Archives for posts with tag: veganism

It’s Vegan MoFo, the Vegan Month of Food. While I’m not participating because I just can’t get into the idea of being a food blogger, I figured I should be a good veg citizen and contribute something to the collective endeavor. On the other hand, I don’t feel like writing recipes and taking fancy pictures and all that. So instead, I’m going to share my nine favorite ways to eat toast.

  1. With butter* and zatar.
  2. With butter and nutritional yeast.
  3. With butter, honey**, and cinnamon.
  4. With butter, honey, and masala chai spice mix.
  5. With butter and marmalade.
  6. With butter and apple butter.
  7. With almond butter.
  8. With almond butter and banana slices.
  9. Surrounding a sandwich. The kind is unimportant, so long as it includes sauerkraut.

Of course, I’m all for new ideas. Tell me about your favorite ways to eat toast!

*By butter, I mean of course whatever your favorite buttery spread happens to be. I like Earth Balance, but I’m no snob. Eat what you like.

**Generic term for your favorite liquidy sweet stuff. I just like the texture better than sugar. But sugar works too.

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To the Do-Or-Die Vegans/Vegan Police/Vegangelicals:

I’m going to confess outright: I didn’t become a vegan because I love animals. I did it for the totally selfish reason of my own personal health, and because of environmental and economic justice second. Animal welfare was a happy byproduct. I didn’t think this was that unusual. My former housemates were health vegans (they’re mostly raw now too, totally hardcore), as are several of my in-laws. Like them, I saw pretty dramatic results in the quality of my life. I was happy with my choice, and this could have continued uneventfully except for one thing: I started hanging out with other vegans.

I was happy to find community. (And the potlucks! So delicious.) But then they started telling me things like people who became vegans for health reasons can’t be trusted because they’ll go back to meat as soon as they get bored with their new diet. Or that I should throw out the leather shoes I already owned and had been wearing for years, as though prematurely adding an animal’s remains to a landfill somehow avenged its death. Or that it was wrong to encourage people to eat less meat, because only strict veganism was acceptable. In my mind, eight people practicing Meatless Monday saves more animals than one new vegan. But to these folks, it was all or nothing.

I call them the vegangelicals. And they made me hate veganism, even though I was eating a vegan diet myself.

Luckily, I found other friends. Some were vegetarian. Some vegan. Some pescetarians. Some locavores. And while we partied and cooked and sampled pizza with Daiya and veenies with locally made sauerkraut, there was a small shift in me.

I bought a vegan wallet.

I started checking labels to make sure I had cruelty-free lotion.

I started reading editorials from PETA and occasionally (not always) thinking, “Yeah, exactly. Good for you.”

So, vegangelicals, what’s the lesson here?

Sometimes people become vegans for ethical reasons. But sometimes, our ethics change in response to our diets. It’s a place from which to view the treatment of animals without being completely turned off one’s own entanglement in it. Some people don’t do their best thinking from a place of guilt.

So I get it. I get the way you feel about animals. Because I give a crap too.

But give us the time to get there. Love us for our little steps. Feed us tempeh tacos and snobby Joes and maybe show us the best place to order a vegan belt. There are seven billion people on this planet, and each one is different. Remember that, the next time you turn your nose up at another’s first efforts at change. We could be the best allies you’ve got, if you let us.

All you have to do is quit chasing us away.

The most empowering book I’ve ever read was a cookbook.

Specifically, Vegan With a Vengeance, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.

When Jef and I first went vegan, he was a homemaker while I worked during the day and went to school at night. I’d wake up at 5:15, go for a walk, get dressed, make myself breakfast, fix a salad or leftovers for lunch, and wake Jef up just in time so he could find his glasses and drive me to work at 6:40. At 4:00 he’d pick me up, drive me home, and fix a quick dinner while I changed into my scrubs and passed out on the sofa. I’d wake, eat lunch, then take the 45 minute trip north to school in rush-hour traffic. Study from 6:00-10:00, then arrive home around 10:35. Wake up the next morning. Start over.

And this worked, partly because Jef is an amazing cook. We played with all kinds of crazy recipes. He knows how to improvise with spices, makes the best spaghetti sauce known to humankind, and chops vegetables so well you’d think they were bred to fall apart in perfect little cubes.

Then we moved.

And suddenly, I’m the one with time to spare. I’m an okay cook. I can stir-fry with the best of them, and my salad dressings are great. But I’m not a wonderful cook. Not innovative. Not confident. I burned some things. Undercooked others. We found ourselves eating out just a little too often. And it was starting to show, in our bodies and our bank accounts.

Enter Vegan With a Vengeance.

Here was a cookbook that spoke to me. Literally. Isa chatted to me like she was sitting backwards on my kitchen chair, telling me her theories of pizza crust making, the trick to getting flavors to stick to tofu, and laughing about the trans-fatty days of being vegan before Earth Balance was in every grocery store in America.

She didn’t take her recipes too seriously. She gave multiple variants on dozens of dishes (wasabi mashed potatoes, anyone?) and encouraged you to try your own. So when she laid down the law about something (prunes are great in chocolate cake, but not in chocolate chip cookies), you trusted it wasn’t because of some kind of celebrity chef ego trip, but because she really did know best.

We talk a lot about empowerment, getting people from a place of passivity and fear to one of leadership and personal responsibility. But we don’t always look around and identify empowerment when we see it, and learn from what works.

Vegan With a Vengeance turned me from “Oh no, it’s really sizzling a lot, I hope I don’t burn it, why don’t I turn down the heat?” to “I know it’s unconventional, but I really think this sauce could use some maple syrup.” I’m still not the best cook on the planet, not even half as good as my husband, but now I’m in a posture of learning, not paralysis.

Who or what has empowered you?

What can you learn from it?

How can you do the same?

P.S- yes, I have Veganomicon now too. Trying out a new soup this weekend!

Golden and Bri, our cooks at work, know that I take leftovers home all the time. Whenever they’re preparing a vegetable that’s known to be unpopular with the kids, they joke about how they’re making “Kat’s soup” for lunch. As little sense as it makes, licensing requirements often mean that perfectly good, never-served food from the kitchen has to get thrown away. Or disappear mysteriously into the ether. Which is how I ended up with a HUGE windfall of free bananas in my kitchen on Friday evening.

Here’s what happened to a few of them on Saturday:

 

We shared them with our junior youth group and ate the three remaining muffins for breakfast on Sunday morning. Obviously, we’ve still got a long way to go!

We can go bananas with …

  • more banana nut muffins
  • banana pancakes
  • bananas in my morning oats
  • banana, peanut butter, and honey sandwiches
  • banana bread
  • banana berry smoothies
  • snot (mashed banana, avocado, and lemon juice)
  • fruit salad with banana
  • banana split (I’ve actually never had one … maybe for my birthday?)
  • bananaphone!

Any other great ideas for vegan bananatastic treats? Please drop me a line! And if you live in Cincinnati, I’m also happy to share.

 

 

This evening, sitting at the kitchen table with Jef, eating homemade spicy white bean soup, I couldn’t help thinking about how much I love the way we eat now.

Grains and fruits at breakfast.

Grains and vegetables for lunch.

A fruit, sometimes a vegetable for a snack.

Grains and vegetables for dinner.  Sometimes a little sweet treat for dessert, or sometimes a cup of tea.

It’s not about losing weight, although that’s happened to both of us.  It feels better.  Healthier.  Simpler.  More true.  More real.  There is no shame in any meal that we make or eat.  We do not worry about portion sizes, calories, or fats.  We eat fruits, vegetables, and grains, and we eat as much as we want.  We enjoy everything we eat, knowing that it will only help.

This year,

I’ve come to love the sweetness in raw beets.

I’ve come to love red cabbage as the foundation for a stir fry.

I’ve come to take pride in my ten thousand variations on olive oil-and-apple cider vinegar salad dressing.

I’ve come to appreciate that there is sometimes nothing better than a bowl of white bean soup with potatoes and greens, some homemade stock, and a few tried-and-true spices.

My vegan life is so much better.  I’ll never go back.