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Archive for February, 2012

Many of us are familiar with the ongoing and recent disturbing actions of some mainstream vegan groups that aim to sell veganism while reinforcing problematic sexual politics of meat. I won’t fill up space discussing them in this post. If you’d like to read some excellent blogs on the subject, I suggest: Carol J. Adams’ post here, Vegansaurus’ post here, and Gena Hamshaw’s post here.

In light of certain vegan groups’ tactics that I believe greatly undermine the integrity of the vegan movement, I was very nervous when I saw VegNews‘ new “The Vegan Man Issue” on the newsstand. I was nervous because I like VegNews, and I knew there was a lot at stake for them to put out an issue focusing on man. I have worked with their advertising department (some really nice folks), and was once even offered their coveted residential internship while I was in college (I had to turn it down due to date conflicts with my study abroad program). I adore and admire many who write for them, including regular stars Laura Beck and Gena Hamshaw. I really appreciate and respect VegNews for supporting vegans of all backgrounds, and covering issues that many vegan media outlets do not. They regularly champion vegan minorities, authors, and organizations like Bryant Terry of Vegan Soul Kitchen, Jasmin Singer and her nonprofit media outlet Our Hen House, and Ari Solomon, vegan business owner of A Scent of Scandal and vocal advocate for queer-vegan rights. VegNews helps build vegan community, too. I’ve met some seriously awesome people at their sponsored vegan drinks in SF.

I was scared to read their latest issue, if only because I really didn’t want them to let us down. But I knew I had to buy a copy and review it on Queer Vegan Food. I read it cover to cover. There’s some great stuff in this issue: Gena’s wonderful kale chip recipe looks fantastic, Laura’s timeless wit and ever-useful advice column rocks as always (no more body shaming! hooray!), and there’s some other winning recipes, an article on environmentalism, nutrition advice, book reviews, and more. “The Vegan Man Issue” isn’t all bad, but I feel strongly that the stuff that’s wrong and damaging needs to be identified.

So here goes:

First, there’s the Editor’s Note by Elizabeth Castoria. The whole Esquire satire is weird at best, offensive at worst. Gendering VegNews as feminine (“I bat my editorial eyelashes”) and Esquire as masculine (“the rugged jawlines of your studly cover subjects”) is weird and confusing. I know Esquire advertises itself as a “guide for men who want to live a fuller, richer, more informed and rewarding life” but since when is VegNews a “women’s magazine”?

Then it gets even worse: the editor writes: “I don’t think you know what a man is.” That’s where I started to get interested. Great, I thought, VegNews will contest society’s problematic gender constructs. But editor Castoria doesn’t contest anything in her editorial; instead, she reinforces all of these constructs. Castoria writes: “There are men aplenty in your pages, many of whom even have the six-packs to prove it. You suffer no shortage of testosterone.”WHAT?! Since when is being a man contingent upon having a six-pack or testosterone? What if the tables were turned, and VegNews were writing to Cosmopolitan editors suggesting they were featuring “real women” because they “had the D-cup to prove it”? Do cancer patients who have low levels of testosterone suddenly no longer qualify as men, VegNews? What about transmen? What the heck are they trying to prove with this hormone discussion?  This reads like VegNews is a magazine only for “women” that is doing a “men’s special” just like Cosmopolitan occasionally puts out special sections “for the boyfriend“.

This all feels so bizarre, and overall insulting to VegNews‘ diverse audience and scope. The editor’s note also suggests that vegan men are coming into more positions of power, without acknowledging that men in general have much more power in the world than women, and doesn’t establish that there might be some intersections or connections that anyone even remotely familiar with Carol J. Adams’ The Sexual Politics of Meat and the Pornography of Meat would understand.

VegNews does quote Carol J. Adams and someone named Jovian Parry, who is apparently a doctoral student in meat, gender, animality and pop culture at York University in the issue-anchoring article “The Evolution of Man,” but the article misses a few important marks. First, it promotes the idea of men being powerful as vegans without questioning what this power looks like in terms of gender, race, class, sexual orientation, ethnicity, abelism, etc. The rise of the power vegans articles seem to reinforce the notion that the powerful white male majority can stay powerful while being vegan. (A note about the ads: I have never seen this many full-page supplement and protein ads in the magazine! I guess they think “men” want to be advertised to about protein and supplements.)

The article also cites the case of how a Wall Street trader felt he was being called gay because he was vegetarian, but doesn’t point out the nuance of him being called anti-gay slurs as being homophobic.  Why did writer Joshua Katcher not discuss how using a homophobic slur in reference to someone’s veganism is about homophobia, a subject this article never even broaches? I think that this example would have been a great opportunity to point out parallels between multiple oppressions, but VegNews writer Katcher passed. To visually reinforce the privileged white-male attitudes of the article, the overwhelming majority of the “evolved men” profiles at the bottom of each page of the article are of powerful white men who happen to be vegan. Perhaps this wasn’t intentional, but it’s a poor representative sample of the diverse man-identified people who represent the face of the vegan movement.

There’s more, but I feel I’ve shared enough. While I am glad to see that VegNews acknowledges the sexual politics of meat are at play for man-identifying vegans (and everyone else, too),  “The Vegan Man Issue” only reinforces these problematic ideologies.

My veganism is first and foremost about my sense of ethical and moral responsibility to respect the lives of all creatures on this planet. I believe veganism is about inclusion and empowerment. It is about breaking down oppressive power structures that exploit human- and non-human animals of all stripes and species. I feel it is my responsibility as a compassionate vegan to draw attention to what I believe degrades and hurts human animals. When Quarry Girl exposed VegNews was using stock photos of actual meat, I held my breath and waited for them to recognize they were in error and change their ways. And they did! That’s the kind of magazine I think (and hope) VegNews wants to be–the kind that constantly looks for opportunities to improve and more effectively cater to their diverse readership. It is my hope that if enough of us weigh in, VegNews will recognize how they have blundered with “The Vegan Man Issue” and will take steps to ensure that sexism and heterosexism have no place in their pages. This is my hope, and it is my call to action. Thanks for reading.

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Long ones are rutabaga, pentagon-shaped ones are parsnip!

One of the greatest losses the world faces is the rapidly diminishing availability of heirloom produce. While I’m no fan of Michael Pollan’s hypocritical and, in my humble opinion, very misguided perspectives on the so-called virtues of omnivorism, it was his book The Botany Of Desire, which I read in my high school botany class, that first alerted me to monocrop issues when I was 17. Through Pollan, I learned how plant diversity has been seriously undermined in the past century by human preferences and influences. I am disappointed that Pollan’s nostalgic foodism (for more on this topic, I suggest checking out Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s excellent podcast on the subject of “pasturbating”) contributes to his erroneous and dangerous conclusions about eating animals and animal byproducts, but I will forever remember and be grateful to him for being the person who showed me the importance of heirloom produce.

Last week, I found myself at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market buying heaps of gorgeous produce. I just moved to Los Angeles a little over a week ago, and my friend Josia was determined not to let any significant amount of time pass before we hit up the mecca of beach-side produce. It was amazing to breathe in fresh Pacific Ocean air as I filled my canvas bag with purple carrots, heirloom root vegetables, thick and robust curly kale, and more.

Santa Monica Farmers' Market. Image via: Dripwear.com

A few days later, our friend Puki came over to the little apartment Court and I share in Hollywood for dinner and we made spirulina salad. We decided that we wanted something a bit heartier in addition, when I thought I would make some raw parsnip rice (note: this is an amazing dish, I highly recommend it!). Then, it dawned on me that I could make parsnip into fries, and use the rutabaga I got as well. It worked out beautifully! Here is the recipe:

Heirloom Rutabaga-Parsnip Fries

(Serves 1-3)

Ingredients:

Rutabaga

Parsnip

Coconut Oil

Salt

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 385 degrees. Cut rutabaga and parsnip into desired shapes, and then thinly coat with coconut oil and salt. Roast for 40-50 minutes, depending on desired texture. Enjoy!

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Greetings, Queer Vegan Food readers! Today, I am excited to bring you a guest post and recipe from my friend Rande of the The Vegetable Centric Kitchen! Rande is amazing, and a queer vegan foodist to the core. I love her inspiring post and gorgeous recipe! Please enjoy…

The Lovely Rande of The Vegetable Centric Kitchen

Guest Post: Coming Alive With Vegetables

By Rande From The Vegetable Centric Kitchen

I have a passionate obsession with vegetables. Anyone who knows me or reads my blog is aware of this. There is, however, much more to it than a simple love of the green stuff. For me, choosing to eat a plant-based diet goes beyond achieving a certain aesthetic (eat raw! get the glow!) or being super pure, clean or “good” at your diet.

I spent my childhood and teenage years being “good”–going to church, following the rules, trying not to question things that didn’t feel right. I was also struggling horribly with depression, self-hatred and abuse, disordered eating patterns, doubt surrounding the religion I was immersed in, shame around my sexuality, and confusion about life in general. I was, for several years, a “junk-food vegan,” tossing back anything with abandon so long as it held the sacred “vegan” label. It wasn’t until I discovered the power of a plant-based diet filled with green juices and kale salads that I really started to wake up to the power of food to affect my mental clarity what my experience of being alive could be like.

It wasn’t until I discovered the power of a plant-based diet filled with green juices and kale salads that I really started to wake up to the power of food to affect my mental clarity what my experience of being alive could be like.

I’m certainly not saying food is the be-all-end-all. We all know that taking care of your emotional, mental, and spiritual health is JUST as important. Food, however, was the game-changer for me. A high-greens and raw food diet along with juicing and colon cleansing (so key) have been absolutely life-transforming. This way of living has more easily enabled me to remove things that were blocking me from being myself.

As physical barriers are removed, emotional and spiritual things have become much easier to address as well. I’m much more easily able to tap into myself and know what’s best for me instead of referring to a rule book or religion. In the last few years I’ve gone from confused, secretive, and terribly unhappy with my body to clear, open, and loving (most days) what I’ve got. I’m certainly far from perfect, but I’m immensely enjoying the journey.

I often look around me and I see where “normal” living and thinking gets people in our society. It seems to be considered the norm to be depressed, overweight, caffeine-and-sugar addicted, hating our jobs, and dreading getting older. I’m not particularly interested in any of that. I’m not interested in being afraid of life. I’ve made it my purpose to continue getting to know myself, and remaining connected to my heart. Back when I was completely clueless about who I was (or maybe just terrified of it) I was accustomed to following along with the group, not making waves, and keeping myself stimulated with processed foods and soy-latte’s to get by.

When I was eventually able to let go of those things, I also felt like there was enough space in my head to be able to mentally step back and take a look at my actions and beliefs. Eating cleaner has helped tremendously in being more present in my life. I want more than anything to be completely and fully myself, and I wish the same thing for everyone else. How anyone manages to get by on cheeseburgers is beyond me but we’re all on our own path. Whether you tap into yourself by cleansing your body or you dive head-first into a great meditation practice (or better, both!) It’s up to you. I can’t think of anything sweeter than being awake and in touch with yourself and your body, however you feel drawn to do it.

Rande of the Vegetable Centric Kitchen.

            Rande’s recipe: vegan “bacon” wrapped around delectable chunks of roasted sweet potato!

Vegan “Bacon” By Rande of the Vegetable Centric Kitchen

Ingredients:

1 sweet potato
maple syrup (or stevia and maple extract)
1/2 an eggplant
liquid smoke
nama shoyu
coconut oil spray

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425. Thinly slice eggplant (about 1/8 inch thick) and cut each slice into 2-4 strips. Place strips in a bowl, spray with coconut oil, and drizzle with nama shoyu and liquid smoke. Let marinate while you chop sweet potato into chunks. Spritz with coconut oil and drizzle with maple syrup (or for a no-sugar option, stevia and maple extract).

Place eggplant slices on a baking tray in a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes, flipping halfway through. Bake the sweet potatoes for 30 minutes.

When everything is cooked and cooled, wrap sweet potato chunks with eggplant (“bacon”) slices and slide a toothpick through each piece.

__

Thanks for reading Rande’s post and recipe!

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Hi, Queer Vegan Foodies!

Savvy writer, nutritionist, blogger and doctor-to-be Gena Hamshaw recently wrote a series of posts on her blog Choosing Raw that shed light on the problem with conflating health with beauty, offering insightful commentary on these topics. Here is an excerpt:

Do I think there’s some truth to the idea that healthy lifestyle habits can help to keep one looking trim and youthful? Sure. Do I think there’s any sort of guarantee? No, not really. I’ve met incredibly healthy women and men who did not necessarily emanate youth, and I’ve met many more women and men who have lifestyle habits I’d call pretty unhealthy (processed food, no exercise, alcohol/nicotine/drug addictions) who appear to be the picture of youthful beauty. Healthy habits may offer some promise of youthfulness and beauty (whatever “beauty” means), but there’s certainly no direct cause and effect relationship.

I highly encourage you to check out the post on Choosing Raw!

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Fresh green juice. Great for fasters and non-fasters alike.

In a relationship, fasting can be a complex situation. Body image and emotional issues are often heightened when one or both partners fast. Additionally, when people fast, they often choose to do enemas, have decreased energy and/or sex drive (though not always) require more sleep or less social interactions than when they are eating normally. When one partner fasts and the other one doesn’t, however, it can bring up some interesting issues. Here are my top tips for when you fast and your partner doesn’t (or vice versa):

1. If you are fasting, try your best to maximize times when you have the greatest energy to accomplish important tasks and spend quality time with your partner.

One of the most difficult things when fasting is to acknowledge that you may have less energy for engaging in typical activities. If you find that you have more energy at certain points of the day, try to maximize those times for doing important tasks and spending quality time with your partner. If you have more energy at 6am than any other time of day, perhaps you and your partner can work around that to hang out in your special way.

2. Engage in lower-energy activities together that you both enjoy.

Meditation, watching films, reading books, listening to relaxing music, writing or playing games together is a great way to still connect while one person has less energy.

3. Make juices for each other.

Just because one partner is fasting officially, that doesn’t mean you both can’t enjoy juice together, at least once a day. Now that my partner is fasting and I’m not, I find that I’m using it as an opportunity to drink more juice in addition to the regular meals that I’m enjoying. It’s nice to sit together while we do our own thing.

4. If you’re the non-faster, make sure you still have meals that you enjoy.

I struggled with this during my partner’s most recent fast, and I think it’s really crucial to highlight. It can be hard not to feel guilty enjoying food while your partner is abstaining, but it’s really important that each partner finds pleasure in whatever they’re doing. Just as one partner might try to make juices that they enjoy, the other partner should seek meals that bring them pleasure and nourishment. Some ideas: cook for/with friends, go out to dinner with friends or solo, cook for yourself and enjoy what you made while your partner sips juice.

5. Set appropriate boundaries when it comes to enemas.

While some couples may choose to engage in enemas together or feel no need to set boundaries, most couples can benefit from a dose of discretion. Schedule times when the partner doing enemas has time alone in the part of your apartment or house where enemas will take place, or plan to be out of the house when they do this. Then again, if you’re both cool with it, do as you feel best…

6. Try to minimize focus on weight or physical appearance.

People tend to drop weight quickly when they fast. They will likely get comments from  friends, but it’s best within your partnership not to focus on the topic of weight as it could encourage unhealthy dynamics for one or both partners. This is tricky especially between two women, who are often compared in same-sex relationships anyway.

7. Try to spend more time alone than usual.

In partnerships, there’s typically a balance between time spent alone, with friends, and together as a couple. During this time, it’s especially helpful to focus on doing activities that you both like doing that you prefer or enjoy to do alone. For instance, while my partner is fasting, I like to spend more time running with friends, working on my own projects and meditating on my own. She likes to do activities by herself too, and it works well with our different experiences to spend even more time doing things that make us both feel nourished in unique ways.

8.  Be kind to yourselves and each other!

Whatever you do, make sure that you respect yourself and your partner. You are both gorgeous creatures deserving of love, happiness, and nourishment in whatever form works for you at any given time.

Thanks for reading! I would love to hear how fasting has affected your partnership!

;) xo Sarah

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