Food & Shoes

By Kelly Behr

Native Foods had an opportunity to be part of a great event at Amour Shoes, an all vegan shoe and accessories store located by our River Forest location.


Students were treated to Native Foods eats and were able to hear our Pals at Mercy For Animals speak about living a cruelty free life! It was like the full vegan circle. Learning about the harmful effects of factory farming to animals and the environment and then treated to both vegan food and fashion, showing these kids how easy it is to incorporate vegan options into their everyday life…great tasting and looking ones!


It is so awesome to expose a whole group of students to plant based cuisine who may have never eaten vegan food before. Thank you Amour Shoes for inviting us to participate!


Native Foods Washington D.C. Video Contest Winners!

DC pic

In the spirit of our new D.C. area vegan restaurant opening next week in Falls Church, Virginia (WOOHOO!!) we wanted to give a little shout out to some of our most passionate, loyal and creative guests EVER– all of our winners from the Native Foods D.C. Grand Opening Video Contest!! Your entries were seriously above and beyond what we expected…from hilarious to touching to just plain wacky! Thank you again to all of our winners and to anyone who submitted an entry. Today’s post is for all of YOU!

Continue reading

Go Pick on Someone Your Own Size!

By Kelly Behr


One big (huge) company is suing little Hampton Creek who are the creators of Just Mayo. Just Mayo, if you are not familiar is a vegan brand that comes in delicious flavors like chipotle & sriracha not to mention the tastiness of the original. 

Just Mayo found themselves smack dab in the middle of a lawsuit the other day brought on by it’s much larger competitor, Hellmann’s. Their problem? Hampton Creek “mayo” wasn’t using real eggs!! I mean how dare they! Hellmann’s is claiming that Just Mayo is participating in fraud by making people think the product contains real eggs and by definition should not be allowed to use the word Mayo. Looks like someone is a little scared of this up and coming brand if you ask me! Continue reading

Are you ready for some football?

By Kelly Behr 

Native Foods Cafe


Native Foods uses this image courtesy of

I am a pretty big sports fan. I grew up in St. Louis, MO attending Cardinals games from about the time I was four years old. My father, an avid golfer would drag me to PGA tour events. I went to a division 1 college so I went to  my fill of football and basketball games in those 4 years. I still try and attend any sporting event I get invited to, but the thing that all these events have in common is the lack of vegan options at the stadiums. 

When you go to almost any stadium the food options seem to be the same assortment of nachos and hot dogs and as a vegan you probably find yourself not eating or having another pretzel at the very least. 

Well good news for vegans, it seems some stadiums are taking notice on their lack luster vegan options. It seems the San Franciso 49ers stadium has come to the rescue and  will be the most vegan friendly stadium in America. 

ABC news just recently did a story on this new coming of food age stadium. The article stated that:


“We are going to be the most vegan-friendly stadium in the entire sports industry,” Zach Hensely, manager of Centerplate, told the San Francisco Chronicle, which reported that there would be more than 30 vegan options at the stadium, including one at every permanent stand." 


I really can't even imagine what it will be like when other stadiums jump on board and offer some plant based options and I can actually eat something! But it looks like the tide could be turning but for now my $9 pretzel will have to do! 




In the Spotlight: Kelly O’Neil

By Kelly Behr

Native Foods Cafe

If you read our newsletters that we have in the stores you are used to seeing someone featured as our, "In the Spotlight" special guest. This month we were very excited to feature Kelly O'Neil. She is the Education and Outreach Coordinator for Farm Sanctuary. Farm Sanctuary has become very near and dear to Native Foods. We have recently entered into a partnership with them that will allow us to work together on many fun and exciting things coming up. 

I was able to visit the Farm Sanctuary in Acton, CA and meet Kelly and all the awesome animals that call the sanctuary their home. There was a baby cow who we heard mooing when we were walking away and realized he had been following us all the way down to the hill and wanted to stay with us wherever we went. 


I learned about all their unique personality traits and how cool it is to hold a rooster, did you know they love belly rubs too? Well they do! 



Here is Kelly holding Li Mu Bai a Silkie rooster who loves laying on his back for a good belly rub!


Kelly O’Neil


Position with Farm Sanctuary:

Education and Outreach Coordinator


How did you get involved with Farm Sanctuary? 

I previously worked at an animal shelter and after becoming vegan I realized that there was a much bigger problem than just dogs and cats being mistreated and killed needlessly. By becoming vegan my compassion extended to all living beings especially those used in the food industry. After learning that over 9 billion farm animals are killed for human consumption each year in the United States alone I knew I wanted to do more to help spread the message that you do not need to consume animal products in order to live a happy, healthy life.


Favorite part of your job? 

Educating the public about the horrors of modern animal agriculture and helping people make changes in how they view and treat farm animals. The United States is a nation of animal lovers, and a lot of people don’t want to think about what happens to farm animals, but I believe knowledge is power and that is why I work to expose and end the abuses of factory farming through education and advocacy.


It might be like picking a favorite child, but do you have some favorites at the sanctuary? 

I have quite a few but I would have to say that I was most surprised by how intelligent and social chickens are. They have such distinct personalities but unfortunately, chickens are among the most abused of farm animals in the United States, with over 8 billion being killed for human consumption each year. That’s 279 every second! Not only are chickens exploited for their meat, but for their eggs as well. Li Mu Bai is a Silkie rooster that I am particularly fond of at Farm Sanctuary’s Los Angeles area shelter. You can cuddle and kiss him just like you would your dog or cat and he will fall asleep in your arms as you pet his feathers. He’s such a love!


What is the one message Farm Sanctuary really wants to make sure they portray? 

That farm animals are intelligent, emotionally complex individuals, just like the dogs and cats we share our lives with, and they deserve the same respect and consideration.


Does Farm Sanctuary educate on eating a vegan diet? 

Yes, Farm Sanctuary’s Los Angeles area shelter gives 1-hour guided tours to the public on Sundays at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. On these tours we introduce guests to farm animals that have been rescued from situations of cruelty and neglect, teach them about the conditions animals face on factory farms and talk about compassionate vegan living. At Farm Sanctuary we support any movement in the direction of plant-based eating. Every time someone chooses a plant-based meal instead of one containing animal products, they’re making a difference.


Do you have any advice for people new to trying a vegan diet?

Try eating vegan just one meal a week or for a whole day, and see how you feel. It’s a lot easier than people think and even little changes make a big difference. And fortunately now there are plant-based alternatives for nearly every type of meat, dairy and egg product on the market that are delicious and healthier for you and our environment, too! Farm Sanctuary has a great resource called V-lish ( that has recipes, videos and tips that can help you plan your plant-based shopping trip, cook delicious meat-free meals and experience vegan dining made simple.


What is your favorite menu item at Native Foods

It’s so hard to pick just one knowing that everything on the menu is plant-based and cruelty-free! The Yo Amigo Taco Salad is probably my favorite because it is healthy, filling and delicious.


What is the one food you couldn't live without? 

Definitely dark, leafy vegetables like kale and spinach. They are full of protein and calcium and perfect for salads, stir-fry’s, smoothies, and juicing!


Please stay tuned for more exciting events Native Foods will be doing with Farm Sanctuary. Our first event will be Monday, July 28th. We are having a giveback day for Farm Sanctuary where a portion of sales from all Native Foods will go back to Farm Sanctaury and a FREE DESSERT for YOU with the purchase of an entree, side & Native Drink. 



Would You Like Paper or…Paper?

By Lauren Neuschel

Native Foods Cafe  

We’ve gone plastic bag-less! Chicago joins the list of cities to ban plastic grocery store bags and we couldn’t be more proud. The initiative was passed last week in a 36-10 vote and helps support Chicago’s goal to become one of the greenest cities in the country. Kudos to Mayor Rahm Emanuel for backing the proposal! Our environment owes you one, buddy!


Rahm Emanuel

Native Foods uses this photo courtesy of:


The ban doesn’t go into effect until August 2015, and only with grocery stores bigger than 10,000 square feet, but smaller franchisees and chains will join the initiative in the following year (independent grocers will not be affected). Any store that don’t follow this new regulation will face $300 to $500 in fines.

Plastic bag

Native Foods uses this photo courtesy of:


As of now, Chicago uses 3.7 million plastic bags per day with a majority of those bags ending up in landfills, according to an article by Ecorazzi. While many retailers now face increased costs – paper bags are around 3 times more expensive than plastic ones- there’s no doubt that this initiative is a critical one on behalf of environmental protection. 

Running on Fumes: Reasons not to watch the Kentucky Derby this weekend


By Sammy Caiola

 Native Foods Cafe

The annual Kentucky Derby thoroughbred race is sometimes referred to as “The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports” for its approximate duration and level of energy. But for the horses on the roster, the two minutes on the track are just a fraction of the hours, months and sometimes years of pain endured in preparation for the brutal race.


This Saturday marks the 140th anniversary of the Kentucky Derby, which takes place each year at the Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky. Novelized by wide-brimmed sun hats and trackside mint juleps, the Derby has long been considered a staple of the southern bourgeois. But Derby viewers, be they gamblers or casual attendees, are not simply watching a race- they’re enabling animal cruelty to a criminal degree.


Native Foods Café uses this photo courtesy of


Just last month, champion racehorse trainer Steve Asmussen came under fire from media and gaming officials for rule and drug violations and severe mistreatment of his horses. Officials immediately removed Asmussen’s name from the Hall of Fame ballot and are currently conducting an investigation into allegations made by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).


This is immediately following the release of PETA's 9- 1/2 minute documentary, "Horse Racing Exposed: Drugs and Death", which they published after a multi-month investigation of Asmussen's training methods at Churchill Downs and in Saratoga. A PETA activist working as a training assistant brought a hidden camera into the stables and recorded Asmussen verbally and physically abusing the horses, including his star horse and derby contender Tapiture, who was "constantly getting injections of all kinds," said the activist.


Studies estimate that three thoroughbreds die every day in North America as a result of overtraining, performance enhancing drugs, neglected injuries or just plain slaughters. Horse's legs and ankles are not designed to support their 1,000 pound bodies at high speeds for long durations, so snapped tendons and hairline fractures are common. Injuries of this kind often go undetected until the horse shows a decline in performance, at which point the damage can be irreparable or very expensive to repair. Rather than pay the price, many trainers find a way to mask the injuries with drugs or, in the worst cases, dispose of decommissioned racers.


Horses have become a priced commodity in American culture, and once they lose their ability to turn a profit, they lose their right to live. And in order to keep them profitable trainers resort to unregulated drugs such as Lasix, which controls bleeding in the lungs, cortiscosteroids for pain and inflammation and, in one case, ecstasy. As John Scheinman of The Washington Post wrote in 2003, “Finding an American racehorse trained on the traditional hay, oats, and water probably would be impossible,”


Native Foods Café uses this image courtesy of

Fortunately, steps are being taken. In a recent Interview with Newsday, PETA vice president Kathy Guillermo urged the need for more stringent drug regulations and improved course conditions. PETA is currently asking the Jockey Club to adopt a fee structure that would provide pillow money to help retire horses in pastures rather than slaughter them.

In reality, ending horse racing is not a possibility due to the thriving culture surrounding the race, particularly in the south. All we can do for now is discourage friends and family from patronizing such a culture, and support organizations like PETA who are attempting to give voice to the voiceless.


In the Spotlight: Nico Vega

By Kelly Behr 


I caught up with the band for lunch in Wicker Park on one of their tour stops in Chicago. I was able to chat with lead singer Aja Volkman about her passion for music and healthy living. After the lunch I attend their show at the All-State Arena where they were opening for Imagine Dragons. 

Photo 1[1]

A vegan feast with Nico Vega. 

1.) What inspires your music? 

I live kind of a crazy life an my music is an outlet. I'm an open book and it's a way for me to record my emotions. 

For us Nico Vega is a way of life. We are 3 people who play music together. We write as a band and help each other develop our ideas. The root of the music is the relationship between us. Nico Vega is about collaboration. We are a family and we honor each other by listening and allowing each other to grow. We push each other to be better and to carry each other when we feel weak.

Photo 5
Playing at the Allstate Arena in Chicago, IL. 


2.) How important is a healthy lifestyle for you?

I truly believe you are what you eat. I have a fragile emotional state, but I keep myslef on track with a healthy diet and exercise. They are so important to my well being. 

3.) Did anything influence your decision to pursue a vegetarian diet? 

A friend who was battling cancer told me to read Skinny Bitch. He said that their way of eating made him feel better than any other diet he had tried. I was apprehensive about it because I was not one to read diet books, but it really put a plant-based diet into perspective. 

4.) What is your favorite Native Foods item?

As a splurge, I really love those Native chicken wings and nachos. 

Photo 2[1]

We let them splurge before their show. 


5.) How do you spend your free time? 

My husband, daughter and I recently bought a house in Las Vegas. So when I am not meeting the band in LA , I am working on our house, creating art and music and spending time with my daughter. 

6.) What is Nico Vega's next big project? 

We are very excited about our sophmore album, Lead into Light. 

Below you can watch the video of their newest single which shows footage from their last tour with Imagine Dragons. 


Thanks Nico Vega! It was fun to visit with people so passionate about healthy food and music. 


I Want to Live Forever!

By Kelly Behr

Native Foods Cafe 


Samuel L. Jackson is the newest memeber of a long list of public figures now adhering to a vegan diet. He has been out and about promoting his newest film, "Captain America: The Winter Solider." 

Samuel L Jackson must feel invincible because when reporters inquired about his vegan diet he response was simply, "Just trying to live forever. Trying to finish out my Marvel deal." 

So what I concluded from this is that being a superhero must mean giving up meat and dairy…plant-power!

His plant-based diet physique can be seen in theaters on April 4th.