vegansaurus!

06/07/2011

PCRM makes a good point  »

New nutrition guidelines:

Breakdown of government food subsidies:

As PCRM points out, maybe they should match up a little more?

The USDA even spells out their essential point: “Key Consumer Message: Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.”

But when I look at the subsidies pie chart, something is amiss!

05/23/2011

Cookbook review: Color Me Vegan by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau  »


Earlier this year, Vegansaurus was asked if we’d like to review Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s new cookbook, Color Me Vegan. Being a total CPG fangirl—as in, every time I’m in her presence I’m awed to speechlessness—I said, YES WE WILL AND IT WILL BE ME WHO DOES IT GIVE ME THAT BOOK, and a little while later, I had it.

It’s gorgeous, as usual. The recipes are color-coded and include health information, like the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in the main ingredient(s) in every dish. It’s designed, I guess, for people who are concerned with maximizing the nutritional content of their vegan diets, a group that usually doesn’t include me, except I found myself over the last year cooking for members of that group, and they really appreciated it.

The recipes are pretty all right! In the purple section, there’s one for my favorite Japanese eggplant dish, dengaku.

I’m not sure it turned out as well as it might’ve, but I tend toward heavy-handedness with the miso paste, and also I could have cut the eggplant more attractively.

Also in purple—or red? I can’t remember now—there’s a recipe for my absolute favorite way to eat cabbage, rotkohl!

This was good! Not as good the amazing and wonderful and perfect rotkohl I ate in Germany, but CPG adapted the traditional recipe, and anyway this was the first and only time I made it (compared to the countless times Dada in Germany made it for us, oh MAN that cabbage was THE BEST). It’s really good cold! Looks-wise, next time I’ll try slicing the cabbage with a mandoline.


This is winter white soup, from the white section. Because white produce is good for you, too! I have no idea why this didn’t turn out as white as the soup in the book’s photo, but it was still really good. I just love a thick puréed soup. And winter vegetables! So good for you!

I don’t think Color Me Vegan is as life-changing as The Joy of Vegan Baking—which is THE GREATEST—or as fancypants as The Vegan Table, but it is practical and good-looking, and Colleen Patrick-Goudreau can really write a recipe, you know? Maybe its ideal audience is the health-conscious non-vegan; you can’t argue with the health benefits of a vegan diet, and in this book CPG makes her case for veganism through delicious foods, which is, I maintain, the best way to get people to change their diets. And having not been able to cook since early February, I am eagerly anticipating making every recipe with spring/summer produce in Color Me Vegan when I get home. You want a cleanse? Eat your dang vegetables, CPG-style.

Vegansaurus loves reviewing stuff! If you want us to consider reviewing your product, person, or just cast judgements on your lifestyle, hit us up!

07/27/2010

Dear world: vegan ≠ eating disorder  »

Hello friends, parents, strangers, graduates of the Columbia School of Journalism, etc.:

Thank you for caring about our well-being! Generally speaking, the thought that others concern themselves with our health is, if not thrilling, at least vaguely comforting. However, it’s time that you back off. Because frankly, accusing us of being secret anorexics, bulimics, binge-eaters, “orthorexics,” or some combination thereof, is really fucking insulting, and we’re sick of it.

Articles like this one by Danielle Friedman in the Daily Beast, which includes one figure and links to exactly one study in ScienceDirect, only make it more difficult for anyone to take a vegan diet seriously. When Friedman describes it or quotes others describing it as “restrictive,” “in the service of an eating disorder,” “a ruse,” “a cover for something darker,” “really an effort to avoid food in general,” and “system of eating that’s restrictive and passes judgment on food that’s not founded on health principles,” that does a disservice to all of us. Further, in the 12th paragraph Friedman contradicts her entire article (this is also the part where she commits to a figure): “for most of the country’s roughly 3 million vegans, who don’t consume or wear any animal products, their eating habits never veer into mental illness.” Thanks for the benefit of the doubt, Danielle! Unfortunately, we’re not the ones she’s interested in.

No, Friedman doesn’t care about “most of” us; she wants to terrify parents whose children have chosen to follow a vegan or vegetarian diet. THEY MAY HAVE AN EATING DISORDER, YOUR CHILDREN! Even though “most” vegans are totally fine and happy and eat foods both full of vegetables and full of donuts, that ScienceDirect study revealed that “young adults ages 15 to 23 who reported being vegetarian were, at some point, more likely to have also engaged in unhealthy weight-loss behaviors.” How much more likely? Friedman doesn’t say! And Vegansaurus doesn’t have $30 to pay to view the entire study, so we can’t tell you, either. We can quote from the results in the abstract, though:

Participants were identified as current (4.3%), former (10.8%), and never (84.9%) vegetarians. Current vegetarians in the younger and older cohorts had healthier dietary intakes than nonvegetarians with regard to fruits, vegetables, and fat. Among young adults, current vegetarians were less likely than never vegetarians to be overweight or obese. Adolescent and young adult current vegetarians were more likely to report binge eating with loss of control when compared to nonvegetarians. Among adolescents, former vegetarians were more likely than never vegetarians to engage in extreme unhealthful weight-control behaviors. Among young adults, former vegetarians were more likely than current and never vegetarians to engage in extreme unhealthful weight-control behaviors.

There you go. But is the answer really “not to let their kids be vegetarian until they go to college,” as one dietician suggests, because “[m]ost families don’t have the time to prepare vegetarian entrées”? How about taking vegetarian and vegan children seriously, and preparing vegetarian entrées? How about educating yourself about veg nutrition, so you can do your job as a parent and get your kids the nutrition they need, while respecting their individual rights? How many times do you have to be told EAT LESS MEAT BEFORE THE PLANET BURNS UP before you start eating less meat?

Here is a personal anecdote, even: I had an eating disorder, for a long, long time. More than anything else, what has helped me keep eating normally is my vegan diet. I saw a dietician when I could afford it, and she helped me through the “it’s OK to eat things” and “if you don’t eat normally you will die” bits, but keeping vegan keeps me feeling sane even through really terrible times. When I was sickest, I was omnivorous. Maybe I’m a statistical anomaly, but I think that if everyone were all better nutritionally educated—by proper dieticians, not “nutritionists” with “certificates” from “The Learning Annex” or whatever Holistic Institute of Cleansing Auras”—we’d be much better off.

02/08/2010

“ But why anyone would question the benefits of vegetarian diets, or diets that are largely vegetarian, is beyond me. People who eat vegetarian diets are generally healthier than people who eat large amounts of meat. „

Vegan diets get some love (from Marion Nestle)

So shut up already, every jerk ever.

01/13/2010

Un-Cookbook review: The Raw Healing Patch! Veganize your rawness!  »

In my last post on Vegansaurus, I offered a few strategies for making raw organic foods more accessible and affordable, especially for young people and lower-income folks living in the Bay Area. Wherever you fall on the raw-to-cooked spectrum, it’s indisputable that the raw food movement is helping to bring more folks into the vegan fold, which is something all vegans can be happy about. It seems to me that if we find creative ways to motivate raw foodists to go full-on vegan (e.g., rain down on them with mad knowledge, advice, free vegan food and love), we can help them discover that, through raw veganism, they can make a huge difference not only for their own health, but also for the health of the planet. A couple good places to start are local nonprofit People’s Grocery and Lauren Ornelas’ fabulous food justice/human rights/environmental advocacy group the Food Empowerment Project, which work to source ethical products and make organic produce accessible to everyone.

In the spirit of accessibility, I recently got my hands on a copy of The Healing Patch Cookbook produced by the down-to-earth, super-ecologically conscious, queer veg couple Julie Cara Hoffenberg and Sarah Woodward, who together make up the raw food team known as The Healing Patch. The cookbook, which they were kind enough to also make available in an eco-friendly e-book format, is utterly unpretentious, and a great way to usher rawies into the ethical vegan eating path. Hoffenberg and Woodward make clear throughout the witty cookbook that their way of eating and (un)cooking is just that—their way—and that they would never wish to impose them on anyone else; yet they are very clear that raw veganism has remarkably improved their lives. Healing Patch’s primary goal is to offer gentle coaxing to adopt a raw vegan lifestyle, basing their recipes and advice on what helped Woodward heal after her battle with ovarian cancer. Thankfully, they do this without laying on the sorts of guilt-trips or strict guidelines usually found in these .

Healing Patch’s recipes are really easy to make, require no esoteric ingredients, and have cute little factoids, including nutritional profiles. They also offer useful tips on economical home sprouting, gardening, selecting the best produce for each season, and how to substitute recipe ingredients for whatever is local and fresh whenever possible. They succeed at providing ample tricks for being a raw vegan while healing yourself and the planet at the lowest possible expense.

The one issue I take with this otherwise charming volume is that some of the recipes include dairy, ostensibly in order to help folks to “transition more gently” to raw veganism. This is disappointing, especially since the authors clearly believe in the tenets of raw veganism and oppose cruelty and oppression. It seems to me like the duo hasn’t quite made the connection that the dairy industry is horribly cruel and directly supports the meat industry. Maybe they should pick up feminist masterpiece The Sexual Politics of Meat by my personal hero Carol J. Adams—which, by the way, has just been released in a newly updated 20th anniversary edition!

Once Healing Patch gets educated in the ways of vegan feminism by Adams, I’m sure they’ll be willing to make all of their recipes totally vegan. Feel free to comment to them about this on their website—it will be good practice for the raw foodists you’ll be converting to raw veganism in the near future! Anyway, hopefully the next edition of The Healing Patch (which I do hope they eventually write!) will address this concern.

This is the second post written by Sarah E. Brown. Thanks, Sarah!

12/17/2009

The poor vegan’s guide to eating raw and organic on the cheap in the Bay Area  »

As an early 20-something living in the Mission, working for just above minimum wage at a peace nonprofit in East Bay, balancing my drive to be an ethical consumer while adhering to a hella tight budget can be a real challenge. To avoid breaking the bank, I often bypass expensive bars, shops, concerts, clothing stores in favor of free or inexpensive local shows, lectures, art openings, meditation classes and second-hand clothing and wares.  But as an ethical vegan who eats primarily raw, when it comes to feeding myself and those I care about, there are no exceptions: I refuse to purchase anything but organic, local when possible, fresh produce and raw vegan food.

It’s a no-brainer that a diet rich in raw foods is extremely healthful and sustainable for the planet. Cooking foods, especially greens and other nutrient-dense vegetables, kills their live enzymes and makes them less usable by the body. I personally believe that life is about balance, and I am certainly not out to keep anyone from downing ample quantities of Souley Vegan’s sinfully good baked Mac n’ Cheese. But it’s indisputable fact that we vegans need to care for our health. I would argue that the raw food movement has been really remarkable in that it brings a lot of folks to veganism that might not otherwise be motivated to care about food-justice issues. The vegan and raw food movements definitely intersect, but it would be naïve to say that someone who is raw is vegan. Many raw foodists eschew cooked foods but still eat raw dead animals and consume feminized animal protein (raw cheese, milk, etc.).

Unfortunately, raw organic vegan food in the Bay Area has gotten a bad rap for being pretentious (ahem, Landmark) and/or financially inaccessible. This keeps a lot of lower-income folks, especially minorities, out of the raw food movement. A recent raw food festival I went to at the Living Light Raw Culinary Institute in Fort Bragg, Calif., featured speakers, music, tons of raw food products and ultra-fancy, expensive appliances like Dehydrators, sprouters, spiralizers, and ultra-fancy juicers and blenders and, unsurprisingly, very few young people and people of color. This event only further confirmed my suspicion that the raw vegan divide seems to follow class and age lines, and that’s something that I think can easily change. It’s something I want to see change.

So how is it possible to be an organic raw vegan food while living on the cheap? My first piece of advice is to glean as much information as you can from the Internet about what raw foodism is all about and how to do it right (you probably won’t feel super hot if you eat only raw nuts and dried fruit). For some Bay Area-specific tips, check out my nifty guide below. If you’re lower-income and struggling to be a raw food vegan, please share your story with me. I would love to help us band together to figure out creative ways to make raw veganism easier and more fun!

1. Go to Farmers’ Markets as they are about to close. Many vendors offer surplus produce at free or heavily discounted prices.

2. Check grocery stores produce sections for bulk bags of slightly bruised or perfectly ripe organic produce. These are often marked down to almost nothing.

3. Find a Food Not Bombs in your area: The vegan organization provides free, mostly organic vegan meals, which often include raw food.

4. The Gratitude Bowl. Café Gratitude offers a sliding-scale raw vegan dish. It’s filled with kale and tahini and is very filling. If you can afford to subsidize someone else’s bowl, it’s a great way to support lower-income folks’ access to raw food veganism.

5. Visit Alive!* at the Tuesday and Thursday Ferry Building Farmer’s Markets. They offer many hearty items at a much smaller price than they do at their restaurant.

6. Host a raw vegan potluck with your friends. Everyone can chip in and defray the costs while creating a delicious spread. Try Gone Raw for recipe tips.

6. Buy Kaia Foods.* A raw vegan company located in Oakland, Calif., Kaia is committed to making truly affordable raw foods including granolas, sunflower seeds and fruit leathers that are delicious and totally healthy. Plus they donate 1% of their profits to combat world hunger.

7. Sprout your own sprouts! Bike over to Rainbow (or any other grocery store) and pick up some bulk dried chickpeas, mung beans, lentils (just not kidney or black beans, they are poisonous raw!), soak them overnight, then let them air-dry in a mason jar with a bit of cloth or mesh on top. Rinse them once or twice a day, letting them air dry until they have cute little tails. To avoid any bacteria that might grow in those wet, moist environments, after sprouts are full grown, soak them in a bowl of water with a tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide (it’s totally safe!) for half an hour. Rinse, and store in an airtight container in the fridge for super-filling, super-cheap, protein-rich, crunchy treat for salads, wraps, etc.

*Full disclosure: my beautiful, also raw vegan girlfriend works at Kaia Foods and I myself worked for a total of one days at the Alive! Farmers’ Market stand.

This post was written by Sarah E. Brown. Thanks, Sarah!

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