Saturday, June 29, 2013

Restaurant review - Hops and Pie

Mike and I were at a fundraiser a couple of weeks ago and sat with a sweet couple who were also vegan. Our conversation turned to food (imagine that) and they started telling us about a relatively new place in town called Hops and Pie. Being that it is on the west side of town (where we live) we were excited about their excitement.

Friday night and there was a 20 minute wait. They texted us when our table was ready. The wait gave us time to walk around the Tennyson shops. The woman and server who greeted us both when we first arrived and when we returned for our table were amazingly kind and friendly, and if you have read past revues you know how important that is to us.

Beer and pizza. They have a lot of beer. I'm not a drinker and Mike doesn't drink beer, but it seemed like everyone else in the place (which was packed) was enjoying one of the beer offerings.

Our new friends had told us about the pizza. Before we could get to that we saw the vegan mac n cheese appetizer. Seriously. How could we pass that up. We didn't pass it up and as soon as it came out we devoured it. Tasty, with many flavors, including miso. It was a great way to start our experience at Hops and Pie.

There are a lot of pizza options. I meant to order a hand-tossed, wheat crust pizza but with my excitement with all of the other toppings I forgot. The toppings we ordered were smoked tofu, Sicilian seitan, mushroom, onions, whole garlic cloves with Daiya cheese.

Our pizza was delicious. We will play around with toppings next time and order the hand-tossed dough (per our new friends recommendation). It was such a great experience to enjoy great vegan pizza in a busy, bar-like atmosphere. And close to home for us.

The service side was great too. Tayler was attentive, always kept our water glasses full, was kind and checked in enough to make sure all was well.

We will definitely be back! If you like the kind of atmosphere I described, I highly recommend Hops and Pie. They are located at 3920 Tennyson Street in the Highlands part of NW Denver. For you beer lovers, Wednesday night is $2 craft can night from 5pm - close.

Thank you for reading and if you go to Hops and Pie please let us know what you think!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Closer to marriage equality

A divided US Supreme Court made public two decisions yesterday that will change our lives. Me and Mike's lives. And the lives of tens of thousands of other gay couples who are either already married or wish to be married.

In Colorado, where we live, there is a state constitutional amendment that defines government endorsed marriage as between a man and a woman. Recently civil unions became legal which offers Mike and I some state benefits.

We were married back in 2005. We did what many folks do: asked our pastor to marry us, he said yes, and then we joined 160 friends and family and got married.

We called our marriage ceremony "a loving act of civil disobedience". Mainly because that amazing ceremony was not legal in any way.

We have held off getting a civil union. With the news from yesterday we are talking about getting legally married in California, probably not in July when we go for our summer vacation but maybe later in the year. We are still trying to figure out if getting married there will mean that we can still be federally recognized in Colorado.

So we would be legally married in the eyes of the feds and would still have to get a civil union for any Colorado recognition.

Meanwhile, I am getting ready for work, my allergies are bothering me, Mike is fighting off bugs ravaging the garden, Rock our 17-year old Yorkie is whining about God knows what and we both are looking forward to the weekend.

Our lives and our marriage go on.

We will keep you posted on what we decide to do.

And whether this is your first time on our blog or you have been reading and supporting us for the whole time, it's important for us that you now how grateful we are to you. There is a lot of hatred in the world, and we are so fortunate to have so much loving support.

In the days to come, there will be a lot of hate speech against the Supreme Court decision and against gay people in general. Please join us in continuing to speak out for marriage equality and against hate.

Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

When do I get to vote on your marriage?

I saw this on a sign at a pro-marriage equality rally a few years ago.

This was before the recent swing in voter-approved marriage equality bills across the country. The sign gave me pause. I loved the question.

With the US Supreme getting very close to announcing their decision (it will come today) marriage equality is once again in the headlines.

Millions of people across the country in a majority of states have gone to the polls and cast a vote against marriage equality. To them, marriage should only be between a man and a woman. These people, and those who bring legislation like this up for a vote, believe that their beliefs trump anyone else's beliefs no matter what.

When do I get to vote on their marriage? I'd be delighted to. Oh, this is your third marriage? Sorry, I vote no. Oh, you hit your wife? Sorry, I vote no? Oh, you don't believe the same way politically I do, on every level? Sorry, I vote no.

I have never wanted to use curse words or obscene words in a blog post. I get the closest when I think about or write about people who believe that their beliefs trump mine. I'm OK if you believe this way. Just don't even think of trying to force me or anyone else to believe that way.

Yet many people do. This is why Mike and I can get a civil union in Colorado instead of a marriage. Colorado voters approved a state constitutional ban on marriage equality. Yes, it's in our constitution. This is why so many were thrilled with civil unions becoming legal this year because the marriage battle has to start with getting something out of the constitution which is a huge deal.

People are still voting on my marriage. And tens of thousands like ours. Fortunately bigotry is losing these days. People went to the polls in Maryland and Maine and voted for marriage equality. In states like Minnesota, state legislators voted for marriage equality, even some Republican state legislators.

This is all wonderful news. And I still look forward to the day when nobody has the right or option to vote on my marriage.

Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Vegan summer adventures

Every year Mike and I take a vegan summer adventure. Most of the time we go to Florida, Illinois or Michigan to visit family.

This year we are taking a long-planned dream vacation to Encinitas, California starting with a couple of days in Los Angeles. In Los Angeles we plan to spend time with friends and eat a lot of delish vegan food. Once in Encinitas, we check into a beautiful little place on the beach where we will eat, cook, relax, swim, kayak and I'm sure many other things while there.

As a blogger near Denver (we live in Lakewood, just west) I often receive questions from folks coming here regarding where to eat. Vegan road trips or trips in general can be tough sometimes. I love to eat. And when I am on vacation I love to eat more. Fortunately for us we get to travel to places where there are awesome places to grab an amazing vegan meal. But that's not the case everywhere.

What to do?

First, check out ! All you have to do is plug in the city where you are traveling, and instantly you have all of the known places to grab a bite to eat. This includes restaurant (both vegan and vegan friendly) as well as nutrition stores and grocery stores that might serve or sell vegan dishes.

We have found Happy Cow to be really helpful. On a trip to Florida, we found this amazing grocery store/restaurant in Jackson, Mississippi where we ate like kings. We enjoyed it so much that we made sure to stop in on the way home.

The key here, at least for us, is to try to find places to eat before you leave for your trip. That way you not only have something to look forward to, you also know that at this particular point in the trip you'll be able to find some good vegan options.

While on the internet, Google "vegan" and then the city or country you are traveling to. You might be surprised of your choices. If nothing pops up (never happened to us but just in case) try searching for "vegetarian" then the city or country.

One last place to check out on the internet that can be very helpful are vegan bloggers local to where you are traveling. We follow bloggers all over the place, including Omaha, Memphis, Los Angeles, Portland, Miami, Chicago and San Diego. When it comes to us traveling to one of these places we simply email the blogger and find out where to go.

While traveling between places (like Denver to Los Angeles) we rely not only on Happy Cow but also local, ethnic restaurants. They seem to be even in the smallest of towns and practically every Indian, Nepalese, Ethiopian, Chinese and Thai restaurant has vegan options.

What is your summer adventure going to be?

Thanks so much for reading!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Heterosexual men

In my days of coming out, back in the late 1980's, it wasn't easy finding loving, compassionate, honorable and honest straight men. I mean men I could look up to, want to be like, and if they were around, be friends with. If I met a guy that seemed super nice and was also straight, nine times out of ten he was a "Christian" wanting to save me, an Amway dude wanting to sell me or a married guy wanting to cheat on his wife.
Anti-gay. Sexist. Self-righteous.  Usually having no compassion and little tolerance of anything that did not mesh with what they believed the world should look like.

The world has changed. Maybe it's me and maybe it's the world. Or a little of both.

To be fair, I was in the military and lived in the South. No, I am not stereotyping as we all know that now and then there are and always have been amazing people even within communities that were not so amazing.

These days I find myself completely surrounded by loving, supportive, compassionate, honorable, non-cheating, honest and inspiring men. Straight men. Totally heterosexual. And completely filled with these attributes.

Social media has helped. I can engage with folks all over the world. Indeed, our blog has connected us with some pretty amazing men who are awesome husbands, boyfriends, partners, activists, voices for the voiceless, fathers and who are filled with love and compassion.

I am grateful. My life is way better having all of these men around. They have opened my mind to a whole new reality. They inspire me to be a better husband, a better friend, a more loving activist, a healthier man and a stronger runner. They are amazing examples of who I want to be as a man.

I am not going to name all of them. I hope they know, that through word or deed, I have made it completely clear to them how grateful I am for them and that they are on this list. I am thinking of many of them while I write this.

To all of you amazing straight men out there, thank you!

And thanks for reading this!

Monday, June 17, 2013

I can't be vegan because....

The longer one is vegan, the more reasons you hear from people as to why they cannot be vegan.

Mike and I talk about this a lot because we hear it a lot. Some of the reasons are ones I have been hearing for the entire 17 years I have been vegan. Others are new and trendy. And then there is the one that gets us the most.

We'll get to that one in a second.

Yesterday someone said to me that they couldn't be vegan because they do not have the will power that I have. We had a sweet conversation after that comment as I educated them around the fact that I do not possess any serious amount of will power. Just look at me at Beet Box, Sweet Action Ice Cream and Nooch Market. The best example is when I am in all three places within one day! No, will power has nothing to do with the ability to be vegan. I want to do the least amount of harm while I am here. I do not want to be part of the violence towards animals that happens just for them to become a meal.

I could never give up cheese! We all hear this one. I get it. People love cheese. Then they realize that is has pus in it and it doesn't taste as good. Then they realize that the dairy and veal industries are tightly connected and that cheese becomes even less tasty. I honestly do not remember what dairy cheese tastes like but have been super excited with all of the new soy, tapioca and nut cheeses out there these days. They are delicious, and no cruelty.

I can't be vegan for health reasons. Because I am not a nutritionist, dietitian or physician I can't say too much about this one. I can say that I have seen many people go from unhealthy to healthy because they went vegan. And I have seen many athletes completely rock it as vegans.
I don't care about animal cruelty. I don't hear this one too often but in essence there are many people who are eating meat because of this. Their taste buds cannot be inconvenienced by the fact that the animal suffered to hit their plate. I really don't have much to say to these folks.

Finally, the one that gets us the most! Ta da!!!

I can't be vegan because I grew up in the South. Or Texas. Or Iowa. You get the idea, a geographic reason. This one just doesn't fly. It's an excuse of convenience. We do not have to be the person we were growing up. We do not have to hold on to ideas taught to us that no longer serve us and especially ones that we just do not want to be a part of. This doesn't just mean veganism, it includes everything we were taught growing up. So no matter where you grew up, you too can be vegan!

Thanks for reading this post!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Your racist crap doesn't scare him

Have you heard of Sebastien de la Cruz?

Holy cow!

He's 11, an incredible, Hispanic singer and has now sung the national anthem at two NBA finals games.

After singing in the first one earlier this week, he got a ton of hateful, racist comments through Twitter, and I imagine on other social media. The problem was that why on earth was a Mexican boy in a charro outfit singing the national anthem? He's probably an illegal. How un-American!

Hateful tweets continued.

So what did the San Antonio Spurs do? They invited him back to sing again. This is when I saw him, from a YouTube video of his second performance. The applause he got was deafening.

I have to admit I got tears in my eyes. Such a beautiful young man with so much talent. Receiving so much hate just because of the color of his skin and his embracing of his culture.

What does Sebastien have to say about all of this?

"My father and my mama told me you should never judge people by how they look." His father is a US Navy vet. (I add that because I am a US Navy vet!). He also said in a later interview, "What you think of me does not affect me, I just brush you off," as he took his hands to brush his shoulders.


We love him!

We could write 100 blog posts or more about racism and how it presents it's ugly head every day in every community. As we say about many messed up things in the world, if we speak out against something that is so wrong, we give voice to the voiceless and we create change.

Rock on Sebastien. We can't wait to hear you live one day!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Update on Colorado wildfires

After our post yesterday we got inundated with love, safe wishes, and desires to help.

First, please know that we are totally safe. We are 65 miles north of the fire.

It is smokey this morning and you can smell the fire. Also, we are in between the fire and where the plane tankers refuel and get fire fighting supplies, so the tankers fly right over our house.

It's heartbreaking.

For those of you who have connected with us or just want to know, here is the latest from the county Sheriff:

Two people have died

15,7000 acres burned

379 homes burned to the ground

38,000 people and 13,000 homes have been evacuated

I have read wonderful stories of animals being rescued and very sad stories of animals that did not make it. The great news is that companion animals are being treated like family, and if families were not able to gather their animals in time, volunteers went back to go get them.

If you would like to help the local humane society working so hard to support those affected, here is their information:

Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region (719) 473-1741
610 Abbott Lane COS, CO 80905 / 

Even if you think you will never have to evacuate, PLEASE read our last post. Mike and I think it's just a good idea to have a plan.

Thank you for reading and thank you for your concern.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

"You have 30 minutes to leave"

If you pay attention to national news you have probably heard of the out of control wildfires in Colorado, especially the Black Forest fire northeast of Colorado Springs. To give you an idea of how horrible this fire is, yesterday at this time we were being told that 92 homes had burned to the ground and right now the number is at 300. UPDATE: Just after I published this post the number was put at 360 homes lost.

Terrible times bring out the good in many folks. There was a line a quarter of a mile long to drop off food donations at the local food bank, food for the families who had lost their homes and for the firefighters. They are 600 strong.

Many people are there for the animals as well. I was happy to retweet a photo of a fireman who had entered an evacuated house to get their cat. He succeeded. I'm sure it wasn't easy knowing cats. Animal sanctuaries in the area that had to evacuate received a ton of help, and that makes my heart glow. I haven't heard of any cases where evacuees were not allowed to grab their companion animals, just stories to the contrary: your companion animals are your family so get them and get out.

In 30 minutes.

Many people interviewed said they had 30 minutes.

Would you be able to get out in 30 minutes with not only your human family but your companion animals and important material things too?

I thought about this after watching all of the news stories of people having to evacuate.

Miguel the dog would not be happy. He is nervous to begin with. Suga the dog would be happy for a car ride. Monty the dog hates car rides. Rock the dog would not be happy but at 16 would deal with it. Then there are Chin and Cheng the chinchillas. What in the world would we put them in?

Passports, wedding photo, laptops, my favorite t shirts...

My answer to this question is "I don't know". I mean we would of course do it, but we are not prepared to do so and do not have a plan.

It's time to create a plan. A "we need to get all of us out of here in 30 minutes" plan. I'm not freaked out about this or trying to create drama, I just think it's important. And not only for us, but mainly for our companion animals who depend on us to make sure they are always safe.

By the way, I have asked a photojournalist if I can use one of his photos. Waiting for permission. If you'd like to see a bunch of photos go to Google images and put in "Black Forrest Fire".

Thank you for reading. By the way, I am trying to find reliable information on how you can financially support animals and their families. As soon as I have that I will post it.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Not supporting those who fight against gay people

 NOTE: Sometimes I start with a title, like this one about not supporting those who do not support gay people (equality) and the post turns into more. This is the case of this post as I began to write about not only those who do not support equality but also companies that partake in cruelty to animals.

It's not always easy being a voice for the voiceless or supporting equality or being vegan and being up to date with who is on the side of your cause and who isn't.

It's also not fun all of the time. "I really love the product". "I can't wait to go shopping there".  

Sometimes I read about or listen to friends talk about buying something or going somewhere and I cringe.

There are so many examples. One is sitting in our fridge. Several years ago the amazing company White Wave, maker of Silk products, was bought by Dean Foods. Vegan awesomeness meet profiteer of animal cruelty on so many levels. It took us a while to stop buying Silk soy milk and years after the buyout we still purchase Silk creamer. We think about the pigs tortured by Dean Foods all of the time, and yet we still buy Silk soy milk.

We hear from readers all of the time who face the same dilemma.

A coffee house run but religious extremists, or at least promoting churches that are extreme.

A running race supported and promoted by anti-gay religious groups.  Restaurants that serve meat, but have amazing vegan food. On this one, we get it. And we are grateful for restaurants who jump into vegan cuisine. Our favorite restaurants are not vegan-only and serve the best vegan food in town.

Politicians, products lines, whole companies.

What to do, what to do?

Coming out as vegan is a good start. You can see the difference this makes in the huge amount of choices we as vegans have not only in restaurants but in markets and non-food stores. Big change just in the past couple of years.

Coming out as a voice for the voiceless is huge too. "I care about these animals or these people, so I am not going to buy your product or run in your race anymore."

If a company wants to make money, they will listen. Maybe not the first time they hear something, or the second. But eventually they will.

Maybe that's why one of the largest pork producers (an industry losing profit) bought out a soy milk/tofu company (an industry gaining profit).

I write about this a lot. When we use our voices to be a voice for those who have none, we change the world.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Vida Vegan Con 2013 Part II

This is Part II of a two-part post about sessions I attended at Vida Vegan Con.

Please remember that these are notes I took. My intent here is to give you a feel of what I learned n the sessions.

Restaurant reviews by Grant Butler:

NOTE: I loved this session and hope to write many more restaurant reviews than I have before Vida Vegan Con.

Writes reviews for The Oregonian and he's a vegan. It is really important for voices to be out there. Because there are a lot of folks talking about benefits of vegan diet while not being vegans themselves. We are better to tell the story.

Great vegan food is about compassion and joy. Don't believe that your perspective is the only perspective out there.

There is no serious criticism coming out from the mainstream world around vegan food. We can turn the conversation around. Champion the good food that's out there. Be willing to call bad food out. Bad vegan food is bad for veganism (Jason Das).

If you don't call out bad food, things won't change and non-vegans would check it out and wonder why they would want to eat vegan food.

Build authority in your restaurant writing:

Never lose sight that you are there for your readers, not the restaurants.
Develop own clear philosophy that you convey in your reviews. Value, date night, whatever your perspective is convey it.
Telling it like it is.
Ethics. Dine as honestly as possible. Don't let them know you're there. Be anonymous.
Avoid opening night parties, avoid exposing yourself.
Try not to accept comps.
Order dishes that you wouldn't order otherwise. Go with folks so you can share. Get full sense of what a place does.
Inform and engage. When folks read reviews, write like you're having a conversation. Encourage comments. Encourage a conversation, a way to improve dialogue around food.
Agonize over every word. Make sure all foods are spelled correctly, times are correct of open-close, etc.
Weight of your words should weigh heavy on you.
If place has really distinctive point of view rather than a mish mash of everything. A place doing a particular thing and doing it well. Using great ingredients. The pretentious restaurant that tells you where everything comes from. Value is very important.
Best restaurants know their regulars.
Pay attention to clean toilets/bathroom. What is the kitchen like. Place takes care that everything is spic and span throughout.
Great restaurants know what to do when disaster strikes.
Best places make it right: sorry, send something to you...
Updated websites.
Bad experience? Go back over an over as you want to be as fair as you can and write something positive as a lot of these are small, family businesses.
Vegan veto power. A party has a 6 top that leaves because nothing good for the vegan.
It boils down to really good vegan food.
Serious power in omission. People will wonder why you don't write about certain places.

Tech for Effective Web Presence: Jason Das

NOTE: I admit I really needed this session and wish it had been longer. The notes might not make sense but still wanted to share them.

H1 element. Bigger header.
Source code? Google for list of elements and what they mean.
Separation of form and content.
Style sheet is different. It covers color, size, etc.
Your content gets out of the house. - Phones, readability viewers, reblogs

SEO! You want to make sure google understands what your site is about and make sure that your site is more popular than others with same type of site, beating competition.
Act like a newspaper. Headline says here's what happened, then whole story in first sentence.
Titles are super important, say what post is about. Reading the title, you should know what the post is about. Imagine someone only seeing your title.
Design and build for human usability.
Google's own advice:
Accurately describe pages content.
Create unique title tags for each page.
Use brief but descriptive titles.
Use short title.
What do you want to be found for?
Product review or restaurant review? Use name in title. What are THEY looking for?
Landing page, page they land onto when getting to your site.
Self hosting is for nerds or chumps. Use hosted services.

Thanks for reading. I hope some of this was helpful to you!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Vida Vegan Con sessions Part I

I have written a couple of posts about my trip to Vida Vegan Con 2013 and wanted to share about a couple of more things. This post is Part I of II around some of the amazing sessions I attended. As a new blogger, I mainly spent time in sessions around blogging, writing, technical information and vegan nutrition. One of the amazing things about Vida Vegan Con 2013 was the huge variety of sessions.

Here are some notes from a couple of the sessions I attended.Please remember that these are just notes based on what I was listening to. My goal here is to give you a little look into attending a session. For more information on the folks giving the session, I included their website.

If the sentence is in quotes it's something I heard at the session from a fellow attendee.

First was Blog writing as writing by Gena Hamshaw. Gena's blog is . She also currently has notes on her session at her blog.

Ideas from Gena about blog writing:

Common blunders of writing. First thing that an editor looks for is narrative scaffolding. Is there some type of architecture holding this together. A start, middle and end.

We have an obligation to make everything polished and professional.

Consult style guide.

Raise the bar.

Think about what you really want to say and what is in your heart.

About page: here is who I am. Mission statement.

Self edit. Edit yourself.Refining ideas on own. Better to sit on a post for a couple of days, edit it, then press publish.

Make post about the issue not you. Your point of view but not all about you.

Consistency matters more than frequency.

The next session I went to was Vegan Nutrition by Ginny Messina. Her website is Here are some ideas she presented.

Know your facts.

Consider whole body of data, assign different weights to different studies.

What people think we eat: tofu, grass and granola

Demonizing food is fear based nutrition: never, ever eat this food

Science based nutrition : emphasizes foods we should have in our diet. Don't be afraid to have treats.

Supplements: calcium and B12. Collards highest in calcium.

Ethics beyond the plate: others issues beyond food: social justice, gender politics, etc

Making the most compassionate choices as possible.

Putting compassion into practice: Raising money for different causes. Being a good example. Making veganism look accessible and fun. Forgiving ourselves, forgiving others, compassionate to others.

Privilege! I can be vegan but not everyone can. We need to make veganism accessible to everyone.

Why do folks who care about social justice not care about animals? Be patient with people.

"I don't feel a lot of community with many who call themselves vegan."

"My biggest problem is people presenting a problem with no solution."

More to come. Thanks for reading!