Ethical Exploits Vol.4: California Dreamin’

October 9, 2009

Day-to-day choices for the ethically handsome man
By Matt Lara

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Where the Wild Photos Are: BABOONS IN PROFILE, AMBOSELI 2007

While everyone was checking out wild fashion at NYC Fashion Week, I was moving out to the wild, wild west known as Los Angeles. My first excursion out of the world of unpacking and back into the world of enjoyment was a visit to the Fahey/Klein Gallery to see A Shadow Falls by photographer Nick Brandt. Little did I know that a fun afternoon trip would turn out to be a private audience with the photographer himself! I was astonished to hear him explain that it was the gorgeous African wildlife that originally drew him in, and that this was the best way for him to honor it. The work is also available as a book. An excerpt from the introduction:

“For me, every creature on this planet has an equal right to live. Whether human being, Serengeti elephant, or factory farm cow. That is why I take these photographs. I hope that maybe you will see these animals, these non-humans, in the way that I do—as not so very different from us.”

App Happy:

According to a friend of mine, I have finally joined the “evil empire” with the purchase of my new iPhone. After figuring out picture-texting and voice activation, I sought out some of the more useful apps for healthy and compassionate ladies and germs:

Vegan Yum Yum has fantastic recipes from their blog, some with photos. I like how you can check off ingredients, which is helpful while in the grocery store.

Dirty Produce from the Environmental Working Group is a quick list of the most highly sprayed crops for when it’s difficult to find all organic produce.

Thanks to Chloe at GirlieGirlArmy for Be Nice To Bunnies which lists companies that test their products on animals. So helpful in those giant drug store aisles.

Whole Foods also has a nice app full of recipes I have been flipping through. They are arranged by category including vegan and gluten-free dishes.

Stir Crazy
Okay, I am still learning how to make astounding dishes a la Joshua Katcher (the DB himself). For now, I am a fan of the “dump-and-stir” recipe. This one looks, feels, and tastes special every time I stir-and-serve it. Therefore, I make it often:

Lemony Chickpea Tofu Stir Fry, and Stay tuned for more crazy stirring…


A Real Food Day

A few days after my big move I grabbed lunch with the man behind those naughty candles over at A Scent of Scandal, Ari Solomon. We laughed and chewed for quite a while over some wonderful dishes at Real Food Daily in West Hollywood. According to his recommendation, I am to come back and stuff myself with their nachos with melted cashew-cheddar cheese. That is after my next stop, the brand-new Veggie Grill on Sunset Boulevard!

Now that I’m pretty much all moved, I’m keeping my eyes peeled for a good living space and a good day-job. I’ll keep you posted! If anyone out there has any tips, questions, or suggestion about living Ethically Handsome on the West Coast, please leave me a comment below!

April77 DIY Denim Party at OAK NYC

September 15, 2009

FNO_OAK The April77 party at Oak was on the top-10 parties list (Refinery29)  for Fashion’s Night Out, kicking off fashion week. I met up with Tommy Über of April77 at OAK to chat and check out some denim customizing!

Concerning April77’s creator and designer, Brice Partouche being a long-time vegetarian and recent convert to vegan, and making a cruelty-free shoe line, Tommy Über had this to say:

We don’t make any leather... It’s important to see the vision of someone that really carries his personal causes into a clothing line… And that’s why people love April77 – because it’s engaged. – Tommy Über, APRIL77

The current April77 collection does have wool, but Brice personally ensured me that all future collections will be free from animal products.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

WHISTLE WHILE YOU WORK: Heaven + Hell Tacos vs. Death

June 12, 2009

by featured contributor, Troy Farmer

h+h tacos

We must start, dear readers, by begging your pardon. Usually, with Whistle While You Work, we endeavor to divine those subtle strands that connect two seemingly distant realms of art; that of culinary alchemy and that of musical conjuration. True, comparing two such separate art forms runs the risk of offending some. For instance, Passion Pit has to be one of my favorite new bands from the last year, but I’m not sure how they’d feel about being compared to mango jicama salad. For that matter, I hear jicama doesn’t really care for the way Michael Angelakos sings. And, to be perfectly honest, I, for some reason, have always absolutely detested most any artist that incorporates food in their work or moniker (by way of example – macaroni art, any sort of fruit sculpture at a wedding, Meatloaf, Pearl Jam, Neutral Milk Hotel, Hall + Oates…this weirdness). But, in an effort to consistently bring you exciting vegan food and superb, often lesser-known musical acts in a not-so-conventional package, we march on, trying our best to coax out such connections between good food and music. This time, however, we just went for a cool name combo. So we give you the summer crisp heat of Heaven + Hell Tacos and the recently unearthed, mind-blowing protopunk from the 70’s Detroit band, Death.

One of the common things you’ll hear people say about the first time they heard Death is something along the lines of ‘it blew my fucking mind.’ I have to number myself among the people who had that same reaction. It was akin to the first time I heard the 60’s brit band, the Action. I couldn’t believe that the sound I was hearing was over 30 or 40 years old and, with both bands, I was shocked to find out that something so good had gone largely unheard for so long.

Photo - Tammy Hackney

Death was formed in 1973 by three black brothers from Detroit—David, Bobby, and Dannis Hackney—who, by all accounts, had some very nurturing parents growing up. At 20, 18, and 16, respectively, their mother let them replace their bedroom furniture with musical equipment so long as they agreed to practice for three hours every day. They started out playing R+B but switched over to good ol’ rock immediately after seeing an Alice Cooper show (thank you, Mr. Cooper). At first, they were met mostly with confusion by audiences, which makes sense when you consider the date. This was right around the time that the Ramones were just getting going, and they were in New York. The Hackney’s were basically presenting this sound—this bridge between 60’s and early 70’s hard rock and what would become punk—in Detroit. This was also one and two years, respectively, before the Sex Pistols and the Clash had even formed in London. And the fact that they were black and doing this in what would soon become a white-dominated musical genre is all that much more mind-blowing.


Despite the resistance to their sound, and partly in response to it, Death marched on (hah) and actually met with some success in their short run. They recorded a demo tape in ’74 and were signed by the studio’s owner, Don Davis. As the story goes, Don Davis at one point presented the demo to renowned record exec, Clive Davis—who signed acts like Janis Joplin, Donovan, Santana, and the Boss. Clive reportedly loved the sound but hated the name. According to what is sure to now become punk legend, David, the eldest brother, who wrote the groups songs and acted as their driving force, reacted with a fervent “Hell no!” when told that they would have to change their name to reach any real success. Though neither of the Davis’ seem to remember much about this encounter (it was a really long time ago and those dudes are old now) the two still-living Hackney brothers stand by the story. Sadly, David died of lung cancer in 2000, so a true Death reunion isn’t possible. Regardless of what’s true and what’s not, it’s a great story, and there’s absolutely no arguing with the sound the Hackneys produced. Fast-paced, hard-edged, beautiful punk-before-punk songs with political themes and innovative structure. They were truly ahead of their time.

So we should all be thankful that fate put Julian Hackney—son of guitarist, Bobby—randomly heard the rare self-released single at a party in San Francisco last year and recognized his father’s voice. Crazy, right?

After Death…er…died in 1976, in the face of the massive joint take-over of the airwaves by disco and corporate programming, the Hackneys basically moved on with their lives, venturing into other music and being met with varying degrees of success. Bobby and Dannis actually still play the college hackey-sack circuit to this day in the reggae band, Lambsbread. So it was quite a blast form the past when Julian approached his father, asking about Death. The two were lucky enough to uncover the original demo in Bobby’s attic and then be championed by an enthusiastic record collector, who used his connections at the Chicago-based indie label, Drag City Record, to get the demo released this year as “…For the Whole World to See.”  Seven songs of utter protopunk might and a highly recommended gem of a recording. Not to mention a kick-ass story to back it all up. Check it:

Rock-N-Roll Victim:

and the insanely awesome Politicians in My Eyes:

So, again, apologies, but I’m not going to attempt to make any sort of ‘so hot they’ll kill ya’ death/Death analogies here, but, for your eating pleasure, I do give you Heaven + Hell Tacos. Why Heaven + Hell, you ask? It’s basically the same premise as the McDLT from back in the day, where McDonald’s gave you the hot side of the hamburger in one part of the crazy terrible Styrofoam container and the cold ‘fresh’ vegetable side of the hamburger in another part of the crazy terrible Styrofoam container. We’re just going for an edgier, some might say more punk (eh?) name. Plus these are tacos. Not hamburgers. The recipe is simple and fairly modular, but it’s based on the idea that you want a base of spicy, savory, protein with some fresh, crisp vegetables that are a little on the hearty side for a more unique crunch. The top it all off with some awesome South American aji sauce (best).

So, here we go. This should make two tacos. Feel free to double or triple if you like lots of tacos.

Heaven + Hell Tacos

For the protein, we recommend any of the following:
– 4 oz. Seitan (homemade’s great and cheaper, but store-bought is fine), sliced into small pieces
– 1 Field Roast Sausage or other vegan sausage, chopped into small chunks
– 4 oz. Shiitake, Crimini, or Portabella Mushrooms, chopped into small chunks
– 1/2 cup Homemade Barbeque Sauce with a little spice added (here’s a nice homemade barbeque sauce recipe we did, just add about 1/2 tsp. cumin and 1/2 tsp. paprika when you’re cooking the protein), or some Adobe Sauce or other spicy, savory sauce
– 1 tbsp Olive Oil

For the crispy topping, we recommend:
– 4 medium Radishes, sliced into thin strips, roughly 1/4 inch square and the length of the radish
– 4 Radish Leaves, sliced into thin strips
– 1.5 cup Watercress, stemmed and packed
– 1/2 Red Bell Pepper, sliced into strips to roughly match the radish
– 1 Spring Onion, sliced into thin circles
– Juice form 1/2 Lime

And for the aji:
– 1 Spring Onion, diced
– 3/4 cup Fresh Cilantro, diced
– 1 Fresh Jalepeño, seeded and diced (watch fingers-to-eyes action after chopping this one)
– dash Cumin
– dash Salt
– 1 cup White Vinegar
– 2 Soft Taco Shells or Wheat Tortillas (we like the small fajita ones that are about 6” in diameter)

*Don’t forget tortillas or shells!


  1. So, basically start by chopping all your fresh ingredients and putting them in small dishes for quick assembly later.
  2. Add the juice from one half of the lime to the dish with radishes and let them soak while you prepare things.
  3. For the aji, simply mix the ingredients in a container and set in the fridge to chill.
  4. Now take whichever protein of your liking and brown it with the olive oil in a cast iron skillet. After 5-10 minutes, add your sauce and let it sauté for another 5 minutes.
  5. Warm your tortillas in a pan or the microwave for a few seconds, toss in the protein, top with your fresh ingredients, and add liberal doses of aji as you go.
  6. That’s that. Enjoy Death and the heaven and hell that follows.


Troy Farmer Learn more about contriuter, Troy Farmer!

Film Fundraiser at The Peter Max Studio w/ Amazing Food & Celeb Guests!

June 6, 2009

I am embarking upon the production of a feature documentary film called “Standardized Testing” in collaboration with Kelly Overton of PATH (People Protecting Animals & Their Habitats).

Picture 1

This pioneering, controversial and hilarious film follows PATH founder Kelly Overton, an overachieving activist who has degrees from Harvard, Tulane, Columbia and UMASS, as he attempts to return his diplomas and get his tuition refunded in an effort to bring attention to the dangerous and wasteful biomedical research being done at the universities. order to begin production on the film, the legendary artist Peter Max ( and activist Mary Max ( have offered to host a production launch party – featuring food, drink, and special celebrity guests!

To purchase tickets, click here:




Special guests include: Golden Girl – Rue McClanahan, Actress -Ally Sheedy, International Phenomenon- Princess Superstar, CNN Commentator -Jane Velez-Mitchell, Glamazon Lifestyle Guru- Chloé Jo Berman, Healthy Chef – Alexandra Jamieson, and yours truly, The Discerning Brute- Joshua Katcher. More special guests to be announced!

Featuring food & drink from 4 Course Vegan, Candle Cafe, Vegan Treats Bakery, Tuthilltown Spirits and Blackwell’s Organic Gelato!
Tuthilltown Spirits

VeganTreats4 Course Vegan

Candle cafe

Friday, June 19th 2009
6:30 to 8:30 pm
The Max Studio
37 West 65th Street, 7th Floor
New York City

I would love for you to join me, and tickets start at just $100, and all proceeds go to PATH’s efforts to produce the film.

  • $100 per individual ticket
  • $350 for ticket and signed & dedicated Peter Max poster
  • $1,000 for ticket and signed & dedicated Peter Max poster and signed & dedicated The Art of Peter Max book*

To purchase tickets, click here:

Pass the word on Facebook!

Win the Bag! Brown Bag It! Bag Party! Other stuff too…

May 29, 2009

1. There are only 2 days left to enter to win the handsome $350 Matt & Nat Bag! It’s so easy to win, all you need is your webcam.


2. While you were brown-bagging it, have you ever wondered whether your wine or beer has egg whites, lard, or fish guts in it? Find out if your favorite booze is vegan at Barnivore!

Barnivore: Vegan-Friendly Booze Guide

3. Party Bags! Vegan Accessories line Malcolm Fontier is launching a new collection. Come out to the party in NYC!


Saturday, June 6th, 2009
Solefood NYC – Tribeca
38 Lispenard St. (between Broadway & Church)

New York, NY 10013 Get Directions



Gallery, Noon – 6 PM
Stop by and take a leisurely look at the new line and the artists’ work. Hourly giveaways.
Party! 7 – 11 PM
We turn it up a few notches with music by Atlanta’s DJ Chris Nicholson, drinks and giveaways. Of course, you can continue to shop for great gear.

4. STAY VOCAL is an awesome re-use website with the mission of encouraging people to reuse whenever and wherever possible. Thanks to reader Jesse Gavin for pointing this out for us! They have some great menswear!124

6. Legendary designer, Jhane Barnes’ RHEDUX line utilizes pristine, high-quality fibers, yarns, and fabrics that would have otherwise have ended up in dumpsters.

BladeFlourescentConglomerateCurve Yoroke

7. The Recycled Retriever makes eco-friendly pet products in Provincetown and Cape Cod! They ship and even do gift baskets! Lots of recycled, hemp, and organic toys and beds and stuff!

Eco Nap Earth Friendly Pet Bed Eco Bone with Squeaker "Bringing Home Puppy" - Green Gift Set Recycled Rubber Dog Collar

Vegan Arm Wrestlers, Recyclable Belts & Dudes Who Speak Up

May 21, 2009

1. Rob Bigwood is a professionl arm wrestler. That’s right, and he’s vegan. Rob is a 26 year old Brooklynite who has been winning titles and making a name for himself in the arm wrestling community. Watch out for this guy, and for my interview with him soon!

Pictured Above: Mike Selearis vs. Rob Bigwood Photo by Jeff Bachner Photography

2. Owain Yeoman and Jamie Bamber are only two of the Discerning Brutes that PETA has featured in their recent campaigns. Jamie, who plays Lee “Apollo” Adama in Battlestar Galactica is calling attention to the use of bear-fur on the hats of the Royal Guards in the UK. Owian, star of The Mentalist, is featured in a vegetarian testimnial ad, and his video has an eloquent expression of why this dude is veg.

These two join the ranks of other awesome guys who have done PETAs classic campaigns like Casey AffleckWilmer Valderrama, Joaquin Phoenix, Fred Willard, Carey Hart, Mickey Rourke, John Salley,AFI’s Davey Havok Ami James, Tito Ortiz, Black Sabbath’s Geezer Butler, Wu-tang’s Masta Killa, Bill Mahr, Kevin Nealon, David Cross, Trent Reznor, and others….

These guys rock, and you should check out their videos with PETA:

3. Custom Vegan Seaks? That’s right, artist Tony Price will make you a pair of custom-painted Vans at his Etsy shop!tonyxprice

4. Non-Silk Ascot from Jaanj. Don’t act like you never considered wearing an ascot. You can make it rock-n-roll, and you know it.

Polka Dot Non Silk Ascot Ties in Dark Blue/White

5. Tie-Ups makes recyclable belts. The color combos will make you trip, but the facts that you can stick these Italian-made accessories in the recycling bin, and that there’s no animal products is great! Tie-Ups won’t go off in a metal detector, they are weatherproof, hypoallergenic, and just really cool!  $89 at Nordstrom


6.  Check out FRESH: New Thinking About What We’re EatingVodpod videos no longer available.

The Discerning Brute’s BUST Waffle-tacular!

May 15, 2009

Joshua Katcher, The Discerning Brute photo ©

Mark your calendars! I am collaborating with Farm Sanctuary to do a scrumptious food demo at the BUST Craftacular on May 17th.

Sunday, May 17th, 12-3pm (Waffle Demo at 2pm)
The Warsaw, 261 Driggs Avenue in Brooklyn NY,  Bedford Avenue L stop.
BUST Magazine’s Spring Fling Craftacular: 12:00 PM – 7:00PM

*Your entry ticket also gives you a shot at winning a BUST-load of booty in the Craftacular Raffle.


The BUST Craftaculars are probably the coolest and biggest craft fairs that happen in NYC – it’s a really young, DIY, cutting (the dotted) edge crowd full of smart, creative types. It is also a really big crowd, so it’s a perfect opportunity to reach out with amazing food and surprise people who believe the stereotype and the stigma that vegan food is gross! Clearly those people have never experienced the joy of plain iceberg lettuce, raw tofu, or grazed in their backyard for twigs and weeds. Yum!

If my protein and calcium-deficient arms don’t snap before sunday (where do I get my protein?), I am going to do a presentation on how to healthfully replace everyday products like milk, eggs, butter and meat by making big ‘ol fluffy waffles for everyone! I’ll provide the recipe, explain why to avoid animal products, and answer questions. There will also be other food goodies to sample, so make sure to be there!

Check me out on the Bust Blog:


My feature in