On Point, an NPR syndicated program, hosted a show last Friday which featured Mollie Katzen (author of the original Moosewood Cookbook among many other vegetarian and vegan cookbooks), Isa Chandra Moskowitz of the Post Punk Kitchen, and nutritionist Susan Nitzke. There’s a link there to listen to the whole show.
In response to some of the comments on that page, I would point out that not every vegan is of the irritating evangelist ilk. If some of us can just get people to be more conscientious about their diets and live a more compassionate life towards our animal friends, we’re pretty happy. The fourth guest on that program was journalist/author Kim O’Donnell who writes a standard food column at USA Today. She is just such a convert who believes most people could stand to eat less meat.
The influential news organization, The Associated Press, recently released an article titled “Vegan diets becoming more popular, more mainstream.” The article was picked up by dozens of local newspapers and websites. The author, Michael Hill, mentions more vegan restaurants, more vegan choices in regular restaurants, the popularity of new vegan cookbooks, and more vegan products in grocery stores. Chef schools now offer programs in vegan cuisine. He also points out the draw for anyone concerned with both personal and planetary ecological health.
Happy New Year! PETA has named Bill Clinton Vegan of the Year for doing more to promote the lifestyle than anyone. Along with PETA, the Rotondi Foundation feels it is terrific that celebrities want to talk about and promote their healthy lifestyle choices.
Other celebs who have been feted by PETA (heh) include Alicia Silverstone, Joaquin Phoenix (narrator of Earthlings), Daryl Hannah, Demi Moore, Natalie Portman, Alan Cumming, and Elijah Wood. From pop and rock music, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Morrissey, Bryan Adams, Phil Collins, Alanis Morissette and Sinead O’Connor are also vegans.
Even if it becomes a big news item when one of these celebs admits to “the odd bit of fish” or “some [dairy] cheese” once in a while, you won’t see them hanging around a MacDonalds anytime soon. Eating healthy is everyone’s business.
Sometimes when I discuss my diet with others, they will point out to me a vegan they may know who might be considered obese. Just because a food or beverage is vegan doesn’t mean it’s not junk food. Take high-fructose corn syrup. High levels of fructose in the diet has been shown to be very hard on the liver and a major cause of obesity. People only consume around 15 grams of fructose from eating several pieces of fruit a day while a single can of regular American soda contains 23 grams. (Note that many sodas in other countries still use cane sugar which is actually somewhat healthier for you — and taste better according to this author!)
If you can’t tell, I’m unemployed and living on a tight budget these days so I’m making large pots of food for myself and living off the leftovers and sometimes putting a bit in the freezer. I usually have a few things to choose from in the fridge so I don’t get bored. Get in touch if you know anyone in the NYC area who needs a vegan chef!
The local produce store sold me 3 lbs of bruised and cold-damaged Holland stem tomatoes for a dollar so I picked up a large eggplant and threw this together. I had a one-pound package of frozen peas in my freezer that came in handy as well. This was one of my favorite curries at a place I used to eat lunch at in midtown when I was employed. I glanced at Ismail Merchant’s Stewed Eggplant Curry recipe before I started. I usually don’t use formal recipes when I’m making big pots of food anymore. Also, I really like it spicy and flavorful but you should know how to tone it down!
3-4 tblsp veg oil (I used olive)
1 large onion – chopped
2 carrots – chopped or sliced
3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 heaping tablespoons cumin (I used fresh ground)
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1-3 teaspoons red pepper and/or other hot spices to taste
1 large eggplant (chopped into 1/2 inch – 3/4 inch cubes. I leave the skin on for extra vitamins but you can skin the eggplant as you like)
4-5 cups chopped tomatoes (canned equivalent ok)
1 lb package of frozen peas (or fresh if that’s convenient)
2 tblsp lemon juice
Salt to taste (1 tsp should be fine)
Saute the onion and carrots for a few minutes in a very large (cast-iron) skillet. Add the spices and the eggplant and a few tablespoons of water on medium heat, stir and add a little water as necessary. Don’t let the eggplant burn and stick. The eggplant will soften in about five mins and darken. You can chop ginger or tomatoes or ginger during this time although ginger should be added asap! Add the tomatoes, turn heat up until it is bubbly, then bring back down to medium. Cook for several minutes. Add the peas, bring heat back up as necessary until peas are cooking and it is bubbly again. Simmer for a few more minutes. Add lemon juice and salt as necessary. Entire cooking time should be around 25 minutes. Serve with rice and/or pita/chapati and/or mango chutney and/or yogurt (if you’re not vegan). Enjoy! Serves 6-9
I made this curry off the top of my head last night and it was so good, I’m sharing the recipe.
1 medium onion chopped
2 heaping tbsp chopped ginger
2 heaping tbsp curry powder (madras or sambar or your choice)
1 tbsp cumin powder (I used fresh ground)
1 large tomato, cubed/chopped
2 carrots, chopped
(optional: 1 red bell pepper, chopped)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium head of cauliflower, chopped
2-3 cups cooked chick peas (or 1 – 2 cans)
Salt, green chilis, and/or cayenne pepper to taste
Sauté the onion and ginger in the oil for several minutes, add carrots and other spices including chilis if you’re using them, sauté for a few more minutes. Add tomato, a bit of salt, and cauliflower. Add a little water as necessary to keep mixture from burning. Add chick peas after about 10 mins. Cover and simmer on low heat until cauliflower is tender, stirring occasionally, about 15-20 more minutes. Salt to taste (it shouldn’t need much). Serve with rice, pita, or naan. Serves about six. Enjoy! -Hugh
The Rotondi Foundation encourages peace and harmony for all families at Thanksgiving. While we don’t want ANY turkeys to be slaughtered, we trust that meat-eaters who choose to forgo an all-vegan meal for their vegan guests will include plenty of vegan plates at their tables to keep everyone happy. (You know how to use Google to find vegan Thanksgiving recipes, right?)
And to all the vegans out there: your choices already speak volumes. You are probably going to be asked questions about your diet. Don’t feel like you have to stand on your soapbox for your passionate causes and antagonize your friends and family. Be polite and positive! Also, don’t get bent out of shape if you feel like you have to bring your own vegan entree. If you do, make sure it’s delicious and bring enough for everyone to try it!
Finally, we encourage all to donate to Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt-a-Turkey program. They put together this video about the turkey farming and the many turkeys they manage to rescue from these farms.
Business Week talks about the CEOs, movie stars, an ex-President, and other celebrities who have come out as vegan. One misnomer the article perpetuates is that veganism “isn’t cheap.” Vegans don’t need processed and expensive “fake meat” to get a lot of variety and yumminess!