Sep 18

What most people know about being vegan is the list of foods that are excluded from the vegan diet. But animal free vegans don’t just define themselves by what they don’t eat, they also define themselves by the nutrient-rich superfoods that they do eat.

The ingredients, spices, and cooking techniques for a diet that is completely animal free might seem foreign to those who are accustomed to standard meals composed from meats and starches, but animal free meals are not so strange once you learn some of the tips and tricks of the animal free lifestyle. These days, vegan cooks have figure out how to make just about any dish animal free, including pancakes, macaroni and cheese, and snickerdoodles.

Lauren Ulm, the founder of the website, “Vegan Yum Yum” and the author of a cookbook by the same name, learned the how-to’s and how-not-to’s of vegan cooking by trial and error and error and error in her own kitchen. Here are some of the tips she gives to vegan cooks on her website and in her book:

  • There is a huge difference between fresh sugar snap peas and frozen ones. The longer peas sit after picking, the soggier and less sweet they become.
  • Sauteeing chickpeas brings out a lovely nutty flavor in them.
  • It could be that you don’t like brussel sprouts just because the ones you ate were overcooked. Brussel sprouts that are overcooked have a sulfur smell, and taste unpleasant. Brussel sprouts that are cooked correctly are crisp and sweet and have a slightly nutty aftertaste.
  • How you cut vegetables makes a big difference in the texture and taste of your dishes. A Japanese mandoline works well to slice potatoes extra thin, for example.
  • If you’re frying a potato, choose a potato that has high starch and low sugar, like a russet potato. A potato with high sugar will before it’s crispy, making the fried potatoes soggy.
  • Delicata squash is a sweet squash alternative that is easier to cut in half than other squashes.
  • A microplane grater makes citrus zest that is fine, light, fluffy, and practically melts in your mouth.
  • Spelt flour works well with pancakes because it is lighter and has a seeter,milder flavor than regular whole wheat flour.
  • Using a grill pan to add grill marks to tofu makes it prettier and more appealing to dinner guests. Just be careful not too scorch it!
  • When making tofu scramble instead of eggs, make sure your tofu isn’t too wet and that it is adequately seasoned.
  • Barley can be just as satisfying as risotto, and doesn’t require as much bothersome stirring.

More Information About Animal Free Cooking and Eating:

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Sep 03

The internet is buzzing this week over secret video footage that shows baby chicks being ground up alive in an egg-laying chicken hatchery in Iowa. The video was produced and released by Mercy for Animals, an animal rights activist organization that equipped an employee with a secret camera to document the treatment of chicks in the egg-laying breed hatchery, which is reportedly the world’s largest. Mercy for Animals estimates that 200 million baby male chicks are systematically destroyed each year by the egg industry, mostly using horrific methods like the grinder shown in this video.

This is one reason why millions of people around the world are choosing to become vegans.

A vegan is someone who does not consume any foods that are animal-based. This doesn’t just mean that they don’t eat meat, fish, or poultry like vegetarians, it also means that they don’t eat products produced by animals, like milk, cheese, butter, and eggs. For some vegans, the “Hatchery Horrors” video is the latest documentation of farm animal atrocities which motivates their dietary choices. For others, veganism is simply a matter of good health.

A recent Georgetown University study concluded that a vegan diet may be able to completely cure Type 2 diabetes. It’s the high-fiber and low-fat qualities of the vegan diet that proved to be highly beneficial to diabetics in the study. Also, the elimination of meat from the diet lowered the cholesterol in the Georgetown study participants and helped them to lose a significant amount of weight.

Another reason many Americans are turning away from meat is because they are losing faith in the safety of the American food supply system. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that one in four Americans will be sickened by food-borne illnesses this year. E-coli and salmonella infections are the most dangerous food-related illnesses, and are most commonly contracted from eating meat and meat products that are unknowingly contaminated.

Even though the health benefits of a vegan diet are well-documented, many people still resist eating vegan because it seems radical and tasteless. “What most people usually picture is unappetizing steamed vegetables, a pile of beans with a sprig of parsley on top, and a block of wobbly tofu,” says Lauren Ulm, who writes a popular vegan blog, VeganYumYum.com. “They either haven’t had any experience with vegan food or the experience they had wasn’t a good one,” Lauren says.

Lauren shares her recipes on her blog because she wants to help people who are like she was when she first started eating vegan – clueless. She found herself standing in front of her refrigerator filled with vegan ingredients that she didn’t know how to use to construct any kind of dish or meal. With a lot of experimentation Lauren found that she could make just about anything vegan.

“I was totally amazed that .. with a little imagination and a few swaps, you could make decadent things like doughnuts, cupcakes, and a macaroni and cheese that rivaled my mom’s and weren’t just pathetic vegan stand-ins for the ‘real’ versions,” Lauren says.

Lauren’s way of combining healthy ingredients with good taste has revealed a growing trend in the way American’s are changing their eating habits. Her unknown blog became a popular blog, then an award-winning blog, and now a published cookbook by the same name, “Vegan Yum Yum” which was released in bookstores this week. When Lauren was invited to be a guest on the Martha Stewart Show, it proved just how popular vegan and vegetarian cooking are becoming.

Veggie enthusiasts are popping up everywhere. Paul McCartney is actively promoting “Meatless Mondays” around the world. The documentary, “Food, Inc.” has been playing in movie theaters across the country this summer. There are 200 separate accounts and 50,000 followers who tweet about eating vegan on Twitter every day.

Vegans are no longer just fanatics obsessed with animal rights, contaminated food supplies, or extreme eating habits. These days many people are eating vegan just because it’s cool. There are multiple iPhone apps made just for vegans now. Which just goes to show that vegans do wear shoes, hold jobs, and know how to operate modern electronic gadgets.

One of those vegan iPhone apps comes from Lauren, who wants her particular style of cooking to be appealing and accessible to vegans and non-vegans alike. “I wanted non-vegans to see my food and think, ‘Yum, I could really go for that!’ as opposed to,’Ugh, vegans.’”

Comparing a video of how to make Vegan Graham Cracker S’mores and a video of hatchery workers carelessly tossing live animals into a shredder, it’s becoming increasingly clear to people which is the “yum” and which is the “ugh.”

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