It’s down to the final three on The Apprentice and vegetarian Brandy Kuentzel has survived Donald Trump‘s ax by winning challenges and demonstrating her business expertise. Vegetarian Star was fortunate to get an exclusive interview with Brandy to learn about her motivations behind going vegetarian, her work with animal welfare and her idea of the ultimate green job.
Did your vegetarian diet come up at any time during The Apprentice, either among the contestants or the show’s staff?
I think that any time you make an effort to ask where you food comes from (whether that’s refraining from eating factory-farmed meat, eating vegetarian or vegan fare, not buying products that are tested on animals, etc.), it sparks conversation. Simple everyday choices can make you an advocate for animals. This certainly was the case while filming The Apprentice. I was pleasantly surprised by how accommodating The Apprentice film crew was of my dietary preferences. Since vegetarian food had to be brought in for me, others also ended up choosing the (often healthier) vegetarian option. Of course, some cast members did not consider it a “real” meal unless meat was involved. C’est la vie.
Describe some of your experiences working with animals or animal welfare issues.
I’ve personally volunteered at animal shelters for nearly a decade, and I currently volunteer each week at the SFSPCA. You can also find me at the SFSPCA/Macy’s holiday windows in San Francisco this December. For those individuals looking to get more involved, the HSUS offers amazing seminars on animal advocacy…and, of course, don’t forget to vote!
If you had the opportunity to be “hired” for the ultimate green job, what would it be?
If I could really shoot for the moon, my ultimate green job would be to host a television show with my best friend showcasing our common passion: ethical, conscientious eating prepared to perfection. By showcasing innovative restaurants, family farms, dairies, markets, orchards, vineyards, breweries and artisanal shops, the show would educate the consumer and provide realistic options for dining anywhere along the meat-eating spectrum. I think that consumers want to learn how to eat with the seasons, how to enjoy the perfect humane cheese and how to grow herb gardens in 600 square foot apartments. Urban homesteading and conscientious eating is not just a fad – it’s at our roots. If The Universe delivers on this wish, I guarantee that our lemon-carrot soup would bring all the boys to the yard.
Let’s talk about environmentally friendly business practices. How do you view a company’s responsibility to go green and what roles do you think eco-friendly businesses are playing in this current economy?
Ha, how about small government…except when it comes to animals and/or the environment? Just kidding, I realize eco-friendly business issues are varied and complicated. Let’s just say that innovation and sustainability are important issues in my mind, and I am fortunate to live in California, a state that I am hoping is on the forefront of a green revolution.
What made you decide to go vegetarian? How long have you been vegetarian? Do you think you could ever go vegan?
I became a vegetarian while in law school, at a time in my life when I was asking a lot of questions. I’ve never been the overly preachy vegetarian – I understand that we all have issues that speak to us as individuals, and I’ve certainly rolled my eyes while at Whole Foods a time or two. For me, it’s more about raising awareness and starting conversations. For example, if my boyfriend researches exactly where the meat that he is eating comes from and makes conscientious purchases (which he does…awesome), it’s a big win in my book.
I admire the dedication behind veganism. I’ve contemplated going vegan for years, but it’s tough. Instead, I buy eggs from a local farm where the chickens can roam free, I drink and eat soy products and I frequent restaurants that serve locally-sourced fare. For me, I basically just try to not be a jerk when I eat food.
Tofu, tempeh or seitan? Which one do you prefer and why?
Tofu all the way. It’s inexpensive, readily available, and relatively tasty and I can cook with it. One step further, I think anyone who tries the black bean burger that I make doesn’t even miss meat.
Do you have a favorite vegetarian celebrity? If so, who?
I’m behind anyone doing their part to advocate for animals. I think that Alicia Silverstone has done a great job of tastefully promoting the vegan lifestyle, and for a while, I couldn’t put down Jonathan Safran Foer’s latest book, Eating Animals.
Tell us more about your mobile cupcake business, Sweet Ride. How did you get into this? Does it offer any vegan, gluten-free or dairy-free cupcakes and does it plan to offer anything of this nature in the future?
In creating Sweet Ride, my business partner and best friend, Mandy, and I knew that great food could be found outside a traditional brick-and-mortar establishment and enjoyed without ceremony on a neighborhood sidewalk.
Interestingly, we very recently sold Sweet Ride to a wonderful woman who lives in Chicago. When selling the business, it was important to us to find someone who would carry on the more charitable and humane aspects of Sweet Ride. So, I’m excited to report that Sweet Ride will very soon be offering delicious (animal and eco-friendly) cupcakes to the residents of the Windy City! The vegan chocolate cupcake (if it will still be offered) is off the hook.
Speaking of Sweet Ride’s “green” initiatives, they’re quite impressive. I understand you sourced eggs from cage-free hens and used recyclable and biodegradable packaging. Were you able to transfer any of that eco-friendly passion into your work on The Apprentice, such as getting the other contestants to recycle more, try vegetarian food, etc.?
Thanks! Each morning Mandy and I used cage-free eggs and locally sourced ingredients to prepare by hand the treats offered on the truck for the day, and all of Sweet Ride’s packaging is biodegradable and recyclable. Of course, the eggs and packaging are more expensive to purchase than other options available, but as longtime vegetarians and animal lovers, we could not in good conscience consider the alternatives. As our own boss, we were fortunate to be able to call the shots, and living in San Francisco’s Bay Area made finding animal-friendly options relatively easy.
As far as The Apprentice is concerned, I think more impact has been made after my time during filming. For example, I’m now able to engage in a wonderful conversation with VegetarianStar.com.
Sweet Ride’s website says you made dog cupcakes, “Pupcakes,” and donated money from the sales to organizations in the San Francisco Bay area dedicated to animal welfare. How did this idea come about?
Supporting the charitable organizations that make the Bay Area such a great place to live is a major perk of being a locally-owned small business. Once we thought to offer pupcakes, our customers were happy to help make a difference in the lives of animals. And let’s be honest, if you’re paying $3.00 for a gourmet cupcake, you probably can spare a dollar for a good cause.
Tune in this Thursday at 10/9c on NBC to see how Brandy fares in this week’s competition.
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