Wednesday, January 31, 2007

My vegan story

I had been vegetarian (the cheese-loving kind) for many years in the 90s.

Oh, hey, I'm a vegetarian... but I eat fish.

This post is bound to make at least one of my friends (and very loyal reader) angry with me. But, I think I have to address it. Fish is not a vegetable. If you eat fish you are not a vegetarian, you are a pescotarian. If you eat chicken, you are a meat-eater (maybe there is a term for this... 'chickenaterian', or 'I don't eat pork or beef'), because chicken is meat. When non-vegetarians call themselves vegetarians it makes vegetarians very angry. There are very good reasons that this induces anger.

The first reason that this makes people angry, and the most important reason, is that non-vegetarians calling themselves vegetarians muddies up the definition of a vegetarian. When vegetarians go out to eat or over to other people's houses, people OFTEN ask if they eat fish or chicken. Now, where do you think this idea comes from? There is a definition of the term "vegetarian". It says, "a person who does not eat or does not believe in eating meat, fish, fowl, or, in some cases, any food derived from animals, as eggs or cheese, but subsists on vegetables, fruits, nuts, grain, etc".

The second reason that this might make someone angry is that they may have had to deal with a lot of flack from friends and family and feel that they have made sacrifices and that the non-vegetarian-caling-themselves-a-vegetarian has not earned the right to this label yet.

And in case you are wondering how I feel about the term "flexitarian", I think it is a load of crap. A flexitarian is just someone who wants to have their cake and eat it too. They are desperate to identify for some reason as a vegetarian. If you "sometimes" eat meat, you are not a vegetarian, you are a meat-eater.

Vegetarians don't eat animals.

From Wikipedia:

"Vegetarianism is the practice of not consuming meat, with or without the use of other animal derivatives, such as dairy products or eggs. Some vegetarians choose to also refrain from wearing clothing involving the death of animals, such as leather, silk and fur. Veganism, sometimes called "strict vegetarianism", excludes all animal products from diet and attire, whether or not this involves the actual death of an animal (dairy, eggs, honey, wool and down feathers). Vegetarians are found in countries across the world with varied motivations including religious, financial, ethical, environmental, and health concerns. Those who eat fish or poultry but no other meat, although not vegetarian, are sometimes known as Pesco/Pollo Vegetarians."

A word about veganism, while I am on the subject; veganism is not really about what you will and won't eat. It is most often about ethics and whether it is ethically ok to cause another being harm at the expense of another. Vegans (usually) believe that it is not ok to cause suffering to another sentient being. It is not ok to eat things just because they taste good. It is not ok to treat any living being as property. I said "usually" above because some people are vegan purely for health reasons.

I didn't want to come off as the vegan purist overlord here (or make my friends mad at me), but I did want to clarify the distinct and well defined definitions of these things and encourage others to use the terms properly.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Tell me more about you

I often wonder who reads this. Do only vegans read this? Is it only my friends? Is anyone out there contemplating making the switch to veganism or vegetarianism? If I knew this information I might be able to write better entries. So, if you don't mind, here are several mini-polls:

Sorry for the lack of posts

I get really busy during snowboarding season and can't seem to find time to post. I'll try to get a couple of posts in this week. If you are feeling like you want more, you should check out some great podcasts. My favorite podcast is Vegan Freak. It was probably one of the most influential things in my becoming vegan. Check it out. I also like Colleen, the Compassionate Cook. Her podcasts are good (except for the first 5 mintues where she begs for contributions). It think it is actually called Vegetarian Food for Thought. You can easily download/subscribe to these podcasts through iTunes.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

A very soft menu indeed

This week's menu was a challenge. I had some dental work done and have stitches in my mouth (eww, right?) so I need to eat soft food this week and I don't want things that will get stuck in the stitches (like broccoli). Figuring out what to make is difficult. Last night I just went to Whole Foods and got some store made split pea soup and some soy delicious chocolate peanut butter ice cream. But, soup and ice cream is going to get old really fast. I am having a hard time fitting green things into my soft menu (spinach and broc seem like they will get stuck in the stitches), so let me know if you can think of something. I guess I will live w/o eating greens for a few days.

Sat - Tofu Loaf, mashed sweet potatoes (salad for Mike).
Sun - Eating out in Portland, Maine (gotta go meet with my tattoo artist)
Mon - Macaroni and "Cheese", (broccoli for Mike)
Tues - leftovers (bottling our wine this night)
Weds - Boston style baked beans
Thurs - Leftover (I have pottery class on Thurs)
Fri - Veggie Faux Hamburger Bake (has broccoli, but I should be up to that by then).

Here is the recipe for Macaroni and "Cheese". I think it is from the New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook.

serves 5

Cook 3 1/2 cups elbow macaroni.
In a saucepan, melt 1/2 cup vegan margarine over low heat. Beat in 1/2 cup flour with a wire whisk and continue to beat over a medium flame until the mixture (called a roux) is smooth and bubbly. Whip in 3 1/2 cups boiling water, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, and a pinch of tumeric, beating well to dissolve the roux.
The sauce should cook until it thickens and bubbles. Then whip in 1/4 cup oil and 1 cup nutritional yeast flakes.
Mix part of the sauce with the noodles and put in casserole dish, and pour a generous amount of sauce on top. Sprinkle top with paprika (note: I love bread crumbs (panko) or bread cubes mixed with melted margarine on top.) and bake for 15 minutes in a 350F preheated oven. Put in broiler for a few minutes until "cheese" sauce gets stretchy and crisp.

Notes: I used Olive Oil for the oil and I added 1/4 tsp dry mustard and 1/8 tsp cayenne.

Monday, January 8, 2007

A different kind of post: A trip to the grocery

I often hear people say that being vegan is expensive or that they don't know what vegans eat. Well, after travelling for a few days, I really crave good healthy food. So I went to the store tonight after work. Here is what I got, how much I spent, and what I plan to do with it. Normally I make a plan before going to the grocery, but today I had no plan... I just grabbed whatever looked good.

Whole Wheat Fusilli
1 can organic garbanzo beans
1 can diced tomatoes
Silk Soy Creamer
Kashi Autumn Wheat cereal
2 TV dinners - Kashi black bean mango pilaf
1 bag frozen organic strawberries
Annie's Naturals Teriyaki marinade
2 Amy's Beans and Rice Burritos
3 pk Silk Chocolate Soy Milk
1 qt. Pacific Veg broth
1 pkg Tempeh
1 box Extra Firm Tofu
1 bag 365 short grain brown rice
3 yellow onions
1 lime
1 avocado
8 bananas
1 small butternut squash
2 yukon gold potatoes
1 bunch scallions
3 bell peppers (red, yellow, green)
1 bag baby spinach
1 lb. sugar snap peas
1 bunch bok choy
1 bunch chard
1 bunch kale
cremini mushrooms
3 golden beets
1 bunch green leaf lettuce
1 bunch broccoli
1 bunch cauliflower
Total = 78.00

That should feed us for the week. We have some things already in the cupboards and freezer.

Tonight we had Roasted Vegetables (potatoes, carrots, butternut squash, cauliflower, red bell pepper, onion, golden beets) with Teriyaki sauce, basmati brown rice, and steamed kale with a dressing of apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, agave nectar, and salt and pepper. The recipe for the roasted vegetables is in the extended entry.

Tomorrow we will probably do a stir fry with snap peas, peppers, bok choy, scallions, garlic, carrots, broccoli, and mushrooms and serve it over brown rice or quinoa. The tempeh will probably go with this... steamed, browned, and then glazed with soy sauce and a little maple syrup.

Later in the week I will throw a potato, onion, carrot, and butternut squash into a crock pot with some lentils, diced tomatoes, and veggie stock and have a stew. The chard will go into the stew.

I was thinking that I would then take some of the remaining vegetables and roast them and make them into a rice/veggie cake, coat it in bread crumbs and brown it in a saute pan. This will go with a spinach salad and some baked tofu.

If there is anything left I will make a pasta dish with some garlic and sauteed veggies.

Normally I would probably have more variety, but I was craving veggies and grains.

Monday, January 1, 2007

How much pus is acceptable in milk?

I know. You are thinking, "WHAT!??!! Pus in my milk? What is she talking about?". Well, yes Virginia, there is pus in your milk.

How does it get there?
Cows now produce more milk than is natural due to growth hormones and genetic engineering. This causes them to often have infections of the udders called Mastitis. "When they are milked, pus and bacteria from the infection flow right along with the milk. ... Researchers estimate that an ordinary glass of milk contains between one and seven drops of pus. This isn’t just disgusting—it can also be dangerous. Pus can contain paratuberculosis bacteria, which are believed to cause Crohn’s disease in human beings. " [1] "The US has the highest rate of Crohn’s ever recorded. The US also has the worst epidemic of a similar disease among cattle, called Johne’s disease ... There is now growing ... evidence that this bacteria is the cause of Crohn’s in people who drink milk from infected cows." [2]

How much pus is in the milk?
The diary industry uses something called the somatic cell count to measure amounts of pus in the milk. "Any milk with a somatic cell count of higher than 200 million per liter should not enter the human food supply, according to the dairy industry... every state but Hawaii is producing milk with pus levels so high that it shouldn’t enter the human food supply!" [1] The national average is 322 million. The US allows double the amount that other countries allow and the milk produced in our country would be illegal to sell in some other European countries. Oh, and did I mention that the bacteria in the pus survives pasteurization?

How you can avoid drinking pus?
There are plenty of alternatives to cow's milk. If you don't like the taste of soy milk, I suggest you try rice milk. It has a taste and texture very similar to skim milk. And if you need something in your coffee, Silk makes a soy creamer in plain and vanilla flavors.

How can you avoid eating pus?
By now you are hopefully thinking about avoiding milk and you think you'll be free of this worry. You also need to think about cheese. In cheese, the amounts are concentrated. Don't eat cheese. You don't really need it and it is addictive. There are even some nice alternatives out there. Tofutti makes a great soy cream cheese. Here is some more information on living diary-free.

But how much pus is in my state's milk?
Check it out for yourself.

Don't believe me?
Just do a google search. You will find a lot of scientific data that might change your mind. Oh wait, here is a study conducted by the USDA on how to lower the somatic counts.

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