Is Umami a Secret Ingredient of Vegan Activism?

In a recent New York Times article, wellness reporter Tara Parker-Pope explored the challenges of going vegan. Those challenges—including knowledge about how to prepare vegan foods and finding support—are real, although not nearly as insurmountable as Ms. Parker-Pope would have us think.

In particular, she focused on the taste and experience of familiar foods, saying “Giving up favorite foods is never easy, food scientists say, for it means overriding taste preferences imprinted on the brain during a lifetime of eating.”

No doubt that’s true, but I’m not sure that we have to override those taste preferences. I wonder if the people interviewed in this article have ever had Isa Moskowitz’s Mac and Shews. The genius of this recipe is that Isa uses sauerkraut to achieve ... Read More >

A Thanksgiving Prayer for the Animals

It’s Thanksgiving Eve and I’m cooking up a storm. There will be nine of us tomorrow around the table plus another couple coming for dessert. I’m also answering email and reading the numerous holiday messages that are rolling in to the various email lists to which I subscribe. It’s depressing.

Most of the emails are about plans for tomorrow’s dinner, about who is cooking the turkey and how. Not a hint of any twinge of misgiving about feasting on an animal who lived a miserable life and died a horrible death for the family holiday. All are cheerfully ignorant of what it means to kill these animals–and I suspect in many cases, the “not knowing” is by choice. It makes me feel just a ... Read More >

My Letter to the Editor About Thanksgiving and Turkeys

I live in a wonderful small town where it is not too difficult to get a letter published in the weekly newspaper. I wrote the letter below about going vegetarian for Thanksgiving and it was published yesterday in the Port Townsend Leader. They didn’t put it in their online edition so I can’t link to it. But that’s okay because I want to publish it here exactly the way I wrote it. The editors made some changes that I didn’t like. In the second sentence, they replaced the words “he or she” (referring to a turkey) with “it.”And further down, when I talked about "baby calves who," they changed it to "baby calves that."

This is the kind of language that helps people "forget" ... Read More >

Vegan Thanksgiving is Easy, Traditional and Delicious

This year, I wrote a letter to the editor of our local newspaper about why we don't have turkey in my home on Thanksgiving. I hope that I was able to capture some of the joy that comes with embracing compassion on this day of all days–one that celebrates family, friendship, abundance and gratitude. (Please take a look at my article on the myth of free-range turkeys, too.)

I look forward to my cruelty-free Thanksgiving dinner every year. I’m a traditionalist, and so my Thanksgiving menu doesn’t change a lot from year to year. There is an entrée surrounded by all the “trimmings,” ie, the dishes that were always a part of my family’s Thanksgiving meals when I was a kid. They are tweaked ... Read More >

Buying Cookbooks is Good Vegan Activism

I tweeted and facebook-status-updated this yesterday but I think it deserves a quick blog post, too.

I noticed that the best selling cookbook in America this week is The Pioneer Woman Cooks. In case you haven’t heard of her, The Pioneer Woman has a wildly popular blog sub-titled “Plowing Through Life in the Country…One Calf Nut at a Time.” She’s a city girl who met a rancher in a bar, married him and moved to Montana. It’s hard to figure out which blog posts are more annoying—those waxing poetic about the joys of throwing calves to the ground to brand and castrate them, or the adolescent ramblings about her husband, whom she calls “The Marlboro Man.”

Either way, she is not exactly ... Read More >

Favorite Vegan Cookbooks: They’re Like Old Friends!

I don’t know whether it’s the cold northwest climate or the chilly economic climate, but I’ve been hunkering down in the kitchen and cooking up a storm lately. My husband is ecstatic. Every time he walks into the kitchen I’m pulling lasagna out of the oven or madly stir-frying a heap of Asian veggies.

I have around 100 cookbooks on my shelves and access to thousands of recipes on the internet so coming up with ideas isn’t a problem. Even so, I often find myself pulling out much-loved older cookbooks—the ones that are tried and true. Some of them have been used so much that they are in two or three pieces. (A true sign of a really good cookbook is one that is held ... Read More >