Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Vegan Inspiration

Sorry for not posting on Sunday, but I had to work this Saturday!...Funnily enough, I have a ton to talk about...First, the food!

Power Hungry Granola from My Sweet Vegan, rescued me this week from a 2-year stint with muesli and oatmeal! I usually avoid granolas because I munch on them too much, but I really needed a break. And was this a good choice!!! This granola is filling but light, sweet but not too sweet, and very different! It incorporates oats, to be sure, but also puffed millet and TVP! Wow - what a protein and whole grain combo! I buy puffed millet at my local grocery store (Shopper's Food Warehouse) for a really good price and the TVP, too. I've had both hanging around for a while, so I didn't have to buy anything new for this recipe. Topped with some mixed dried fruit, nuts, and almond milk, this is my new favorite breakfast cereal! I haven't bought boxed breakfast cereal in years. Not only is it expensive, but it's often loaded with preservatives, sweeteners, and other things I can't even pronounce. Try this today! A great breakfast that will really break the fast! (I learned that in second grade.) Four stars for sure ****.



Of course, no breakfast is complete without O.J., low-acid for me...












But then, if you're feeling a little naughty (and I have been very, very good since my New Year's resolution to break my sugar habit!), you will want to try another recipe from the same cookbook, 5-Minute Coconut Fudge! Holy cow. You all know that I consider coconut a food of the goddesses, but with this chocolate base, it's a decadent treat to be reckoned with . I'm not a huge chocolate fan normally, and my husband isn't a huge coconut fan, but the coconut milk in the fudge is just a hint and the topping is perfect. We both gave this four stars **** and deemed it better than the Tahini Halvah I've made before! Very, very thick and very, very easy to make. Unfortunately, I made this for people who aren't big fans of coconut (how was I supposed to know that these people exist?) and they scraped the coconut off or declined a taste. More for me - woohoo! No, really, I only had one and a half pieces. I brought the leftovers to another meeting. I am still making good food choices! I really felt a little ill after that small serving, showing that my stomach is getting used to more whole foods and is less tolerant of this refined (though amazing!) stuff.

It made a good serving amount, too! Great for your next potluck...











For my hot meal last week, I decided to go with yet another taco recipe from the same article in the Vegetarian Times magazine May 2008 issue. Pictured here is a Roasted Tomatillo and Black Bean Taco. I have never worked with tomatillos before (another veggie first!) and I found that they were pretty tasty! The tomatillos are roasted whole along with chopped peppers and whole garlic cloves and onion. They are then slightly blended in the food processor and added to some black beans, corn, and an avocado-jalapeno salsa, which is then topped with cilantro and vegan sour cream. I made this because I was craving black beans, but then realized that I hadn't prepared the dried ones (and didn't have any canned) so I had to use black soybeans! The image looks right, but the taste wasn't the same. Still, not bad! It could have actually been more spicy. Two and a half stars, maybe three **1/2-***.

My last food for the week doesn't have a picture, because, like the last spread/dip I made, it wasn't very photogenic. But Eat, Drink and Be Vegan's Rawsome Nut Dip was indeed - awesome!! It contains four different nuts (pine nuts, walnuts, almonds and pistachios, although you can play with the combination) along with some red bell pepper, lemon juice and bunch of spices. I used dried herbs for the fresh ones and it worked out just fine. This was fresh, delicious and when I brought it to a monthly meeting, raved about!! A great break from bean hummus and sandwich spreads and still good with crackers and crudites. But wait till you hear my next story...

So, I have a monthly environmental group meeting and being part of Hospitality, my job is to meet and greet, and to organize/provide munchies. I take my job seriously - I am often the first face people see and a friendly, open first impression is important to make and keep members. Being that I pretty much have to attend every meeting, I often don't look at the agenda until the night of the meeting. This past week, the topic was CSA's (community supported agriculture) and I was psyched, because I had just joined one this year. However, the second presenter that night was...an organic poultry farmer. Gulp. Well, I support my group and if they're organic, I figured that he/she probably has some environmental welfare in their minds....I'll be 90 % of you reading this have had nightmares involving animals at some time or another...whether it be about factory farming or hurt pets or something...well, I've had those too, but it doesn't compare to the real life nightmare I experienced at that meeting...

The nightmare began when it was mentioned to me that the farmer was bringing a chicken to be raffled off. I thought I would be ill, ...until I found out it was a frozen one. Then the farmer walked in ...with a cage of baby chicks - about 9 weeks old, peeping away. I thought I would be sick. But I kept my head and greeted him nicely, offering him a name tag, etc. I even joked with him, asking if I won the raffle, if I could get a live chicken (which I would donate to a farm sanctuary) - he immediately caught on and somehow already knew that there was "a vegan in the midst," saying, "Oh, you're the vegan..."

A bit later, when I offered him some refreshments from our table, he asked if they were vegan and when I responded that some were, he said, "Oh, I won't touch that - I'm strictly a meat and potatoes guy...I can see you and I won't get along!" He was abrupt and rude and rather red in the face at that point. I held my tongue and wondered if he indeed never ate corn or green beans or even cake, since the cake that was on the table was not vegan.

I wasn't sure if I could handle being there after that, and was wishing I had opted out of this meeting, but figured I'd just leave the room quietly if I couldn't handle it. But when the farmer stood up and began by chastising our group for improperly spelling his farm's name, and then began to explain that he wasn't organic by any means, and didn't really get with that whole vibe, I knew the nightmare was just beginning.

He went on to explain how he "moved the chickens' cages around on the grass" and how they "didn't eat organic feed, but it's all natural stuff and they'll eat anything anyway," and then onto discuss "broilers" and how they can't walk they are so fat and even how he's not certified by the health department, how he bought a gun because neighborhood pets kept eating this chickens...I quietly slipped out when the the word "butcher" came up....

I was told later that this gentleman found our group - that he wasn't sought out - and that he was representing the "small, local farmer." I completely appreciate these arguments, but it doesn't balance the rage, the fury, and the complete and utter pain I felt at the vision of this farmer, his baby chicks (which he later took out and cuddled!!), and their bloody future. If you don't get where I'm coming from, please visit the links on this blog, particularly,"Meet Your Meet." I cried that night, comforted by a good friend who followed me out of the room, but I also kept my composure, went back, and politely gave the farmer his hat as he was leaving. And here is my reasoning...

At one time, I owned a lucky rabbit's foot key chain but we had two pet rabbits and I cried when they died. At one time, I ate 3/4 pound hamburgers from Fuddruckers but I was depressed after my favorite cat died. At one time, I said, "I can never give up cheese - I'll never be vegan." At one time, I didn't make that connection between the pain my pets feel, the pain that animals that are raised to die feel, and the ability to find delicious, varied foods without sacrificing my beliefs. And I think of this poor farmer, who was visibly malnourished (in an American way, if you get my drift) who had never had amazing vegan desserts, never tasted a tempeh reuben or a grilled portabella, and whose mind was closed to the environmental crises of pollution, erosion, global warming, and water and food waste brought on by raising animals for human consumption. And I felt sorry for him. I prayed for him that night- that his eyes and heart might some day be opened in the way that mine and thousands of others have been. And I don't feel superior because of this - only hope.

National Meatout Day is this Friday, March 20th - also the first day of Spring. If you are not currently vegetarian, try a day off of animal products. Pet your dog and think of a cow, who enjoys the same thing. Watch a cardinal at your bird feeder or building a nest, and think of a chicken, who would love to scratch at the ground and wrap her wings around her babies. Watch your cat trying to get away the next time it's getting a shot at the vets, and think of a pig (more intelligent, even) scrambling to avoid death at a slaughterhouse. Eat a veggie meal and savor the flavors and nutrients that it brings to your body. Visit Vegan Outreach and open your mind to new possibilities. If you are already eating veg, order some leaflets from Meatout.org and walk around a farmer's market, spreading the word. The word of love. You have to do this all with love, because that is the root of this lifestyle. It isn't a diet, it isn't a fad, it's a way of being. Fortunately, with the nightmares come inspiration. I'm leafleting for National Meatout Day with a couple vegan friends. That farmer inspired me to be the best, most compassionate person I can be - and not just through my food choices. Peace.

3 comments:

VeggieGirl said...

Sorry about the meeting :-( But hooray for all of your food!!

Katy said...

I think you handled yourself very well. I would have been sad too.

All the food looks great!

Andey said...

This food looks great! I'm so glad yo were able to stock up! I really think you would be a great inspiration on RawPeople. Other vegans find support and friends with similar lifestyles there.

http://www.rawpeople.com/?utm_source=A&utm_medium=B&utm_campaign=C