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US adventures part 1: LA

MONDAY: Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, 30 Days and Real Food Daily

To begin my US adventures, Adele and I had a sleep over the night before and she took me to the airport the next day.  Cam met us there to say goodbye.  My flight left at 11:00 on Monday 21st June.  The 13 hour flight wasn't that bad.  The plane was completely full and I will be sending a recommendation email to the airport I flew with as they don't seem to know the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian - why is this so hard?!  I had a pasta meal, roll and cooked vegetables (right next to scrambled EGGS!) as my three meals on the way to LA.  Not as good as Qantas vegan meals...

I arrived at LAX airport at 7:00 Monday 21st June so I had another Monday but will be losing two days when I return to Brisbane.  The airport wasn't as big or as busy as I had heard it would be, customs etc wasn't a problem either, there was just a lot of waiting around.  I was pretty exhausted as I'd slept a bit on the flight but not too much.  I had watched a movie called A Single Man with Colin Firth and Julianne Moore, actors I love and had flicked through a few programmes on the flight as well as listening to my own tunes on shuffle - love the shuffle button - is there anything better?!  The weather in LA was not as summery as I had hoped, it was overcast, windy and I was still wearing my scarf and jumper.

At the LAX airport I was told to look for a blue Super Shuttle bus that would take me to my hotel in Beverly Hills, these buses came past quite regularly but not to where I was heading and it seemed to take forever to get a bus and then to finally arrive at my hotel as there were other people on the bus to get to their hotels before me.  I arrived at the Cresent Hotel a lovely little place and checked in a lot earlier than the 15:00 regular check in time.  As I was checking in early the only room ready was the one closest to the entry/exit but I wasn't too concerned.  I put all my belonging in my tiny room and headed out to wander around Beverly Hills for a bit.

I had to get a SIM card for my mobile phone when I was here so I headed to T-Mobile where I got a US$50 card which gives me unlimited text and calls within the US, plus a US$25 for international text.  I contacted my FB friend, Holly Brown who would be my LA tour guide and let my family and friends know that I'd arrived safely.  There was a salad place next door, so got a takeaway meal there and wandered around a bit more.  I found a great place to get a vegetable juice: M cafe de Chaya who I found out later from Holly are a mostly vegan place with amazingly presented scarlet quinoa (!) salad, other salads and great cakes. I planned to return here for breakfast one morning but it never happened.

I headed back to my hotel, had a rest for a few hours and then Holly and I headed off to Santa Monica.  We went to a great place for dinner, Real Food Daily who also have a restaurant in West Hollywood.  Holly and I ordered Not-chos to share: tortilla chips, melted cashew cheese, black beans, pico de gallo (uncooked tomato, onions etc), guacamole, tofu sour cream.  Cost US$11.75

nachos

This was a great dish and really enough for us, but of course Holly had also ordered a salad for her and I had ordered nori maki for myself which was US$6.95 for 5 pieces and consisted of sweet brown rice, shiso, tempeh, avocado, carrot, collard greens, umeboshi (Japanese fruit), tamari dipping sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger. (I love my pic below)

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We were very full after this so we didn't have room for any dessert.  Real Food Daily is a great place to go if you are trying to make an impression, so take someone here on a first date or for something special.  Our waiter was very courteous and friendly and though some may think the food is expensive it's worth the price you pay.

After dinner we headed to Holly's friend, Nik Tyler's place for a screeening organised by another of their friends, Prabhat, who is like me in Brisbane as he is always organising vegan get togethers in LA.  We were there to watch an episode from the series created by Morgan Spurlock, 30 Days. The episode we watched was about the all-vegan Karpel family who welcomed a hunter into their house for a month.  I ended up doing an interview with Melissa Karpel after the viewing on the Santa Monica streets as well as an interview with Nik who is one of the actors in the recenty released animal rights movie, Bold Native.

TUESDAY: Animal Acres & Follow your heart

Much better weather today!  The sun is out in LA so we will get on just fine!

I wandered around Beverly Hills in the morning and headed to Whole Foods to get some muffins for my plane trip tomorrow. Whole Foods is similar to Queensland's Mrs Flannery's but obviously much larger and there is a huge amount of products.  They still sell animals and animal products but there is a lot of healthier and ethical alternatives here.  I also saw Kelly Rutherford who plays Lily (Serena's mum) on Gossip Girl, one of my favourite shows!

Holly had arranged for us to have a tour at Animal Acres so we headed 45mins out of downtown LA around lunch time to a place called Acton.  We went through the San Fernando Valley and as Acton is in the desert the weather was great!  Mike was a wonderful tour guide and really amazing with the animals.  He told us so many stories about the many animals at the sanctuary and I took some great photos:

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The above photo is of myself, Holly & Erin at Animal Acres

I took some great footage from Animal Acres and I had an interview with Mike (I'm in the middle of editing this, so check the Video page soon) as well as an interview with Erin and Cameron.  It was a beautiful trip to visit and I would recommend if you are in the area to volunteer or have a tour on a Sunday.  There are also some great events that Animal Acres plan so check out their website! I'm also looking forward to meeting Lorri Houston the founder of Animal Acres and speaking with her and Alex Hershaft at the AR Conference in Washington, DC next month - we are speaking on Creating Effective Events.

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(the above two pics are taken by Holly Brown)

We had worked up quite an appetite, so off Holly and I went to Follow Your Heart cafe in Canoga Park.  Follow Your Heart is the creator of Vegenaise and they have a store attached to the cafe (or vice versa).

salad

dips

The waiter was really friendly and came out with a sample of the dressings that Follow Your Heart create and sell in their store.  See Dressing varieties for descriptions as I'm not sure which is which ;)

Holly ordered a Club Sandwich - US$8.50:

sandwich

I had the Zorro Burrito: black beans, braised tofu, Jack and Cheddar cheese, Spanish rice and salsa wrapped in an tortilla and served with jicama Salad, guacamole and sour cream. Price US$10.50.  This was great, but I had to take half with me to have for dinner later on.

burrito

We then went back to Holly's for a few hours and watched Behind the Mask, a documentary Holly's friend, Shannon Keith released a few years ago that I hadn't seen before now.  This is about the Animal Liberation Front who rescue animals and never hurt other animals (including humans) in the process.  There is an act in the USA called the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act that if you're not aware of, you should find out more about - it's pretty scary what the US government can do...  Shannon has recently released a new movie on the fur industry, Skin Trade, I haven't watched this yet, but will let you know when I do. Skin Trade will be shown at the AR conference in July.

I had a great time in LA with my friend Holly and was pleased to meet her other passionate vegan friends.  Holly dropped me back at my hotel and I went to bed knowing I'd be in Portland, OR this time tomorrow!

USA_Adventures_CoverMy USA Adventures - the Book by Leigh-Chantelle (ISBN 978-0-9808484-2-7) is now available to purchase in paperback on Amazon US & Amazon UK, Barnes & NobleEspresso Book Machine and other online retailers. Wholesale info for Retail Stores, Libraries, Colleges, Schools, Universities: Ingram Books.
See HERE for more information.

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