Monday, July 31, 2006

Willy's and sweet potato salad

My first vegan weekend was an absolute whirlwind. We spent a lot of time visiting family, which meant eating on the fly. It seems like such a long time since I cooked in my own kitchen! On Saturday I made a quick taco salad, minus the tortilla. I crumbled a block of tofu and cooked it with tomato sauce, chili powder, cayenne pepper, garlic and onion powder, cumin, lime juice, and oregano, and just let it cook down until a lot of the liquid cooked out. Then I served it on a bed of greenleaf lettuce with some black beans (the canned variety this time), black olives, cucumber, fresh cilantro, onion, and some of Bob's aunt's homemade salsa (we were borrowing her kitchen at the time). I wish I had taken a picture but I didn't have my camera with me. And Bob already ate all the leftovers. But next time I will. It came out very well.

Yesterday was just a day of madness. We drove from Athens to Atlanta to spend the day with Bob's other aunt and her family; we stopped at Earth Fare on our way out and had plates from their hot bar for lunch. We went with his aunt and uncle to the Carlos Museum at Emory University, and I had a nice time there. They had a Greco-Roman art display as well as an Ancient American exhibit. There were some cool artifacts. But by far the most interesting sight was the Ancient Egyptian exhibit, which featured actual mummies in their original caskets, wooden and painted with pigments that have apparently held up over thousands of years. Amazing. In the gift shop I found a book called Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green To Me, a book of environmental politics. It looked very current and in-depth. Unfortunately, I could not spare the cash. I'll look for it at the library when I get back to school. Anybody out there heard of it/read it?

I drove in to work from Athens this morning, so of course I didn't have time to think about packing a lunch. But in the food court downstairs from the office has a restaurant called Willy's, which is very similar to Moe's. I was able to get a lovely salad, again tortilla-less, that was entirely vegan once I requested that they leave off the cheese. It had black beans and marinated tofu, and the entire veggie works--complete with jalapeños and spicy chipotle salsa. It was more than I like to spend for lunch, at about $6.50, but quite healthy and satisfying.

I never really had dinner--we had a get-together after work where I snacked on a few chips and salsa, and on my way home I stopped at Whole Foods where I sampled some fruit. So when I got home I was not really hungry. But to have for lunch this week, I made some sweet potato salad, inspired by the (expensive) variety I saw at Whole Foods in the fresh foods section.

Sweet Potato Salad

3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled, cubed, and boiled until fork tender
1/4 Vidalia onion, sautéed in a bit of water to soften
Garlic powder
Freshly ground black pepper

Mix all of the above in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together:
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon maple syrup
Juice of 1/2 lime
1.5 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

Pour dressing over the potatoes and toss everything to coat. Finally, add some snipped chives and toss again.

It came out pretty well; perhaps a bit too much vinegar, but otherwise I'm quite happy with it. If I were in my own kitchen, I would have used fresh chives and fresh garlic... But for just the rest of this week, I will have to live with what I can find around here. How happy I will be this weekend, when I'm back at home to stay! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Why vegan?

The obvious question that my husband and I have been asked over and over since we have talked about becoming vegan is: Why? Many people understand and respect a vegetarian lifestyle, but believe veganism is too restrictive and too... extreme. Truthfully, I have thought the same way, even since becoming vegetarian this past February. However, my thoughts over the past months have changed, and I'm here to share why.

Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food...

Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The Lord God commanded the man, saying, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of god and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die."

...Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name...

(From Genesis 2)

Before the fall of man, this is what life was. Before Adam and Eve disobeyed God for the first time, their commission was cultivation of the land and stewardship of the animals. They were told they could eat from the trees. They cared for the animals, giving each a unique name. It does not say that they ate even the eggs of chickens or the milk of cattle. I believe that God's ideal for man was a vegan diet. It was only after sin entered into the picture that the first animal was killed--to make garments for Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21).

In the New Testament, the eating of meat is expressly allowed. I would never try to say that a non-vegan lifestyle is a sin. Biblically, the truth is that we live on a fallen planet, one that is so different from God's ideal that to try to re-create one single aspect it would be vain and, to me, defeat the purpose of trying to live a godly, Spirit-driven life.

However, let's look back at the idea of stewardship. In the world today, we are simply not being good stewards of God's creation. When we became vegetarian, we did a lot of research about the cruelty inherent in factory farming practices. Additionally, we learned about the inefficiency of producing enough animal flesh to satisfy the normal meat-based diet--and how many more people could be fed if lands were instead used to cultivate grains for human consumption. There is plenty of research out there--look it up for yourself. I will be posting some helpful links as I come across relevant information.

Doing further research, I have found how cruel factory farming even of eggs and dairy must be--and how bad for the environment. Again, do some quick searches on the topic or click on some of my (forthcoming) links. Stewardship of the earth means living with respect for what God has created. And in today's world, unless you are a small farmer who produces all your own animal-based food by all your own compassionate methods, it is just unrealistic to think that the foods we are getting are coming out of good stewardship practices. Humanity has completely forgotten its responsibility for the environment--look at the state of things today. It makes me so sad to think of what the world is coming to.

So for Bob and me, this is a personal conviction. Let me stress, a personal conviction. I would love it if everyone around me were vegan, but I would never judge anyone who does not share these values. I just hope that, with our lifestyle, we can raise awareness around us. Even in a non-vegan world, if everyone is just a little more conscious of where their food is coming from (and what their actions, beyond even cooking and eating, are doing to the environment), then all those many little efforts can make a great difference.

For some quick, concise facts, check out the FAQs at

So, with all that said, I'm ready to begin my new adventure! Researching vegan cooking has shown me how fun and exciting going vegan can be! So for updates on our experience, for my experiments in the kitchen, for all things vegan in the Jesser life, check back again and again!