Saturday, December 01, 2012

UNICORNS ARE REAL! (say North Korean scientists: seriously)

Citizens of People's Republic and gullible prepubescent girls everywhere overjoyed

On November 14, humor newspaper The Onion ("America's Finest News Source") officially named North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un their "Sexiest Man Alive" for 2012. The clearly satirical article made international headlines when The People's Daily, the Chinese Communist government's official newspaper, reported the story as 100% true. The article in their online edition was even accompanied by a 55-page photo spread of the 29-year-old super-stud in all his majestic glory.* 

But when it comes to breaking hilarious "news" stories, The Onion's got nothing on the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). Here's just one small example of their journalistic superiority. On November 29, the state-owned media outlet reported that the country's scientists have confirmed the discovery of an actual unicorn lair in Pyongyang, one of Ancient Korea's capital cities. 

According to the Academy of Social Sciences, the phrase "Unicorn Lair" is engraved on a rectangular rock just outside the temple where they made their unbelievable discovery. However, this august scientific body has so far kept any physical evidence substantiating their fantastic find pretty close to the vest...in that they haven't publicly released any.

KCNA continually competes with the Weekly World News (WWN) to break stories that are simply too hot for the lamestream media to touch. Over the decades, WWN has gotten the inside scoop on many shocking exclusives exposing the secret lives of famous mythological creatures and famously ridiculous celebrities. For instance, they most recently reported on Bigfoot's three wives and the tragic explosion of Kim Kardashian's left butt cheek

But KCNA has unparalleled access to incredible, often surreal developments within North Korea's heavily guarded borders: especially when it comes to the country's leaders. For instance, KCNA has previously reported that Kim Jong-Ilthe former supreme leader (and Kim Jong-un's father) accomplished many superhuman feats. Just for starters: he walked at three weeks of age, invented the hamburger, controlled the weather, and got eleven holes-in-one playing his first game of golf. Most impressively, he never, ever urinated or defecated. Seriously – no shit!

Just a few days from now, North Korea will launch a rocket that they say is intended to put their first space satellite into orbit around Earth. However, international observers insist that North Korea is actually conducting a long-range ballistic missile test to determine whether they can nuke the USA. That would violate several United Nations Security Council resolutions – and probably trigger a major geopolitical crisisNorth Korea made a similar attempt back in April, but the rocket crashed and burned. Here's hoping that this time, their scientists prove themselves just as adept at rocket science as they are at archaeology.

* The People's Daily has since removed the "Sexiest Man Alive" story from their website. However, somewhat inexplicably, Kim Jong-un leads TIME magazine's online poll for Person of the Year 2012 by an extremely wide margin. As of this writing, he has 2,124,767 "yes" votes: which is 1,763,677 more than the number two contender. 

Monday, July 02, 2012

My "Rebranding Veganism" Article is Online


My article "Rebranding Veganism," which appeared in the June 2012 issue of VegNews magazine, is now available online for your reading pleasure. This four-page feature profiles six cutting-edge companies using modern marketing to help vegan businesses succeed and gain maximum exposure. Read all about:

- Vegan public relations firm Evolotus PR
- Vegan marketing agency Vegan Mainstream
- Vegan e-coupon site Vegan Cuts
- Product promotion company All Things Vegan
- Social change “publicity experiment” The Sparrow
Project

- Vegan brand consultants Vertebrae, Inc.
READ THE ARTICLE

Thursday, April 26, 2012

My Business "Self-Portrait" in VStream E-Zine

My one-page business "self-portrait" is in the brand-new Spring/Summer 2012 issue of VStream, Vegan Mainstream's e-zine. This 69-page online magazine is chock full of articles, recipes and more to feed both your mind and your appetite.

My profile focuses on the intersection of personal and professional passions – in this case, writing and kindness to animals. It also explores the experiential similarities between starting a business and going vegan, and how each of them changed me. 

Read my profile to get a taste for what's in the e-zine, then 

Download the full issue for just $2.99 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Rebranding Veganism

My new feature article in the latest issue of VegNews magazine

My new feature article appears in the latest issue of
VegNews magazine, which is on newsstands now. Entitled “Rebranding Veganism,” it profiles six cutting-edge companies using modern marketing to help vegan businesses succeed and gain maximum exposure. Read all about:

- Vegan public relations firm Evolotus PR

- Vegan marketing agency
Vegan Mainstream

- Vegan e-coupon site
Vegan Cuts 

- Product promotion company
All Things Vegan 

- Social change “publicity experiment”
The Sparrow Project

- Vegan brand consultants
Vertebrae, Inc. 

If you’re not yet a VegNews subscriber, get a copy now by:

-
ordering online or

-
picking one up wherever fine vegan lifestyle publications are sold 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Et Tu, Clif Bar?

Company’s chocolate may support child slavery – tell them to come clean now

Oompa loompa doompa dee do
I’ve got another trouble for you
Oompa loompa doompa da dee
No choc'late for child slavery

No, the Oompa Loompas didn’t sing those lyrics after any of the snotty, bratty little Golden Ticket winners got their just desserts on their tour of Willy Wonka’s famous fictional chocolate factory. But the melodically/morally-inclined OLs might change their tune if they worked for Clif Bar and Company, which refuses to tell their customers what country the cocoa for their chocolate comes from. This information is important because 75% of the world’s cocoa is supplied by two West African countries, Ghana and the Ivory Coast — where the use of child labor, and even child slavery, is widespread on cocoa plantations.

Now, by child slavery, I mean actual slavery: children from 12 to 16 years old (and some as young as 7) sold by their parents to cocoa growers, never seeing their families again, held against their will and forced to work on cocoa plantations. I mean overseers savagely beating and whipping kids who don’t work fast enough or get caught trying to escape. By child labor, I mean children deprived of education (in violation of International Labor Organization laws) using sharp, heavy machetes to cut cocoa pods from treetops. I mean kids being sprayed with toxic agricultural chemicals sans protective gear. Learn more here.

Over the past year, the Food Empowerment Project (FEP) has asked dozens of companies to disclose what countries they get their cocoa from to determine whether they subsidize child slavery. FEP doesn’t ask these companies to reveal any sensitive information that could potentially jeopardize their market share (like details about their supply chain or growers’ names). They just want to know what country they get their raw cocoa from. But rather than answer this very simple question, Clif Bar is pulling a Wonka. They say they must keep this information secret to protect their business against espionage by the protein bar industry’s equivalent of Slugworth Chocolates, Inc. 

When I emailed Clif Bar about my concerns and asked why they refused to grant FEP’s simple request, a guy named Bobby responded. He seems like a perfectly nice fellow whose job entails placating pesky pain-in-the-ass meddlers like myself with soothing platitudes that tow the company line. I say this because he absolutely refused, after multiple emails, to answer a very simple, straightforward, crystal-clear question: 
what country does Clif Bar’s cocoa come from? Corresponding with him was like listening to a skipping CD. 

That is, no matter how earnestly I expressed my concerns, he just kept evasively stating that his employer “is committed to socially responsible sourcing practices,” “creating a sustainable supply chain,” and sourcing 100% of their cocoa from Rainforest Alliance Certified (RAC) farms by 2013. It quickly became painfully obvious that he was just pasting in a standard company-approved response over and over, no matter what I wrote. Poor guy: he must've been hearing from a lot of other disgruntled customers besides me recently. 

But on the surface at least, Clif Bar's explanation sounds reasonable, right? Well, not according to FEP: they claim that RAC’s human rights standards are very weak, and that it’s the very same certification Hershey plans to begin using soon for their ironically-branded “Bliss” chocolate line.

I expect dissembling and denials from chocolate industry giants like Hershey, Nestlé and Mars, who clearly don’t give a crap that their products support child slavery, and only care about getting the cheapest possible ingredients so they can make the most profit. But I naïvely thought Clif Bar was different. It’s one of those rare companies I felt a personal connection with because: 
1) I’ve been buying and enjoying their products for years, especially the chocolate peanut butter Builder’s Bar, and 2) I was inspired by founder Greg Erickson’s personal story and self-proclaimed commitment to socially responsible business practices. 

But now, with Clif Bar disingenuously refusing to disclose what country they get their cocoa from, I can’t help but feel that Mr. Erickson and company have thrown their own values under the bus. I mean, making specious excuses that insult their customers' intelligence and trying to hide their horrific business practices from us is not cool. To say Clif Bar has personally disappointed me is an understatement: I feel betrayed.


So I call shenanigans on Clif Bar. I don’t buy their “proprietary” explanation, and won’t buy their products anymore because I strongly suspect they are tied to child slavery. Just because a food is vegan doesn’t mean it's humane: the way it’s made may still harm others and violate our ethics. And you dont need to be vegan to know that child slavery is wrong: you just need a heart. That’s why we must hold Clif Bar accountable to our principles  and their own.





- Use FEP’s Action Alert to let Clif Bar know that actively opposing child slavery is more important to you than any food will ever be, and that you won’t buy their products until they disclose what country their cocoa comes from

- See FEP’s Chocolate List for companies that source their cocoa ethically and therefore deserve your business

Saturday, October 29, 2011

"Restaurant: (Im)Possible" VegNews Article Now Online

Last month I wrote in this blog about my four-page article on how to open a vegan restaurant being in the latest issue of VegNews. Well, now that the magazine's November/December issue is out, I've posted the article as a .pdf on my Web site. If you never got around to reading "Restaurant: (Im)Possible" in print form, now's your chance to read it online.

Friday, September 02, 2011

So You Wanna Open a Vegan Restaurant?

Get an insiders’ view of the biz in my latest article for VegNews magazine!

Do you dream of opening a vegan restaurant? If so, then you’ll want to devour my delicious new four-page feature “Restaurant (Im)Possible” in the September/October 2011 issue of VegNews magazine—on newsstands now!

This article not only provides an overview of the essential steps on the road to restaurant success, but terrific tips & tricks of the trade served up by seasoned restaurateurs. From raising money and choosing a food concept to getting experience and knowing what to expect, you’ll get expert advice based on my interviews with some of the industry’s preeminent players, including:


- Greg Dollarhyde, CEO of Southern California vegan fast-casual chain Veggie Grill


- Amy McNutt, co-founder of the vegan Texas-based Spiral Diner & Bakery


- Eric Prescott, co-founding venture capitalist behind Boston’s Piece ‘O Pie gourmet vegan pizzeria


- Richard Landau, co-founder of upscale vegan eateries Horizons and Vedge in Philadelphia


Whether you’re an established entrepreneur on the prowl for new investment opportunities, a visionary neophyte with a hunger to found your own restaurant empire, or just someone looking for a tasty read, my new article will give you some yummy and nourishing food for thought. If you’re not yet a VegNews subscriber, get your copy now by ordering online or picking one up wherever fine vegan lifestyle publications are sold!