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Mayim's Vegan TableThere comes a time in every blogger’s life when she connects so deeply with a cookbook that she feels, while making the food described in it, that she and the author are inextricably linked. Food recipes can connect us across geography and time, and in the case of Mayim’s Vegan TableMore than 100 Great-Tasting and Healthy Recipes from My Family to YoursI felt super connected to the author, wherever she is, being a fabulous neuroscience PhD, television star, and all-around gorgeous vegan genius. Every recipe she included in here seemed as though aimed at me to love it, though I’m sure that’s how most feel. Brussels sprouts chips? Kugel? Taco salad? I also miss making a lot of my favorite Jewish foods like Matzo Ball soup, challah, sufganiyot, rugelach, kugel, and more. This cookbook is totally a resource for those of us who love vegan food that tastes like a Bubbie made it!

The beginning of the book includes some helpful tips on vegan food prep, some basics and some in-depth tutorials like meal planning for picky kid eaters and sections on the science and environmental arguments behind a healthful vegan diet. To be honest, a lot of that stuff didn’t appeal as much to me (I just wanted to make the delish recipes!), but I think for new and/or aspiring vegans, it’d be a big help! I’m glad she took the time to share her values and appeal to parents who may need more help to get junior to eat her broccoli.

I’ve made several of Mayim’s recipes, and here are some of my favorites so far:

Quinoa with Herbs and Veggies

Quinoa with Herbs and Veggies

Vegan challah! I actually used Mayim's Turtle Bread recipe and just substituted gluten-free flour.

Vegan challah! I actually used Mayim’s Turtle Bread recipe and just substituted gluten-free flour.

Taco Salad! Mmm

Taco Salad! Mmm

Brussels sprouts chips: easy to make (if slightly time consuming) and oh-so-good!

Brussels sprouts chips: easy to make (if time consuming) and oh-so-good! I added nutritional yeast.

These recipes for the photos above are each very easy to make, designed for busy parents and/or those who love delicious food but don’t have time to create crazy-elaborate dishes. I highly recommend picking up a copy, and not only because Mayim is so cool! Here’s a link to another great review of Mayim’s Vegan Table by my friend Jenny Bradley on Vegansaurus.

Buy Mayim’s Vegan Table online and at bookstores nationwide.

 

 

 

 

Vassar Quarterly Spring/Summer issue Volume 110 on Queer Vegan Food

The spring/summer issue of The Vassar Quarterly features vegetarian perspectives.

Last summer, I wrote a long post about my alma mater’s disappointing “Eat” issue of the alumni/ae quarterly. I was pretty sad to see that my college’s long feature on how we eat featured none of the amazing work current students, staff, professors and alums do in the world of ethical, compassionate eating.

After the post ran, I could not have imagined a better response: other Vassar students, faculty, and alums felt similarly disappointed, and the editor of the magazine wrote to me saying that she would be very interested in remedying the omission of vegan/vegetarian perspectives from representatives of the college. From there, the brilliant students of VARC and other on-campus groups worked with the editor to create a beautiful feature for the current issue (spring/summer, vol. 110) that highlights some of the amazing work being done by Vassarians in the field of animal activism! You can read it online in full here.

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The issue features alumni/ae Pulin ModiSusan Prolman, yours truly, Nicky Quinn and student activists Allen Darer, Alessandra Seiter, Kaden Maguire, and Rocky Schwartz.

Wonderful activist Rocky Schwartz at Animal Place in Vassar's feature on vegetarianism at Vassar and beyond.

Wonderful activist Rocky Schwartz at Animal Place in a feature on vegetarianism at Vassar and beyond.

The piece features some great quotations about vegetarianism, reported by writer Sara Sezun:

On the scale of factory farming:

“According to the Humane Society, of the approximately 11 billion livestock animals killed annually in the United States, 86 percent are chickens and turkeys raised on factory farms.” (p. 20)

On meat eating’s impact on the environment:

“Animal agriculture produces 18 to 50 percent of greenhouse gases.” – James McWilliams. (p. 20).

On the “humane meat” myth:

“Free-range animals face similar fates (as those raised on factory farms). Farmers who raise them cannot allow their herds to become too large, because overgrazing would ruin their pastures. Therefore, “excess” calves, for example, may be sold to feedlots to be raised under conventional circumstances.” (p. 20)

Alan Darer, a current Vassar student whose work inspires me constantly, eloquently posted on his Facebook page about the Quarterly issue and his and other students’ activism around it:

“Alessandra and I were on the phone with (editor) Liz to see how we could move forward. She was very kind, receptive, admitted that they had made a mistake by omitting a vegetarian/vegan perspective and was eager to correct this. She suggested that they publish two letters to the editor critiquing this omission in the Fall Issue and then publish a full feature article on VARC in the Winter Issue.

What’s my takeaway? As animal advocates, our number one job is to be a voice for animals as best as we can and create opportunities to help share their stories. By staying solutions-oriented, we were able to work with Liz to share the plight of farmed animals and VARC’s amazing work with the alumni of Vassar College.” – Alan Darer

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After this issue went live, I heard from friends and family who were inspired by the info and statistics included, all of which help bring awareness to the growing movement of veganism and compassionate eating into the mainstream. I’m also delighted that some of my recipes are featured on the college’s website!

I have never been prouder to be a Vassar alum, and am so grateful for the network of animal activism on campus and beyond! Congrats to all involved in making this issue happen, and to the animals whose lives will be saved thanks to the efforts of those featured.

Greetings from snowy Boulder, CO. My first winter in Boulder has been quite an adventure so far. I learned only after moving here that February, March and April are some of the snowiest months of the year. While the temps have been vacillating a lot recently (60s one day, 9 degrees a few days later!), I got a chance to finally explore the Colorado powder at Copper Mountain. In anticipation of skiing, I unpacked my ski gear from childhood and donated everything that was made of leather, and picked up some gently used cruelty-free alternatives (a helmet without leather, leather-free gloves, wool-free neck warmer.

I’m by no means an experienced skier, but I had a really great time enjoying the beautiful scenery! I can see why people trek from all over the world to enjoy the slopes in Colorado.

Queer Vegan Food skiing at Copper Mountain in Colorado

Skiing at Copper Mountain in Colorado.

Recently, two amazing companies, Tolerant Foods and Explore Asian, sent me samples of their amazing gluten-free vegan pastas. At the risk of sounding incredibly ignorant, I had no idea that it was even possible to turn red lentils, black beans, soybeans and mung beans into pasta! These pastas list the respective beans as the only ingredients, which is a marvel of science if you think about it. This is definitely not your average brown rice or quinoa/corn pasta–each of the pastas I tried (Mung bean, black bean, and red lentil, so far) are rich in flavor and have enjoyable al dente textures.

Gluten-free, organic black bean, soybean and mung bean pastas from Explore Asian.

Gluten-free, organic black bean, soybean and mung bean pastas from Explore Asian.

Tolerant Foods red lentil rotini is gluten-free and vegan.

Tolerant Foods red lentil rotini is gluten-free and vegan.

So far, I’ve tried the black bean penne and red lentil rotini from Tolerant Foods (both so, so good!) as well as the mung bean fettucini from Explore Asian (so unique and satisfying!).

Beyond Meat also generously sent me samples of their latest gluten-free vegan product, Beef-Free Crumbles! I think this may be my favorite Beyond Meat creation yet. Other faux beef products are laden with processed soy and/or processed wheat. I love that Beyond Meat Beef-Free Crumbles, which comes in regular “beefy” and “feisty” flavors, contains pea protein and no weird added fillers.

Beyond Beef crumbles are vegan and gluten-free and really delicious.

Beyond Meat Beef-Free Crumbles are vegan and gluten-free and really delicious.

An easy, yummy recipe: Beyond Meat Beyond Beef crumbles, parsley, tomato sauce, black bean pasta from Tolerant Foods!

An easy, yummy recipe: Beyond Meat Beef-Free Crumbles, parsley, tomato sauce, black bean pasta from Tolerant Foods!

When I served Beyond Meat Beef-Free  Crumbles and Tolerant Foods’ black bean pasta to guests, the crowd went wild! Granted, they were a vegan, mostly gluten-free crowd, but still, these products are big winners in my book. I’d absolutely serve them again to my friends and loved ones, and enjoy them myself. The only real issue when eating foods like this with hella beans and protein is that you may feel absolutely invincible. Here’s to bean and pea protein power!

Stay warm! xo

Beyond Meat Chicken Alfredo on Queer Vegan Food by Sarah E Brown

When Beyond Meat, the delicious, pea protein-based meat substitute company, offered to send samples of their products for me to create a recipe, I hella obliged. I absolutely love using it in salads, wraps, and recipes like the one I’m sharing today. While I tend to avoid meat substitutes due to their being overly processed and sort of strange on principle, I really like how Beyond Meat is made from simple ingredients, is gluten- and GMO-free. Beyond Meat is available in various health food stores and can be purchased in prepared items at a chain called Tropical Smoothie. If you’d prefer to make Beyond Meat at home,  here’s a recipe using Beyond Meat Lightly Seasoned Chicken-Free Strips that really hits the spot.

Gluten Free Vegan Beyond Meat Chicken Alfredo (Serves 2)

Ingredients:

1 cup Beyond Meat Lightly Seasoned Chicken-Free Strips

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper (optional)

1/4 cup chopped golden beets (optional)

1/2 cup cashews

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1 Tbs chickpea miso (or another miso)

1 tsp olive oil

1/4 cup water

3 cloves garlic

1 tbs sesame seeds

Instructions:

Blend all ingredients except Beyond Meat, golden beets and red bell pepper in a Vitamix or food processor until fully blended. Cook blended mixture on stove at medium heat, and add in Beyond Meat strips, red bell pepper and golden beets (if using) for 10-12 minutes on medium high heat. Serve with quinoa pasta or fresh greens.

Esther The Wonder Pig's Dads

I recently interviewed the beautiful gay dads of Esther the Wonder Pig on Vegansaurus! Pretty fun!

Thanks to her dads Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter, tens of thousands of fans get to peek into the surprising and always adorable daily doings of Esther The Wonder Pig, the clever, undeniably photogenic 400-pound pig! It’s truly a delight each day to browse Steve and Derek’s witty status updates and glamorous pics of Esther living her genius, safe, and cozy life in Toronto with her loving dads and dog siblings!

I interviewed Esther’s loving dads about life with Esther, how she came into their lives, and their future plans to continue spreading awareness about pigs as pets, not food.

Click here to read my interview with Esther The Wonder Pig’s Dads on Vegansaurus!

Today’s guest post is from my friend Hana Low, a tireless vegan activist, radical nurse-to-be, and force for change for human- and non-human animals. I’m grateful to Hana for submitting this amazing guest blog on whether vegans should get the flu vaccine. While I’m definitely glad that I got my flu shot–this is a particularly rough flu season, even for healthy, young people–flu vaccines are definitely a complicated topic from a vegan perspective, as they are not currently totally vegan.

As vaccines can be a sensitive topic on the internet among vegans and non-vegans, I’m posting this with the disclaimer that, overall, I very much believe in them, and spend a great deal of my time working to improve vaccination rates nationwide. As always, only respectful comments will be allowed. Any comments including personal attacks on either myself or Hana will not be admitted. I’m also not interested in generating a major debate about whether vaccines in general are awesome. There’s (unfortunately, in my opinion) plenty of other places to engage in those discussions elsewhere on the internet.

With that being said, I invite you to enjoy Hana’s thought-provoking post and invite you to share your questions and comments at the end.

Flu vaccine on Queer Vegan Food

Guest Post By Hana Low: Vegan Musings On Egg-Based Vaccines

Last week, Queer Vegan Food’s Facebook page posted, “Got a flu shot. Yay medicine. Just wish vaccines were all vegan…,” which expresses my complicated feelings about the ubiquitous use of animal products in this messed up world. Animal exploitation is so commonplace that animal (by) products are used in the production of everything from bicycle tires to glue. I agree with what Erik Marcus writes in The Vegan Guidethat we must do what we can to reduce harm (including harm to humans) wherever possible, and not obsess about attaining some impossible level of veganness in a flawed world.  (Better to spend the energy feeding and educating nonvegans, I say.)

I had to get a flu shot for nursing school, and no vegan version was available to me. Because viruses like the flu need host cells to replicate, both the nasal flu mist and the shot are typically produced in chicken embryos, and have been for decades. This is a problem: for the chickens who would need to produce hundreds of millions of eggs for the vaccine doses, for people with severe egg allergies, for public health professionals concerned about vaccine shortages in the case of avian flu, for immunocompromised patients, and for the environment.

Clearly, we must develop egg-free and animal free alternatives. Some options being developed replicate the viruses inside plants (!) or in vitro animal systems. The Picky Veganin a great post about her decision whether to get the flu vaccine as a vegan, writes that in vitro animal cell systems are still not vegan, but I would happily take a flu shot developed in vitro, because it would not have required the continued use and harm of a sentient being. I do think that the ideal, if scientifically possible and medically adequate, would be growing the vaccine in plant-based systems or consensually obtained human cells sustained on animal-free cell culture media.

The use of eggs in our flu shots is disturbing, and some folks have cited veganism as a “religious belief” that should exempt them from occupational requirements. Though my veganism guides my thinking and decision-making every day, I felt okay about getting the shot because the purpose was to protect vulnerable patients (though in my community-based dream nursing job, I wouldn’t need to get the shot anyway.) Some may disagree with me, but I interpret a refusal to get the vaccine for work as violating vegan principles of causing least harm, because by being unvaccinated health care workers could expose patients to infection and indirectly kill them.

The Picky Vegan mentioned taking a flu treatment, the antiviral Tamiflu, which, because it contains gelatin, is not vegan. However, if the difference between staying miserably, dangerously ill and getting well informs someone’s choice to take a medication, I would still affirm them identifying as vegan. As a public health type, I support preventing illness rather than treating it, even though vaccines aren’t 100% effective. Other vegans may forgo the vaccine and risk the non-vegan meds, rather than definitely take a non-vegan vaccine, which is their choice, though hopefully medical/scientific development will alleviate this problem.

We should absolutely develop human-based and in vitro alternatives to vivisection, which is better for animals but also for human health and safety. I think it’s up for individual people to decide where they fall in terms of medicines and vaccinations. We shouldn’t police one another’s choices because we don’t know one another’s medical needs and life experiences. As vegans, there are some good reasons for and against the flu vaccine. Some may decide their priority is preserving their and others’ heath, whereas other people may decide they aren’t at an occupational or health risk and go without. They should consult their healthcare providers and make that decision on their own consciences. I believe we all should do the best we can to reduce harm to all living beings, have grace for one another, and ride on!

[Editor’s note: For more great perspectives on the vegan vaccine debate, I recommend Choosing Raw’s post, Vaccinated and Vaccinated, Revisited, The Picky Vegan’s Vegan and the Flu Shot. Also, if you’re looking for a free and secure way to track and manage your vaccine information, I recommend using the app BeImmunized.]

hana for cavp

Hana Low is a queer and genderqueer ethical vegan of color living in Denver, CO. Shortly after becoming vegan they became interested in feminist-vegetarian politics and the connections between veganism and other struggles of liberation. They believe that veganism should not only sustain non-human animals and the environment, but also the human workers who produce our food, and that embracing the rich variety of plant-based foods on our planet is integral to building a sustainable future and healing one another from generations of unhealthy eating. Hana supports anti-violence work in the human realm as a board member and volunteer for the Colorado Anti-Violence Program, which works to end violence against and within LGBTQ communities in Colorado. A nursing student at the University of Colorado, they aim to bring intersectional analysis and radical gender/sexuality inclusion into often conservative medical practice. After graduating, Hana hopes to support first-time families in child development as a nurse home visitor for the Nurse-Family Partnership. And, because happy folks make for healthier communities, they also enjoy making art (musical, visual, and verbal), dancin’ the night away, sharing delicious food in good company, and two-wheeled transport. Follow Hana on Twitter

Garlicky Cream Of Broccoli Soup by Queer Vegan Food

One of the things I have yet to get used to in Boulder is the mercurial weather. Yesterday, I hiked Bear Peak trail in South Boulder in a t-shirt in 61-degree weather. Today, it’s a chilly 18 degrees and snow is piling up. I decided to take advantage of the sudden cold spell by making a warm, blended garlicky cream of broccoli soup. The stars of this soup are definitely brazil nuts and chia seeds. The brazil nuts add a depth of flavor and creaminess, and the chia seeds add a bulk and smoothness to the texture. The soup turned out wonderfully, and I recommend enjoying it with some bread or crackers and perhaps a fresh side salad.

Ingredients:

4 cups broccoli, steamed

3 cloves garlic

1/4 cup Brazil nuts

2 Tbs sesame seeds

1 cup almond milk

1 tsp wheat-free tamari (or coconut aminos, Braggs, or soy sauce)

1 Tbs chickpea miso (or another type of miso)

1 Tbs chia seeds

1 tbs balsamic vinegar or lemon juice

1 cup water

1 dash paprika (optional, for garnish)

Instructions:

Steam broccoli and garlic in water until soft. Drain and allow to cool, then blend in Vitamix or another high-powered blender. After blended, transfer to a pot and cook on the stove on warm on low to medium heat and serve with paprika garnish (optional). Serve warm.

Beautiful Bear Peak trail in South Boulder.

Beautiful Bear Peak trail in South Boulder.

Colorado's winters include wide variations in temperature in short periods of time.

Colorado’s winters include wide variations in temperature in short periods of time.

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear what you think if you make this soup. xo

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