Reason #34 This Vegan is Optimistic: Today’s NYTimes.com Front Page!
Every morning I open up NYTimes.com, and this morning I was pleasantly surprised to find this vegan article front and center. I must admit that I think bodybuilding is kinda crazy, but if you’re gonna do something crazy, why not be smart about it and be vegan? Check out the article here. And thank you to NYTimes & these vegan bodybuilders for toughening up the vegan image!
Happy New Year everyone! 2011 was a great year for the animals, and 2012 is going to be even better. Mercy for Animals writes that the USDA is predicting a steep drop in US meat consumption in the new year (12% less than 2007). And turns out meat consumption has been declining for the past four years. The tide is definitely turning!
Read the full report here: Daily Livestock Report pdf. The graph above comes from that report — kinda gross to think that the average American consumes about their own body weight in meat every year!
Shhhh….don’t tell but I was in charge of our holiday party at work. It was a catered event for 100 people. I told the caterer to do it all vegetarian. No one noticed that there was no meat, and everyone raved about the food!
This guide is chock-full of helpful gift ideas, tasty recipes, and a plethora of tips on making this a most festive & vegan holiday season. You will see some familiar brands mentioned here, but I also learned about some new products, as well as a lot of cool blogs and websites that I had never seen before. Plus, there are even coupon codes!
The holidays are a great time to spread the cruelty-free message to your friends and family. Buy them some vegan goods and explain how they are getting the added bonus of promoting animal welfare and a cleaner environment while enjoying their new gift!
Cheesecake is the new birthday cake. For mine this year, I made the new pumpkin cheesecake from The PPK. We made it yesterday, and it is almost all gone. I find that everything I make from Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero is guaranteed to be delicious.
I visited the lovely town of Northampton, MA for a friend’s wedding last weekend. After four years of college here, I knew it was a veggie-friendly place, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the number of vegan options in the area is now positively overwhelming!
A quick google search for “vegan bakery” led me to Cafe Evolution in the tiny town of Florence, MA. What a great find! This all vegan place offers breakfast and lunch and numerous vegan baked goods. We enjoyed a Breakfast Bagel Sandwich with Tofurkey deli slices, cheddar Sheeze, onions, lettuce, tomato, and Veganaise on a pumpernickel bagel. I was a little skeptical of the Tofurkey, but it was great!
We could not resist the bakery offerings. It was so hard to choose but we picked the Maple Scone and a Pumpkin Muffin. They were fantastic! Do you know how some vegan baked goods just taste vegan? They might have an odd flavor that you cannot identify or a slightly weird texture? Well this scone and muffin were highly delicious and not weird at all. I now have a new standard to which I will aspire in my own vegan baking! The textures and flavors were simply perfect.
One of the coolest things about this cafe was the abundance of vegan literature everywhere. Right by the front door, a table was piled high with pamphlets from Vegan Outreach, Farm Sanctuary, PETA, etc. In the bathroom, there was a rack with even more pamphlets. A recent Wall Street Journal article reported on the debate in vegan circles about whether or not to wave the vegan flag. I understand both positions, but it was very exciting to walk into Cafe Evolution and see all the vegan literature. It made me feel right at home! For more cool points, Cafe Evolution hosts the monthly vegan potluck for the Valley Vegan Society. What a great way to foster vegan community and encourage others to try a meat-free diet. I just wish this place was closer to home!
p.s. check out all the other great Vegan Month of Food blogs here!
My New England vacation is over now, but I have a few more great vegan memories to share with you. First up… True Bistro in Teele Square, Somerville, MA! On my last day in Boston, we gathered here for a family brunch. As the only vegan in the group, I was thrilled that folks were game for trying an all-vegan place (and of course I was doing a secret calculation on how many animals we were saving at this meal).
I have been to only a few completely vegetarian and/or vegan restaurants (many were on this trip). True Bistro has the nicest interior of any I have visited. It puts all those hippy granola vegan stereotypes to rest. The decor is simple, light, and airy. But enough about the decorating, how about the food??
I started out with the Cinnamon Bun. Completely vegan and completely delicious. For my main meal, I got the Tofu Benedict — a vegan biscuit topped with baked tofu, spinach, and a creamy, lemony Bernaise sauce. My family was nice enough to let me sample some of their choices — Tofu Scramble with Seitan Sausage, Onions, Peppers, & Daiya Mozzerella; Crepe with Blueberries and Lemon; Biscuits and Gravy with Vegan Sausage; the Portabello Mushroom Panini with Arugula, Caramelized Onion, and Aioli; and some “desserts” — Blueberry Coffee Cake, Oatmeal Raisin Cookie.
I wanted to absolutely love this place. The food was good but just not as great as I was hoping it would be. (The cinnamon bun & oatmeal cookie were my faves!) I hope I don’t sound ungrateful, but I take it as a good sign that all the vegan dining options in Boston actually allowed me to be picky and not feel like I had to love a place just because it was all vegan. As for the meat-eaters, everyone in my party said they enjoyed their vegan meals and would likely return to dine there again. Overall, I was happy to support a place with a 100% cruelty-free menu. Here’s to more places like True!
A food lab sounds kinda scary, but this place is anything but! Clover Food Lab food trucks are located all over Boston. Their menu is 100% vegetarian and has many, many vegan options. They make all their food from scratch daily. In addition to the food trucks, Clover has an actual restaurant with tables and chairs in Harvard Square, and this lucky vegan got to have lunch there today.
After tasting the perfection that is the L’As du Falafel sandwich in Paris, France, I have finally found a state-side equivalent in the Chickpea Fritter Sandwich served at Clover. Perfectly fried falafel balls, hummus, tahini, and grated beets and carrots, all snug in a soft pita pocket and served in a piece of parchment paper. Paired with the Rosemary Fries, this made a scrumptious lunch on this rainy fall day. I also got to sample the mushroom soup — a delightful brothy concoction that I literally drank out of the paper cup.
Clover is the fast food of my dreams — fresh, tasty, and vegan! Now I just have to figure out how to get them to open a truck in my town in NC…
1 cup (130g) chickpea flour 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (280ml) water 3/4 teaspoon sea salt 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
freshly-ground black pepper, plus additional sea salt and olive oil for serving
1. Mix together the flour, water, salt, cumin, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Let batter rest at least 2 hours, covered, at room temperature.
*I don’t let mine rest this long. Sometimes not at all.
2. To cook, heat the broiler in your oven. Oil a 9- or 10-inch (23cm) pan with the remaining olive oil and heat the pan in the oven.
*I use a cast-iron skillet & I heat the oven hot, like 500 degrees F or so…be careful!
3. Once the pan and the oven are blazing-hot, pour enough batter into the pan to cover the bottom, swirl it around, then pop it back in the oven.
4. Bake until the socca is firm and beginning to blister and burn. The exact time will depend on your broiler.
*usually 10-20 minutes
5. Slide the socca out of the pan onto a cutting board, slice into pieces, then shower it with coarse salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.
6. Cook the remaining socca batter the same way, adding a touch more oil to the pan between each one.
*or save the rest in a jar in the fridge…keeps well for a few days!
Socca is good all by itself as a light dinner. Or pair it with a couple different veggies and have a full meal. I like to add fresh chopped rosemary to the batter. I’ve been wanting to try adding a little spinach for an extra dose of leafy greens. It’s even good for breakfast with maple syrup and fruit on top.
I usually hope for the token sorbet option at ice cream shops, but I was in for a fantastic surprise at Gelato Fiasco in the quaint little town of Brunswick, Maine. Not only was there a “Sorbetto” option, there were about 10 flavors of sorbet to choose from. And I didn’t even have to ask about the ingredients because it was clearly labelled as vegan on their chalkboard menu. So cool!
Amongst the vegan offerings: Strawberry Limeade, Strawberry Balsamic, Dark Chocolate Noir, Grapefruit, Lime, Mango, Orange, Pomegranate Lime, and Raspberry. Yet again, I faced with the wonderful dilemma of too many vegan options to choose from! Finally I went with one sorbet that I hadn’t even sampled…Apple Pie! Okay, I think it was actually called Apple Spice, but it tasted exactly like apple pie. Creamy, cold, delicious vegan apple pie.
If you are lucky enough to live in New England, pints of Gelato Fiasco are available in some Hannaford’s and Roche Brothers grocery stores.
If you’re ever in Portland, Maine, or even within a 500 mile radius, get yourself to Green Elephant Vegetarian Bistro. Before my visit, I read an online review calling this place the best vegetarian restaurant in all of Maine, and they were right!
It is rare that I have a hard time deciding what to order at a restaurant. To me, one of secret benefits to being vegan is the limited menu items — you don’t have a lot of things to choose from, so it doesn’t take long to decide what to order. But this menu left me agonizing over all the delicious choices! While they advertise as a vegetarian restaurant, the menu was actually all vegan if you nixed the egg on a couple dishes.
Finally we decided to start out with the Brussels Sprouts appetizer. This dish alone was worth the flight from NC. These sprouts were lightly fried and marinated in a slightly sweet tamari sauce. Salty sweet perfection in every juicy bite! Next we had the Fragrant Coconut Soup with Tofu and Baby Bella Mushrooms. Yum!! Is it wrong to drink your soup in public?
For our main dish, we had the special — Garlic Ginger Rice Noodles with Veggies and Tofu. This was a simple stir-fry, with a light but flavorful sauce and vegetables that were perfectly cooked. The tofu was local and very fresh. We were so full from our appetizers that we got this to go and enjoyed it for dinner. Two meals in one day from Green Elephant — a great way to start a vacation!
My mother has the biggest sweet tooth of anyone I know. She makes incredible desserts and has, very graciously, made me a few vegan sweets too. She found this unusual pie recipe in a magazine and gave it a try. I will be forever grateful that she did. Not only is this pie delicious, it is chock-full of disease-fighting phytonutrients, anti-oxidants, and healthy fats!
Chocolate Avocado Pie
1.5 C raw almonds 1.5 C raw pecans 6 whole dates, pitted flesh from 3 ripe avocados 3/4 C maple syrup 1/2 C plus 2 T cocoa powder 1 T vanilla extract 1/2 tsp sea salt 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1. For the pie crust, combine almonds and pecans in food processor. Process until finely ground. Add dates. Process until mixture holds together when pressed between your fingers. Press crumb mixtures into a 9 inch pie plate. Place in freezer while you make the filling.
2. Clean out the food processor bowl. (I just wipe it out with a towel.) For the pie filling, place avocados, maple syrup, cocoa powder, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon in food processor. Process until smooth. Add water, 1 T at a time, until mixture is the consistency of pudding. (Depending on the wetness of your avocados, may not need any water)
3. Spread filling evenly into the prepared crust. For gelato filling, cover and freeze for 2 hours before serving. For pudding filling, cover and chill in the fridge until serving time.
Notes: —I usually end up with extra pie crust material. It is good on top of oatmeal or fruit or salad. —If you are planning to serve the pie frozen, and it’s been frozen for a while, I’d recommend taking it out of the freezer about 30 minutes before you want to serve it. Otherwise, it is pretty hard!
I’ve since made this pie for just about everyone I know, and it is always a big hit. No surprise there — how could you go wrong with chocolate AND avocado?