vegetarian/vegan

The World’s First All-Vegan Supermarket Chain Opens its First U.S. Branch

tote bag available at MotiveCo.

tote bag available at MotiveCo.

 

The world can be a cruel place for vegans.
They’re forced to eat just the sides at dinner parties and are exhausted from carrying the weight of moral superiority. Finally, they have a place to call home. Veganz, the world’s first all-vegan supermarket chain, will be opening later this year in Portland, Oregon.

TopVeganCitiesFINALVeganz fits Portland like a glove.
The city is already home to an all-vegan strip mall, a vegan tattoo parlor, a vegan donut shop, and a vegan colon hydrotherapy clinic (don’t ask). There’s even a vegan strip club where you can enjoy a bowl of lentil soup while the strippers perform, and you’re assured that none are wearing clothing made of fur, leather, feathers, or wool. A vegan supermarket? You have to wonder what took them so long.

The five-year old supermarket chain opened its first store in Berlin. It now has locations throughout Germany and has pushed into Austria and the Czech Republic. In 2016 Veganz stores will open in London, Amsterdam, Zurich, Barcelona, Milan, Copenhagen, and of course Portland.

Since whole, unprocessed, animal-free foods are well represented in mainstream markets, Veganz instead emphasizes the processed side of veganism, filling its shelves with food analogs. There are fake cheeses, fake meats and fish, egg substitutes, dairy-free ice creams and baked goods, and of course plenty of meatless German-style wursts and schnitzels. The chain’s merchandisers are sourcing from 30 countries to assemble this range of products.

Less than 1% of the U.S. population chooses a vegan lifestyle, fewer than 4% follow an exclusively vegetarian diet, but between a third (older consumers) and a half (millennials) of Americans fall somewhere on the flexitarian spectrum. Many are half-time, Michael Pollan-styled vegans following his prescriptive VB6 schedule of meat-free eating just until 6 PM.

I’m sure there are Portland vegans and vegetarians who will be thrilled to have a hometown Veganz.
The store’s analog offerings can satisfy their hunger for the meat-ish foods that are missing from their diets. But most of us, with veg-friendly but flexible diets are not so hard up, and faux and processed meat- and dairy-like substances just won’t cut it. Animal welfare and environmental factors are part of the equation, but most people who eschew a meat-based diet do so for reasons of health and wellness.

We might have different moral comfort zones, but we’re all looking for balance, variety, and satisfaction.

 

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You probably encountered a dozen pig by-products before you even left your house this morning

Everything But the Oink via AnimalSmart.org

Everything But the Oink via AnimalSmart.org

 

Your world is awash in pig parts.
Pig-derived ingredients add color to soap, a pearly sheen to shampoo, and give texture to toothpaste. They’re the moist in moisturizer, the anti-cling of fabric softener, and the reason that crayons smell that way. Shoe leather, cell phone batteries, laundry soap, wallpaper, sponges—they can all harbor pig byproducts.

Then there’s the pig that you don’t know you’re eating.
Pig by-products make unannounced appearances in every aisle of the supermarket. A multi-tasking gelatin derived from pig bones and skin puts the chew in gum and licorice and the creaminess in cheesecake and tiramisu. It smooths out cream cheese and whipped cream and makes ice cream melt more slowly. Beer, wine, and fruit juices are filtered through pig gelatin, and it’s turned into pill coatings and capsule casings for thousands of prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Squishy soft bread and sandwich wraps stay pliable because of an added protein that’s extracted from pig hair, and a pig skin-derived protein is added to energy bars and yogurt, garlic salt and spice blends. Another protein, this one from clotted pig blood, is used to bind the smaller scraps of beef or fish that appear in fresh and frozen form as portion-controlled filets. Even the plate you eat from can contain ash from pig bones, and your napkin was probably made with more of that gelatin.

Pig-derived food additives are hiding in plain sight.
Processors will deliberately remove the word ‘animal’ from their ingredient list. For example, hydrolyzed animal protein becomes hydrolyzed collagen, and animal protein is labeled L-cysteine. There are thousands more technical and patented names for variations on pig-based food additives. Some probably sound familiar if you read a lot of product packaging, but you probably didn’t know that glycerides, sodium stearoyl lactylate, and oleic acid can all be derived from pig by-products. Adding to the confusion are the pig parts that don’t wind up in the final product but are used in the manufacturing process like bone char that’s used to whiten sugar and gelatin that removes tannins from wine. These don’t even have to be mentioned by the manufacturer.

We have a right to know.
Do you keep kosher or follow the rules of halal? Are you vegan or vegetarian? Or are you just, like any sane person, interested in knowing the substances and ingredients that you consume and are exposed to in daily living?

Learn what’s really in your pantry. The PETA website maintains a list of common animal-derived ingredients.

Phone apps like Is It Vegan? and Animal-Free are handy reference guides for many common and hidden animal ingredients.

See if your favorite beer, wine, or spirit is animal-free. Barnivore maintains a massive and up-to-date vegan alcohol directory with nearly 19,000 entries.

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Your World is Awash in Pig Products

image via 52 Infographics in 52 Weeks

Things With Pig in Them – image via 52 Infographics in 52 Weeks

 

You probably had a dozen or so pig encounters before you even left your house this morning.
Pig-derived ingredients add color to soap, a pearly sheen to shampoo, and give texture to toothpaste. They’re the moist in moisturizer, the anti-cling of fabric softener, and the reason that crayons smell that way. Shoe leather, cell phone batteries, laundry soap, wallpaper, sponges—they can all harbor pig byproducts.

Then there’s the pig that you don’t know you’re eating.
Pig-derived ingredients and processing agents make unannounced appearances in every aisle of the supermarket. A multi-tasking gelatin made from pig bones and skin puts the chew in gum and licorice and the creaminess in cheesecake and tiramisu. It smooths out cream cheese and whipped cream and makes ice cream melt more slowly. Beer, wine, and fruit juices are filtered through pig gelatin, and it’s turned into pill coatings and capsule casings for thousands of prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Squishy soft bread and sandwich wraps stay pliable because of an added protein that’s extracted from pig hair, and a pig skin-derived protein is added to energy bars and yogurt. Another protein, this one from clotted pig blood, is used to bind the smaller scraps of beef or fish that appear in fresh and frozen form as portion-controlled filets. Even the plate you eat from can contain ash from pig bones, and your napkin was probably made with more of that gelatin.

It’s a staggering, stunning array of food and non-food uses for pig parts.
To say the least. It’s deeply troubling if you’re vegan or vegetarian, keep kosher or eat halal, or just want to avoid pig products. The fact that most of the products don’t have to be labeled with the information is the real shocker.

Pig-derived food additives are hiding in plain sight.
Processors will deliberately remove the word ‘animal’ from their ingredient list. For example, hydrolyzed animal protein becomes hydrolyzed collagen, and animal protein is labeled L-cysteine. There are thousands more technical and patented names for variations on pig-based food additives. Some probably sound familiar if you read a lot of product packaging, but you probably didn’t know that glycerides, sodium stearoyl lactylate, and oleic acid can all be derived from pig byproducts. Adding to the confusion are the pig parts that don’t wind up in the final product but are used in the manufacturing process like bone char that’s used to whiten sugar and gelatin that removes tannins from wine. These don’t even have to be mentioned by the manufacturer.

Learn what’s really in your pantry. The PETA website maintains a list of common animal-derived ingredients.

Phone apps like Is It Vegan? and Animal-Free are handy reference guides for many common and hidden animal ingredients.

See if your favorite beer, wine, or spirit is animal-free. Barnivore maintains a massive and up-to-date vegan alcohol directory with nearly 15,000 entries.

Posted in food knowledge, vegetarian/vegan | 1 Comment

Got Alt-Milk?

Calvin and Hobbes via United Feature Syndicate

 

Got milk?
Gotten milk recently? It’s no easy feat.
The dairy case used to hold a couple of cow’s milks with varying fat contents. Then soy milk appeared as a non-dairy alternative. Now we have a slew of non-dairy and non-soy milk alternatives crowding the case, made from nut varieties, grains, and even law-skirting hemp seeds.

Why all the milk alternatives?
We know that a cow’s life on a dairy farm is hardly the bucolic idyll of our imaginations. Supporters of animal rights and those looking to avoid growth hormones and antibiotics have already moved on from large-scale, conventional milk producers. Then there are vegans, the allergic and lactose intolerant, and other dieters looking to reduce fat and cholesterol.

The first stop for most was soy milk, but there is growing awareness that soy is a high spray, intensively farmed, rain forest-depleting crop, and most of the soy grown in the U.S. is genetically-modified. There are also concerns that soy protein can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb potassium, and it may be linked to breast cancer.
Now what are we supposed to put on our cereal?

Rice milk is often the alt-milk gateway because it tastes closest to cow’s milk, but sweeter. It’s low in fat but high in carbohydrates (rice, y’know) and thin as water so it’s not the most pleasing replacement for your usual splash of half-and-half in your morning coffee, but it can hold a decent cappuccino foam.

Almond milk is low in fat and high in protein. It’s creamy and slightly sweet with slightly bitter undertones. It foams impressively, although in an off-white shade, and makes a good dairy substitute for cooking and baking. It’s dairy-free, but commercially produced almond milk isn’t always soy-free.

Hazelnut milk is light in consistency but has a rich flavor, a powerful nutty fragrance, and just a tiny touch of sweetness. The hazelnutty taste is boosted when it’s made from roasted nuts, rather than the more common raw nuts. Not everyone is a fan of the hazelnut taste, but if you are it’s a good choice in sweet coffee drinks and desserts. If you’re not, have it warmed—hazelnut milk holds a credible foam for espresso drinks and the flavor dissipates in the heat.

The coconut milk you find in half gallon cartons is not the same as the unctuous cooking ingredient that comes in a can. It’s also not the same beverage as coconut water. It falls somewhere between the two when it comes to fat content, sweetness, and creaminess; this means it’s still pretty sweet, fatty, and lush. It tastes undeniably of coconut, so use it where you want the flavor. It’s perfect for non-dairy smoothies and creamy desserts, and has the virtue of being made from just one ingredient: coconut.

I’ll warn you that oat milk is a bit thick. It doesn’t go down like porridge, but it’s not what you would call light and refreshing. Oat milk is not the best option for coffee, but it’s great on cereal and in baking where the grainy flavor is welcome. It’s low in fat, when compared with nut or dairy-based milks, and actually has more calcium than cow’s milk. It also avoids the natural sweetness of most of the dairy substitutes, making it a good option for savory dishes like mashed potatoes.

Hemp milk is made from the same seeds as pot plants. It’s not legally grown in most parts of the U.S., so most is brought over the border from Canada. It will not have you playing Pink Floyd and eating vast quantities of pizza—the hemp used in milk is bred and processed to contain almost no THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. The milk is, shall we say, an acquired taste—off white, slightly chalky, with tart, grassy notes. It’s as high in fat as cow’s milk, but the good kind, with lots of healthy Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. It holds a respectable foam for cappuccino.

If you’re new to the alt milks category, you need to know a few general rules that always apply to the milk alternatives:

  • they’re always more palatable when served chilled, especially if you’re drinking them straight-up
  • shake them up; they all separate like crazy
  • read the labels— the ingredients aren’t always organic, and they can even contain dairy in the form of casein and other milk-derived additives
  • you don’t want to dive headfirst into hemp or oat milk; ease into the category by trying some of the flavored milk varieties or maybe a nice almond milk ice cream

 

Posted in food knowledge, health + diet, vegetarian/vegan | 3 Comments

How to Eat Roadkill

Guinea Fowl crossing the road via My Retirement Chronicles

 

Should we eat roadkill?
In theory, it’s an excellent exercise in ethics, environmentalism, and self-reliance.
Why leave it to rot when you can take it home and cook it for dinner?

According to PETA, roadkill is a better choice than the factory-farmed, shrink-wrapped product you find in the supermarket. The group recommends it from a health standpoint, because it doesn’t contain antibiotics, hormones, and growth stimulants. And it’s the more humane option because the animals haven’t been castrated, dehorned, debeaked, or suffered through any of the other horrors of intensive animal agriculture.

Perhaps you prefer the term flat meat.
Roadkill is fresh, organic, and free. It was clearly free-ranging, as some unlucky driver knows all too well. It’s sustainable and supportable through an enlightened political ideology, and there’s plenty of it—according to estimates by Animal People Online, the annual roadkill toll tops 100 million animals, and that’s not even counting the species categorized ever so delicately as indiscernible.

The legality of taking home roadkill varies by state.
Alaska considers it state property but residents can get on a waiting list for a moose, caribou, or bear; Illinois says the driver gets first dibs, though the privilege is only extended to state residents; Texas had to outlaw roadkill because of too many not-quite accidents; and in Tennessee, on the day that the legislature legalized the taking of roadkill, the state senator who had introduced the bill was presented with a bumper sticker: Cat—The Other White Meat.

Tastes just like chicken.
Steve Rinella, who collided with and then stewed up a raccoon for an episode of his now surprisingly defunct Travel Channel show The Wild Within says that “[roadkilled] meat is actually much fresher than what you might find in a grocery store.” The wiki How to Eat Roadkill recommends that you “learn the signs of healthy roadkill”: it should be freshly killed, preferably from an accident you witness, although you get some slack time in the winter months; you want a fresh stench, since the impact can force excrement rapidly through the animal’s digestive tract; and fleas are a good sign, maggots are not. And not to worry about rabies—sure, it’s a deadly communicable virus that infects the central nervous system, but the wiki tells us that it dies off quickly with the animal.

Should we eat roadkill?
Waste not, want not, right?

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Can You Eat Ethically and Still Eat Meat?

It’s not like you’re suddenly going to go cold turkey, if you’ll pardon the pun. We humans didn’t claw our way up the food chain so we could eat quinoa.

Meat-eating and ethical eating don’t have to be mutually exclusive. There are ways to eat meat that are sensitive to the environment, to our health, and to the animals involved.

All meat is not created equal.
We all know that factory farming is a grotesquery. It’s basically institutionalized animal cruelty and it creates a product that is unfit and unhealthy for human consumption. It depletes resources and is destructive to the environment.

Then there’s grass-fed or pasture-raised beef.
These animals are raised in open, humane, sanitary conditions. They conserve resources by passing on a diet of grains grown with petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides. Better for your health, grass-fed beef contains fewer antibiotics and hormones, is leaner than grain-fed and grain-finished beef, and has a more favorable ratio of omega fatty acids.

The well-managed pasture system sustains natural resources by reducing erosion and water pollution, conserving carbon, and preserving biodiversity and wildlife. Their sales methods—either operating as an independent, selling directly from their own property, or selling through small, locally focused producer groups—help support local communities, promote local foodsheds, and earn a fair price for the producers.

The industrialization of the calf.
We took an earth-friendly, solar-powered ruminant and turned it into a fossil-fuel powered machine.
The problem with banishing all meat from the dinner table is that ranchers of conscience are caught in the sweep, demonized along with factory farmers. These ethical producers should be celebrated as the vanguard of a growing revolt against industrial agriculture, not penalized by association.

Let’s face it, we are not heading toward a meatless society.
But we can be a society of ethical carnivores. We need to eat meat in moderation and avoid animals raised in confined spaces and fed an unnatural diet. Choosing grass-fed beef can have a lasting impact on our health and the health of the planet.

Posted in sustainability, vegetarian/vegan | 1 Comment

Mike Tyson: Vegan Role Model ?!

[billboard: Sunset Boulevard and Doheny Drive, West Hollywood, California]

Mike Tyson snacked on Evander Holyfield’s ear. He threatened to make a meal of Lennox Lewis’ children. He is perhaps the planet’s most notorious flesh-eater.

But these days there’s nothing meatier than a seitan cutlet in his George Foreman Grill.

Mike Tyson: holier than thou?

Vegans have a reputation for self-righteous arrogance. They are in the trenches combating  environmental degradation and world hunger through personal deprivation and self-sacrifice. They can claim moral superiority over meat-eaters for the greater compassion they show to animals.

Does this mean we want to be like Mike?
He’s a man known for brutality in and out of the ring, he has been dogged by a string of charges for assault and spousal abuse, and has served time in prison for a rape conviction, drug possession, and DUI. Currently embroiled in a PETA controversy for pigeon racing(?), he is hardly the poster boy for a compassionate diet.

Iron Mike, not iron deficient.

But then again, he can be a heck of a role model for the healthfulness of the vegan diet. Vegans have labored under a wimpy, neo-hippie label for far too long. The robust, bulked-up physique of an elite athlete can invalidate lingering misconceptions about meatless diets.

Real men do eat plants.

Bill Clinton’s a vegan; even Glenn Beck gave it a shot this spring.
Has your manly man gone green too? Learn to spot the tell-tale signs: Brace Yourself: Your Man Might be a Vegan.

Politicians, movie stars, scientists, pop stars, and athletes; vegans come from all walks of life: check out The VeganWolf’s list of herbivores.

 

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Your Beer has a Secret (and you’re not going to like it).

The clear amber hue? Thank the fish bladder that filtered out yeasty sediments.
That creamy head of foam? It comes courtesy of a froth conditioner derived from the gastric enzymes in a pig’s stomach.

Water, malt, hops, yeast: the label might list as few as four ingredients, when in fact a whole host of unnamed additives were used as brewing ingredients or processing agents. It’s a dirty little secret of the beer industry.

There can be hidden animal by-products in your beer. It’s troubling, to say the least, and if you’re a vegan or vegetarian, keep kosher or eat halal, it’s wholly unacceptable.

And it’s not just beer—animal-derived ingredients and agents make unannounced appearances in virtually every aisle of the supermarket. Gelatin from pig skin puts the chew in gum and licorice and the creaminess in frozen cheesecake . You’ll find beef fat in Twinkies, fish oil in Tropicana’s Heart Healthy Orange Juice, and dough conditioners sourced from duck and chicken feathers that are added to bagels and donuts.

As for beer, with the exception of specialty brews made with honey or dairy products, animal products are most commonly used for flavoring, coloring, head retention, and as a clarifying agent. Not all brewers and brewing processes use them—animal-free alternatives are often available—but they appear almost universally in English and Irish brews (yes, Guinness too), and in beer that has been cask-conditioned. The U.S. doesn’t require labeling for animal ingredients or agents in beer, and even the stringent Reinheitsgebot, Germany’s 500-year old purity law, permits their use.

See if your favorite brew is animal friendly: Barnivore maintains a massive and up-to-date list of the vegan options available through nearly 1,500 breweries world-wide.

Perhaps in homage to cock-ale, a 17th century favorite, the Boston Brewing Company recently cooked up a Sam Adams beef heart brew that is served exclusively in David Burke’s restaurants.

 

 

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Admit it: Tofu freaks you out.

The pro-soy camp just doesn’t get it.
Share your true feelings with your tofu-loving friends, and they tend to get a little weepy for poor you who has never had it properly prepared. They speak glowingly of tofu’s chameleon-like ability to shape shift and meld with the flavors of whatever it’s cooked with, as if there is that one magical combination that will open your eyes and taste buds to tofu’s glories. They’re missing the point.

Love it or hate it, tofu is all about texture.
Tofu is basically a waterlogged sponge of nothingness that has always had an uphill battle to win favor with flavor-driven American palates. We appreciate texture, but in a secondary role, balancing and completing a dish. When we are wowed by a texture, it tends to be crispy-crunchy or fat-based and creamy— the textures associated with European-style luxury foods.

Texture plays a different role in Asian delicacies, where its importance can even outweigh flavor. There are some Euro-Asian cross-overs, like the prized luxury of fatty fish that drives the appreciation of sushi, but the texture of many Asian delicacies can be a turn-off to Western palates.

In Chinese cooking, the sea cucumber, jellyfish and pig’s ears are appreciated for their gelatinous and crunchy texture, even though they have almost no flavor themselves. Dried sharks’ fin and bird’s nest soup, which is made from the saliva-based nest of the cave swift, are both appreciated for their soft, goopy, jelly-like texture. Japanese cuisine has natto, in which soybeans are left to ferment until they develop spider-web like strands of a mucousy substance that hangs from each bean. Okra is cooked to its most gelatinous, and tororo, a type of Japanese yam, is made into a slimy paste.

It would be easy to dismiss tofu entirely. If it’s an acquired taste based on its consistency, and you don’t care for the consistency, then why bother?

There are good reasons to learn to love tofu: it’s loaded with protein, iron, calcium, and B-vitamins; it’s low in fat, cholesterol-free, and low sodium. It’s cheap, long-lasting, and can make your Meatless Mondays a heartier affair.

I hate to say it, but I suppose this brings us back to poor you who has never had it properly prepared.
Fortunately, there are plenty of places to turn for help.

The Cook’s Thesaurus has a good illustrated overview of commercially available soy products.

May’s Machete has a pragmatic post titled How To Make Tofu (So It Doesn’t Suck).

Changing the Texture of Tofu will teach you just that, from Vegan Cooking with Love.
Image Via Savage Chickens

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Can Your Boss Make You Be a Vegetarian?

Is a meat-free office policy going too far?

A former employee of an eco-friendly accessories manufacturer claims that her rights as a meat-eater were violated by company policy.
The company’s 18 employees are barred from bringing animal products in their lunches, and they are required to order vegetarian items when they dine in a restaurant with a client. The complainant says she was reduced to smuggling food into the office in her purse, or sneaking out to her car for a bite of a contraband tuna sandwich. […]

Posted in food policy, vegetarian/vegan | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Everything But the Squeal

[image via Snorg Tees]

.My friend, I don’t know how to break it to you, but you’ve been eating pig.

That’s right, pig. Not what you would properly call pork, but pig parts—the bits and pieces and byproducts left in the slaughterhouse after the chops and ham and bacon are gone. Gelatin from pig skin puts the chew in gum and licorice and the creaminess in cheesecake and tiramisu. Pig hair protein makes sandwich wraps pliable and keeps bread squeezably fresh. Even the plate you eat from could contain ash from pig bones, and your napkin was probably made with bone gelatin.

Most of these products are not labeled to tell you this.
Often, processors will deliberately remove the word ‘animal’ from their ingredient list. For example, hydrolyzed animal protein becomes hydrolyzed collagen, and animal protein is labeled L-cysteine. There are thousands more technical and patented names for ingredient variations that can appear on product labels. Adding to the confusion are the pig parts that don’t wind up in the final product but are used in the manufacturing process: bone char to whiten sugar; gelatin to clarify beer and remove tannins from wine. These don’t even have to be mentioned by the manufacturer.

Pig-derived food additives are hiding in plain sight:

stearic acid made from fat is found in vanilla flavoring and pill coatings
pepsin, a pig stomach enzyme, can be used in cheese-making
calcium stearate from fat is commonly found in garlic salt and spice blends
energy bars often rely on collagen as a protein source
pig skin-derived gelatin is used to absorb cloudy elements in juice drinks, add texture to low-fat dips and spreads, and cut down on the formation of sugar crystals in ice cream; it’s also added to marshmallows, yogurt, and frosted breakfast cereals

Some of the other names for pig-based additives that are familiar to anyone who reads product packaging are capric acid (decanoic acid), glucose (dextrose), glycerides, sodium stearoyl lactylate, and oleic acid (oleinic acid).

If this is stunning news to you, think of vegetarians and vegans, and people who keep kosher or observe halal.

Truly going whole hog
The staggering array of food and non-food uses of pig parts is portrayed in the book Pig 05049. The parts of a single animal, known by its ear tag as number 05049, were followed and photographed as they moved from the slaughterhouse into a complex and globalized food chain. The result is a visual essay of a mind-blowing 185 products derived from just one pig.

Learn what’s really in your pantry. The PETA website maintains a list of common animal-derived ingredients.

The iPhone app  iVegan is a reference guide for many common and hidden animal ingredients.

 

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Posted in food knowledge, vegetarian/vegan | Tagged | 7 Comments

Ugly, Unloved, Unappreciated

Oh, grow up!
Do you have an allergy? Do you object on political grounds?
No? Then shut up and eat your vegetables!

It’s time to stray outside of your comfort zone of carrots, green beans, zucchini, broccoli, and spinach. You will encounter unfamiliar tastes, odd textures, and the occasional aroma of feet. But there will be no pouting, food phobias, or knee-jerk reactions. These are vegetables for grown-ups, so act your age.

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[…]

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Chew the Right Thing

image via Kosher Ham

Funny, you don’t look Jewish…

There are roughly 6.5 million Jews in the U.S., just about 2% of the population, according to the Census Bureau. Maybe a million of them keep kosher. So why is it that nearly half of all the food in American supermarkets is kosher-certified?

Pivotal kosher moments in US history:

  • Coca Cola (certified kosher, 1935)
  • Tropicana orange juice (1990)
  • Oreos (1997)
  • Kosher Pork (2011)
    It’s like the Jewish version of the Holy Grail. It’s actually a Spanish variety of goose with a decided porkiness to its flesh.

Every one of them was a watershed. But nothing changed the way Americans look at kosher food like the 1972 Hebrew National hot dog commercial. As Uncle Sam munches on a hot dog, a disembodied, heavenly voice assures him that as a Hebrew National beef hot dog, it is free of the additives and by-products typically found in lesser processed meats.  As the camera pans heavenward, the voice proclaims, “We answer to a higher authority.”

 

Kosher has become synonymous with purity and quality. It requires scrutiny and monitoring that exceed national standards, playing nicely in the current environment of heightened concerns about food safety. Labeling of kosher food is considered to be more trustworthy than mainstream labeling. Strict product labeling tells vegans and vegetarians when meat or dairy is present;  Muslims can trust that kosher meat products contain no pork; and consumers with food allergies can safely monitor their diets.

The kosher label is so desirable that it now dominates new product launches. It is the number one label claim for new food and beverages, topping even organic, natural, and low fat. Mainstream retailers like WalMart and Whole Foods are hustling for certification to sell kosher chickens.

A higher authority than the USDA.

Of course the ancient, Jewish dietary laws stand for more than just food safety. Adherence is intended to connect daily living to a higher spiritual plane. For the typical kosher consumer, 85% of whom are not Jewish, faith is not a factor— just a lack of faith in the agencies that monitor our food system.

Kosher Quest has a guide to kosher package symbols and their certifying agencies.

Buck the trend and dine at Traif. Named for the Hebrew word for non-kosher, the Brooklyn restaurant is a celebration of pork and shellfish.

If you missed it the first time around, now’s your chance to view the seminal 1975 Hebrew National hot dog commercial.

J.


Posted in food safety, vegetarian/vegan | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Mike Tyson’s a Vegan. How About You?


Mike Tyson snacked on Evander Holyfield’s ear. He threatened to make a meal of Lennox Lewis’ children. He is perhaps the planet’s most notorious flesh-eater.

But these days there’s nothing meatier than a seitan cutlet in his George Foreman Grill.

Mike Tyson: holier than thou? […]

Posted in vegetarian/vegan | Tagged , , | 2 Comments
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