Sunday, June 28, 2009

Animal Welfarism v. Animal Rights

After stepping into the discourse of ethical veganism (through Bob Torres' Making a Killing), I am continuing my study in that area in the hopes of using it in future academic pursuits and my own writing. Thus, I am currently reading Gary Francione's Rain without Thunder (1996), and am trying to decide where I stand on the issue of animal welfarism, and how (or rather--at what point) I should differentiate between the two. On the one hand, incremental progress in animal welfare is good, and a goal to work towards; however, it is not an end goal, especially if welfarism permits and justifies "humane slaughter" under the argument that the animals are afforded more comfort in the span of their lives. I anticipate this to be a longer post in the near future, but just wanted to get my thoughts out there--it's been a while since I've posted.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


I am taking a minute to post about this pizza:
Ever since I started making pizza dough, we try to have pizza a couple times a month--and this pizza was exceptional! It has a olive oil and garlic base (rather than sauce), and toppings include smoked tofu, grilled eggplant, gently sauteed chanterelles, and basil. This pizza was better, even, than it looks OR sounds, and was the perfect meal for the night before we go out of town.
And I know that there are a million pizza dough recipes out there, but this is the one I trust, and have come back to over and over. It has a nice texture (because of the bran), and makes enough for at least two pizzas. I usually refrigerate half of it, and it keeps for use later in the week. I have also frozen leftover dough, and thawed it quite successfully. It is super-dough, to me. Here is the recipe (same proportions as in Richard Bertinet's Dough, different ingredients).
  • 1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 c white whole wheat flour (may need more if dough is too sticky)
  • 1/4 c wheat bran
  • 12 oz warm water
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 t salt
  • 2 t instant-rise or bread-machine yeast
  • 1 T basil
  • 1 T oregano (and/or any other spices you want to use)
  • (optional) small handful of flax seeds
Mix the dry ingredients first, then add water and oil. Allow for at least an hour to rise; preheat oven to 400 degrees, and bake the pizza (with your choice of toppings) for 20 minutes.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


The other few raw days that followed the previous raw post weren't all that exciting--there were some repeats, a lot of salads (and then, of course, my camera ran out of batteries). All in all, the experience was good: the ten days of raw food, with the small exception of last night's meal (about which I will write more, later).
Eating raw in the summer is easier, I think, than it would be in the winter--here in land-locked not-an-especially-big town, Tennessee. With the CSA basket once a week, the farmer's market, and fresh produce either from the co-op or the fruit and vegetable store down the street, eating raw food would require relatively minor preparation (unless, that is, I were to make the buckwheat crust on a regular basis). Moreover, because I haven't turned on the stove or oven in the last ten days, the house has been cooler. I also found myself taking out the trash less frequently, and not accumulating as many recyclables--whatever wasn't vegetable scraps was either a small produce plastic bag, or twist-tie from bunches of herbs or spinach. I can definitely see the ethical stance of veganism extended by raw foodism, with perhaps the added benefit of an even smaller effect on the Environment; I also understand some of the health benefits of eating raw--during the ten days, I lost a couple pounds, and felt pretty good overall (not that I complain of any ailments on a vegan diet). I didn't feel hungry, or tired of eating raw, and for most of the ten days, I didn't miss coffee or cooked food, which was surprising.
And although I will continue to incorporate more raw food into every day (and will probably have a designated Raw Day once a week), I am returning to cooked food. Somewhere along the way during the ten raw days, I found myself questioning eating cooked food, and then--equally--questioning eating 100% raw. I kept asking myself: what if I never eat bread again, what then?
Eating only raw food is interesting and exciting, at least it was for me--but there's something a little unsettling about it as a panacea for the "Standard American Diet." Swinging to the other extreme of "S.A.D." doesn't seem adequate as a response, and especially when it is advocated as the only solution--as in, "Eat raw food, or else" (and the "else" is depicted in the most horrible way, of course).
Eating raw is also oftentimes inextricably bound to health and the ultimate (or only) healthy eating--this is also problematic (unless the people who make the transition are overcoming a chronic disease). This kind of emphasis on health oftentimes is synonymous with an emphasis on the self/appearance, which, as an end in and of itself (the goal of a "beautiful face" or "lithe body") is rather unfruitful--at least to me. I like that my food choices have an ethical dimension; I also like making food that would look familiar for my omnivorish friends (and students, once), and showing them that vegan food isn't difficult to make, and in fact can be quite, quite tasty.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Raw, Day 6

Matt messaged me from Louisville earlier today, and said that he would eat raw with me for a few days after his return on Friday! That means that "raw week" is getting extended for a little while, which is great--I still have a fridge full of greens from the CSA basket last weekend, and we'll be getting another one on Saturday...thus, we will be having many, many salads.
Today's food was a lot of repeats--green smoothie for breakfast, a little raw pizza for lunch, a huge salad for dinner. A friend of mine came over to work on a puzzle , and right as we were finishing putting together the outer edges, we thought it was time to have some RAW CHEESECAKE! I made this using Isa's recipe, with substitutions where necessary (as you can see, I used blueberries, not strawberries), and it came out wonderfully. As my (omni) friend said, "I think I like this better than regular cheesecake."
I made half the recipe, and because I don't actually own a springform pan, I made it in three ramekins, which I lined with parchment paper so I could lift the cheesecake out once it set. It worked wonderfully, and my friend and I split one of the three--see, it almost looks like it's a regular piece of cake.
You may be seeing more pictures of this, perhaps a little more decorated and frilled. Although, I have to say, this raw cheesecake stands up quite well on its own. (Click on the photo to enlarge the picture to all its mouth-watering goodness!)
I froze one of them, so will also be reporting how this little treat withstands freezing.*

*And the cheesecake was every bit as good after freezing. I thawed it for about an hour in the fridge, and then some more minutes on the counter. I'll have to make it again sometime, maybe with different berries.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Raw, Day 5

A long and disappointing day today--tried to go to have my wedding dress altered, but the woman (Thelma) said that she couldn't do it; with the fabric and the pleats and all, there is no way to make it shorter. I trust her word--she's had 47 years of experience, after all. So I'm a bit bummed out and not sure what to do next.

Food today was:
Breakfast--pinapple-spinach-banana-blueberry smoothie
Lunch--massaged kale salad
Dinner--raw pizza
I'd made the buckwheat crust a couple days ago, and it had been waiting patiently for me; today, I made the marinara (tomato, sun-dried tomatoes, herbs), and then! Well, you can see for yourself. I'd been wanting something salty, and as I was biting into this, realized that it was olives, which I'd formerly not liked at all (silly me).
Right now, as I type, the cashews are soaking for a blueberry version of this. I'm thinking about omitting the "fluffy white frosting," but may yet change my mind. Also, I'm making half the recipe. If it comes out, and is attractive, I will have pictures of it tomorrow, and you'll just have to wait until then, won't you.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Raw, Day 4

My (omni) parents were in town yesterday, and somehow I averted questions about why I only have greens in the refrigerator AND my mom ended up buying me a pineapple! I was afraid of having to explain eating raw to them, and didn't have to; my dad even tried a piece of the buckwheat pizza crust and said it was "interesting." So, this morning started off with a green smoothie (with some pineapple and young coconut meat in it!). I'm very happy to have discovered young coconuts, and am getting better and better at opening them; and--at 99 cents each at the Asian market we recently discovered, they're cheaper and better than Zico!
For lunch, there was zucchini alfredo with the very last of the creamy red pepper dressing from raw day 1. For some reason, I've never had zucchini in this fashion, and I love it! This raw week has definitely gotten me to try new things (zucchini "pasta," young coconuts, dehydrated sprouted-grain breads), and I'm pretty pleased with the results, so far.
Dinner was quite a dilemma--I was out with friends most of the afternoon, and they invited me to dinner with them. Of course, the place they picked to have dinner is one of my favorite restaurants: a vegan-friendly place called Tomato Head. I knew that I could get a salad there, but what I did not know was that my friends would be eating pesto and bread as an appetizer (and of course, Tomato Head does have a vegan pesto available). I had to avert my eyes a little, just so my love for bread would not win over my determination to keep to raw food for a week. I found myself not as hungry for bread as I had been after three days of last summer's juice fast, but I was tempted nevertheless.
Eating raw is obviously not a punishment I'm inflicting on myself (although it may have seemed like that to my friends who were enjoying the bread)--it's a choice. I chose to eat raw to get out of the kind of mental funk I've been in the last couple months, with finishing the degree and all, and trying to find a job. I knew that it would keep me focused, busy, and healthy. I'm very glad that I'm doing this, and will keep it up at least through Thursday. Stay tuned for more.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Raw, Day 2

Today began with green juice--I'd forgotten how much I like it (and then remembered last summer's juice fast and also remembered how tired I'd gotten of just liquid food, and how I wanted to chew). (You can also see part of my notes for Infinite Jest, but more about that at a later time.)
I also woke up to check on the sprouts, and was rather surprised to see that the buckwheat groats had sprouted overnight, and even the wheatberries were looking lively (in preparation for Rejuvelac!).

For lunch, I made an avocado-cucumber-young coconut meat soup, which was more filling than I had expected. It was my first time making this kind of soup (I also added cilantro and a little lemon juice), and I think if I were to make it again, I'd use it as a base, and throw some cut-up vegetables into it--I wasn't used to the texture, and was recalling my distaste for grits half-way through the bowl. The taste, however, was rather pleasing; it's something I will definitely make again and play around with. On the side (as you see), I had a few cucumber slices with cashew-cheeze.

As the day wore on, and I was getting ready to make dinner (a large green salad, not pictured), a voice in my head kept telling me that I'm not a "raw person," and will never be one; that I can't keep this up, for even a week, etc. I had to stop myself and say, well, no person is a particular type of person when it comes to food choices. More often than not, people get used to a harmful normativity, a normativity that masks especially the everyday aspects of existence (food). I've been thinking about this--how the raw week (for me) defamiliarizes food, makes me see it in a different way, beyond just appreciating it, but being also mindful of the methods of production and consumption. It's important, you know.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Raw, Day 1

This will be a quick post--my first day eating raw on my own was a little tiring: I always over-plan days which I am spending mostly alone, and then, of course, don't get done half of what I wanted to do. However, I am pretty happy with how this first day turned out.

I made some cashew-milk today, and the amazing red-pepper dressing from Swell Vegan (you can see both, side by side, happily in the fridge); for lunch, I had a bok choy salad with the dressing, and it was delicious. I can see myself making more of it next week, or even for the omni parents who are dropping in for a visit this weekend.
For dinner, I had the famous massaged kale salad from Gena's blog, and it surpassed all expectation. For some reason, I haven't eaten much raw kale, and this was a good way to try it. Well--look for more posts (and pictures) in the coming days.