Posts Tagged ‘food’

Chickens can feel empathy too, shame about the people…

Whilst trawling through the internet I stumbled upon this rather interesting news article. Apparently scientists have now discovered:

adult female birds possess at least one of the essential underpinning attributes of empathy.

Basically this study found that mother hens are distressed when their chicks were disturbed by a ‘puff of air’. Now, I’m no scientist but this study, to me, seems rather obvious? Why is it that we are only now coming to conclusions that animals just might have feelings too?

But should the fact that animals have feelings mean that we shouldn’t eat them? In my research I came across this article on the same topic. Now it wasn’t really the article itself that made me post it here, but rather the insensitive comments at the bottom. People are entitled to their own opinions and I believe it is important to form and stress our opinions on different topics. Everyone’s opinions are valid. However, what gets to me most about negative comments on vegetarian and vegan issues is how uninformed carnivores tend to be. I would quite happily have an in-depth conversation with a carnivore and talk about each others views on the topic but I have yet to come across a carnivore that can form a rational opinion for why we should eat meat that wasn’t born out of his stomachs desire. The fact is most carnivore’s seem to think with their stomachs and not with their minds. They don’t seem to care about gaining all the information and processing it rationally and developing  a sound and structured argument in their favour. The reason? Because they’re ashamed to admit that what they are doing is wrong. They don’t want to hear the copious amounts of research and information because they want to continue what they are doing and so form weak arguments against vegetarianism. In fact, as I’m sure you’re aware, arguing with carnivores is like arguing with a three year old.

The one argument against vegetarianism that makes me mad more than any other has to be this one:

“If we we are not meant to eat meat, then Mother Nature would not have allowed our bodies to handle it.”

The reason this kind of argument angers me is to do with the amount of ignorance this statement generally comes with.If these people bothered to read the literature available, they would discover that actually our bodies are more optimised for plant based diets. The most convincing article I have read on this topic  would have to be this one here. I challenge any carnivore to read this article and then come back to me with their rational thoughts on the matter. Some of the key points this article stresses are:

  • “Our so-called ‘canine teeth’ are “canine” in name only.” This is to say that other plant eaters have canine teeth and ours closely resemble those of the chimp (who are almost exclusively vegan!)
  • “Our early ancestors from at least four million years ago were almost exclusively vegetarian.”
  • “Our omnivorism means we’re capable of eating meat (useful from a survival standpoint if that’s all that’s available), but our bodies aren’t geared for it to be a normal,significant part of our diets.”
  • “Our teeth, saliva, stomach acid, and intestines are most similar to other plant-eaters, and dissimilar to carnivores and true omnivores.”

These are just some of the issues brought up in the article above and I must say it is compelling reading. Whilst the article comes up with a lot points as to why our bodies are more geared towards plant based diets he does go on to say that this doesn’t mean that there isn’t any evidence to the contrary. However, when there is more evidence for rather than against you have to ask yourself this, which is the stronger argument? Carnivores will undoubtedly say their own despite the lack of strong evidence, but in a game of football if one team scores 6 and the other scores 1 the team with 6 goals surely wins? Now you can’t argue with that!

Another statement that particularly irks me is this one:

You know..plants are alive too. They are living things.”

These people are morons. I’m not afraid of saying that. Are they actually suggesting that plants are on the same level as other animals? Do you not regard your pet dog higher than a lettuce leaf? Because to me this is what your argument suggests. Oh, you’re just talking about animals you don’t care about? Right. Got it. Moron. This is a pathetic statement and one that I refuse to acknowledge (except for just now!). It goes hand in hand with this argument:

But other animals eat animals so why shouldn’t I?

Well this is a fine observation and I will give these people a gold star for their observation techniques. They clearly have some thought process. However, what they fail to note is that in the wild it’s all about survival of the fittest. In the wild the hunted have a chance to get away from the hunter if it’s own evolution has served it well enough. Back in our world we force animals to endure no end of pain and suffering, give them barely enough room to stand in, take their young away from them, and force them to eat gallons upon gallons of utter shit and then kill them in barbaric ways, (amongst other vile things that people would rather be ignorant to so they can enjoy there chicken dinner without guilt). Never once giving them a chance. I don’t think you can compare other species to ours when it’s a fixed race all along. And when you show these people the evidence above this argument has little stand on.

Another point I wish to stress before I finish is that the arguments for vegetarianism go far beyond our bodies abilities to simply process meat. It goes beyond desires, tastes, and people’s view of animals. There are environmental reasons for plant based diets. I read that if everyone went vegetarian you could feed the whole world and have food left over. While people still eat meat you can only feed a third of it (This is from a fact sheet from Peta). The meat industry is slowly but surely destroying our amazing landscapes and natures hard work by gutting down trees and preparing land for livestock. When you think about these other factors and results of  the meat industry it makes you feel guilty. In fact, it makes carnivores appear rather selfish, don’t you think?

So I put this last thought out to the carnivores of this world. Whilst you sit there eating your bacon cheese burger, take a moment to think about everything that it stands for. Think about how much of the world you’ve destroyed for your second of enjoyment!

If you’re not convinced, why not ask your doctor about meat, below! Enjoy.

Vegan pancake recipe 2

Ok, so if you resisted the speedy option and think you can wait a couple of hours for your pancakes, you shall be rewarded. Good things come to those who wait, and all that, only in this case the best pancakes you will ever taste come to those who wait. Forget everything you’ve heard about dodgy vegan pancakes, these are amazing and definitely don’t taste like some poor vegan imitation. The chilling process is not actually necessary, but it will thicken the batter and make it taste even better. These are again very simple, and even better, they don’t need any egg replacement. They just take a while before you get to tuck in. The recipe has been nabbed from here http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/vegan-crepes/Detail.aspx but I wouldn’t use it unless it worked very well.

Without further ado, let’s get going.

Will Serve

I made enough for about 8 or 9 pancakes with the recipe, and the batter will keep in the fridge so you don’t need to use it all at once

The Recipe

235 ml soy milk (1 cup)

235 ml water (1 cup)

120 ml melted vegan margarine (half a cup)

25 g sugar (2 tablespoons)

60 ml maple syrup (quarter of a cup)

250 g flour (2 cups)

3 g salt (half a teaspoon)

The Method

  • Get a large bowl and put together the flour, sugar, and salt.
  • Heat the margarine in a pan, or briefly in a microwave until it’s melted. Pour this into the bowl.
  • Then pour in the milk and water and stir together. Then pour in the maple syrup.
  • Whisk the mixture thoroughly (or blend if you prefer) until the lumps are gone.
  • Chill this mixture for about 2 hours in the fridge.
  • This will then act like normal batter, so if you are a pancake pro then you can begin cooking. If you don’t know what to do now then please check out my guide to cooking the perfect pancake in the first recipe – click here.

I promise you that these taste insanely good, even without any toppings, so make sure you make loads of batter! Enjoy!

Vegan pancake recipe 1

It’s neaaarly Pancake Day! I have no idea what the day is supposed to symbolise, what religious context it has, or why we eat pancakes on it. All I know is that we DO eat pancakes on it, so I’m gonna celebrate by doing just that! Now, I can miss out on a milk chocolate egg at Easter, and I can miss out on turkey at Christmas, but I am not prepared to miss out on a good pancake tomorrow. So, I’d like to make a note of two of my fave pancake recipes which I highly recommend if you are avoiding dairy and eggs for any reason. I’ve heard a lot of vegan pancake horror stories from people about them simply not working and sticking to anything and everything, so these are tried and tested and I guarantee they work fabulously! Providing you can flip a pancake that is. Now, if you are prepared to wait a while for your pancakes then check these out, otherwise stay on this recipe. A quick note before I begin with recipe 1 – a lot of vegan pancake recipes I’ve found seem to be trying to make them healthy. Everyone knows a vegan loves being healthy, right? Well, abandon this idea with pancakes. I mean they are panCAKES. I’m sure even the biggest health freak wouldn’t mind a pancake or two on Pancake Day. This first recipe only takes about 20 mins to prep and cook, maybe less if you’re a super chef, so I’ve put it under Speedy Veganzales. I know Speedy Veganzales meals are supposed to be healthy, but like I said, you have to have the odd pancake or two. And these are relatively healthy compared to non-vegan pancakes. The other recipe needs 2 hours of chilling time, so this is the speedy option for those who just want their pancakes now.

Shall we begin?

Will Serve

End result is 4 pancakes, roughly. So how many can you eat? Just double up the mixture for more.

Recipe

  • 15 grams of milled flaxseed (3 teaspoons) + 60 ml (4 tablespoons) of water – although you may find your own equivalent egg replacement. For an excellent guide on egg replacement, click here.
  • 120 grams flour (1 cup)
  • 350 ml sweetened soy milk (1.5 cups)
  • 30 ml vegetable oil (2 tablespoons)
  • 30 ml maple syrup (2 tablespoons) (can be omitted for savoury pancakes – use non-sweetened soy milk for non-savoury too)

The Method

  • Firstly create your egg replacement mixture. For the recipe above, simply mix the flaxseed into the water until you get a runny porridge like mixture.
  • Then put the flour and egg replacer together in a large bowl, and begin mixing in the milk. Whisk (or if you want to, blend) the mixture together. Keep doing this until all the lumps are gone.

  • Once this is done, add the vegetable oil and the maple syrup. Other flavourings may also be added, perhaps replacing the maple syrup. Examples include agave syrup, or for something slightly different hazelnut extract.
  • Now, if you’ve cooked pancakes before this will work like a normal batter. If not, here’s what I do…

A pancake cooking guide

  • Get a frying pan (non-stick if possible) and pour a small amount of vegetable oil in. I’ve seen a lot of methods and recipes calling for non-stick spray – perhaps an attempt at a healthy option, but I would not recommend this. Pancakes will absorb any oil quickly so it’s best to just bite the bullet and use a decent helping of oil (about 10 ml or 2 teaspoons should do).
  • Now, swirl the oil around the pan, heating it on a high heat. The pan should look like this:

  • After heating for a little while on a high heat (about 1 min for your first pancake, maybe 30 seconds for your subsequent ones), ladle some of the mixture into the pan (remember that this recipe will serve roughly four pancakes) and swirl the batter around to coat the pan. It should look like this:

  • Heat the batter for roughly a minute on a high heat, ensuring that heat reaches every part of the pan. You’ll notice the batter starts to dry a little on top. The edges should also start turning golden. At this point shake the pan a little and the pancake will loosen up a bit. Now for the hard part…
  • Unless you’re a pancake pro, you WILL fail in flipping your first pancake…

  • The easy method is to do so with a spatula, sliding it under the pancake (which should have become loose now) and flipping it quickly upside down. Cook this side for a further 30 seconds to a minute, still on a high heat, and then slide it out of the pan onto a plate. Stick whatever you like on your pancake and enjoooy! Pancake cooking is a deceptively difficult art, hence I included this guide for those who are clueless. Don’t be ashamed if you can’t create any masterpieces – it should all taste good anyway.

Vegan pub to launch in Bath, UK

Some good news for residents of Bath in the UK – you guys are set to have a new vegan pub soon enough! Vegetarian and vegan friendly pubs are a fairly rare breed at the moment, with only a few up and down the country, and even fewer that are specifically vegetarian. However, specifically vegan pubs are even rarer. Even in my hometown of Brighton, I can’t think of any pubs which are exclusively vegan (if anyone can, please let me know!), and after doing a quick search it seems like this will be only the third vegan pub in the UK (the only others being The Globe near Manchester, and The 78 in Glasgow, of all places). Again, if you can think of any others, please do let us know!

Anyway, this is a pretty exciting venture and I wish all the best to the future of the pub. This highlights again that veganism is a growing trend, and that step-by-step it is gaining recognition. Pub food is not traditionally vegan-friendly at all, so it’s pretty exciting to see innovations like this occurring, and I’m sure that if I’m ever in Bath I will gladly pop-in for some proper Somerset cider and some vegan pub grub.

How to get your 5 a day without much effort!

We’re told that as part of a healthy diet we must try to eat at least 5 fruit and vegetable portions every day. In fact we’re made to feel positively guilty if we aren’t achieving this on a daily basis. It can seem quite difficult to reach 5 portions EVERY day, but actually, it’s a lot easier than you might think. I’m going to attempt to show you different ways you can get fruit and vegetables into diet without you really noticing….

First things first::.

-What counts?

Did you know that your fruit and veg doesn’t have to be fresh in order to count towards your 5 a day? Nor do you have to eat them on their own. Here’s a quick run down of things that count towards your portions:

  • fresh fruit and veg (obviously!)
  • frozen fruit and vegetables
  • tinned or canned fruit and veg (try to get the ones tinned with natural juices or water rather than sugars!)
  • dried fruit, such as currants and figs
  • fruit and veg cooked in dishes such as soups and pastas (did you know half a can of heniz spaghetti hoops counts as 1 of your 5 day!)
  • a glass of unsweetened fruit juice (note: this only counts as a maximum of 1 of your 5  a day no matter how much you drink)
  • smoothies (smoothies count up to a maximum of 2 portions)
  • beans and pulses (again only count as a maximum of 1 of your 5 because they contain fewer nutrients than other fruit and veg)
  • fruit and veg in convenience foods such as ready made meals etc. (it should say on the packet whether it counts towards your fruit and veg portions but be careful with these, some ready meals are high in salt, sugars and fats. So don’t use these as a regular substitute for fruit and veg. Remember to always check labels!)

-tricks of the trade

So how can we manage to get all of these things into our diet daily? Easy! Just follow some of these easy tricks:

  1. Chuck some beans in your curry, put some peas or broccoli in with your pasta, throw some chick peas or butter beans in your soups
  2. Top your cereal with fruit (fresh or frozen- make sure you defrost though!) berries and bananas work beautifully!
  3. In stead of snacking on crisps why not try an apple? Or a banana? Or perhaps some dried fruit? A little pack of raisins goes a long way.
  4. Have a side salad with your meal instead of chips. Dress it up nicely and it’ll look just as tasty as a greasy fried potato!
  5. Instead of your morning coffee try some orange juice. Or cranberry. Or apple. Or apple and elderberry. Or ruby breakfast. Or any other type of juice you like. It’s such a quick and easy way portion maker and won’t leave you with nasty coffee breath. 
  6. Buy a blender and make your own smoothies! There’s so many different combinations of smoothies you can try and you can have some real fun creating your own concoctions and they can count as 2 portions. Thus, if you have a smoothie for breakfast you’re almost half way there before you’ve opened your eyes properly.
  7. REMEMBER: to get the most benefit out of your portions try eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. I like to make sure whatever meal I’m cooking has a least two colours of F+V in it. Then I know I’m getting lots of different nutrients.

If you make sure to change some of daily habits with the tricks above you’ll be laughing your way to a happy and healthier life and won’t have to apologise to your poor long suffering tummy for filling it with junk!

Just a quick note here on potatoes: Potatoes, as lovely as they are, DON’T COUNT as a portion of your five a day. Nor do yams, cassava, and plantains. They are considered starchy foods. Other root vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, parsnips, swedes and turnips DO count!

However, whilst potatoes don’t count as part of your five a day, they aren’t all bad. In fact they do help to play an important role in your diet. They are a good source of energy, fibre, B vitamins and potassium. (As long as your not suffocating your potatoes in salt and oil, they are an excellent choice of starchy food!)

I hope this helps!

Peanut butter banana bites

So here we have a pretty random but easy to make snack. It’s sweet and satisfying, but still consists of relatively healthy ingredients that will keep any cravings at bay as well as fill you up more than the average chocolate bar. All you’ll need is:

1 banana              

About 1½ tablespoons peanut butter

About a third of a bar of dark chocolate

Cut the banana into fairly thick slices, and then coat one side of each with about half to one teaspoon of peanut butter (depending on how much of a fan you are. I ended up going a little over the top…). Next, put the dark chocolate in a small bowl, and sit it on top of a small pan of simmering water, but make sure the water doesn’t touch the base of the bowl or it will scorch the chocolate. Once melted, simply roll the banana and peanut butter slices to coat them in chocolate and then lay them on foil to cool but make sure you do this as quickly as possible, or else the peanut butter will melt and it’ll all get a bit messy and yuck. Leave to cool and set before helping yourself!

Butter bean and Sun-dried tomato soup

Do you ever get that rumbling feeling in your belly around lunch time but never know what to eat? Well you need wonder no longer! This soup is such a quick and easy dish to make (should not take longer than 30 minutes!), you’ll be full in no time. It also serves to keep those pesky tummy rumbles at bay  as the butter beans help you feel fuller and satisfied for longer.

This recipe serves 4 (or 1 for a few days, as it will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days!)

What you’ll need

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion

2 cloves of garlic

2x 425g can of butter beans

4 tablespoons sun-dried tomato paste

900ml Vegetable stock

– approx. half a can of chopped tomatoes (depends how thick you like your soup)

– rosemary or thyme (dried or fresh, it’s up to you, either tastes good.)

– salt and pepper to taste

.::How it’s done:

  • Heat oil in saucepan. Add the onion and fry for 3 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and fry for two minutes.

  • Add the butter beans, sun-dried tomato paste, stock, chopped tomatoes, rosemary or thyme and a little pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 10- 15 minutes.

**Top Tips**

This soup is so versatile there’s a whole host of different things you could try doing with it. Here’s just a few ideas that I have come up with over the years:

– When preparing stock try adding 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar. This brings the soup to a whole new level of deliciousness!

– If you’re a fan of chick peas, like I am, try substituting one can of butter beans for a can of chick peas. I’ve also added tofu to the dish too!

– For a thicker soup add why not add the whole can of tomatoes to the mix?

– There a whole host of different tomato pastes available at your supermarket, for example, tomato and chilli. Experiment!!

As you can see the world really is your oyster with this soup! Happy cooking!!

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