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

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 or the human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

Wowza, it’s the 19th edition of Vegan Chews & Progressive News (# NewsandChews)! This week’s recipes move into intensely autumnal fare, highlighting the hearty veggies that provide the substance to get us through the cold months to come. As for stories, I’m pointing you toward three articles that showcase grassroots resistance to the neoliberal powers that perpetuate the ever-growing wealth gap, both in the U.S. and internationally; an important reminder that the intellectual history of our nation did not consist solely of white people; and a book that envisions truly transformative justice more concretely than any text I’ve yet encountered. Happy Friday!

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Savory

Kale and Roasted Red Kuri Squash Salad
via A House in the Hills

Photo by Sarah Yates.

Photo by Sarah Yates.

Vibrant and substantial, this epitome-0f-fall salad promises the creamy succulence of roasted squash, the chewy smokiness of sauteed kale, the crunchy richness of hazelnuts, the plump tanginess of dried cranberries, and the silky brightness of miso-tahini dressing. A prime example of transforming unpretentious ingredients into a dish that far surpasses the sum of its parts.

Sweet

Pumpkin Pie Popsicles
via Fragrant Vanilla Cake

Photo via Amy Lyons.

Photo by Amy Lyons.

Not even the cooling weather can dissuade me from enjoying my dessert of choice: creamy frozen treats (did I mention that I basically lived on vegan ice cream over the summer?). This iteration of such goodies employs a creamy base of bananas for the pumpkiny star of the popsicles, accentuated by warming spices and imbued with richness from nut butter (the recipe calls for pecan butter, but my goodness, how expensive does that sound? I trust that homemade almond butter or even tahini would quite suffice). Plus, look how gorgeously orange they are!

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Za’atar Eggplant over Lemon-Tahini Greens
inspired by My New Roots

za'atar eggplant (2)

Certainly the least seasonal of the recipes highlighted today, this roasted whole eggplant still provides a warming dinner to enjoy on bracing nights. Adapting Sarah’s recipe, I sprinkled the eggplant halves with homemade za’atar seasoning, roasted them until tender, then set them atop a generous pile of mixed salad greens coated in an adaptation of Sarah’s Spicy Tahini Sauce. Filling and flavorful, this dish adequately showcases the smooth texture and buttery flavor of the mighty eggplant.

Must-Read News Stories

Because I’m perpetually interested in examining instances of community-based challenges to hegemonic power structures, I felt compelled to showcase today not one, but three articles that spotlight grassroots resistance to the various iterations of the neoliberal powers that perpetuate the ever-growing wealth gap, both in the U.S. and internationally. Each of these instances of resistance of course prove hugely valuable in and of themselves, but they also point to the infiltration of the neoliberal framework into all aspects of life, and the consequent need to challenge it in a multiplicity of locations.

World Versus Bank: The Return of the World Bank and the People’s Resistance
by Martin Kirk and Alnoor Ladha at Truthout

Homeless Bill of Rights aims to protect life-sustaining activities
by Renee Lewis at Al Jazeera America

Developers Aren’t Going to Solve the Housing Crisis in San Francisco
by Dyan Ruiz and Joseph Smooke at Truthout

Photo via Truthout.

Photo via Truthout.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

Black Prophetic Fire: Cornel West on the Revolutionary Legacy of Leading African-American Voices
via Democracy Now!

Photo via Democracy Now!.

Photo via Democracy Now!.

Despite what the vast majority of our history books taught us, the construction of this nation did not hinge upon white people alone. Indeed, our entire economy would not exist without the brutal enslavement of millions of African peoples, and African Americans as a population have inhabited U.S. land for longer than any other immigrant group. Yet, despite the fact that Black people played a vital role in building our society, the white supremacist powers that be have all but erased their contributions – economic, social, intellectual – and thereby upheld the myth of Black people as worthless and expendable to this day (as we can see with the mass incarceration of Black people. They’re useless, so let’s throw them in prison…or so the rhetoric goes).

On this segment of Democracy Now!, the inimitable Dr. Cornel West brings Black voices to the fore, reminding us of the astonishing, revolutionary individuals who devoted their lives to fighting for justice.

Book Recommendation

Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics and the Limits of Law
by Dean Spade

Photo via South End Press.

Photo via South End Press.

An example of a truly intersectional text, Dean Spade’s Normal Life lays out the three formulations of power – individual, disciplinary, and population-based – more clearly than any other work I’ve encountered. Though his book includes “critical trans politics” in its title, Spade makes clear that the power structures that compromise the life chances of trans people operate in the same way to wreak systemic violence upon all vulnerable populations (and to render them vulnerable in the first place). Spade fiercely challenges the “individual rights” framework of the legal system in which many social justice movements currently operate, specifically critiquing the mainstream lesbian and gay movement for centering their efforts on securing legal reform that will only benefit the most privileged in their community, and in doing so strengthening the very stratifying power structures that generate their subjection in the first place.

Not only does Spade offer this necessary critique, he also provides a framework for how to re-enact such social justice movements currently focused on reform rather than revolution, such that they can fulfill their transformative potentials. Read this and be inspired.

In solidarity, Ali.

The (Vegan) Triple Bacon Salad | Why “Farmers Market Vegan”?

Over the course of the past four years of my blogging endeavors, my understanding of and relationship to food, veganism, social justice, and, yes, farmers markets has shifted considerably. Indeed, way back in 2011 when I first conceptualized my blog, I held rather naive, perhaps even romantic notions of all of these entities, and hadn’t even begun to realize the coalescing forms of structural subjugation rampant in our society.

Today, after a turbulent four years involving enrollment at a progressive college and eating disorder recovery, I’d like to think of myself as harboring more nuanced views on all of the above (though I certainly don’t purport to understand them in all their complexity). As such, this past summer I penned a new draft of my ever-developing story and blogging “mission statement” of sorts. Though I made this piece of writing available on the “About Me” page of my blog a couple of months ago, in an effort to share more broadly the new meaning behind my blog (and to free up some time in my hectic college-student schedule), I’d like to republish my “blogging autobiography,” if you will, in a separate post today.

Waiting at the bottom of this story is the recipe for an indulgent-tasting amalgamation of richly umami flavors and a satisfying contrast of hearty and crisp textures…with three shots of bacon (vegan, of course!). A bed of bacon-flavored salad greens (who knew that sesame oil, smoked paprika, and garlic powder combined to create an eerily accurate bacony taste?) forms the base of this salad, nearly charred roasted cauliflower and shiitake mushrooms provide bacon’s crispy-chewy juxtaposition, and succulent tempeh bacon tops the dish. To offset the richness of these three salad components, a drizzle of bright and tangy “ranch” dressing finishes everything off. An impressive meal-sized salad, if I ever saw one (and I’ve seen many).

vegan bacon salad (2)


Birth of a Farmers’ Market Foodie

My relationship with food and activism began as early as childhood, when I would perch upon the kitchen stool alongside my mother as she prepared dinner that my family would share each evening. This youthful connection with food grew into a full “foodie” identity by age twelve, when my mother and I ogled at the culinary masterpieces showcased on Iron Chef and Top Chef every week. As a freshman in high school, I began planning, shopping for, and cooking my family’s weekly dinner menus. Having become quite the make-from-scratch-er, I soon began to disdain packaged convenience foods, due to both their low quality and ability to completely separate individuals from developing any sort of meaningful relationship with their food.

Naturally, my interest in high-quality, homemade, unprocessed food as well as its convivial nature led me to my local farmers’ market, where I first inhaled the succulent aroma of fresh heirloom tomatoes and gawked at rainbow-hued carrots while befriending the farmers who produced them. Though I had hardly begun to understand the full extent of the problems surrounding America’s current food system (and beyond), I still sought haven at the farmers’ market from the few predicaments I had already realized. My weekly interactions with devoted purveyors of organic produce, as well as with fellow shoppers who too became a bit verklempt over a particularly aromatic cantaloupe, provided me with a (rather naïve) foodie utopia of sorts.

Disorderly Conduct

Come sophomore year of high school, however, my enthusiasm for food had morphed into an unhealthy obsession after an amalgamation of factors—constant judging of young women’s bodies on my gymnastics team, pressure to perform perfectly in academics at my highly competitive high school—led to the development of a fierce eating disorder. With my thoughts constantly fixated on calories—both in terms of eating fewer and burning more—my life suddenly lacked joy and passion. All of my consciousness was focused on waiting for my next meal, as these were the only times when I would allow myself to actually partake in the act that saturated my every thought.

About a year and a half into my eating disorder, a classmate introduced me to veganism, to which I soon clung as a tool of further restriction. Lending less than a second thought to the ethical implications of a vegan lifestyle, I latched onto the diet for an unsuspicious reason to reject calorie-dense foodssuch as traditionally made baked goods, cream sauces, and ice cream (the vegan versions of which I now regularly enjoy). Conscious of this misguided and harmful reason for adopting a vegan diet, I felt uncomfortable every time I called myself a vegan—I knew I was a fraud.

A combination of Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s Vegetarian Food for Thought podcast and Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet began to pave my path from a depressed, waif-like, phony “vegan” into an inspired, healthy, committed animal rights activist. Introducing me to the intense injustices humans perpetrate against our fellow beings, Colleen and Alicia unflinchingly explained the forced insemination of female cows in the dairy industry, the pulverizing of live male chicks in the egg industry, the role of animal agriculture as one of the most significant contributors to the world’s most serious environmental problems, and a plethora of additional shocking truths.

Previously indifferent to anything unrelated to my obsessive eating habits, I now found a fierce passion ignited inside of me, a drive forceful enough to expel me from my zombie-like state and to shift my mental focus onto something vastly larger than myself – fighting the dominant, violent ideology of carnism.

Suddenly faced with the urgent yet overlooked issue of animal exploitation, I somehow managed to forget about preventing my thighs from meeting in the middle and not consuming more than 25 grams of fat per day. I realized that directing all of my energy toward adhering to arbitrary, self-imposed rules would contribute absolutely nothing to the movement of compassion for all beings. I disposed of my calorie-tracking charts, replacing them with animal advocacy leaflets. I ceased to Google the most effective ab-toning workouts, and instead launched this blog as an educational resource for my classmates who had never before encountered veganism. I even yearned to (and successfully did) gain weight to combat the mainstream notion of vegans as gaunt, frail, and unhealthy. The only unyielding imperative dictating my once laughably self-restricted food choices was now not to consume anything that promotes the needless suffering of sentient beings.

Utopia: Shattered

In the midst of this profound (and life-saving) transformation, I continued to patronize the farmers’ market—to this day, I still revel in my Saturday morning jaunts to the market. However, while after adopting a vegan lifestyle I still viewed the farmers’ market as an aspect of a potential reformation of America’s broken food system, I began to view many facets of the farmers’ marketas antithetical to what I perceived as its primary goal of broadening access to good, clean, and fair food. While I certainly couldn’t argue with the qualitative “goodness” of the market’s impeccable produce, I questioned the market’s tenets of “clean” and “fair” in terms of its support of animal agriculture.

Consumers who understandably reject nonindustrial animal agriculture due to the huge threats it poses to the environment often opt for animals raised in small-scale free-range, grass-fed, and cage-free operations. These seemingly more sustainable farming methods, however, still effect the environment quite negatively. For example, pastured organic chickens affect global warming 20 percent more than do caged hens. Grass-grazing cows emit considerably more methane than grain-fed cows. If each grass-fed cow requires an average of 10 acres for grazing, and if we all 100 million of the cows in the U.S. on grass, then we would have to devote the entire Western half of the country’s land to cattle (this doesn’t even consider the space required of pastured chickens and pigs). As author, journalist, and author James McWilliams reminds us, “It’s not how we produce animal products that ultimately matters. It’s whether we produce them at all.” A truly “clean” farmers’ market would eschew the sale of animal foods.

To describe the “fair” aspect of its goals, Slow Food nobly affirms that, “we believe that food is a universal right.” I wholeheartedly agree, especially considering the inexcusable food deserts largely concentrated in America’s communities of color, or the 870 million people worldwide who do not have enough to eat. If we agree also, though, that autonomy over one’s own body functions as a universal right, then with animal agriculture we infringe upon this liberty while misguidedly seeking to ensure that advocated by Slow Food (I say “misguidedly” because if all of the crops grown to feed livestock became available for direct human consumption, the available food calories worldwide would increase by up to 70 percent).

Indeed, animal agriculture ensures the exploitation of non-human animals’ bodies while jeopardizing the health of the human animals who consume them, as well as the amount of crops available for direct human consumption. While we may not often hear tales of animal cruelty on small-scale farms, the treatment of animals on such operations often parallels that on factory farms.

The cage-free label, for example, only stipulates that hens live uncaged among up to thousands of other birds in barns or warehouses, generally without access to the outdoors; it also permits forced molting. Additionally, I learned on a trip to the Poplar Springs Animal Sanctuary during the summer of 2013 that every single one of the sanctuary’s cows—all of whom the sanctuary rescued from cases of intense abuse—came from small-scale, family farms.

Most importantly, however, I truly believe that supporting non-industrial animal agriculture inadvertently supports factory farming, since it does not question the notion of eating animals in general. As long as this carnist concept remains unchallenged, factory farms will always thrive, seeing as demand for meat will not decrease—and let’s face it, factory farms produce meat most efficiently, to the immense detriment of the nearly 10 billion land animals Americans consume each year. A “fair” farmers’ market would include non-human animals in the pool of beings whom they grant universal rights, especially if doing so meant that it would render the universal right of nourishing, plant-based food accessible to many more people.

Growth of an Activist

Coming to terms with the fact that the farmers’ market and the foodie community in general would probably not fulfill my idealistic notion of sparking a large-scale shift in America’s corrupt food system, I looked to strengthen my animal activism, becoming a devoted member of the Vassar Animal Rights Coalition (VARC) immediately upon entering my first year at Vassar College. Little did I know that freshman year (and beyond) would introduce me to a multiplicity of societal oppressions that existed among the speciesism that had kindled my activist flame. Suddenly, I found myself seeking to combat not only the exploitation of non-human animals, but such harmful “isms” as capitalism, colonialism, racism, sexism, ableism, neoliberalism, homophobia, and more.

However, this well-meaning intention first manifested itself in a questionable manner as I began to draw links between these newly encountered social justice issues and the ones I knew well: veganism and animal rights. I found myself thinking: “Women’s reproductive rights are violated…just like female farmed animals are artificially inseminated! Black and brown bodies are systemically exploited…just like the bodies of non-human animals!” Veganism and animal rights provided me a basis for understanding the social justice issues about which I hadn’t read extensively, yet I soon realized the problematic nature of this framing.

During the summer following freshman year, I and my close friend and VARC co-president found ourselves (as Vassar students often do) discussing intersectionality — a social theory suggesting that the various aspects of one’s identity intersect in complex ways, as do the ways one is treated by society because of such aspects. My friend said something hugely profound that day: “It’s not enough to appreciate social justice issues based on how they relate to the one in which we’re most involved. For real change to happen, we must understand the importance of such issues in and of themselves.” That statement has guided my activism ever since.

While I will never forget that veganism and animal rights opened the door to my commitment to advocacy, I’ve since begun learning about and contributing to other social movements — not because they relate to veganism, but because their fights prove necessary in fostering a more just society. I think that all activists must work to recognize the confluence of inequities prevalent in our world, for disparate activism has the potential to create animosity between the feminists over here and the animal rights activists over there. We must realize all of our fights as intimately connected, and commit to individually understanding all of them.

For me, an integral aspect of my intersectional activism involves challenging the problematic aspects of the current vegan movement, including its racism, sexism,ableism, and focus on capitalist, consumer-based strategies. Because these oppressions would exist even if I were not vegan, and my giving up veganism would enforce another very real oppression, challenging such exploitative facets of today’s vegan movement does not involve dismissing veganism altogether.

Instead, I try to engage in a number of actions in the hopes of combating the privileges (access to a bounty of plant-based foods, an income to obtain such foods, and a social circle that won’t disown my non-mainstream lifestyle) that allow me live a sustainable vegan lifestyle. Such actions include supporting admirable organizations like Food Not Bombs and the Food Empowerment Project that work to make nourishing vegan options accessible to marginalized communities; working to free myself of the capitalistic mindset of nonstop accumulation of material goods; working not to reinforce my various privileges in my daily interpersonal relations; and educating myself about the histories and current manifestations of various oppressions by devouring anti-racist, feminist, anarchist, etc. literature and following progressive news sources.

Veganism is only the first way in which I hope to challenge the capitalist, patriarchal, colonial, speciesist, etc. society that makes it super easy to thrive as a white, straight, cis-gender individual with an upper-middle-class background like me.

So…Why “Farmers’ Market Vegan”?

And thus, you have the long, convoluted story of my development as a vegan and an activist. The name of my blog—Farmers’ Market Vegan—serves as a nod to the origins of this story, as well as a reminder to all that combating systemic oppression in all manifestations involves much more than simply buying a bunch of kale at the local farmers’ market.


vegan bacon salad (1)

The (Vegan) Triple Bacon Salad

Serves 2.

Ingredients:

2-4 oz tempeh, relatively thinly sliced
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 tsp tamari
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp black pepper
Pinch of cayenne

1/4-1/2 medium-sized head of cauliflower, cut into florets
6 large shiitake mushroom caps, thinly sliced
1 tbsp melted coconut oil
1 tsp smoked paprkia
1/2 tsp liquid smoke

2 tbsp vegan mayonnaise (Just Mayo and Vegenaise are my favorites)
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh dill, minced
1 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
1 tbsp fresh chives, minced

2-3 big handfuls of mixed salad greens, washed and dried
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, olive oil, liquid smoke, tamari, cumin, black pepper, and cayenne (in the first grouping of ingredients). Toss the tempeh slices in the marinade and allow to sit while you prepare the rest of the salad components.

Toss the cauliflower florets and sliced shiitake mushrooms with the coconut oil, smoked paprika, and liquid smoke (in the second grouping of ingredients). Spread out in an even layer on a baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes, or until the veggies are crispy.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the vegan mayo, water, apple cider vinegar, garlic, dill, parsley, and chives (in the third grouping of ingredients). Set aside.

Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat. Place each slice of marinated tempeh in the skillet and sear until browned, 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from the heat.

While the tempeh cooks, in a large bowl, toss the mixed greens with the sesame oil, smoked paprika, and garlic powder (in the fourth grouping of ingredients).

To assemble, place a bed of half of the dressed salad greens on two large plates. Scatter half of the roasted veggies over each bed of greens. Place half of the tempeh bacon on top of each salad. Drizzle half of the ranch over each plate. Serve.

Recipe submitted to Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck.

In solidarity, Ali.

Vegan Chews & Progressive News {8-29-14}

A quick note before today’s #NewsandChews post: be sure to enter my current giveaway for your chance to win a copy of the cookbook Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats: Allergy-Free & Vegan Recipes from the Famous Los Angeles Bakery!

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 wellbeing of all creatures (not just the rich or the human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

Welcome to the last summer edition of Vegan Chews and Progressive News (#NewsandChews)! In honor of the final days of August, I’ve got a meal-sized salad recipe ideal for highlighting all of that late-summer produce calling your tastebuds, plus a sandwich that has inspired disappointment in every moment that I’ve not yet eaten it, and some finger food that provides a tasty way to use up those puzzling broccoli stems. For news, I’m pointing you toward an article that reminds us that poverty need not serve as a default mode in our society, a video that offers a striking and truly consciousness-raising alternative to the Ice Bucket Challenge, and a book that deeply explores the fact – recently erupting with the public outcry against the murder of Black teenager Michael Brown – that racism and white supremacy reign in the U.S.

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Savory

Smashed Potato Salad with Seed Pesto & Charred Sweet Corn
via Our Four Forks

Photo via Our Four Forks.

Photo via Our Four Forks.

Yesterday, I relocated from my summer apartment in Brooklyn to my vegan living cooperative on the Vassar College campus. While I’m thrilled to recommence my formal education (WRITING PAPERS!!! But actually, I live to write papers), it’s recipes like the one pictured above that cause my heart to pine for the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket that I’ve left behind. Currently bursting will all of the ripe summer produce featured in this meal-sized salad and beyond, the market provided me with vibrant, fragrant, and nourishing produce (and good conversation) each week from Greg at Willow Wisp Organic Farm, the heirloom tomato lady at Evolutionary Organics, the Divine Brine pickle folks, and more. Another aspect to love about the market concerns its EBT program, which allows low-income New Yorkers access to this top-notch produce. Comprising 25%-50% of many farmers’ total income, EBT sales clearly prove substantial, suggesting that the market welcomes a wide array of individuals, not just rich white locavore foodies. Anywho, this hearty salad – crispy, crunchy, sweet, nutty, herby, succulent – provides an ideal dish for featuring that summer produce that won’t hang around much longer.

Sweet

Grilled Almond Butter Mango Sandwich
via Connoisseurs Veg

Photo via Connoisseurs Veg.

Photo via Connoisseurs Veg.

There exist few food types that satisfy me more than sandwiches, especially when those toasty, bready slabs of scrumptiousness involve nut butters and the fruit of culinary royalty (aka mango). Though I choose to avoid purchasing tropical fruit on a regular basis since I don’t think that the working conditions and monoculture rates in their countries of origin warrant my support (especially when those issues arise primarily from Western demand), sometimes I’ll treat myself to a mango if I can find a fair-trade and organic one (and OH, what a treat it is). My next mango will certainly contribute to the recreation of this sumptuous sandwich.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Broccoli Stem Fries with Spicy Sunflower-Pumpkin Seed Dipping Sauce
adapted from What’s Cooking Good Looking

broccoli fries 3

Impressed by the ingenuity and no-waste mentality represented by this use for broccoli stems, I experimented with Jodi’s original recipe, coating the green batons in coconut oil, corn flour, salt, pepper, onion powder, and black sesame seeds. Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, these fun finger foods married well with a simple “peanut” sauce made with homemade sunflower-pumpkin seed butter, brown rice syrup, tamari, lime juice, garlic, ginger, and sriracha.

Must-Read News Article

Poverty is Not Inevitable: What We Can Do to Turn Things Around
via Dean Paton at Yes! Magazine

Photo via Yes! Magazine.

Photo via Yes! Magazine.

I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of reminding folks that the status quo need not serve as the default – need not exist at all, even. For example, though most individuals cannot (or do not wish to) envision an alternative to our current dominant economic mode of neoliberal patriarchal imperial capitalism, the industrial-based capitalist system originated pretty darn recently in relative terms, around 1750 according to Marks in The Origins of the Modern World. Before that, non-Western civilizations thrived on trade-based, non-war-inducing economies of subsistence rather than of accumulation. This article from Yes! Magazine follows the same path of debunking what we’ve been conditioned to believe must exist – in this case, poverty – and suggests a number of  potential solutions. It’s stories like these that give me hope.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

The Rubble Bucket Challenge
via Ayman al Aloul at AlterNet

Photo via Ayman al Aloul.

Photo via Ayman al Aloul.

In the midst of the sweeping popularity of the multiply problematic ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, many folks have found alternative, more productive methods of consciousness-raising around social issues. For example, a number of my friends within the animal rights movement have taken on the #HydrateDonate challenge launched by Vegan Outreach Executive Vice President Jon Camp, in which one drinks a glass of ice water and donates to a number of organizations of their choice (learn why the Ice Bucket Challenge proves greatly harmful to non-human animals and humans who use drugs tested on animals here). The alternative challenge presented by Gaza-based journalist Ayman al Aloul in this video strikes me as especially profound, employing the rubble pervasive in an Israeli-ravaged Palestine instead of the area’s scarce water to encourage folks to speak out against Israel’s devastating bombardment and occupation of Palestine.

Book Recommendation

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
by Michelle Alexander

Photo via NewJimCrow.com.

Photo via NewJimCrow.com.

I’ve found myself seeking out a ton of critical race theory for reading material this summer, which seems fitting amidst the murder of Black teenager Michael Brown by white cop Darren Wilson. Of course, since racism and white supremacy run rampant in the U.S., this reading material would prove relevant even if Michael Brown’s murder had not sparked such public outcry. Indeed, Michelle Alexander illustrates this point well with her argument that the War on Drugs – launched under Reagan but still thriving – has sparked the rebirth of a racial caste system that treats Black people as second-class citizens by throwing them behind bars for the most minor of offenses. Targeting young Black individuals for drug-related arrest even though statistics show that white people tend to use drugs at rates equal to or above the drug use of Black people, today’s criminal justice system functions as clear evidence that the racial biases so obvious in the civil rights era run rampant even in the age of our first Black president, only now they prove more difficult to identify. The hidden nature of this discrimination demands systemic change, and Alexander’s book provides a thorough, compelling analysis of where we should focus such changemaking efforts.

In solidarity, Ali.

Salad Samurai Cookbook Review & GIVEAWAY!

Click HERE to enter the giveaway!

Welcome to yet another summer giveaway here on Farmers Market Vegan! This one particularly thrills me because it involves a category of items of which, despite my striving to avoid conforming to a harmfully consumerist society, I can’t seem to keep my eager hands off: cookbooks. But seriously, folks, I read these things like novels, and I’m not going to embarrass myself by admitting how many reside on my bookshelf.

salad samurai (2)

Excitingly, one of the latest additions to my shameful collection is Salad Samurai: 100 Cutting-Edge, Ultra-Hearty, Easy-to-Make Salads You Don’t Have to Be Vegan to Love (Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2014) by Terry Hope Romero. That’s right – this vegan cookbook author extraordinaire has graced the culinary world with yet another masterpiece, which joins the ranks of Terry’s other celebrated works like VeganomiconVegan Eats WorldVegan Latina, and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

Photo via Terry's Facebook.

Photo via Terry’s Facebook.

I don’t exaggerate in the slightest when calling Salad Samurai a masterpiece. With a super sleek design and strikingly lit photos by acclaimed vegan photographer Vanessa K. Rees, this book begs readers to recreate the salads that all but explode out of their photos. Another design aspect that I wholeheartedly appreciate involves the notes that accompany almost every recipe – deemed “The Spin” and “Samurai Stylings” – through which Terry “talks” to readers about preparing or shopping for uncommon ingredients, serving tips, recipe variations, and more.

While Salad Samurai expectedly features a wide variety of flavor-packed, meal-sized salads – expertly organized by season – the book also includes recipe sections for unique dressings; salad “toppers” like spiced nuts, croutons, tofu, tempeh, and seitan; and breakfast “salads” like smoothies, granola, and overnight oats. With this multiplicity of options for salad mixing-and-matching, Terry effectively debunks the myth that salads constitute “rabbit food,” doomed to sad dieting regimens and restricted eating habits. In addition to this impressive recipe array, Salad Samurai also includes a helpful guide to pressing tofu and tips for make-ahead meals for those of us who find ourselves in a rush around mealtime.

Since none of the three recipes I’m sharing with you today call for Terry’s special brand of chia seed dressings, I’d like to make a special note of this genius salad dressing method. While I’m a staunch advocate of oil-full diets (as is The Vegan RD!), Terry introduces the practice of upping the nutrient density of salad dressings without sacrificing that lip-smackingly thick texture that oil lends by substituting chia seeds for a portion of the oil. Not only do the unique gelling properties of chia seeds give the dressings body, they also add important omega-3 fatty acids. Nourishing and delicious.

grilled kale salad with spicy lentils (1)

My version of the Grilled Kale Salad with Spicy Lentils

Onto the recipes! Beginning with a salad from the “Spring Salads” section of Salad Samurai, I tried out the Grilled Kale Salad with Spicy Lentils. The salad features crisp, smoky kale and caramelized scallions marinated with coconut milk and lime juice, layered on top of a texturally fascinating mixture of smooth lentils, juicy tomatoes, and crunchy almonds, with just enough red onion to provide  a sweet sharpness. Offering an impressive multiplicity of flavors that all complimented one another, this recipes yielded a colorful salad that works well with either grilled or broiled (for those of us without grills; hooray for apartment living!) kale.

smokehouse chickpeas n' greens salad (5)

Book photo of Smokehouse Chickpeas n’ Greens Salad

Continuing my recipe experimentation by moving onto the “Summer Salads” section, I recreated perhaps the most prized salad from my reviewing duties: the Smokehouse Chickpeas n’ Greens Salad. Somehow managing to strike a balance between rich and deeply flavored yet light and bright, this salad features some of my absolute favorite ingredients, including liquid smoke, maple syrup, smoked paprika, and avocado. The salad calls for pan-roasting the chickpeas for a supremely crispy texture before coating them in a simple homemade barbecue sauce and sprinkling them with nutritional yeast. Those snack-worthy morsels get piled on top of a generous helping of greens, red onion, cherry tomatoes, carrots, and avocado, all tossed in a smoky-sweet paprika dressing that I would happily drink.

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My version of the Smokehouse Chickpeas n’ Greens Salad

Finally, I returned to the Spring salads for a taste of the Asparagus Pad Thai Salad – a super fresh-tasting take on traditional heavy pad thai that features “noodles” of asparagus created by taking a vegetables peeler to the stalks. Coupled with toothsome rice noodles, marinated & baked tofu bursting with flavor from a marinade of fresh lemongrass, tons of fresh herbs, a caramelized shallot-lime dressing, and toasted peanuts, the asparagus noodles form a salad that truly showcases Terry’s ability to expertly combine flavors and textures.

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My version of the Asparagus Pad Thai Salad

So as not to leave you with your mouth hanging wide open from all of this tantalizing talk, the publishers of Salad Samurai have graciously offered to let me share with you the full recipe for the Asparagus Pad Thai Salad! Enjoy, and be sure to enter the giveaway to win a copy of Salad Samurai by following the links at the top and bottom of this post.

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Book photo of the Asparagus Pad Thai Salad

Asparagus Pad Thai Salad

Serves 2.

Pad Thai Salad Ingredients:

4 oz pad thai rice noodles
1/2 lb asparagus
1 cup mung bean sprouts, washed and dried
1 cup lightly packed fresh Thai or sweet basil leaves, chiffonaded
1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
2 scallions, green part only, thinly sliced
1 batch Lemongrass Tofu (recipe below)
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely ground
Lime wedges and Sriracha, for serving

Toasted Shallot Dressing Ingredients:

1/4 cup minced shallots
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tbsp coconut sugar or organic brown sugar, plus more for serving
1 tbsp tamarind concentrate
1 tbsp soy sauce, plus more for serving

Boil the rice noodles according to package directions and cook only until al dente (1 or 2 minutes less than directed). Drain, rinse with cold water, and cover with cold water until ready to use.

Wash and trim the tough stem ends from the asparagus. Trim the heads from the asparagus and set aside. Use a Y-shaped peeler to shred the asparagus stalks into long ribbons and slice into thin strips the remaining pieces that are too awkward to shred. Transfer the asparagus ribbons to a mixing bowl and add the mung bean sprouts, basil, cilantro, and scallions.

In a skillet over medium heat, fry the shallots, garlic, ginger, and oil until the shallots are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add the asparagus tips, saute 1 minute, remove from the heat, and cool for 2 minutes. Transfer the asparagus tip mixture to the bowl with the ribbons. Drain the rice noodles and add the the asparagus salad.

Whisk together the lime juice, sugar, tamarind, and soy sauce and pour over the salad. Toss to coat everything with the dressing. Mound the salad in serving bowls and garnish with strips of Lemongrass Tofu (below) and sprinkle with peanuts. Devour, but graciously offer wedges of lime, Sriracha, a small dish of coconut sugar, and soy sauce for dining companions to season their own dish to taste.

For zucchini noodle pad thai: Replace the rice noodles with homemade zucchini or yellow summer squash for an even lighter dish. You’ll need a little more than 1/2 pound of squash. Use the Y-shaped peeler to create long, thin strands similar to the asparagus “noodles” for the above salad. Proceed as directed.

Plan ahead like a samurai: Prepare the Lemongrass Tofu (below) a day in advance and heat up just before serving.

Lemongrass Tofu

Serves 2 as a salad topping.

Ingredients:

1 pound extra-firm tofu or super-firm tofu (no pressing necessary for the latter)
2 tbsp maple syrup
4 tsp tamari
1 heaping tablespoon finely chopped fresh or prepared lemongrass
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp peanut oil or olive oil

If using extra-firm tofu, press the tofu first. Slice the tofu into thin 1/4-inch strips. Preheat the oven to 400°F and coat the bottom and sides of a 13 x 9-inch ceramic or glass baking dish with cooking spray.

Combine the maple syrup, tamari, lemongrass, garlic, and oil in the baking dish and whisk together. Arrange the tofu slices in the marinade and set aside while the oven is preheating, about 15 minutes. Occasionally stir around the tofu strips.

Bake the tofu for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and flip the strips over. Bake another 15 to 20 minutes, until the strips are golden and the marinade is absorbed. Serve warm or chilled. Store chilled and consume within 2 days for best flavor.

From Salad Samurai by Terry Hope Romero. Reprinted with permission from Da Capo Lifelong, © 2014.

This giveaway will end at 11:59 pm on Thursday, July 25, and I will announce the winner on the following day.

Click HERE to enter the giveaway!

I was not paid to run this giveaway, though I was provided with a free copy of the cookbook. All opinions are completely my own.

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

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 wellbeing of all creatures (not just the rich or the human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

The sixth installment of Vegan Chews & Progressive News features two creative and decadent animal-free recipes for traditionally animal-based dishes (one savory and one sweet); a gorgeously composed salad out of a much-anticipated cookbook; problematic coverage of recent developments in the Israel-Palestine conflict; the racist practices of the National Security Agency; and a book that every food justice advocate should have on their shelf.

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Savory

Filet O’ Chickpea Sandwich with Tartar Sauce Slaw
via Keepin’ It Kind

Photo via Keepin' It Kind.

Photo via Keepin’ It Kind.

Kristy’s culinary creativity never ceases to amaze me, and she showcases her talent once again in this summery, sea-inspired sandwich. I’ve found myself on a vegan “seafood” kick lately, craving chickpea “tuna” salad sandwiches and experimenting with vegan smoked salmon from Sophie’s Kitchen in an animal-free, homemade version of bagels and lox. As such, Kristy’s fried chickpea-artichoke patty topped with creamy tartar sauce-coated slaw is supremely exciting my tastebuds. Plus, there’s vegan mayo involved. And man, I love me some vegan mayo.

Sweet

Hazelnut Mousse Parfaits with Strawberries & Pretzels
via Artful Desperado

Photo via Artful Desperado.

Photo via Artful Desperado.

The other night, I had the immense pleasure of dining at V-Note, an all-vegan bistro on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and reveling in their creamy, silky-smooth, decadent, rich, mind-boggling rendition of tiramisu. The dessert featured coconut cream, coffee-soaked pastry, and chocolate syrup layered in a glass tumbler, parfait-like. Still reeling from the experience of the tiramisu, I feel called to this Hazelnut Mousse Parfait, especially considering my deep adoration of hazelnuts. Paired with salty pretzels and juicy strawberries, this mousse may just pave my path to replicating my tiramisu-induced happiness.

Be sure, of course, to use cocoa included on the Food Empowerment Project’s approved chocolate list to ensure that you don’t contribute to the slave practices of the vast majority of the global chocolate industry.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Raw Cobb Salad
via the Choosing Raw cookbook by Gena Hamshaw

raw cobb salad

I’ve eagerly anticipated the release of my dear friend Gena‘s cookbook for over a year now, and I’m absolutely thrilled to have its physical manifestation gracing my bookshelves today. While you’ll have to wait until later in the summer when my in-depth review of the cookbook will be featured on the Our Hen House podcast, my excitement for Choosing Raw the cookbook overflows such that I feel then need to offer you all a sneak preview. As part of my recipe-testing for the OHH review, I recreated Gena’s Raw Cobb Salad – an expertly composed dish of lettuce drizzled in a creamy, smoky red pepper-cashew dressing, topped with rows of succulent heirloom tomato, buttery avocado, homemade tangy cashew cheese, and crispy eggplant bacon. A rainbow of flavors in a rainbow of a plate.

Must-Read News Article

What Fuels the Violence Against Palestinian and Israeli Youths?
via Counterpunch

Mourners carry the bodies of fighters Osama al-Hosomi and Mohammed Fasih during their funeral in Gaza City, 27 June. The two were killed and a third was wounded in an Israeli air strike. Photo via Ashraf Amra, APA Images, Electronic Intifada.

Mourners carry the bodies of fighters Osama al-Hosomi and Mohammed Fasih during their funeral in Gaza City on June 27. The two were killed and a third was wounded in an Israeli air strike. Photo via Ashraf Amra, APA Images, Electronic Intifada.

While heated for years now, the Israel-Palestine conflict has received considerable media attention in the past week due to the murder of three Israeli teenagers in occupied Palestinian land. Problematically, however, the coverage of this event has largely failed to mention Israel’s 60-year campaign of occupation against the Palestinians, as well as the collective punishment that Israel has unleashed upon the Palestinian population. Such punishment has included destroying Palestinian homes, farms, and Mosques; abducting over 600 Palestinians; and bombing the people of Gaza with 34 air strikes in one night. This article from Counterpunch fleshes out the pro-Israel media coverage surrounding these events, as well as speculates upon what drives Israel’s abuse of the Palestinian people.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

Spied on for Being Muslim? NSA Targets Named in Snowden Leaks Respond to U.S. Gov’t Surveillance
via Democracy Now!

Photo via Democracy Now!

Photo via Democracy Now!

This week, the newly launched NSA-whistleblowing site The Intercept published a lengthy investigative report based upon documents leaked by Edward Snowden that identify five prominent Muslim Americans spied on by the National Security Agency. Glenn Greenwald, a founding editor of The Intercept, joins the Democracy Now! team to discuss how “the only thing [the five spied-on individuals] really had in common is that they are all politically active American Muslims. And that seems to be enough in the intelligence community to render these people suspicious.”

Also in the segment, Democracy Now! airs a video from The Intercept of Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the country’s largest Muslim civil rights group. Nihad responds to the government surveillance he experienced:

“I was not aware that I was under surveillance, except recently. And I’m outraged that as an American citizen, my government, after decades of civil rights struggle, still the government spies on political activists and civil rights activists and leaders. It is outrageous, and I’m really angry that despite all the work that we have been doing in our communities to serve the nation, to serve our communities, we are treated with suspicion.”

Wonderful coverage of a hugely important report revealing the intensely racist practices of the U.S. government.

Book Recommendation

Stuffed and Starved
by Raj Patel

Photo via IndieBound.

Photo via IndieBound.

I would call Raj Patel’s book Stuffed and Starved a must-read for anyone involved in or concerned with the global food justice movement. The captivatingly written book recounts Patel’s investigation into food systems around the world, uncovering the reasons behind famines in Africa and Asia, the rampant poverty of farmers in Latin America due to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and more. In doing so, Patel clearly displays that the enormous power of controlling the global food system lies in the hands of just a few wealthy corporations and governments. Once you pick this book up, you honestly will not want to put it down (nor should you!).

In solidarity, Ali.

Ranch Potato Salad | Enjoying Food, Enjoying Life

Before I get into today’s post, I’d like to point you toward Episode 234 of the Our Hen House podcast, where you can hear all about the top five most fabulous vegan eats that I enjoyed during my two-week trip to Italy back in March. The rampant vegan-friendliness of Italian cuisine might surprise you!

I also want to thank you all for the outpouring of positive feedback on my recent post on vegan privilege. Thank you all for your kind words and willingness to engage in a tough yet hugely important issue.

If you checked out the latest installment of my Vegan Chews & Progressive News series (#NewsandChews), you most likely noticed the tantalizing plate of food featured in the “Best Recipe I Made This Week” section. Along with a pile of buffalo tempeh and a sweet wilted kale salad, the featured dinner included a mound of young, multicolored potatoes dotted with verdant sweet peas and coated in the ubiquitous childhood favorite veggie dip: ranch dressing. Though, probably unlike the mayo-based ranch of your youth (definitely of mine), the making of this particular dressing did not contribute to the dumping of live chickens into trash pits, the gassing or grinding up of male chicks, or the forced molting of hens (but those are all just “standard industry practices,” right? No biggie?).

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While my switching from egg-based ranch dressing to a vegan, oil-based version in part represents a desire to foster a kinder world, my new-found enthusiasm for vegan mayo represents an act of kindness to myself. Back in the darkest days of my eating disorder, I abided by all sorts of  self-imposed, nonsensical food restrictions based on nutrition pseudo-science: no peanut butter because it’s susceptible to mold, only minute amounts of tofu and tempeh because processed soy causes breast cancer (actually the opposite), no maple syrup or agave nectar because even minimally refined sweeteners are the devil’s handiwork, etc. Policing my every bite of food for its “purity” of health, eating became an act of stress (that my food was optimally “healthy”) and self-punishment (if it wasn’t or if I ate “too much” of it). Because my disorder consumed my identity, this stress and self-punishment permeated the vast majority of my everyday life.

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Fast forward through a ton of psychological healing involving the refocusing of my attention off of food and onto a cause larger than myself (read: animal rights), as well as the cultivation of self-respect through a now approaching six-year yoga practice, I found myself able not only to enjoy the singular act of eating, but to enjoy the continuous act of life.

Life! That once-unhappy phenomenon through which I struggled throughout high school in irritable, depressive, static fashion became an interactive cornucopia of opportunity, action, and joy. My utmost goal transformed from achieving optimal “health” through “pure,” absolutely unprocessed diet, and to bettering the world by fighting against multiple societal oppression while finding pleasure in the everyday.

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Okay, so what does this have to do with vegan mayo? Well, my now-beloved Vegenaise once existed among my extensive list of forbidden ingredients (it was a processed product that contained soy protein, for pete’s sake!!!!). Though it may appear inconsequential to the unknowing witness, my ability to consume and absolutely revel in enjoyment of the foods on my past taboo list—including maple syrup, vegan cheese like Daiya, vegan meat products like Field Roast, and non-dairy ice cream like DF Mavens—constitutes an enormous positive leap in my psychological health and relationship with food.

Back to that Ranch Potato Salad. Bursting with freshness from a hearty dose of herbs and tanginess from that much-adored vegan mayo, I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to be able to enjoy this perfect-for-summer salad without even the slightest twinge of self-hate. Here’s to enjoying food, and enjoying life.

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Ranch Potato Salad

Serves 4.

Ranch Dressing Ingredients (loosely adapted from Betty Goes Vegan):

3/4 cup vegan mayonnaise (Organic Vegenaise and Just Mayo are my favorites)
8 oz (half a package) silken tofu
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp tahini
2 tsp nutritional yeast
1 1/2 tsp tamari
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp freshly group black pepper

Salad Ingredients:

Sea salt for the boiling water
1 lb fingerling potatoes (I used a mix of yellow, red, and blue)
2 cups green peas, fresh or frozen

Scrub the potatoes and place them in a large pot. Fill the pot about 3/4 of the way full, sprinkle a generous amount of salt into the water, cover, and bring to a boil. Keep the water at a rolling boil for about 10 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and can be pierced easily with a fork. Add the peas and boil for another minute. Drain and let cool until you can comfortably handle the potatoes.

Meanwhile, combine all of the dressing ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, and blend until very smooth.

Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice each potato in half (or in quarters, if larger) and place in a large bowl. Add the peas, then add about 1 cup of the ranch dressing, or enough to coat the potatoes and peas to your liking (you may not use all of the dressing. Oh no! Leftover tangy, creamy deliciousness! Whatever will you do?). Stir the mixture until the potatoes and peas are evenly coated with the dressing. Serve warm.

Recipe submitted to Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck.

In solidarity, Ali.

Vegan Chews & Progressive News {7-4-14}

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 wellbeing of all creatures (not just the rich or the human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

Happy 4th of July! While the news highlighted in this fifth edition of Vegan Chews & Progressive News may not contribute to your patriotism, July 4th still provides a fabulous excuse to fire up the grill for some summer veggies and dig into a pint of non-dairy ice cream. Let’s get to it!

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Strawberry Sweet Rolls with Lemon-Caramel Glaze
via Yup, It’s Vegan

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Photo via Yup, It’s Vegan.

Though the end of strawberry season is upon us in Brooklyn (hellooo, cherries!), Shannon offers up a chewy, yeasty, doughy, succulent, mouthwatering recipe to make creative use (not that eating them unadorned isn’t a fabulous use) of any late-season strawberries you might be lucky enough to snag. I expect that these whole-grain, refined sugar-free sweet rolls would provide both a comforting breakfast and a lovely warm-weather dessert, perfect for enjoying on the patio just before sunset.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Ranch Potato Salad, Buffalo Tempeh with Homemade Sauce, and Sweet Kale Salad
via Betty Goes Vegan, Post Punk Kitchen, Emeril Lagasse, and Chef Mickiyah

dinner

The “recipe” highlight of this week is actually a full meal made up of three components. The first: a Ranch Potato Salad with sweet green peas and a vegan ranch dressing adapted from the vegan-Betty Crocker remix cookbook Betty Goes Vegan. The second: crispy sauteed tempeh simmered in homemade buffalo sauce, inspired by Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s recipe with a DIY twist. The third: a warm salad of wilted kale in a succulent sauce of Dijon mustard and coconut sugar with a sprinkling of juicy raisins, courtesy of Chef Mickiyah of Woodland’s Vegan Bistro (remember my rave review of this DC vegan hot spot last summer?). Hearty, boldly flavored, and nourishing, this dinner would have impressed any July 4th-celebrating non-vegan.

Must-Read News Article

This past week brought an onslaught of landmark court decisions, both inside and outside of the U.S.

canadian-harper-pipeline-protest

Photo via Grist.

Via Grist: In Canada, the Supreme Court ruled that any First Nation land that was never formally ceded to the Canadian government cannot be developed without consent of those First Nations that have a claim to it. In addition to challenging the Northern Gateway oil pipeline that would run from Alberta to China, the ruling recognizes the rights of the First Nations whose land the U.S. and Canada colonized long ago, and who have endured heaps of discrimination ever since. Way to go, Canadian Supreme Court.

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Photo via Slate.

Back home in the U.S., however, the Supreme Court produced decisions much less worth celebrating. Via Slate, Truthout, and Mother Jones: Not only did the Court strike down a Massachusetts law mandating a 35-foot buffer zone that anti-abortion protesters couldn’t enter to heckle patients outside of abortion clinics, it also declared that the government couldn’t require closely held businesses to provide their employees with health insurance that covers types of birth control that offend the owner’s religious beliefs. Both decisions severely infringe upon women’s health and reproductive rights, essentially indicating that corporations constitute “people” more so than do women. A much more sarcastic “way to go” to you, SCOTUS.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

BEST OF: Melissa Gira Grant on sex work, savior complexes, and a vegan dominatrix
via Citizen Radio

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Photo via Citizen Radio.

The topic of sex workers and their rights proves hotly debated, even in feminist circles, as many well-meaning folks attempt to control the actions of women who find themselves in precarious situations and choose to engage in sex work in order to get by. In this “Best Of” episode of Citizen Radio, Melissa Gira Grant—author of Playing the Whore, which is definitely next on my reading list—explains the politics behind the issue of sex workers with elegance, clarity, and wit. A must-listen.

For more information on sex workers’ rights, check out this recent article on Truthout, entitled “Cutting Off Sex Work Advertising Sites Disrupts Communities, Not Trafficking.”

Book Recommendation

The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap
by Matt Taibbi

9780812993424_custom-ba58a9cf1305ca65bf6412ab0b014064c6b49cf6-s2-c85

Photo via NPR.

While anyone who hasn’t lived under a slab of tofu for the past few decades has clearly seen the staggering wealth gap into which capitalism has sent our country spiraling, Matt Taibbi highlights the concrete impacts that this gap has upon the bodies of the poor and the criminal justice system. Switching between narrating startling stories of corporate/Wall Street money laundering and the clear discrimination in policing against people of color, Taibbi demonstrates the stark contrast between the treatment of the rich and poor in arrests, trials, and punishments. For example. on the one hand, the police arrest an impoverished Black man for “obstructing traffic” by standing in front of the door of his own home, while “too-big-to-fail” companies like HSBC receive no more than a slap on the wrist for major corporate fraud. A book to make your blood boil and your cynical laughter to ring.

In solidarity, Ali.

Seaweed & Edamame Salad | Thoughts on Vegan Privilege

Before introducing today’s recipe, I’m thrilled to announce the three winners of my most recent giveaway for two free pints of Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss vegan ice cream. Congratulations to Becca FergusonRosie Riccio DeRensis, and Megan Digeon! Enjoy the creamy, decadent, coconutty goodness.

I got myself into a Facebook skirmish the other day. I don’t often do so, nor do I know that I can even call this incident a “skirmish,” so much as an instance of me replying to a post I found problematic, and never hearing back from the poster or commentators. The post in question—entitled “Dear White Vegans: This is Your Collection Agency Calling“—elicited enthusiastic responses from two individuals who referred to themselves as “former white, privileged vegans.”

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I responded as such:

“I agree with many of the sentiments expressed in this article. The current vegan movement contains an onslaught of classist, racist, sexist, and ableist elements. Equating the mass slaughter of animals with genocide and slavery co-opts the unknowable suffering of marginalized peoples in an effort to further another movement.

However, I feel that the arguments expressed in this article are a bit ad-hominem. Yes, the way veganism at large is being executed right now is hugely problematic. But at its core, veganism, for me, is simply an extension of an effort to combat the multiplicities of oppression in this world. The exploitation of people of color, women, members of the LGBT community, non-human animals, etc. are not the same, but they share a similar component: an unequal relationship between oppressor and oppressed. I would argue that if this relationship exists anywhere, the possibility for a liberated society becomes greatly hindered.

Consider the powerful activists in history who were also vegan: Cesar Chavez, Thich Nhat Hanh, Coretta Scott King, Angela Davis, and so on. They recognized that while different instances of oppression are not at all the same and each need to be understood in their own right, they are also intimately connected by their being perpetuated by a capitalistic, patriarchal, colonial mindset. To fight against these marginalizing power relations, I feel that we must engage in a multiplicity of social struggles in order to empower habitually silenced groups. And I would argue that these struggles should include non-human animals.”

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In essence, I don’t want to throw out the idea of veganism simply because its current execution involves a multiplicity of problematic aspects. Instead, since I’m currently privileged enough to enjoy access to a bounty of plant-based foods, an income to obtain such foods, and a social circle that won’t disown my non-mainstream lifestyle, I’ve passionately added animal exploitation to the list of oppressions I’m actively seeking to combat by leading a vegan lifestyle.

Equally important, however, is that in such a privileged position, I must also engage in actively combating the problematic aspects of the vegan movement, in part by constantly reminding myself that the privilege enabling my vegan lifestyle exists among the phenomena that I actively seek to combat. The actions I’m taking against such privilege don’t involve giving up veganism, since that would actively enforce another very real oppression. Instead, the actions involve supporting admirable organizations like Food Not Bombs and the Food Empowerment Project that work to make nourishing vegan options accessible to marginalized communities; working to free myself of the capitalistic mindset of nonstop accumulation of material goods; working not to reinforce my various privileges in my daily interpersonal relations; and educating myself about the histories and current manifestations of various oppressions by devouring anti-racist, feminist, anarchist, etc. literature and following progressive news sources.

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These efforts don’t stop my occupation of a privileged position, of course. I’m still able to take myself out for expensive dinners at upscale restaurants in Manhattan; I’m still able to host giveaways on the ol’ blog for free products while the vivacious homeless man, who hangs out most days on the bench in front of my apartment building, asks for donations; I’m still able to shell out $12.99 for a 6-oz bag of arame seaweed at Whole Foods.

But these privileges don’t exist because I’m vegan, and they’ll still exist even if I were to throw up my hands and give up veganism tomorrow (which I absolutely will not). They exist because I’m a white, straight, cisgender individual with an upper-middle-class background. And veganism is only the first way in which I hope to engage in a challenge to the capitalist, patriarchal, colonial, speciesist, etc. society that makes it super easy to thrive with such identity factors.

Now, before I recommence all this challenging, please excuse me while I enjoy the following salad that I made with a $12.99-bag of arame seaweed that I bought at Whole Foods after being inspired to make such a salad by a dish I enjoyed at a not-inexpensive restaurant in perhaps the most well-off neighborhood in Brooklyn. Don’t we all love a good contradiction?

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Seaweed & Edamame SaladNut Free, Low Sodium, Low Fat.

Serves 2-4 as a side dish.

Ingredients:

3 oz arame or hiziki seaweed (or a blend of the two)
1 cup frozen, shelled edamame
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp tamari
2 tbsp finely sliced scallions
2 tbsp sesame seeds (both white & black are fine)
1 tsp toasted sesame oil

Place the seaweed in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Let the seaweed soak for 15-60 minutes, or until it has expanded significantly. Drain.

Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the shelled edamame and boil for 4-6 minutes. Drain.

When the seaweed has finished soaking, heat the coconut oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for a minute, then add the drained seaweed and saute for about 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated from the seaweed. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the toasted sesame oil, raise the heat to medium-high, and saute until most of the liquid has evaporated. Turn off the heat and relocate the seaweed mixture to a medium-sized bowl. Stir in the toasted sesame oil. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.

Recipe submitted to Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck.

Until next time, Ali.

Vegan Chews & Progressive News {6-27-14}

If you haven’t yet already, don’t miss your chance to win two free pints of amazingly decadent, creamy, rich, and delicious vegan ice cream from Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss on my latest giveaway!

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 wellbeing of all creatures (not just the rich or the human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

This week’s News & Chews (fourth edition!) features the wonders of summery finger foods and artful salads, a roundup of the need-to-know news stories of the past week, a video highlighting the racial politics of a resurfaced court case from the 1980s, and a book that must grace the shelves of anyone even remotely involved in movement organizing.

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Peach & Avocado Summer Rolls with Almond Butter Dipping Sauce
from Anya Kassoff’s new “The Vibrant Table,” via Katie at the Kitchen Door

Photo via Katie at the Kitchen Door.

Photo via Katie at the Kitchen Door.

This recipe, from the new cookbook “The Vibrant Table” by Golubka’s own Anya Kassoff, positively bursts with the goodness of summer produce, including juicy peaches, buttery avocados, and bright basil. Accentuated with the crunch of pistachios, the richness of hazelnut oil, and the unctuousness of a lip-smackingly tantalizing almond butter dipping sauce, these summer rolls all but beg to grace my dinner plate.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Salad Niçoise Bento Box
via Terry Hope Romero’s new “Salad Samurai

nicoise salad (3)

 Lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of culinary genius Terry Hope Romero’s new cookbook (look out for a review & giveaway in mid-July!), I spent the last week reveling in fresh, creative, and hearty salads from the mastermind of the co-author of the vegan Bible “Veganomicon.” I don’t want to give away too much about this gorgeous Niçoise salad pictured above, but I will mention its innovative inclusion of coconut “bacon,” avocado “egg,”  and chickpea “tuna” salad. I’m in love.

Must-Read News Article

This past week saw such a proliferation of important news stories (both uplifting and gut-wrenching) that instead of featuring a single article on this week’s edition of News & Chews, I’d like to feature a “round-up” of sorts.
First, the bad news. From Daily Kos, 40 percent of Detroit residents who cannot afford to pay their water bills due to crippling unemployment and other poverty-related factors risk having their water supply cut off. In response, the Detroit People’s Water Board has petitioned the UN to make clear to the U.S. government that it has violated the human right to water. And in further draconian governmental news, from Al Jazeera, an Egyptian court has sentenced two Al Jazeera journalists to seven years in prison and another to ten years, on charges including aiding the Muslim Brotherhood and reporting false news. This ruling has the powerful potential to have a chilling effect on journalists, and represents a serious blow to journalistic freedom.
Luckily, we still have access to multiple outlets for independent journalism, many of which this week featured a number of hopeful stories. From Truthout, the Presbyterian Church, USA sets an exciting precedent in upsetting the power imbalance between Israel and occupied Palestine by divesting from three corporations that have been continually involved in the Israeli population of the West Ban. Meanwhile in Los Angeles, from BuzzFlash, a federal court struck down a municipal ordinance that made it a crime to use a car for overnight shelter, representing a victory against the city’s anti-homeless agenda that seeks to decrease visibility of the issue rather than securing homes for the homeless. Finally, Gerardo Cerdas, coordinator of the transnational social movement Grito de los Excluidos, shares his uplifting views of the future of social movements at Truthout. I would highly recommend this article to anyone interested or involved in movement organizing, especially those who (like myself) have become (more than a bit) jaded.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

NYC’s $40M Central Park 5 Settlement Resolves Wrongful Jailing Fueled by Race-Baiting, Police Abuse
via Democracy Now!

Untitled

Those of us born in the 1990s may have missed the infamous case of the Central Park jogger, in which the NYC court system convicted five black and Latino men of raping a female jogger in Central Park, only to be found innocent decades later after the real rapist came forward and confessed. The five convicted men having already served sentences of up to 13 years, the City of New York has finally reportedly agreed to pay $40 million to the wrongfully convicted men. The most notable aspect of this story involves the racial profiling activities of the NYPD, through which young men of color were targeted as significant dangers to society. Additionally, as professor of sociology Natalie Byfield notes, “the significance of a settlement, to me, is important because it starts to undo what became a historic lie. And I say it in this way because the case itself was the launching pad for a transformation of the juvenile justice system.” So many complexities to this story, and an important case to remember in terms of the racial politics of the U.S.

Book Recommendation

Towards Collective Liberation: Anti-Racist Organizing, Feminist Praxis, and Movement Building Strategy
by Chris Crass

Photo via Racial Justice Allies.

Photo via Racial Justice Allies.

Written by longtime anarchist movement organizer (including with the awesome vegan organization Food Not BombsChris Crass, this book contains an invaluable assortment of reflections upon the history of anti-capitalist organizing in an attempt to learn from past mistakes and advance current movement efforts. From his background as an feminist-informed anti-racist educator of white people, Crass practices self-reflexivity with grace and provides important critiques of the un-discussed privileges and inequalities in past movement efforts. I sincerely hope that this book becomes widely read among activists everywhere.

Until next time, Ali.

Vegan Chews & Progressive News {6-13-14}

If you haven’t yet, be sure to enter my latest giveaway to win a box of raw, vegan, sprouted, organic, gluten-free snacks from the fabulous folks over at Tastymakes!

Welcome to the second installment of Vegan Chews & Progressive News here on Farmers Market Vegan! (Check out the premier post in this weekly series here). This edition brings you delectable springtime recipes, a critical analysis of the hype surrounding the World Cup, the dangers of the escalating cost of higher education, and a book that’s sure to make all you introverts out there (myself SO included) feel all warm and fuzzy inside with validation. Let’s get to it, folks!

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Buddha’s Pasta Salad
via Clean Wellness

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Photo via Clean Wellness.

Replete with verdant veggies and aromatic herbs, this creamily dressed pasta salad appeals to all of my springtime culinary sensibilities. Lately, I’ve found myself straight nibbling the stems of fresh mint and chives, but this recipe will certainly put those her s to better use. Though I cringe at the name of Alison’s blog every time I see it (check out this article to see why), I must admit that the woman certainly has some recipe-creating prowess.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Caramelized Oyster Mushroom Scallops over Pasta and Cauliflower with Minted Pea Puree
via Olives for Dinner

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Photo via Olives for Dinner.

I have almost no words for this dish…but then I wouldn’t be very helpful, now would I? This multi-layered, complex, yet cleanly flavored entree featured comforting pasta drowned in a silky puree of sweet peas and refreshing mint, scattered with meltingly tender roasted cauliflower and topped with the pièce de resistance: oh-so-heartily textured, caramelized oyster mushroom “scallops.” The multiple components may intimidate you, but all of them require minimal, simple preparation, and the dish that results from their combination will persuade you to prepare all of them every night…or maybe every meal. I certainly wouldn’t complain.

Must-Read News Article

Photo via Truthout.

Photo via Truthout.

Mainstream coverage of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil has largely overlooked a couple hugely problematic aspects of the event (and of many other mammoth-sized global events, such as the Beijing Olympics): in an attempt to hide rampant poverty and inequality from international eyes, government officials have begun “pacifying” favelas (the “slums” of Brazil), resulting in widespread police abuse. Additionally, the state has spent astronomical amounts on various World Cup expenses, while the millions of Brazilians who live in abject poverty benefit not at all. Important facts to remember among the current World Cup hype.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

Is College Worth it? New Doc ‘Ivory Tower’ Tackles Higher Ed’s Unsustainable Spending, Student Debt
via Democracy Now!

Untitled

Democracy Now! recently featured an exciting upcoming documentary that discusses the hugely important topic of the ever-increasing cost of higher education. The documentary sheds light on such frightening statistics as:
–The government will make $184 billion off of tuition and student loans this year.
–Since 1978, college tuition has increased by 1120%, more than any other good or service in the U.S.
–Colleges now spend lavishly in order to compete with other institutions, such that some dorms are now built at rates equivalent to construction of luxury hotels.
As a college student, I’m thrilled to see growing attention being paid to this pressing issue, one that threatens to make younger generations beholden to the government for their lifetimes.

Book Recommendation

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking
by Susan Cain

Photo via ThePowerofIntroverts.com

Photo via ThePowerofIntroverts.com

During the last few weeks of the spring semester, I saw a counselor at my college, who after speaking with me informed me that I suffered from social anxiety. Okay, great, my preference for not interacting with large groups of people and my tendency to worry about how I come off in social interactions is now a pathology, and I feel like there’s something terribly wrong with me. This book changed my feelings completely. Like a close friend, this book assured me that my introverted personality does not mark me as broken, but rather bestows upon me the difficult task of navigating a Western culture that privileges extroverts. Author Susan Cain invokes a wide variety of fascinating statistics and psychological studies to shed light upon the strenuous endeavor of living as an introvert in an extroverted society. A necessary read for all introverts and their loved ones.

Until next time, Ali.