Traveling, vegan style

Erin and TajI’ve always been a travel enthusiast, bordering on travel-obsessed; 6 months without a significant trip leads to antsy-ness only to be relieved by purchasing a plane ticket. The environmental footprint of this, regardless of offset purchasing, isn’t insignificant and I will surely discuss in a future post. However, I just returned from one and a half months traveling India, and would like to offer suggestions for traveling in Asia as a vegan – which can really be applied to any person with a non-conventional diet (or even anyone who is health-conscious), and can likely be applied in at least some ways to traveling to any destination.

I was warned by a travel doctor at home to avoid any raw vegetables, which in itself was going to be trying; no salads for 6 weeks? Practically torture. What I didn’t anticipate was the significant affect the language barrier was going to have. “No dairy” wasn’t a thing in India; “no cream, no milk, no cheese, no paneer [a soft cheese], no curd, no eggs”? Well that was a mouthful that most Indians with limited understanding of English couldn’t understand anyways. And no matter how hard I tried speaking in Hindi, I was better off in English – I usually tried a combination of both, sometimes with hand gestures and nothing short of charades. I’m glad me acting out “no cow milk” was not recorded. Following my attempt to order a vegan meal, I was met with nodding in agreement, then crossed my fingers and waited. Half the time I was okay, infrequently it was clear there was cream or chunks of paneer in my meal, and the remainder it was unclear and a bit of a gamble. With most dishes being cooked in sauce, cream or ghee (clarified butter) could easily sneak in. Read more…

Tofu will never be boring again!

TofuThough there are mixed feelings around soy in the vegan community, a lot of veggie people can’t imagine life without it. Whether it be tofu, tempeh, or all sorts of “meat-like foods” (veggie ground round, veggie dogs, etc.), it can be a nice treat in a plant-based diet. Skinny Bitch refers to processed soy protein products as “transitional foods”, intended for to ease the transition from omnivore to a meat-free, or reduced meat, diet. However, I can’t imagine ever giving up soy completely. It is possible to minimize the negative environmental impacts (soy’s often grown in a monoculture, and tofu is processed), and some of the potential digestive issues, by buying non-GMO and organic soy products.

I’ve heard some naysayers accuse tofu of being “plain” or “boring”, but I believe it’s all in the marinade (and I’m not sure how tofu’s any more boring than chicken!) My personal favourite marinades are below; the glazed tempeh is my go-to dish when cooking for meat-eaters – especially those who are skeptical of veggie food. It’s been the centre of several vegan Thanksgivings and even my family’s Christmas dinner last year! Read more…

Questioning Harvard? Red Meat’s Link to Mortality

Red meatLast week, the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) released the results of a long-term health study that found that red meat consumption is associated with a higher rate of mortality (generally, as well as cardiac and cancer mortality specifically).

Study: Red Meat Consumption Linked to Increased Risk of Total, Cardiovascular, and Cancer Mortality.

Although this is by no means “new news”, it’s nice when an institution like Harvard (reputable and not particularly controversial or fringe in their research) publishes it. There have been times in the past, when after having read a study finding negative health affects of animal products, I’ve thought to myself: “when’s Harvard going to publish something, and finally people will just believe it?”.

Surprisingly, I’ve seen a few attacks on the research methods used in the HSPH study (surprising as you’d think their research methods were generally accepted as sound…). Read more…

Homemade vs. Store-bought test #2: Cinnamon buns

Cinnabon's "Minibon"

Homemade vegan cinnamon buns

We’ve had a Christmas morning tradition at my house for years, and this year we didn’t follow it… it used to involve my sister (a fabulous baker) baking cinnamon buns, my mom making coffee, and the rest of us trying to sneak a bun off the cooling rack before my sister deemed them “ready” (I love her to pieces, but she used to intentionally torture us with the waiting).

This past Christmas, due to my entire family’s varying degrees of veganism and unanimous agreement to have a totally animal product-free holiday, we had scrambled tofu (so delicious, recipe to come!) and new potato and brussel sprout hash (a creation by my very resourceful mother who needed to use up potatoes). It wasn’t discussed, but we missed those cinnamon buns. Read more…

Vegan Pantry Essentials

Vegan groceriesAs a follow-up to my Weekly Vegan Grocery Shop post, I thought it would be helpful to include a list of what would already be in my cupboards (as contrary to what my weekly grocery list might indicate, I definitely do not live exclusively on vegetables).

So check out my Vegan Pantry Essentials reference page, which includes a printable grocery list for anyone interested in trying out a plant-based diet, or just incorporating more plant foods into their existing diet. Once you stock-up on the basics, it’s surprisingly easy to make a variety of dishes, with little to no planning at all. Read more…