Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Where to find me

I don’t really post much on the blog anymore. I’ve moved over to Instagram (@poweredbyproduce) and Facebook! I’ve been posting pictures of all the meals I cook and a few other veg-related things. So if you’re looking for delicious vegan and vegetarian meal ideas, make sure to follow me on one or both of those! I’ve been cooking up a storm lately….!

www.powered-by-produce.com

(On Instagram/Facebook, I typically just post a picture and a breif description; not a full recipe with an ingredient list and instructions. But if you see something you like and want a full recipe, just ask and I can post the full recipe!)

Also, these dishtowels are available in my Etsy shop, if anyone’s interested.

vegan dishtowels

I’ll probably still post things on the blog from time to time, but for now, I’ll see y’all on Facebook and Instagram!

 

 

Foods You Didn’t Know Were Vegan

This is a guest post by Kelsey Joyers.

Foods You Didn’t Know Were Vegan

When you prepare your own food from home, it’s easy to ensure that the food remains vegan and free of any animal products. Buying pre-made items from the store is not as simple, and takes careful reading of nutrition labels for the word vegan or the lack of animal-based ingredients. In some cases you can assume a food is not going to be vegan based off of reputation or advertisements, but others may surprise you.
While many of the below listed items may not necessarily be as healthy as fresh foods, it’s good to know that when you’re feeling the need for a treat, or if you have just switched to a vegan lifestyle and are missing some of your old foods, many options are still available to you.

Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos

While the nacho cheese and cool ranch version of Doritos uses cheese, milk or whey for flavoring, the spicy sweet chili variety is free of these ingredients. However, consume in moderation, as while there’s no animal products in the chips, they do contain MSG, which can cause negative health effects to those who are sensitive to it.

Unfrosted Pop Tarts
Pop tarts create nostalgia for many, and bring back childhood breakfast memories. As long as you avoid the frosted version and stick to the fruit flavored varieties, the breakfast toaster pastries remain vegan.

Fritos
Fritos surprisingly contain mostly three ingredients, whole corn, salt and corn oil, making them vegan-friendly. Even better, both the original and Barbecue flavored Fritos are vegan. Combine these chips with a vegan chili, or dip in another surprisingly vegan food, Fritos bean dip.

SuperPretzel Brand Pretzels
Typically pretzel dough utilizes dairy or eggs for flavor and texture, especially soft pretzels. However, SuperPretzels are free of both, providing a vegan option for soft pretzel cravings. Pair the pretzels with a mix of melted non-dairy butter spread, such as Earth Balance, and minced garlic for a vegan-friendly garlic butter dip.

Bacon Bites
While Betty Crocker brand Bac-Os are advertised as bacon bits, they do not actually contain any pork products. McCormick Bac’n Pieces are also free of actual bacon. So when you’re nostalgic for bacon, feel free to indulge in these vegan friendly bacon-flavored bites.

Creamy Italian Dressing
Most creamy dressings get their creaminess from the addition of milk products. However, Kraft brand creamy Italian dressing does not use milk products to obtain their creamy texture, giving you options beyond the typical vinaigrette on your next salad.

Sara Lee Apple Pie

Apple pie crust is typically lade with butter, but Sara Lee’s Oven Fresh Apple Pie uses other fats to create the flaky texture desired by most pie lovers. The pie is also free of eggs both in the crust and the filling.

Ritz Crackers

Another buttery favorite is the Ritz cracker. While these crackers are still loaded with fat at nearly a gram of fat per cracker, the fat used is not animal-based.

Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
Crescent rolls typically rely on butter and eggs for texture and flavor. However, Pillsbury crescent rolls pack all the same flavor without using animal products. If you miss the melted butter on top of the rolls, simply substitute with a dairy-free butter.

Kelsey Joyers writes all about health and nutrition. Her recent work is on the Top 10 Online Masters in Healthcare Administration.

Austin’s Vegan Grocery Store

A vegan grocery store? I’d never heard of, or even imagined such a thing as a fully vegan grocery store! Until I heard about Rabbit Food Grocery. Rabbit Food Grocery will be Austin’s first vegan grocery store! (Do they have these in other cities?!)

As Rabbit Food Grocery prepares to open its doors, they will be selling some items online. Take a look at their virtual store and place an order – you don’t have to be in Austin! But if you are in Austin, you can take advantage of free delivery.

I, for one, am super excited about this place!

Cognitive Dissonance

“A man with a conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point.”
Leon Festinger, psychologist

I’ve always been fascinated by the brain and how it works, both physically (neurons and synapses) and psychologically. Most people are surprised to learn that I’ve studied the brain quite a bit, because I’m an engineer and don’t engineers just learn about wires and metal? But my area of study was Artificial Intelligence and in order to create artificial intelligence, one must understand natural intelligence, so I’ve done a fair amount of reading on the subject.

Recently, someone in my “Machine Intelligence and Cognition group” (we send each other articles about developments in AI, robotics, and neuroscience) sent an article titled “The Science of Self Delusion,” and I couldn’t help but see the direct application of this to vegetarianism.

It’s no secret that I’ve become frustrated in the past when people who have been presented the facts about meat (like the rampant animal abuse, the widespread environmental destruction, and the deadly health effects), CONTINUE TO EAT MEAT! But as I read the “Science of Self Delusion” article (which has nothing to do with vegetarianism), I quickly realized that I am not just trying to combat ignorance, gluttony, or self-interest, I am up against psychology as well.

Cognitive Dissonance

The quote above is from Leon Festinger, a psychologist best known for his Theory of Cognitive Dissonance which states that people will change their beliefs to fit their behavior, rather than changing their behavior to fit their beliefs.

This theory, unfortunately, is extremely applicable to vegetarianism. Everyone in their right mind would agree that the type of animal abuse that occurs in the meat industry is awful and that the environmental destruction is horrid. Yet, even those who claim to love animals and those who are proud environmentalists, continue to eat meat! Instead of changing their behavior to fit their beliefs, they make exceptions in their beliefs in order to condone eating meat. It is completely irrational.

See, here’s the thing about humans: Our reasoning is filled with emotion. Not only are the two inseparable, but the emotion arises much more quickly than the conscious thought. It’s said that this is an evolutionary feature, so that we are able to quickly react to our environment. Of course we don’t operate solely on emotion – we certainly reason and deliberate – but the emotion is immediate, while the reasoning works a bit slower. And even once the reasoning begins, it doesn’t take place in an emotional vacuum; it is highly biased by our emotions.

And as it turns out, we apply our fight-or-flight reflexes not only to predators, but also to data. We push threatening information away, and pull friendly information close. Often times, when we think we’re reasoning, we’re actually rationalizing, or biasing data in our minds to fit it to a predetermined conclusion. Confirmation bias is the tendency for people to favor information that confirms their predetermined belief. And disconfirmation bias is the tendency for people to expend a disproportionate amount of energy trying to disprove evidence that contradicts their predetermined beliefs.

It’s not that we don’t want to be unbiased, it’s just that we have a subconscious goal of self affirmation – maintaining the sense that you are “good,” “moral,” or “right” – and this goal often makes us highly resistant to changing our beliefs, even when the facts say we should.

Unfortunately, this completely blows away the notion that the way to persuade people is to present them with the facts. Actually, head-on attempts to persuade people can sometimes have the complete opposite effect, where not only will the person not change their mind when confronted with facts, but they will actually hold on to their wrong view even more strongly than ever.

So, it would seem that expecting people to go veg based on the facts flies in the face of, well, the facts.

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Breakfast: Smoothie with just cherries & banana (and ice & water). It was delicious!
Lunch: Black bean tacos from Taco Cabana
Dinner: Pasta with squash, zucchini, bell peppers, onion, and marinara sauce

What Are We Eating?

I loved this infographic from visualeconomics.com.

And I’m completely floored by the amount of non-cheese dairy! What are people eating so much of that is making up this huge section? Ice cream? Yogurt? (Oh those poor cows.*)
american-average-food-consumption

Mercy For Animals recently released undercover footage from a Texas farm that raises dairy cows. It is one of the most miserable things I’ve ever seen.

Unfortunately, this type of thing is widespread throughout the dairy and meat industries. When you purchase diary, you support this.

Opt for dairy alternatives like almond milk, soy milk, hemp milk, or rice milk. Try soy yogurt and soy ice cream, or coconut milk ice cream. They are all just as tasty, and they prevent the cruelty shown in this video.

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Breakfast: Toast with peanut butter and a cup of applesauce
Lunch: Black bean tacos from Taco Cabana
Dinner: Pasta with olive oil, garlic, spinach, tomato, and broccoli

Why I’m Vegan by Diana Mendoza

I saw Diana Mendoza’s story on the PETA wesbite and just loved what she had to say:

Back in the day, I worked at a pizza shop with some other nerdy kids. We skated in the parking lot, blasted the radio, argued over everything, and formed friendships that have lasted to this day. During one particularly slow shift, my vegetarian friend bet me that I couldn’t go vegetarian for a month. Never one to back down from a challenge, I shrugged and swore off my daily diet of double bacon cheeseburgers and pizza slices. For a month.

But it was a turning point that I never saw coming. During the following months, I became more aware of how the simple act of eating animals affects the world. Like the fact that the meat industry is the bigges cause of greenhouse gasses, and if we would all cut down on our meat intake, there’d be enough plant foods to end world hunger. And not only are animals exploited and abused, the slaughterhouse workers who are too desperate or scared to speak up are too. These are truths that stoked the ire in my young punk-rock heart. I read The Jungle, debated factory farms in class, and referenced Fast Food Nation in research papers.

Just before my birthday that same year, one of my favorite bands released their new CD, and I couldn’t wait to check out the music video that they’d included on the disc! Then I watched “Free Me,” and nothing was ever the same again. Who knew that one band could have the power to open my eyes—and the eyes of any person who watches this music video—to the horrors of factory farming and change the course of my entire life?

“Are you really that hungry?” Hungry enough to allow pigs—who are as smart as 3-year-old children—to be beaten, kicked, and stomped on? Hungry enough to warrant chickens living in a windowless, cement room getting their wings broken by a metal-rod-wielding worker? Hungry enough to watch cows used for dairy thrash around as they’re hung by their back leg from a chain with cut throats or “kosher” cows have their tracheas ripped out by human hands? Oh, hell no.

Going vegan is my own personal boycott, the proverbial middle finger to an industry that exploits its workers and millions of animals. The facts and the video footage are all over the Internet and in libraries, and the facts are evident in the recalls of bacteria-infected meat and the emaciated bodies of starving children all over the world.

I’ll admit it: In the beginning, I slipped from time to time. I’m not perfect, but I never gave up. For some reason, there’s this “all or nothing” attitude that feeds into the fear and helplessness that controls the collective consciousness of our society and stifles our instincts to think and act. People say, “I could never stop eating cheese,” and just give up, failing to realize that something as simple as boycotting McDonald’s or KFC still contributes to the fight for animal rights.

I’ve learned that the only way to battle apathy is action, and the easiest thing that we can do to take our power back is to start changing our everyday lives, choosing what to support, where to shop, and what to eat. It’s been quite the journey for this skateboarding, pizza-loving, punk-rock girl. So do it: Go vegan! And never forget that each day of your life is a chance to be heard and take a stand. Don’t waste it.

***

In other news… Sodexo, a food company providing more than 10 million meals a day, announced their participation in Meatless Mondays “as part of its ongoing efforts to promote health and wellness.” They have already rolled out the Meatless Monday meals to more than 900 hospitals. Schools, colleges, government and corporate clients will soon follow.

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Breakfast: Grapes, strawberries, almonds, and walnuts
Lunch: Homemade Tom Yum soup (Veggie Thai Lemongrass soup)
Dinner: BBQ seitan wrap, baked rosemary fries, and couscous salad from Conscious Cravings

Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself: Birke Baehr (11 years old)

Powered By Produce now has a Facebook page! To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what I’ll be posting there, but be sure to “like” it to find out!

Like the Powered By Produce Facebook page

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The marathon was great! Not only did I set a PR (personal record… a mere 2 minutes faster than my previous fastest, but a PR nonetheless), but I also thoroughly enjoyed the race which, in true Disney fashion, included entertainment throughout the whole course (bands, DJs, singers, dancers, comedians, Disney characters, and signs with jokes or interesting facts). What better way to celebrate a birthday than a PR at the Most Magical Marathon on Earth?!

finish

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Today I have a video of 11 year old Birke Baehr talking about what’s wrong with our food system.

If you can watch the video, I recommend doing that (his southern accent is so cute), but for those who can’t, here is a transcript (with some reference links added by me and my favorite part bolded):

Hello. My name is Birke Baehr and I’m 11 years old. I came here today to talk about what’s wrong with our food system.

First of all, I would like to say that I’m really amazed at how easily kids are led to believe all the marketing & advertising on TV, at public schools, and pretty much everywhere else you look. It seems to me like corporations are always trying to get kids, like me, to get their parents to buy stuff that really isn’t good for us or the planet. Little kids, especially, are attracted by colorful packaging and plastic toys. I must admit, I used to be one of them.

I also used to think that all of our food came from these happy little farms where pigs rolled in mud or cows grazed on grass all day. What I discovered is that this is not true.I began to look into this stuff on the internet, in books, in documentary films, in my travels with my family. I discovered the dark side of the industrialized food system.

First, there’s genetically engineered seeds and organisms. That is when a seed is manipulated in a laboratory to do something not intended by nature. Like taking the DNA of a fish and putting it into the DNA of a tomato. Yuck! Don’t get me wrong, I like fish and tomatoes, but this is just creepy.

The seeds are then planted, then grow. The food they produce have been proven to cause cancer and other problems in lab animals. [More on that here, and here.] And people have been eating food produced this way since the 1990’s. Most folks don’t even know they exist!Did you know that rats fed genetically engineered corn have developed signs of kidney and liver toxicity? These include kidney inflammation, and lesions, and increased kidney weight. Yet almost all the corn we eat has been altered genetically in some way. And let me tell you, corn is in everything!

And don’t even get me started on the Confined Animal Feeding Operations, called CAFOs.

Conventional farmers use chemical fertilizers made from fossil fuels that they mix with the dirt to make plants grow. They do this because they’ve stripped the soil from all nutrients, from growing the same crop over and over again. Next, more harmful chemicals are sprayed on fruits and vegetables, like pesticides and herbicides to kill weeds and bugs. When it rains, these chemicals seep into the ground, are runoff into our waterways, poisoning our water too! Then they irradiate our food, trying to make it last longer, so it can travel thousands of miles from where it’s grown to the supermarkets.

So I asked myself, how can I change? How can I change these things? This is what I found out. I discovered that there’s a movement for a better way. Now, a while back, I wanted to be an NFL football player; I decided that I’d rather be an organic farmer instead. [Loud cheers] That way, I can have a greater impact on the world.

I learned about this guy named Joel Salatin, they call him a “lunatic farmer” because he grows against the system. Since I am home-schooled, I went to go hear him speak one day. This man, this lunatic farmer, doesn’t use any pesticides, herbicides, or genetically modified seeds, and so for that, he is called crazy by the system.

I want you to know that we can all make a difference by making different choices, by buying our food directly from local farmers, or neighbors we know in real life. Some people say organic or local food is more expensive, but is it really? With all these things I’ve been learning about the food system, it seems to me that we can either pay the farmer or we can pay the hospital. [Loud cheers] I know definitely which one I would choose.

I want you to know that there are farms out there, like Bill Keener at Sequatchie Cove Farms in Tennessee, whose cows DO eat grass and whose pigs DO roll in the mud, just like I thought. Sometimes I go to Bill’s farm and volunteer so I can see up-close and personal where the meat I eat comes from.

I want you to know that I believe kids will eat fresh vegetables and good food if they knew more about it and where it really comes from. I want you to know that there are farmers’ markets in every community, popping up. I want you to know that me and my brother and sister actually like eating baked kale chips. I try to share this everywhere I go.

Not too long ago, my uncle said the he offered my 6 year old cousin cereal. He asked if he wanted organic Toasted O’s or the sugar-coated flakes – you know, the one with the big striped cartoon character on the front? My little cousin told his dad that he’d rather have the organic Toasted O’s cereal because Birke said he shouldn’t eat sparkly cereal. And that, my friends, is how we can make a difference, one kid at a time.

So the next time you’re at the grocery store, think local, choose organic, know your farmer and know your food. Thank you.

10 Vegan-Friendly Gift Ideas

Tis the season for gift-giving and what better way to show the vegetarians in your life (ahem!) that you put a little thought into their gift this year by giving them something that supports their animal friendly lifestyle! And PS, you don’t have to be a vegetarian to appreciate a good cruelty-free gift. These gifts are fantastic for vegans and omnis alike!

1. Restaurant Gift Cards

gift cardA gift certificate to a vegan/vegetarian restaurant, or to a restaurant that is vegetarian friendly, is always a safe bet. (Be aware, though, that while many restaurants offer vegetarian items, they may not cater well to vegans, so know what type of diet your gift-recipient follows!) To find a vegan/vegetarian friendly restaurant nearby, use Happy Cow’s compassionate eating guide and simply enter your zip code.

2. Vegan Clothes and Accessories

Vegan shoe from Olsen Haus ($250)

Vegan shoe from Olsen Haus ($250)

It can be difficult to find vegan shoes (especially cute ones), but believe it or not, they do exist. Give the gift of compassionate fashion with non-leather shoes, belts, and bags. Don’t know how to choose the right look for your gift recipient? A gift card to a vegan outfitter works just as well. For high-end vegan fashion, check out Olsen Haus where some of the collection is even made from interesting recyclables, like recycled TV screen! Some more affordable options include: Vegan Chic, Alternative Outfitters, The Ethical Man, and Vegan Pimp. And to make a more direct fashion statement, there are tons of vegan and vegetarian graphic tees. Try Vegetarian Good and Zazzle to start. (I’m getting a real kick out of this Vegetarian Zombies shirt!)

3. Soy Candles

Soy candles from Kenny Co-Op ($6.00 each)

Soy candles from Kenny Co-Op ($6 each)

Turns out many candles aren’t vegan. Often, candles are made with beeswax or animal-derived stearic acid. (Read why beeswax and honey aren’t vegan.) One alternative to beeswax candles is paraffin wax candles, but paraffin wax is a petrochemical – it is made from the same stuff as gasoline. The good news is that thanks to some creative environmentalists, we now have vegan-friendly, environmentally-friendly soy candles! Soy candles are made from a renewable resource (instead of bee exploitation or petroleum), they do not release CO2 into the atmosphere (like paraffin), and they also burn slower than regular candles which means they last longer. Plus, scented soy candles distribute more aroma. The incorporation of soybean oil lowers the melting point of the candle, which translates into cooler burning candles and faster scent dispersion. More than you ever wanted to know about candles?! Just know that they make excellent gifts. Kenny Co-Op has a great set of soy candles in tins and Etsy has a whole slew of soy candles.

4. Vegan Lotions, Soaps, Lip Balms, Cosmetics, or Fragrances

Lavender gift box from Vibrant Naturals ($15)

Lavender gift box from Vibrant Naturals ($15)

Fragrances, lotions, makeup, and lip balms all make great gifts for the ladies. But make sure that the cosmetics you choose are not made with animal products and are not tested on our furry friends. Some of my favorite vegan-friendly cosmetic brands include: Crazy Rumors Lip Balm where the candy cane 4-pack is my personal favorite; Urban Decay has an extensive line of vegan cosmetics including everything from lip gloss to makeup brushes to nail polish; Vibrant Naturals makes all natural, vegan lotions, soaps, lip balms, and bath salts, they also have gift baskets and even have some dog shampoos!; and The Perfumed Court has this helpful list of vegan fragrances. And if you just can’t decide, a gift card to a vegan-friendly cosmetics store would be perfect.

5. Vegan Sweets and Treats

Chocolate Lover's gift set from Allison's Gourmet ($42)

Chocolate Lover's gift set from Allison's Gourmet ($42)

Load up a gift basket with sweet and tasty vegan treats like vegan chocolates, vegan cupcakes, vegan gummy candies, or vegan marshmallows. Some of my favorite savory vegan selections include: Allison’s Gourmet, an all vegan bakery where you can order fudge, cookies, brownies, coffees & teas, and more (they also have gift sets); Sweet & Sara who carries vegan marshmallow treats like reindeer-shaped marshmallows, strawberry-flavored marshmallows, rice-crispy treats, and s’mores; Cosmo’s Vegan Shoppe which has vegan gummy bears and lots of vegan chocolate; and Good Baker offers vegan baking mixes for brownies, cookies, cakes, and muffins. And don’t forget that most cupcake shops make vegan cupcakes!

6. Animal Adoption Certificate

Sponsor this piglet at Farm Sanctuary ($10 and up)

Sponsor this piglet at Farm Sanctuary ($10 and up)

Any animal lover would appreciate the gift of animal adoption. Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt-A-Farm-Animal Project gives you the opportunity to sponsor a rescued farm animal. By adopting a farm animal, you’ll help provide their food, shelter, and veterinary costs, and you’ll show your opposition to farm animal cruelty. Adoptions can be made in a gift-recipient’s name and the recipient will receive information about their adopted “pet” including a picture, his/her story, and even details about visiting their animal (should you happen to be in NY or CA).  The World Wildlife Fund also has a similar program for adopting endangered species.

7. Animal Volunteer Vacations ($)

Volunteer with the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Kenya ($1500 for 2 weeks, includes lodging and meals)

Volunteer with the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Kenya ($1500 for 2 weeks, includes lodging and meals)

This one earned a ‘$’ because it is a pricey gift, but what an amazing gift it is. Instead of taking a ‘typical’ vacation of beach lounging or tourist site-seeing, make your next vacation one that benefits animals! There are hundreds of animal rehabilitation centers all around the world, working with all types of animals. Travel to Africa to rehabilitate rescued lions, or to Indonesia to work with endangered monkeys, or The Bahamas to track & monitor bottlenose dolphins, or Greece to save the Loggerhead turtles, or stay closer to home and camp at the Grand Canyon while supporting Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. There are so many possibilities and the durations and price ranges vary. GVI and Charity Guide both provide great lists of international opportunities. Green Earth Travel specializes in “vegetarian vacations” ranging from animal volunteer vacations to vegetarian spas.

8. Food Gadgets

If your veggie-lover loves to cook, food gadgets are the way to go. Some great items for cooking great veggies include: a vegetable steamer, a rice cooker, (or just go for the combo), a food processor, a cooking utensil set, a lemon press, a garlic press, or my personal favorite, a tofu press.

Rice cooker and vegetable steamer from Walmart ($38.88)

Rice cooker and vegetable steamer from Walmart ($38.88)

Tal Ronnen

'The Conscious Cook' by Tal Ronnen (from $11.47 at Amazon)

9. Vegan/Vegetarian Cookbooks or Magazines

For anyone who enjoys cooking  or for anyone who wants more ideas for meatless meals, vegetarian cookbooks and magazines are an excellent source of inspiration! Some favorites are: Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian,Tal Ronnen’s The Conscious Cook, and Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet.  I am a subscriber to Vegetarian Times and I think it is excellent! Some other vegetarian magazines include: VegNews and Vegan Magazine. (The Amazon links to these books/magazines are affiliate links, meaning that if you purchase one of these books through my Amazon link I will receive a few cents. Anything earned through affiliate links is put towards the cost of hosting this blog. If you decide to purchase one of these items, I hope that you will choose to do it through here.)

10. Leave The Dark Side

Becoming a vegetarian or vegan, even if just for a few days, would be the best gift for your veggie friend or family member.

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Breakfast: Cereal with almond milk
Lunch:  Chipotle burrito bowl (no cheese, no sour cream, and free guac because it’s meatless!)
Dinner: Soy chorizo tacos