Don’t let a bagel trip you up!

By Ezra Wolfe (Flickr: bagels) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Ezra Wolfe (Flickr: bagels) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Why am I talking about a bagel? That was the tipping point for a friend who had been faithfully vegetarian for years, and was 3 weeks into being vegan. He just wanted to eat a bagel with cream cheese. Because of the rampant all-or-nothing attitudes about veganism (at least that he experienced), he got off the vegan train completely and is now eating meat. I’m aware that there is vegan cream cheese (actually tofutti is delicious), and hopefully that will make it easier for all of us as these alternatives are more available.

I’ve thought of the vegan label a lot. Could there be another name- like vegan light? Or, could we have levels like gold, silver and bronze? The gold members read all ingredient lists and have no leather shoes. But for those who are not perfect, they are comfortable still embracing the cause and being part of it. Just as a more supporting member role.

So many efforts are focused on getting people to go vegan. And, it is a worthy cause. However, unless the motivation stays strong enough, it is only a temporary effort. 84% of people who go vegetarian lapse back into meat-eating, according to this interesting study.  But why does this happen, and how can we retain them?

The numbers are a bit grim. I personally know several lapsed vegetarians and vegans. For awhile I wondered if this could happen to me too. After all, many of them were vegetarian for a decade. Although the recidivism is discouraging, I suppose it is better to have been a vegan or vegetarian for years than never at all.

It is also important that we get the health information out there so that people can stay healthy while being vegan. That can be another big reason people revert to eating meat. I take a B12 and Iron supplement and make very healthy plant-based meals.

I believe I have been able to stay vegan (albeit usually bronze or silver) because our whole family eats this way. Also, I don’t have just one reason for doing this. For a long time, I saw vegan and non-vegan as being two separate groups with a fence in the middle (and maybe some absolutist vegans like this idea). I wrote this post three years ago when veganism was new to me about that divide. But, I am coming to see that we are all together in this race, but some are just closer to the front. Some are cheering from the sidelines, and thinking about jumping in. It looks like it could even be fun.

It doesn’t matter so much whether you are in the very front, or walking part of the time, but be part of the movement. Eat the bagel, and stay in the race.


Sept 27: Turtle Cookies

Ever since my first batch of cookies were gobbled up last week, I thought about trying a different recipe. The first batch was so easy, and this new recipe was a bit more complicated and expensive. But, so good… like toffee cookies. And you will want to eat the raw dough before baking, and you can.

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They were extremely sweet, and I did not make them gluten-free. Kids loved them even though there were a lot of nuts. I think on this kind of recipe, smaller chocolate chips are better than large chunks so it sticks together even better.

Another Oh She Glows recipe, Turtle Oatmeal cookies.

 


September 26: Enchiladas with Cilantro Avocado cream sauce

Last night we had friends over for dinner… a very rare occasion lately. I knew from past experience that A was a really good cook, and that is always a bit intimidating.

I decided to go a really easy route since we had 4 kids to please, and do a Mexican dinner- plant-based style.

This sweet potato enchilada recipe on Oh She Glows sounded really good… even though we have had a lot of sweet potato lately. The cilantro avocado cream on top really made this dish in my opinion. The enchilada part was good, but not the ultimate… but with the topping it took it to another level.

Served it with Mexican rice and vegetarian refried beans. A brought a delicious avocado salad and we were all set.

Check out the recipe here.


Sept 25: Tofu salad sandwich

This is the quick, go-to sandwich when you are our of everything. I have made it different ways- with pickle relish makes it like an egg salad.

This is a pretty typical recipe, although I usually don’t use onion. I wanted to highlight this website because I really like the illustrations, and the name.

Tofu salad recipe from the Vegan Stoner


Sept 24: Cauliflower

For the Meal Mentor plan, I made Cauliflower Molé. This was a bit strange… I don’t think it was super family friendly. Or at least my kids weren’t interested.
Roasted diced red pepper and cauliflower. I am not a fan of cauliflower (especially if it is raw). In fact, the only way I have enjoyed it is as a creamy alfredo recipe. So, basically disguised beyond recognition.

Cauliflower Molé

The molé sauce helped a lot, I may have mad it too thick. In any case, I wouldn’t add this recipe.

Instead, I want to recommend you make the alfredo sauce with fettucine! See picture on recipe page.

Cauliflower Alfredo sauce recipe from Oh She Glows.

 


What is the point of this blog, and who is it for?

I started this blog about 4 years ago as a way to record my daily food drawings as a personal project. Then, in February 2012 I tried the 30 day vegan challenge and the website evolved.

It became a random assortment of blog posts writing about the meat industry and veganism, posting my own thoughts and relevant news articles, and even recipes as I participated in Vegan Mofo. All of this may have just been to get me started, and will end up evolving yet again.

Basically, there are two issues I am passionate about: the future of the planet for my children and the plight of the animals. They are both very important and they are also connected. It is a huge social movement and sometimes seems way too daunting to change the world’s accepted norms. However, it is also very exciting since it is something WE as regular people and consumers can make a difference about, every day, three times a day. I can’t make the world stop using fossil fuels, but I can vote with my dollar and my food choices against factory farms, drought, rain forest deforestation, and world hunger. It is amazing that we have this power and that we can actually do this.

I’ll be trying some different ideas out to see what is the best direction. For now, I feel strongly that this is not a blog for vegans, but rather for meat-eaters, meat-reducers, vegetarians and aspiring vegans. My next step will be finding a focus group I can run some of my ideas past. I do not want them to be vegan. As with design, it is so easy to get caught up with what we think works, or what we like. But we are not our audience.

Thank you for being part of the journey, and I value your input.

P.S. If you are a non-vegan and want to be part of the focus group, email me at amy@eat4thefuture.com or leave a comment.


Sept 23: Best Vegan Chocolate Chip recipe

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Tonight the kids were begging me to make cookies. The chocolate chips I bought had been opened and were almost half gone, so it was just a matter of hours before there would not be enough left in the bag to make cookies. Are we the only ones with this problem?

I googled best vegan chocolate chip cookies, and voilà! This recipe only took about 10 minutes to put together, and I had all the ingredients on hand. Best of all, when you make vegan cookies you can eat the batter without worrying about salmonella! I have to say, not sure why the egg is needed. There was nothing to replace it, no extra oil or anything.

Somehow I always end up modifying the recipe, usually because I don’t have something. This time, I used one stick of earth balance shortening that I had on hand instead of the coconut oil it asked for. My coconut oil was hard as a rock from being in the fridge. After I made the batter, it seemed good, but I like a little more texture to my cookies so I added 1/2 cup oatmeal, and about 1/4 cup coconut flakes to add some flavor. I feel like you could make this recipe your own by adding nuts, dried fruit or whatever you like.

Result: Everyone loved them! Started with 3 dozen, and ended up with only a dozen since the warm cookies were so enticing. No one would guess they were vegan for sure.

Check out the recipe here, and I look forward to seeing their other recipes!


Action steps we can all take

Studies show that people, in general, don’t give accurate representation of their behavior. So, many people who say they are vegetarian actually are not. Most people who think they don’t eat much meat, eat more than they realize. Wherever you are coming from, unless you are completely vegan, there are steps to take. The truly beautiful thing is that we can make this choice every single day at least three times. I would love to hear if you have other ideas, and if you try one of these.

Baby Steps

This is an evolving list that I created and will add to it. In no particular order…

1. Substitute almond, soy, coconut or rice milk where you might use dairy. Especially where you won’t even notice. If used in cereal or within a recipe, you won’t even notice it. Gradually you could try finding a milk you like with coffee. We just stopped drinking any milk alone, and drink water instead.

2. Buy earth balance instead of butter.

3. I highly recommend trying Just Mayo, the egg-free mayo that threw the egg industry into a panic.

4. Try one of the great meat alternatives in your tacos, or as part of a salad or sandwich. I will write a post on my favorites, but will mention Field Roast sausages as the best sausage alternative (apple sage is my favorite flavor).  I have to also mention the Gardein chickenless nuggets.

5. Reduce portions. If you feel you need to use meat in a recipe, try cutting your normal amount in half. You can even add more vegetables instead in most cases for lasagnes, soups, pasta dishes, etc. Don’t assume you will just eat less meat without making conscious decisions.

Eat less Chicken, fish and eggs

Many people decide to cut back on the red meat and consider that enough. Chickens (both meat and egg-laying) and fish account for 92% of the farm animals killed for food in the U.S. They also represent 95% of the days of animal suffering caused each year by omnivores (Veganomics).

The fact that poultry is one of the most contaminated meats also is shocking. It really feels like they are pushing to see how far they can push limits with consumers, even shipping chicken to China and back. As far as eggs, consider that all the male chicks born for the meat industry are ground up alive. Chicken and fish are perhaps harder for humans to relate to than mammals, however that doesn’t mean they don’t suffer.

Meatless Monday

Meatless Monday is an international movement to help people reduce their meat consumption by 15%.

On average, Americans consume 8 ounces of meat per day – 45% more than the USDA recommends. Going meatless one day a week can reduce the risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. It can also help limit people’s carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel.

For more information on the benefits of reducing meat consumption along with delicious meatless recipes and other resources visit MeatlessMonday.com. And be sure to sign up for our weekly Eater’s Digest newsletter with featured recipes and news.

Vegan before 6

Mark Bittman wrote a book on this, where he eats vegan for breakfast and lunch, but after 6, leaves it open. You’d need to read his book to learn all the details, but this seems like a way to curb meat consumption up to 2/3!
http://markbittman.com/i-answer-frequently-asked-questions-about-vb6/

Join the Reducetarian Movement

Take the #eatlessmeat challenge and simply reduce meat
It is an identity, community, and movement. It is composed of individuals who are committed to eating less meat – red meat, poultry, seafood, and the flesh of any other animal. The concept is appealing because not everyone is able or willing to completely eliminate meat from their diet.
http://www.reducetarian.com/

Try a 30 day Vegan Challenge

Give it a trial run. It is only for 30 days.
http://www.the30dayveganchallenge.com/fe/29373-30-day-vegan-challenge

This is currently available FREE and will give you expert, daily guidance.
http://www.cowspiracy.com/take-action/

Please let us know if you have other ideas to reduce the strain that eating too much meat has caused for us all!

Watch videos

If all you do is spend a few hours to watch videos, that can be very motivating. Here are the most popular.

Forks Over Knives: This approaches more of the plant-based diet from a health angle. This was very impactful for me.

Cowspiracy, the sustainability secret: Now on Netflix. Eye-opening documentary about the meat industry, the environment, and why no one is talking about it.


Vegucated: If you think you could never be vegan, see what happens when this film follows 3 meat and cheese-loving New Yorkers as they try to adopt a vegan diet for 6 weeks.

Earthlings: To be honest, I have never watched this. It is a documentary about humanity’s use of other animals as pets, food, clothing, entertainment and for scientific research. I know it is powerful and uses undercover videos to expose the truth.

Ellen Degeneres interview: There may be better interviews than this, but I love Ellen and she explains her personal reasons is a 4 minute snippet. At the 3 minute mark, she makes a very interesting tie to personal positive energy.


Sept 22: Chimichurri Soba noodles

Tonight’s Meal Mentor dinner was judged a success by all. I blended up a chimichurri sauce in the Vitamix using garlic, parsley, cumin, coriander, lemon, paprika, and some veg broth. It was supposed to have 2 cups of fresh cilantro in it, but mine had gone bad, so I just added more parsley and some dried cilantro.

Next, boiled up some noodles- and since I didn’t have soba noodles, I used somen. Those were much thinner, like angel hair. At the end of the boiling you add a bunch of kale and cherry tomatoes. Lastly, add the chickpeas.

Since I had to make so many changes, I want to try this again using soba and cilantro. My sauce ended up being less of a paste than the recipe described.

Everyone liked it, so in the end that is all that matters. Very flavorful with absolutely no oil.

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Sept 21: Thai Sloppy Joes (and bulging binders)!

So, I am still cooking vegan dinners daily. This one was another Meal Mentor with onion, garlic, green pepper and lentils sautéed together with coconut milk and red curry paste.

It came together quickly as we were heading to our son’s middle school open house night. It gave me the strength to go to all his classrooms and realize how different school is now, and how he is not organized enough to manage all these websites and planners (and neither am I). Thanks to the new way math is taught, I don’t even understand how to help him. Not to mention that he takes Japanese (immersion since age 4) and… no.

Rant/whining aside. This one was not a winner for me, although not terrible. Hopefully, this veganmofo month has gotten me into the habit of blogging daily, and I will be able to share some recipes that I absolutely love soon!