The Culinary Collective, New York

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I attended one of The Culinary Collective’s events in Brooklyn and was wowed by a fifteen course, gourmet feast prepared by the much-extoled Chefs Jay Astafa and Angela Lowe. The epic meals are hosted in a lavish Brooklyn brownstone and guests mingle, making new friends and watching in excitement as the food is prepped within eyesight by an impressive staff. The white asparagus panna cotta, mushroom tart, nettle gnudi and cheese plate were exquisite standouts. Astafa even performed his liquid-nitrogen caramel popcorn alchemy while guests gathered around him with oohs and ahs. Wine was poured, laughs were had, and overall these pop-up events are not something to miss. You can book your reservation here .

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Incredible Iceland

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As soon as the airplane had cleared the clouds over Iceland, majestic cliffs cutting sharply into the ocean and a coastline landscape that would make a geologist shed tears came into view. Massive snow-covered mountains lined the horizon over towns with pantone rooftops in blue, red, green, black, and yellow. We arrived in Reykjavik’s downtown with stomachs grumbling. Getting a fresh meal was the first order of business after checking in to our hotel.

From the city to the country, Iceland was as otherworldly as it was friendly. Here are The Discerning Brute favorite sites and bites from the country of Vikings and volcanos.

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Gló
Laugavegur 20b
101 Reykjavík

Gló has a few locations in Iceland and the one in downtown Reykjavik is a cozy, second-story walk up  with plenty of vegan options every day. The creamy cauliflower soup, Thai curry soup, mushroom burger, and potato mushroom salads were definite highlights.

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Pink Iceland Tours
Hverfisgata 39
101 Reykjavík

Pink Iceland is an organization and tour company that offers several excursions to see the natural wonders of the Island. I highly recommend them because the tours are less congested than the mainstream tour companies because it’s a queer organization (although everyone is welcome). We visited waterfalls, glaciers, and historical sites and made several stops for vegan snacks including snúður (which is basically an awesome, chocolate-covered cinnamon roll), and some amazing, traditional turnip soup. Our tour guide was fantastic. She brought us gift bags, drinks, vegan snacks and knew all the secret spots.

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Blue Lagoon / LAVA
Grindavík
240 Grindavik

The Blue Lagoon was named one of the 25 wonder of the world by National Geographic Magazine for good reason. With silica and algae filled geothermal lagoons in bright blue surrounded by a moss-covered lava stone landscape, this place felt like we stepped off a space ship into a different world. We soaked in hot water that contrasted with the cool air, coated our skin in white silica, ate gourmet vegan meals and sipped beer from the local Icelandic brewery, Borg, at their restaurant, LAVA, and slept in minimalist, modern comfort at the Blue Lagoon Clinic. We hiked the nearby mountain and picnicked at the peak where all that remained of an abandoned WWII military site was a single stone fireplace.

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Kopar Restaurant
Geirsgata 3
Reykjavík

Like many mainstream restaurants in Reykjavik, if you call ahead and request a vegan meal, they’ll likely prepare one for you. This was the case with Kopar who made us a fantastic meal and dessert. KOPAR1 KOPAR2

K-Bar
Laugavegur 74,
Reykjavík

We met up with Ragnar Freyer and friends at K-Bar for some awesome tofu bibimbap. Ragnar is a local Reykjavik resident who maintains a really comprehensive list of every place to get vegan grub around the country. Check out his list here.
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Kaffihús Vesturbæjar & Café Babalú
In the western part of Reykjavik is Kaffihús Vesturbæjar, a coffeehouse that offers a really good veggie burger and the best French fries covered in dill as well as soy or oat lattes and plenty of vegan Icelandic beers. Back in the downtown area is Café Babalú, a kitschy place with needlepoint art who make a vegan carrot cake every day. We also spotted the political vegan street art of  Margrét Helga Weisshappel.

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Passion Bakery
Álfheimar 6
Reykjavík

Passion was a little off the beaten path, but worth the trip (and a fun excuse to test out the bus system). Rumor has it that they offer amazing vegan croissants, but they were sold out the day we went and we had to settle for several other fantastic confections including more snúður, chocolate bars called Hràfæðis, and some classic berry oat pastries.

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Kering, Parsons & Sustainability in Fashion

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I had the opportunity to attend this fantastic talk at Parsons The New School on April 2, 2015 covering the issue of sustainability in fashion. As an adjunct at Parsons and someone who researches the history, effects and impacts of animals used in the fashion industrial complex, it was an exciting opportunity to ask Francois Pinault, CEO of Kering, about a certain sacred cow of fashion: cows and sheep. We’ve know for about a decade now, thanks to the United Nations FAO that the livestock industries are the single greatest cause of the worst environmental problems, and products like leather and wool are not simply byproducts – they are co-products that represent significant and vital profits for livestock operations that would likely go under without them. Therefore, leather and wool are not just making use of some excess that would be thrown away (which is a popular belief). So how did Mr. Pinault respond to my question? You can watch the entire talk here (or jump to 40:30 to see my question).

Understanding Fair Labor in Fashion

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When we look at a price tag on a piece of clothing, one of the most difficult things is trying to make sense of it.

Why do things cost what they do? Why is a cotton shirt $10 in on store and $75 in another? If you’re looking to support companies who invest in fairly compensated workers, the task of sifting through PR, whitewashing and label-reading while trying to get a grasp on supply chains and costs of living is daunting at best, and most people simply throw their hands up. Luckily, The Fair Wear Foundation has launched a new portal aimed at clarifying this crucial information.

Culinary Collective, Gene Baur, David Duchovny & The Short Film No One Wants

Jay Astafa and Angela Lowe have launched a plant-based pop-up dinner series called The Culinary Collective. It seats 24 guests each evening and takes place at a private Brooklyn townhouse. The meal features either 15 or 7 courses (costing $150 and $80 respectively). Use the code “DiscerningBrute” to get 10% off through April 7th 2015!

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Get tickets to celebrate with Activist and Author Gene Baur at ABC Carpet in NYC on Monday April 6th at 6:30pm. Ticket includes a copy of Living the Farm Sanctuary Life: The Ultimate Guide to Eating Mindfully, Living Longer, and Feeling Better Every Day

Another new book worth reading is by actor David Duchovny (Californication, The X-Files). He’s written his first novel, Holy Cow, and critics agree that it is a hilarious, dark and bizarre story of farm animals seeking freedom.

 

This is the story no one wants. This is the story I’ve sat with time and time again since 2011, wondering where it could go, and who would dare look… My hope is that, through this work, we can all look, care, share, and change.” The new short film, The Slaughterhouse, was shot in 2011 as a collaboration between Jo-Anne Macarthur and Kelly Guerin. Music A. Taylor: “Who Will Remember”.