I’m sure you’ve heard it all, vegans. “Where do you get your protein?” “But what about iron intake?” “Are you sure you’re getting enough calcium?” These questions often come up because of people’s misconceptions and incomplete information about vegan diets, and they can be annoying when you know that many omnivores aren’t getting all the nutrients they need.
But when you’re vegan, you will have to pay special attention to some nutrients—probably not protein, though—because they are harder to get from plant-based diets. That doesn’t mean they’re impossible to get, though, so read on so you can school the next person who tells you you can’t be healthy while being a herbivore.
Zinc is one such nutrient—a mineral, in this case—that you should keep an eye on. It’s an important one for your body; it’s involved in dozens of enzymatic reactions, needed for cell growth and protein synthesis, and important for your immune system—some studies have suggested that zinc supplements can help prevent and recover from colds. Helpful at this time of year!
This is why zinc can be tricky for vegans: Absorbing it from plant foods is more difficult than absorbing it from animal foods. The RDAs for zinc are 8 mg for women and 11 mg for men, which isn’t so high, but the authors of Vegan For Life suggest getting 12 mg for women and 16.5 mg for men to make up for lower absorption.
Fortunately, a lot of vegan-friendly foods do have some zinc content: A cup of Bran Flakes has 2 mg; a half-cup of cooked quinoa has 1 mg; two tablespoons of wheat germ has 2.7 mg; a half-cup of cooked adzuki beans has 2 mg; and two tablespoons of almond butter has 1 mg.
You can also use a few tricks to maximize your zinc absorption. Have some vitamin C with each meal, even just a squeeze of lemon. Coffee and tea can affect zinc absorption, so have yours between meals. Toast nuts before you use them, and sprout beans and grains. And go for whole grains instead of refined. (Bonus: these tips also help boost iron absorption!)
I think that one of the best things we can do as vegans is work to have a healthy diet, so we can show other people that this is a satisfying, ethical, and nourishing way to eat. And pass these tips for zinc along—it’s apparently cold now (still in denial) and we could all use the immune boost.
Terri Coles lives in Toronto, Ont., where she enjoys barbecuing, feeding feral cats, going to local music shows and getting really mad about hockey games. She blogs about her adventures in plant-based eating at The Vegina Monologues.
[Photo of adzuki bean and sun-dried tomato burgers from joanamendes via Flickr!]
I learned today’s amazing secret super-speedy dinner from my mother. Thanks mom! I made this for dinner this week and my husband liked it so much he got sad when the leftovers were gone. Best part? Nearly zero effort.
Pasta (I used whole wheat spaghetti this week, but anything goes)
A jar of marinated artichoke hearts (make sure they’re the kind packed in oil)
Cook and drain your noodles just like the package says.
Chop up the artichoke hearts into smaller pieces, maybe like 3/4 inch cubes or so.
Mix the artichokes and the oil in which they were packed into the pasta.
Smother in nutritional yeast.
Devour while congratulating yourself on how easy dinner was.
And thus concludes our Vegan MoFo for 2011. It was the most fun ever, and we can’t wait for next year so we can gorge ourselves with even more deliciousness!
[Photo from Yumsugar, where you can learn to marinate your own artichoke hearts if you want to get crazy like that]
Reader special: Say Vegansaurus sent you when you buy these caramels and $1 will go to Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary
Imagine this: You’re a stay-at-home mom and a fiction writer, and suddenly you need $30,000 to repair water damage at your house. You could sell your child into slavery, obviously, but Nicole Kornher-Stace of New Paltz, N.Y. came up with a way tastier and more legal option: sell vegan caramels on the interwebs.
Her Etsy store is called Feed Your Face, and did I ever! The budding entrepreneur contacted Vegansaurus to see if we wanted to try her desserts and then tell you about them. Duh, next question. What I didn’t expect was that she’d send along two delicious little nuggets of each of 11 different flavors. Holy fatness, my day was made! And my dentist’s, too!
Nicole started making her caramels for fun, and because her three-year-old will only eat vegan sweets (rock on, kid). All her candies are vegan and gluten-free, and don’t have no corn-syrup neither (she uses coconut milk for the fat). She wraps them in parchment paper, which you can compost, so that’s cool.
Best of all, they’re damn yummy. The texture is on the gooier than chewier side, with some flavors even downright fudgey (though that varies with your room temperature), but the taste is all caramel, all the way. I didn’t love all flavors equally, though, so here’s my own personal, subjective, and totally professional review:
- Pomegranate balsamic: win! Tangy and not at all like a salad.
- Spicy mango: great chewy texture, would be perfect after Indian food.
- Dark chocolate sea salt: way too salty for me. Really salty.
- Dark chocolate orange: pne of the less-chewy ones (kind of crumbly), but the taste—orange oil and deep chocolate—is awesome.
- Green tea chai: Can I have this drink in a coffee shop please? Someone call Starbucks.
- Double ginger: YES YES YES! Kind of like a ginger chew but less intense and sweeter, and like a ginger snap but gooey! (I do love my ginger).
- Spicy chocolate: I think the chocolate is what fudgifies the texture; these have a nice kick without being overwhelming.
- Sea salt: still pretty salty but more edible than the chocolate sea salt ones. If you’re into salt and sweet, you might really dig these.
- Espresso: Coffee flavor’s definitely there but this is less “Pow!” than some of the others.
- Maple: like pancakes and Canada! Nice maple flavor, kind of extra sweet.
- Pumpkin spice: perfect for this time of year! Really nice, like pie. Holy crap, you could make pie with melty caramels on top or something. Score!
In short, if you’re looking for a yummy special fix, I definitely recommend what Nicole’s putting out there.
Nicole also has a section called Cookies For a Cause, where she’ll sell you a PDF of some cookie recipes she’s developed, and 50 percent of profits from that sale go to charity. Cool idea! Even cooler idea: Use her recipe to make cookies for a bakesale (like Sunday’s SF Vegan Bakesale) and then give THOSE profits to charity, too. So much giving!
Final bonus! A photo of Nicole’s vegan-sweets-loving three-year-old petting a turkey at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. CUTE!
I’ve been sent an adorable copy of Beth Barnett’s cute new cookbook, Rabbit Food, to review, and it contains much more information than simply recipes, which is good because I had to modify substantially the savory recipes I made. I’m a bitch, sorry!
That being said, I’m a big fan of “Beth Bee,” as I understand she goes by. This book is accessible to vegans, vegetarians, and omnis, as the preface says: “I know that not everyone using this book will be vegan or completely vegetarian. This book will not self-destruct in protest. It’s happy you’re at least at the table!” However, it’s worth noting that a few recipes contain honey.
The book’s zine roots are apparent in the by-hand illustrations and spiral binding:
MOUSSE ≠ MOOSE, sillyhead!
The book goes on to discuss the vegan perspective on the food supply, health considerations, and the history of food in North America, a section that is highly fascinating and covers the food practices of indigenous peoples up to now. Then it gives you some tips for starting your first garden, whether urban or regular. The last bit before you get to the food (which is what we’re waiting for, right?) shows you how to sew your own reusable grocery bags and produce bags, the latter of which is, to me, a novel idea.
The breakfast, soup, entree, drinks, and sweets recipes include such tasty gems as Easy Baking Powder Biscuits and Almond Gravy, Split Pea & Potato Soup, Tofu Pot Pie (recipe below), Nutritional Yeast Cheese, and Cocoa No-Bake Drops.
While the sweet recipes were winners, it is my opinion that fresh onions and/or garlic would be a welcome addition to almost every recipe. Some recipes half-ass it with onion and garlic powder, but I really think the fresh versions are worth the trouble.
I will now share this Tofu Pot Pie recipe from the book with you. While it looks a bit involved and has a lot of parts, it really doesn’t take too long to make. You can mix the crust and/or cook the tofu in advance, even. Sadly, it could use some modifications that seem so obvious to me now, so you’ll see a few spots where I edited it below.
A light burned out in my kitchen, and I can’t reach it. Deal with it.
Tofu Pot Pie
1 3/4 cups unbleached flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup plain “milk”
pinch of salt
Mix everything together; knead. Set aside while preparing filling for pie. Then preheat the oven to 450 F.
Separate the dough into two slightly unequal pieces. Roll out the larger piece between two sheets of parchment paper (do this, trust me) and then lay it into the pie pan. Cover the crust with foil, fill it with dry beans or pie weights (do this too, trust me!) and bake it for 7 minutes.
Remove from oven, and set aside the bottom crust and the extra dough.
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 vegetable bouillon cube
3 Tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp. salt (EDIT)
1/2 cup unbleached flour
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. poultry seasoning (I used Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute because Trader Joe’s does not carry poultry seasoning, or lime juice, for that matter)
diced minced onion
Boil water, add the bouillon cube and oil, mix together flour & yeast and then add SLOWLY while whisking, stirring out lumps. Add diced onion last. Stir and cook on low to medium heat until thick. Set aside. IGNORE THIS.
Saute your onions in a saucepan with the vegetable oil until they are nice and soft; otherwise your pot pie ends up with crunchy onions, which, when in a soft, soupy setting, fully gross me out. Do not—I repeat, DO NOT—add your onions last as the recipe mandates.
Add water and bouillon cube and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. While you wait, mix the other ingredients together. Once water is boiling, whisk in the dry mixture little by little. When it gets thick, remove from heat.
1/4 cup flour
1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 lb. firm tofu, cubed
Shake to mix everything but the tofu together in paper or plastic bag. Add tofu cubes and shake to coat well.
1 lb. breaded tofu (from above)
2 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup chopped potato
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup green peas
1 cup diced onion (EDIT: To make this easier and faster, instead of celery, carrot, and peas, I just used two cups of “ghetto veggies.”)
3-4 cloves of garlic, crushed (EDIT)
1 tsp. salt (EDIT)
In a large skillet with 2 Tbsp vegetable oil, sauté everything on medium heat. Stir frequently, cooking for about 20 minutes total, or until the potatoes start to soften up. They don’t have to be completely done, as they will cook more in the oven. Remove from heat and mix in the gravy from Part 2.
Y’all, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over five years of vegan cooking, it’s never trust a recipe without garlic. Here’s what you really want to do: In a separate skillet with 1 Tbsp. of the oil, saute the tofu, flipping as much as you can, until it gets nice and brown and crispy.
While you’re working on that, heat the remainder of the oil in another, much larger skillet. Saute the onions and fresh celery, if using, until they’re soft (maybe 8 to 10 minutes). Add the garlic and salt, and stir until that shit is fragrant as fuck. Then add the rest of your veggies and continue cooking until everything is cooked through. Mix in the tofu and the gravy.
N.B. You will need a big-ass skillet, and don’t make the mistake of using cast-iron on your tofu (royally fucked that up myself).
For assembly (FINALLY)!
Decrease oven temperature to 375 F. Then pack all the filling into the pre-cooked bottom pie crust in the pie pan. Pat down the filling to remove pockets of air. At last!
Roll out the second half of the pie crust dough (between the two pieces of parchment paper). Drape and position the top crust dough over the filling, and pinch it together at the edges with the bottom crust. Using a sharp knife, cut a few decorative vents in the top.
Bake your pot pie at 375 F for 30 minutes.
It’s motherfucking pumpkin season, folks. Every year around this time, I gorge on the sweet squash by inserting it into as many concoctions as possible. The amazing flavor and lovely color herald the fall holidays, my favorites. So when I woke up this morning with a headache brought on by far too much wine last night, I needed something sweet, bright, and comforting. Hence this pumpkin oatmeal was born:
Pumpkin Oatmeal for One
1 cup water
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 can pumpkin puree
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. agave nectar (or maple syrup, or sugar, or whatever)
assorted pumpkin-esque spices (allspice, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg—OR just some pumpkin pie spice)
Put water in saucepan and bring to a boil. When it’s boiling, add everything else, and reduce the heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s as runny or dry as you like. Add raisins or nuts or something if you’re nasty. Eat away your hangover.
[Your adorbs viral animal video of the week. This looks like my dog but he’s way better at piano!]
First, I would like to congratulate our Malcolm Fontier wallet giveaway winners!: JKid and Samantha M! But really you are all winners and we will have many more giveaways in the future.
In exciting mainstream news, CNN has a fairly positive piece about young vegans and vegetarians! We’re taking over!
Can slaughter house pigs benefit from Ikea toys? What about not being in slaughterhouses? Would that help at all?
Ever wonder what’s in the McRib? 70 ingredients! Including a “bleaching agent!”
Be sure you pay attention to Farm Sanctuary’s twitter today because it’s got a lot of great info from the Factory Farming Conference. By “great” of course I mean disturbing.
Did you know it’s National (Vegan) Chocolate Day?! We must celebrate!
In San Francisco news, some fuckers shot a hawk with a nail gun. It’s being treated for injuries now. WHYYY?
Humpback whale populations are rebounding slightly better than we thought! Congrats, humans.
Here’s a really crazy/interesting piece the Humane Society alerted me to: Ag’s go-to messaging not resonating. It seems people don’t trust Big Ag! I can’t imagine why!
Hey, fish-eaters! Do you diligently select fish species that are low in mercury and not in (as much) danger of over-fishing? Good luck with that! Consumer Reports has a new study, Mystery Fish, that’s going to put a snag in your plan.
As always, don’t forget to read Laura’s Week in Vegan! It’s always chocked full of good shiz.
[The plaintiff] says she and her co-workers were subjected to peepholes in the women’s showers, their underwear being stolen from their lockers and found wet with a substance one reported to be semen, unwanted groping and hugging by male workers, and sex-related drawings in a break room.
Murphy-Brown’s lawyers said they did everything they could to stop the harassment. They also suggested the women drilled the peepholes themselves? OK. The jury decided the corporation didn’t take adequate measures to stop the harassment but didn’t act in malice, so they awarded the plaintiff $30,000.
Not that sexual harassment doesn’t happen everywhere all the time, but the meat industry has a history of not giving a shit about its employees. We’ve all read “Blood, Sweat, and Fear” by now, right? Smithfield Foods, the corporation that owns Murphy-Brown, is allover that study. But here’s Smithfield’s policy on harassment:
Smithfield is committed to providing our employees with a nondiscriminatory work environment free of any type of harassment per company policy and the law. Supervisory employees must investigate all complaints of harassment and employees are advised on their responsibility to report violations. The company will take appropriate disciplinary actions for violation of policy or law.
“Free of any type of harassment” means free of sexual harassment. But they don’t mention sexual harassment specifically, which is a big red flag to me. You don’t even address it in your workers’ rights policies? At least pretend you care about it on paper.
Like I said, sexual harassment happens allover all the time but here’s my main point: If they can’t keep their own employees safe, how can we trust them to keep “humane” conditions for the animals they are charged with? Animals who can’t complain to the boss, who are completely helpless and voiceless?
For a laugh, a quote from Murphy-Brown’s site:
“At Murphy-Brown, our commitment to producing high-quality pork products while protecting the environment and promoting animal welfare isn’t just a motto, it’s how we operate.”
Yeeeah, doubt it.
As a bonus, here’s the Humane Society’s video on gestation crates and conditions for hogs at Smithfield Foods:
[Can’t see the video? Watch it on Vegansaurus.com]
Keep up the good work, bros.
Apparently the paleo diet wasn’t exactly meat meat meat. It was mostly veggies. On NPR’s food blog, anthropologist Barbara King lays it down:
Our ancestors began to eat meat in large quantities around 2 million years ago, when the first Homo forms began regular use of stone tool technology. Before that, the diet of australopithecines and their relatives was overwhelmingly plant-based, judging from clues in teeth and bones. I could argue that the more genuine “paleo” diet was vegetarian.
BAM! That’s called science taking one for the team. Thank you for being so brave and smart, science!
So I think that means all those disciples of the paleo diet better switch to a diet of almost exclusively veggies, right? And some grains? And a whole shit load less dead animal. And at the very least, the next time you run into the paleo diet bullshit, you can have some valuable information to BAM! them with. And most importantly, you can just call them out on being on a low carb diet like a little Zone dieting Atkins dieter. It’s like, if you’re only gonna eat bacon wrapped chicken breasts on beds of lettuce, at least admit it’s because you’re on some creepy diet, and not because you’re “getting back” to what our ancestors ate. DONE AND DONE!
How great are soy curls? They’re the greatest, right? To me, they taste like slices of chicken breast, without all the gross fat and tissues. They’ve got this amazing texture, and unlike some vegan meat products, they’re super great for you. Basically, they’re dehydrated soy protein made from whole, non-GMO soybeans that are slowly cooked and stretched and dried and BAM. They’re also high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, with 10 grams of protein in every serving. All that, and they’re SO EXTRA DELICIOUS. They really are! And I know I get excited about everything, but even Meave likes them! And she really doesn’t like everything! So there you go, proof that you have to try them: Meave’s Seal of Approval! Oh, and I just learned from Mandy in the comments that they’re gluten-free! They’re the perfect food!
Now that I’ve sold you on soy curls, I’m gonna give you a bomb recipe for them. It’s straight ripped from Julie Hasson, because she’s in Portland, the Land of the Soy Curl, and is a brilliant recipe inventor and chef, and the lady knows what’s up!
All you do is this:
Soak your soy curls in hot water, like it says on the package. You can add some vegan chicken broth into the water to add some extra delicious flavor, if you’d like. Once they’re hydrated, you need to squeeze out the extra water from the soy curls. It’s satisfying. Then, you take the soy curls and put them in a frying pan with a little salt and oil. Once they’re fried up and a little crispified, add in your favorite BBQ sauce and cook for a couple more minutes until it’s all gooey and delicious.
Eat it from the pan, serve it in a bowl with veggies and rice and vegan ranch (like in Grant Butler’s extra great Oregonian piece! Read it!), or on some bread in a delightful BBQ sandwich, like I did. I used Wildwood Garlic Aioli, fancy pickles, lettuce, pepperoncinis, and some salt and pepper. It looked kinda like this brilliant BeerBQ soy curls sandwich that Jess at Get Sconed made:
You want it now, right? YEAH YOU DO. If you’re in S.F., you can find soy curls at Rainbow, or if you live somewhere else/better/worse/different, check out this list of where to buy, or you can buy them online directly from the beast. It’s six bags for $28 (including shipping), that’s like $4.65 a bag, which is a pretty good price, I think. Plus, it’s hella soy curls and you’re gonna want to put them in EVERYTHING, so don’t hate, celebrate! With soy curls!
Cupcakes and art happen to be two of my favorite things (along with elephants, Netflix, and Fla-vor-ice) so I’m so jealous of you L.A. folks! Urban Food Crawl, a vegan food tour company, is hosting Cupcakes + Art: a vegan cupcake competition and cupcake-themed art show! Deets from Urban Food Crawl:
Cupcakes & Art
Sunday, Nov. 6, 3 p.m. at Hold Up Art, 358 E. 2nd St. Los Angeles
The $35 ticket includes entrance to the event, where you’ll be tasting and judging cupcakes from 10 local bakers. Proceeds from the art sales will go to the winning baker’s charity of choice! Stay tuned to our blog for more info on the participating bakers. There are a limited number of tickets available!
Oy, I’m so jealous! You can see the list of bakers and artists on their event page—it includes BabyCakes LA! So. Jealous. Is anyone going? I want a full report! Also, we are sending someone so you’ll get a full report, too. We can give full reports to each other. Good times! Also, they’ll be lots more Urban Food Crawls, so stay tuned to their site to eat so much more. Yay LA!
[The Insular Jacket from Nau—it’s filled with Cocona!]
I saw this on Ecouterre and it’s pretty awesome. This jacket is insulated with Cocona, an insulation made from discarded coconut husks!:
n 1 a: Trademarked name for a lightweight, breathable fiber derived from coconut-husk waste discarded by the food-service industry. b: Reduced to charcoal, combined with recycled polyester, and spun to maximize its surface area for warmth retention and moisture wicking. c: Said to resist odors better than traditional polyester fill. 2: Used in Nau’s insular jacket, a two-layer, sealed-seam shell with a helmet-compatible hood that the Portland clothier describes as “made for the mountain.”
Totally rad. Down is the worst. Geese are plucked live on some farms because it yields more down (if you kill them first, you only get one batch of feathers). And as the video linked above shows, it’s virtually impossible to be sure the down you are buying doesn’t come from live-plucking. So how about an environmentally friendly, cruelty-free alternative! Huzzah!
Rachel wrote about the tragedy in Ohio last week; I’m sure it didn’t escape your notice—the release of 56 wild animals kept as pets before their owner Terry Thompson committed suicide, and the subsequent death of 49 of them, got a lot of media coverage. That meant that many of my friends read about it, and pretty much universally asked “How the hell did he get those animals in the first place?”
Well, the short answer is that Thompson bought them, mostly, and he was not doing anything illegal when he did. Near the end of his term, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland issued an order that outlawed the ownership or sale of certain wild animals—but Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources never enforced the rule, and the order expired in April when it wasn’t extended by now-Governor John Kasich.
As it stands, in Ohio you can own animals like grizzly bears and lions, as long as you house them on your private property, and aren’t breeding, exhibiting, or selling them—even if you have an animal-cruelty conviction, as Thompson had. Further, you can have those animals living on your property and don’t have to let anyone know about it. And in some states, these animals are available for sale, which is how people like Thompson got them in the first place.
I posted on Pawesome a while ago about a petition to change laws about exotic-animal ownership in Indiana; this isn’t just a problem in one town or one state. It sounds crazy that in Ohio and other states you have to license your dog and can’t own a pit bull, but you can literally have a baboon or wolf in your backyard. But it’s true.
This is not a good situation for these animals. Born Free USA campaigns against keeping wild animals like the ones at the Ohio property in captivity. Taking care of an animal like a tiger is no small feat: Think of what your cat eats in a day and multiply that by about 100 times. They need a huge quantity of food, as well as specialized veterinary care. And when they don’t have the proper environment or enough space—which is hard to provide for a large animal when it’s living on private property—they suffer physically and mentally.
Keeping these animals as pets is just cruel. Many owners of these animals claim to love them, but as Susan Orlean said in the New Yorker, love isn’t defined by a desire to possess.
It’s dangerous for people, too, when wild animals are kept as pets. Dogs and cats have been domesticated for millennia; tigers and lions and wolves are all wild, unpredictable animals. We can’t know how they’ll react, or what will upset them, and we can’t blame them when that happens. That is how they are: They’re wild. Someone easily could have been killed by one of the animals let loose in Ohio this week, and it’s remarkable that nobody was.
Want to know what the laws are in your state? Check out this Wall Street Journal interactive infograph to find out if your state allows private ownership of large cats, wolves, bears, primates, or dangerous reptiles. If you’re not happy with the answer, write to your state and federal representatives to tell them why, and ask them to change things. A reminder of the toll of this week’s Ohio deaths—and that it could have been a hell of a lot worse—wouldn’t hurt; neither would pointing out that elections are coming up.
Regardless of the laws where you live, head to Change.org to sign the petition letting Gov. Kasich know that Ohio’s laws need to change, now, before something like this happens again.
Terri Coles lives in Toronto, Ont., where she enjoys barbecuing, feeding feral cats, going to local music shows and getting really mad about hockey games. She blogs about her adventures in plant-based eating at The Vegina Monologues.
Help the lil’ vegan kids have a happy halloween! Give out vegan candy and make sure they can find it by registering at No Trick Treats! My favorite vegan candy is of course Pennsylvania’s own Peanut Chews. Those are the yum. Is anyone giving out vegan candy? Oooo my brother gives out candy, I should totes make him go vegan this year and add him to the map! I’m getting one family member at a time!