I love Thursdays. Love Vegan Feast Night. Love being with Mitch and the “kids.” Love being with the animals. Love the animals. These loves of my life are just part of why being so “veganish,” agrees with me so well, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
After Carol (thank you!) text-ed me on Tuesday (about Oprah’s show being about the 1 week vegan challenge) I was glued to the TV, even as I got ready for my evening at the gym. There were parts that were exceptionally hard to watch. Carol and I text-ed messages to one another and spoke, as I think we both needed to deal with the sadness (and at the same time, gladness) we were feeling, while watching the cows…It IS some sort of comfort to know that at least some beef “growers,” (did they really say “growing beef?”) treat their cows with as much compassion as possible while they are alive. As someone on the show that day stated, those cows have all good days and just one, bad day. A very bad day. I am haunted by the segment that showed those cows being led to their demise on that very bad day. To me, it evoked an image of how the Jews marched themselves to their last day during the Holocaust. Both of those images make me very sick to my stomach.
Most of the show, however, was really pleasant to watch. Kathy Freston, who’s new book is called Veganist, is a pleasure to watch and listen to. Her 2008 book, Quantum Wellness, inspired my leaning back into veganism. She suggests a 21 day “cleansing,” via an entirely plant-based diet. While many vegans tend to be hardcore, in your face, extremists, Kathy is all about educating and leading by example. She keeps a vegan home, but her husband does eat seafood on the outside. She called him “veganish,” and in reality, I am veganish, too. There are some food items I will break all my own rules for. Pizza is at the top of that list, an occasional marshmallow or something sweet that might contain some animal based ingredient that a hardcore vegan might not put to their lips or a bread that might in fact have been brushed with some egg… Reminding myself daily about balance, and the fact that I am not allergic to any food items, keeps me from being too obsessive and at the same time very, very veganish. NEVER have I been happier about my eating as I was watching Oprah on Tuesday. While I wish everyone would take one hour to watch something like that episode of her show, realistically I realize that the people who could learn a lot from watching, won’t want to. I get it! It was great to watch Kathy escort one of Oprah’s employees through the grocery store, loading up the wagon with all the staples in my own home, but I was a little confused with how she was promoting un-proccessed foods and at the same time filling the wagon with a lot of packaged items. My own days consist of too many of those packaged items like Boca Burgers and Tofurky EVERYTHING, and I struggle with the health (or not so healthy) aspects of eating those foods but it is virtually impossible to work for a living and always eat natural, wholesome foods, especially being very veganish. We all need to cut ourselves a little slack and just do the very best we can.
The good news was close to 400 people participated in the one-week challenge and many were loving how they felt and said they would be continuing…some for the 21 days Kathy recommends, others indefinitely. When I visit with the cows at the Farmer’s Market this weekend, I will let them know people are listening. I find it SO interesting that while many vegans are all about the animals, others lean into this lifestyle to improve their own health. Consistently, I find that those that do it for their own health, can’t help but become more compassionate about the animals as well as the world at large. There are some great theories about this, and I have some of my own, but that would be an entry for another day.
Tonight’s menu is a potpourri of foods that I have already made, (soup) and some items that need to be used up. The theme, therefore, is eclectic. Some nachos with Diaya cheese, guacamole and salsa. Then its to the dining room table for Aunt Bonnie’s Black Bean Soup (NOT this Bonni, but in fact the aunt of one of the authors of the great cookbook The Garden of Vegan). A garden salad with tomatoes from our very own garden, which I find really exciting. A grainy bread, some spaghetti squash marina and Gardein Chicken Tenders. Maybe a green veggie as well and some fruit for dessert. Mitch and I always have a bowl of soup the night we make it, before putting it in the freezer till I reheat it all on Thursday night. We both loved this one as much as the others we have made this winter. Simple, very filling, high in fiber and protein–here is the recipe:
Aunt Bonnie’s Black Bean Soup.
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 small red pepper, chopped
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cups cooked or canned black beans (I used cans)
1 1/2 cups yams, peeled and cubed (I am sure I used sweet potatoes)
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cloves (I did not use)
1/2 cup of fresh cilantro chopped roughly for garnish
In a large soup pot on medium heat, saute the onions and garlic in oil until the onions are translucent. Add the celery, red pepper and jalapeno and simmer for 3 more minutes. Add the stock, beans, yams, salt, pepper, vinegar, chili powder (and cloves). Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low. The recipe said to simmer for 10-15 minutes, but I simmered for closer to an hour, just because. Then I let it cool a bit before adding batches to the blender until smooth. The recipe said do this with half the soup. I did it with almost all of it because I loved the texture it was taking on. Next time I would blend about 3/4 of the soup, leaving a few beans in tact. Garnish with the cilantro (and you could also serve with a dollop of non-dairy sour cream).
This recipe makes 4 servings. I more than doubled, but not quite tripled and it made about 12 cups. Thanks, Tanya, Sarah (these girls rock!) and Aunt Bonnie. This one is another winner!