Category Archives: Food

30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 17 – Love Tofu!

Demystifying Tofu: It’s Just a Bean!

4bc98b7c9d24d2de8293f3ac731abf98-994cfb48456e223324103b0d6d76f2fe“An ancient food, tofu originated in China about 2,000 years ago. While the details of its discovery are uncertain, legend has it that it was discovered by accident when when a Chinese cook added nigari seaweed to a pot of soy milk, causing it to curdle, and the result was tofu. Tofu was introduced into Japan in the 8th century where it was known as “okabe” until the 15th century, though it didn’t gain widespread popularity in Japan until the 17th century.

Tofu’s rise in the West mirrored the increasing interest in healthier foods. First gaining attention during the 1960s, tofu has been skyrocketing in popularity ever since research began to reveal the many significant benefits of this delicious legume-based food.”

Colleen Patrick-Goudrea, 30 Day Vegan Challenge

I really fell in love with tofu when I was living in Japan. The Japanese do to tofu what the French do to wine. Handmade tofu is an art form passed down through generations. People will travel just to eat a particular region’s speciality tofu. It’s not just the base ingredient, but what is done with it.

A page from the 1782 Edo cookbook Tofu Hyakuchin (One Hundred Unique Types of Tofu)
A page from the 1782 Edo cookbook Tofu Hyakuchin (One Hundred Unique Types of Tofu)
Studio hand coloured 19th century photograph of a tofu seller.
Studio hand coloured 19th century photograph of a tofu seller.
(c) Japan Centre
(c) Japan Centre

A sign of how incredible good tofu can be is Hiyayakko – fresh, soft tofu chilled and served with grated ginger, katsuobushi, shallots and soy sauce.  The tofu is so delicate and distinctive you can eat it as a centrepiece dish. Although, now I’m vegan I would do without the katsuobushi.

Continue reading 30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 17 – Love Tofu!

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30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 16 – Drink Plant-Based Milks

4bc98b7c9d24d2de8293f3ac731abf98-994cfb48456e223324103b0d6d76f2fePlant-based Milks: Ancient Beverages

“And because a mammal can not lactate without being pregnant (and subsequently giving birth), it’s important to point out that the offspring of a dairy cow (or goat or sheep) is merely incidental; he or she is simply the consequence of a pregnancy that is required to keep the animal lactating. Every year, 800, 000 male calves are born to dairy cows in the U.S. are slaughtered and sold as “veal” – all for a product that is definitely not necessary for humans to consume.”

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, 30 Day Vegan Challenge

A mammal's breast milk is for her young, growing baby. There is no way you can take her milk 'humanely'. It doesn't matter if it is a factory farm, a small hobby farm or an organic farm. It is all unnecessary cruelty and exploitation.
A mammal’s breast milk is for her young, growing baby. There is no way you can take her milk ‘humanely’. It doesn’t matter if it is a factory farm, a small hobby farm or an organic farm. It all involves unnecessary cruelty and exploitation.

It is a very simply equation. Human milk is for human babies. Rat milk is for baby rats. Cows milk is for baby calves. Sheep’s milk is for lambs. The only way you can get drinkable quantities of milk from a mother is to take away her baby. This is what happens with all dairy production. The cow is forcibly made pregnant, which causes her body to start doing what female mammals do. Then, at birth, the baby becomes competition for the breast-milk we want to make cheese, ice cream or to froth up our lattes. Calves, especially the males, are simply by-products of the highly profitable dairy industry; many of the female calves become replacements for their mothers on the milking machines.

The New Zealand economy depends on dairy exports; as evidenced by the ubiquitous dairy farms we are surrounded by.
The New Zealand economy depends on dairy exports; as evidenced by the ubiquitous dairy farms we are surrounded by.

So that’s the bad news. We can’t continue to consume dairy. The dairy industry, dependant as it is on cruelty and exploitation, has to go. I live in the Waikato, where we are surrounded by dairy farms. Most of us owe our livelihoods either directly or indirectly to the dairy industry. Getting rid of the dairy industry would mean restructuring our economic base and using the region’s rich volcanic soils to grow something other than grass to feed cows. Unfortunately, the local dairy co-op, Fonterra, is now a multi-billion dollar international corporation, and over 90% of the milk produced here is exported. Fonterra now also run or contract dairy farms and milk production plants in other countries, especially China.

almondmilkThe good news, however, is plant-based milk. Anything you would use animal breast-milk for can be replaced with a plant-based version. Personally, I love the taste of almond milk, but it is more expensive than soy. So, now I use soy milk for anything where the flavour won’t be noticeable, and almond when it will.  A litre of Anchor cows milk is around $2.70 a litre. Soy milk prices vary, but a litre of Signature (home-brand) organic soy is about $2.90 and Vita Soy regular $3.00 or Sanatorium regular $3.40.  Almond milk is usually, depending on brand, around $3.80 – $4.00 a litre.

I use coconut milk or cream when I want the thickness (fat), as in a curry. Coconut is delicious, thick, has a very distinctive flavour and helps ‘soften’ spicy food. Colleen has a great suggestion, if you want the flavour of coconut without the fat just add a few drops of coconut essence to another plant milk.

According to Colleen, rice milk is the thinnest and if you want a thicker milk use oat, almond or soy. Also, plant milks are generally fortified with B12 and vitamin D.

Colleen includes a recipe for home-made almond milk.

“Although there are some wonderful commercial brands available, there’s truly nothing like homemade, and you need no special equipment. For coffee drinkers, this is an ideal creamer and froths up beautifully when making lattes.”

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, 30 Day Vegan Challenge

30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 12 – Satisfy Your Cravings with Plants

The Power of Cravings: Fat and Salt Taste Good

4bc98b7c9d24d2de8293f3ac731abf98-994cfb48456e223324103b0d6d76f2feCraving: a very strong desire for something

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Day 12, Colleen makes the case that what we really mean when we say we crave animals as food is that we crave “fat, salt, flavour, texture and familiarity”. This seems like an odd claim at first, and I am still not sure it is 100% right. Eggs taste like eggs. Meat tastes like meat. You know this when you first go vegan, and then you forget. But there is definitely something to Colleen’s argument. A craving is not a taste.

What do you want more than the taste of butter? Why did you originally go vegan?
What do you want more than the taste of butter? Why did you originally go vegan?

If you find yourself craving animal products, what are you going to do?  This is where the question becomes – What do I really want?

Obviously, everyone goes vegan for a reason. I think the key is to tap back into that reason, to remind yourself of the motivation.  I expected cravings to be a problem when I first went vegan. Ironically, the opposite was true. I was revolted by foods only a few weeks ago I had loved.

Continue reading 30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 12 – Satisfy Your Cravings with Plants

30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 11 – Travel

Finding Abundant Food Options While Travelling

4bc98b7c9d24d2de8293f3ac731abf98-994cfb48456e223324103b0d6d76f2fe“It’s not the fault of “being vegan” that makes it challenging to find nutrient-dense food on the road. The problem is that as individuals and as a society, we have not made eating well a priority – whether we are at home or travelling.

The truth is that eating vegan on the road is easy in most places and a little challenging in others. It’s just a matter of knowing what to look for and taking the time to prepare.

No matter how hard I try, when I travel, I accept that I’ll be eating less optimally than when I’m home, but I do try to follow some guidelines to make travelling as pleasant as possible.”

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, 30 Day Vegan Challenge

Stop at the Shell Station. Want I hot meal. I don't like your vegan chances, especially if you want to eat something healthy.
Stop at the Shell Station. Want a hot meal? I don’t like your vegan chances, especially if you want to eat something healthy.

Any stop at a petrol station clearly shows how, as a society, we value convenience over eating well, especially on the road.

When travelling Colleen has three fundamental pieces of advice that make a lot of sense:

  1. Come prepared.
  2. Do some research.
  3. Ask for what you want – in advance, if possible.

She provides lots of tips and anecdotes for achieving all three.

Continue reading 30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 11 – Travel

30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 10 – Pack a Lunch

Packing Lunches for School and Work

4bc98b7c9d24d2de8293f3ac731abf98-994cfb48456e223324103b0d6d76f2fePopcorn: Make your own and divide the batch up into little bags or containers. I make popcorn with an air popper. spritz on a little oil from a spray-oil can, and toss with salt, cumin, chili powder, and nutritional yeast. If it’s for the little ones skip the chilli powder.

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, 30 Day Vegan Challenge

Day 10 if full of great ideas for any time you need to pack a lunch.
Day 10 – great ideas for any time you need to pack a lunch.

Day 10 is similar to Day 8 – a wonderful collection of ideas designed to suit a wide range of tastes and lifestyles, only instead of breakfast it’s a packed lunch, or really any time you have to pack food to go.

At my workplace we have a full kitchen with a fridge, microwave, sink, bench space and even a few appliances like a toaster and panni press. There is a cupboard with dishes and utensils. This increases the range of food I can take for lunch.

However, Day 10 assumes you don’t have any of that, you just need to pack and eat. The ideas are organised into three categories – sandwiches, salads and snacks.

Continue reading 30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 10 – Pack a Lunch

30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 9 – Eat Out, Speak Up

Eating Out and Speaking Up

4bc98b7c9d24d2de8293f3ac731abf98-994cfb48456e223324103b0d6d76f2fe“If I’m eating at a table where non-vegan food is being served (and everyone knows I’m vegan), invariably someone will apologise for eating the chicken’s leg or hamburger they’re about to bite into. Instead of lying and saying, “It’s okay” or reacting indignantly I usually say – with a smile – something like, “Don’t apologise to me. Apologise to the chickens.” It enables me to speak the truth without shaming them, but it also sets a lighter tone.”

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, 30 Day Vegan Challenge

Getting comfortable eating out and talking about being vegan in social situations where people are consuming animals is a process, and I am still not quite there yet.

I am now reasonably okay ordering in cafes and restaurants. It has taken a few goes to figure it out. I completely agree with Colleen’s advice that you need to be specific; the word ‘vegan’ is too ambiguous. It is more effective to ask questions like, “What type of stock was it cooked in?”,  “Is it made with eggs?” “Can you leave out the cheese?”

Continue reading 30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 9 – Eat Out, Speak Up

30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 8 – Eat Breakfast

Starting the Day Right: A Bevy of Breakfast Ideas

4bc98b7c9d24d2de8293f3ac731abf98-994cfb48456e223324103b0d6d76f2fe“The best thing we can do is choose the most nutrient dense foods that are high in fibre and low in calories. … By eating nutrient dense food you create a solid foundation on which the rest of your day can be built.”

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, 30 Day Vegan Challenge

Eat breakfast.

Physiologically  it’s important. You haven’t eaten for hours. Your blood sugar is low; your metabolism has slowed down; you need food to get going.

In my early adult years I was terrible about regular eating. I skipped breakfast most of the time.  I wouldn’t feel like eating in the morning, probably because I was eating most of my food late at night. During the day I had no regular eating schedule.

Continue reading 30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 8 – Eat Breakfast

30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 7 – Get in the Kitchen

Making the Time to Cook

4bc98b7c9d24d2de8293f3ac731abf98-994cfb48456e223324103b0d6d76f2fe“The bottom line is if we don’t have time to be sick, then we have to make time to be healthy. …

If we have the time to pack the family into the car, drive to a restaurant, find a parking spot, stand in line to wait for a table, decide what to order, wait for the food, eat the food, wait for the bill, pay the bill, then drive back home, we have time to chop some vegetables.”

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, 30 Day Vegan Challenge

Chop vegetables in advance. If you chop them, you will use them - true story.
Chop vegetables in advance. If you chop them, you will use them – true story.

Day 7 is about cooking. People lead busy lives and it often feels easier to just order a pizza. When you are tired and stressed, cooking feels like just one more chore you have to do. I imagine that if you have kids they get fussy and dinner becomes more irritation than pleasure. I remember as a child watching the battle of wills between my parents and my brother over vegetable eating. My sister talks about counting the peas as she forced herself to finish eating them. It’s no wonder vegetables become the enemy, and we find ways to avoid them in adult life.

Continue reading 30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 7 – Get in the Kitchen

30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 6 – Go Shopping

Getting to Know the Grocery Store 

4bc98b7c9d24d2de8293f3ac731abf98-994cfb48456e223324103b0d6d76f2fe“Make no mistake about it; though it appears you are exercising personal choice and freedom when you choose one product over another, massive efforts and huge amounts of money go into influencing – i.e. manipulating – your decisions. … Every day, every moment, whether it’s through radio and television commercials; magazine, newspaper, and Internet advertisements; supermarket product placements; billboards or celebrity endorsements we are told what to eat, especially when it comes to animal products … no one is immune to theses messages, which are so powerful, so prevalent, and so effective that any recommendations against consuming meat, dairy and eggs are called biased.”

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, 30 Day Vegan Challenge

Day 6 is about food shopping. We, as consumers are situated within a well-oiled corporate marketing machine, so slick and polished that until you consciously decide to try and execrate yourself from the machine, you are oblivious to just how pervasive and manipulative it actually is.

Nothing says "I love you Mum" like a creepy uncle with a bucket of dead birds soaked in salt and saturated fat, a bunch of flowers.
Nothing says “I love you Mum” like a creepy uncle with a bucket of dead birds soaked in salt and saturated fat, and a bunch of flowers.

We are completely saturated by corporate messaging telling us what to eat.  The only stronger messaging is what we were taught and was modelled to us as children, by adults equally influenced by the same social conditioning and commercial marketing strategies.

Now, I see it everywhere, this constant barrage of commands to “EAT, EAT, EAT” – is it any wonder we have such an alarming obesity problem. What do they keep pushing us to eat? Most of the time it is animal products and highly processed junk food – usually in the same food items.  Fortunes have been spent figuring out how  our human physiology and psychology can be best manipulated to extract money from us.  What lies will we want to believe? How much salt, sugar and fat will it take to get us craving? What are our emotional weak points – the ones that make us use food (or whatever) to compensate for love, sex and happiness, or to ward off fear and insecurity? What colours, sounds, smells, shapes or temperatures are we most attracted to?

Continue reading 30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 6 – Go Shopping

30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 5 – Get to Know What’s Really in Your Food

4bc98b7c9d24d2de8293f3ac731abf98-994cfb48456e223324103b0d6d76f2fe

Reading Labels

“Being vegan is about doing the best we can in an imperfect world. It’s not about being perfect or pure. If we lose sight of that, if we treat veganism as the ends rather than the means, then we’ll not only drive ourselves crazy, we’ll also forget what being vegan is all about. There are some things we have no control over, and I think it makes more sense to focus on what we can do rather than what we can’t.

And there’s so much we can do.”

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, 30 Day Vegan Challenge

wine-186018_1280It’s downright depressing how much animal death is in the food we eat. Dairy, meat, fish and eggs are the main and most obvious ones, but all the things you would never expect! Who knew they use dried fish bladders to clarify beer and wine?

Continue reading 30 Day Vegan Challenge – Day 5 – Get to Know What’s Really in Your Food