Tag Archives: eggs

Vegetable Ramen with Egg

Two of our girls!

Two of our girls!

Several months ago we got backyard chickens! Only one of our ladies has started laying so far, but even just one egg a day is enough to where I’m already trying to come up with different ways of using them. This ramen was perfect with an egg!

Vegetable Ramen with Egg

Vegetable Ramen with Soft-Boiled Egg

Ingredients
4 cups vegetable broth
2 tbs soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 packages instant ramen noodles (flavor packets discarded)
eggs
Any vegetables you like, some suggestions are:
bok choy
shitake and/or oyster mushrooms
sweet corn (frozen or canned)
carrot
green onion

Directions:

1. The eggs can either be soft-boiled, or they can be poached into the soup itself. If you prefer to poach them in the soup, skip to step 2. If you prefer to soft-boil them, boil some water in a pot, add the eggs, and let them boil for about 6 minutes. Remove eggs from water and let them cool. Once cooled, peel and cut in half.

2. Mix the soy sauce and crushed garlic into the vegetable broth and bring to a boil.

3. Add vegetables to the soup and boil for 5-7 minutes.

4. Add the ramen noodles. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring to separate them.

5. If you are poaching the eggs: Reduce heat to low. Carefully crack eggs into the pot. Cover the pot and poach the eggs for 3-4 minutes.

Vegetable Ramen with Poached Egg

Vegetable Ramen with Poached Egg

Quote Of The Day Friday #4

To follow up on yesterday’s post…

Many people suggest the buying organic eggs is the answer. I just want to clarify that organic does not mean humane. Organic simply means that the animals were not given growth hormones, antibiotics, nor fed food that had pesticides on it. Organic eggs still come from hens in filthy, crowded battery cages.

Though birds tend to be forced to endure more suffering than any other farmed animal, other animal agriculture systems are similar: the majority of meat, dairy, and eggs come from inhumane, polluting factory farms. In Jonathan Safran Foer’s investigation of the issue in his book Eating Animals, he concludes:

“We shouldn’t kid ourselves about the number of ethical eating options available to most of us. There isn’t enough nonfactory chicken produced in America to feed the population of Staten Island and not enough nonfactory pork to serve New York City, let alone the country. Ethical meat is a promissory note, not a reality. Any ethical-meat advocate who is serious is going to be eating a lot of vegetarian fare.”

A Thought Experiment

Imagine yourself in a crowded elevator, an elevator so crowded that you cannot turn around without bumping into (and aggravating) your neighbor. This elevator is so crowded that you are often held aloft, which is kind of a blessing because the floor is made of wire that cuts your bare feet.

You are stuck in this elevator for days, weeks, months. After some time, those in the elevator will lose their ability to work in the interest of the group. Some become violent, others go mad. A few, deprived of food and hope, become cannibalistic.

There is no respite, no relief. No elevator repairman ever is coming. The doors will open once, at the end of your life, for your journey to the only place worse…

This is the life of an egg-laying hen.

Battery_Cage_01

The New York Times published this graphic which illustrates how many eggs produced in the US come from battery cages. (Go to that link. NOW! It shows the actual space allotment per hen for battery cages & “cage free” hens.)

The graphic explains the breakdown as follows:

97% of all eggs produced in the United States are from hens that live in tightly packed battery cages, with no way to roam outside. These eggs are unethical by any standard. They pose a threat to human health by increasing the spread of Salmonella, they endanger the environment, and they are cruel to animals.

2% of US eggs are from cage-free birds, which live exclusively indoors. These, too, are “factory farmed” eggs, as birds are tightly packed in windowless sheds and each has only slightly more space than a battery caged hen.

1% of US eggs are from “free-range” birds that have the option to go outdoors. (The key word here is ‘option‘.) These systems vary widely, from the entire flock roaming in the grass, to the entire flock in a windowless shed with a small door, that is opened for only 30 minutes a day, that leads to a concrete slab. (More info on the myth of “free range” eggs.)

This means that fewer than 1% of eggs produced in the US would meet the standard of a non-vegan who cares about animal welfare, or environmental destruction, or public health.

In other words, if someone cares about these issues, and decides to live their values, then they would avoid eating eggs the majority of the time.

From a speech by Norm Phelps:

“You can’t walk a mile in the shoes of a battery chicken, because battery chickens can’t walk a foot, much less a mile. But stand for an hour in the cage of a battery chicken, Stand jammed so tightly in a cage with other birds that you cannot turn around or stretch your wings. Stand up to your knees in your own excrement and the excrement of your fellow prisoners while being constantly splattered with the feces and urine of prisoners in cages stacked above you. Breathe air so poisonous with ammonia from the urine that your jailers and torturers have to wear protective masks when they enter the building. Never see sunshine. Never breathe fresh air. If you are injured or fall ill, just suffer; nobody cares, nobody is going to send for a doctor. If you die, so what? It’s cheaper that way.”

“This is the existence of a battery hen from shortly after she is born until the moment she is slaughtered. She never sees sunlight, she never breathes clean air, she never takes dust baths or pecks in the dirt, she never sleeps on a perch or sits on a nest, all activities that are vital to the mental as well as the physical health of chickens. This is her life, joyless, hopeless, saturated with suffering 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the two years that she is allowed to live, a bleak, abysmal, agonizing existence without friendship, comfort, or consolation.”

The egg industry is often regarded as the cruelest of all the factory farming industries. At the end of these animals’ miserable lives, they are slaughtered, for processed products like chicken nuggets and chicken soup. (Yes, you are eating those sickly-looking hens from the picture above.)

Do not support this cruelty; do not support the egg industry.

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Breakfast: A bagel with peanut butter
Lunch: A salad from the salad bar at Whole Foods (side note: after frequenting the downtown Austin Whole Foods, aka the “flagship,” I realized today that the Whole Foods in north Austin by my job is absolutely pathetic in comparison!)
Dinner: Pasta (gotta carbo-load for the marathon this weekend!) and a side of asparagus

Official FDA Inspection Reports Released

Just a quick update on the salmonella outbreak in eggs.  Here’s some excerpts from a New York Times article:

Inspection reports released by the Food and Drug Administration described — often in nose-pinching detail — possible ways that salmonella could have been spread undetected through the vast complexes of two companies. Barns infested with flies, maggots and scurrying rodents, and overflowing manure pits were among the widespread food safety problems that federal inspectors found at a group of Iowa egg farms at the heart of a nationwide recall and salmonella outbreak.

The recall, which began Aug. 13, involves more than half a billion eggs from the Iowa operations of two leading egg producers, Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms. About 1,500 reported cases of Salmonella enteritidis have been linked to tainted eggs since the spring — the largest known outbreak associated with that strain of salmonella.

It was difficult to gauge from the report how extensive the problems were. Both companies operate vast facilities housing seven million hens.

The report on Wright County Egg also described pits beneath laying houses where chicken manure was piled four to eight feet high. It also described hens that had escaped from laying cages tracking through the manure.

Officials last week said that they were taking a close look at a feed mill operated by Wright County Egg, after tests found salmonella in bone meal, a feed ingredient, and in feed given to young birds, known as pullets. On Monday, officials said for the first time that they had also found salmonella at a Hillandale facility. The bacteria was found in water that had been used to wash eggs.

Wright County Egg is owned by Jack DeCoster, who has a long history of environmental, labor and immigration violations at egg operations in Maine, Iowa and elsewhere.

Both companies have stopped selling shell eggs to consumers from their Iowa facilities and instead are sending all their eggs to breaking plants where they are pasteurized, which kills the bacteria. The eggs would then most likely be sold in liquid form, possibly to food manufacturers.

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The website Animal Visuals has created a graphic regarding the salmonella outbreak. Here is a small section of it:

salmonella-risk

You can see the full image here.

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Breakfast: Toast with cashew butter. I didn’t especially like the cashew butter – it’s too sticky and doesn’t have as much flavor as peanut butter.
Lunch: Vegetarian chili and a salad from The Garden Spot
IMAG0184
Dinner: Taco salad

8 Reasons to Beware of Eggs

Half a Billion Eggs Recalled, And Counting…

eggs

Over 500 million eggs have been recalled due to an outbreak of Salmonella that sickened thousands of people across the country (and many cases go unreported because Salmonella infections, which cause diarrhea and stomach cramps, often go undiagnosed). This is one of the country’s worst food safety recalls, stemming from only two farms in Iowa. These two gigantic producers distribute their eggs under brand names such as Lucerne, Albertson’s, Mountain Dairy, Ralph’s, Boomsma, Sunshine, Hillandale, Trafficanda, Farm Fresh, Shoreland, Lund, Dutch Farms and Kemp (this list might not be comprehensive as the recall seems to expand daily).

The American egg industry was already battling a movement to outlaw its methods as cruel and unsafe, and was adapting to the Obama administration’s drive to bolster health rules and inspections. According to the FDA, the cause of the infections has not been pinpointed, but it is likely that lax safety procedures and animal overcrowding are to blame. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) wrote in a letter to the Iowa Egg Council, “Confining birds in cages means increased salmonella infection in the birds, their eggs and the consumers of caged eggs.”  A single barn may house more than 150,000 birds in tight proximity, allowing infections to spread quickly and widely.

This month, the HSUS released a new white paper addressing the threat that cage confinement of laying hens can pose to food safety, as well as assessing the probabilities of Salmonella contamination among different housing systems:

salmonella_egg

Egg producers have watched in dismay as the political winds seemed to turn, largely because of growing concern about animal rights. The European Union will bar small cages for egg hens as of 2012. By public referendum, California will ban small cages in 2015, and the state will not allow the sale of eggs produced in other states in small cages. Michigan, Ohio and other states have also placed limits on future caging of hens.

But even with new legislation, there are still plenty of reasons to be concerned about eggs. Here are eight:

1. Petri Dishes for Disease

Joel Salatin, a farmer whose farm Polyface is featured in The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Food, Inc., tells why conditions in factory farms are ideal for the spread of infection: “The propensity for a problem is magnified under the fecal particulate air in these industrial egg farms. What it does is it breaks down the immune system and creates openings for pathogens. If you were trying to design a pathogen-friendly system, you would go to a single species, crowd that species together, deny it fresh air, exercise, and sunshine, never give it a rest time—have it there 365 days a year, and feed it a diet that maximizes a minimal standard of performance, rather than maximizes nutrition or feed that is nutritionally superior. What I’ve just described is Egg Factory Farming 101. This is just symptomatic of the pathogen-friendly nature of industrial agriculture.”

2. Massive Farms Magnify Any Disease

Further compounding the risk is the tremendous centralization of the factory farm system. As Marion Nestle, author of What to Eat, points out, “these large industrial producers where if there’s a problem, it’s going to get magnified over many states and many people.” Salatin agrees, saying that “Whereas a problem in the local food system only affects a few people, a problem in a factory farm can infect, for instance, hundreds of millions of eggs and tens of thousands of people.”

3. Infection Is More Common Than We Think

When you have such massive farms, each distributing its eggs to dozens of grocery chains, any problem gets compounded. In the case of the current outbreak, William Marler, a prominent foodborne-illness litigator, points out that the CDC’s rule of thumb is that 38 people are sickened by salmonella for every case that’s reported, so the number of people infected by the current outbreak could potentially number in the tens of thousands.

4. Free-Range Eggs Are No Healthier

Many people think that free-range eggs are healthier, and they provide more peace of mind, than factory-farmed eggs. But, the U.S. Department of Agriculture doesn’t even have a definition of “free-range” for laying hens. Factory-farmed chickens are often labeled as free-range. In the end, no one knows exactly what they’re eating. As Jonathan Safran Foer writes in Eating Animals, “I could keep a flock of hens under my sink and call them free-range.”

5. Companies Avoid What Little Regulation Exists

According to Marion Nestle, legislation would help, but companies are determined to skirt regulation and the FDA lacks the clout to enforce what rules it has: “We’re dealing here with a company that’s not very interested in following rules, and they cut corners in lots and lots of ways. One of the ways they cut corners is safety. The other part is the FDA still doesn’t have the tools it needs to enforce the rules it has.” William Marler points out that legislation that might have prevented this outbreak languished for eight years during the Bush administration before being implemented on July 8, just as the outbreak began. Even then, Marler says, most of the “Egg Rule,” known officially as “Federal Register Final Rule: Prevention of Salmonella Enteritidis in Shell Eggs During Production, Storage, and Transportation,” is common-sense testing and should have been followed voluntarily.

6. Healthy Eggs Are Expensive & Cheap Eggs Sell Better

Marion Nestle, Joel Salatin, Michael Pollan, and other food activists agree that the consumers must start demanding healthier eggs, even if it means paying more. Says Nestle, “The rules that are in the FDA’s egg legislation will require producers to do things differently, with some hope that they’ll move into more sustainable, reasonable practices. But as long as this country insists on cheap food, as long as that pressure is there, it’s understood that we value food for how little it costs, as opposed to how it’s produced or how it tastes, and there isn’t going to be a lot of pressure on producers to change things.”

But for those of you hoping that voting with your dollar will encourage producers to be cleaner and more humane, the polls bode ill: According to recent data from Information Resources Inc, which tracks checkout scanner transactions from 34,000 grocery stores in the U.S., we’re still buying eggs from cage housing systems 92% of the time.

7. Farms Lack Transparency

According to Michael Pollan, industrial egg farms are the worst sort of factory farms. So bad, in fact, that journalists are rarely allowed inside them. When Carole Morison let a camera crew in for Food Inc., she lost her contract and went on to co-found the Delmarva Poultry Justice Alliance.

8. Cruel Farm Conditions

Jonathan Safran Foer, in his book Eating Animals, writes of an often-overlooked trend in factory farming: food and light deprivation. One farmer described it to Foer this way: “As soon as females mature—in the turkey industry at 23 to 26 weeks and with chickens 16 to 20—they’re put into barns and they lower the light; sometimes it’s total darkness 24/7. And then they put them on a very low-protein diet, almost a starvation diet.” The result: Birds lay up to three or four times as many eggs as in nature. “After that first year, they are killed because they won’t lay as many the second year,” the farmer said. “The industry figured out it’s cheaper to slaughter them and start over than it is feed and house birds that lay fewer eggs.” Foer’s conclusion: “After learning about it, I didn’t want to eat a conventional egg ever again.”

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Breakfast: Bagel with Tofutti vegan cream cheese
Lunch: Salad with cucumber, red and yellow cherry tomatoes, hearts of palm, avocado, and vinegar and oil
IMAG0150
Dinner: Black bean tacos from Taco Cabana (there’s no cheese on these)

Meatless Monday #30: More Delicious Tofu Scrambles

Once again, I did not cook a single meal this week because of travel for the 3rd wedding I’ve attended in 3 weeks.  Luckily, The Rockin Vegan has some amazing tofu scramble recipes he’s willing to share!

Tofu scramble? Huh?!
Surprisingly, tofu + tumeric = a delicious scrambled egg substitute! Because cruelty in the egg industry is absolutely horrendous, I leave eggs off my plate.  Not only is tofu scramble more humane, but it’s also cholesterol free and better for the environment.

“When I first started seriously considering vegetarianism and researching the food industry, eggs was one of the first things to go from my diet. I’m not here to preach, but the way they discard the male chicks in hatcheries (see here if you’re curious) shows such a complete disregard for the beauty of life and the spirit of nature. Animal cruelty is just a very small part of why I went veg, but this left quite an impression on me – and eggs almost immediately lost their appeal.” – The Rockin Vegan

So, without further ado, check out The Rockin Vegan’s Hearty Tofu Scramble and Vegan Huevos con Chorizo.

Here’s my take on the Hearty Tofu Scramble with zucchini, bell pepper, spinach, and tomato, and a side of Gimme Lean vegetarian breakfast sausage.

Ingredients
1 block extra-firm tofu (Firm would also work, but do NOT use soft or silken tofu for this.)
1 tsp tumeric
Your favorite veggies

Directions
1. Crumble the tofu in a pan and add the tumeric and chopped veggies. Cook until veggies are to desired softness. It’s that easy!

025

Blessed Are The Merciful

Have compassion as God has compassion.  Matthew 5:48

As Christians celebrate Christ’s ultimate sacrifice and resurrection this Easter, let us resolve to emulate His compassion in our own lives. There’s no better place to begin than the dinner table. As we break bread, let’s break ties with some of the most violent and ungodly places on Earth: slaughterhouses and factory farms.

Before they become Sunday’s centerpiece, animals on factory farms are denied everything that God designed them to do. They never breathe fresh air, nurture their young, play with other animals, or do anything to live out the biblical concept that “God’s mercy is over all His creatures.”

For example, pigs spend their entire lives in filthy concrete pens, and cruelty is rampant, as witnessed by PETA’s investigation of Belcross Farm, a pig-breeding facility in North Carolina, which resulted in the first ever felony indictments for cruelty to animals by farm workers in the US. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Pigs are abused at factory farms across the country.

Easter is also no celebration for hens on egg farms, who suffer constant confinement to tiny, filthy wire cages. Male chicks are killed, through suffocation or grinders, since they don’t produce eggs. And female chicks have their beaks painfully seared off to keep them from pecking one another.

Then, at the end of their short, miserable lives, these animals are roughly crammed into trucks and transported off to suffer the ultimate terror of the slaughterhouse, where workers hang them upside-down and slit their throats.

Christians whose eyes are fixed on the awfulness of crucifixion are in a special position to understand the awfulness of innocent suffering. The Cross of Christ is God’s absolute identification with the weak, the powerless and the vulnerable, but most of all with unprotected, undefended, innocent suffering.
– Rev. Dr. Andrew Linzey

This Easter, demonstrate compassion by trying some delicious vegetarian and vegan Easter recipes.

Also, visit the Christian Vegetarian Association’s website and read their “Would Jesus Eat Meat Today?” pamphlet.

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Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Medley of pasta salad, veggies, and grilled tofu from the salad bar at the deli across the street
Dinner: Tofurkey sandwich with chips and homemade guacamole

Free Range: Not As Free As You Think

Anyone that thinks the 285 million caged hens in America are experiencing anything less than torture is fooling themselves. After learning about the cruelty and destruction caused by the egg industry, many people think that free-range, cage-free, or organic are the solution to the problem, but free-range isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Battery Cage Hens

Each of these terms – free-range, cage-free, and organic – invokes a positive image of sunshine, grass, and open spaces, but this is far from reality.

“The waiter said, ‘All of our chicken is free-range.’ And I said, ‘He doesn’t look very free there on that plate.’”  – Joe Bob Briggs

The official regulation for “free-range” is that the birds have “access to the outdoors.”  So, often times, there is only a single, small door in the shed (packed with thousands of hens), which leads to a concrete patch or manure field, in some cases it is only opened for about 5 minutes per day, and only a few number of hens even realize that the door exists.  These chickens and eggs earn the free-range label.  There are absolutely no regulations on the amount of space per bird, the environmental conditions (concrete vs. grass), or the amount of time spent outdoors (if any).

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) requires that chickens raised for their meat have access to the outside in order to receive the free-range certification. There is no requirement for access to pasture, and there may be access to only dirt or gravel . Free-range chicken eggs, however, have no legal definition in the United States. Likewise, free-range egg producers have no common standard on what the term means.”  -Wikipedia

The difference between free-range and cage-free is simply a door.  Cage-free hens are not confined to wire cages, but there is no door leading to the outdoors in their hen-houses.  They are over-crowded into dark sheds filled with toxic fumes (from waste) and rampant disease.

Cage Free Chickens

Organic does not indicate a lack of cages.  It only means that the hens are not fed antibiotics or hormones, and they eat organic corn. Organic eggs can come from battery caged hens.

Free-range, cage-free, and organic hens are typically de-beaked just as battery cage hens. And although chickens live for 7-15 years, free-range, cage-free, and organic hens are brutally slaughtered at age 1-2.

Debeaking

Male chicks, under any label (free-range, cage-free, organic), are considered useless  and are immediately killed by either suffocation, electrocution, gassing, or are ground up alive. No federal laws protect chickens from abuse under any label.

Live male chicks thrown in a trash can. The trash bag will be tied shut and the chicks are left to suffocate in the bag.

Male chicks thrown in a trash can. The trash bag will be tied shut and the chicks are left to suffocate in the bag.

You can show compassion by avoiding eggs.

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Breakfast: Two bananas
Lunch: Veggie sub from Harris Teeter (another one of my usuals) – lettuce, tomato, olives, banana peppers, jalapeno peppers, pickles, vinegar and oil, oregano, on a whole wheat sub
HT sandwich
Dinner: Nachos with black beans and Daiya vegan cheese

Eggs And The Environment

It’s not just pig farms that produce massive pools of waste.  Olivera egg ranch in northern California has a 16.5 acre lagoon filled with waste sludge from its more than 700,000 caged hens.  The stench and eye-burning fumes cause headaches and nausea for the neighbors.

Waste lagoons like this (which are on all factory farms) are the leading cause of soil and groundwater contamination in the US and contribute greatly to the vast greenhouse gas emissions that fuel the global warming problem.

Even though factory farms are responsible for more than 18% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide (which is much larger than the carbon footprint of the transportation industry), and 37% of those gases are derived from methane (which has 23 times the global warming impact of CO2), the farming industry is not subject to industrial emissions standards required by the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Just before leaving office, the Bush administration issued a regulation exempting farms from reporting to federal regulators the releases of air pollution from animal waste. (Really?!)  The regulation is being challenged by environmental groups in federal court.

brown_lagoon

Massive Waste Lagoon

 When you buy conventional eggs, order eggs at restaurants, or eat items that contain eggs,  you are contributing to this industry.

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Breakfast: Pancake breakfast (hosted by the building manager to welcome new tenants to our office building)
Lunch: Salad bar from Harris Teeter
Dinner: Meatless crumbles and black bean tacos (cooked in a pan together with taco seasoning), with Daiya vegan cheese (it melts!), cilantro, tabasco, and tortillas from San Antonio
tacos

Meet Your Meat: Eggs

Yes, I realize that eggs aren’t technically meat, but the over 285 million hens that are raised for eggs each year are arguably the most abused of all livestock animals.  These birds spend the entirety of their lives packed 7 or 8 hens to each battery cage.  This gives each animal the space of slightly smaller than a piece of paper.

BIRDFLU-CHINA/

Hens in battery cages do not have room to spread their wings, walk, or even lie down. These animals not only suffer from boredom and frustration, but also have elevated stress and aggression levels, causing some hens to peck others to death. To prevent these behaviors caused by extreme crowding, hens are kept in semi-darkness and the ends of their beaks are cut off with a hot blade.  No painkillers are administered during this painful process.

debeak_lg chicken-debeak-04

Because hens are crammed in their cages, the wire mesh rubs against their skin, rubbing it raw, and the wire mesh on the bottom of the cage (the cages do not have a solid bottom) cripples their feet.

Farmers induce greater egg production through forced molting, which shocks the hens’ bodies into another egg-laying cycle by starving them for days and keeping them in the dark, a stressful situation that causes them to lose feathers and weight. Flocks that are not force-molted are simply slaughtered after one egg laying season.

Battery_Cage_01

Broken bones are also common among these birds, who suffer from a painful condition called “cage layer osteoporosis,” a result of the high calcium demand of egg laying.  A study published in Poultry Science explained that “high production hens’ structural bone is mobilized throughout the laying period in order to contribute to the formation of eggshell.”

Although chickens can live for over 10 years, hens raised for their eggs are exhausted, and their egg production begins to wane when they are about 2 years old. When this happens, they are slaughtered. More than 100 million “spent” hens are killed in slaughterhouses each year. Most are used in processed foods (and are disgustingly sickly like the hens pictured above – yes, that’s what you’re eating).

Millions of day-old male chicks are killed every year, usually in high-speed grinders called macerators, which shred them alive because they are worthless to the egg industry.

(It sickens me that we treat living beings like inanimate objects.)

For more information about the egg industry, visit chooseveg.com.

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Breakfast: An apple and a banana
Lunch: Grilled veggie sub from the deli downstairs
Dinner: Chow mein, tofu stir-fry, and mixed veggies from Panda Express