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Vegan MoFo Contest Announcement for Week #4

22 Nov

Alright, friends, it’s time for my final contest announcement, and I hope a lot of you will participate. It’s going to be fun!

This week, I’m challenging you to create a vegan version of one of your favorite dishes. The announcement is just in time for American Thanksgiving, so if you’re already going to veganize stuffing or mashed potatoes or another favorite, send me the details for a chance to win! You choose the dish. Feel free to share something you’ve made before or something totally new to you.

Here are the rules:

1. To enter, email me photos of your entry plus a recipe by 11:59 p.m. Central Time on Sunday, November 28. Feel free to include pictures of the process as well as the final version. One photo of your finished product is OK, too. If you have a blog of your own, feel free to do a post about your submission instead of sending me the details. Just make sure to email me a link instead. Also, let me know if you have any food allergies in case you’re the winner so I don’t send you a package of things that’ll kill you. Important: If you do not receive a confirmation email from me within 24 hours, please leave a comment on my blog!

2. All submissions should be vegan versions of something you’ve eaten and enjoyed with meat and/or dairy. If you’re a lifelong vegan or vegetarian, it’s fine to share a dish that is usually made with meat and/or dairy. Stumped on what to make? Pick a regional favorite, a family recipe, or something you just haven’t eaten since giving up animal products. The sky’s the limit!

I hope this goes without saying, but again, 3. All entries must be vegan.

4. If your recipe was not made up by you, please cite your source. No one will lose points for using a preexisting recipe, but please just let me know where you found it.

One winner will receive a surprise package from me. To sweeten the pot, on this final contest, the winner can expect a double-sized package. For reference, past winners have received a few baked goods, some Justin’s Nut Butter, and tea bags. Precise goodies have yet to be determined, but I promise you’ll be happy! Winners will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Creativity of the submission
  • Presentation
  • Effort

Do you plan to participate? Let me know in the comments! You can also pop over to the Vegging out in T-Town Facebook page to let me know. Please, please help spread the word! The more submissions, the more great ideas we’ll all have to share.

Thanks for reading, and happy cooking!

Weekly Contest #3 Results and Winner

22 Nov

Yep, it’s time again to talk about my most recent contest, so let’s get right to it.

As a reminder, the challenge was to make something raw – an uncooking challenge, if you will. I decided to make raw, taller-half-killing soup. The poor thing is allergic to avocados, so it was all for me. Darn. 😉

I looked at a few recipes from around the blog world and combined them to make Raw Avocado Salsa Soup.

All you do is combine in a blender:

  • Flesh from 1/2 an avocado
  • 4 cherry tomatoes
  • Juice from 1/4 to 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • About 1/2 a cup of homemade almond milk (start with 1/4 cup and add more to obtain desired consistency)
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro

Blend until smooth and creamy. I have to be honest: I didn’t love this soup. I think I made it too creamy. The flavor was good, but it just wasn’t my taste preferences. I would be willing to try raw soup again, but I need a different – maybe chunkier? – texture and flavor. It would have been a good salad dressing or dip.

And now, what did my readers come up with?

First is Little Momo, who submitted not one, but two entries. The first are Sunshine Bars, based on this recipe at Gone Raw.

Don’t they look gorgeous? She also shared Nanaimo Bars using an original recipe:

I had to Google the term. Basically, Nanaimo Bars are no-bake squares featuring layers of cookie, icing, and chocolate. Yum! Sign me up. Here is her recipe for our enjoyment:

Base
1 cups coconut, shredded
2 cups mixed nuts(I used pecans and cashews)
1/2 cup dates
1/4 cup raisins
3 tbsps. cacao powder
coconut water

Middle
1 8oz. jar of Artisana Goji Bliss

Topping
1 cup coconut oil(warmed)
2 tbsps cacao powder
agave to taste(you want a bittersweet top since the rest is so sweet)

You will need:
large mixing bowl
food processor
one small baking pan(8×11)
saran wrap or wax paper
refrigerator

First, put your coconut oil in a bowl of warm water to thaw and set aside. Do this with the Goji Bliss aswell. Then, combine dates and raisins in your food processor and pulse until finely chopped, put aside in large mixing bowl. Process your nuts until fine and mix in with dates, raisins, now add the shredded coconut and cacao powder. Add a very small amount of coconut water and mix together until it is a sticky consistency(if you use soaked dates/rasisins, you will not need the coconut water). Line your pan with saran or wax paper, press in mixture evenly, set aside. Now pour the Goji Bliss over this mixture and press in to even out. Now, mix together the coconut oil, cacao powder, agave, a wee bit of coconut water (this will make the top layer more of a fudgy texture) for your topping and pour into pan. Set in fridge or freezer. Ready in 30 mins. Enjoy!!!

Once again, Kate of Fat Ass to Fit Ass, shared her lemon recipe, Raw Lemon Pudding:

She gets major props for being able to cut through an avocado pit.

Superwoman much? Like me, she embraced the avocado and lemon in her creation.

Edit to add: Vegan of the Great White North submitted her recipe on time, but it hightailed it to my spam folder. Darn it! Here is what she shared, however, Raw Vegan Cheezecake.

Ain’t it gorgeous? Head to her post to see all the progress pictures.

And the winner is . . . Little Momo! I liked the double effort, and her presentation on both is just gorgeous, but the Nanaimo Bars won me over all by themselves. I can’t get behind the consumption of raisins, but I can let that slide. 😉 I will contact you about your prize, darlin’.

A vegan controversy

22 Nov

I like to keep this blog a light, fun, happy place. Sometimes my posts are a little irreverent, but for the most part, this is a place for me to talk about delicious food. I go into very little detail about why I don’t eat any meat or much dairy because nobody likes proselytizing. I don’t expect to convert most of my non-vegetarian readers just as I know they aren’t going to get me to consume meat again. However, given that this is Vegan MoFo, I feel compelled to respond to a blogosphere controversy I haven’t been able to escape today. If you don’t want to read about health and environmental aspects of eschewing meat and animal products, don’t read this post.

The controversy to which I refer is the A Vegan No More post from Tasha, formerly known as The Voracious Vegan. Anyone who peruses the vegan food blogs as much as I do has probably already seen this incredibly long post. In case you haven’t, here’s my way short (a probably a little snarky) summary:

  1. Girl becomes vegan because, largely, of her passion for animal rights and writes a blog about her eating and such.
  2. After three years, girl experiences health problems. Doctor tells her she must start eating meat again.
  3. Girl resists, instead taking iron supplements, which make her sick. Doctor reiterates that she must start eating meat.
  4. Girl finally relents and reintroduces meat and dairy into her diet. She instantly – as in while she is still chewing – feels better.
  5. She justifies her switch back to a meat-eating diet by rejecting everything she’s ever believed about veganism, from the health benefits to the environmental impact. She, instead, embraces “locavorism” (I really hate that term) as the solution.
  6. She says multiple high-profile “vegan” bloggers have contacted her to say that they sometimes “behind the scenes” eat meat or dairy. She gives no names but says one is a famous cookbook author.

Tasha followed up her initial post with this one, which responds to some of the negative comments she received, such as:

  • She isn’t real and is, instead, a plant by the meat industry. She and several commenters who know her assure us this is false.
  • She could have just added dairy and not meat into her diet. She said that would have been disingenuous because she’s always believed that being a vegetarian is no better than eating meat.
  • She “did veganism wrong” and that her health problems could have been helped with a more careful vegan diet. She claims she did everything “right” and that veganism, itself, is “wrong” for her.
  • She went from the extremism of veganism to another sort of militant nutritional philosophy. She says she is seeking middle ground.
  • She should have just kept her mouth shut to keep up a façade and not give veganism a bad name. She argues that that is ridiculous and that she has a right and a responsibility to tell her story.

I recommend reading both her posts before you make up your mind, but I wanted to provide a basic rundown for my readers.

I was honestly pretty outraged at her initial post. I’ll be upfront and remind everyone that I am not a vegan, and I do not claim to be one on this blog. I know there are a lot of “vegan” food bloggers out there who use that moniker and continue to show us the eggs or fish they had for dinner. That drives me crazy, by the way, but I keep my judgments to myself. I would prefer that people not eat meat, of course, but it isn’t really my business. I would also prefer that people not confuse others by calling themselves something they aren’t. We are all free to choose our identities, but just as I wouldn’t call myself Christian because it’s more convenient than explaining my actual beliefs, it’s disingenuous to call yourself a vegan while you chow down on an animal product. All that aside, again, I’m not totally vegan. It’s not a term I ever apply to myself and won’t until the day I can commit to being 100% animal-product-free. As of right now, I eat vegan about 90% of the time, but as my Italy recaps will tell you, I do sometimes still eat cheese or gelato or eggs.

That said, I was still pretty appalled by the former Voracious Vegan doing a complete 180 in her once incredibly strong and defensive political beliefs. Check out this post for a taste. It wasn’t that she decided to abandon a diet to which I am admittedly not 100% committed. It was her logic. First, she only received a medical opinion from one doctor, not a nutritionist or even a second doctor. MDs are great for many things, but they are NOT nutrition experts. Most will even refer patients to registered dieticians for possible dietary concerns. MDs can check for deficiencies in blood work, but patients should always seek advice from someone whose specialty is food and its effects on the body. In fact, one such professional wrote a rebuttal to Tasha’s post that I will discuss in a moment.

Second, and really my biggest complain, is that she didn’t provide any scientific backing for her pro-meat claims. She says that cholesterol is actually good for you – wait, what? The USDA is incredibly biased toward the meat industry, and even it says, “Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids and less than 300 mg/day of cholesterol” (all over their site). So, if it’s in the USDA’s financial interest to encourage Americans to eat cholesterol and saturated fats and even they say not to eat very much, how on earth can she possibly claim it’s good for you? For a really great discussion of this topic, read The China Study or Eat to Live. Another great – and much shorter! – read is this post from The Vegan R.D. She makes a lot of the points I wanted, but since she, you know, has knowledge, her health arguments are more sound. Definitely read her excellent post.After reading her discussion, I am going to read The Vegetarian Myth for a more rounded opinion.

She also claims that growing lots of grain will eventually deplete all our topsoil and is generally bad for the environment. Instead of so many grains, we should be eating meat. Again, this is just false. Monocropping (growing only one crop on a plot of land every year instead of implementing crop rotation) is a pretty irresponsible agricultural practice, as anyone who knows much about biology can probably tell you. However, this is true of any crop, not just grains. She goes on to say, “I also recognize that the massive production of grain is what led to the creation of factory farms in the first place; they simply would not have been possible otherwise. We do not grow so much grain because we want to have factory farms; we have factory farms because we are growing such an avalanche of grain.” From what I’ve read, she is partially correct. Farm subsidies created a surplus of various grains, especially corn, so the solution has largely been feeding it to livestock (which is really unhealthy for them and, ultimately, us) and corn syrup (and other corn by-products). Currently, 80% of corn grown in the United States feeds livestock (source). I agree that this is a problem, but how does it logically follow that we now have a responsibility to eat the factory farmed animals? It doesn’t. She herself also says she hates factory farms. I don’t think this argument of hers makes the point she intended.

Tasha’s lack of any scientific evidence is what turned me off. I would never presume to tell her she didn’t know how to manage her own diet. From what I could see, she ate too much fat (but I’m no angel here) and processed foods, but otherwise, the meals she posted were largely healthier than most people’s. I have no idea what eats didn’t make the blog, and I’m inclined to take her word for the seeming healthfulness of her diet. I also, unlike a lot of meat-free bloggers, don’t think that a vegetarian diet is best for everyone. Some people cannot eat meat for a variety of reasons, and being nothing more than a lay food-lover, I have no basis for saying the reverse cannot be true. If Tasha truly needed to eat meat to maintain her health, then I believe 100% that she made the right choice. I have also chosen to refrain from any kind of ad hominem attack here. I’m not posting to malign her personality. My goal is to respond to the above claims she makes. I do not have a problem with the specific choice she made.

My problem stems from her reasoning. My problem stems from her complete reversal to proselytizing that vegans are the ones who are wrong. (She says several times that she isn’t doing that, but quotes such as “Being a vegan was everything to me. I believed my actions made me an animal rights crusader; I was saving lives, and changing the world [sic] Now, I know otherwise” and “Veganism, while coming from a decent place of compassion, is ultimately short sighted and does not fix our problems” speak for themselves.) My problem stems from her rejection of science in favor of finding a new moral high horse to ride. She no longer believes veganism is right for her or the planet, so you shouldn’t either.

Ultimately, I think this quote from her first post sums up her need to draw conclusions – any at all – to justify her choices: “If I actually need to eat animals to be healthy, how can it be so wrong?” This isn’t logic; it’s wishful thinking.

So what do you think? I want to hear your opinions.