In the Spotlight: Marla Rose

by Native Foods Cafe


Another great interview from the In the Spotlight section of our
monthly Native Newsletter!  In February, we interviewed the lovely Marla Rose, co-founder of Chicago
VeganMania and creator of vegan superhero Vivian Sharpe.  Marla also is a freelance writer and
her work has appeared in VegNews, One Green Planet and the Examiner.

Native Foods Cafe, vegan restaurant, vegan food, Marla Rose


Where are you from?

I am a proud Chicagoan. 


What is your sign?

I may be from Chicago but I still know all
this stuff: I am an Aquarius with a Cancer moon and Aquarius rising. I am a
Horse in Chinese astrology.


What inspired you to become vegan?

The same thing that inspired me to become a
vegetarian: compassion to other animals. Once I realized that taking eggs and
milk from animals was exploitative and so frequently very violent (to the
animals themselves and their babies), I couldn’t continue to turn a blind eye
to what our society considers to be “harmless” animal products. Veganism is a
way of creating harmony between my values and my actions.


Who or what do you think has had the biggest impact
on the growing vegan movement in the past year?

There are so many courageous individuals and
organizations that are working at such an impressive capacity that it’s hard to
narrow it down. Ultimately, the cumulative effect of all the talented, smart people
using their unique skill sets to be a voice for the animals is what is going to
help turn the tide. If I had to narrow it down to one, though, I’d say that the
undercover investigations of Mercy For Animals are illuminating what’s behind the
blinders so many have put up in regard to the animals they eat. MFA is exposing
everything from industrial facilities to backyard slaughter operations and every
time they release their findings, they are actively closing the knowledge gap:
pretty soon, there will be no deceptions left for people to hide behind in
order to continue to justify consuming animals.


What inspired you to write The Adventures of
Vivian Sharpe
?  Is she based on
a real life person?

I was inspired by this incredible movement of
people who are boldly creating positive change in the world, something that is
so profound and altruistic that I get goose bumps when I think about it. “It’s
an idea whose time has come,” to quote Mahatma Gandhi.


The character of Vivian Sharpe just kind of popped into my head one day as a
cartoon vegan superhero but the longer she sat with me in my head, the more
real she became. Eventually, she and the other characters in the novel became
as real to me as someone I would know in person, but, no, she is not consciously
based on anyone. My guess is that unconsciously she is an amalgam of so many inspiring
and unique people.


How did Chicago VeganMania come to be?

Chicago VeganMania came to be because a few of us looked around this amazingly
diverse metropolis of ours and decided that it was ridiculous that our city had
no exclusively vegan festival of its own. Chicago has a great tradition of
different cultural festivals and as veganism is a culture, we thought
that we should create a celebration of vegan culture. The first year of CVM, we
had no idea what to expect but when we pulled up in the morning an hour before
the doors opened, there was a giant line of people snaking around the outside
of the building, waiting to get in.

HomepagepicNative Foods Cafe, vegan restaurant, vegan food, Marla Rose, Chicago VeganMania

Seeing this created a feeling of gratitude
and excitement that will always stick with me. From the beginning, it was
always our intention to present veganism in the best possible light because
there are so many misconceptions and we need to demystify it: if you go to
Chicago VeganMania, you are in for inclusive, fun, unique, memorable and
dynamic experience.


Do you have a favorite vegetable? If so, why is it
your favorite?

Just one? Okay, kale is going to kill
me for saying this, but probably Japanese eggplant. Oh, it so decadently
luscious grilled…

AuberginejNative Foods Cafe vegan restaurant uses this photo courtesy of Wikipedia.


What is your family’s favorite dish to enjoy at

I just asked my son and he said that his
favorite is something I’ve improvised over the years called “Cheesy Broccoli
and Rice” (he’d be happy to have this at least once a week) and my husband’s
favorite is Indonesian Peanut Noodles with Tofu and Vegetables.


Vegan baking or cooking?

Both! I am happy to do either.


If you were to come back as an animal what would
you like it to be?

For self-serving reasons, I would love to be
the cherished, doted-upon little dog of a gay couple that never, ever breaks
up. Oh, they also go on walks to the beach every day. If not a dog, I’d say
that I’d like to be a bird because flying looks like such a cool thing to be
able to do.

Native Foods Cafe vegan restaurant uses this photo courtesy of Wikipedia.


Do you have any pets? If so, what kind and what
are their names?

We have a domestic short-haired kitty named
Clover who has a little black dot on her nose and a poodle-terrier mix named
Romeo who is pure love, but especially drawn to the ladies.


If you could live anywhere, where would it be and

I’d say San Francisco because it has always
felt like home to me there. There’s just something about the air, the fog, the
Painted Ladies (pic below) and energy.

Native Foods Cafe vegan restaurant uses this photo courtesy of Wikipedia.


What is your favorite current menu item at Native
Foods Café?  

I am obsessed – obsessed! – with the
Sesame Kale Macro Bowl. Seriously,
I need to fan myself whenever I think about it. Which I’m doing now.

Yelp Tamara Macro
Native Foods Cafe vegan restaurant uses this photo courtesy of Yelp uses Tamara.



Favorite Native Foods’ dessert? 

The Peanut Butter Parfait is a party in a cup.

PB Parfait
Native Foods Cafe, vegan restaurant, vegan food, Marla Rose


If aliens landed in your backyard, what is the
first food and drink you would serve them?

Assuming they eat what we consider to be food,
I would make the Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s
of Vegan Baking
because then we would be instant friends. If they don’t
like them, they are dangerously unstable and we are doomed so it’s best just to
know that right from the beginning. We always have herbal iced tea in the fridge
so I think that this would be good to go with the muffins. We definitely don’t
want to mess around with caffeine and a potentially dangerous alien race.


What one vegan product do you think you could never
live without?

A couple of squares of organic, Fair Trade
dark chocolate a day keep me happy and content. 



Native Foods Cafe, vegan restaurant, vegan food, Marla Rose

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