Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Vegan Feast

Vegan, Thanksgiving, Tofu, Potato Salad, Stuffing, Sweet Potato, Harlingen, Rio Grande Valley

Thanksgiving is usually a time for increased stress. It is nice driving to San Antonio to visit family, but it isn't all that nice eating the vegan food we prepared around such a massive animal massacre. After six years of marriage, however, this was the first Thanksgiving that we had at our house. We cooked up our best Thanksgiving meal to date. I mostly made the cornbread stuffing and the potato salad, and Anita made the muffins, the sugar-glazed baked sweet potatoes and the cashew encrusted baked tofu. She also made the cornbread that I used for the stuffing. I really can't believe how well the potato salad came out. We looked through all of our cookbooks to see if we could find something that could be veganized. We used a recipe from an old cookbook put together by some Army wives (including my mother). Wouldn't you know it, after we made the potato salad the first time a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, we discovered the recipe had been written by my mother.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Enjoying some vegan eating in Austin's neighborhood


This is the famous Protein 2000 dish: vegetable proteins made of soybeans in a slightly sweet brown sauce with broccoli, garlic and onions.


This is called Lucky 7. Here's how the menu described it: seven fried tofu balls made of celery, carrots, chestnut, vegetable protein, and breadcrumbs are cooked with broccoli, baby bok choy, cauliflower, carrots, napa cabbage, onion and garlic in a slightly sweet and spicy red sauce.

One of the difficult parts to living in the Rio Grande Valley is the shortage of restaurants that serve to vegans. There are simply slim pickings down here. Perhaps that's a good thing, considering I don't eat in restaurants as much anymore. I did this weekend though when I went to Austin and had lunch at Veggie Heaven next to the campus of the University of Texas with my friend, Dean. I forgot to take pictures of what we were eating until after we had already started chowing down. That's why they look a little a sloppy. The restaurant serves such a crazy variety of vegan dishes. So many are good, but I always find myself gravitating to Protein 2000. It is simply soul food. I love their fried spring rolls, steam buns and the brown rice with lentils, as well. Here's a link to Veggie Heaven's menu.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Only cruel-free dating, please

The other day my wife asked if I would ever date anyone who wasn't a vegan. It's a ridiculous question, I know, because I wouldn't be happy being with anyone but her, but she wanted me to consider the hypothetical. As a vegan, would I consider a relationship with anyone not a vegan? I have a hard time thinking that I could have a successful relationship with anyone who isn't a vegan because she wouldn't share the same values as myself. Being vegan is a deep ethical committment, and it revolves around my love for life, the environment and my health. An anti-vegan in the midst would undermine my values. Is it much different than a lover of peace dating a known mass murderer? I think not. The differences between vegans and others are immense. I can't disown my family, and I would never consider it, but having a romantic relationship with someone who would conspire to stink up the house with burning flesh is quite revolting. Perhaps I would be condemning my life to one of loneliness, I don't know, but perhaps there would be more time to pen the great American novel. Anyway, the question was prompted by this online Newsweek article: "Love Me, Love My Tofu." It mentions one of our favorite vegan couples, Bob and Jenna Torres, who run the famous vegan podcast, Vegan Freak Radio.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Oh, gross

Yet again, meateaters continue to gross the world out. Check out this Associated Press story:

MAIDEN, N.C. - A man who bought a smoker Tuesday at an auction of abandoned items might have thought twice had he looked inside first.
Maiden police said the man opened up the smoker and saw what he thought was a piece of driftwood wrapped in paper. When he unwrapped it, he found a human leg, cut off 2 to 3 inches above the knee.
The smoker had been sold at an auction of items left behind at a storage facility, so investigators contacted the mother and son who had rented the space where the smoker was found.


To read the rest, click here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Naturally the place to eat on South Padre Island



Tofu salad sandwich


Portabella with mango-chili sauce sandwich and sweet potato fries

For those who haven't heard, Naturally's Health Food Store and Cafe on South Padre Island recently got a lot better. Formally, it was in a much smaller location. Now, it is in what was once a fast food restaurant that became a fine-dining restaurant. Half of the store is the health food part and the other the cafe. The selection in the health food store, while still in a small area by grocery store standards, actually rivals Sun Harvest in McAllen in many ways. They have items that the McAllen store doesn't have. We found organic canned pineapples, organic molases and a brand of organic tofu that Sun Harvest doesn't carry. Anita and I went back again this past weekend so we could take a few photographs. In the restaurant, I got the seasoned tofu salad sandwich on rosemary sourdough rye bread. Anita got the chef's recent creation, a portabella with mango-chili sauce sandwich. Both were fantastic. Just be sure to ask to hold the cheese. Where else could you go out to eat and drink a kombucha and organic tea? Naturally's is definitely the place vegans in the Valley should make a point of going to.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Maybe veganism doesn't sell magazines

It hasn't been a good year for vegans in the publishing world. We all know the damage done by The New York Times' printing of a column full of fabrications by Nina Planck. Herbivore, the magazine for hardcore vegans, decided to stop printing the magazine. Now, they print a tiny booklet and publish poorer quality stores on the Web. VegNews has been sliding downhill for quite a while in order, I guess, to pick up a larger audience. VegNews doesn't speak to veganism that much anymore; instead, they frame things in a much broader vegetarian sense. VegNews has gotten away from what attracted their core subscribers. These subscribers were reacting to Vegetarian Times basically throwing vegetarians onto the street to appeal to a wider audience (or to make more money). Satya also recently gave up publishing, as well. Now, there's a wide opening if some enterprising person wants to start up a magazine that caters to vegans. Maybe you won't get the widest audience in the world, but we would be loyal as long as you stayed true to your roots. Nothing is more frustrating in the publishing world than people so paranoid about stepping on people's toes. When VegNews and Herbivore were in their heyday, they had no problem printing edgy, even shocking, stories about the food industry and culture. Now, saying something negative is frowned on by publishers worried about selling even more magazines. I'm hoping someone with some decent vegan values sees the need for a new magazine for vegans. Perhaps the next guy won't be so willing to sell out.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Some ramblings

Well, it's official, the fall semester is well underway. I haven't written in the blog in a while because I've been using every spare moment to read something for one of my classes. I'm just starting in my journey to earn a master's degree in English. Oh, the things I've forgotten. I earned my bachelor's degree in 1998 so I'm basically playing big-time catch-up. Being back in school is both exciting and terrifying at the same time. I was worried the other day at work because I had been asked to attend a lunch meeting that started at 11 a.m. No one would do anything for the oddball vegan, and I couldn't exactly eat lunch beforehand at 10 a.m. I was getting mentally ready to be hungry and miserable for a long period of time. The organizer of the lunch came to talk to me about what I'd be doing at the lunch and made the comment, "I know they won't be serving your preferred cuisine." I responded back (perhaps with a little too much vitriol) with, "I know; it'll be painful." Perhaps it was my bad attitude, but I got a call later that I wouldn't have to attend the lunch. Wahoo! Whining does work. Really, veganism is not simply a preference. This is the core of my ethical beliefs. A vegan is who I am, much like a Jew is Jewish. Really, would people make that sort of comment to a person who had a religious conviction? The lunch is pork and the organizer tells the Jew, "I know it's not your preferred cuisine," how would that person react? Would there be grounds for a discrimination complaint? Also on my mind has been this ridiculous argument by meat-eaters that plants have feelings, too, and vegans are wreaking more pain than meat-eaters. Ummm, no. Say the meat-eaters are correct and plants do have feelings, what is the weight of their argument? Not very good. Take cows, for instance. Of all the corn and soy beans that are fed to the cow, only about 20 percent of those calories are available in the animal's flesh. That means, instead of feeding those plants directly to humans, five times as much cropland have to be used to get the same amount of calories from the cow. In other words, you have five times as much plant suffering from the meat-eater, and you still have the suffering of the cow. Being a vegan would actually cause less plant suffering, believe it or not. Plus, we know the environmental destruction being caused by razing of rainforests to clear the way for land to grow crops for domesticated animals. We have far more farmland than we need right now to feed the world a vegan diet. The same can't be said for feeding the world an American-style meat-centric diet.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Wedding blues



I actually was looking forward to the wedding on Saturday. My wife's cousin, Erica, had made a point of telling us there would be a vegan meal for us at her wedding reception. Erica and her beau got hitched in the fanciest of places, the country club at The Dominion in San Antonio, the place where country singer George Strait and former basketball great David Robinson and other famous people reside. Normally, when we go to a family event, we come prepared or get a bite to eat beforehand. That wasn't the case, however, when Erica's sister, Susan, got married in January. Susan knew full well we were vegans, so we came relaxed. The only thing we could find at that wedding was chips and salsa -- albeit good chips and salsa. Needless to say, that was a let down, but we let our guard down again this past weekend when we drove four and half hours to attend Erica's wedding. The wedding was beautiful, but what were they thinking to have a wedding outdoors in August in Texas? One of the bridesmaids got faint and had to leave. We had to hear the preacher talk about how a wife is in "servitude" to her husband, but the pastor goes on to say, "That doesn't mean they aren't equals." Huh? I don't care what the Bible says. Servitude means slavery. Supposedly John and Erica really care about animals -- he's a vet, she a nurse and they both are members of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Yet, they didn't see anything cruel about releasing turtles and butterflies during the wedding. I thought about those poor butterflies all cooped up and hungry when they flew to the nearest flowers after being released. How many in that box died, I wonder? Anyway, we made it to the reception, which was thankfully indoors. Everyone but us got a plate full of beef kabobs, asparagus, rice and some sort of sauce made out of the beef droppings. We got our plates after everyone else. It was grilled vegetables that were cooked on the grill that had been used for the kabobs. They didn't have any sauce on them. They were disgusting and not vegan. Afterward, we went to a Mediterranean place (Alex's Shish Kabab, 7500 Eckhert Road, No. 152, San Antonio, TX 78249, (210) 680-1826) close to my parents-in-laws' home. This wonderful chef made to-die-for pitas, hummus, fresh baba ganoush and dolmas. The chef had recently come to San Antonio after having had a successful restaurant in Seattle for two decades. We couldn't have been more fortunate.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Relief: Hurricane likely to miss Rio Grande Valley



It looks like Hurricane Dean won't hit us in the deepest part of South Texas. It has been a lesson, though, to be better prepared. We need to be ready to board up our windows, sand bag the doors, pick up loose items in the yard, have several days worth of food and water supply, and if we need to evacuate to put our cats (all six) in cat carriers and collect the few most precious items (pictures, important documents) before we leave. Hopefully, if a hurricane ever strikes, there never is any serious flooding in our neighborhood because it would break my heart to lose the plants in our garden.

Dog dumping in South Texas

Fellow Valley resident Noemi Martinez (She runs a kool Web site called Hermana Resist) brought a series animal abuse articles printed in The (McAllen) Monitor to my attention. It looks as though the city of Edcouch was picking up living stray dogs and then dumping their dead carcasses in ditches around Hidalgo County, apparently to save money, according to a city worker. I presume the dogs were being killed somehow, either by starvation or other methods. Either way, this is grossly despicable behavior. "It's revolting and disgusting," Noemi said. I think this shows how mean humans can be, but thank goodness at least one person had a conscience and shed some light on this tragic story and may prevent further abuses. I can't help but think how odd our culture is when it is OK to treat some animals (cows, chickens, pigs) in the torturous conditions of factory farms, but others, such as dogs, cats and horses, draw gasps from most in society when they are treated cruelly. The only reason why The Monitor pursued these stories is because it fit in that weird category where the line is drawn on animal cruelty. The problem is that the ethics of animal cruelty are not consistent, and so it obvious why some can't understand what the rules of decency are. It is equally strange to me why some think it is OK to eat cows, chickens and pigs and odd that someone would consider consuming a horse, dog or cat. We don't need to consume any animal to survive, and if had a culture of treating other animals with dignity and respect as fellow living creatures, we would never fall into the trap of what's ethical or not. Being cruel to any animal would not be ethical, and no one would confuse that. Here are the links to the stories from The Monitor on the dog abuses: No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, No. 4

Here is a little bit from the first story that Noemi sent me.

EDCOUCH — Nestled in a ditch less than two-tenths of a mile east of the city maintenance shop here rests a lumpy, gray, plastic garbage bag.
Inside it is the fly-ridden, decomposing carcass of what was a black, medium-sized dog.
Municipal workers here have been starving dogs to death and irresponsibly tossing their carcasses in ditches inside and around the city limits for months, as ordered by the city manager, according to former city worker Abel Escovedo and Mayor Jose Calin Guzman.
Along with other city maintenance workers, Escovedo said he was ordered by City Manager Ernesto Ayala Jr. to pick up stray dogs in town and keep them at the maintenance shop for a week.
"We've been dumping dogs," he said. "(Workers) went at least 10 times in the last two months."
After talking with The Monitor Wednesday afternoon, Guzman said he had heard from various city workers that "a lot of dead dogs" had been dumped outside the Edcouch city limits.
"That's enough to fire that guy or have him quit," Guzman said. "I'm so discontented by this."
Escovedo said he was told by his supervisor that the dogs were dumped to avoid the costs of turning them over to area animal shelters.
"I said, 'Isn't (dumping dogs) against the law?' but Ayala told me they didn't have no money for the city to drop them off at the dog pound," Escovedo said.


To read more, click here.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Dean is a comin'!

Hello, I am Anita, Andrew's wife, here for a guest post. We are bracing for Hurricane Dean, which may or may not bare down on us on Thursday. I went to the grocery store today, to pick up some veggies for dinner, and one of my favorite voyeuristic things to do is to see what other folks have in their grocery carts. Of course, because of the pending storm, I saw lots of water bottles, chips, snacks, and "potted meats"....(Can there be a more revolting item than a potted meat?) And so much pre-seasoned pre-marinated HEB beef in plastic bags. Why so much meat? Just what to they intend to do with it? Are they going to have a BBQ during the storm? I think of raw animal flesh as one of the least convenient things to prepare during a storm. MMMMM, the thought of a well-stocked deep freeze chock-full of a side of a cow, in the aftermath of a hurricane, losing the protection of its electrical chill...now putrefying in the lovely humid heat of the Rio Grande Valley.

In Austin prior to Hurricane Rita, I remember being in another HEB with empty shelves where the sodas, water, bread and chips had been. I have no use for these things. This is my plan. We have "Windmill" water stored up in reusable bottles (no use in bringing home tons and tons of plastic bottles just for "one-use" water), we have organic corn chips, jars of salsa and canned beans and canned tomatoes with green chilies. We have avocados and watermelon and nectarines. I have some really tasty instant bean soups and oatmeal that require nothing more than boiling water. We have some instant humus mix and pitas. We have peanut butter, and walnuts and peanuts and almonds. We have "Hemp Bread". Hopefully we will be able to use our gas stove, and if not, we have a propane camping stove as a last resort. I think I'll do some baking on Wednesday and make up some cinnamon rolls and some more peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies. I will miss Andrew's amazing tofu and buckwheat noodle stir fries with beets, carrots and cabbage or his tempeh jerk sandwiches with sprouts and pickles. But we certainly won't starve!

I haven't lived through a hurricane since I was a child, when we were living in McAllen and fled to Austin, only to run into a bunch of offshoots of tornadoes! But we are ready now, hoping for the best, preparing for the worst. Knowing the damage that cyclones cause around the world, I wish for the best for everyone possibly impacted by this storm. Have mercy on us Dean!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

How can people be so cruel?

I have to say, I'm a little flabbergasted by this alleged story of animal cruelty from Big Sandy, Texas. I know animal cruelty exists, but I always wonder how people can be so mean. Here are the first two paragraphs of the story, which appears in the Austin American-Statesman:

Two East Texas women face charges of animal cruelty after authorities found the remains of dozens of dogs in their trailer home, authorities said.
The dogs' bodies were stuffed into coolers, plastic bags and the freezer. Animal control officers also recovered nine living dogs.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The naughty fruit





The avocado is a remarkable fruit and one I would find hard to live without. A perfectly ripe avocado is a culinary experience unto itself. Some of the best avocados I've ever had were here in the Rio Grande Valley. It's because we are closer to the best source for quality avocados, the central-southern parts of Mexico. When Anita and I crossed the international border on Saturday to Nuevo Progresso, we picked up several avocados. Because of customs laws that were meant to protect Californian and Hawaiian agricultural interests, whole avocados were long banned from being allowed to cross the border into the United States. Recently that ban was eased, and commercial interests can import them, but the ban still exists for the individual. They do permit avocados without their pits to come into the country. The vendor removes the pit, puts a chunk of a chili in its places and closes the avocado back up. These can stay good for a couple of days. The ones we got in Nuevo Progresso were simply amazing. We used them in tacos, guacamole and a hummus sandwich. By the way, the root of the word avocado comes from Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs in Mexico. They named it ahaucatl because of its resemblance to testicles.

What do you want human?



Cuteness queen Snowbell isn't quite sure yet what to think about this intrusion into her catnap.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A trip across the border to Nuevo Progresso






On Saturday, Anita and I ventured to Nuevo Progresso, just on the other side of the Rio Grande in Mexico. This was our first time visiting this popular tourist trap. The town would obviously not exist without American shoppers. The first thing I noticed over there was the numerous dentist and doctor offices on the main dusty drag just across the international bridge. I suppose people come across the border to have their teeth or body worked on. I don't know how comfortable I would be to do something like that, but if you can't afford something in the United States, at least there is a cheaper option. I really wonder if there is a difference in the quality of care. The main drag is littered with shops selling things from bootleg CDs to woven blankets to ceramic pottery to prints of Frida Kahlo paintings. There are street-side vendors selling food, including cabrito tacos (baby goat meat) and lonches (meat sandwich). For the vegan, there really are slim pickings. There was one guy roasting corn. Anita had an ear and really enjoyed it. There are places that sell chilled cut fruit in cups. When Mexicans buy it, it is common for them to sprinkle a hot chili pepper/lime/salt powder on it. You can buy cheap spices over there, and you can pick up some avocados (Vendors remove the pit and put a chili in the middle because you can't take a whole avocado across the border). Of course, there were lots of places selling alcohol. Tourists walked up and down the streets clinging to their beers. The voices of some tourists belting out choppy lyrics would drift out from karaoke bars. There were also a lot of beggars, waving cups or their hands, hoping for some donations. Nuevo Progresso is probably considered a prosperous city by Mexican standards, but even so, there's a lot of desperation. It really makes me sick watching Americans living it up, getting plastered in the open-air bars while a poor malnourished Mexican sits on the sidewalk a few feet away trying to draw the notice of any passerby.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The death of a vegetarian restaurant

The closing of Nu Age Cafe, a mostly vegan fine dining restaurant in Austin, comes as a complete shock (See story in Austin American-Statesman). My wife and I were there when they opened their doors and saw with pride as they slowly picked up their clientele. We enjoyed one of our wedding anniversaries there. I absolutely loved their sesame seitan and the brown rice served in banana leaves. They had amazing deserts and an incredible assortment of fun drinks. Since moving from Austin, I have missed the vegetarian restaurants I used to frequent, and I must say Nu Age Cafe held a special place in my heart. The closing of Nu Age Cafe had nothing to do with the quality of the food. It was because of a death in the family. This news comes a few years since West Lynn Cafe in Austin closed. That was another fine dining vegetarian restaurant. It sold to Cosmic Cafe, a Dallas-based vegetarian Indian restaurant chain. That, too, closed. Losing a cherished vegetarian restaurant feels like a death in the family. It feels like I've had the breath sucked out of me. I can only hope a new vegetarian restaurant will soon emerge from this sad tale that will take me on a new adventure I won't ever want to leave from.

She's back: Niiiiina

Clearly, The New York Times wasn't shamed by the slanderous "Death by Veganism" column it printed a couple of months ago. You remember: Veganism is unnatural and dangerous, while humans are made of fish oil. The New York Times never did provide corrections for all of the errors in the column. Now, the Times is going back to the author of the column, Nina Planck, in a story today about raw milk. This woman who belittled vegan mothers for what they feed their children, feeds raw milk to her 9-month-old child. She's basically playing Russian roulette with her child's health. Planck said it is unnatural to feed a growing child a vegan diet, but I guess she doesn't think it is unusual to suck on the tit of another animal and consume the milk meant for its own baby. Here is what the article says in part:

Nina Planck, the author of “Real Food: What to Eat and Why,” defied the F.D.A.’s warning and drank raw milk while she was pregnant. She not only continues to drink it while nursing her 9-month-old son, Julian, but also allows him the occasional sip. She has an arrangement with a couple of farmers to deliver it to New York City.
“We drink raw milk because we trust the traditional food chain more than the industrial one,” said Ms. Planck, who knows a number of farmers from her days as director of the New York City Greenmarkets and through her boyfriend, Rob Kaufelt, the owner of Murray’s Cheese in Greenwich Village.
“We’re willing to spend more money the higher up the food chain we go,” she said. “We’re not alone, either. You cannot categorize the people who are drinking raw milk. They are people from the blue states and red states, farmers and yuppies and Birkenstock wearers.”
Food scientists can hardly believe that so many consumers have turned their back on one of the most successful public health endeavors of the 20th century. In 1938, for example, milk caused 25 percent of all outbreaks of food- and water-related sickness.
With the advent of universal pasteurization, that number fell to 1 percent by 1993, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nutrition advocacy group in Washington.


Now, I don't wish anything but the best for young Julian, but wouldn't it just be the grandest of ironies if Planck's child became sick or died because of what she fed him?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Taking cruelty to a new level

I should've expected to be shocked when I tuned into "Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern" on the Travel Channel. Any part of a dead animal is pretty bizarre to me. I'm always amazed how meat-eaters can be grossed out about eating a different part of the same animal that they crave. Now, that's bizarre. The cow's tongue is gross, but the cow's butt flesh is yummy? Anyway, Zimmern sunk to a new low yesterday while dining at a New York sushi joint. He had a lobster carved up and served to him alive while he ate the living animal's flesh out of its body. Imagine being kept alive while someone dined on your legs. Don't we as humans have at least some basic sense of morals? Killing is wrong, but what Zimmern did reached an all-time karmic low.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Mmmm, chocolate



This past weekend I had a strong craving for a cake. I used my "Sinfully Vegan" cookbook by Lois Dieterly to make Chocolate Covered Golden Cake. It was and still is quite delicious. I did make a few changes to the recipe. One, I find white flour to be an abomination, so I used whole wheat pastry flour instead. I also find artificially solidified oils to be something you shouldn't put in your body. Instead of margarine, I used canola oil. It looks like all Dieterly wants you to use as a sweetener throughout the book is maple syrup. She must live on a maple syrup farm because where I live, it is very expensive. Her cake recipe called for a cup and a half of maple syrup. Instead, I used half a cup of maple syrup and half a cup of Succant. For the whipped chocolate frosting, I only used about half of what I made. I put the other half in the refrigerator. In hindsight, the cake I made was very dense and could have been split in two with a layer of frosting between the layers. My wife's description of the cake was that it taste like "a muffin with chocolate pudding on top." I need to think of ways to lighten up the batter without having to resort to white flour. Any ideas?

Oh so good




One of the advantages of living in South Texas is the ability to grow a wide variety of my own tropical food plants. I aspire to be a permaculturalist. Like being a vegan, a permaculturalist makes her ecological footprint lighter by being more responsible for her actions. I have a hard time accepting someones commitment to being an environmentalist if she doesn't seriously consider being a vegan. The same goes for permaculture. Why have a lawn when you can cultivate a relationship with native plants and food plants? In these pictures, you see a variety of mango I'm growing called 'Carrie.' This is from my first crop. 'Carrie' is a delicious mango with such an explosion of flavor that can't be found in a grocery store. I had the ability to wait until the last possible second before harvesting this mango when it literally fell into my hand after simply touching it. In addition to two mango trees, my wife, Anita, and I are growing a wide selection of fruit trees, including two figs, two oranges, three key limes, one satsuma, one Meyer lemon, one regular lemon, one tangerine, four papayas, one longan, one starfruit, one guava, one avocado, one custard apple and one jujube. We also have two pomegranate bushes, and we are working on starting a vegetable garden. We have some vegetable plants growing in our flower beds. We grow herbs, as well, including rosemary, basil, oregano, epizote and sage. Everywhere else, native plants and roses are trying to help me kill the grass. Growing your own food reduces your need to buy oil-laden crops from the grocery store, and you can enjoy the healthful properties of crops that haven't been coated with pesticides. You can also take joy in returning your home's soil back to health. Think of growing food crops as a bank account. When peak oil crashes, your investments will pay off big time. I just love watching the magic of nature doing her work. I also think of my garden as a native seed bank that, with the help of birds, can help restore areas destroyed by development.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Can a vegan thrive on a remote Pacific island?



In my blog entry yesterday when I pondered the thought if a vegan could thrive on a remote Pacific island, I really had no intimate knowledge to back up my guesses. I forgot about a wonderful book that I own by the famous Norwegian scientist-explorer, Thor Heyerdahl, called “Fatu-Hiva: Back to Nature.” In 1936, Heyerdahl and his wife, Liv, spent their honeymoon living on the deserted side of the Polynesian island of Fatu-Hiva for a year. Much of Heyerdahl’s work involved whether the Polynesians had contact with the people of South America or if much of the plant crops made their way to the islands without human intervention. Obviously, the Polynesians and the South Americans were much more advanced than white conquerors ever gave them credit for. But I’m digressing. Heyerdahl was not a vegan. He ate fish and pigs and probably many other animals. He also ate a wide variety of plants growing wild on the island, including sweet potatoes (the white variety), bananas, plantains, pineapples, breadfruit, mangoes, husk tomatoes, taro, coconuts, oranges, limes, lemons, sugarcane, lemongrass and papayas. Also growing on the island was hibiscus, wild cotton and bamboo. You can eat bamboo shoots and use its wood for a building material. You can clearly see, a vegan could survive on Heyerdahl’s island. The only thing she would have to worry about is vitamin B-12. As I discussed earlier, you can take the step of composting your own manure ─ since your body’s bacteria make B-12 in your large intestine ─ and using the finished compost to contaminate some of your vegetables with B-12. Here is some material from the book that I thought was fascinating:

As predicted by Teriieroo, the precious fei, or mountain plantain, which on Tahiti grew only in almost inaccessible cliffs, grew all around our cabin on Fatu-Hiva. It became our favorite, staple diet. Inedible when raw, it was roasted on embers and eaten dipped in the creamy white sauce of grated and squeezed coconut kernel. This coconut sauce was our only oil and served a multitude of purposes, culinary, as well as cosmetic. Production was simple: We grated the nut with a serrated piece of shell and squeezed the crumbs by twisting yellow-green meat of the fei, sweeter than fried banana, had a special flavor of excellent quality, of which we never tired. Besides the fei, the forest offered us seven different kinds of real bananas, from a tiny, round variety, resembling a yellow egg with strawberry flavor, to the large horse-banana, almost as long as an arm, which had to be cooked and then tasted like baked apple.
It was unusual to come across ripe bananas hanging the plant. When we reached for one, it was like grabbing a finger on an empty glove: It was already hollowed out by small fruit rats and consumed with the help of lizards and tiny, yellow banana flies. But there was plenty for all of us. We simply collected the clusters when they were just about ready to turn yellow, and hung them unsheltered in the breadfruit tree next to our window, where the sun would ripen them in a day or two and under our control. Their taste was unmatched by commercial bananas, which have to be picked weeks too early so as to survive the long transportation.
We had learned not to climb the slippery stem of the banana plant to reach its cluster of fruit. With a hard stroke of the machete, the entire stem cut like an onion and we rushed to grab the cluster of bananas before it was smashed against the ground as the whole plant feel. This seemingly vandalistic procedure as due to the fact that neither a fei nor a banana yields fruit twice. On Fatu-Hiva, the green stump remaining above the root began pushing up a new plant immediately, and so fast that the growth could be seen daily. The juicy inner ring of the onionlike cut began to rise above the others and slowly pulled up the next ring and the next. In a fortnight, the old stump resembled a flowerpot holding a green pole as tall as a man, which now opened up to unfold a green banner, the first, huge leaf. The new plant crept up just slowly enough to seem to have its speed cautiously adjusted not to scare us, not to wake us up to the fact that in the forest there is no borderline between what we consider natural and what we would have considered magic if it happened with a speed that would catch our eye. Within a year, a big, new plant had silently replaced the old one and stood there motionless and mute, ready to offer a new cluster of tasty bananas to hungry passersby.
The coconut was almost equally important to our daily fare. Most of the coconut palms near our hut were so incredibly tall and they swayed so much that I could not manage to get to the top, but there were always plenty of ripe nuts, covered with husk, to be found on the ground. Some of them had fallen down weeks before, and a baby palm was fumbling in the opposite direction, trying to get a foothold and pierce the ground. In these overmature nuts, most of the hard kernel and dissolved in the milk and begun to form a spongy, white ball looking like a brain, edible, but with a sugary taste unlike the nut itself. Even the “marrow” of the stem on a young palm was edible, like a giant piece of crisp celery.
Most of the food plants kept up a non-stop production and yielded fruits and nuts all the year round. The spiny orange trees carried sweet-smelling white flowers and green and ripe, golden fruit side by side on the same branches, and so did lemon trees and lime. Most of the old breadfruit trees were so big that I could not encircle the smooth trunk in order to climb it if the lower branches did not happen to be within reach. The impressive foliage resembled oversize oak leaves, and, scattered throughout the cooked branches, hung green, globular fruits as large as a baby’s head. The tough, gnarled rind cracked when toasted black on embers, and loosened, when cooked, from the delicious white meat within. It was a starchy and filling dish, tasting like a cross between fresh toast and new potatoes. This fibrous meat could be torn apart with the finger like bread., it could be sliced and fried crisp in a coconut oil on a flat slab, and it could be buried in the ground for months or yeas and eaten as a pounded porridge when completely fermented.
The most important wild tuber we came across in the forest was the taro, the closest we came to potatoes. It had once been cultivated in irrigated swamps, but as the planters disappeared, it now grew wild in the swampy soil below the spring. A huge, heart-shaped leaf stood like a parasol above each individual taro root, and in between grew some other wild leaves of the same shape, but so big that we used them as umbrellas in the rain, and as body-sized “fig leaves” if native visitors should ever surprise us in the pool.
There was still more to harvest in the surrounding forest. Large, pear-shaped papayas. Small but extra-flavorsome mangoes. Wild pineapples. Tiny, red husk tomatoes. Pandanus, with its compound of nutlike kernels. The nobly, blue-green tapo-tapo. And a single large tree with a gorgeous fruit looking and tasting like a red strawberry but as large as a cauliflower.
For drinks, we had mineral water from the cool spring, orange juice, lemon squash sweetened with squeezed sugarcane, and the milk of green coconuts harvested with a struggle from the lower palms higher up the hill. In Tahiti, Liv had learned from Faufau to prepare as a hot beverage a very tasty tea from the withered leaves of orange trees. We often planned to gather and roast the red berries of a few coffee pants that grew in the thickets right behind our cabin, but got too fond of our orange tree.


I thought this was interesting, too, about the making of poipoi, “the staple diet in most of Polynesia,” before they attempted to live off the land:

Nowhere else was poipoi made as strong as in the Marquesas group. Breadfruit in large quantities was buried in deep pits in the ground and covered with large leaves. It was left to rot for a year, and sometimes much longer. When thoroughly rotten, the sticky dough was dug up and beaten with a polished stone pounder. Bits of fresh breadfruit also were sometimes pounded into this sour pasted, which was eaten raw. Marquesan poipoi stinks so intensely that a normal nose can sniff a dinner party a mile away in the jungle. The islanders frequently told us that they were so accustomed to this sour dough from early childhood that they could not digest a sturdy meal without it.
There it was, in the communal bowl before our noses. Like the rest of the group around it, we just had to dig our three longest fingers into the sticky mess and comfort ourselves with the discovery that it was better fitted to the palate than to the nose. The darkness helped us. We ate less than our movements suggested as we dug in the dark bowl.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Veganism in a good light

The New York Times published a nice piece on Monday about the vegan diet book, "Skinny Bitch," by Rory Freedman and Kim Barmouin. The book is such an interesting way to introduce people to veganism. It doesn't scare people away from it by using the word vegan on the title page. My wife has a copy of the book at her workplace, and one co-worker said she'd like to read it. I'm sure if it said vegan something or the other on the title page the reaction would have been different.

In defense of veganism

The magazine, Energy Times, which is distributed in health food stores, recently took up the debate about vegan diets in an article called "Omnivore vs. Vegan." They allowed for a back and forth debate between a representative for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and a hack for the Westin Price Foundation. It was interesting. I'm will to bet the lady from the Westin Price Foundation would infuriate any vegan. She says stuff like this: "Science strongly supports the health benefits of vegetables, but the evidence for vegan diets is inconsistent and contradictory at best." I think the health benefits of a vegan diet are indeed well established, and there are numerous large studies that show the benefits of a vegan diet. For this lady, who has a doctoral degree in nutrition to simply lie like that, to me, is grounds for her to have her Ph.D. revoked. That is using her degree in a deceiving way. That's not to say you can't eat poorly on a vegan diet and suffer health consequences because of that. In the day and age of processed foods, any vegan can fall into the convenience foods trap. The wacko Westin Price lady also says: "Sadly, veganism won’t even help our planet. Only 11 percent of the land can be farmed, a percentage that cannot be increased without deforestation, irrigation, chemical fertilizers and other destructive ecological practices." We all know this isn't true. First of all, organic growing methods are successful at feeding people, and they only sustainable way we can keep it up for the long term. Chemical fertilizers destroy the soil. Once the soil is destroyed, then you can't grow any crops on that property. Organics protects the pollinators and builds the soil. The Westin Price lady insinuates in her comment that cattle and other livestock freely roam all of that other land, and humans benefit from that. The vast majority of cattle, pigs and chickens are raised in factory farms, not on fields of grass that supposedly can't support the growing of crops. The calories the livestock consume are from crops that are unnatural to them -- mostly corn and soy. The corn has to be processed in a special way and the cattle have be given special enzymes and antibiotics before the cows can even digest the stuff. If they subsist on the corn too long, they will get sick and die, but they are sent off to the slaughterhouse before that time. Don't forget that it takes more crops to feed livestock before they are fed to humans. Much of the calories are lost in the process of growing crops for livestock. That need to feed livestock is one of the big contributors to the deforestation of the Amazon rain forest. There are way more than enough crops being grown today. Even if no one ever ate livestock ever again, there would be enough. One of the biggest environmental challenges of our day is the waste being produced by concentrated animal feed lots. They cause massive destruction to local waterways that humans rely on for drinking water. Lastly, the author of this article, Patrick Dougherty, is clearly biased. Look at his introduction to the article: "Imagine a vegan is shipwrecked on a remote tropical island. Suddenly, the luxury of choosing foods that suit vegan beliefs is replaced with the necessity of finding any food that is available. While seaweed, edible roots and the occasional coconut might offer temporary plant-based sustenance, a starving vegan would eventually also turn to fishing, hunting for wild boars, collecting eggs and scavenging for grubs. Holding aloft a wriggling, freshly speared fish, which ordinarily might trigger revulsion in a vegan, would now bring gratification for protein, healthy essential fatty acids, food energy and a full belly." That's ridiculous that any one in this age of overpopulation would be abandoned on a remote tropical island. Even so, the vegan wouldn't have to go to the lengths the author describes, which to me sounds like he's copying "Lord of the Flies." In the "Lord of the Flies," the killing of the boar represents the loss of the children's humanity. They turn into savages. The only nutrient that the vegan would need to worry about is B-12. B-12 stores last for a long time. Provided that some fruits and vegetables weren't washed, the contamination could be there. Your own large intestine makes B-12. You could designate a place to make compost out of your waste. Once you have finished compost, you could used that to contaminate your vegetables with B-12. I imagine the island that I'm on, since it supports many birds and boars, has plenty of plant products for me, too, such as taro, cassava, sapote or citrus (depending on what part of the Pacific you are stranded on), bananas, maybe Suriname cherry, hibiscus flowers, of course coconut, other palm fruits, a crazy amount of greens (including those of the cassava), custard apples and many other plants. Provided we were able to produce fire, I think vegans could live quite comfortably on a remote tropical island that supported boars.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hoping the best for tiger involved in attack

Yet another animal is probably in harms way after a tiger at the San Antonio Zoo attacked its keepers this weekend, sending him to the hospital. The keeper will recover. It is typical human reaction to kill animals who attack humans, but we forget: It is the animal's nature to kill other creatures. Only time will tell in this case, but I'm willing to bet zookeepers will kill the tiger. I hope I'm wrong. Zoos are disgusting human creations and are nothing more than animal prisons. The San Antonio Zoo is especially bad with tiny enclosures for the animals. If I had my way, I would abolish all zoos. Instead, I would seek animal conservation areas with breading areas, if needed. Zoos as conservation tools are simply excuses to keep tearing up the animals' habitats. I don't need to see an animal in an enclosure to appreciate its majesty. Hopefully, Berani the tiger will not be executed.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Road Trip to San Antone

Queensryche, San Antonio
Queensryche

Queensryche, San Antonio
Queensryche

Vegan, San Antonio, Fire Bowl Cafe, Vermicelli Noodles
Vermicelli noodles with mixed vegetables, fried tofu and a spicy peanut butter sauce

Vegan, San Antonio, Fire Bowl Cafe, Teriyaki Rice
Brown rice with mixed vegetables, fried tofu and a Teriyaki sauce

This past weekend I made a rare visit to San Antonio to see mine and my wife's favorite band, Queensryche, perform. It was totally kool, except for the brief fight that broke out among two fans and the guy smoking pot near us. The music, though, was amazing. This band sounds as good live as they do on their albums. That's saying a lot. We also went to see Michael Moore's "Sicko" documentary. It was excellent. I've wanted universal health care in the United States. It seems we can never get any traction on the issue, but maybe just maybe Moore can help generate some interest in the subject among voters. The documentary was incredibly heart wrenching. It makes you want to live in a country where the people care enough about each other to take care of them medically. I grew up in the military, and I was provided plenty of free, quality health care. I served in the Army, and I got some more good care when I was in the service. Since I've been out, I haven't had a decent doctor's visit once. I've been out of the military for 11 years. The bottom line is we need to get rid of the middle man in this medical game, the insurance companies, who merely take their cut and hand the rest of the money you or the company you work for to the doctors. We also need to take out the outrageous profits doctors and pharmaceutical companies make. There is hope, but there's also Canada if all else fails. Sigh. Anyway, I went to one of my favorite restaurants, Fire Bowl Cafe in the Quarry Market. I had the horror of realizing the dish I had ordered several times before had fish in the sauce. I was such an idiot because the menu clearly marked the vegetarian sauces. I had the Szechuan garlic sauce, which I'm sure had fish in it. I presumed it was vegetarian because I was familiar with making Szechuan garlic sauce, and I had never heard of fish being added to the sauce. Ugh. Anyway, the Thai spring rolls at the restaurant are amazing. This visit, my wife got the vermicelli noodles with mixed vegetables, fried tofu and a spicy peanut butter sauce. I had brown rice with mixed vegetables, fried tofu and a Teriyaki sauce. Both were very sweet and not very spicy. We fixed that with some chili sauce and more soy sauce. Mmmm.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Wee bit o' hope dashed


I couldn't believe it when I heard a rumor that Guinness changed its ways and became a vegan beer. I checked on the Internet, and sure enough, there were some Web sites out there claiming that Guinness stopped using isinglass, a fish product, to clarify it. One of the Web sites said Guinness started using a centrifuge instead. I checked on the Guinness Web site, and it said they used a centrifuge twice to clarify the beer. "Wow," I thought, "maybe the rumor is true." I was still dubious, though, and I e-mailed the company. Here was their response: "In reference to your inquiry, isinglass, a fish product, is used during the clarification process as a magnet to get rid of excess yeast. To the strict Vegan, this would be an animal product and unsuitable." Oh well, I guess I can't have a Guinness. Beck's Dark is really good and vegan, and they'll get my money as long as Guinness refuses to remove an unnecessary product from its brewing process. Speaking of dark vegan beers, does anyone have any favorites that they'd like to share? I'm always looking for another good brew.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The weight of an argument

Have you heard the recent criticism of Michael Moore and his new documentary, "Sicko" (which I plan on seeing this weekend)? Some are saying that the documentary's conclusions that universal health care is needed are not valid because Michael Moore is fat. That's perhaps one of the most illogical arguments I've heard in a while. Moore's weight has nothing to do with his reasoning. How many doctors live unhealthy lifestyles? I'm sure it's more than those who live healthy ones. Does that disqualify them from giving sound medical advice? I don't think so. What about trainers of world champion boxers? Some of them are short and fat, but Mike Tyson would never have been world champion had he not be taught how to box by one of these trainers. Would it be better for doctors and Michael Moore to be thin and vegans? Absolutely. (Oh my, I'm sounding like Donald Rumsfeld.) Certainly, a person's ability to reason never has anything to with weight of that individual.

Monday, July 9, 2007

We may be veagns, but we aren't pushovers

Would there be such a thing as guilt if there were no relatives? Probably, but there would be a lot less of it. I think my wife and I are looked down upon by our relatives because we refuse to allow any meat to come into our house. Our refrigerator, and our stove have never met meat before, and we would like to keep it that way. It's not that that we are against feeding our relatives. We enjoy cooking for them. We are happy to feed anyone who stops by, but we are a vegan household. Anita and I were musing about one of our parents getting sick and having to take care of one of them, and we kept thinking about how we keep our parent from bringing meat into our house. If there is any place you should have as a sanctuary, it should be your home. On a side note, on that recent family reunion in which we had to endure a massive barbecue, my wife's brother actually had the nerve to ask us to fetch him some barbecue because he wouldn't be attending the reunion. Are we assholes for refusing? Are we too sensitive because we can't stand the smell of meat? We may be vegans, but we aren't doormats.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Go vegan, or you might eat human

I was walking down the frozen food section at the grocery store during lunch today, glancing at the products. "Wow, a new Indian dish that's vegan," I thought. I don't usually buy these highly processed foods, but that's good information to know in case I ever want to. Then, I saw a product I used to like when I was a vegetarian (before becoming vegan). Michael Angelo's frozen eggplant lasagna. Absolutely awful for you, but every time I see that brand, it makes me shake my head. Michael Angelo's is a good reason for anyone to go vegan. In 2003, they had an employee cleaning meat processing equipment at their factory Round Rock, Texas, get sucked into a machine and ground out the other side. OSHA fined the company for not making appropriate safety precautions. I'm not sure if they ever took care of the man's wife. I doubt it. As I was standing in the frozen food aisle earlier today, I wondered if the Michael Angelo's factory still uses that piece of machinery that killed the man. I bet they still do, but I don't know it for sure. It reminds me of the labels that frustrate me all of the time that say "May contain dairy." I really don't like buying even those products. Should Michael Angelo's be required to say, "May contain human," if they still use that deadly piece of equipment? I wonder how many new vegans that would generate?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Hating Rachael Ray's way

I had to laugh when I saw fellow vegan blog, The Veg Blog, post reasons to hate Rachael Ray. Among the reasons my wife hates Rachael Ray is that she is always saying "delish" and "yummo." Do you have any reasons to hate Rachael Ray?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The anti-vegan whines some more

I’m getting tired of keeping this up (see string of blog entries below), but here is one more response by Andy C. on the Chicago Tribune Web site:

“I'm choking on all of the self-righteousness here. zak and Andrew seem to think that ALL vegans know exactly where their food comes from and that it ALL is locally grown. They also seem to think that everyone can afford to eat like this. They also seem to think that ALL meat eaters are horrible people.
Others here know for a FACT that a vegan lifestyle is the healthiest lifestyle that there is, when even doctors can't agree on the subject. They do some internet research or read a book and they think that they are experts on the subject.
Sorry folks. Humans are born omnivores and no amount of self-righteousness is gong to change that. A balanced diet that includes vegetables, grains, fruit, and meat is the healthiest lifestyle that there is, and there is a mountain of evidence out there that proves it.”


My response: Andy C., I am not suggesting that all vegans pay attention to the local food movement. I'm saying that I pay attention to that. Doctors have no room to speak on the subject of nutrition. They are not qualified or trained to do that. Nutrition scientists are, however. T. Colin Campbell, who authored "The China Study," does just that. His conclusion based on the massive and highly respected study in China: A vegan diet is the most healthy one. I'm not an expert on human physiology and have not read much on the subject, so I can't speak whether we are meant to be omnivores. I suspect we are born omnivores, but considering our lack of canines, I doubt we were meant to eat large mammals. More likely, we are meant to eat small insects. Considering our long intestines, I doubt we were meant to eat carrion, either. I don't have to eat meat products, and that's just fine with me.

Responding to the anti-vegan's response

I must be getting to the anti-vegans. Andy C. on the Chicago Tribune Web site comes back for more: (see string of entries below)

“Andrew, I simply don't believe that you can't see the difference between eating a dog and eating a cow in the context of our society. Any reasonable person can. You are simply attempting to throw gasoline on a fire. Besides, why should it matter to you that I eat cows and not dogs? Perhaps I find the thought of eating dogs offensive, or perhaps I just don't like the taste. It is irrelevant to the argument.”

My response: Andy C., my point is that there would be far fewer meat-eaters if they had a more intimate relationship with their food. Eating dogs and horses fell out of practice, probably because we established relationships with them. I would just like to see meat-eaters try to raise their animal, then slit its throat, cut out its guts and throw it on the grill for the next meal. Most meat-eaters who walk down the grocery aisle have no idea where that food came from. They think it's a slab of meat that magically appeared. Do you have the guts to cut out the heart of your next meal?

Another anti-vegan speaks up

Another anti-vegan responded to my comment on the Chicago Tribune Web site:

“I think it is wrong to say that just because one eats meat he is eating unhealthily. Most dietitians agree that one can eat lean meats and that this is a healthy addition to the diet should one choose to eat meat.
Mike's suggestion that meat eaters should be willing to eat a dog or horse because they eat other meats shows how ridiculous his argument is. Cattle, poultry, pigs, and most fish available in supermarkets are raised specifically for nutrition. I happen to eat meat, and I also happen to eat free-range organic meat so that I know the animals were treated humanely during their lives.
I'll close with the old standby- a cow can run away while a carrot can't. :)”



Here’s how I respond: MQB, how exactly is my comment ridiculous? Horses and dogs have been traditionally eaten for meat, just like cattle, pigs, poultry and fish. Some people happen to be squeamish about eating horses and dogs. Why? If you eat meat, you shouldn't cringe. The comment that is ridiculous is the one that you said, that they are raised specifically with nutrition in mind. The fish in the ocean were designed by humans for nutrition? Cows, pigs and chickens are bred to make certain body parts bigger, such as the chicken breast. The most inhumane thing you can do is kill something. You can't say the man raised his son humanely and then killed him. The act of killing ends the humane relationship.

The anti-vegan speaks

An anti-vegan responded to my comment on the Chicago Tribune Web site. This is from Andy C.:

“Do you mean from the farmlands who's fertilizer is polluting our water? Or from the land where rain forests have been razed? These activities kill countless animals and harm our planet. How about from third-world countries where children are forced into hard labor to harvest the food? Do you know exactly where your veggies come from?
Some people need to get off of their high horses.”


This is my reply: Andy C., I know exactly where my food is coming from. I get my vegetables from a local community supported agricultural farm that uses no pesticides. I only buy organic food, and I try to only buy local food. The fact is that the rain forests are being cut down to grow crops to feed animals, mostly cattle. Most of the animals grown for food are fed crops that we grow. The calories lost in feeding it to humans is tremendous. If everyone went vegan, we would need far less farm land.

How do you respond to the anti-vegans?

Anti-vegans are always looking for ways to display their ignorance. Take this guy, Mike, who posted a comment to the story, "Vegan mom could lose quintuplets," which was published in the Chicago Tribune:

"One thing is clear - keeping an infant or toddler healthy on a vegan diet is a bigger-than-average challenge. It requires above-average intelligence and extraordinary attention to detail, and even then the risk of malnutrition and retardation are significantly higher for Vegan babies than in the general population of meat-eating Westerners.
This is not like Celiac/Sprue and other food allergies, Julie. No one chooses those. Veganism is an uneccessary lifestyle choice that poses some serious risks to developing children. Not unlike the lifestyle choice related to refusing medical care for sick children pursued by certain religious zealots."


Here is my response to this guy's comment:
Veganism is certainly not an unhealthy lifestyle choice. Meat-eating is, though. Vegans can eat unhealthily, but meat-eaters run the risk of diseases of affluence, such as cancer and heart disease. Veganism removes the potential of dairy to promote cancer (see "The China Study"). Veganism does not require some special degree or intelligence to follow it in a healthy way. Simply eating enough calories means you'll likely be getting enough protein (again, see "The China Study"). Vegans can be comfortable with where their food comes from. I don't know many meat-eaters who will kill their meal or watch it getting killed. What is up with meat-eaters being grossed out about eating certain body parts of an animal or even certain animals? If meat-eaters are so comfortable with their philosophy in eating, they would be comfortable with eating their pet dog or horse. Why do these animals get special exemptions to the human palate and cows don't?
What would you say to a guy like that?

Monday, June 25, 2007

A vegan road trip


Here is a picture of Spiral Diner, an incredible vegan restaurant in Fort Worth.


This is the McNut Burger that my friend, Doc, ate. This is how the menu describes it: "A tasty and healthy patty made from a blend of Sunflower Seed, Carrot, Brown Rice and Spices topped with Lettuce, Tomato, Red Onion, Vegan Mayo, Ketchup and Mustard on a toasted Organic Bun."


This is what I ate, the Jamaican Jerk BBQ San'ich. Oh my, it was so freaking good. These Spiral Diner folks are geniuses, I tell you. Here is how the menu describes the jerk sandwich: "Our most famous sandwich. Multi-Grain Tempeh marinated in our Homemade Jerk Sauce, grilled & topped with a ring of Grilled Pineapple, Lettuce, Red Onion, Pickles & Vegan Mayo served on grilled Organic Multi-Grain Bread."


Here is what my wife had, Ramsey's Perfect Protein Platter. It was good, but even she was clamoring for more of the jerk sandwich. I don't blame her. Here is how the protein platter is described: "Black Beans and Quinoa cooked together with our famous homemade salsa, a perfect blend of spices and topped off with Avocado and Tahini. Healthy and delicious."

Saturday was my sixth wedding anniversary with my hip vegan wife, Anita. I bought her tickets to the True Colors Tour 2007 in Dallas. The concert was in support of the Human Rights Campaign, which is pushing for equal rights for the gay community. It featured Cindi Lauper, Debbi Harry, Erasure and Rosie O'Donnell. The best act by far was Erasure. Getting to the concert was a major long drive for us since we live in the Rio Grande Valley, more than eight hours away. But, we made a really cool weekend of it. We got to go to the Spiral Diner in Fort Worth with my good friend, Doc, who I haven't seen much of lately, especially since moving to the Valley. He lives in Krum, about 30 minutes north of Fort Worth. Anyway, I've wanted to go to the Spiral Diner since they opened. It didn't let any of us down. Doc, who is not a vegan, even mentioned that he could give up meat if he ate meals like that regularly. I hope he has the courage to give it a try. He is right. Anyone can stay a vegan if they keep a tasty diet.

The Times public editor speaks -- finally

The New York Times' public editor, Clark Hoyt, finally touched on the "Death by Veganism" column in a column of his own, but unfortunately it falls far short of his responsibilities as the newspaper's ombudsman. His main problem with the Times editors allowing the "Death by Veganism" piece to be printed is that they didn't allow for another point of view that was supportive of veganism. Here is how Hoyt addresses the scientific points in what Nina Planck wrote:
"Rachelle Leesen, a clinical nutritionist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told me that Planck’s article 'was extremely inflammatory and full of misinformation.' She and her colleague Brenda Waber pointed me to a 2003 paper by the American Dietetic Association, the nation’s largest organization for food and nutrition professionals. After reviewing the current science, the A.D.A., together with the Dietitians of Canada, declared, 'Well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence.'
Planck said she was aware of the A.D.A.’s position but regarded it as 'pandering' to a politically active vegan community.
I won’t rehash the scientific dispute in a case in which Planck has her experts and the A.D.A. paper cited more than 250 studies, but I think The Times owes its readers the other side, published on the op-ed page, not just in five letters to the editor that briefly took issue with her."
I'm getting so tired of this issue, but Planck does not quote a single expert in her writing. She has no attribution whatsoever. I can't understand why Hoyt can make an offhand comment about the consensus of the scientific community and compare it to Planck having her unnamed experts as reasoning why he didn't want write about the validity of what Planck wrote.
Hoyt does say the column is on shaky ground. I agree. I don't have a problem with some nut job like Planck writing anti-vegan columns, but I do have a problem with The New York Times not holding the column to high standards of journalism and at least provide some sort of attribution to what she wrote.
Hoyt's job is to critique the quality of the journalism in the Times, but he failed to recognize bad journalism and instead waxed about providing another point of view. I'm appreciative that Hoyt tried to tackle the issue of Planck's column, but he obviously wasn't hired to his current position because of his power of critique. I'm sure the management of the Times prefers it that way.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Vegans and barbecues don't mix

Did I ever say my wife has a big family? More than 1,500 people showed up this past weekend to a reunion for one branch of her family. It was quite interesting. I learned so much about her roots and where she comes from. A big part of the reunion is a gigantic barbecue (This is South Texas after all.), and it was the most attended event. One part of the family owns a ranch, and they converted some cattle sorting area into a barbecue pit and seating area. I was quite upset at all of the smoke and dead flesh smell permeating the air, but lest my vegan sensibilities get to me, I didn't have it as bad as some others. There were some cattle pens outside of this covered sorting area with cows, bulls and calves still in them. These gentle creatures, who just wanted some green blades of grass to munch on, had to endure the smells of their kind roasting. Are we so cruel as humans that we have to make animals in our care endure the sight and smell of their relatives getting cooked? Don't meat-eaters have a decent bone left in them? One of my wife's relatives actually came up to us and said she was uncomfortable with the manure smell near the barbecue area. She said it made her think too much about where her food came from. I doubt anyone else had that thought considering how gleeful the rest of them were chomping on the slow-cooked animal flesh. When I got home late Saturday night, I was so exhausted after such a long day. I really didn't want to take a shower, but this meat smoke from the barbecue just stuck to my clothes and my skin. After I had washed off, I realized it still smelled bad. Oh yeah, I realized, I had to wash my hair, too.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Another good news report on vegetarianism

Note: The Dallas Morning News published a nice article on why people go vegetarian called "Vegetarianism: Who switches, why and how." To my surprise, there were no nasty meat-eater comments. I think I went to graduate school with the author. About the environmental issue, though, an important point wasn't brought up. The rain forests of South America are being torn down to grow crops for cattle feed. Because calories are lost in the production of animal flesh, growing crops to feed them to feed us will always be less efficient than feeding humans plants directly.

By Lisa Martin

As a teenager in the Czech Republic, Barbara Dillard feared that a nasty bout of hepatitis would end her dreams of becoming a professional ballerina. Traditional medicine may have saved her life at age 17, but she despaired that the constant fatigue and accompanying weakness might end her aspirations. Out of desperation and after much research, she decided to try vegetarianism.
"My doctors were amazed at my recovery," says Mrs. Dillard, a Dallasite since the late 1990s. "But it wasn't easy to be a vegetarian. I even had to learn to make my own soy milk." That's because such products were not readily available at the time in the Eastern European country.
She went on to spend four years as a member of the National Theatre ballet company in the Czech Republic before moving stateside, where she is a stay-at-home mom.
Dr. Manisha Chandalia, an endocrinologist and metabolism specialist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, also brought a tradition of vegetarianism with her to Dallas.
"I don't have strong religious reasons for being a vegetarian, but growing up in India, nobody in my family was very keen on meat," she explains. "Here, it's more difficult for me to be a vegetarian. It's easy to become sloppy and end up with a carb intake that's too high."
Dr. Chandalia describes herself as an ovo-lacto vegetarian: someone who eats no meat, poultry or fish but whose diet includes dairy products and eggs.
Mrs. Dillard, on the other hand, is a vegan: She will not consume animal products, which means checking food labels for ingredients such as lard and gelatin.

Behind the decision

The reasons people turn to vegetarianism tend to fall into three broad categories: health, the environment, and animal rights or ethical considerations. Religious reasons also may lead a person to abstain from eating certain types of meat, such as pork or beef.
Reactions from the uninitiated to a vegetarian's dietary choice can range to fascination or abject horror.
"My family still doesn't understand how or why I'm a vegetarian," says Barbara Bush, president of the Black Vegetarian Society of Texas. "But when my father passed away, one of my aunts who's a big meat eater went out of her way to research and prepare a vegan meal. I was so touched by this gesture of support."
Ms. Bush says her co-workers often are fascinated by her choice.
"Whenever we're together at a banquet, I get a special meal, and people are always enthralled," she says with a laugh. "I try to be discreet, and I'm not a missionary out to convert people, but they always ask questions."
The inquiries often center on protein: Is she eating enough? How can she and other vegetarians survive, let alone thrive?
"If you have a crummy diet and give up meat, it's likely that you'll still have a crummy diet," says Jo Ann Carson, a professor of clinical nutrition at UT Southwestern and a registered dietitian who earned a doctorate in nutrition.
"But most serious vegetarians and vegans go out of their way to have a healthy diet and not to eat doughnuts all day long."

Earth, animal concerns

Although health concerns initially motivated Terry Jensen of Euless to go vegan in the mid-1990s, she quickly embraced the environmental benefits of the practice.
"Food is one of the biggest users of energy and one of the greatest contributors to global warming," she says. "Not only are the greenhouse gases emitted from the animals' waste causing problems with the environment, but you also have issues of transportation of the food and the energy that consumes."
Adds Margaret Morin, co-president of the Vegetarian Network of Dallas and a former registered nurse: "The number one thing you can do to support the environment is to go vegan." For this longtime Dallasite, however, another issue motivated her decision 15 years ago to become a vegetarian: empathy for animals.
"Farmed animals are objectified as cogs in the wheel of production and forced to eke out a miserable and lonely existence until they die, usually in terror, just so humans can eat their flesh," she says. "This is incontrovertibly wrong."

Missing ice cream

For her friend, Rusty Posch of Irving, a dispatcher for Southwest Airlines and a vegan who gave up animal products almost nine years ago, the only thing he truly misses about his former lifestyle is ice cream.
"Tofutti is OK, but the rice-based ice creams don't taste as good to me," admits this longtime volunteer with the Irving Animal Shelter.
Like many vegetarians and vegans, he went cold turkey on meat. Others, including Ms. Bush, preferred to taper off, first giving up beef and pork, then chicken, then fish and finally all animal products. The choice is purely individual, one born of myriad factors ranging from convenience to cravings.
"The one advice I've given people who are tempted by fast food at work is to bring meals from home," he says. "Someone who brings in fried chicken or something, well the smell might get to you, especially in the beginning."

Lisa Martin is an Arlington freelance writer. The New York Times also contributed to this article.

RESTAURANTS
Many restaurants in the Dallas-Fort Worth area offer vegetarian entrees, but the following offer all-vegetarian menus.
•Cosmic Cafe, 2912 Oak Lawn Ave., Dallas; 214-521-6157, www.cosmiccafedallas.com. Menu includes black-bean burgers, falafel, spinach enchiladas, mandala pizza.
•Kalachandji's, 5430 Gurley Ave., Dallas; 214-821-1048, www.kalachandjis.com. Menu includes bean soup, vegetable curry and rice puddings.
•Spiral Diner & Bakery, 1314 W. Magnolia, Fort Worth; 817-332-8834, www.spiraldiner.com (A second Spiral Diner is being planned for Oak Cliff.) Vegan menu includes organic fruit smoothies, hot hummus wrap, red coconut curry noodles.
•Veggie Garden, 516 W. Arapaho Road, Richardson; 972-479-0888, www.theveggiegarden.com. Menu includes eggless egg roll, kung pao soy beef, soy shrimp fried rice.

DEFINITIONS
Vegetarian (also known as ovo-lacto vegetarian): Eats no meat, poultry or fish; does consume dairy products and eggs.
Vegan: Eats no animal products. This can even include honey, because it is made by living creatures.
Pescovegetarian or pescetarian: Will eat fish in addition to dairy and eggs, but abstains from consuming meat and poultry.
Flexitarian: A relatively new term to describe someone who is primarily vegetarian but who may, for pragmatic reasons, occasionally eat animal flesh.

Friday, June 15, 2007

A healthy vegan diet no crime

Note: After all of this recent insanity concerning vegan diets, a few reasonable voices have been railing back, trying to take the passion out of the logic about the health of a vegan diet and replacing it with some genuine science. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (not The New York Times, unfortunately) published the following story on June 11, 2007, by Amy Joy Lanou, a senior nutrition scientist for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and an assistant professor of health and wellness at the University of North Carolina-Asheville.

By AMY JOY LANOU

It was a horrific crime. Last month in Atlanta, two parents were convicted of intentionally starving their six-week-old child to death. As part of their defense, the parents of Crown Shakur claimed that they are vegan, meaning that they do not consume meat, dairy, or other animal products. Their conviction has brought international attention to vegan childrearing.
As a nutritionist who testified as an expert witness for the prosecution in this trial, I want to clear up some disturbing misunderstandings about this case. Vegan diets are not only safe for babies; they're healthier than ones based on animal products.
Crown was not killed by a vegan diet. As the autopsy report stated, Crown died of complications of starvation. His parents fed him the wrong food for an infant — soymilk and apple juice. But the real problem was that he was not given enough food of any sort.
The other reason Crown died was that his parents did not seek medical care or even advice from a relative when it was clearly warranted. Parents have a legal and moral responsibility to protect their children and keep them well-fed. And doctors and nutritionists agree that the best food for infants is mother's breast milk. The only viable alternative for the first six months of life is infant formula. Many nutrition experts recommend soy-based formulas. Interestingly, the breast milk of vegan mothers has been shown to contain significantly lower levels of environmental contaminants, such as pesticides, dioxins, and bovine growth hormone, than the breast milk of meat-eating mothers.
First weaning foods, which should generally be introduced around six months of life, are nearly always foods from plant sources — mashed cooked vegetables, mashed fruit, or rice-cereal thinned with breast milk or formula if need be.
A few months later, more protein-dense foods can be offered. Good choices include mashed beans, lentils and peas. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, cow's milk is not recommended at all during the first year or so of life. Its consumption increases the risk of diabetes.
According to the American Dietetics Association, there is no need to introduce any meats, eggs, or dairy products into an infant, toddler, or child's diet. Well-planned vegan and vegetarian diets not only provide all the nutrients necessary to support growth, they also promote good health in childhood and start disease prevention early.
That all sounds pretty darn responsible to me.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Who knew? The Times did listen

Note: This is a response by the executive editor of The New York Times to my letter posted before this entry.

Dear Mr. ---,

As you've probably observed from the Letters column, you are not the only reader who had profound issues with that Op-ed. However, because it is an Op-ed, it is completely outside my bailiwick. I edit The New York Times except the Editorial and Op-ed pages. Where those pages are concerned, I'm just a reader. I've passed your message along to Andrew Rosenthal, who edits those pages. Given the voluminous response I gather arrived in response to the vegan piece, you may or may not get an individual response -- but you will not be ignored.

Regards,
Bill Keller,
executive editor of The New York Times

Will The New York Times ever listen?

Note: This is a letter I wrote to The New York Times executive editor and publisher regarding the publishing of "Death by Veganism." If you don't succeed at first, try, try again. I'm trying. They just aren't listening.

Dear Bill Keller and Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr.:

I have written The New York Times a number of times over the last month and have not gotten anywhere. I have serious concerns over the Times publishing the column “Death by Veganism” on May 21, 2007, on its Op-Ed page. I’m not just some hack who hates the Times and is looking to start trouble. I have been a professional journalist for more than eight years, most recently as city editor for The Brownsville Herald in Texas. I love your newspaper. It is without a doubt the finest paper in the land. The issue I have with the column written by Nina Planck is that it is patently false. It spreads offensive falsehoods about vegans and tries to pass them off as true. I’m concerned that the Times doesn’t have any journalistic standards in considering what should be published on the Op-Ed page. Even authors of opinion pieces need to substantiate claims they make. Planck basically claimed in her column that science proves that a vegan diet is detrimental to the health of infants and toddlers. The consensus of the scientific community says otherwise. The American Dietetic Association states: “Well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life-cycle including during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence.” Planck didn’t bother to quote any doctors or nutrition scientists, nor did she mention any scientific studies on the matter. Planck does not hold a nutrition degree. Why is it that she is allowed to make declarative statements on a subject that she is not an expert on? When my reporters try to present information that isn’t sourced, I ask them why I should trust what they wrote. There is obviously a great value in getting a large number of viewpoints printed in the Times. These viewpoints, however, should not be allowed to contain false information. If an author wrote that President Bush invaded Sudan, it would be a falsehood, and it would be the duty of Times editors to either delete that information or reject the entire article. This was the case with what Planck wrote and is precisely why it hurts the Times’ credibility. I have a selfish concern here, as well. As a member of the greater vegan community, I am worried that because the Times printed Planck’s statements (even on its Op-Ed page) that a great number of people will take what she said as being true. Look at what the blogs are saying about vegans now. They quote the Times on why being a vegan is so bad. This single column basically negates years of outreach that vegans have done to dispel fears and misperceptions about a vegan diet. In previous letters, I and a great number of people asked the Times to correct the incorrect statements in Planck’s column. No serious corrections were printed expect one about Indian vegetarians not normally eating eggs. I also offered an Op-Ed reaction to Planck’s column. That, too, wasn’t printed. I attached to this e-mail the letter I wrote about what should be corrected, the Op-Ed offering I made and a letter I wrote to the Op-Ed editor. Please consider what I have said. I’m not asking for any recognition of any kind. I’m just asking the Times to do the right thing, and that would probably amount to retracting Planck’s column and training the editors to demand more attribution. Thank you for taking time to read my letter and taking my concerns into consideration.

Sincerely,
Andrew ---
Harlingen, Texas

Be careful; vegan's a bad word

Have you ever thought that meat-eaters think "vegan" is a bad word? I often think it's the equivalent to the word "shit" to them. A few years ago, my wife decided to do some vegan outreach by baking some tasty treats. She thought at least meat-eaters would come to the realization that vegans can eat good food. One day, she brings these incredible cupcakes to work and makes the announcement that they were for everyone to eat. Each co-worker asked her, "Are they vegan?" "Yes," Anita announced with some pride. Not one co-worker tried a cupcake. Not a nibble, not a lick. They just sat there. They were the "vegan" cupcakes. Perhaps they thought they had asked, "Are they shit?" Maybe that would be a good excuse for their repulsion. Anita's co-workers would always bring food to work, and they loved to eat. It's not like they had a repulsion to food. Then, she tried a different tact. She brought the food to work and just set it down were food is normally put. It worked. Now, her co-workers would wander the offices asking, "Who baked these cookies? They are incredible." It's the ultimate vengeance when the meat-eaters realize the vegan made them food, and they liked it. What's the world coming to? It's obvious that meat-eaters don't hate vegan food; they just hate the word "vegan." What gets me is that meat-eaters eat plenty of plant food. Yet, they always ask, "Is it vegan?" as if there is something in it that they find repulsive. It's not the same as a vegan asking if there are any animal ingredients in something. Vegans don't eat meat, thank you.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Talk about an insult

Gourmet magazine editor Julia Langbein demonstrates how to be a real asshole. I wouldn't normally use this word, but she really shows how not to be a friend in her blog entry titled "Sins of Flesh." She talks about how her vegan friend is such a good sport about her meat eating and that he never complains. Langbein just shoves it in his face over and over. She doesn't hesitate to offer him meat and even suggests he's a weakling. Here is a sample from the blog entry: "As one of my four friends, he comes to my many meat-centric dinner parties. When I unwrapped my gorgeous 9-lb bone-in leg of lamb for Easter lunch and discovered the leg joint was intact, he watched me dance it across the counter, puppeteering raw meat high-kicks and singing 'Luck Be a Lady.'" The vegan did eventually get upset, and what did Langbein do as a peace offering? She sent him a cheesecake. With friends like her, who needs enemies?

An appeal to The New York Times Op-Ed editor

Note: This is a letter I sent to New York Times Op-Ed Editor David Shipley regarding his comments to Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt (see post below) regarding the printing of the Op-Ed "Death by Veganism."

Dear Mr. Shipley,

I can't tell you how disappointed I have been in The New York Times' publishing of Nina Planck's "Death by Veganism" column on May 21, 2007, and the Times' reaction to complaints about the piece. I am also deeply troubled by your comments to Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt, who brought some reader concerns about the column to your attention. You replied that the science is sound that infants need animal protein. What science exactly? You were merely speaking out of your rear end without actually having looked anything up. The only thing infants need is mother's milk. Anything other than that is inferior, animal or plant. Beside that point, let's trust the actual nutrition experts to comment on nutrition science. The American Dietetic Association states "Well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life-cycle including during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence." That is the consensus of the scientific community. Surely, the Times' Op-Ed page has some journalistic standards? Nina Planck did not cite one single source in her column. She did not quote a doctor or a nutrition scientist, nor did she refer to a scientific study. Planck also does not hold a nutrition degree. Why is someone being allowed to make declarative statements about a subject on the opinion page and being allowed to pass them off as being true? Does the Times bother to do any fact-checking? The Times has already published one correction on the column that Indian vegetarians don't normally eat eggs. That's a good start, but there are numerous items that need correction in the column. How about the absurd comment by Planck that babies are made of fish oil? I sent in an e-mail previously outlining all of the items that need correction. I also offered an Op-Ed reaction to Planck's piece. I attached both the Op-Ed offering and the letter concerning what items I believe deserve to be corrected. It would be helpful if the Times just retracted the column. As I wrote to Clark Hoyt, the Times wouldn’t just print anything on its Op-Ed page. Why would it allow the unsubstantiated remarks by Planck be printed? It’s equivalent to printing an Op-Ed piece detailing the superiority of the Aryan brain. After all, there is some Nazi science backing up the subject. Your reply to this e-mail would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,
Andrew --- (a loyal New York Times subscriber)
Harlingen, Texas

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

New York Times attempts to justify shaky "Death by Vegan" column

NOTE: I respond to an e-mail sent by The New York Times' public editor leter to Matthew Bate (pasted below).

Dear Matthew Bate,

Thank you for writing about the Nina Planck essay, “Death by Veganism,” published Monday (May 21, 2007) on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times. I don’t know that Ms. Planck’s comments are “inaccurate,” I do know that they are debatable. I asked David Shipley, the editor of the Op-Ed page, for his thoughts. He said, “I think Nina Planck is on firm ground in her Op-Ed. Her reading of the science is that it is indeed the case that children (and all of us) need animal-derived nutrients, and she’s able to summon studies backing up her assertion – just as the vegans are able to summon up studies showing that you can indeed survive on plants alone.” My own view, which I expressed to Shipley, is that, given how important and fraught with emotion the subject of children’s nutrition is, the Times owed its readers an Op-Ed by another contributor debating Planck. Because there is science to support another view, it should have been aired at the same time, or very close to the same time. David Shipley’s view is that, “Op-Ed readers understand that they are reading an argument and that there is almost always another side to the argument.” I’d feel better if the Times had actually presented that other side in this particular instance.

Sincerely,
Clark Hoyt
Public Editor


Dear Mr. Hoyt,

Regarding your letter to Mr. Bate, the point is Nina Planck in her "Death by Veganism" column did not back up any of her information with any studies that veganism is bad, not one single one. If you look at Nina Planck's own Web site justifying the information in her column, she says she got all of her information from a single family practitioner. She did not say she looked at any studies. She does not make simple opinionated arguments in her column. She makes declarative statements about veganism. The reality is that the consensus of the scientific community is that a vegan diet is healthy. It does not back up Planck's position. If a person is going to make allegations and assertions in his or her writing, it needs to have some citation. She provides none in the column. On her Web site, Planck says she had many sources, but the only one she lists is the family practitioner. She does not mention any sources in her column, not one. Planck does not have a nutrition degree of any kind, so we can not trust the declarative statements she makes about nutrition. We also know that medical doctors get little if any nutrition training in medical school. This family doctor, who was unnamed on Planck's Web site, could talk about tests he has performed and demonstrated the results of those, but he can not actually talk about nutrition. He does, however, make a serious accusation on her Web site: "I have seen cases of severe anemia and protein deficiency in vegan infants resulting in hospitalization and blood transfusion." Now, if this is true, it speaks poorly of those particular vegan parents, but because one doctor may have seen something that he is assuming has to do with veganism doesn't mean he can extrapolate that to make assumptions about all vegans. Why isn't this doctor (I hope he is basing his information on actual tests he performed.) documenting these cases and presenting his findings in a peer reviewed journal if he is so concerned about what veganism can mean for all vegan infants? I'm guessing he doesn't have the evidence to back him up. There is plenty of information out there about raising vegan children and plenty of documented evidence that infants can be raised in a healthy manner on a vegan diet, but any person (including meat-eaters) who gets pregnant needs to become informed about the child's nutrition needs. Doubt that the consensus among the scientific community that a vegan diet is healthy at all stages of life, then look at what the American Dietetic Association states: "Well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life-cycle including during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence." The New York Times has every right to use its opinion pages to show a wide variety of opinions, but even the opinion pages should have some journalistic standards. By printing Planck’s column, the Times diminished its credibility. If I wrote an opinion piece about how black people are genetically inferior to white people, I would be way out of line. Planck was way out of line in her column. I do hope you can address this matter in one of your future columns.

Sincerely,
Andrew --- (a loyal New York Times reader)
Harlingen, Texas