Vegan Matzo Ball Soup!!!

vegan matzo ball soupMatzo Ball Soup is one of my favorite meals during the colder months. It’s a traditional jewish chicken soup with dumplings. I grew up eating it in the spring for Passover but it’s good all year! This is my vegan adaptation.

vegan matzo ball soupThere are two ways to get matzo meal for the matzo balls; pulverize a few sheets of matzo or buy a box of pre-measure matzo meal. The recipe on the back is quickly tweaked to make it vegan.

vegan matzo ball soup


Matzo Balls:

  • Matzo Ball Mix (a box has two 2.5oz pouches each that make about 8 balls each)
  • ENER-G Egg Replacer
  • 1/2TB Better Than Bullion No Chicken Base (make sure it has the V for Vegan on it)
  • 2 TB Canola Oil.


  • 3 Medium Carrots
  • 4 Stalks of Celery
  • 1 Shallot
  • 2 Tablesppons Better Than Bullion No Chicken Base
  • 1 teaspoon of Ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Canola Oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 8-10 Cups of

BONUS: Vegan chicken strips  shredded and chopped

Make the Matzo Balls first! 

vegan matzo ball soupFollow the instructions on the Ener-G box to make two eggs ( quick tip, its 1TB powder to 4TB water) Whip it into a foam making sure the powder is desolved. Add Bullion to egg replacer mix, whip until fully dissolved, then add the oil, continue to beat with a fork until everything is smooth and dissolved.

vegan matzo ball soupMix one packet of matzo with the egg replacement mix until the its semi stiff. Roll it into 8 balls, cover and place in the fridge while you make the soup.

If you want more balls, just double all this.

vegan matzo ball soupChop the celery, make the carrots into coins, and dice the shallot.  Shallots work well in the soup and is better suited to the flavor than onions.

vegan matzo ball soupI’ve added some Beyond Meat grilled chicken strips that I’ve shredded and chopped.

vegan matzo ball soupHeat a large soup pot(try and go 6 Quarts or more) and then add Canola Oil, let heat for 30 seconds and then add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. When the salt has mostly dissolved add the carrots and celery. Sauté for a moment until they start to sweat releasing their water, then add the shallots.

vegan matzo ball soupWhen the shallots start to become translucent add the bullion. It will quickly start to caramelize which will be your cue to add water. 8 to 10 cups, it all depends on how salty you like your soup.

vegan matzo ball soupBring the soup to a rolling boil, having a lid really comes in handy here.

vegan matzo ball soupAdd the matzo balls, just drop them in there.

vegan matzo ball soupBefore you close the lid add the shredded vegan chicken strips if you’re using them! Or try vegan ham. The flavor will be all wrong, but it’s still kosher!

vegan matzo ball soupCover the pot and let cook on medium heat for 5-7 minutes. I let mine go a little too long in this picture which you can see on the sides of the pot. The matzo balls started to break up a little. The important thing is that they’re floating!   If you like your matzo ball soup with parsley, add it into the bowl right before you serve.

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Vegetable Shredder – James Alby

Vegan Skateboarder James Ably Vegetable Shredder

FS Ollie photo: Jon Geiter

NAME: James Alby

LOCATION: Portland, OR

OCCUPATION: I work for Stumptown Coffee.

fs boardslide photo: Jon Geiter

fs boardslide photo: Jon Geiter

Where do you like skating? I cruise the streets of Portland, looking for spots that aren’t really skate spots. Things out of the ordinary.

Why did you go Veg? I was vegetarian for awhile because I didn’t want to contribute to the suffering of animals, other living beings. I went vegan when I gained more knowledge and understanding about the dairy and egg industry.

What is your favorite thing to skate and why? I like pole-jams, wall-rides, barriers, and anything sketchy or crusty. But my absolute favorite thing is curbs because I can charge at them with full speed and have fun. Slappies forever!

What shoe are you skating now? Huf Classic Hi’s. All black, canvas. I really want to try Servant Footwear next!

Nollie bs tail slide photo: Jon Geiter

Nollie bs tail slide photo: Jon Geiter

Or just say whatever you want about skating Veg… Skate fast. Eat like you give a damn.

James is the Pole Jam king of Portland! I’m glad to call this guy a friend and it is always a blast to skate with him. Thanks for sending this in James!

Are you veg and shred? Send in a some photos and the answer to all these questions to  Don’t forget a mailing address so we can get you some rad stickers. ( US only – that international shipping is EXPENSIVE!)

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David Mayhew interview by Kevin Marks

David Mayhew vegan skateboarder Osiris D3

David Mayhew izas a professional skateboarder through most of the 90s. Coming up amongst such legends as Marc Johnson, Jerry Hsu, and Rodney Mullen; Mayhew was a street skating tech-wizard. His most infamous mark on skateboarding was the Osiris D3. A bombastic culmination of the ‘puffy’ skate shoe of the 90’s which actually came out in 2000. It was loved, hated, and remembered. Osiris has re-issued it several times (current models available are vegan, link at the bottom of this page) and Jenkem recently interviewed Mayhew about the shoe.  David along with his family have been Vegan for eight years and posting about it on social media. Contributing writer Kevin Marks spoke with Mayhew on Go Skateboarding Day in Madison, WI about skating, veganism, and even the D3.


Where did you grow up? Madison, Wisconsin

What year did you first step on a skateboard and how did that come about? Seeing my older brother skateboarding just looked so cool. He got me into it. That would have been around 1986.

Does your older brother still skate? No, it’s been a long time off the board for him.

Do you recall the 1st skate magazine you ever saw? It was a Thrasher Mag, 1985 or 1986.

First sponsors?  Small Room and Etnies. I rode for a shop in Madison called California Connection.

Did you ever work in a skate shop as a teenager? The owner of California Connection would let us work off product, help put boards together and clean things up.  It was never an official job.

How did you end up in San Diego? After riding for Small Room I started to ride for a company called Evol.  That was right around the time H-Street split up.  Plan B and Evol were the companies that came out of the split.  Evol was based out of San Diego so it seemed like the next step.  Plus I had a few friends that were living in SD.

David Mayhew vegan skateboarder Osiris D3 KRUXWhat was your first photo in a magazine? It was a Krux Trucks ad in Slap, black and white sequence of a kickflip nose slide nollie flip out.

Who would you room with on an Osiris trip? Kanten Russell or Tyrone Olson
David Mayhew vegan skateboarder Osiris D3

How much of a role did you have in designing your Osiris shoe? I came up with the concept of the lace loops the rest was done in-house. I wanted something different. I remember being on an Osiris tour and every shoe in all the shops looked the same. My thought was I just wanted something different. I ended up seeing a hiking boot at a Sports Authority store that had loops at the top of the shoe. I had a vision to continue the loops all the way down the side, next thing you know the D3 was born. At the first trade show the D3 wasn’t very popular and then 6 months after that they couldn’t make enough. Crazy time for sure.

We hear so much about pros earning big checks for a few years, and then having nothing to show for it.  Did you make investments with your shoe checks? Overall I’m pretty frugal.  My big purchases would have been a car and a house.  I also invested some in the stock market which was doing great until 2008!!

David Mayhew vegan skateboarder Osiris D3

kickflip photo:Cory Peteron

How much time transpired from first moving to San Diego to owning a home there?  I moved out in 1994 and bought my house in 1999.  My first pro pay check was for $300 and that’s not going to buy you anything in San Diego.

Wackiest place skateboarding has taken you? Honestly, I don’t really have one.  Traveling was such a gift from skateboarding.  It’s something I never expected when I first turned pro. And who knows, some people might think Madison is a wacky place.

During your tenure at Osiris, which three teammates amazed you with their skating ability? Jerry Hsu, but I met him before Osiris. He was about 14 when he went on a Maple tour with us. It’s easy to see his talent now. Chris Dobstaff would be another one. He had a big bag of tricks and was really creative. Smolik was also amazing. All three of them thrashed and had a natural ability. It was also cool to see Kanten Russell hold it down because I grew up watching him skate. So many people just run out of steam. Tyrone Olson is still going hard still to this day.

Can you name a skater that never got their due in the professional ranks? Way too many to mention.  We had this guy from Green Bay, WI.  Troy Turner is his name and man that dude was years ahead of his time.  Most of us would watch a video and then learn the tricks but he would already be doing them.  He never made it pro but easy could have.

David Mayhew vegan skateboarder Osiris D3

tailslide photo:Cory Peteron

Out of all the board companies you’ve ridden for which brand do you look back on with the fondest memories? It would be a toss up between Osiris and enjoi. We traveled so much with Osiris, all around the world. Plus it was most of the homies from San Diego. Enjoi was fun because it was Marc’s creation and it felt so good after the A-team. He is a creative dude and it felt good to have him in the director’s chair. Skateboarding was very serious and judgmental for a while.

What was the lead up to you moving back to Madison in the fall of 2004?  It was a few things that triggered it.  One being that MJ was going to leave enjoi and go to Chocolate.  Second would be Osiris kicking me off the team for no reason while I still had a great selling shoe.  Third would be the housing bubble.  My neighbor’s house in SD sold for almost double what they paid, made me wonder what I could get for my house.  I had an open house and about 2 minutes into it a family wanted to pay my top asking price, hard to say no.

Had you always wanted to open a skate shop?  Not really.  When I got back to Madison I noticed that none of the shops really carried good stuff or did anything fun.  I wanted to change that.  Next thing you know I had a partner and in 2005 we opened.

How did the name Alumni originate? I kinda felt like I was an alumni of skateboarding.  Going from kid to pro and back made me think of it like school.  Plus Madison is a big college town.

What do you see as the role of the local skater owned & operated shop? Listen to the skate community.  Some people may want more pro’s to come to town and some people just want more local events (contests, games of skate, video premier’s…) Keep the kids engaged and happy.

David Mayhew vegan skateboarder Osiris D3

wallride grab photo: Cory Peteron

What were the major struggles in running your own shop? About 3 years into the shop, Zumiez opened up 2 stores.  In some bigger towns that might not seem like a big deal but we needed those kids who were just starting.  Another thing would be Nike SB and I feel like that story has been told by many small store owners.

What led you to get out of the shop recently? My wife and I started a family, a boy 4 1/2 and a girl 2.  I have been staying at home with the kids and not having much to do with the shop.  We did have 2 employees to take my hours so I felt like once the kids were in school I would jump right back in.  My business partner had other plans.  I wanted to do more community stuff like lessons and skate camps, along with doing more events at local schools.  He thought those were all terrible things and wanted the shop to have nothing to do with them.

David Mayhew vegan skateboarder Osiris D3

bs 360 flip photo: Cory Peteron

With the growth of web sales, do you see a future in the local skate shop? I believe if you have a good relationship with the skaters, they will shop in your store.  I think as a society we need to understand how spending money at a local store can help pay for other things in your community.  When you buy online who knows where the money ends up. So get your butt off the couch, support local!!
What are you other interests outside of skateboarding? I played some soccer when I moved back, both indoor and outdoor.  Since becoming vegan I have enjoyed learning how to cook.  Now it’s all about family time with the wife and kids.

When did you find veganism and how did you come to that path? My wife and I have been vegan for 8 years now. She grew up a vegetarian and my dad was a vegetarian growing up. I had friends that had been vegan years before. It all clicked for me. I was driving to work one day and heard an interview with Karen Dawn, a vegan book author. I told my wife about it and we both read her book “Thanking the Monkey”. NO turning back. My wife and I support each other. It can seem like looking up a mountain, like how can I make this happen. The key is baby steps, take time to learn “why”? What is making you want to change: health, ethical, earth, global warming? It’s everything for us.

Were you vegetarian for a while or go right to being a vegan? I joined my wife as a vegetarian for about a week or 2.  I felt like I only ate cheese, cheese and more cheese.  It is easy to be an unhealthy vegetarian/vegan. A few days into it is when I heard Karen Dawn’s interview, perfect timing!!
There are very few vegans in the skateboard world and even fewer who are willing to be vocal about it. I was psyched to see that you proudly proclaim your veganism on your instagram page @davidrmayhew
are there other ways you are vocal about your choice to be vegan? 
I try to promote it to friends but not push.  A few of my friends have changed to being vegan in the last couple years.  My wife and I helped do the first ever Madison City Vegan Fest, they are on year 6 now.  More and more often people are interested if the topic is brought up.
Is your immediate family vegan or veg? My dad is a vegan.

Has it created any tension in your relationships?No tension but some jokes.  Everybody thinks it is my wife making me do it, like it makes you less of a man.

Are you raising your children vegan? YES, YES, YES!! Both of our children are vegan and will be as long as they live in our house.  We understand that they will have a learning curve.  All we can do is pass on our knowledge and hope they can figure things out.

What challenges if any does that present? Now that our son is going to preschool we have to plan out snacks. The school works well with us and plans out all snacks ahead of time. They have a few other kids that are vegan which helps.

Best city for veganism/vegan options that you’ve visited? Closest would be Chicago for us.  We also liked Seattle and SF.  Gonna be in San Diego and LA this September, excited to see what they have to offer.

How would you rate Madison for being vegan friendly?  Madison only has one vegetarian/vegan restaurant.  I end up cooking most of our food.  The summer/fall is great for salads and soups.  Winter is a different story and is kind of a struggle.

Favorite vegan meal to cook for the family? We love a nice big salad most days.  I also make black bean burgers and chickpea cutlets.  Those both use Vital Wheat Gluten which is a great source of protein.  We try hard to use a ton of fresh veggies and a protein source with each meal.   Winter is soups, sweet potato/peanut African stew would be one of my favorites.

Can you point to one film that you would recommend a person watch who is considering going veg or vegan? We watched “meet your meat” from PETA.  My wife and I have made our decision to stay vegan and will never turn back.  Watching those films makes me sick.  I’ve heard the film “earthlings” is a good one.  I believe that when the time comes you will have your moment when all of the dots line up.



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Emerica Romero Laced

Emerica Leo Romero Vegan Skateboard shoesEmerica Romero Laced comes in a vegan synthetic-leather colorway for the fall season!  Leo Romero’s revisions to the classic Laced model made this low profile shoe even more skateable. A single piece toe cap gives a smooth flick and should be much more durable then canvas in the all black synthetic-leather.  The tongue and collar are both thin, with very little padding.  The tongue on the Laced is stabilized with an elastic cage so not only will it stay in place, but you could even eschew the laces.  A note about sizing, go up a 1/2 size.  I tried these in both 10.5 and 11. The 11 was by far more comfortable.

Emerica sizes 5-13 $57.99

Emerica Made 2 video premieres in Los Angeles tomorrow September 8th at The Vista Theatre. Tickets are only $6. Show is at 10pm

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Vegetable Shredder – Weston Rundle

Weston Rundle vegan skateboarderNAME: Weston Rundle

LOCATION: Portland, OR

OCCUPATION: Cook, looking for a full time job at a vegan restaurant.

Where do you like skating? Street spots…many pads, ledges, gaps, banks, anything that grinds.  Skateparks with good street options all day.

Why did you go Veg? Can’t support animal brutality.

What is your favorite thing to skate and why? A sick ledge at a quiet urban street spot at twilight on a warm summer evening.

What shoe are you skating in now? Just ordered two pairs of the Emerica Figgy’s, the ones that Vegan Skate Blog just reviewed.  Clutch!

Or just say whatever you want about skating Veg… Do what you can.  Don’t expect the world to follow you because you have made the decision to be vegan.  Just be proud that you aren’t contributing as much to the bullshit in this world.

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Vans_Sp16_Skate_AV-RAPID-WELD-PRO-LITE BlkLtGray_SideVans AV Rapidweld Pro Lite dropped this spring in an entirely animal-free line! An update to Anthony Van Engelen’s line of pro model shoes with some truly durable material! The Rapidweld is a heat fusing technology that leaves no visible stitch lines on the upper of the shoe. Duracap is a rubber reinforcement that on some models is under the most outer layer of material.  In the AV Rapidweld Pro Lite however, the Duracap is featured on the outside.

Vans_Sp16_Skate_AV-RAPID-WELD-PRO-LITE PortBlk_PairAvailable in two colors for spring, there are two more for fall. All four utilizing the same material and construction.  We should mention on Vans site, the “Lite” model is not made with suede.  This has been confirmed with the design team, but marketing didn’t give the message.

Vans AV Rapidweld Pro Lite Vegan skateboard shoesFresh out of the box, the Vans AV Rapidweld Pro Lite is clean looking but the toe caps are were your eye goes.  The toe cap has caught on in a big way in skate shoes even though its been prominent since the early days of Chuck Taylors.  These aren’t a soft rubber like chucks. They’re somewhat slick to the touch. Just like the polyurethane coated mesh that forms the rest of the shoes vamp. The shoe is an instant fit, true to size at 10.5 and wide in the toe. A good fit in both the front and heal!

Vans AV Rapidweld Pro Lite Vegan skateboard shoesA close look at the ollie area and more of the vamp gives an idea of what the AV Rapidweld Pro Lite is made of, though it still seems mysterious. It feels like a rubber coated paper, something that has been crushed and compressed. The shoe is super light weight as the name suggests.

Vans AV Rapidweld Pro Lite Vegan skateboard shoesThe back quarter of the shoe is almost entirely mesh, with a reinforced heal cap. The padding is medium weight so while there isn’t a huge amount of ankle protection, it’s got a little more heft then most skate shoes.

Vans AV Rapidweld Pro Lite Vegan skateboard shoesAn extra thick line of textured foxing tape is there like all of Vans’s Pro shoes, and they almost last as long as the ollie and flip trick area! Kind of a reverse of what you’d expect from your standard skate shoe.

Vans AV Rapidweld Pro Lite Vegan skateboard shoesTraditional Vans Waffle sole look. Nothing new to see here, but as for how they hold up, that they might be.

Vans AV Rapidweld Pro Lite Vegan skateboard shoesThe Pro line models also feature this super cushioning insole! Heals rejoice!

Vans AV Rapidweld Pro Lite Vegan skateboard shoesThe all mesh tongue certainly adds some ventilation to the shoe. The tongue is also held in place by  sock liner that keeps the shoe pretty damn snug. Nice for a shoe that is a little wider in the toe!

So how did the shoe measure up?

Vans AV Rapidweld Pro Lite Vegan skateboard shoesA profile after 6-weeks of skating. The only “destroyed” part of the shoe is the laces of the front (ollie side) shoe and a little bit of foxing tape.  A little bit of scuff at the top of the collar and some dirty mesh on the back make the Vans AV Rapidweld Pro Lite un-presentable for weddings and other fancy gatherings but they still have a TON of skate life left in them. You can barely see the ollie patch, so lets zoom in.

Vans AV Rapidweld Pro Lite Vegan skateboard shoesThe polyurethane coating is coming away and you can see the woven material underneath, but its holding strong. Vans AV Rapidweld Pro Lite Vegan skateboard shoesVans AV Rapidweld Pro Lite Vegan skateboard shoesA hot spot around the ball of the foot has worn but plenty of grip left in these!

Vans AV Rapidweld Pro Lite Vegan skateboard shoesFast-forward to six weeks of skate wear and a hole has formed in the ollie area.  The red is the sock liner, which even after this photo was taken continues to hold up in skating.  (No holes in the socks just yet)  The foxing tape is totally worn smooth, but has a good bit of life left. Aside from the soles wearing down, a little shoe-goo would patch the tiny ollie hole and keep the AV Rapidweld Pro Lite running a little longer.

So the verdict. If you want a shoe that lasts and don’t mind spending a little more, buy this shoe. These are the longest lasting skate shoe we’ve ever seen produced by Vans! The fact that they have done this with out the use of animal materials is just a sign of the future things to come from the industry.  The fit is nice, room in the toe for good movement and a solid fit on the heal.  Break in period, took about half a day of walking around in them. The first skate was a little awkward but once broken in, solid.  Usually when we get promotional shoes, we don’t get extra laces, thats fine but for $90 lets hope two sets are in the box.  The only real gripe about the shoe is the smell.  After awhile they smell, and they retain the smell.  Perhaps this is a personal issue, but with other shoes, they have not smelled so bad.  Often synthetic materials retain foot odor in pockets of material that would otherwise escape and defuse in a canvas shoe. Well, not here.  Keep them outside the bedroom door.

All that said, get yourself a pair and they will likely last twice as long as your average skate shoe, vegan or otherwise. For the life you’ll get out of these, it’s like buying two or three pairs of shoes in one.

Check your local skate shop, we know DLX in SF and Uprise in Chicago have carried this model.  And don’t forget, the Lite is Vegan.  If its just the Pro without “Lite” at the end, it is made of animals.


Vans size 6.5-13 $90.00  (All 4 colorways are vegan)

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Vegetable Shredder – Garet Bullard

Vegetable Shredder vegan skateboarder garet BullardNAME: Garet Bullard

LOCATION: Myrtle Beach South Carolina

OCCUPATION: Student and hopeful artist

Where do you like skating? I prefer street skating over skating a park but if I have to choose I’ll say the local park in Myrtle, Matt Hughes Skate Park. If I have a more broad choice I really like going up to Columbia, Charlotte, and just any out of town skating/filming.

Why did you go Veg? I was volunteering, which is a stretch because I mainly just walked the dogs that I thought weren’t getting enough attention at an animal shelter in Columbia SC. I felt this internal guilt of how those animals had ended up in the situations that they were in. This one dog I especially felt a connection to had some facial scarring from who knows what but was still as sweet and loyal as could be. Although this was not a very extreme thing in the grand scheme of animal neglect it made me realize just how pure animals are and how I was contributing to their abuse and enslavement. I did vegetarian for about a month and then realized that wasn’t the best I could do. I went vegan with no plans of turning back.

What is your favorite thing to skate and why? I really enjoy skating things that people aren’t looking at as something to skate. Figuring out how to do something at a spot that doesn’t seem worth skating is super rewarding. Because of this the local people I skate with have coined the term, “Garet Spots” and are not fans of going to them.

Vegan Skateboarder Vegetable ShredderWhat shoe are you skating in now? Right now I’m skating the Adidas Seeley in Canvas. I read the stripes are man-made leather (synthetic) on several sites. I also just ordered another pair of the canvas/gum Adi Ease and those are the best shoes I’ve skated in awhile.

Or just say whatever you want about skating Veg… I’m vegan for the animals, not for my health and I think that’s a major misconception about being vegan. Vegan food is amazing and has so many more flavors than what I was eating on a non-vegan diet. I also really love taking out of town trips because I can try to persuade my group of non-vegan friends to either try or go by the vegan spots other cities have to offer. Shout out to Dellz Uptown in Charleston, Lambs Bread in Columbia, and Bean in Charlotte. Oh and to the good homies in HD and the sk843 family too.

I want to get down to the Carolinas and check out some Garet Spots!  Thanks for sending this in Garet, glad its finally up on the blog!

Are you veg and shred? Send in a some photos and the answer to all these questions to  Don’t forget a mailing address so we can get you some rad stickers. ( US only – that international shipping is EXPENSIVE!)

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State Elgin

State Footwear vegan skate shoes CanvasThe State Elgin is just one of several vegan models from this new skate shoe brand. This classic silhouette features a denim canvas upper in black/white (there is also a grey chambray colorway). With minimal padding in the tongue, collar and toe, this is truly a shoe for the minimalist.  State Footwear vegan skate shoes CanvasThe real skate durability isn’t going to come in this denim upper. Instead look closer at the double-wrapped (or reverse wrapped) vulcanized sole.  The extra width in the textured foxing tape around the toes gives a lot of extra flicks and ollie before the upper gets the business end of the grip tape. State Footwear vegan skate shoes CanvasThe Elgin’s gum soles herringbone pattern is straight forward. Nothing fancy just good old fashion grip.

The styling remains true to the legacy of Dekline who recently called it quits.  Kevin Furtado the brand director of Dekline launched State as a price point brand. (Read more at JENKEM)  Focusing on a few solid models in two or three colors. He is running as a barebones garage operation. So while State Footwear is selling in Zumiez, this is a small operation and you can supporting the brand directly.  We would love to see a good use of the new synthetic materials on State’s offerings. That might not be coming though, given the mission of the brand and reality of the shoe industry.  Casual cruising in the canvas models. Get yourself some Shoe Goo for heavier ripping and some thick socks.

State Footwear  $55 size 7-13 (no half sizes)

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Mike Vallely – Veganism, Street Plant, and what started it all. 

Mike Vallely Interview Vegan Skateboarder In 1990, World Industries released Mike Valley’s pro-model deck that became known as the Barnyard board. Emblazoned on the top of the deck, Valley’s unmistakable message, expressed through a cow with paintbrush in mouth, “Please Don’t Eat My Friends.” Mike V. made a reputation for himself, particularly on being a vegan. Nine years after he made his diet known to the world, he would be eating animals. Mike Vallely is now vegan again along with his family. The re-issue of the Barnyard board from Valley’s company, Street Plant Brand and collaborations with Servant Shoes and Pizzanista Pizzeria featuring Marc McKee’s art from that deck, re-ignited a conversation about veganism, politics, and the past.

I met Mike Vallely at his front door, he greeted me into his home, offered a glass of water and we headed back to the garage. Mike introduced me to his daughter Emily, his partner in Street Plant, who is busy answering emails and filling orders. The two car garage has no room for a vehicle, rather it serves as a warehouse, shipping department, and office. Short of manufacturing, the business is authentically DIY and the whole family is involved.
A few weeks before over a brief email exchange, Mike lets me know he isn’t into doing interviews, “The only exceptions I would ever consider would be discussing kindness to animals or kids wearing helmets, I will do this interview as long as the topic stays focused on veganism.” That is exactly what I came to talk about. The storied skater who once was so adamant in his beliefs of animal rights, beliefs so strong that in the past they led to fights and altercations with friends, had since been abandoned to such an extent that Vallely openly poked fun at the ideas of vegetarianism. In a 2009 interview with Erica Yary, on the topic of why he quit being vegetarian he quips, “I got hungry, I got really hungry.” So what I and many others have wondered is, what changed? In Fall of 2015 Mike, his wife Ann and both daughters Emily and Lucy all went vegan. To figure that out, I wanted to know what was different and how Mike started on his path in the first place.

Powell-Peralta released Mike’s first pro model in 1988. The artwork, now a classic, is an African elephant. He had to fight for it, a move that caused ongoing tension within the company. The concept was balked at, not fitting into the aesthetic of skeletons, flames, and bugs. “I want to remind people…” is what Mike said to Stacy Peralta for his reason of the graphic choice. A reminder of what? Vallely recalls seeing a television program on endangered African elephants and feeling that their biggest obstacle in survival was humans. “I actually cried watching this program, it was so unbelievable to me that this could be happening to the most beautiful majestic land animal.” At seventeen Mike starts a radical process for a kid from suburban New Jersey. “When I first started questioning this stuff I didn’t know vegetarianism was a thing. Just like I didn’t know skateboarding was a thing until I saw it for the first time. It was the same kind of awakening. It just made me question everything.”

Mike developed his message for his next ground breaking skate deck. Though his original vegetarianism concept had gone through the artistic license of Marc Mckee and Steve Rocco, coming out the other end florescent and cartoonish, the words were clear. “Please Don’t Eat My Friends.” It was the first skateboard with a vegetarian message and would be for at least two decades. Mike was undoubtably making his mark and influencing kids. He was also drawing a lot of anger out of people who saw his voice as a threat.

With limited resources and no community to support his then budding ideas of animal rights and vegetarianism, Mike adopted a lifestyle in which he could figure things out on his own. He began cutting things one by one out of his diet as he understood the harm they caused. The big change would start after hearing The Smiths “Meat is Murder.” Even among close friends Mike met resistance. “I was trying to explain what I was doing and what I was trying to accomplish to an older friend, a confident that was in the know. He started ripping me apart with ‘…cheese this, and your shoes [are leather]’, it was really kind of mean and I was hurt by it. I was trying to do something good, and instead of encouraging me and giving me stuff to think about, he was like, ‘You’re a fucking idiot.’ If you’re going to do one thing then you have to do everything.’” At that point Mike had never heard of a vegan or really understood it. The people would often come across as rude or condescending even when they were in the know.

At eighteen or nineteen Mike recalls feeling young, sensitive and reserved but was still putting his ideas about vegetarianism into the public sphere. His reservedness didn’t stop him from speaking his mind, but he wasn’t quite able to face down the reaction it received. “I was very sincere and very serious, I couldn’t laugh at it, I wouldn’t accept their jokes.” Mike became confrontational, facing down those that might poke fun before they had the opportunity. His two friends in the skateboarding world were Christian Kline and Ed Templeton. These friendships would often gravitate towards sitting on a curb and talking, bouncing ideas and concepts off one another without judgement. Both Christian and Ed would become vegetarian and then vegan through their friendship with Mike. While Ed was moving closer to a professional career, Mike recalls, “Ed was very consistent in pushing me to stay engaged in the skateboarding world, where I had lost the love for it. I still loved my skating but I had lost an interest in being bullseye for everyones hatred.”

Mike felt he had pulled so far back from the industry that his mere presence was treated as a gimmick or a flash in the pan, soon to be over. Though his unique style and creativity in skateboarding still brought him deserved accolades the criticism came hard. “I had a target on my back and the arrows being shot at me were from people I respected, people I looked up to, my heroes. Older skaters would say to me ‘come on Mike, settle down, you don’t really [believe this], when you grow up you’ll see.’ They would treat me like everything I was talking about was a waste of peoples time, a waste of pages in the magazines, that I should let my skating do the talking. I just felt there was so much more to communicate.”
The backlash caused a reaction similar to an abusive relationship. Some days Mike hid away, sheltering himself from the naysayers and ready to check himself out of skateboarding all together, and the next have brash confrontations with people in the industry. All the while being drawn further into the business that was dishing out the abuse. A close friendship with Ed Templeton throughout was a driving force that kept him connected to the skateboard world through the hard days of the late 80’s and early 90’s. By 1995 Mike felt that he had reclaimed a viable career in skateboarding and was going to make the most of it.

At the end of the 90’s the skateboarding industry had matured. A broader interest in skating and all things extreme had drawn in corporate America which looked to included skaters on their rosters. Skateboard focused brands also saw the boom. Mike had an aggressive street style that was unlike any other. It was unique and tapped into a raw energy so loud, it refused to fall on deaf ears. The prosperity that a top level skater could achieve in this wave of pop-cultural enthusiasm was very real and within reach of Mike V.
“By ’97 I began to see that something bigger was coming and I was positioned to be on the front lines of it. I was going to benefit from this great growth in skateboarding.” He had worked hard to stay at the professional level and was determined to hold on to his spot amongst the great modern skateboarders. Mike wanted to have a big impact with his message. “ If you’ve got Tony [Hawk] spinning in the air, and you have Koston flipping his board, and Jamie going down these big drops; That’s great, but who is going to talk about creativity, expression, individuality. These things were the undertone of my whole career and I had a very large vehicle to tell my story.” That desire to go big would bring him great success but not with out some great compromises. Mike laments with regret, “I can’t even relate to that [idea of going big] now.”

His focus and consistency paid off, Etnies tapped Mike V. for an opportunity to have a pro model shoe, considered the pinnacle in achievements of a professional skateboarder. As Mike would describe though, this was not without hesitation on Etnies part. After all, despite other large corporations pursuing him, within skateboarding Mike’s reputation preceded him. “I still had this stigma attached to me. When the Oakleys and the Dakines came into my life, they didn’t know how the skate world viewed me. They just saw what I was doing and said, ‘Rad, we want to work with you.’ but Etnies knows the noise and they can’t reconcile the value [of having me on the team] and the noise.”

The concern with that “noise” was, Mike again would be an easy target. What would the magazines like, Thrasher or Big Brother write? Mike was again sensitive to the idea of being the center of controversy and the skate brands with preserving a reputation. “I was going to crazy my way out of skateboarding. By being such a severe individual I was not going to get the pro-model shoe or other opportunities that were coming my way.”

During the shoe talks, SoleTech (Etnies, Emerica, éS, Sheep) had planned a skate-trip to Australia. Bob Burnquist, Eric Koston, Marc Johnson and Chris Senn would be there. The team manager was less than thrilled with the idea of Mike Vallely coming along. Mike recalls, “He was like, ‘Were going to bring Mike on this trip? He doesn’t even drink or party…’ It was just this thing put on the table. ‘What a drag, we’re going to bring this fucking drag with us?” It affected Mike and his wife, Ann deeply. Mike didn’t care about drinking or partying either way, it just wasn’t something he valued and now this idea people had jeopardized his future. “I told Don Brown, ( Head of Marketing at Sole Technology) ‘No worries, I’m down to go out with the boys and have some beers,’ and the sense of release was like this cloud left and the sun came out. ‘Mike’s cool, Mike’s cool!” Etnies Vallely would go on to be one of the best selling skate shoes at the time, and the original black colorway was even a synthetic nubuck material.

The excitement felt by Mike’s sponsors elevated his career and brought him to a place where he could achieve those dreams. One could look at it as vindication, or persistence. He stuck to his guns and eventually people everywhere saw the stoke! Looking back though, Mike sees it as a bitter sweet time.
“It was the start of a new season in my life, but ultimately as I look back on it now, it was a great compromise. I compromised who I was for acceptance. Once I left my own course and tried to fit into someone elses thing, all of the walls around me crumbled.”

Mike was focused on his professional skate career and his family. By 1999 he had given up being vegan. “I wasn’t focused on myself or my soul on a deeper level. I had tuned myself out. I don’t even know what justification I would have had but I was totally lost.” I asked if he had met any negative backlash to giving up veganism. “No not really. It’s so stupid. You chop that one piece out of the stairs that you’ve been climbing and then you’re just swimming in the bullshit. People are so happy to see you there. ‘Hey its good to see you eating meat again!” As Mike would describe, he felt lost for the next 15 years. His commercial successes are noteworthy. Mike competed and won many skate competitions, his likeness has appeared in video games a couple with his name on them and has been in major Hollywood films. This, without even touching the countless accomplishments within skateboarding. He is proud to have been able to make these things happen.

In 2014 Black Flag was touring. Mike V. was managing the band, driving the van, and after things went sour with Ron Reyes, Mike was also now the lead singer. In July they played Louisville Kentucky at Headliners Music Hall. Mike took walks before shows to think, trying to get lost, and clear his head. Though he didn’t know it at the time, the venue was a short walk south of the Butchertown neighborhood. Historically a part of Louisville that contained slaughterhouses and rendering plants, walking west on East Main Street one might confuse the unremarkable white brick wall for just about anything. What Mike heard though made him take notice. “I was walking along the side of this building and then I heard this screaming, which I really believed to be the sounds of terror of children on a roller coaster.” Mike continues to hear the screams as he rounds the corner of the building and thinks, “This must be one hell of a ride!” and then is confronted with the truth; very large, very pink pigs being prodded off of a stock trailer and into the building. “The thing about the screaming, it wasn’t one uniform sound. That’s what made me think that it was children, it was a chorus of individual voices. If it would have been a uniform pig sound, I could have easily said to myself, ‘dumb pigs being slaughtered’ and rationalized and justified that, but the individual voices I couldn’t ignore. And when I realized they weren’t screaming because they were on a roller coaster, but were screaming because they where being murdered, I went, ‘Oh fuck, I can’t live like this. I can’t rationalize, justify, or turn a blind eye to it.”

Like most people, Mike had built up the walls that say, eating animals is normal but now and maybe more impactful than his first stint as a vegetarian something changed. “You have an experience like that and then the walls completely crumble, I am walking through the dust of my own creation that has now been shattered.

“I’ve gone so far away from who I was that I’m not able to confront this. I’m not ready to confront my family, and tell people, I can’t fucking do this.’ I’m not prepared for the backlash.” Mike admits to feeling selfish for having such reservations. He instantly starting eating vegan through the rest of the tour with a looming fear for the inevitable conversations at home.

Ann Vallely, Mike’s wife was at one time vegan and vegetarian. Their lives had drastically changed and one could think that the same walls of protection Mike had built rationalizing eating animals, would be similar for Ann. The lifestyle the Vallely’s had been accustomed had taken a hit and there were already considerable changes the family was getting used to. Financial hardships had cause them to lose their house and cars; Now when Mike tells his family what exactly he has experienced in Louisville and sees their reaction, he feels he is going to lose his family too. So he folds, with tears burning down his cheeks, he says ‘whatever’ and the tension that Mike has been holding onto all these years continues growing.
The heartfelt story of the Louisville slaughterhouse sits with his family. It becomes an occasional conversation topic, particularly with Emily, Mike’s oldest daughter.
“She’s a very serious young woman. She does her leg work and does her research. She began the process in her own way to reconcile the story I had and the life she had previously lived as a young vegetarian.” Emily would share information, and the whole family began to go with her, back to a life that Ann, Mike, and Emily had previously lived. Mike describes Lucy, his youngest, as a sensitive and caring person, having an immediate understanding to the path the family was taking. “Our nature as individuals is really at home with this lifestyle.”

The struggles Mike V. felt came from many directions. The reliance on brands telling him when he was getting paid, or if he was going to be a sponsored skateboarder was a massive part of this pressure. He admits that, “the healing process only started once I decided to not be subservient to the skateboard brands.” Where Mike is now may have been in the making even before the Black Flag tour and Louisville. What is now Street Plant Brand, a self funded skateboard company, began as an Instagram account managed by Emily Vallely. As Mike tells it there was no intention of making products. It was more of a look back through the archives of Mike V’s career. Perhaps what Mike felt was again nearing an eclipse.
As Street Plant [the Instagram] became more active, including Mike’s poetry and prose peppered among rad images and videos of skating, it became obvious that there was something more there. He was able to make the leap to a skateboard company of his own in large part because of Emily. Mike recalls she told him, “You’ve taught us to be self-sufficient and the D.I.Y. ethos. This is still who you are at your core but you’re still holding onto something that’s [not there]. You can do something that’s yours and we’ve got your back.” Jokingly but with some truth Mike tells me, “Two years ago, if Red Bull or Nike would have called me, I would have gotten down on my knees and begged ‘please, please, can I just get on the cruise ship out to sea.’  and now I wouldn’t answer their calls.  I’ve taken the right steps in the right direction to do right for me and my family. It all sort of set the table for where we are now.”

The changes that brought the Vallely family to start Street Plant Brand and as a family to live a vegan lifestyle came from a place of honesty, introspection, and real engagement. Nearly 30 years before, Mike was exploring these ideas and cementing his core beliefs. His steadfast beliefs eventually were moved and adapted by the changing realities as a young person starting a family. When Mike described his reason for letting his diet waiver, it got down to competing interests. He was perfectly fine with eating potato chips, junk food or whatever he could scrape together. That wasn’t something he was comfortable doing with his family. Self sacrifice can be easy, it’s something completely different when you factor in the people you care about, not wanting them to go through the same hardships that you would impose on yourself.

Mike Vallely may be known for his massive drop-ins, hand plants, and brawling. Over the years the fights he engaged and those massive drops he took required some heavy determination. As we spoke it was clear that what came after was much harder. Getting to that place of realization and living a vegan lifestyle isn’t easy. Allowing oneself to then stray, pile on the rationalizations, and assimilate to a world that is waiting with open arms and a side of bacon is much simpler; And as many may not want to admit, the path of least resistance. Harder is to dig out of the self-imposed justifications, face what you’ve known all along, and admit you have to change.

The Vallely family are talking about veganism and sharing their lifestyle. The Vallely women run a blog, The Vintage Vegans, where they post recipes, interviews, and cruelty free fashion editorials. Mike is staying grounded. Now when he talks about vegansim, it isn’t a defense or a reaction, it’s a celebration.

At present we are not going to see a new vegan skateboard shoe with Vallely emblazoned on the side. He has decided to keep his name off of sponsorships and other companies products. What you can expect from Mike; he will be skating for Street Plant Brand, touring and staying engaged in the skate scene. Taking a look back at the original content that launched Street Plant, Mike got back to his core beliefs. Looking to the future expect Mike to continue bringing creativity, expression, and the individuality that started it all.

editing assistance provided by Kevin Marks and Joey Zittnan.

Thanks to Mike for inviting me into his home. Today is the 5th Anniversary of Vegan Skate Blog and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate.

–Mr. Fakie aka Kerry

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Skateistan Fundraiser with Punk Rock Karaoke

Punk Rock Karaoke Skateistan vegan skateblog DLXSF Hella Vegan EatsTomorrow we are hosting a fundraiser for Skateistan along with our good friends Hella Vegan Eats in their new home at Classic Cars West in Oakland!   The Punk Rock Karaoke Collective has brought us into the fold, so we’ll have all (probably at least 5, there are close to 1,000) of your favorite punk rock songs.  We also have an amazing raffle planned with some kick ass loot from Deluxe Skateboard Distro, Timeless Coffee gift card, VSB t-shirts, and more!  We’ll have plenty of stickers too!  Come hungry. Hella Vegan Eats will be serving up their finest in comfort foods!

Skateistan is a skateboard-focused school that has its humble beginnings on the street of Kabul, Afghanistan.  What started as an ad-hock skate session of NGO workers and local kids, blossomed into a full on skate park and education platform.  Skateistan provides a creative outlet for young people maligned by war. It also creates a space for kids, traditionally denied an education, to get up to speed in reading and other educational disciplines so they can enroll in public schools.   The mission of Skateistan has elevated opportunities especially for young girls.

The efforts of Skateistan have expanded beyond Kabul, so we’re holding this benefit to help them continue to serve kids education and pursuit of fun.

Come on out,

Karaoke start at 7:30pm on Saturday the 18th $5 at the door (no one turned away for lack of funds)  All proceeds from the door and raffle go to Skateistan.

Classic Cars West

411 26th Street

Oakland, CA

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