Pose of the hypocritical excuse-itarian: yoga IS veganism »
I was halfway through writing an article on yoga as it relates to veganism when this article appeared in my inbox, courtesy of the head honchos at Vegansaurus. Suffice to say it only fueled my agni (Sanskrit for “fire”).
Sometime in the 1980s yoga took over the Western world. Suddenly everyone was in downward dog, from 20-something administrative assistants to hardcore fitness fanatics to stay-at-home moms to Wall Street suits. Yoga and its followers, myself included, have carried the practice into the 21st century and the culture continues to grow. I’m all for staying in shape, but what most folks overlook is that yoga is much, much more than a 60-minute workout. Yoga is upwards of 2,400 years old, and is deeply rooted into the spiritual world, leading true practitioners—or yogis/yoginis—to attain enlightenment.
Between 200 B.C. and 200 A.D., Patanjali, the “father of yoga,” wrote the Yoga Sutras, also referred to as The Eight Limbs of Yoga. The sutras provide yoga with a thorough and consistent philosophical base, and is considered the foundational text of Yoga.
The Yoga Sutras are (in Sanskrit and English):
- Yama (restraints or ethical disciplines), consisting of Ahimsa (nonviolence), Satya (truth), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (sexual responsibility), and Aparigraha (non-coveting/non-greed)
- Niyama (observances), consisting of Saucha (purity), Santosa (contentment), Tapas (austerity), Svadhyaya (study of self/holy scriptures), and Isvara-Pranidhana (devotion to God)
- Asana (physical postures)
- Pranayama (breath or life-force control)
- Pratyahara (sense-withdrawal)
- Dharana (concentration)
- Dhyana (meditation)
- Samadhi (contemplation).
Ahimsa, the first yama, means non-violence/non-harming, or more simply, peace and love. Essentially, the true yogi believes that to kill or destroy a being is to insult its creator. This is about as black-and-white as it gets: unless you are vegan, you support the idea that an animal’s life is worthless and invalid in the face of our desire for its flesh and secretions. Breaking rule number one? Check.
At the Yoga Journal Conference in 2009, Dharma Mittra, a celebrated yoga teacher and director of the Dharma Yoga Center in New York City, stated, “It is a sin to eat animals. Why? Because the ability to put oneself in other’s place is the path to enlightenment. When you eat meat, you make your stomach a graveyard.” He added, “You must take compassion more seriously.” Sounds clear to me, but after reading Briana Ronglin's article "Yogis Don’t Have to Be Vegan, According to the Masters," it seems some people are sincerely confused about rule number one. Dancing around reality with very convenient information gathered from a panel of “Yoga masters that would make any devoted Yogi tremble with awe” from 2011’s Yoga Journal Conference, Ronglin outwardly eschews the very foundation of yoga. What’s worse, these “experts” only assist with their oblivious commentary. Ana Forest and Aadil Palkhivala both boldly venture into excuse-itarian territory, claiming that a vegan diet left them feeling “ill” and “sluggish,” and complaining about weight gain. Ana actually confesses to “rearranging her beliefs to accommodate the needs of her body.” Sounds to me like these two health-conscious “masters” didn’t pay much attention to basic nutrition at all.
Another expert, Seane Corn, is vegan. However, she states that “living in judgement of other people’s choices is absurd.” In theory, I agree—except when said choices have far-reaching consequences for my planet and its other inhabitants, my future, my tax dollars, my health care, and so on. Everyone agrees, of course, that the most realistic solution must be to indulge in “non-factory farmed” meats, or just a “sliver” of chicken if it’s “what you need to feel whole.” Absurd, indeed. If it’s acceptable to ignore the very first of the Yamas and eat another being’s flesh and secretions, what does it matter how happy or well-fed that being was before slaughter? Declaring that a yogic diet is made up of “whatever works for you” is in blatant and arrogant disregard of yoga’s most basic principles and foundations. Talk about bad Karma.
[Recommended reading: Yoga and Vegetarianism: The Path to Greater Health and Happiness by Sharon Gannon. Sources: Vegan Girl Next Door, ElephantJournal.com, Wikipedia, Vegan Outreach. Image via TwiggyJane on Flickr]
Xgfx: vegan and gluten-free website launch! Meet the geniuses behind it! »
I hope you’re ready for prettiest day on the vegan internet, because a stunning new website full of all things both vegan and gluten-free launches today!Xgfx “brings you the ultimate 100 percent vegan and gluten-free resource—featuring a shiny new blog, a community recipe hub, xgfx tips and so much more!” You guys, I just want to pinch this URL’s cute little cheeks, and I’m not even gluten-free. I practically live off gluten alone, but that’s going to change ASAP because the recipes in the xgfx database covered some of my favorite foods in the world, and yours too, sans gluten! You don’t have to feel sorry for your celiac vegan friends anymore, and you can bully your non-vegan celiac friends to go vegan without being an asshole! Actually, you’ll probably be kind of jealous and soon we’ll all be xgfx because we want to be the most popular kids in the community. These people are onto something.
The adorable ladies behind the community, Kittee, Allyson, and Jessy, put their gluten-shunning heads together to create a site that fills a gap in the online vegan community and brings delight to gluten-intolerant vegan tummies everywhere. Following a week filled with scandal, it is kind of the best thing ever to see passionate vegans launching a site filled with earnestly vegan and gluten-free content. Vegansaurus interviewed the trio, so check it out if you can hold off clicking through to xgxf for another second. It’ll be worth it! There is a recipe for vegan pho at the end!
Vegansaurus: Who coined the term xgfx?
Kittee: I coined that term back in 2009, shortly after I went gluten-free. I was blogging for Vegan MoFo and it was bugging the shit out of me to type vegan and gluten free over and over and over again. I definitely got the idea from XEDGEX, but I didn’t mean to steal or demean it in any way—we’ve had a tiny bit of backlash about it. Somehow some folks are afraid that if they go to a show with tattooed exes on their hands, people will mistake them for being gluten-free? Every time I would type out vegan and gluten-free, it would just make me feel bad about myself, like I was sick and dragging a feeding tube on stick a really long distance. When I shared the name with Jessy and Allyson, they liked it too!
Vegansaurus: What is this community all about? How do people interact with others to share information about xgfx living?
Allyson: We have an actual community of folks, which is a list of individual bloggers who blog entirely vegan and gluten free. We also have a recipe archive that is community driven, and can enable folks who may not have their own blogs (or blogs that are not exclusively vegan and gluten free) to share xgfx recipes with everyone under one big happy roof. And lastly, we have an entire website dedicated to housing all the info. The site has how-to guides, resources, recipes, product reviews, blog posts and much more.
Vegansaurus: Whose idea was it to start the community? How did you three connect with each other?
Kittee: During Vegan Mofo last year, I contacted Jessy and Allyson, because I liked them and their blogs. I wanted to see if they were interested in doing some kind of xgfx event for the month. Our email conversations turned into a website proposal. The whole project has really come together in a very organic way. Each of us has unique things to add to the project, plus Allyson is a Wordpress lumberjack, so that made the website seem like something we could totally do.
Vegansaurus: How did you come to be xgfx?
Allyson: I personally had been vegan (for ethical reasons) when I discovered that I had celiac disease back in 2009. It had been a long drawn out “diagnosis,” and I was thrilled to finally understand where all my medical problems were coming from. At the time, my doctor knew very little about celiac disease and actually had to call in a grad student who was doing his thesis on autoimmune disorders to come in and give me his opinion. Once I heard my prognosis was that I had to give up gluten, it all made sense. I wasn’t going to change my morals, so the xgfx diet itself kind of chose me. Today, I am very happy that it did.
Jessy: I started out vegan—my spouse and I had made that decision back in 2008. I have suffered from IBS for as long as I can remember. I went on Kris Carr’s “Adventure Cleanse Tune-Up” as a guinea pig for her Crazy Sexy Diet book back in the summer on 2009, and within three days my IBS ceased to exist. ‘Twas awesome. After the cleanse, I slowly started to reintroduce what was omitted from my diet, and as soon as I incorporated gluten, my IBS returned. I’ll never go back to my glutinous ways.
Kittee: I’ve had really bad muscle pain (myofascial pain syndrome/fibromyalgia) since my senior year in college, ‘89/’90. For 20 years, I’ve experience periods of debilitating pain, mixed with daily chronic stuff. I had no idea there was any correlation to all of the bread and seitan I loved, until [my partner] Dazee and I evacuated New Orleans in ‘08 for Hurricane Gustav. To make a long story shorter, I cleaned out the fridge before we left town and then ate nothing but burritos, bagels, seitan and other wheaty convenience foods while driving to refuge in D.C., where my parents live. When we finally got back home, I had the worst flare-up of all time—I literally sat on the couch for weeks on end unable to do anything, including stand up, without horrible muscle knots. The bout made me question why I was feeling so badly, which led me to realize I had been eating a ton of gluten, so I stopped eating it to see if it made a difference. I would say going xgfx has improved my quality of life by at least 50 to 65 percent.
Vegansaurus: What are your hopes for the future of the community?
Jessy: I hope it just keeps growing and expanding and reaching more people. I hope vegans who aren’t gluten-free and gluten-free people who aren’t vegan can find something within the community which might help them out, and I hope we can show everyone that xgfx is possible, it isn’t scary, and it’s pretty damn delicious, too.
Kittee: Fame, notoriety, cash and a sportswear line would be awesome.
Vegansaurus: Any favorite recipes from the database?
Jessy: Kittee’s pho (recipe below!) is the bee’s knees and I’m currently addicted to Allyson’s besan!
Vegansaurus: Who is the genius behind the stunning design?
Kittee: Allyson has the skillz! We’ve been working very collaboratively, which is great for a project like this. We share ideas, color schemes, etc, then Allyson sprinkles pixie dust on all of it and it comes to life.
Allyson: Going off the basic framework [Jessy, Kittee, and I] came up with, I put my rudimentary web development knowledge to work, and got plugging away with the technical sides of things. I also helped migrate our graphic ideas into Adobe Creative Suite to make to all come to life. We re-worked it continuously until we finally got it to where we wanted it. In general, the look of the sites has been a big happy collaboration among all three of us.
Vegansaurus: Do you think, in general, that things are looking up for people following a vegan and gluten free diet? Are there options in your local restaurants/grocery stores?
Jessy: I really, truly do! Both natural food stores [here in Richmond, VA] have fairly decent sized gluten-free sections and I’d say that 50 percent of the products offered are vegan. There isn’t much in the way of xgfx restaurants, but there’s a little veggie friendly place downtown which now serves an xgfx pie every once in a while. I think I almost cried the first time it was offered—I was absolutely elated.
Kittee: I would say things are looking up indeed, because for the most part, it seems like folks go gluten free for their health—so it makes people feel better. Living with chronic pain, or IBS, or any of the other symptoms that gluten can produce or aggravate is not a good way to be. I’m lucky, because where I live (Portland, Ore.) is not only Vegan City, but it is also extremely xgfx-friendly.
Vegansaurus: Is there anything else you’d like to add for the xgfx-curious?
Jessy: I’d like to add that for those struggling with becoming xgfx, I promise it gets better. When I first became gluten-free, I already had the vegan card under my belt and I kind of figured gluten-free would just require a few tweaks to my diet. I knew how to cook like a mofo, so I was cocky and thought gluten-free would be a snap. Well, it wasn’t—there was a lot of crying over failed attempted xgfx recipes. But these days are happy-faced ones—and I don’t cry over baked goods anymore. Many of us, myself included, have some very strong emotional ties to food (it can be comforting, it’s linked to memories and emotions, it’s a large part of ones culture and buddies up with a slew of traditions), so becoming xgfx can be hard because you don’t know where to start, and you might find yourself having to rethink some of your favorite dishes. But it is possible and it is awesome. Remember to enjoy yourself and don’t get tangled up in the little things. We promise it will [get better] and we’re here to help because we’re all in this together!
Kittee: The main reason I wanted to build this website is not to grow community, which is lovely, but to provide a resource for vegans who are also gluten-free. I know folks who have starting incorporating eggs into their otherwise vegan lifestyle, because they didn’t feel like they had options or enough support to stay vegan. People are always saying how awesome one or two particular gluten-free blogs are, because they always have vegan options. But honestly, if you check out most of their vegan recipes, they just call for “egg replacer” instead of the five eggs in their original recipe. Expecting egg replacer to work in a recipe like that is setting it up to fail. We want to share recipes and resources for xgfx food that tastes great and works.
For an example of such, check out Kittee’s vegan Pho. MAKE IT FOR ME NOW:
Xgfx Pho (Vietnamese noodle filled soup—tangy, spicy and full of herbs and mushrooms)
1 onion, peeled and quartered
2-inch piece ginger, thickly sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
12 cups water
4 pods cardamom, crushed, or ¼ teaspoon ground
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 whole star anise pods
Small pinch anise seeds
6 whole cloves
2 tsp. unbleached granulated sugar
1 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
Large handful dried shiitake mushrooms, optional
1 1/2-2 cups fresh shiitake or portobello mushrooms, sliced 1/3” thick protein–-about 1/3 cup per bowl (bite-sized fried tofu, thinly sliced baked tofu, and seasoned Soy Curls would go especially well in this)
2 to 3 cups fresh mung bean sprouts
Bunch fresh basil
Bunch fresh mint
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
Small bunch fresh cilantro
2 limes, cut in half and quartered
Hoisin sauce*, optional but tasty (Premier Japan–makes an awesome xgfx product)
Sriracha or red chili pastewheat-free tamari
13-oz. package rice noodles
1. Place the onion, garlic and ginger on a cookie sheet and broil under direct heat until lightly charred.
2. In a large pot, bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the charred ingredients, the spices, sugar, salt, carrots and dried mushrooms, if using. Cover the pot and let the broth cook over medium-high heat (rolling boil) for 30 to 45 minutes.
3. While the broth is cooking, prepare the noodles as directed on your package, rinse ‘em well with cold water and set aside.
4. Prepare the herbs by giving ‘em a good bath and drying them well. The fun part of eating pho is that diners get to assemble and season their own bowls. So, you can pile the “accessories” onto one platter to be shared by the table, or arrange ‘em into individual bowls for each person. Make neat but separate piles of the sprouts, basil, mint, cilantro and limes. Leave the leaves on the herbs, and let folks rip them off into their own bowls at the table.
5. Strain the broth to remove all solids, rinse out the pot and return the broth. Bring back to a soft boil and add the fresh mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes, then remove from heat. Season to taste lightly with salt.
To serve: divide the noodles evenly between four deep bowls. Top with your protein choice, and then fill up with broth. Let each person season their bowls to taste with freshly torn herbs, sprouts, lime juice, jalapenos, wheat-free tamari, Sriracha and hoisin sauce.
This interview was brought to you by Gabrielle Pope, who is our resident (guest) expert on Canadian living. She lives on a small island where she is currently 1) going pleasantly insane, and 2) writing a novel.
So shut up already, every jerk ever.
"Beautifull!" open in the Inner Sunset »
If you haven’t been acquainted, “Beautifull!" is a semi-recent addition to the Bay Area’s "fresh, healthy" prepared foods scene. I’d had their stuff before, since they’ve catered some work-related events and also sell to-go foods in the Capay Organic store in SF’s Ferry Building. It’s decent stuff for pre-packaged food; it’s clear they use quality ingredients and make it as wholesome and appetizing as cold prepared foods can be. I think their main kitchen is in Emeryville, but they also have a retail store/restaurant in Stroller Heights, at 3401 California St. That is a genius location for them, as they no doubt do gangbusters business selling kombucha, quinoa/edamame salad and salmon filets to busy
rich skinnies with nannies moms-on-the-go.
So, this new location, 816 Irving St. between 9th & 10th Avenues, is mostly of interest to me because it is half a block from my house. The thing is, there are about 100 other things to eat within a one-block radius, and in light of this, Beautifull! (don’t forget the exclamation!) is pretty-good-to-OK, for the price.
Let me break it down for you: the format of the store is basically an exact replica of Whole Foods’ prepared foods area. The main menu features are pizzas (whole wheat crust, natch), sandwiches, curry/rice bowls, and cold-case things like fruit salads, couscous salads, and a lot of meat and fish choices (so relevant, right?). It’s priced very similarly to Whole Foods, and there is a wall of cold prepped dishes for you to heat & eat at home, soups, and bottled kombucha. They also have some baked goods like big cookies and muffins. (None of the baked goods are vegan, just FYI. But if you’re vegetarian, try the blueberry ginger muffin or spelt peanut butter cookie.)
On the plus side, it’s good to have a place that is at least conscientious of the ingredients and wants to help you find something nutritious and veggie to eat, and I think it’s good to have these places penetrating the mainstream and opening new branches. The ladies working there are SUPER-friendly, and it is completely wack that their POS system doesn’t allow you to add a tip to credit card purchases. Seriously, that is a bad management decision. But anyway, they were very informed on what was vegan vs. vegetarian, and very helpful with choosing menu items. You can sample anything, as much as you want. Other positives: they deliver orders over $50 and their catering menu has a few more vegan options—I’ve gotten their catering at my office and had great experiences with it.
Many things you will want to eat are vegetarian but not vegan. I could see this being very frustrating for you, the vegan. However, I can attest that the Moroccan Butter Bean Tagine and Thai Vegetable Curry would be delicious choices for you or anyone.
The cold case is a good place for vegans, too. I got a half-pint of the kale and arame salad for $2.40, and considering that eating cold kale is a bit like going into battle, it was a decent price for a side dish that lasted me two meals. Beautifull!’s Red Quinoa & Edamame salad is a signature for them, and very enjoyable as well.
So fundamentally, if you’re a fairly well-versed home chef or a very strict vegan, you might not really have much use for it. Their food is pretty simple, and not beyond the capabilities of your average food blogger, but they use good ingredients and it could be handy for a night you don’t feel like cooking. I wouldn’t call it a “destination” or sit-down restaurant.
And I feel slightly nervous for them, because their menu is huge and varied (not really sustainable from a cost-containment standpoint, for most restaurants), and a lot of what they’re selling is duplicated in existing, well-loved neighborhood places. Often, as with the thai curries, you can get these elsewhere in the ‘hood for cheaper at ethnic dives (although maybe without such explicit access to the ingredient list—every item at Beautifull! lists all the ingredients in plain sight.) Some of us in the ‘hood had hoped for a replacement option for the now-closed Cafe Gratitude, and this isn’t exactly it, though you can get a bowl of veggie curry over brown rice, quinoa or couscous, for about $10 (which is admittedly less than Gratitude’s, with a lot less fanfare involved in procurement).
Vegansaurus predictions FOR THE DECADE AND BEYOND. »
Well, not really and beyond but you know, we talk big. And we back that talk up with fists so don’t even play. Now that that’s out of the way.
We’ve compiled a list of things we think will most likely happen in the ten-teens (um, what are these years called exactly? besides depression 2.0?) and now we will share them with you because we’re all generous and good looking and stuff. TA-DA!
WILL MOST LIKELY HAPPEN
King Oprah brings a lot more veggie guests/products/etc. onto her show. He is a benevolent god. We also expect to see many more celebrities “come out” as vegan, as well as lots more veg news from Ellen and Martha. Ladies, we loves you.
Fast food restaurants and national chains are required to offer vegan options on their menu. Let’s say all pizza places are required to have Daiya on hand. A GIRL CAN DREAM I MEAN THIS IS MOST LIKELY TO HAPPEN. Actually, we do think it’s likely that the majority of pizza places will be carrying vegan cheese by 2020.
Lab-grown meat replaces all (or most) ground beef and filler meat sold in the USA. (Please see: Chicken McNuggets, hambugers, etc). This will probably happen when it becomes cheaper because all these fuckers care about is money DON’T MATTER THOUGH BECAUSE IT’S A WIN FOR THE ANIMALS!
A standard “vegan” mark appears on food labels, as ubiquitous as the kosher parve mark. We’re already seeing this at Trader Joe’s; luckily it’s turning up on their most delicious products, like Candy Cane Joe Joe’s! Thank you, god!
A public advertising campaign against vegans and vegetarians, like “Got Milk?” but on the “fuck communist grass-grazers” side. It’s OK; this just means we’re really pissing them off. Good.
Cheese Whiz becomes vegan. Not sure if this is a win? Whatevs, we’ll take it!
MIGHT COULD HAPPEN
Oprah comes out as vegetarian! We immediately start going down on her. Actually, the latter is a MOST LIKELY WILL HAPPEN if the former occurs.
We’d love to see KFC go out of business. With it’s focus on fried foods and MSG, this is a serious possibility. We’d love to see colonel effigies burning in the streets across the United States. Or is that too creepy? Whatever.
Factory farms going out of business! Seriously, there is some MAJOR backlash starting and this shit is just gonna keep moving forward. Laws are being passed and people are noticing. This cannot stand. Hasta la pasta, assholes.
Michael Pollan resolves the omnivore’s dilemma by going vegan. This would really help him seem less crazy.
A Rosetta Stone of different animal languages is developed, allowing us to have conversations with dolphins and other species using a special device. OH MAN SO FUCKING AWESOME.
SUPER UNLIKELY BUT IT’S FUN TO DREAM
Oprah comes out as vegan and turns her show into Vegan Oprah and everyone follows suit because we are all sheep for the big O. That is why I am currently wearing jeans that Michael Jordan’s wife made and reading Angela’s Ashes. WHATEVER YOU SAY OH MIGHTY ONE.
Cats and dogs granted status as legal dependents and covered under health insurance. Cat ladies the world over weep, push for legal marriage.
Dr. Dean Ornish is named Surgeon General by President Al Franken in 2017 (or whatever veggie/vegan health person we’re liking this month). Of course, the Kuch has a place in the cabinet; he paved the way after all.
What are your predictions? What did we miss? Are we dead on? Or way crazy? Don’t answer that last one.
Vegansaurus Wants You! »
But only as a friend.
No, seriously. Vegansaurus is looking to expand and take over the world and dominate in every way possible. We’re looking for writers.
Specifically, we’re looking for people who are way into vegan food. We are especially interested in people who are really into cooking, baking, and creating amazing recipes. Also, someone with a good eye for current events, especially (obviously) vegan news. Certainly being a witty genius is a plus because we need more of that. this could be one person. or it could be two. You don’t have to be in San Francisco as we’re looking to expand our reach. But we need people who can contribute two to three times per week.
If you’re interested, send a couple samples of your writing to laura @ vegansaurus dot com, even if it’s just your blog or some scanned-in poetry. Actually not that second thing. Please god.
Vegans, vegetarians, and yes, even omnivores are invited to apply. And maybe your dog too if he can use a computer.
Product review: the Amy’s black bean burrito! »
You might be thinking, “What a boring product to review. I am so tired of looking at Amy’s frozen foods in my local boutique grocery freezer case. I don’t even eat frozen foods; I only eat meals prepared from farmer’s market ingredients and Veganomicon recipes.” Nice life, snob. Also, marry me.
What I’m saying is that for regular people with busy lives, desk jobs and no money, frozen food happens and Amy’s is generally one of your better options. Specifically, the Black Bean Vegetable Burrito is where it’s at. I ate these twice a day in college, and have recently rediscovered them as the perfect food, after a long (sad) accidental hiatus.
This delicious creation is made with a whole wheat tortilla, a bunch of organic vegetables like tomatoes and peppers, it’s totally vegan, and it tastes like one of those junk food refried bean Taco Bell burritos from the ’80s that tasted SO GOOD when you were a kid and never allowed to eat them. Actually, I wasn’t allowed to eat them so I could be remembering that incorrectly, but you know what I mean? The delicious taste of junk food chemically engineered to addict your brain?
(OOH speaking of that, Eric Schlosser was at Herbst Theater last night and I would totally have gone if I could! He’s not talking about fast food though, he’s talking about our fucked prison system. Still very interesting.)
Anyway, to recap, Amy’s black bean burrito is full of good stuff but it tastes conventionally delicious. Also it’s about $3 and rocking 9 grams of protein and no cholesterol, so I recommend you keep several in your office freezer. Find it in the freezer case at your local spot (if you live in San Francisco or a comparable city where your vernacular grocery markets are full of things like organic produce and the Hain-Celestial family of products.)