Archive | March, 2012

Homemade vegan butter and the horror of palm oil

23 Mar

Hi friends,

I recently became aware of a pretty serious issue regarding palm oil which is consumed most notably by vegans in the form of vegan butter, other commercial baked goods, vegan cheeses and spreads, as well as soaps. Popular commercial butters and spreads like Smart Balance and Earth Balance use this ingredient in their products and although they claim to be using sustainable palm oil, I’m a bit skeptical of that.

In short, the obtaining of palm oil has been the root cause of the environmental degradation and deforestation of critical rainforest lands. This increases CO2 emissions, more of which we do not need with the ever present threat of climate change already upon us. It has resulted in habitat loss for endangered species like Sumatran tigers and rhinoceroses, and Borneo orangutans, and home loss for the people who live in the rainforests of Malaysia and Indonesia. Moreover, unfair wages and dangerous work spaces for workers have been documented.

So, as you can see, this is a vegan issue. Ethical veganism is often singularly focused to being about respecting (and acting justly) toward non-human animals, but it’s also about responding to human and environmental rights violations in the same way. Because a large part of veganism is dedicated to focusing on respecting animals–and it’s not a surprise given our global and cultural beliefs that “otherize” non-humans–it obscures or completely neglects the larger focus of veganism which is that of practicing nonviolence.

I know it can seem overwhelming to consider all the aspects of veganism that don’t focus on just not eating animal products, but it gets easier with time (and a little research). Eventually, you find yourself intentionally making really considerate choices and giving your money to companies and organizations that respect animals, the environment, and people too.

I urge my readers to do an internet search to find out more about palm oil and to seek alternatives. Lush, the cosmetics company that makes a good deal of vegan products has provided this easy-read pamphlet on the issue which provides some links for more information as well.

So, in light of this information and the fact that I eat A LOT of toast and enjoy baking quite a bit, I decided to look for commercial palm-oil free vegan butters and I came up lacking, which was sad. But then, I remembered an article I once read about making your own vegan butter. And boy, was I glad I did! Last night, I decided to make my own butter and to my surprise, it came out fabulously! Better yet, this was incredibly easy and not time consuming to make. The ingredients were all very easy to find. They were a bit expensive, but they also came in large quantities so they will last a very, very long time. Here’s the link, which provides recipes for regular butter, coconut butter, garlic butter, herbed butter, and even banana butter! I can’t wait to try them all! I highly recommend getting the silicone ice cube trays for this endeavor. I bought mine at Crate and Barrel, they are also sold at Target and are only $8. Skim through the comments as well for some helpful tips on making your butter the best butter ever!

Start churnin’! And as always, thanks for reading and for being vegan!

Easy Peasy Smokey Mac N Cheesy

5 Mar

Hello, friends! It’s been a long, long time since my last post and for this, I apologize! Life has been overwhelmingly busy with work, with friends, with my newly adopted crippled hamster (yes, a hammy!), and with studying for the veterinary technician national exam. There have also been some recent changes to the way I feel comfortable creating recipes so, finding myself in the recipe writing, experimenting, and cooking “mode” is rare. Hopefully for all, posting this recipe will help me get back to form. So, as you can imagine, with the precious little time I have to cook for myself, when I do cook, it’s almost always easy, filling comfort food. Usually that means a massive, loaded salad, but every once in a while, it’s a pasta dish. I love pasta almost as much as I love casseroles and anything that requires an oven to cook.

Recently, I posted a photo of the less involved version of my Sweet Potato Baked Mac N Cheese on my personal Facebook page that got quite a bit of attention and requests for the recipe so, here it is, folks! This is a “staple” recipe in my book and one that I turn to whenever I need something quick and filling and good enough for lunch the next day. As far as I’m concerned, it gives its maddeningly unjust, sad, and fat laden dairy counterpart a swift kick in the arse–mostly because it’s free of animal exploitation (awesome!), and obviously because it’s delicious. Feel free to add vegan sausage, hot dogs, or broccoli–if you’re so inclined–to make it more hearty. I also recommend adding crisp tempeh bacon or barbecue spices if you like, to make it more “smokey.”

Until we meet again…enjoy!
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