25 January 2007

Think Vegan Food Must Be Boring and Bland? Think Again!

Most people are shocked and appalled when they first read descriptions of factory farming and learn about the horribly inhumane conditions in which the billions of animals destined for dinner tables are raised, and they are even more appalled when they first see documentary footage of the institutional cruelties inherent in factory farming. And appalled they should be. Animals raised in factory farms are treated so horribly that only a person devoid of sympathetic understanding could fail to be outraged by the unnecessary suffering these animals are forced to endure. Many of those who are appalled by factory farm conditions admit that it is wrong to raise animals in such inhumane conditions and think that they themselves ought not support factory farms with their purchases; and yet, when they contemplate becoming vegan, they picture an austere, ascetic existence devoid of one of life's greatest pleasures: delicious, savory, hearty meals. As much as these individuals would like to do the right thing and stop supporting factory farms with their purchases, they think the sacrifice is just too great. This reaction is due largely to a lack of imagination. People who have eaten meat and dairy products their entire lives, often simply can't imagine what vegans eat. They mistakenly think that vegans live off of salads and twigs and seeds and perhaps an occasional block of plain tofu; when, in fact, vegans eat delicious soups and stews and casseroles and nutloafs and pasta dishes and burritos and curries and hummus- or falafel-filled pitas and pesto pizzas and French toast and pancakes and sandwiches, etc.

Vegan chefs Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero are doing their part to put an end to the misconception that vegan cuisine is boring and bland. Moskowitz and Romero are featured in this New York Times article, which highlights their efforts to show people just how easy and fun it is to create sumptuous vegan meals. Their latest effort is their co-authored book The Vegan Joy of Cooking, due out this fall. In the meantime, those looking for delicious vegan recipes should check out Moskowitz's Vegan with a Vengeance and Moskowitz and Romero's first co-authored cookbook Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, the latter of which is proof that vegan baked goods can rival, if not surpass, traditional baked goods.

Speaking of vegan cuisine, now that the chill of winter has finally settled in across much of the Northern Hemisphere, imagine how comforting and delectable it would be to sit down to a hot bowl of Spicy Peanut Stew with Ginger, Tomatoes, Zucchini and Eggplant. You'll find Romero's recipe for this savory stew in the left sidebar of the New York Times article linked to above. Looking for a succulent appetizer to accompany the peanut stew? How about Moskowitz’s Butternut Squash Rice Paper Rolls with Asian Dipping Sauce? You’ll find a link to Moskowitz’s recipe for this delicious dish in the New York Times article, as well. If you give these recipes a try, your very last reason for continuing to consume animal products and thereby continuing to support factory farms—taste—just might fall by the wayside.

Still skeptical about how tasty vegan fare can be? Check out Moskowitz and Romero’s website Post Punk Kitchen, where you can watch streaming videos of their cable cooking show by the same name. [Watch out Emeril! Your days are numbered.] On the left sidebar of the Post Punk Kitchen site, you’ll find links to recipes. Click on the link for "Course/Dish" recipes, and you'll find recipes for such tantalizing dishes as:

Ancho Lentil Soup with Grilled Pineapple

Acorn Squash, Pear, and Adzuki Soup with Sautéed Shiitake Mushrooms

Vegan Sushi

Mango Ginger Tofu

Basel Mint Pesto

Salsa Verde

Asparagus Risotto

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Stew

Garlic, Olive, and Tomato Pasta

Sweet and Spicy Barbequed Tempeh with Peppers

Pumpkin, Banana, and Chickpea Curry

Coconut Chickpea Soup with Tomato Chunks and Fried Cumin

Curried Carrot Bisque

Spanish Black Bean Soup

Spicy Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup

These are just a smattering of the mouthwatering recipes you’ll find at Post Punk Kitchen. After sampling some of these recipes, you’ll soon discover that vegans are hardly culinary ascetics; culinary Epicureans or sybarites is much more like it.

Bon Appetit!

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