Tag Archives: vegan

What’s on your plate Special Edition: Salads.

Life in terms of food in the Philippines wasn’t so bad, and it could certainly have been worse.  Where we lived, we had good access to a decent array of fruits and vegetables, and we eventually found a couple of places we could buy tofu (as it’s a common foodstuff, but not found in the supermarket) and learned how to make mungo beans.  But there were a few things we had to go without.  For C, I think the hardest of these was (what we consider good) bread, but he finally bit the bullet and started baking his own, which was awesome for both of us.

Some foods we couldn’t compensate for, though most of these were no big loss:  apples, oranges and grapes were on offer but out of the question.  The apples were tasteless and powdery, the oranges were juiceless and neither sour nor sweet, and I never got around to sampling the grapes…but I wasn’t bothered – we had mangos and rambutan and lanzones and jackfruit and like 4 kinds of bananas (though I’ve heard there were once hundreds of varieties in Mindanao, but due to monoculture there are only a few now – and there are far worse consequences, but I digress).

Something we absolutely never bought, though – except for that first time out of sheer naivety – was lettuce.  The lettuce was awful.  It was hard and bitter and dry…the climate just isn’t conducive to growing the stuff.  So upon arriving in France, I was ecstatic about salad.  The French love salad.  Most families serve it with every dinner and sometimes lunch, too.  The only problem is that for them, salade is the word they use for “lettuce”.  Which is to say that they eat lettuce with their meals, with dressing of course.  But rarely anything else, unless the salad is the main dish, which is typically only for eating out.  Not having lettuce in the Philippines had forced us to learn to love a whole bunch of other raw vegetables, and lettuce and sauce just didn’t cut it for me anymore.

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Get the body you want in only 2 1/2 years!

When Jamie Oliver famously (and somewhat successfully) tried to convince Britain via his preferred medium – the television documentary – that they needed to improve the quality and nutrition of school lunches, the reaction from some bordered on hostile.  People called him out for trying to tell them how to live their lives, how-very-dare-he and all that.  The media showed images of mothers passing fried chicken and chips through school fences so their little preciouses wouldn’t have to eat what someone else found good for them (though to be fair, the media probably jumped on those photo ops, and it was probably far less widespread than they’d have had us believe).

Food is a damned sensitive subject.  It is for me.  I’m betting it is for you.  It defines us culturally, socio-economically, and ethically.  It forms the foundation of almost every ritual we share amongst friends and family (particularly if we add drink into this equation).  We cannot live without it, and yet it kills far too many of us every year.  Corporations have corrupted it beyond recognition, and activists the world over have dedicated their lives to rescuing it (and consequently us) and bringing it back to the nourishing, life-giving thing it was meant to be.  Food.

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Explain, Explain, and Explain again: On “vegans” wearing leather

One of the things people probably find most annoying about vegetarians is how much we talk about being vegetarian.  I know I can’t speak for my fellow veggies about it, but for my part, this is unavoidable for a few important reasons, aside from the fact that I care a lot about animals and consequently want to share that love with the world.  These are as follows:

  • We eat.  And we often eat with others.  Whether they know us or not, and no matter for how long, the subject comes up.  Most often, not of our own volition.
  • Our friends and family often share our lifestyle with new friends in our presence as a conversation-starter.
  • We need animal-related information constantly.  So we read ingredients and we web-search animal-friendly brands, but we do have to ask once in a while:  Is this cooked in butter or olive oil?  Do you carry non-leather shoes?  etc.

That last thing – the bit about the leather shoes – that’s a touchy one.  I remember when I first became vegan, how scrutinized I always felt by people who were becoming newly aware of this part of me.

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London Musings Vol. I: (Mostly) For Vegans

I am officially on day 7 of my 14 day stint in London and these three things are true:

  • I’ve gotten a fraction of what I’d have liked done in terms of work;
  • It’s been profoundly emotive and emotional;
  • I’ve been solidifying all sorts of theories I had about why me and London weren’t best mates when I called it home.

I won’t bore you with the details of any of these…just thought you might like to know.  What I will do, however, is preach a little bit about proper vegan nutrition – something I’ve only recently wrapped my head around and something too few people – from die-hard omnivores to sworn vegans – properly appreciate.

Anybody who knows me (or reads me) knows that I’m not too keen on preaching about being vegan.  It’s something that’s very dear to me in terms of my life decisions, but I’m also well aware that people don’t like being told what to eat or how to eat it, and ranting about it is about as likely to get someone on one’s side as beating them over the head with a butternut squash.

What I’m struggling increasingly to keep quiet about is how vegans too often eat because:

  1. They personally don’t understand how important nutrition is;
  2. They trip over themselves incessantly in an effort to appease omnivores; or
  3. They fall victim to a lack of available foodstuffs that can keep them healthy.

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Ratatouille! Or, Summer’s Almost Gone…

Disclaimer:  I’m not the photographer in this family.  So most of the pictures in the following post are pretty awful.  However, I think that adds something special to the whole experience, don’t you?!

I’m a weird vegan (no – not redundant, thank you very much).  Until recently, I had a pretty hard time with quite a lot of vegetables.  Over the years, though, my tastes have changed, and I’ve learned to love lots of the ones I heretofore abhored.  But I’ve still got some quirks:

  • I love guac, but hate avocados.  So I usually mash ’em up with salt and pepper and lemon (and cilantro and hot sauce if they’re on offer), and I do just fine.
  • I love tomatoes, but not raw…unless they’re in a salsa or bruschetta (I told you I was weird).
  • I love mushrooms, but only the forest ones from France and occasionally shitake or portabello.  Not often.  And never, never button mushrooms.  Blech.
  • I only recently started tolerating eggplant (aubergine).  More on this below.

I think that’s about it.  Still, even with my disclaimers around the humble tomato, I cannot live without them.  I simply don’t know how.  I’m from SoCal.  We always had tomatoes when I was growing up, either from my mom’s vegetable patch or from the store.  But in semi-rural France, tomatoes in the winter is a very new concept, indeed, and owing to the fact that everything is labeled, we’re reminded that the tomatoes we eat in the winter are grown in industrial serres – greenhouses – mostly in Spain – and literally loaded with all sorts of not-very-nice things to make them grow when they’re really not supposed to.

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Killer B Anti-PMS Vegan Super Salad

People constantly ask, as soon as they’ve learned I’m vegan, “But where do you get your nutrients?” as if fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes were devoid of nutritional value.  The truth is, as the years have gone by, being a vegan has become so easy, and although I did indeed struggle at first to eat properly, that had a lot more to do with bad eating habits and less to do with my ethical decisions about what I put in my mouth. Nowadays I find that I almost never worry about getting the right vitamins or enough calcium, iron, omega-3’s and protein.  I just have to eat the right things.

Still, I must admit that I struggle to get enough vitamin B.  I always have.  And, in spite of the myth many omnivores have spread prolifically that B vitamins are not accessible in plants, that is nowhere near the case.  B vitamins are quite easy to find in the vegetable kingdom, particularly in raw, dark green veggies.  And that is my problem.  Give me broccoli steamed, stir-fried, or boiled and I’ll eat it up greedily.  But raw has always been a bit tough for me. And, as most of the ladies reading this will know, a lack of B vitamins can lead to a number of annoyances, among them PMS-ier PMS.  In particular, it’s B1, or thiamine, and B2, or riboflavin, that we lack most in the days leading up to and during menstruation.

This month as that dear visitor started peering in my window and knocking at my door, I thought it was high time I put some of the stuff I’ve learned about food to the test and see if I could stave it off. To that end, please find herewith a delicious recipe I invented last night, and that everybody – man or woman, vegan or omnivore – would do well to eat once in a while, because it is good for you, but also because it is downright yummy.  Fiddle with the ingredient amounts to meet your needs and tastes – the amounts I’ve given are a bit of a shot in the dark because last night I prepared for one.  And bear in mind that every single ingredient (with the exception of the olive oil, lemon juice and pepper) is brimming over with B1, B2, or both!

Killer B Anti-PMS Vegan Super Salad (serves 4)

Ingredients

For the Salad:

6-8 green asparagus spears, chopped finely

1.5 cups peeled and finely chopped broccoli

2 zucchinis, shredded

2 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped (much more so than the broccoli and asparagus)

4 tbsp almond slivers

For the dressing:

6-8 tbsp olive oil

Juice of 1/2 lemon

4 tbsp nutritional yeast

Pepper to taste

Directions

Here’s the easy part:  put all the salad ingredients into a salad bowl.  Whisk the ingredients for the dressing in a separate bowl and pour it over the top of the salad.  For a bit more flavor (not that you’ll need it), you can throw in some fresh cilantro or basil.  Toss well and serve!

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