Sustainability

Vegan for Life

Photo of a cowSuzanna and I have been pescetarians for some time. That is, we have been eating a vegetarian diet along with some animal products: eggs, milk and dairy products, and sustainably-raised seafood. We try to concentrate on sustainable organic minimally-processed foods as much as possible which requires constant vigilance.

At the same time, we both hoped to move towards a truly vegan diet at some point.

Vegetarian/Pescetarian

Now there are a number of reasons why people choose to become a vegetarian. I moved gradually to being vegetarian. I gave up red meat around 20 years ago. At the time, the primary motivation was health. I decided that red meat was not good for me and that was that. Actually, at first, I actually gave up all meat, but then I backed off a bit and resumed eating poultry and seafood. Fast forward to about 5 years ago when I decided to become a lacto-ovo pescetarian. And while my original motivation was health, I gradually became more and more aware of animal cruelty that is commonly practiced in farming. Still, I thought that milk and eggs were okay, especially organic milk and egg products.

Inconsistent Living

Photo of baby chicksNow, I think it’s fair to say that most people live with a certain number of inconsistencies in their lives. I know that I do. Another way of saying it is that most of us are, to some degree, hypocritical. That is, we try to do the right thing, but it’s not always possible unless you are ready to control everything in your life. As soon as you interact with the rest of the world and buy food, pump gas, purchase a toy for your child, watch a film, drink that beer, work at a job, purchase a sweater, live in a house, or visit a doctor, you lose some of the control over the ethics of the people and processes that happened to get you your sandwich, gasoline, toy, movie, glass of beer, job, sweater, home, or medical clinic.

Pumping gasEven your decision to do something as noble as write a check to a charity or hand a five dollar bill to a homeless person, comes with the potential of a number of unintended consequences, e.g. the misuse of the money, contributing to alcoholism.

Then there is the matter of suffering and injustice in the world. Or the fact that we may be living on once stolen land. “How do we sleep while our beds are burning?” What are we to do about all the suffering, disease, and injustice in the world?

At some point, you have to short-circuit the thinking. You can’t constantly think of every possible chain of consequences of every decision you make. Otherwise, life would be unbearable. But for me and Suzanna, this doesn’t mean giving up. We believe in being mindful of the ramifications of the choices we make and taking care of our neighbor, both local and globally speaking.

On The Other Hand

Getting back to the point I was trying to make: I would be lying if I said that I always do the most sustainable, most just, most considerate, least self-serving thing. Of course not. But, when it comes to the choices I make in my food, I try to be fairly conscious and conscientious. And, to be frank, over the years, I have learned about a number of issues with farming, especially the industrial farming that is so commonplace in the United States and “western world.”

In fact, Suzanna and I have talked many times over the past few years about becoming vegan. And then we would move on to something else while we sipped our lattes, ate our cheese, and, though less frequently, consumed a plate of scrambled eggs.

Getting Vegucated

Trailer from Vegucated

Then we recently watched the film Vegucated and the desire to move towards veganism was cemented. If you are curious about veganism or wish to learn more about what really happens on most farms, I suggest you watch this film. It’s available on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and many other sources. See the Vegucated site for more details.

Okay, enough beating around the bush, here’s the long and the short of it:

the businesses and people who bring the vast majority of animal products to market, including meat, eggs, and dairy (yes, even dairy has major issues), treat animals in a disrespectful, cruel, and torturous fashion.

And they are not exactly doing good things for global warming and managing the world’s resources either. This is not to say, that there aren’t positives to come out of industrial farming: obviously, many people love animal-based food products. And these practices make food affordable for many people.But Suzanna and I can no longer support these practices.

We have drawn a line in the sand and farmed animals and animal products are on the other side.

line-drawn-in-the-sandOf course, we still have our inconsistencies. To name a few: we buy food at grocery stores and restaurants that do handle animal food. We aren’t throwing away our leather goods. (Though, it’s our intention to not purchase any more leather, feather, or fur-based products.) Also, we often share food with people who eat meat. I will also buy animal products for my children who are not vegan, though I have to say we mostly serve vegan food when they are with us.

Oh, we also believe it is okay to occasionally eat sustainably-harvested wild seafood. (In reality, we eat seafood rarely; perhaps 2 or 3 times a year.)

We get plenty of protein: from beans, tofu, and nuts. And we are adapting to substitutes when necessary. Like Daiya cheese. And soy and coconut milk. And coconut ice cream. Hopefully, we can share some vegan/pece-vegan tips and tricks in future posts on this blog.

After a few false starts, I think we have finally committed to this for good. Our biggest give-ups have been milk and cheese. But, despite what you may have heard, there is life after cheese. And we still have gluten, beer, and wine!

Categories: Sustainability, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Vegan Whole Wheat Oatmeal Chia Banana Bread

A few weeks ago I spotted too many darkening bananas on the counter and decided it was time to make some banana bread. A quick search of recipes using SpringPad on my iPhone located this recipe by Emily Malone on the Dailly Garnish site.

I have modified this already vegan recipe somewhat. My goals were two-fold: make it healthier, make it tastier, and make it from ingredients already in the kitchen. Okay, that’s three goals. Thank you Emily for a fantastic recipe. You can, of course, choose to follow the original version or my version or make up your own variation.

Ingredients

  • 3/8 cup brown sugar (loosely packed)
  • 1/8 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds  
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 cup almond, coconut, or soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds

    I’ve italicized ingredients that are not in Emily’s recipe, as well as measurements that differ from Emily’s recipe. Also worth mentioning: as much as possible, I try to use organic ingredients.

     

    Steps

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
    2. Add the chia seeds to a one-cup glass measuring cup and a 1/4 cup cold water. Stir.
    3. Wait around 15 minutes until the chia seeds absorb a significant amount of water to form a gel.
    4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar, maple syrup, coconut oil, and chia gel.
    5. Using an electric mixer, beat the ingredients for a few minutes until well combined.
    6. In another one-cup glass measuring cup (or perhaps you could simply clean the cup in which you made the chia gel), add the teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to the non-dairy milk. (I’ve used both soy and almond with good results.) and stir. This concoction makes a non-dairy version of buttermilk.
    7. Add the milk and vinegar solution to the mixing bowl along with the vanilla and mashed bananas. Beat with the mixer for a few more minutes.
    8. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients and mix together with a fork.
    9. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until combined well. Don’t over-mix.

    Banana Bread in Mixing Bowl

    The mixture before placing it in the loaf pan.

    1. Grease a loaf pan with a little olive oil and a paper towel.
    2. Pour the bread mixture into the loaf pan, leveling it as much as possible.
    3. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes. Check the bread by inserting a knife into the middle of the loaf until it reaches the bottom of the pan and withdraw it. The knife should be pretty clean; that is, no wet batter stuck to it.

    Banana Bread in Loaf Pan

    Fresh out of the oven. The smell is wonderful!

    1. Let sit on a cooling rack for about 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the loaf to separate it from the pan. Bang the pan on the counter a few times and turn it over, the loaf should come out pretty easily.
    2. Let the loaf cool on a cooling rack. If you’re like me, you won’t be able to resist slicing off a piece while it’s still warm. Enjoy.

    Banana Bread on Cutting Board

    The finished product right before the first slice was made.

    What’s so great about the recipe is that it uses whole wheat flour, a relatively small amount of sweeteners, and is vegan without really trying that hard. We love it anyway!

  • Categories: Cooking, Diet, Sustainability, Vegan | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

    Why This Blog?

    I am creating a new blog. A blog I call The Whole Geek.

    You probably want to know why?

    Because I feel I have something useful to say in the respect of wholeness for techies.

    Here are the three basic categories of posts I anticipate covering in this blog:

    1. Fitness & diet
    2. Sustainability & the environment.
    3. Charity.

    That’s it for now. Oh and I will try and avoid political discussions as much as possible.

    Thanks for taking a look at my blog. I hope you find something here of use to you or at least something to laugh at.

    Paul

    Categories: Charity, Fitness, Sustainability | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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