certainly won’t be the only place you dine if you decide to stay at the South East Asia Hotel – Singapore’s cultural diversity lends itself to a passion for food and a love of diversity that manifests itself in the wonderful restaurants and cafés across the city. An ideal trip for a vegan traveler with a love for pan-Asian cuisine and culture.

Waterfall Villa (Dominical, Costa Rica): Undoubtedly romantic, the three Waterfall Villas are located in the beautiful Baru Tropical Rainforest with balconies jutting through the foliage and hanging above (private) waterfalls. The best part may be that the hotel specializes in vegan, vegetarian, and raw cuisine. They also offer yoga classes that are usually complementary. But we had you at “Waterfall Villa,” right?

Samhitakasha Cob House (Muizenberg, South Africa): Ever wanted to visit Cape Town? Here’s your chance to do it – in the greenest way possible. A quick peek at the Cob House’s “Ethics” page will show you that this hotel is one of a kind.
Biodegradable, organic, and sustainable are the big principles of the Cob House, and their importance can be seen in the very structure of the hotel: the building is made out of mud and straw. A stunning location backed by wonderful principles makes the Cob House a perfect getaway.

Los Gatos (Casinos, Spain):  Are you a cat lover (like I am)? This is the place for you, although you probably surmised as much when you looked at the name of this bed and breakfast. Located 50 kms from Valencia, this inn overlooks the mountains and serves vegetarian, organic fare. Wondering about the cats? The staff owns quite a few who roam freely around the building. The best part of this place (besides its extraordinary pricing)? The art lessons provided by the innkeeper, artist Joost Gerritsen. So if you like drawing cats…

Of course this is just a start. There are hundreds of vegan and vegetarian hotels across the world, and plenty of great resources to track down the right one for you. Your vegan diet shouldn’t inhibit you from travelling – it should be all the more reason to get out there and find new cuisine! Enjoy those last days of summer, and plan your final August trip today.

-Jessica Nicholson 

One hundred years ago, if someone told you they were grabbing a tomato or garlic out of their garden before starting dinner, you wouldn’t bat an eyelash. Fast forward ninety years, where one purchases all their food from supermarkets around the country. But wait, all of the sudden home, community, and urban gardening is all the rage. Call it the economy, call it a return to a simpler times, call it a backlash against artificial foods; basically call it what you want: but it’s happening.

More and more people are discovering the peace and sense of accomplishment that growing your own food provides. With documentaries and articles coming out all the time displaying the dangers of the modern food industry, it is a no brainer. Gardening has not only become hip, it’s necessary, somehow bringing us all back to our early roots of civilization. Books, classes, college programs, and television shows are starting to embrace the idea of self sufficiency and spread the knowledge of growing food. No matter if you have a house, apartment, or land there are resources out there.

With this trend of urban gardening, we at Autonomie are really excited for our new Fair Trade, eco-friendly, and vegan boots.  Perfect for the garden, they are the very first of their kind! The most ethical boot on the market, made with 100% all natural Forest Stewardship Council certified sustainable and fair trade boots.  We think these boots are the perfect ethical pairing for the new gardening movement. Not only are they ethically made, but they are lightweight, which makes tromping through the soil in your garden an easy feet.

Speaking of our ethical boots, keep your eyes peeled on our Twitter page for an upcoming BIG promotion of our green boots!  Follow us and find out how you might get to try out a pair of our Green Gardening Boots soon!

We are mid way through July, thus in the full swing of summer. While recently house-sitting, we noticed the peach trees outside were in full bloom, with ripe peaches falling to the ground everywhere. We gathered up all the peaches and we must have had twenty, juicy, perfectly refreshing summer peaches in our hands. We couldn’t figure out what to do, when it dawned on us, let’s make peach cobbler! Because the heat is so oppressive this summer, we thought we’d try out some raw peach cobbler and skip turning on the oven, which would only make the house warmer. Peaches are a summer staple and this cobbler is quick, easy, and requires no cooking!

Raw Peach Cobbler

8 Med-Large Peaches, Unpeeled

1 Cup Raw Pecans or favorite nut
1 Cup Dates, Pitted
3 Tbsp Organic Agave or other Sweetner
1 tsp Organic Cinnamon
1 tsp Organic Coconut Oil

Pinch of Salt

Slice the peaches up into halves and set aside. Combine all but two tablespoons of agave, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, coconut oil and salt with the peaches into a food processor or blender. Blend a little but not too much, the peaches should be chunky.  Pour the mixture into a casserole dish and set in the fridge.  In a food processor or blender, add the dates, pecans, and remaining cinnamon and agave. Blend until mashed up, but not liquid. Sprinkle the nut mix over the peaches. Serve as is or cool for a refreshing taste. If you like your cobbler warm, set out in the sun for an hour before serving.  The cobbler will taste better the longer it sits, allowing the flavors to blend. For an added treat serve with vegan whipped cream or ice cream!

Here at Autonomie Project, we have made a valiant effort to support the planet and fight against Climate Change in the manufacturing of our products right down to the way we live personally.  We use organic cottons, all natural FSC certified rubber, plant based dyes in our tees and footwear. On top of this we use recycled materials for shipping and printing, as well as local wind energy and purchase only previously used furniture. We commute with public transportation, bicycles, and on foot.

Needless to say, we have made a commitment to the environment and we plan on continuing on that path. Recently, we took steps to carbon offset our shipping output.  We recently invested in Native Energy, a carbon offset program that funds a number of renewable energy projects throughout the country. Not only have they built 48 renewable energy projects, ranging from wind farms to biogas, but they encourage renewable energy to be built in Native American communities. This is really important because unfortunately, Native Americans are a vastly underrepresented and disenfranchised population within the US. The company is also largely Native American owned. Our recent investment kept a total of 17 tons of CO2 out of the air and your lungs!

Some of the amazing projects Native Energy has worked on recently include the Wewoka Biogas Project, which creates biogas via methane created by landfills and re-uses it in local brick kilns. They are also working toward wind farms in Iowa and Indiana and the NorthEast Farm Separation Project , which creates natural gas out of cow manure. The also boast a long list of previous and successful running projects including solar and hydro power! These are innovative and exciting projects and Autonomie is excited to be on board!

Native Energy is not just for businesses either. Individuals, including yourself can purchase offsets for any travel or daily energy you use. Keep up to date with Native Energy and their projects through their Twitter or Blog, they post great updates on their renewable projects as well as Climate Change news and information.

And know that every purchase you make with Autonomie is directly fighting Climate Change in every step of the process!

During a recent adventure, we were lucky enough to spend a day in the beautiful city of Seattle. It had been a while since we had taken the time to enjoy such a city and were happy to walk along it’s docks and overcast skies.  Since we only had one day, we sought out a great vegan restaurant to try our taste buds on. We had heard through many a friend to definitely try this new vegan bar called the Highline, rumored to have the best vegan reuben in America. We walked, with luggage on our backs, over a mile to the bar. As we climbed the up the streets to Capitol Hill, a hip and culturally rich neighborhood, we found our destination. Unfortunately, to our dismay, the hours were listed incorrectly online and the Highline didn’t open for four more hours!

Our hearts were crushed and feeling rather defeated we sat on the steps outside the bar and regretfully used our smartphones to find a close vegan restaurant. Luckily, being in Capitol Hill, there were many options at our disposal. After much debate, we decided to walk another several blocks to a cute relatively new vegan restaurant Plum Bistro.

Set in a revamped warehouse that housed a few other businesses, Plum Bistro had an upscale industrial feel. The exposed pipe and roll up windows gave it a very unrefined look, while maintaining a classy feel with a full bar and nice furniture. The service was friendly and relaxed, helping us right away. While we looked over the menu, our server brought over some water. Now this wasn’t just any water, it was refreshingly tasty with fresh cucumber, lemon, and oranges, perfect after a long walk.

The lunch menu was limited, but literally everything listed on the menu sounded amazing with items such as Crispy Tofu Teriyaki Bowl and Spicy Jamaican Tempeh Wraps.  Most of the menu contained tofu or tempeh with a few “fake meat’ options such as seiten and tofustrami.  After much debate we settled on one appetizer and two dishes. We decided to try the Crunchy Garlicky Yam Fries with Aioli, ‘Strami on Rye Panini, and Quinoa Sliders.

The Garlicky Yam Fries were served first with a healthy amount of garlic. These well cooked sweet potato fries were crunchy, just as the menu boasted and definitely garlicky.  The fries were tasty, but what really won us over was the delicious aioli! It was incredibly full of flavor and gave the fries the extra oomph it needed. At this point, their fruity water just wasn’t doing the trick. We opted for a some dry natural soda, splitting the Rhubarb flavor. Definitely a great choice, as the soda was fizzy but not very sweet, just the way we like them!

We had almost finished off our yummy fries when the kitchen sent out our main courses! Even if they didn’t taste good (stay tuned), the presentation was beautiful!  Although we were salivating, we had to take a moment to take our customary photos! We couldn’t wait to dive in and decided to sink our teeth into the panini first! What a wonderful choice to begin with, this delightful panini. The tofustrami was really flavorful and not sure if it tastes like pastrami, but the taste was accented by melted vegan cheese (Daiya, we believe), tomatoes, and spicy mustard all on rye bread.  Mmmmm….

The panini was appetizing, but we still had not tried coup de grace. The next dish, we devoured in a manner of minutes! The Quinoa Sliders were adorable and came in a pair. Seriously, these may have been some of the best food we have ever eaten. They were made “sloppy joe” style with a millet and quinoa blend and topped with grilled onions, jalapenos, and orange slices. To top it off they contained more spicy aioli sauce that was to die for. Literally, these were creative, unique, and amazingly delicious. We have made a commitment to figure out there recipe at home in order to replicate it and if we can’t, maybe Seattle will be seeing us more often!

Plum Bistro turned out to be a gourmet, pleasant surprise, especially for a Yelp search.  Even though our hearts had been set on trying Highline, we were impressed with Plum Bistro’s unique and quality menu. Sometimes the best surprises in life are when you are exploring.

-Gina Williams 

The 4th of July may be over, but the holiday just marks the beginning of summer. And what better way to enjoy the beautiful weather and wonderful sun than with a trip to the beach? But there’s no reason why a beach getaway should change the green and ethical habits you keep back home. In fact, a weekend by the ocean is the perfect time to appreciate the beauty of nature and learn more about some of the issues endangering it.

Here are some of Autonomie’s top picks for a perfect environmentally friendly and fair trade beach trip:

1. Organic Sunscreen: Excuses can no longer be made for not wearing sunscreen. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US, and UV rays are posing the highest risk ever recorded. But not all sunscreens are created equal either. Many popular brands use dangerous chemicals and are more often than not completely biodegradable. Soleo sunscreens use all natural, organic ingredients and contain no synthetic preservatives – and, of course, the product line is biodegradable. Protect your skin and the earth at the same time.

2. Hand-Loomed Fair Trade Cover-Up:  This beautiful Education and More sarong comes in a summery turquoise color from World of Good. Made by Guatemalan women in a Fair Trade environment, this cover-up helps support the Grupo Artesanias T’zapt – the small group of Mayan women who make these sarongs – as well as helping to allow their children to get a legitimate education. The soft cotton cover-up can also be worn as a shawl on chillier nights by the beach.

Hemp Cotton Hat By Earth Divas

3. Hemp Cotton Hat: Earth Divas carries a large selection of beautiful handmade Fair Trade hats, so browse their site to find one that suits you. This is my personal favorite: crocheted with unique detailing and a wire brim for adjustment. Hats are a crucial beach item; not only do they help protect the especially sensitive skin on your face, but they also shield your eyes from the sun. This is definitely an item you can keep wearing long after your tan wears off, too, because this style is not just for the beach.

Fair Trade Africa Print Have Bikini By loveethical

4. Fair Trade Bikini: There are plenty of Fair Trade and eco-friendly swimsuits out there (check out BTC Elements), but this is my personal favorite. It comes in three beautiful prints with adjustable top and bottom. (The blue is my preference, but I may just have to get one of each.) Act quickly if you’re interested: according to this Etsy seller, there are only five of these swimsuits left!

5. Toy Tool Set and Bucket: Heading to the beach with a little one? Make sure they stay occupied with Down to Earth’s Hungary-made tool set and bucket. Beach toys like this can help inspire sandcastle creativity while supporting Fair Trade workers abroad. With flat-rate shipping, it couldn’t hurt to add this adorable and customizable Adirondack chair for when there’s no more sandcastle real estate available on the beach. Made in the US with Pennsylvania FSC-certified black cherry hardwood, it’s the perfect chair for an eco-friendly kid to recline in.

Beachcomber Carry-ALL By Global Girlfriends

6. Organic and Fair Trade Beach Towels: Look no further than these beach towels made from certified organic cotton and natural dyes, making them both soft and durable. On top of being sustainable, the towels are made fairly in India. They come in three different fun colors for the beach: lavender, green, and mauve – and they’re on sale now so pick a few up before they’re all gone!

7. Fair Trade Sisal Beach Tote: It’s hard not to love the vibrant, sunset tones of this beach bag. What’s even harder not to love is what your purchase of it will go to: the women of Global Girlfriend who wove this bag in Kenya are supported by Campaign for Female Education micro-grants – micro-grants made possible through your purchases. This tote is the perfect fusion of ethics and style, and a must-have for a beach trip this summer.

Ethletic Flip Flops By Autonomie

8. Fair Trade & Eco-friendly Rubber Flip Flops: I’m not just shamelessly plugging Autonomie’s own flip flops: you and I both know that every beachgoer needs a pair of sandals, whether they’re keeping you from burning your feet in the sand or touching that suspiciously still crab underwater. Our flip flops are made from FSC-certified (certified sustainable), Fair Trade, natural rubber. We carry three colors–black, navy, and fun teal, all of which come with an organic cotton drawstring bag, useful for, say, carrying shells or sea glass. Men’s, women’s and children’s sizes available.

9, 10, & 11. Green Literature: My guess is that if you’ve made it to the end of this list, you’re not the type to get really excited about settling into a beach chair with the Twilight series stacked up next to you. Beach literature definitely has the connotation of being mindless and banal – and for a reason. You absolutely deserve the rest that comes along with a beach vacation. But I like to take advantage of the relaxing time to read some literature that matters to me, and it’s often books that I can’t find time to sneak in during the work week that I gravitate toward. Here are my three picks for must-read green lit:

Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food by Gene Baur. Receiving a lot of well-deserved publicity from his Just Eats Tour, Baur is quickly becoming one of the most recognizable and inspirational faces of the vegan movement. Founding Farm Sanctuary in 1986, our collaborate for the Superhero Vegan shirt and Eat Grn Veg For Life shirt, Baur began advocating for humane treatment of animals – an issue that actually transcends mistreatment and extends into problems of sustainability, environmental protection, and large corporate monopolies. Whether you’re already a vegan or a vegetarian or if you believe that you’ll never be one, this book will enlighten you about the horrors of the meat industry just as The Jungle did in 1906. Baur is an inspiration, and his novel will undoubtedly change you for the better.

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman. Weisman sparked crucial conversation about the human-Earth relationship when he published this novel in 2008. An almost science fiction take on the influence we have on our planet, he poses the hypothetical question: what would happen to our world if humans one day vanished? Fortunately we survived the threatened rapture of a few weeks ago, but Weisman’s examination – although farfetched – presents an eye-opening and often terrifying look at the various negative (and sometimes positive) impacts that humans have on the Earth.

Global Girlfriends: How One Mom Made it Her Business to Help Women in Poverty Worldwide by Stacey Edgar. The founder of the aforementioned Global Girlfriend did not dream of the company her whole life. Instead, she acted on impulsive ambition and empathy, and showed us that the world would be a better place if we all did so more often. Her novel is not just autobiographical, but also informational: Edgar learned all of the details about the industry and the nature of Fair Trade while on the job. She made mistakes and encountered problems, but her drive and desire to help other women made Global Girlfriend a stunning success.

From all of us at Autonomie Project, enjoy the last few months of summer. Get to the ocean as often as you can, and don’t forget to wear sunscreen! Happy beach-ing.

 -Jessica Nicholson

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