Vegan Chews & Progressive News {11-21-14}

Farmers Market Vegan’s “Vegan Chews & Progressive News” series strives to promote artful vegan food and progressive discussion of social issues—both of which prove necessary in fostering a society that prioritizes the well-being of all creatures (not just the rich, white, or human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

Hello, all, and welcome to the 25th anniversary of Vegan Chews & Progressive News (# NewsandChews)On this chilly Friday, I’ve got three recipes that breathe new life into classic comfort and warm-weather food favorites. Then, we’ll take a look at two instances of insidious white supremacy functioning in very different venues, and a newly launched intersectional vegan zine that I want to distribute on every sidewalk corner on my college campus. Onward!

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Savory

“I’m-On-Cloud-9″ Dreamy Vegan Mashed Potatoes
via Blissful Basil

Photo via Ashley DeMillo.

Photo via Ashley DeMillo.

Pairing potatoes with cashews and cauliflower, Ashley at Blissful Basil has created what appears as the most luscious iteration of mashed potatoes at which my mouth has ever watered. Plus, see if you can guess the secret ingredient…

Sweet

How to Make Coconut Oil Pie Crust
via Oh, Ladycakes

Photo via Ashlae at Oh, Ladycakes.

Photo via Ashlae at Oh, Ladycakes.

Pie crust recipes generally tend to intimidate me a bit, but Ashlae’s accessible, clearly laid out directions for flaky pastry dough based in the most richly aromatic oil in all of Oil Land makes me want to jump right into the kitchen.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Tempeh Chili
adapted from The Post Punk Kitchen

Photo via Jugalbandi.

Photo via Jugalbandi.

This past week served as the Vassar Animal Rights Coalition (VARC)‘s big ol’ campus event week themed around government repression of animal rights and environmental activists (titled “The Terrorization of Dissent” after the recently released anthology by Lantern Books). For our first lecture of the week’s three-part series, editor of the anthology Jason Del Gandio gave an engaging and dynamic talk while the audience gobbled up spoonfuls of this, perhaps the most flavorful, heartiest, most pleasantly textured chili I’ve ever made. With vegan cookbook genius Isa Chandra Moskowitz behind the recipe, how could I have expected anything less?

Must-Read News Story

The Minstrelsy of Marketing
via William C. Anderson at Truthout

Photo via Denny's Twitter account.

Photo via Denny’s Twitter account.

An illuminating look into a pervasive intersection of capitalism and racism, this article by freelance writer William C. Anderson clearly demonstrates the default mode of U.S. society to commodify Blackness and Black bodies – a mode that certainly didn’t die out with the abolition of slavery.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

The FBI vs. Martin Luther King: Inside J. Edgar Hoover’s ‘Suicide Letter’ to Civil Rights Leader
via Democracy Now!

Photo via Democracy Now!

Photo via Democracy Now!

On the topic of state repression of activists, the newly released full text of this horrifying letter from J. Edgar Hoover to Martin Luther King Jr. – in which the former assumes the identity of a Black activist urging Dr. King to kill himself – highlights the long history of the U.S. government to target social justice activists who pose threats to existing hierarchies of domination.

Book Recommendation

Project Intersect, Issue One: Clarion Call
edited by Jacqueline Morr

Photo via Project Intersect

Photo via Project Intersect

Encouraging “radical intersectional analyses of oppression that are sorely needed both in activist circles and in general public discourse,” the newly launched Project Intersect zine embodies exactly the direction toward which I hope with all my heart the future of the animal liberation movement points. I enthusiastically urge you to order your copy. Like, immediately.

In solidarity, Ali.

A Vegan Thanksgiving is Still Violent

In light of the Thanksgiving holiday and the recipe guides popping up with increasing frequency on food blogs, I’d like to share with ya’ll a call to take a different approach to Thanksgiving this year.

The Canada-based Native organization Idle No More, along with its branches in Minnesota, have teamed up with the Institute for Critical Animal Studies to ask animal advocacy groups to boycott, ban, and protest Thanksgiving instead of engaging in advocacy themed around this violent holiday. Rather, this coalition is calling for animal advocacy groups to “recognize it as a national day to mourn the genocide by white settlers of Native Americans and First Nation peoples.”

Though I could write in more detail about why Thanksgiving is based in the arrogant ethnocentrism of the settlers who uprooted Native peoples from their land and decimated them, all in the name of building the ever-imperial U.S. as we know it today, I feel that it is more appropriate for me – instead of accepting credit for already-existing information authored by those with historical and familial connections to Native genocide – to refer you to the in-depth, well-written articles that already exist.

Instead of hosting our usual vegan Thanksgiving dinner in the campus dining hall this year, the Vassar Animal Rights Coalition (VARC) is installing a poster just outside the hall explaining this call from Idle No More and ICAS, and why we have decided to participate in it. We take this action not to “feel good” about ourselves for being “good social justice activists,” but because a group on the front lines of Native struggle is asking groups like ours to take action.

Though I will be sharing a rather more involved and special meal with my loved ones on Thanksgiving day – celebrating not the “peaceful unification” of Native American peoples and white settlers (what bunk) but instead the love I feel for those around me, my appreciation for the harvest season,  and the fact that I have access to its bounty – I plan to do so while recognizing my own positionality as someone who can still easily perpetuate the violent erasure of Native peoples, and actively seeking ways to rail against this tendency. Some starting points for me may include enrolling in a Native Studies course at my college, advocating for my college to hire more Native Studies faculty, and researching the history of Native peoples specific to the geographic context in which I grew up.

Below I’ve copied the text from the Facebook group that includes the call from Idle No More and ICAS:

Calling Animal Advocacy Groups to Boycott, Ban and Protest Thanksgiving

NATIONAL ACTION

The Institute for Critical Animal Studies, Idle No More Duluth, Idle No More Twin Cities, #NotYourMascot, and other Native organizations (still confirming) are asking all animal advocacy groups to promote social justice this November by boycotting Thanksgiving Day (and any Thanksgiving related events) and recognizing it as a national day to morn a violent genocide by white settlers of Native Americans and First Nations People.

“Boycott” here means not holding public vegan Thanksgiving events and making a commitment not to celebrate Thanksgiving in one’s personal life as well. If you are like us, you believe that veganism is an ethical model for the world; let’s also lead the charge against an out-dated holiday with a make-believe history that covers up the true genocidal history of the U.S.

Turkey or Tofurkey, marshmallows or Dandies, traditional pumpkin pie or dairy-free pumpkin pie—you are still celebrating genocide … and that is *not* vegan.

There is no such thing as a vegan Thanksgiving. Don’t ignore one form of oppression to promote another. Veganism is nonviolence; genocide isn’t.
___________________________________________
Animal Advocacy Groups Boycotting Thanksgiving Events (not supporting genocide)

1. Institute for Critical Animal Studies
2. Progress for Science
3. Portland Animal Liberation
4. Student Animal Liberation Coalition
5. Resistance Ecology

In solidarity, Ali.

Vegan Chews & Progressive News {11-14-14}

Farmers Market Vegan’s “Vegan Chews & Progressive News” series strives to promote artful vegan food and progressive discussion of social issues—both of which prove necessary in fostering a society that prioritizes the well-being of all creatures (not just the rich, white, or human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

Welcome to another weekly installment of Vegan Chews & Progressive News (# NewsandChews)Today’s post will get you salivating over sandwiches and mac & cheese, inspired to think beyond the embeddedness of the prison system in U.S. society, seeking to combat the perpetual erasure of women of color in mainstream media, and profoundly moved by the courage and strength of the history of Black struggle in the U.S. Let’s get to it!

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Walnut-Chickpea “Tuna” Salad Sandwich
via Healthy. Happy. Life.

Photo via Kathy Patalsky.

Photo via Kathy Patalsky.

This past year of my life has featured an intense love affair with vegan “tuna” salad and eggless “egg” salad sandwiches. Creamy, crunchy, tangy, rich, and inclusive of the holy grail of vegan condiments (helloooo, vegan mayonnaise), these salads never fail to provide me with a profound feeling of comfort. Kathy’s version here makes use of walnuts and chickpeas for a proteinous and textural salad, ideal for spreading generously between two slices of bread.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Sundried Tomato Garlic Mac & Cheese with Roasted Cauliflower & Mushrooms
adapted from Miyoko’s Kitchen

Photo via Miyoko's Kitchen.

Photo via Miyoko’s Kitchen.

In preparation for an upcoming review on the Our Hen House podcast, the folks at artisan vegan cheese mastermind Miyoko Schinner’s newly launched cashew cheese online retail store generously provided me with eight wheels of their impressive products (such an understatement, but you’ll have to wait until the podcast review to hear more details!). Seeking to utilize the cheeses in more creative manners than simply spreading on crackers (though also tremendously tasty), I checked the Miyoko’s Kitchen website for recipe ideas and stumbled upon her gorgeously sophisticated take on mac & cheese. Instead of employing the Sharp Farmhouse Cheddar Miyoko specifies, I made use of her Double Cream Sundried Tomato Garlic, omitting the truffle oil and pairing the pasta with roasted cauliflower and mushrooms rather than brussels sprouts. Yuppie comfort food at its finest.

Must-Read News Story

Prison Destroys Families and Communities at Society’s Expense” and “Prisons Are Destroying Communities and Making Us All Less Safe
by Maya Schenwar at Truthout and The Nation

Photo via Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Photo via Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Maya Schenwar – editor-in-chief at Truthout, one of my absolute favorite progressive news outlets – recently published an in-depth investigation into the profound harms the prison system effects on families and communities. Based in her experiences of her sister’s incarceration, Maya’s book not only offers a personalized account of how the prison system destroys rather than rehabilitates its victims, but also suggests viable alternatives to incarceration with the potential to work toward collective liberation for all.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

Get it together white women
via Radio Dispatch

Photo via The Washington Post.

Photo via The Washington Post.

On this episode of Radio Dispatch, brother-and-sister hosting team John and Molly discuss the erasure of women of color from post-election discussions of Wendy Davis’ losing gubernatorial campaign. Claiming that all women failed to turn out at vote for Wendy Davis – a staunch advocate for reproductive rights – mainstream news outlets completely discount the fact that the vast majority of women of color did indeed vote for Davis. Basing the episode in an article by Andrea Grimes on RH Reality Check, John and Molly bring up the important point that white women are far less likely to feel the harsh impacts that limitations to reproductive rights than are women of color (or any person of color with the ability to carry a baby). A profound example of white supremacy’s continued prevalence in U.S. society.

Book Recommendation

The Black Power Mixtape: 1967-1975
edited by Göran Olsson

Photo via Amazon.com.

Photo via Amazon.com.

Based on a documentary film by Swedish filmmaker Göran Olsson, The Black Power Mixtape provides a vivid portrait of the U.S. Black freedom struggle, featuring exclusive interviews with some of the movement’s most groundbreaking participants as well as with contemporary Black activists. I think it’s so important that white people take the time to learn about the history of liberatory Black organizing, so that we may better understand and reflect on our exploitative structural impact upon Black bodies, as well as develop our capacity to act in solidarity with the contemporary Black community.

In solidarity, Ali.

Classic Tomato Soup | The Future of Veganism?

tomato soup (2)

Hello, all! Just a heads up: as I’ve mentioned recently, I’m journeying into the depths of a very demanding period in terms of schoolwork, so please expect (and forgive!) shorter posts for the next month or so. Thank you all for understanding.

Today I want to address a topic that’s certainly not new, but about which my thoughts have so continually morphed that I didn’t feel confident enough to address. My thoughts are still morphing, but – in an ongoing attempt to chip away at my often destructive perfectionist tendencies – I’ve decided to share them with you all anyway, in the hopes that you’ll contribute to their constant transformation.

Ever since the world first heard about lab-grown meat, the media has provocatively asked if in-vitro animal products – most recently like milk and cheese, with their substantially less destructive impact on the planet and the lives of other animals – constitute the “future of food,” with many in more mainstream animal rights circles similarly hailing these products as the “future of veganism.”

My primary concerns with these products, however, are twofold: for one, they don’t challenge the carnist belief that eating animals proves “normal, natural, and necessary”; for another, I wonder about their accessibility – the point on which I’d like to focus today’s post.

Synthesized and cooked in Silicon Valley for a whopping $300,000, the world’ first test-tube hamburger certainly doesn’t jive with the pro-in-vitro animal product rhetoric that lab-grown meat can “feed the world” (unless, of course, the state continues to wreak havoc on poor communities to the point that only those who can shell out thousands of dollars per meal remain…but that’s rather conspiratorial). In more recent news, the in-vitro cheese company Real Vegan Cheese has raised over $37,000 to develop its product, while the animal-free milk startup Muufri has received even more generous amounts of monetary investment.

Please understand that I don’t mean to attack these companies – I think they’re doing wonderful and noble work in prompting individuals to question the viability of continuing to consume animal products. And hey, maybe we will be able to find in-vitro meat, cheese, milk, whatever in conventional supermarkets and heck, perhaps even in gas stations, and maybe it will end up costing mere cents per ounce. But for right now, I’m wondering why we’re so financially invested in developing these rather unnecessary products (I think most of my readers have realized by now that one can thrive on an animal-free diet), and not instead redirecting this money toward the impoverished communities whose only available options for fresh produce often only involves an overripe orange in a basket at the bodega checkout counter, and whose government subsidies become increasingly threatened every day.

Rather than conceptualize lab-grown animal products – no matter how well-intentioned a venture – as the future of veganism, I’d rather see our movement start to really confront the structural inequalities of white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, settler colonialism and the like, that leave Black and brown bodies hungry and contribute to the overwhelmingly white, middle- and upper-class constituency of the animal rights and vegan movements. This is not to say that people of color and lower class groups and individuals have not made immensely valuable contributions to the animal rights and vegan movements that should circulate much more widely than they currently do – think of A. Breeze Harper, Animal Liberationists of Color, Angela Davis, Cesar Chavez and more. However, the white and class privileged majority of AR still prevails, often tokenizing these groups and individuals (essentially as I have just done) as evidence that, “But wait! There are people of color in our movement! We’re inclusive!”…all while the most visible activists – those who head up mainstream organizations and speak at events most often –  remain largely white and middle/upper-class.

In my view, we – vegans, animal rights activists, the world – don’t need in-vitro animal products. What we do need is an end to the structural subjugation of Black and brown bodies woven into the very fabric of our society, which we as animal rights activists can start to confront in our own movement.

If all this hasn’t heated you up enough, be sure to take a couple sips of this warming, satisfyingly simple tomato soup. Paired with an ooey-gooey vegan grilled (non-in-vitro) cheese sandwich, this smooth and classically flavored soup will give you the energy to start engaging in the difficult and ongoing work I’ve advocated above. Because with a soup and sandwich, we can do anything, right?

tomato soup (1)

Classic Tomato Soup

Serves 2.

Ingredients:

2 tsp melted coconut or olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
1/2 tsp dried thyme
3 cups canned tomatoes, low-sodium if possible
2 tbsp tomato paste
4 cups vegetable broth or 4 cups water + 2 tsp/half a cube vegan bouillon
1 tsp agave nectar
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I like almond here)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a medium-sized soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, caraway, and thyme; saute for another minute.

Add the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, vegetable broth or bouillon-ed water, and agave. Bring to a boil, cover partially, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and, either directly in the pot with an immersion blender or in batches in a stand blender, puree the soup until very smooth. Stir in the non-dairy milk and pepper to taste and serve, sprinkling the top of each soup bowl with additional black pepper, if desired.

Recipe submitted to Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck.

In solidarity, Ali.

Vegan Chews & Progressive News {11-7-14}

Farmers Market Vegan’s “Vegan Chews & Progressive News” series strives to promote artful vegan food and progressive discussion of social issues—both of which prove necessary in fostering a society that prioritizes the well-being of all creatures (not just the rich, white, or human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

Happy Friday, and happy Vegan Chews & Progressive News (# NewsandChews)! Midterm elections this week left me pretty bummed in terms of my home state after anti-unionist/abominable man Scott Walker beat out challenger/bike enthusiast Mary Burke by a mere six percentage points (On Wisconsin, amirite?). So, in the spirit of denial, today’s stories include no mention of the recent voting hubbub (though check out these couple of articles for potentially exciting measures that did find success this week). Instead, I’d like to share with you all my favorite roasting vegetable blanketed in a deeply flavored sauce, a silky and seasonal pie, crispy fritters of brussels sprout goodness, exciting intersectional projects and people advocating for animal liberation, evidence for why we shouldn’t deify large-scale human rights organizations, and a book that advocates for shaping our interactions with the world in a very different light. Onward!

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Savory

Roasted Cauliflower in Mole-Inspired Sauce
via In Vegetables We Trust

Photo via Alexander Harvey.

Photo via Alexander Harvey.

Based in Mexican cuisine, mole sauce comes in innumerable variations depending on where you find yourself in Mexico; I’m told that every Mexican cook has their own unique recipe for the sauce. We in the U.S. typically encounter mole poblano – a many-ingredient mixture based in chilis and chocolate – and it seems that Alexander of In Vegetables We Trust has based his version of the dish on this particular variety of the sauce. Drawing from my recent musings on bloggers’ use of “ethnic” recipe titles, I appreciate Alexander’s decision to name his recipe “mole-inspired,” which to me indicates a humility that doesn’t assume responsibility for conceptualizing/perfecting/fully understanding the cultural complexities behind the dish…which I wish were happening in my kitchen right now.

Sweet

Pumpkin Creme Pie
via Cupcakes and Kale

Photo via Jess at Cupcakes and Kale.

Photo via Jess at Cupcakes and Kale.

The time of year for a barrage of pumpkin recipes has come, and I tend to pass over many of them out of a quickly induced boredom with the seemingly constant excitement over this poor, hyped-up squash. However, this pie from Jess at Cupcakes and Kale caught my eye due to its lighter, almost mousse-like variation on the standard pumpkin pie. To substitute unrefined sugar for the powdered sugar called for in the recipe, simply grind any unrefined granulated sugar (like coconut or date) in a food processor or blender along with a sprinkling of arrowroot powder or cornstarch.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Brussels Sprout Latkes
adapted from What’s Cooking Good Looking

Photo via Jodi at What's Cooking Good Looking.

Photo via Jodi at What’s Cooking Good Looking.

Two instances of sheer perfection: roasted brussels sprouts and crispy potatoes. What happens when these two manifestations of ideal phenomena merge? I can’t quite put it into words…so you’ll have to put it in your mouth.

To make these latkes vegan, I substituted the two eggs called for in the recipe with 2 tbsp flaxseed meal mixed with 6 tbsp water. Though I didn’t make the accompanying maple-mustard yogurt, you can easily veganize that by using non-dairy yogurt or blended silken tofu.

Must-Read News Story

‘Those Things We Cannot Unsee’: Interview with Jacqueline Morr of Project Intersect
via Justin Van Kleeck at Striving with Systems

Photo via Jacqueline Morr.

Photo via Jacqueline Morr.

People like Jacqueline Morr give me hope for the animal liberation movement, and for societal change more broadly. In this interview with fellow intersectional activist Justin Van Kleeck, Morr shares profound stories of her journey to veganism and anti-oppression work, uniting them in a manner that speaks of true transformative potential. If you’re enamored with Morr after reading this interview (and how could you not be?), be sure to email projectintersectzine@gmail.com to request your copy of Morr’s latest project: a newly launched intersectional vegan zine known as Project Intersect.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

‘The Red Cross’ Secret Disaster’: Charity Prioritized PR over People After Superstorm Sandy
via Democracy Now!

Photo via Democracy Now!

Photo via Democracy Now!

Since taking a Geography course last semester on the Political Geography of Human Rights, my readiness to accept the rhetoric of large-scale human rights organizations has steadily declined. The nitty gritty details of that class provide much too much fodder to discuss in this abbreviated format, but this supreme fuck-up – as revealed by ProPublica and reported on by Democracy Now! – by the American Red Cross speaks to the need to look upon mainstream human rights discourse with a critical eye.

Book Recommendation

Transformation Now!: Toward a Post-Oppositional Politics of Change
by AnaLouise Keating

Photo via University of Illinois Press.

Photo via University of Illinois Press.

In her book Transformation Now!, AnaLouise Keating deconstructs the oppositional framework in which society at large operates, and which conditions us to view the world in either/or, “my-idea-is-better-than-yours” terms, thus preventing us from finding common ground with the world around us; and without common ground, how can we hope to unite for transformative change? Keating advocates a practice of “intellectual humility,” in which we stray from boxing ourselves and others into our pre-existing notions of available identities for us to occupy, and instead allow ourselves to see others in a more flexible manner, independent of our assumptions about them. I know that these ideas can seem a bit abstract, and I’m certainly not doing the book a huge amount of justice here, but I’d highly recommend this book to introduce you to a new (and I believe necessary) manner of shaping one’s interactions with other beings.

In solidarity, Ali.

Persimmon Green Smoothie {Creamy to the Max} | Things to Think About When Buying Bananas (and Everything Else)

persimmon green smoothie (1)

Hi, all! Just a short post today, as the start of the second half of the fall semester has brought with it an increased workload.

Have bananas brainwashed you to believe that only they can yield a richly creamy smoothie? Live under the banana hegemony no longer, folks, for a vastly under-appreciated winter fruit has arrived to dismantle the banana’s power hold: the persimmon. Numerous species of persimmon exist– native to China, southeast Europe, the eastern United States, Mexico, the Philippines, and beyond – but the two most commonly found in U.S. grocery stores include the fuyu (flat, doughnut-shaped) and the hachiya (taller, heart-shaped). For optimal taste and texture, I like to eat my persimmons when they’ve achieved the feel of a ripe avocado; at this stage, persimmons will also produce the silkiest smoothie, one that can easily rival any banana-based concoction. (For more on persimmons, be sure to listen to the upcoming episode of the Our Hen House podcast this Saturday, November 8, on which I’ll give a review of four of my favorite winter produce items for which to keep an eye out!)

Good thing, too, that banana alternatives exist, considering the harsh implications of contemporary industrial banana production on child workers, global trade, women farmers, and the environment (not to mention the racist and colonialist stereotypes long employed to market bananas in the U.S.). For a wealth of information on such implications, I’d like to highlight and direct you all toward the latest addition to the Food Empowerment Project‘s “Food Choices” resource page:Peeling Back the Truth on Bananas.”

Of course, in encouraging folks to purchase responsibly sourced bananas, I in no way mean to shame anyone for their food choices (especially those in difficult financial situations who recognize bananas as a cheap source of ample nutrients and may not be able to find or afford the types of bananas recommended by the FEP), nor to suggest that we can ever hope to eat in a completely ethically sound manner (we are all enmeshed in complicated power relations, after all). I do, however, hope that considering one’s food choices will serve as either a catalyst or complement to first thinking about then acting to transform the multiple structures of oppression that we all help to perpetuate in one way or another, simply by virtue of our socialization in a white supremacist, heteropatriarchal, capitalist society.

If bananas from Equal Exchange, Earth University, or Grow Bananas (those recommended by the FEP) are accessible to you, by all means use them in this smoothie for a double dose of creaminess. If not, substitute additional persimmons and reduce the amount of non-dairy milk to 1/2 cup.

Persimmon Green Smoothie

Serves 1.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup diced ripe persimmon (hachiya and fuyu are both fine)
1/2 cup frozen banana slices
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
2 large leaves kale, chopped
1 cup non-dairy milk
Ground cinnamon to garnish (optional)

Combine all ingredients – in the order specified – in a high-speed blender. Puree until very smooth, stirring the mixture as necessary. Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired.

Recipe submitted to Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck.

In solidarity, Ali.

Vegan Chews & Progressive News {10-31-14}

Farmers Market Vegan’s “Vegan Chews & Progressive News” series strives to promote artful vegan food and progressive discussion of social issues—both of which prove necessary in fostering a society that prioritizes the well-being of all creatures (not just the rich, white, or human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

Helloooo and welcome to yet another edition of your weekly dose of Vegan Chews & Progressive News (# NewsandChews)First off, though, I want to thank you all for your thoughtful input on my most recent post on “ethnic” recipe titles as cultural appropriation (a relevant topic considering the holiday on which this post falls). In this case, I’d highly encourage you to read the comments — good stuff going on there! Anywho, today’s featured recipes include a vibrant salad of beautifully contrasting textures and two of my most beloved pieces of fall produce, as well as some of the most flavorful chickpeas I’ve ever cooked up. As for stories, I’m excited to highlight critiques of the oh-so problematic “Thug Kitchen” blog and cookbook, an episode of Citizen Radio that features three of my favorite progressive female podcasters, and a book that highlights the threats made by NGOs to feminist organizing in the Global South (India, in this specific case). Happy Halloween! Here’s a guide to vegan candy and how not to be culturally appropriative with your costume.

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Arugula, Fig, & Fried White Sweet Potato Salad
via A House in the Hills

Photo via Sarah Yates.

Photo via Sarah Yates.

Spicy arugula, succulent figs, crispy sweet potatoes…need I say more besides “get ready for a bounty of deceptively simple flavors”?

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Cool Ranch Roasted Chickpeas
via Vegan Yack Attack

Photo via Jackie Sobon.

Photo via Jackie Sobon.

Ya’ll, I cooked up a big ol’ batch of these for my nighttime seminar on Geography & Social Movements this Monday, and the entire class could not keep their hands off of them. Who knew that a little nooch and powdered garlic and onion could so enchant non-vegans and veg folks alike?

Must-Read News Story

Critiques of “Thug Kitchen” by Liz Ross, Ayinde Howell, A. Breeze Harper, and Bryant Terry

Photo via Thug Kitchen.

Photo via Thug Kitchen.

Thug Kitchen provides a striking example of the racism perpetuated by the visible mainstream vegan movement today, and I’m thrilled that folks within the movement have spoken out against it.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

U.S. media freaks out on behalf of Canadians, Shep Smith has a moment of clarity, and Mike Brown’s autopsy
via Citizen Radio

Photo via Citizen Radio.

Photo via Citizen Radio.

Allison Kilkenny of Citizen Radio, Molly Knefel of Radio Dispatch, and Katharine Heller of Tell the Bartender unite for a podcast of laughter and provoking political discussion. My three favorite female podcasters in one place? Too good to be true.

Book Recommendation

Playing with Fire: Feminist Thought and Activism through Seven Lives in India
by the Sangtin Writers Collective

Photo via University of Minnesota Press.

Photo via University of Minnesota Press.

Questioning the legitimization of “expert” knowledge production versus that of local feminist activists in the Uttar Pradash province of India, the Sangtin writers collective employ deeply personal diary entries to investigate larger themes of sexism, casteism, communalism, and NGO-ization. An utterly important feminist-of-color text indicative of the building of transformative social movements.

In solidarity, Ali.

Apple Custard Pie | About “Ethnic” Recipe Titles…

apple custard pie (1)

In this largely white community of vegan and/or healthy-food bloggers (of course, there are plenty of bloggers of color and I don’t mean to erase them, but in my experience most of my fellow food bloggers are white, including myself), I see many recipe titles that reference different cultures and their cuisines: “Tiki Tempeh,” “Asian-Style Greens,” “Moroccan Chickpea Soup,” just to name a couple. And I’m troubled by them. Though I’m confident that those in this community hold the best intentions in creating and naming their recipes, I can’t help but feel that these “ethnic” recipes titles reflect a larger phenomenon of cultural appropriation.

To illustrate the forms cultural appropriation can cake and its implications, I’d like to quote at length from antiracist organizer Paul Kivel‘s book Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice:

“It is difficult for white people to become multiculturally competent. Wherever we look, we see ourselves — our language, values, images and history. We have learned how great European-based US culture is. … We have been trained to think that other cultures are less literate, less civilized, less efficient, less practical. It is impossible to make a good-faith effort to respect and learn about other cultures when we hold a core assumption that they are inferior to ours. … US culture has drawn from many different cultural traditions. We have valued them enough to appropriate their strengths and achievements. … One way we retain our assumptions of white superiority while increasing our cultural competency is to split off the culture from the people who live it. White people have appropriated music, art, spiritual practices and stories from other cultures while killing or excluding the people who created them. … There is also the danger that we will use our knowledge of another culture to feel superior to the people whose culture it is. Even if we know a lot about the holidays, music or beliefs of another culture, we still have a lot to learn from the people who live it” (285-286).

As a couple examples of the white exploitation of other cultures whose practices we have incorporated into US white culture, think of the Native American peoples whom we all but obliterated in the name of stealing their land, while today we wear moccasins and clothing with “Native” patterns because. Or perhaps some of us have become connoisseurs of jazz while remaining complicit in the systemic suppression of full Black participation in society. Often, we tend to think we’re “cool” for wearing trendy clothes or listening to certain types of music, contributing to our internalized sense of superiority to peoples of different cultures: we become “cultured” by perpetuating the mindset that we are entitled to aspects of other cultures, which has historically resulted in the very real exploitation of the peoples of such cultures.

In the case of titling recipes with “ethnic” references, I think this subtle sense of superiority comes through when we judge it acceptable to call something “Thai” or “African” or “Spanish,” or to name a dish “sushi” or “mofongo,” without having an understanding of those cultures or dishes. Just because a food is cooked with corn and chili powder doesn’t mean it’s Mexican, nor does mashing eggplant with tahini necessarily constitute baba ghanoush, and our readiness to apply these titles to our recipes strikes me as yet another way we casually acknowledge other cultures while not actually taking the time to reflect upon the ways we harmfully treat the peoples who identify with them. In regard to recipe titles that specifically reference broad groups of people like “Asian” and “African,” these generalizing terms fail to recognize the vast diversity of cultures and cuisines within them – a failure that happens quite often, considering our propensity to think of Africa as a country.

I do hope that white folks won’t stop cooking dishes or publishing recipes inspired by the cuisines of other cultures, since I think that seeking out unfamiliar forms of eating can contribute to our fostering of the “cultural competence” that Paul Kivel describes as “the ability to understand another culture well enough to be able to communicate and work with people from that culture,” and to accept them as potential leaders rather than non-agential members of our society (284). To me, publishing recipes inspired by the cuisines of other cultures has different implications than explicitly titling those recipes as the particular dishes or cultures from which they’re drawn. For example, calling rice and veggies wrapped in seaweed “nori rolls” instead of “sushi” can signal that even though you’ve used ingredients commonly featured in a certain cuisine, you’re not purporting to be familiar enough with that cuisine to have created something that can really be called “Ethiopian” or “injera,” and are by extension recognizing that you are not in a place to take from this culture as if it were your own.

Another aspect of this continuation of multicultural cooking that I would call absolutely necessary is a commitment to examining how we contribute to the systemic oppression of other cultures in our daily lives, and how we can challenge ourselves to act and think differently. This everyday change may involve not asking Black people if you can touch their hair (and then often proceeding to do so even without their permission), working to place people of color in positions of leadership in an organization with which you’re involved, intervening when someone tells a racist joke, or not getting defensive when people of color talk about instances in which they’ve been discriminated against.

I’m certainly not saying that by pressing “publish” on a recipe that makes cultural references, white food bloggers are consciously thinking how superior they are to the peoples of the culture they’re referencing. I am, however, suggesting that such an act is indicative of unrecognized participation in an historic legacy of valuing other cultures only when it suits us, and either actively or passively subjugating them the rest of the time. And I’ve done it, too! Heck, I’ve published recipes for “Thai Coconut-Baked Tofu” and “Moo Shoo Veggies with Mung Bean Crepes” (the names of which I’ve since altered). But I intend to do so no longer, and instead continue to analyze my internalized beliefs of white superiority and the ways in which I manifest them.

So now, because I have no adequate transition, please enjoy this pie. It’s a yogurt-based version of this ice cream pie from Hannah Kaminsky with a crust adapted from a recipe in Fran Costigan’s new book Vegan Chocolate. It’s yummy. And it uses apples, which are all the rage around this time of year.

apple custard pie (3)

Apple Custard Pie

Makes one 9″ pie.

Ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat pastry or light spelt flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup rolled oats, ground into a fine powder in your blender, food processor, or spice grinder
1/4 cup melted coconut oil or olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup or agave nectar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp almond or hazelnut extract

1 lb apples (about 3 medium), cored and cubed
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 24-oz container non-dairy yogurt, plain or vanilla
2 tbsp agar flakes or 1 1/2 tsp agar powder

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

First, make the crust: in a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, salt, and ground oats. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together the oil, syrup/nectar, and extracts. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and stir well to form a moist dough. Spoon the dough into the center of a 9″ springform pan and press to form an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, then place the pan in the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the edges of the crust are slightly darker than golden-brown. Refrigerate until completely cool before filling.

Make the filling: in the bowl of a food processor, combine the cubed apples, lemon juice, yogurt, and agar. Run the machine for about 3 minutes to ensure a super smooth filling. Pour the puree into a medium-sized saucepan, bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes, whisking often. Once the crust has completely cooled, pour the puree over the crust into the springform pan and let cool to room temperature to ensure that the agar sets properly. Once cooled, transfer the pie to the refrigerator and chill for at least one hour. Serve with additional apple slices fanned over the top and drizzled with maple syrup, if desired.

Recipe submitted to Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck.

In solidarity, Ali.

Vegan Chews & Progressive News {10-24-14}

Farmers Market Vegan’s “Vegan Chews & Progressive News” series strives to promote artful vegan food and progressive discussion of social issues—both of which prove necessary in fostering a society that prioritizes the well-being of all creatures (not just the rich, white, or human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

On this pre-Halloween edition of Vegan Chews & Progressive News (# NewsandChews) that makes no further mention of the spooky holiday (sorry, Halloween fans), we’ve got a vibrant and substantial salad that makes use of the last of late summer produce and an oh-so comforting, veggie-packed bowl of chowda. To nourish your mind along with your belly, this week’s stories include an analysis of the pitfalls of neoliberal feminism, the most entertaining form of counterprotest I’ve ever seen, Laura Poitras’ new documentary on Edward Snowden, and a pivotal work in antiracist organizing by activist, yogi, and vegan extraordinaire Becky Thompson. Happy Friday!

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Farmers’ Market Potato & Kale Salad with “Glory Bowl” Dressing
via In Pursuit of More

Photo via Shira of IPOM.

Photo via Shira of IPOM.

As we enter the autumn season, the last of the summer veggies – zucchini, bell peppers, tomatoes – make their final appearances at the market. Shira’s recipe for this colorful and substantial salad celebrates this dwindling summer produce, pairing sweet peppers and silky smooth zucchini with crispy roasted potatoes and the master of the leafy green world (aka, kale). With added tanginess from artichoke hearts, olives, and a noochy dressing, this salad provides a lovely culinary bridge from summer to fall.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Smoky Vegetable Chowder
adapted from Maple Spice

Photo via Debbie of Maple Spice.

Photo via Debbie of Maple Spice.

With a lovely depth of flavor from caramelized onions, smoked paprika, and vegetable bouillon, this creamy, chunky soup serves as an ideal dinner to help you warm up after a chilly day. For additional layers of flavor, I roasted the veggies before adding them to the sauteed onions and simmering them in the almond milk-based broth, and also drizzled in a bit of liquid smoke (because, let’s face it, what dish doesn’t benefit from a dash of liquid smoke?). I also switched up the vegetables to accommodate the contents of my refrigerator, so my chowder featured carrots, green beans, cauliflower, and plenty of shredded kale. A comforting and nourishing soup if I’ve ever seen one, especially when served alongside a square of fluffy cornbread.

Must-Read News Story

Neoliberal Feminists Don’t Want Women to Organize
via Sarah Jaffe at Political Research Associates

National Domestic Workers Alliance members protest. Photo via Political Research Associates.

National Domestic Workers Alliance members protest. Photo via Political Research Associates.

From one of my favorite independent journalists, this article by Sarah Jaffe of Dissent Magazine’s Belabored podcast offers a clear analysis of how a neoliberal rhetoric has influenced mainstream feminism to position sexism as an entity defeatable through individual success stories. Jaffe effectively counters this insidious pseudo-logic by reminding us of the oppression women (particularly women of color) still experience in the workplace, and the “white savior” complex that “enlightened” Western pro-globalization feminism harbors in relation to the non-Western world (specifically, sex workers in the global South). An ever-important call to employ a lens of class, race, and other social issues when looking at sexist power relations.

‘Weird hobby!’ Couple gain hordes of fans after picketing pro-life abortion clinic protests with witty inappropriate signs
via The Daily Mail

Photo via Saturday Chores.

Photo via Saturday Chores.

As a bonus news story on today’s # NewsandChews, this photo-filled article highlights an absolutely hilarious form of counterprotest against anti-abortion activists. Get ready to smile until your cheeks hurt.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

Citizenfour: Inside Story of NSA Leaker Edward Snowden Captured in New Film by Laura Poitras
via Democracy Now!

Photo via Democracy Now!.

Photo via Democracy Now!.

Award-winning journalist Laura Poitras, one of the first individuals whom NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden contacted to expose corruption in U.S. government surveillance, just recently released her third documentary film in a trilogy about America post-9/11. The film, entitled Citizenfour after the code name Snowden used to contact Poitras and fellow journalist Glenn Greenwald, features highlights from over 20 hours of footage that Poitras filmed while Snowden revealed heaps of information about the National Security Agency’s Orwellian practices. On this episode of Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh interview Poitras about Citizenfour, which opened today in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington D.C.

Book Recommendation

A Promise and a Way of Life: White Antiracist Activism
by Becky Thompson

Photo via University of Minnesota Press.

Photo via University of Minnesota Press.

Ever since learning of Becky Thompson‘s important activist work through a blog interview I conducted regarding her latest book Survivors on the Mat: Healing from Trauma Through Yoga, I’ve eagerly sought to get my hands on her writings on social and racial justice. A couple weeks ago, I had the tremendous opportunity to meet Becky in person when she spoke at my college campus on her multiracial yoga practice, and inadvertently reminded me that her work in white antiracist organizing could provide an ideal resource in a project I’m working on for my Geography and Social Movements course. In her book A Promise and a Way of Life, Becky features the narratives of thirty-nine white activists who have placed antiracist activism at the center of their lives, highlighting the strengths and limitations of white antiractist organizing along the way. An incredibly valuable read for any white activist looking to get involved in antiracist organizing.

In solidarity, Ali.

Back on Friday!

Photo via Imgarcade.

Photo via Imgarcade.

Hi, all! Since I’m currently on break from school and visiting a dear friend in Brooklyn, I’m taking a mini-hiatus from the blogosphere and will return on Friday for Vegan Chews & Progressive News (# NewsandChews).

To tide you over, though, why not check out a recent article I wrote for the Our Hen House online magazine, entitled “Celebrating the Rich Histories of Largely Vegan Cultures“?

See you later this week!

In solidarity, Ali.