Wednesday, March 31, 2010

quick hit: Whole Foods carrying Daiya starting tomorrow!

BIG NEWS, vegans! Starting April 1st (that's tomorrow!), Whole Foods stores nationwide will carry Daiya. Daiya is the best vegan cheese I have ever eaten, hands down. It tastes delicious, melts, and even strings the way dairy cheese does. If you haven't had the chance to try it, you are in for a treat. I am so excited to be able to get it when I'm home this summer! Look at the fancy new packaging, too!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

camp for vegan/activist kids

If you're in Portland you've probably heard about this already, but did you know that there is a summer camp for young activists? How awesome is that? Youth Empowered Action camp is in the Portland and Santa Cruz areas this summer and kids 11-15 will get to go and learn how to change the world and continue being awesome. I wish this had been around when I was that age. I went vegetarian when I was fourteen, vegan at fifteen, and let me be the first to tell you, it can get lonely at that age being the "weird" kid who actually cares about something other than themselves. I can't imagine how it must be to be eleven years old and be an activist, about veganism or anything else. It doesn't look like YEA has been around for long, but I hope it keeps going and keeps letting kids know "No, you aren't weird, you are on the path to becoming an awesome person and making the world more awesome as well." The environment of any summer camp can be so nurturing and reassuring. I was raised in the Christian church and went to church camp for several summers in elementary/middle school, and when I was sixteen I went to a summer writing workshop for high schoolers that was the best time of my life. In both cases it was like "WOAHMYGOD there are others?? This is okay?!?" So good. Summer is such a potent time, and the opportunity to live, for once in your life, surrounded by people who get you and support you is just amazing. YEA's website has a page with testimonials from kids who went last year, and they warm the cockles of my heart. "This camp is about being yourself and being who you are." "You can't usually talk about these things in schools. This camp is really peaceful and beautiful; just amazing." Winner: "Everyone was super happy and laughing and that's what our world could be." If that doesn't make you hopeful about the next generation I don't know what will!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

ingenuity in cheese and chips

Food science, especially when something vegan is involved, will never cease to amaze me. They can make mock snails from wheat (seitan) and ice cream from hemp and that's all well and good, but now they can make cheese out of oatmeal! OATMEAL. WTF. It's made of oatmeal and it's really good and tastes cheesy! My parents didn't raise a liar.

I heard about We Can't Say It's Cheese a few months ago, but, honestly, there are so many brands of vegan cheese out there, a name like that just doesn't cause one to drop the Daiya/Cheezly/etc. The other night I was at the grocery, planning to make quesadillas and not being able to find vegan sour cream (boo Market of Choice, boo). Near the regular sour cream was this fine product. Oh! Recognition! Intrigue! "Mexi-Cheddar"! Sounded like it would go equally well with quesadillas, so that was that. 

This stuff is really good! It is a little thicker and milder than non-vegan jarred queso dip, but overall it's very similar and has a good flavor. It reminded me of a queso-style dip someone made at a vegan potluck a few years ago from Jo Stepaniak's Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook, if that means anything to you. Overall I can't think of any way to improve it without veering too far into territory of "This tastes so much like what it's a vegan version of, it's kinda gross" (e.g. ricemilk tastes too much like cow's milk to me, so I hate the taste). Hooray oatmeal cheese!

WCSIC (oh, name it something else) in the bowl, being tasty

yum! A segway into the other part of this post.....make your own tortilla chips! You don't need a deep fryer or anything fancy (other than yourself). Cut a tortilla into eighths, spray a cookie sheet with baking spray, and put it in a 350F oven for ten minutes or so. So much healthier than fried, probably cheaper than buying bagged tortilla chips, and they have better flavor. DO IT. 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

quick tip: makeshift salad dressing

This is something I learned a few years ago, and it can be a lifesaver: salad dressing doesn't have to be from a bottle, nor does it have to have more than two ingredients. Oil & balsamic vinegar is the obvious go-to when you either have no "real" salad dressing, are at the house of someone who doesn't have any vegan, or are feeling too lazy to make one more complex than that. But my favorite makeshift dressing is...hummus! Hummus is the food of the gods and goes with almost everything. I mean, breathe if you love hummus. Exactly. But did you know that you can easily make hummus into salad dressing? Just put a few globs of hummus in a small dish and add a few spoonfuls of water. Use either a small whisk or the back of a spoon to stir until the water is fully incorporated and it has a dressing-like consistency. Feast. So yummy and easy and good for you!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

abortion and veganism

and a whole lot more, too...

One of the biggest stumbling blocks to widespread acceptance of abolitionist veganism is the rift between progressive vegans and progressive omnivores (yes, conservative vegans exist, but that's the shortest story ever written). The fact of the matter is that welfarism, "happy meat" and cage-free free-range hoof-massaged bedtime-storied animal agriculture are en vogue in a major way. Walk into any grocery store, be it Wal-Mart or the mom & pop hippie co-op, and there's going to be a laser beam show around a display of "free-range" crap and a picture book you can buy to show your children where your eggs, wanting factory farms, actually come from and blah blah blah.

This is not news to anyone reading this, and I think it should be easily understandable why this is the case. It's shiny! It's trendy! It's meat! It doesn't actually require ethics! I have no problems with laser beams. I have no problems with picture books. While I do have very serious problems with welfarism/"happy meat"/etc., that is another topic for another day, and believe you me, on that day, it's gonna be long. But briefly, both welfarism and abolitionism seek to answer the problem of animal oppression. Welfarism calls for regulation of animal agriculture, while abolitionism calls to end it entirely. Bigger cages versus no cages. With me? (For more, Gary Francione's outline)

Welfarism has taken over the hearts and wallets of many a progressive soul. At this point, I'm not sure if more progressives eat happy meat than are simply happy to eat any meat, regardless of how it was produced, but either way, I believe and will argue that consumption of animal products is directly at odds with the values and ideals of the progressive movement. I do not think you can call yourself progressive if you eat any kind of animal product, be it a McDonald's hamburger or the milk of your pet goat. Likewise, I do not think you can call yourself vegan if you are not progressive.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Daiya love and Sweetpea love

I had heard the rumors. The myths. The, dare I say, legend.
Of Daiya.
If you haven't, Daiya is a vegan cheese that not only melts and tastes amazing (which some, if not all, vegan cheeses do) but it's the only vegan cheese that STRINGS the way cow's milk cheese does. And it is a thing of beauty.

The other weekend I was at Sweetpea Vegan Bakery with friends and simply wanted a grilled cheese. I had no idea that Sweetpea used Daiya. When my sandwich came, I took a bite and tasted the deepest richest most cheddary flavor I've tasted in years. Like Cheezly but more American-tasting. All well and good, but when that bite was done and I looked at it...

Look at that! Look how stringy and perfect! And it's vegan! Food science, I love you.

Because here's the thing about vegan cheese: