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Vegan Challenge Update

September 24, 2010

Our friends over at SpoCOOL are getting ready to wrap up their self-imposed straight-edge vegan challenge and they’ve shared some of their thoughts so far. Seems like they’ve struggled with a lot of the same disappointments all vegans face in the early days after going vegan: dairy, specifically cheese. Too bad this round-up of healthy dairy alternatives we shared earlier today didn’t go out sooner so we could spare them the disappointment of bad vegan cheese. Kudos to SpoCOOL for giving veganism a go. If nothing else, hopefully they’ll end the month with a few more animal-friendly recipes in their repertoire.


Round-up: Healthy Dairy Alternatives

September 24, 2010

Veganism is a broad philosophy and each person chooses this lifestyle for different reasons. For most, the base of their commitment lies in compassion for the millions of animals who are raised and slaughtered for food each year, including dairy cows and battery cage hens. Some people may be attracted to veganism for health benefits, but simply replacing dairy with processed vegan alternatives isn’t necessarily healthier for you. Yes, you are making a more humane choice by forgoing dairy, but highly processed foods are rarely if ever a healthy choice. So why switch out the American cheese for a vegan cheese-like product? With the exception of a few, most vegan cheeses don’t even taste good. For ideas on replacing dairy with tasty and healthy alternatives, turn to resources like the FatFree Vegan, Dr. Neal Barnard of PCRM or attend one of Joseph Nally’s vegan cooking classes. Dr. Barnard has written several books promoting a vegan lifestyle as a way to fight diseases like diabetes. In reading one of Dr. Barnard’s books, you’ll notice he doesn’t advise his reader to drop the Velveeta just to pick up the Daiya. It’s all about making healthy choices and it’s a learning process, so give it time. You’re not going to find a vegan cheese that tastes and acts just like its dairy counterpart, but you will find alternatives that are tasty and satisfying in their own right.

Dr. Cow

We Can’t Say It’s Cheese

Nally’s Mac-n-cheese recipe (the winning recipe at our Mac-n-cheese cook-off)

Earth Balance

Cashew Cream

Tofu Sour Cream

Almond Milk

Spovegan’s Cheez Ball

Round-up: Local Dining

September 10, 2010

Our friends over at SpoCOOL are challenging themselves this month to eat as vegans with an emphasis on local foods. They already have their doubts though, so for your benefit and theirs, we’ve put together a list of local restaurants serving up great vegan fare. This is by no means a comprehensive list of veg-friendly restaurants in the area. If you have a favorite spot that we didn’t mention, let us know in the comments!

Mizuna – A perennial favorite. Somewhat obvious, but in our experience never disappointing.

Picabu – Another go-to choice, especially if you’re dining with “mixed” company. Try: the curry bowl with Small Planet Tofu; vegan cheesecake

Hill’s Restaurant – It’s hard to imagine this place would be considered a diner, drive-in or dive. They serve up a wholly satisfying vegan black bean burger (black beans, brown rice and shiitake mushrooms) on a fresh-baked bun made in-house from local wheat. It’s not on the menu though, so look for the sign in the window and ask your server about it.

Gordy’s – We’re not sure how local their ingredients are, but this is one of our favorite take out places in Spokane.  Almost anything on the menu can be made vegan. Try: coconut curry tofu

Pacific Ave.  Pizza – Again, we’re not sure how local the ingredients are, but we’re told that they’ll make a vegan pizza with Daiya cheese with a day’s advance notice.

Main Market Deli –  Looking for a quick lunch downtown? Stop in to the co-op and check their deli counter. They often have vegan salads made with local ingredients.

We can tell you from personal experience that both Sante and Latah Bistro can make a vegan dish upon request. And if you’re up for the drive (and it is totally worth it), Lovitt Restaurant in Colville will do the same. While you’re there, why not order a glass of vegan wine from China Bend (unless of course, you’re straight edge)?

Vegan Mac-n-cheese Cook-off

August 10, 2010

You’ve all got a recipe for the world’s best vegan mac-n-cheese, so now is the time to put it to the test! Whip up your favorite vegan mac-n-cheese dish,  and bring it along with the recipe (to share), for an evening of chowing down! If you would like to bring something other than mac-n-cheese, that’s great––some veggies might do us some good too! Drinks (alcoholic or not) are also welcome!

Carb-burning bike ride to follow on Saturday morning: We’ll discuss details Friday night.
What: Vegan mac-n-cheese cook-off
When: Friday 8/13, 7pm – 9:30pm
Where: Michelle’s House (right next to Havermale High School, park in the parking lot)
1300 W Knox Avenue

If you need some inspiration, be sure to check out our Mac & Cheese Round-up.

Veganism, Freedom and Helping the Needy

July 26, 2010

Today at the vegan potluck there were a couple of apparently homeless people who approached us. I thought it might be kind and friendly to invite them over to our meal, but I didn’t feel I had a right to do that, and that it may make my fellow meal-sharers uncomfortable. I can fully understand such feelings. Sometimes homeless people can be mentally ill, inebriated, or just plain “eccentric”, and as such, a little annoying. Of course this isn’t true of all of them. There are many I’m sure who would be perfectly agreeable and pleasant as dinner guests.

When I first moved to Washington, on one of my early potlucks, there was a young homeless man with a sign saying, “just hungry”. On a “do good” impulse, I turned right and then into the parking lot next to the sidewalk he was standing at. I invited him to the potluck I was headed for, although, as mentioned above, in retrospect, maybe this was not my invitation to make. But that reservation turned out to be academic, because he looked at me like I was some sort of pervert, and declined with a suspicious and disgusted look on his face. (Who could blame him?)

My question: Should individual Spokane vegans welcome homeless people they may happen upon on their way to the potluck to join in? Or would anyone feel uncomfortable about this and the event be “spoiled” for them? Absolutely no judgements against anyone who would feel this way. I’m just interested to know how different members feel about it.

I thought maybe Food Not Bombs Spokane might be a place to look into to indulge my “do good” vegan impulses, but their website was defunct and their My Space page seems to have been inactive for about three years. I couldn’t contact them through My Space because I’m not a member, and I don’t want to become one for various reason, one being I’m already a member of enough “social networking” sites I barely use and often can’t even keep track of. I would like to be a part of organized efforts to help the poor and homeless that don’t push a religion OR IDEOLOGY on them, that are as consistent with my veganism AND LIBERTARIANISM as possible. (We may laugh at and decry the Christians in their zeal to save souls and pressure the down and out to convert to their religion, but what are WE doing to help them?)

I’ve mulled over the possibility of starting my own very small project with the help of like-minded persons, but first I think I should try to investigate already existing efforts like Food Not Bombs and see how much I can work with them. Any information that would help me in this would be much appreciated.

Many thanks,  JND

Round-up: Raw foods

July 23, 2010

Sunday is our monthly potluck and this time we’re going raw. Eating raw may be a little intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few websites offering lots of yummy raw recipes to inspire you. See you on Sunday!

Gone Raw

We Like it Raw

Raw Food Home Recipes

Choosing Raw

Vegan Drinks at The Checkerboard!

July 21, 2010

Join us tonight for the first-ever Spokane Vegan Drinks at The Checkerboard Tavern. We hope to make this a monthly event, but we’ll be keeping things low-key and casual this month. Prepare yourself for some good food, cool drinks and great conversation with local vegans!

When: Wednesday July 21st  6 – 8pm

Where: Checkerboard Tavern 1716 E. Sprague