So you are skipping the turkey this Thanksgiving. To most Americans this seems almost sacrilegious to serve Thanksgiving dinner without a turkey. Likening the bird to the first Thanksgiving, however, many people including vegetarians, vegans, health conscious folks, and just people looking for a change opt out of meat for the holiday. So if you are looking to lose the meat, try out a few of our suggestions below. If you want a rating of them, check out this comparison on Slate.  Have a happy meatless Thanksgiving!

Tofurkey: Aww the Tofurkey, it’s very name fills the air with the scent of Thanksgiving.  It has been a staple of vegetarian Thanksgivings for over a decade.  It is fairly inexpensive, around $9.99 and comes with stuffing and gravy. The brand does an excellent job of tasting turkey-esque and definitely completes your holiday meal. The Slate comparison gave it a 19 out of 25 rating.

Field Roast Celebration Roast: Although the Field Roast,  looks much more like a holiday ham, it definitely will fit in on the Thanksgiving table.  It’s texture and spices have a turkey taste, but the stuffing is a little more mushy than the Tofurkey. You can’t beat the sweet potatoes and apples in the stuffing. Slate gave this centerpiece a rating of 12 out of 25.

Gardein Stuffed Turk’y:  Gardein, although new on the market, has made a huge splash. They have come out with all sorts of delicious meatless options including crispy “chicken” and beefless tips. Their biggest contribution is their Stuffed Turk’y. Even though, these are a lot smaller than the above roasts, they win out in flavor. This is hands down one of your best options for fake meat. Slate gave it a winning 22 out of 25!

Homemade: Instead of buying your main dish this year, consider making your roast from scratch. We posted a great recipe last week on homemade gluten roast. It’s very easy and will make your whole feast a more homemade feel and taste. You can also try these recipes for ideas.

 

There are many positive outcomes that come along with partaking in a vegetarian diet. Recently an article was published inNutrition Journal that approaches some of the psychological effects that differ between vegetarian and omnivorous diets. The article introduces a new study that has surfaced that presents a theory that vegetarians are happier than their meat-eating counterparts. This is exciting news, as this study will likely open the doors to further research and development of the effects of a vegetarian diet on mood stability, depression, stress and anxiety.

The study published was conducted on an American population of Seventh Day Adventists where the group was split 4:5, vegetarian to omnivore. The Seventh Day Adventists were chosen from two communities; Phoenix, Arizona and Santa Barbara, California, to participate in the study because the group was particularly homogeneous in their lifestyle choices and their exposure to external stimuli. The volunteers for this study could not participate if they were pregnant, lactating, been diagnosed with chronic diseases that affect mental health, or were regular users of mood-altering medications or supplements. The study consisted of three questionnaires. One of the questionnaires measured food frequency (FFQ), while the other two measured psychometric characteristics through the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS) and the Profile of Mood States (POMS).

The variation between the two dietary groups was astonishing! Vegetarians scored lower on depression tests and their mood profiles were more positive than their omnivorous peers. Interestingly enough, the vegetarians studied had significantly lower amounts of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA that are naturally found in fish. EPA and DHA are critical regulators of brain cell function and structure, and the study contradicts the belief that diets that are depleted or low in these omega-3 fatty acids can lead to impaired mood states.Overall, the results appeared that vegetarians are a happier population than omnivores!

The study of the psychological effects of vegetarian and vegan diets, particularly of the effects these dietary choices on moods, is a topic I hope will be researched further.  Please keep in mind that although the results of this study were substantial, all 138 of the Seventh Day Adventists have limited intake of processed food, as well as have high intakes of fruits and vegetables. The study is not aiming to dissuade the dietary intake of fish and other sources of omega-3 fatty acids, but simply explaining that plant sources of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are available. We are happy to see a study like this go underway, however, since it used such a small subset of the population, one religion/culture, we would love to see it expanded to a larger and more diverse population!

Whatever reason behind your dietary choices, I hope you’re eating food that leads you to happiness and a positive lifestyle. What you eat has a lot to with how your body will function and your overall moods, so treat your body well… Vegetarian or not.

-Hannah Bybee

A few years ago an E. coli breakout kept me from eating one of my favorite foods: spinach. I remember being stranded in Idaho Falls in the summer of 2006 and desperately looking over a menu at a local restaurant in search of something that would appease both my appetite and my vegetarian lifestyle. I swear my heart skipped a beat when I found a Pear Pecan salad made on a rich bed of spinach. I was excited to find a meatless entrée in this Podunk town. I smiled sweetly at the waiter and ordered my decadent salad. The waiter politely told me that they were unable to serve dishes containing spinach because of the E. coli breakout. Defeated, I ordered a cocktail and decided on a pasta dish sans-carne.

It turns out E. coli breakouts are on the rise again, and I am not too happy that I may have to more-heavily monitor my consumption of raw fruits and vegetables. In case you do not know, E. coli is an intestinal disorder that most commonly adversely affects individuals who consume raw plant foods that have been exposed to fecal matter. This disease does not originate from plants, as they lack intestines. Humans do not get plant diseases; they get diseases like E. coli from the exposure and improper contact of human and/or animal fecal matter.

Each year, animals are mass-produced as commodities of factory farms to feed our nation’s growing obsession with animal-flesh-consumption. Animals are bred, fed, and killed to feed and “nourish” a vast majority of our population who are affected with a phenomenon I like to refer to as Meat Fever. Due to Meat Fever, the amount of animals raised to today in factory farms account for over a billion tons of waste produced. This waste is often not disposed of properly, or is disposed into open-air cesspits that leak, thus getting into water sources that contaminate irrigation systems that are used to water our crops. Even with excessive washing and/or cooking of your fruits and vegetables you cannot necessarily get rid of E. coli that may have contaminated produce.

Recent research has suggested that even once you recover from an ailment like E. coli the illness may not be completely gone. Those who have suffered from E. coli, specifically children, can have side-effects appear up to 20 years later! Some of the problems developed are: kidney problems and failure, permanent brain damage, insulin-dependent diabetes, and high blood pressure. E. coli 0157:h7, the commonly known form of this bacterium, infects fewer than 100,000 Americans annually with less than 100 casualties. Sadly, other forms of E. coli exist that cause other health problems like Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) that can lead to hospitalization and/or death.

According to medical researchers from the University of Minnesota, there is a good chance your poultry, pork, and beef may have been exposed to fecal matter. In a recent experiment testing 1,000 samples of meat from various retail markets 69% of pork and beef, as well as 92% of poultry samples had evidence of fecal-contamination. This type of E. coli can harbor in a woman’s lower intestine then travel to the bladder and become UTIs. Over 99% of the meat, dairy, and eggs Americans consume are produced in Factory Farms. Even though many Factory Farms claim to be combating E. coli with antibiotics, E. coli still rages on. Mutations in the bacteria have begun and will continue to appear due to the use and abuse of antibiotics.

Factory Farms are a big obstacle in the fight to protect yourself and your loved ones from E. coli. Although efforts are being done to try to minimize some of the adverse effects of these environmentally unfriendly institutions, perhaps your best defense against E. coli is to educate yourself on how to reduce your chances of exposure. Here are some tips and facts that may help safeguard your lifestyle.

-Hannah Bybee

Richmond Vegetarian FestivalAutonomie Project is backing her bags as we speak and heading out on the open road once again! That’s right, we are headed on a road trip down to Richmond, Virginia for the annual FREE Vegetarian Festival. The Festival is put on every year by Vegan Action and the Vegetarian Society of Richmond. This year proves to be super exciting and includes live local music such as  ANTERO, Workingman, and many more; plus some terrific speakers, cooking demos, and a raffle with a grand prize of a weekend getaway at The White Pig (an all vegan bed and breakfast)!

And if entertainment wasn’t enough to tempt you, there is a HUGE vendor fair including yours truly, Dharma Clothing, Arbonne International, and Honest Tea. And of course, there will be tons of delicious vegan restaurants and food giveaways! Everything from vegan cupcakes to Indian food and even Italian ice! We are looking forward to spending the day in the warm summer heat, talking with all the people we meet, and of course trying all the snacks!

So if you live in the Richmond area, we hope you can make it out and enjoy the day with us. Please stop by, say hi and check out our BRAND NEW T shirts! Get them now before they’re online. See everyone Saturday.

WHEN: Saturday, June 20th  12pm to 6pm

WHERE : Azalea Gardens in Bryan Park: 4308 Hermitage Road, Richmond, VA 23227

BBQ season is fast approaching and its time to dust off those grills and pull out the side dish recipes! This week’s recipe is the Great American BBQ Classic known as Macaroni Salad. I am not sure of the history of this salad, but know it often played a part in my summer gathering Americana. And if you are unfamiliar with Macaroni Salad, it makes for a great side at any BBQ, party, or even just on the dinner table. So as the summer approaches, be sure to get your hands on this very tasty and very vegan Macaroni Salad!

Vegan Macaroni Salad

Prep Time: 15 Minutes     Cool Time: 3 Hours

1 24oz Bag of Elbow Macaroni
1 cup Vegenaise
2 Tbsps of Yellow Mustard
1 Tbsp Vinegar
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
2 Stalks of Celery
1 Yellow or White Onion
1 Green Bell Pepper
1 Carrot (optional)
1/2 Cup Sweet Relish (optional)

In a large pot boil water to cook the pasta. Once the water is at a rolling boil, add in the entire bag of pasta. Cook for about 10 minutes or until soft. While the noodles are cooking chop up the celery, onion, bell pepper, and carrots (if using) into small pieces. Drain the pasta and run cool water over it a few times, to cool the noodles down. In a large bowl, add in the chopped veggies and stir. Next add in the Vegenaise, vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, and relish (if using). Mix all ingredients up until it is well combined. You may need to add more salt or pepper, depending on your taste buds. If you need to serve immediately, place the bowl in the freezer for 5 minutes and it should be cool enough. But if you have planned ahead place the salad in the refrigerator and let it cool for about 3 hours.

This week is a special treat for all you vegan recipe hunters! This week’s recipe is the very first one I have ever written! I wrote the following recipe for my Mother when I was at the tender age of 5. And every year for Mother’s Day I make her this very soup, well as long as we are in the same state! It is simple and she loves it (I mean she has to, she’s my Mother). So I recommend, you make this soup for your Mom, Grandma, Wife, Sister, or Friend this weekend to celebrate all the lovely mothers in our lives. And if you do not get the opportunity to make it for Mother’s Day, please try it out another time. So in honor of the lovely Mrs Williams, here is my childhood recipe. Happy Mother’s Day!

Gina’s Mother’s Day Vegetable Soupdscn53078

4 1/2 Cups Vegetable Broth
2 1/2 Cups Water
1 Large Potato
2 Stalks of Celery
2 Large Carrots
1 Large Zucchini
1/2 Large Onion
1 Clove Chopped Garlic
2 tsp Oregano
2 tsp Pepper
1 tsp Salt

In a large pot pour the vegetable broth and water in. Chop all vegetables into medium chunks, except for the onion and garlic, which should be chopped finely. Add the potatoes in and bring the pot to a boil for about 10 minutes. Lower the heat to a low setting and let simmer. Add in the carrots, zucchini, celery, and onions. Also add in the garlic, oregano, pepper, and salt. Let the soup simmer for about an hour. Feel free to add more spice to it, it it doesn’t meet your taste (especially salt and pepper). Also, garnish with fresh parsley if you choose.

Eggs of Many Colors Photo By woodleywonderworksA small victory has occurred in the animal rights world! That’s right, the first major egg supplier, Radlo Farms has announced it has cut ties from a Massachusetts farm that had gross mistreatment of their hens. They have also officially decided to go cage free within the next ten years. This may seem like a small feat, but this is actually an exciting step in phasing out the abuse of the egg industry.

Battery Cages Photo By Egg IndustryAs we highlighted in an earlier post, the egg industry is fraught with horrible abuses and unimaginable horrors that the hens endure., including having their beaks burnt off and forced starvation. As well, as plenty of hormones and unhealthy production of the eggs. And a lot of these abuses are caused by the use of battery cages.  That’s why it is especially encouraging to see a major egg distributor choose to make a change to cage free chickens. Although they have pledged to do so in ten years, which actually is a little too long. It seems they should be able to phase such changes sooner and we would certainly love to see them try!

Gallina [en. hen, fr. poule] (Gallus gallus domesticus) Photo By Cristóbal Alvarado MinicThe reason the subject of animal abuse came up at this farm was through a pretty impressive investigation conducted by Mercy for Animals, an animal rights non profit. Some members went undercover and were able to film the disgusting living conditions of the hens as well as video workers swinging the chickens around by the neck! The investigation spurred Radlo to cease all business with the particular farm and Massachusetts state agriculture inspectors have since investigated the farm to see if possible charges should be brought upon the farm. Once all of the abuses were brought to light, Randlo, with the encouragement of  its franchiser Eggland’s Best decided to stop all supplies from this farm and has then pledged to go completely cage free.

As we said  before, this may be a tiny victory in the scheme of things, its a step in the right direction. If this large of an egg supplier has made this move, then it is quite possible other large distributors and farms could follow suit. This is just the type of transition we need! So please, if you aren’t vegan, purchase from cage free farms and companies. It makes a world of difference for the life of the hens.

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