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Archive for the 'Vegetarian' Category

Vote for the Cuteness of The Jew & The Carrot (I.E., Me)

Last week, I wrote about how I, dressed as “Chris P. Carrot,” had led the Veggie Pride Parade in New York City under my dual Jew-carrot identity. Now you can vote for a photo of Chris P. Carrot (with his “wife,” Penelo Pea Pod) from the event as the cutest photo in a PETA contest!

A post on PETA’s blog announced, “Calling all connoisseurs of cuteness: We need your help deciding which of the following pics from recent PETA demonstrations is the most aww-inspiring.” (Note: Although PETA owns the costume that I borrowed, the event was not a PETA demonstration.)

The Jew & The Carrot (i.e., I) Led a Parade

Yesterday, I embodied the dual identity of the Jew and the carrot once again to lead the third annual Veggie Pride Parade through the streets of Manhattan. Trailing a police escort and walking in front of hundreds of enthusiastic herbivores, I frequently shouted “Eat Your Veggies, Not Your Friends!” while dressed as Chris P. Carrot.

Tips for Vegetarians and Vegans on Birthright Trips

Cross-posted to heebnvegan

Birthright trips are a wonderful opportunity for 18- to 26-year-olds to travel to Israel for free. I sometimes receive e-mails from vegetarians and vegans who are going on Birthright trips and came across my old posts on heebnvegan via a Google search. Here is a compilation of the tips I give them.

Food Advice

  • First and foremost, you should communicate with your trip organizers in advance to let them know about your dietary restrictions or food allergies. You should also let your trip’s staff know when you meet them on the first day.

A Tale of Two Covenants: Rainbow Day, Shmita, and the Gulf

The iridescent colors reflected off an oil slick are like a twisted and distorted rainbow.

This coming Monday, May 10th, is also the 27th of Iyyar—the date when Noah’s family and the animals left the ark and received the rainbow covenant.

There is a special correlation between this week’s Torah portion and the rainbow covenant of Noah’s time. And there is a foreboding contrast between the rainbow covenant and what’s happened in the Gulf of Mexico. The tension between these dynamic relationships in many ways defines the predicament of our time.

On Soy

soy image

I have long harbored misgivings about soy.  It is highly estrogenic. It’s associated with many environmental concerns (fields are clear cut internationally to support it, most of the crop goes toward feeding animals on feedlots, etc.) It’s highly processed (and a non whole food) as milk, frozen entrees, and other products.  And honestly, and this is just my perspective, I don’t enjoy the taste. But I have always respected the fact that many people do not agree with me on all these points, and enjoy soy as a deliberate and integral part of their diet.  Most of these folks have countered my concerns with the fact that it is a healthy, non-animal protein that provides efficient calories at a low cost. 

Yid.Dish: Beer Bread (AKA Emergency-Use-Up-My-Beer-Before-Passover Bread)

beer bread

I hosted a St. Patrick’s Day dinner party last week. We drank a lot of beer, but I still have plenty left that I’d like to use up before Passover (Michelle, I accept your cupboard cleaning challenge). There are many wonderful uses for beer (like Guinness Braised London Broil), but my current favorite is beer bread. Not only is it the easiest bread you will ever make, it’s so delicious no one will believe you didn’t spend more than 2 minutes dumping the ingredients together and throwing it in the oven.

The Ultimate Passover Guide for Vegetarians and Vegans

Passover is not the most glorious time to be vegetarian or vegan. This guide provides helpful tips for making Passover as painless as possible. The bulk of it focuses on following Sephardic guidelines, which allow some foods that Ashkenazi Jews don’t eat on Passover. If you’re an Ashkenazi Jew who refuses to adhere to Sephardic guidelines, skip to the last section for tips that everyone can enjoy.

Deciding Whether to Eat Kitniyot on Passover
I am an Ashkenazi Jew, and until my first Passover as a vegetarian at age 16, I followed the Ashkenazi tradition of avoiding kitniyot (including rice, corn, beans, lentils, peas, string beans, and seeds) on Passover. When I went vegetarian, I reasoned that kitniyot were a key source of protein and I’d be better off following Sephardic guidelines, which permit kitniyot. I wasn’t particularly observant, and frankly, I didn’t care about the Ashkenazi-Sephardic divide.

As the years went by, I realized that my willingness to eat kitniyot despite being Ashkenazi wasn’t so far-fetched. In 1989, a ruling by the Israeli Conservative movement said that all Israelis could eat kitniyot on Passover “without fear of transgressing any prohibition.” In 1997, Rabbi David Golinkin (representing the Rabbinical Assembly of Israel) issued a ruling supporting the elimination of the Ashkenazi custom of avoiding kitniyot on Passover. Several years ago, Rabbi David Bar-Hayim of Jerusalem formally lifted a ban on kitniyot in Israel. While there isn’t unanimity in Israel, the Forward reported a year ago, “According to some experts on changes in religious law, we are witnessing the beginning of the end for the ban on kitniyot in Israel.”

Jonathan Safran Foer at B’nai Jeshurun

I just got home from seeing Jonathan Safran Foer speak at B’nai Jeshurun in Manhattan. Foer spoke for a short while and read from his new book, Eating Animals, but a large portion of the event was devoted to Q&A.

Foer noted from the onset that the synagogue was a fitting venue to have a discussion about the ethical issues related to eating animals. He said that religion strives to lessen violence and suffering in the world and that it affects our relationship with the Earth and nature. He said that while he does not consider himself particularly observant, the Judaism passed down to him from his parents and grandparents “informed” Eating Animals.

He read a sample of the book’s opening chapter, which also appeared in The New York Times Magazine last fall. The concluding line “If nothing matters, there’s nothing to save” was a great “thesis” to shape the conversation that followed.

Yid.Dish: Quinoa, a Passover Game-Changer

Quinoa

It is apropos that the Whole Grains Council has declared quinoa as the March Grain of the Month, as we begin Passover on the night of March 29th. Quinoa, a rockstar of a grain in its own right with tons of nutritional value, made its debut as a Passover friendly grain just a few years ago, forever changing the way many people cook for the holiday.

According to the laws of Passover, chometz (barley, rye, oats, wheat, and spelt [BROWS to many who attended Jewish day school]) and their derivatives are forbidden. An Ashekanazic rabbinic tradition developed where kitniyot, legumes, rice and other similar products that are processed similar to chometz, look like chometz when ground into flour, or may have even just a bit of chometz in them, were also outlawed for Passover (many Sephardic Jews eat kitniyot).

As luck would have it, the law of kitniyot applies only to items that the rabbis were aware of at the time this tradition developed. This means that, you guessed it, quinoa is allowed on Passover! No longer were the Jewish people restricted to endless variations of potato dishes.

Enter, quinoa.

Fish Are Friends, Not Food, Say Some Kosher Authorities

Cross-posted to heebnvegan

photo by madmolecule

This week The Jewish Star reported that some haredi rabbis in Israel (as well as some of their American counterparts) have deemed various types of fish treif because they possess a parasitic worm called anisakis. The article quoted a bulletin from “Chevra Mehadrun, the Kashrus Advocacy of Rockland,” as advising that “wild salmon, hake, flounder, sol[e], halibut, sea bass, red perch, scrod, pollock, cod and butter fish are no longer considered kosher.” It must be noted that many mainstream Orthodox authorities, including the Orthodox Union, do not take this position.

Although this new classification does not yet have a huge following, one must imagine that lox and various other common foods would cease to be staples in kosher cuisine. If a large number of kosher consumers adhered to the new standard, fish consumption among kosher-keeping Jews would likely decrease substantially. At this time, there is no reason to suspect that this will be the case. Considering that fish feel pain and suffer in much the same way that other vertebrate animals do, though, one can still hope that more and more people see that fish are friends, not food!

Eating Vegan Baked Goods for Haiti

Cross-posted to heebnvegan


Within 24 hours of the earthquake in Haiti, I had a knee-jerk reaction and made a donation to the American Red Cross. Shortly afterward, I learned of American Jewish World Service‘s disaster relief efforts and figured that my next donation would probably go to them. There are many groups doing great work in Haiti, and when it comes to giving tzedakah, there is no wrong answer here. Still, there’s a way to help Haitian earthquake victims by doing what I excel at: eating vegan baked goods!

Vegan cooking icon Isa Chandra Moskowitz has spearheaded efforts to organize vegan bake sales to benefit Haiti in more than two dozen cities across North America. She has noted on her blog that bake sales sometimes take months to put together, but these were organized in a matter of weeks (or less). “We may not have George Clooney (hey, George! Go vegan!) but we do have chutzpah,” she wrote last week.

Yid.Dish: Seitan Feijoada (yup, it’s Kosher and Vegan)

seitan fejioada

My boyfriend is Brazilian.  To look at him you’d probably think he was Middle Eastern, with his dark complexion.  He speaks with an American accent that is very South Florida, but none-the-less he was born in Brazil.

Last week for no particular reason I wanted to surprise him with a Brazilian inspired meal. However, most Brazilian cuisine involves meat or fish – two things my boyfriend is loath to eat.  (We do occasionally eat humanly raised grass-fed local sustainable meat, but he finds seafood appalling.)   Feijoada, considered the national dish of Brazil consists of black beans slow cooked with various parts of the pig.  Since my boyfriend loves meatless rice and beans, so I decided to get creative.

On the Internet I researched various feijoada recipes, which mostly relied on lots of salt and pork and very little other flavoring unless you count the beef bits.  But how could I keep things kosher and compete with recipes that look like a butcher shop in a pot?  There were a lot of vegetarian black bean recipes online, but this needed to be more than just rice and beans, I needed to make this complex and interesting to call it feijoada.  So I explored the Internet for some more tastes of Brazil.

A Vegan’s Response to ‘Do You Keep Kosher?’

I never give a one-word response if someone asks whether I keep kosher. After saying “yes,” I usually add qualifiers, such as “I’m vegan, so I keep kosher by default.” Although I do keep kosher in my own way, the extent of my kashrut might not meet the expectations of the person asking the question. I grew up eating meatball pizza, shrimp cocktail, and pork fried rice, so keeping kosher was never a claim I could make early in life. In recent years as I’ve seriously explored the connections between Judaism and veganism, it has been a claim I like to make.

As I’ve noted before, being vegetarian makes it easier to keep kosher:

You don’t have to worry about whether you’re eating meat that’s certified kosher (and whether that certification meets Jewish ideals) if you’re not eating meat. You don’t have to worry about mixing meat and dairy products if you’re avoiding one or both of those categories altogether. As one vegetarian rabbi explained in a 2005 Jewish Ledger article, “We have one set of dishes (plus Passover dishes) and never have to worry about the status of leftovers in the fridge or whether a guest will mix the utensils or food items. … By not eating meat, I am much more certain to never violate, even accidentally, the Biblical and rabbinic prohibitions concerning non-kosher meat.”

Who Will Eat the Goat?

Thanks so much to Lailah Robertson for this great guest post about her experience and the Hazon Food Conference. Lailah is a San Francisco freelance writer who writes the blog In My Box about her CSA box and all the delicious vegetarian, gluten-free things she makes with it. This post is NOT intended to endorse any particular diet or agenda, e.g. to say that being vegan (abstaining from all animal products) is the only way to live, or that vegetarians are hypocrites. It merely hopes to be an exploration of one of the least considered aspects of our food chain.

Nigel Savage, founder of Hazon, asked us two questions during his keynote speech last night at the Hazon Food Conference. It felt like the beginning of one of those Jewish parables, the ones where the wise rabbi asks or tells us something that means more than it seems on the surface, where you ponder on the teaching and the world opens up in a new way.

“Stand up if you eat meat, but you wouldn’t if you had to kill it yourself,” Nigel called out. A number of people in the packed hall rose from their seats. I applauded them for their self-awareness and honesty, while of course maintaining a certain degree of vegetarian smugness.

Then he asked us another question. “Stand up if you are vegetarian, but would eat meat if you killed it yourself.” This time fewer people stood up, but it was still a significant number.

Then Nigel told us the story of the goat.