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You know what's weird about veganism? Chances are you're an anarchist atheist, too, and you end up eating at so many religious cults!You know what's weird about veganism? Chances are you're an anarchist atheist, too, and you end up eating at so many religious cults! But luckily, brainwashing has never been so delicious. Here's my top 5 list for vegan cult foods.

5) Ananda Fuara: San Francisco
I'm not sure what this cult is about. Maybe knitting? In any case, stop in for a "chicken" salad sandwich, and lots of other menu items in scare quotes.

4) Krishna food: anywhere
I'm patiently awaiting a Krishna fashion trend, mostly because who doesn't want such a no-fuss ponytail? Krishnas are generally friendly, non-confrontational people that are fun to talk to. And that makes for a fabulous dining partner, or, er, 100 fabulous dining partners. The food is mostly Indian-inspired with a West Virginian twist. That couscous stuff! It's got nuts and dried fruits and things. Heavens, it's good. The best part is walking out with your friends and discussing whether or not you feel funny and convincing each other that they put something in the food. It's kind of like when you pretend you didn't push that thingy on the Ouija board. (P.S. According to Google, that Ouija board thingy is called a planchette.)

3) Supreme Master: San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, lots of locations
I actually really dig her. I tend to gloss over the particulars of how she became a Supreme Master, but she takes a strong environmentalist and animal rights position, which is cool. The food philosophy seems to be that god wants you to eat super greasy fake meat. Well, okay god, if you say so. Go against conventional wisdom and get anything on the menu that is unnaturally bright red.

Who but a cult leader could make you stuff your face like this?

2) Tempeh Reubens: all over Portland
Yeah, we pretend we're not a cult, but why the hell do we have to serve so many tempeh reubens then? Something about the tangy sauerkraut and succulent tempeh, and vegan Thousand Island dripping all over your face. Yeah, right, we're not trying to convert anybody. Pfft.

1) Cafe Gratitude: locations all over SF and the East Bay
You want to hate this place, you really do. I mean, the menu is written in affirmations and they want you to order that way. Who can deal with that? I Am Enlightened. I Am Fulfilled. I Am Abundant. Inevitably your table will start to come up with your own mean ones: I Am Self-Effacing. I Am Greedy. I Am Ashamed. So you want to hate but you cannot because of that goddam tiramisu. You know what? I'll buy into that pyramid scheme. Want my mom's life savings? No prob, just keep the live enchiladas coming.

÷ ÷ ÷

Isa Chandra Moskowitz is America's most popular vegan chef. The author of several bestselling cookbooks, her work has been featured in countless print and on-line publications. A Brooklyn native, she now lives in Portland, Oregon. Visit her online at The Post-Punk Kitchen.

Books mentioned in this post

Isa Chandra Moskowitz is the author of Vegan Brunch: Homestyle Recipes Worth Waking Up For -- From Asparagus Omelets to Pumpkin Pancakes

6 Responses to "Cult-licious"

    veganlisa August 13th, 2009 at 10:48 am

    I filmed two episodes about vegan holiday cooking for Supreme Master in Toronto and I have to say that the volunteers were the most amazingly generous and kind people I have ever encountered. I do think the fact that the associated restaurant serves a faux turkey with anatomically-correct skin bumps is a bit strange but hey, at least it is tofu bumps!

    Ana Arch August 13th, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Anatomically correct faux turkey? I guess I've never thought of turkeys as anything but Ken & Barbie Doll-like.

    Very funny guest column from Isa. I am laughing. I am giggling. I am chuckling. I am glad it's not me in the noodle-slurping photo above. The photographer is glad it's not me too.

    Food has been the SUV vehicle used by religion for centuries though, as seen with the missionaries who travel to many countries. I first noticed it when reading about it in China (as in, 'We know you're hungry and we'll feed you after you attend our services...'). Have to say that the vegan food culting seems more like a happy & love-filled VW Bus than a mow-me-down talking-on-the-cell-phone Hummer of so many other religious food wraps (or is it burritos?). After all, vegans have "Earth Balance" to spread.

    quarrygirl August 14th, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    i am glad that someone has finally acknowledged that tempeh reubens are a cult. the cult worship is alive and well down here in los angeles, too. although, i'd say the name of the cult here is just "vegan reubens" (much of which are tempeh, some of which are fake meat). what is it with vegans and these things?

    i've never been to cafe gratitude...but the menu at cafe flourish in los angeles is also wacky positive. items such as "BLT&A (Be Love, Thanks & Abundance)" and "Thank God (of your choice) for BBQ". plus when you order, instead of numbers, they give you cards with little happy sayings to take to your table. bizarre.

    oh, and i totally worship the supreme master's golden nuggets at loving hut. wowy.

    Edward August 15th, 2009 at 1:33 am

    When I was in Nagoya, Japan, we went to an amazing vegetarian/vegan Taiwanese restaurant. It was in a somewhat dingy mall, but they served the most amazing soy/seitan based food. The 'pork' tasted like (I remember) pork tastes like. The dishes were steaming hot, and the noodles were great. The tea was overflowing. And the sweet vegan cakes afterwards were to die for.

    miriam August 22nd, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    Krshna food is NOT vegan, dude.
    It is loaded, LOADED with dairy products. They see dairy as the ultimate food, pretty much. All those tasty pakoras are fried in ghee.

    do not be fooled!

    Scotty October 6th, 2009 at 1:19 am

    i think the faux meat is for transitioning the meat-eaters over to a veg lifestyle. funny post,

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