Vegan Salt –the blog

{November 26, 2010}   Our Vegan Thanksgiving

-or- What The Vegans Ate.

I come from a big, omnivorous family.  I love them all dearly, but last year, around the time I started blogging, I resolved that I would never again put myself through a Thanksgiving celebration at which a bird’s carcass was on the dinner table.  I am an adult, and I refuse to be expected to accept as okay something (namely; the violence, slavery and death of a being whose body is then picked apart) which is not at all okay, as one of my favorite bloggers recently articulated.  As a result of this decision, I may never celebrate with the entire family again.  But the vegan story ends happily, and with full bellies!

This year, my vegan brother invited us over to a feast at his home, and the meal was so fantastic that I have to share these photos.  His boyfriend roasted a Tofurkey (yes, I know, it sounds funny, Read the rest of this entry »


{November 1, 2010}   Happy November, Vegans!

Today, November 1st, is World Vegan Day, a day to celebrate your nonviolent lifestyle and to spread the word to others who aren’t yet vegan.  (I like to think of non-vegans as not-yet-vegans who will get there with a little encouragement, a shopping buddy, and a plate of vegan cookies, fresh from the oven.)

I’ve been vegan for four and a half years now, and I’m still discovering new reasons to celebrate.  My new-found vegan joys include:

  • coconut milk yogurt
  • a vegan “uncheese” cookbook on sale for $7
  • kombucha!! (bottled, flavored, fermented fungus-based tea, crammed with nutrients and only slightly alcoholic)
  • a place to buy cruelty-free mascara within blocks of my house

Okay, I found three of those things at the nearby Whole Foods, but even if there isn’t a health food grocery store in your neighborhood, you can enjoy my fifth vegan discovery: Vegan MoFo! That stands for Vegan Month of Food, and it kicks off today!

Whether it’s the result of the challenge involved, or the clean conscience, I’ve found that nobody loves food like vegans love food.  (If you doubt that, search Twitter for the hashtag #whatveganseat.)  Anyway, starting today, and going all month long, vegan bloggers will be sharing their food travel diaries, odes to slow cookers, glorious photos of their dinners, and vegan recipes for everything under the sun.  Those who have signed up for the challenge will attempt to post five times a week, for 20 total posts per participant.  And get this: there are over five hundred participating bloggers. Cheers to all my blogging friends who are taking on this challenge!  May your food photograph well, and may your oven never burn your masterpiece.  (No, I won’t be participating this year, but I will be reading the blogs and finding great food inspiration.  Maybe next year I’ll jump in.)

So, here’s to November!  There’s no excuse for being in a breakfast rut, or for putting off your transition to a vegan diet any longer, if you’ve been fence-sitting.  In answer to the persistent question, “What do vegans eat?”, there will soon be about 10,000 new answers online.  Of course, this raises another question: How much can your kitchen (and the stomachs of your family and friends) handle?

Follow VeganMoFo on Twitter, check out their homepage, or go back to where it all began, the Post Punk Kitchen, to start cooking.

Oh, and on more thing:

Perhaps not coincidentally, WordPress just launched today, a site which compiles the best of the WordPress food blogs into one place.  Something tells me that VeganMoFo bloggers are going to make a strong showing.  Good luck to everyone, and Bon Appetit!

The day I learned to feel bad about eating was the same day I learned to feel bad about myself.  I was seven years old.  Until then, I’d never noticed the size or shape of the body I inhabited, and I’d never forbidden myself any food.  At dinner with my family that fateful night, I had just reached for my eighth slice of my mom’s homemade pizza (my favorite meal) when she called me away from the table to talk to me about overeating, and about the weight I’d been putting on.  I don’t remember the first seven slices of pizza I ate that evening, but I will never forget that last, joyless slice, topped with sausage, green bell pepper, mozzarella, and black olives.  I chewed it grimly, robotically, eyes and throat burning with stifled tears, and marveled that the food I loved gave me no pleasure or comfort.  As I ate it, I only felt worse.  The little girl who timidly returned to the table that night, steeped in shame and disgust at her appetite for food and her grotesque body, was the girl I would be every time I ate for years to come.

From that point on, food and I went through constant cycles of desire and guilt.  There were fad diets, brief struggles with exercise, a few meager attempts at self-induced vomiting, and baggy clothes to hide me from the eyes of others.  I imagine my obsession with calories, fat, weight, and my distaste for my own body were rather standard for an American girl. I was never diagnosed with an eating disorder.  I wasn’t obese.  Once I got a growth spurt in my teens,  I wasn’t even overweight.  I was just your average girl who felt guilty because she ate “bad” food.  (“Badness” could be quantified by the number of calories, fat, sugar, carbohydrates, size of portion, time of day… I halfheartedly imposed nearly every category of diet on myself at some point.)

But there are two kinds of guilt.

  1. Legitimate remorse and regret for having actually done something wrong, such as turning your back on a friend, putting someone in danger, carelessly breaking a heart, or betraying someone’s trust.
  2. Unreasonable guilt: feeling bad when you’ve done nothing cruel, unkind, or harmful to another.  (Or when the harm you caused was accidental or unavoidable.)

Most of us carry around the wrong kind of guilt, especially when it comes to food.  Guilt is only rational when it is linked to the morally bad, not the nutritionally bad.  However, morally bad food, food worthy of feeling guilty over, does exist.  What makes some food bad (in the primary, ethical sense of the word) is the suffering and injustice that was carried out in the production –generally, its extraction from the body of someone who was given no choice. The only morally bad foods are foods for which other beings were harmed.

Morality in general comes down to whether an action is harmful, cruel, or unkind to others.  Why it took me so long to apply that sense of right or wrong to my food, I can only guess.  But after years of shifting foods from one category to another based on their carb-ness, fat content, or color, the simplicity of this logical good/bad food dichotomy blew my mind.  Veganism freed me from counting calories and all that other nonsense.  Eliminating animal products from my diet meant eliminating any cause for legitimate, ethical guilt about food, breaking the eat/guilt cycle.  (Okay, there are still ethical considerations that factor into plant foods, such as whether coffee and cocoa are fair-trade certified, and whether palm oil is taken from the orangutan forests, but eating a diet of plant rather than animal foods bypasses direct victims; an enormous moral leap!)

Once the food guilt was gone, everything else fell into place–not within a day, but at a steady rate.  Emotionally, I began to fully enjoy eating again, and since food was more fulfilling, my desire to occasionally binge went away.  I stopped thinking of any foods as “forbidden,” not even animal products!  (I can eat them, but I really don’t want to.  Eating the result of suffering and injustice?  Yuck!)  I truly don’t deprive myself of anything anymore, and this healthier mental attitude has changed my entire life.

And what happened to the self-loathing?  Well, it helps that ethically good foods tend to be nutritionally good foods as well, once you take sugar and processed junk out of the equation.  I have lost weight.  Too much weight, according to some people.  But without guilt coming between me and my body anymore, I’ve found that I can truly be happy with my physical size and shape, no matter what other people think of me.  My body is fueled by compassion now.  How delicious is that?!




To learn more about how I lost weight (without trying) by going vegan, click on The End of Dieting.

There are few things more cliché than a vegan (or vegetarian) eating a salad, and few things could have sounded less appealing to me 5 years ago. But as I write this, I’m devouring a bowlful of delicious salad.  Look!

Five years ago I could list the vegetables I liked on one hand.  Corn, potatoes, asparagus, broccoli, and mushrooms.  (All of those in cooked form only.)  The word “salad” conjured up images of wilted iceberg lettuce with a two slices of cucumber and a tomato wedge, drenched in some highly processed, creamy goop: in other words, something practically inedible.

In defense of salad, I want to clear up a few things.

  1. Most pre-made dressings tend to be junk.  I’ve never found a salad dressing that beats this one: oil, balsamic vinegar, a bit of salt, and a bit of sugar.  All to taste.  Lemon juice or even mustard works in place of vinegar if you like.  I put these ingredients in the bottom of the bowl while I start chopping and dicing, to let the salt and sugar dissolve.
  2. Salad should not have iceberg lettuce in it!  Nothing should, for that matter.  There are so many leafy greens out there with actual flavor, not to mention nutrients.  My current favorite is spinach, which is the only green in my salad above.
  3. Salad has no rules.  Put anything you like in there!  You like wine, capers, jalepeno, and leftover  sauteéd squash?  Go for it!  My favorite extra salad ingredients are walnuts and black beans.   They add weight to the salad, both literally and in terms of hunger, since they contain more carbs and fat (healthy fat) than your ordinary salad veggies.

Now some of you are saying, “That’s great, but what if I don’t like greens or raw veggies at all?”  Well, I’m sure you like something Start from there, and experiment with adding small amounts of other foods.  If your salad is a bowl of cucumber, pine nuts, and olives with just a touch of romaine, that’s ok! Start eating more salads and I promise you’ll start liking salad.  Maybe even loving and craving salads!

See, a strange thing happens when you start eating more vegetables.  You start liking more vegetables.  Things I used to only eat under very particular instances I now enjoy and use every day.  (Tomatoes, carrots, and onions are on this list.)  Taste buds die and are replaced with new ones regularly, and you can teach yours to love the foods that love you back.  How great is that?

Here’s what I put in today’s salad, in case you’re curious: spinach, mushrooms, carrot, black beans, walnuts, avocado, and tomato.  Dressing was the simple vinegar-oil-sugar-salt combo I mentioned above.

  • This blog post is the first in a series in which I refute my former excuses for not being vegan. Several readers suggested I follow up on the Excuse List, and I appreciate the feedback! This post addresses my concerns of hating salad and of not liking most vegetables.

{December 9, 2009}   What do vegans eat?

The short answer to this common question is plants.  The long answer, of course, varies from person to person.  Some vegans swear by TVP (textured vegetable protein), while others have never tasted it.  I can’t tell you what all vegans eat, but I can give you a look at what my household eats (myself and my beloved, both vegans), by way of our grocery list!*   I’m exposing our fridge and pantry to you and giving you a look at our essential items.   As always when making a grocery list, I’m sure I’ve forgotten something….

Read the rest of this entry »

et cetera