Archive for Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Main events

At vegan potlucks, veggies don’t have to be side dishes

Judy Carman, left, of Lecompton, and Allie Roepe, of Lawrence, sit down with friends for a vegan dinner Feb. 13 at a friend's house in North Lawrence. Carman and other vegans will be hosting a vegan potluck Tuesday at Ecumenical Christian Ministries, 1204 Oread Ave.

Judy Carman, left, of Lecompton, and Allie Roepe, of Lawrence, sit down with friends for a vegan dinner Feb. 13 at a friend's house in North Lawrence. Carman and other vegans will be hosting a vegan potluck Tuesday at Ecumenical Christian Ministries, 1204 Oread Ave.

February 20, 2008


A vegan dinner table is set Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2008 at Julie Vernon's house in North Lawrence.

A vegan dinner table is set Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2008 at Julie Vernon's house in North Lawrence.

A pan of potatoes, onions, beats, garlic, oil and salt simmers on a stove Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2008 at Julie Vernon's house in North Lawrence.

A pan of potatoes, onions, beats, garlic, oil and salt simmers on a stove Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2008 at Julie Vernon's house in North Lawrence.

Past Event
VegLawrence Vegan Potluck

  • When: Tuesday, February 26, 2008, 6 p.m.
  • Where: Ecumenical Campus Ministries, 1204 Oread Ave., Lawrence
  • Cost: $1.25
  • More on this event....

Here she was again. Christmas Eve, full of cheer and friends, and Khristina Kirstatter had one meal choice: celery.

"I went to Christmas with some friends and I'm sitting there staring at this tray of chopped up meat," she says. "I think I'll have some celery ... what a great Christmas Eve meal! Mmm, celery!"

For half of Kirstatter's life, it's been this way. Eighteen years of piecing together meals from side dishes, second-guessing and repeatedly asking, "What's in that?"

But in October, the Lawrence resident found a place where she didn't have to ask, she just had to dig in. No second-guessing. Full-on entrees. Side dishes acting as second banana, not the main course. She found the VegLawrence Vegan Potluck.

Once a month - including 6 p.m. Tuesday - the group comes together at the Ecumenical Christian Ministries, 1204 Oread Ave. The potluck features dishes that are vegan, which means they contain no animals or animal byproducts.

It's an event that is perfect for Kirstatter, who has alternated between being vegan and vegetarian since her teens, when she decided to eschew the steak-and-chicken meals at her childhood home in western Kansas.

"It's super to be around people who share your same compassionate heart and know that no matter what is on the table, you can eat it, you don't have to question it or sit and pick and be annoying," says Kirstatter, 36, who has been a regular at the potlucks since they began. "I've felt a great connection with people in the group, and I think that's important. I really enjoy it."

Bonding over food

That's exactly the kind of answer Jury Carman and Ann Wilson want to hear. The Lecompton residents, both longtime vegans, began planning the potlucks with other friends as a way for vegans to meet one another, as well as a way for others to get a taste of the vegan lifestyle.

"It's open to anybody and everyone. We do not want to make anybody feel like they have to come in there and be a vegan or a vegetarian or feel ashamed or bad that they're not," says Wilson, a vegan for almost eight years. "We all started out as meat-eaters ... we've all been there, done that, and nobody needs to feel bad about where they're at.

"I mean, just the fact that they're interested in it just tickles us to no end."

At each potluck, attendees bring a vegan dish and its accompanying recipe, plus a small fee ($1.25) to the ECM. A monthly speaker or activity - this month is vegan "Jeopardy!" - is provided, as is child care. About 30 people have shown up to each potluck, some coming from Kansas City and Wichita, some knowing the organizers and some, like Kirstatter, going in completely blind.

"The first time I went, I was just interested and hopeful to meet other people whose beliefs aligned more with mine. It was really encouraging to see lots of really cool people, making it living this way," says Kirstatter, who attends with her daughter, Madeleine, 10, whom she is raising vegan. "We're kind of taught that's not the right way, socially, in our culture (to not eat meat). To buck that system, you put up with a lot from a lot of different people."

Substitution is key

But bucking the system in your own kitchen is easy, says Wilson. She insists cutting out all meat, dairy, eggs and animal byproducts really isn't that hard if you remember one word: substitution.

"I would love to send out a letter to every restaurant in town that says, 'If you're interested in more veg options, please contact me!' Because one of the ways I was able to go veg - because I loved meat so much - was substitution," Wilson says. "I still made all the chilies, spaghetti, chicken and noodles over mashed potatoes. I made all that stuff, I just substituted the faux meat and the dairy with soy milk, and the meals were fantastic."

Fantastic, Wilson says, even to non-vegans including her husband, whom she satisfies with little effort thanks to substitutions. Wilson says anyone considering going vegan or vegetarian but is worried about what they'll eat should just think differently about their favorite meals.

"I tell them to take their favorite dish and substitute, that's all you've got to do," Wilson says of people worried about elaborate planning and vegan meal preparation. "You can still make 10-minute dishes like you used to be able to."

And that sort of familiar, welcoming texture is what the organizers hope newcomers - vegan, vegetarian or omnivore - find at their potlucks.

"We want to always make people feel welcome if they're not vegan, even if they're never going to be vegan, they can still come and see what it's like," says Carman. "We're very blessed to have such a progressive, intelligent community and to live here and know that people who aren't even vegan might be interested."

Vegan recipes

Spinach Artichoke Dip

3 dollops Veganaise

3 dollops Tofutti sour cream

1/2 container Tofutti garlic and herb cream cheese

3 tablespoons vegan parmesan

1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes

1 box frozen spinach

1 can artichoke hearts

In a medium saucepan, on medium heat, combine Veganaise, sour cream and cream cheese. Stir until creamy. Then add parmesan, nutritional yeast flakes and some juice from the artichoke hearts. Stir.

Cook the box of frozen spinach according to the directions. Drain off juice from spinach and add to saucepan. Cut artichoke hearts into small pieces, add and stir. For a thinner dip, add more artichoke juice.

Serve with tortilla chips or bread.

- Recipe from Ann Wilson

Faux Chicken and Noodles over Mashed Potatoes

For the chicken and noodles:

1 box Imagine Organic No Chicken Broth

2 packages White Wave faux chicken pieces

1 package spiral noodles

2 cups chopped celery

2 cups chopped carrots

1 cup nutritional yeast flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

Faux bacon bits (if desired)

For the mashed potatoes:

8-9 medium size Yukon Gold potatoes

Silk soy milk

Earth Balance margarine

For the chicken and noodles: In a large pot, add the full box of the No Chicken Broth and 7 cups water. Turn heat to medium-high. Add chopped celery, carrots, salt and pepper and bacon bits. Once the celery and carrots are somewhat cooked, add the "chicken" and the package of noodles. Add another cup of hot water. Cook on medium-high heat until the noodles are done. Turn down the heat and stir in nutritional yeast flakes. If you like less thick chicken and noodles, you can stop here. If you want thicker chicken and noodles, you can thicken them up by melting five tablespoons of margarine in a small skillet and stir in four tablespoons of flour. Add the mixture to the big pot and stir well.

For the mashed potatoes: Cut up the potatoes into small pieces and cook until done. When you're ready to mash the spuds, add some soy milk, margarine and salt until the desired consistency and taste.

Serve hot chicken and noodles over the mashed potatoes.

- Recipe from Ann Wilson

Toasted Coconut Cupcakes with Coffee Buttercream Frosting

For the cupcakes:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup coconut oil

1 cup coconut milk

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons coconut extract

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

For the frosting:

1/4 cup nonhydrogenated shortening

1/4 cup nonhydrogenated margarine, softened

2 cups confectioners' sugar

2 tablespoons coconut milk or soy milk

1-1/2 teaspoons coffee extract

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (to toast)

Chocolate-covered coffee beans (optional)

For the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line muffin pan or pans with 12 cupcake liners. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan over very low heat. Once melted, turn off the heat but leave it in the pan on the stove so that it stays warm and does not solidify. In a separate medium bowl, mix together coconut milk, sugar, vanilla and coconut extract. Stir in the melted coconut oil. Add the flour mixture in batches, beating well after each addition. Mix until smooth, then fold in the shredded coconut. Fill cupcake liners two-thirds full. Bake for 24 to 26 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

For the icing: Beat the shortening and margarine together until combined well and fluffy. Alternately add the sugar and coconut milk/soy milk to the shortening mixture, beating well after each addition. Add the coffee extract and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes with a handheld mixer on low-medium speed or 5 to 7 minutes if you're using a fork. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To toast the coconut: Preheat a small frying pan over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Pour coconut into the pan and stir constantly with a spatula. The coconut will begin to turn honey brown. Keep stirring and tossing for about 90 seconds to get all the coconut evenly toasted. Turn off the heat and keep stirring and tossing for 30 seconds more. Once uniformly toasted, transfer to a plate and spread out to cool.

To assemble: Spread a generous amount of frosting on cooled cupcakes. Roll the frosted cupcakes along its rim in the toasted coconut to create a ring around the circumference. Add chocolate-covered coffee beans to the center to decorate if you wish.

- Recipe from "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Cinnamon Icing

For the cupcakes:

1 cup canned pumpkin

1/3 cup oil

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup soy milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

For the icing:

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons margarine, melted

1 tablespoon soy milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan or pans with 12 cupcake liners. In a medium bowl, stir together pumpkin, oil, sugar, soy milk and vanilla. Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir together with a fork - don't use a handheld mixer, as it will make the batter gummy. Once well combined, fold in the chocolate chips. Fill the liners two-thirds full. Bake for 22 to 24 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let fully cool before icing.

For icing: Place sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Add the margarine, soy milk and vanilla and stir with a fork until smooth. Keep at room temperature until ready to use. The mixture should look opaque and honey brown. If it's glistening a lot or looks too liquid, add a little extra confectioners' sugar.

To assemble: Take a small plastic sandwich bag and cut out a tiny hole in one edge or fit a pastry bag with a small-holed decorating tip. Fill the bag with icing and pipe it out Jackson Pollack-style onto the cupcakes. You may also opt to pipe it in zigzags, lines or swirls. Let the icing set at room temperature or refrigerated.

- Recipe from "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero


jonas 10 years, 4 months ago

"you can eat it, you don't have to question it"

Until we discover that plants, being living things, have a claim to whatever it is animals have that makes you unable to eat them.

akt2 10 years, 4 months ago

I'm sure that the food is nutritious. I eat meat, but not every day. What I don't understand is why you would want to replicate meat in a recipe by substituting ingredients. If you don't eat meat, why would you want anything meant to resemble it? I love Anthony Bourdain. That man will eat anything. And enjoy it. I'm always trying to figure out if he is gay. There is next to nothing out there about his personal life. He is a mystery.

aginglady 10 years, 4 months ago

He's an a$$, but in a non gay way, don't you think?

tvc 10 years, 4 months ago

We disagree with the way animals are used. Meat substitutes allow me to eat foods that are similar to what I grew up eating.

Celeste Plitz 10 years, 4 months ago

That's right. I use a lot of the substitutes. Being vegetarian doesn't have to mean you don't like meat-I like meat and seafood a lot, but I won't eat it. Why? Because I don't agree with the way animals meant for food are treated in our society. Specifically, factory farming. I don't have a problem with people who hunt their own food, or raise it themselves, because the animals at least have a decent life before they are killed and eaten. However, the large factory farms are inhumane, in my opinon. Until the way animals are raised, transported, and slaughtered is changed to a more humane methods, I won't participate. As far as seafood goes, commercial fishing is wasteful and many areas of the ocean are being depleted faster than the wild populations can reproduce themselves. I'm not vegan, so I'll eat eggs and dairy, but I do try to find eggs and dairy that have humane sources. So those of us who choose to not eat animals are doing so for varied reasons. Not all of us are PETA weirdos(sorry PETA!!), or trying to convert all meat eaters to the dark side, or anything like that. It's a personal choice, nothing I say is going to convince someone to turn vegetarian, so I don't even try. I just do the best I can according to my own beliefs, and I hope to be treated fairly without rancor by those who eat differently than I do.

In addition, I think the potluck idea is a great one! I sure would enjoy not having to worry if there was meat in something when I eat somewhere outside the home. Good going ladies!!

moderate1 10 years, 4 months ago

I've heard the reason we are smarter than monkeys is we came out of the trees and started hunting animals for food, the protien rich meat allowed our brains to grow , and the intelligence it takes to hunt for food (rather than picking leaves) is what makes us the smart as we are today

momsy 10 years, 4 months ago

Im not so sure about that moderate1. But thats beyond the point. Without going into the evolutionary/spiritual/sudo-scientific debate...

The point here is... The vast majority of our animal foods(milk, beef, eggs, pork), comes from Factory Farms. That is a fact. Animals there are treated with absolutely no respect and are often sick and diseased, and death is all around. On the most BASIC level of reasoning, this is unhealthy conditions for our food, which in return is unhealthy for us. Heres a story about the newest string of recalled beef stories. From today!

Some people dont want to eat that stuff (vegetarians). And some people dont want to support ANY of those industries at all (vegans). Being vegan or vegetarian isnt about saying a persons choice to eat meat is wrong. Its about saying that the current ways animals are treated and used as solely commodities, is wrong. And im going to live completely healthy abstaining from those products. And the health benefits from living these lifestyles are countless. So why not???

I loved meat too. Still love the smell of bacon. But i havent eaten it in over 11 years. Its a choice. Its not like i was born vegetarian. Although I wonder what a baby would choose for his first solid food: A steak or an orange.

I also heard one of the signs that shows us we are truly smarter then monkeys is our current president......wait....

momsy 10 years, 4 months ago

Also, in response to the ever so funny, even for the 7,236 time, quote "What about the cries of the carrots?" - Animals have a central nervous system. This system helps your body to have feeling. -Plants do not have this. Plants do not feel pain.

ndmoderate 10 years, 4 months ago

To each their own, as said before. It's a free country.

For me, it comes down to the classification system I learned way back in school: humans are omnivores, not herbivores or carnivores exclusively. Makes sense to me.

Danielle Brunin 10 years, 4 months ago

tvc, celeste, and momsy,

Congratulations on being able to maintain this lifestyle. My husband and I went vegetarian for about a year and felt great. Eventually, he succumbed to the sweet succulence of a steak and I gradually went back too. As my brother said the other night, "Meat is murder. Tasty, tasty murder." Seriously though, I do have two questions if anyone cares to answer. One, doesn't it get expensive buying all of the meat and dairy substitutes, does it eventually even out, or do you somehow make your own? Two, I noticed that a couple of the recipes had granulated sugar and I had read that granulated sugar (not raw) is made white during processing in part by using crushed bones of cattle. Do you know if that's true?

staff04 10 years, 4 months ago

On sugar...I think I read somewhere that a certain, small-ish sugar refinery doesn't use the bone stuff...

gccs14r 10 years, 4 months ago


Have you ever heard of plant protein? Try this:

Meat is not necessary.

Catbacker 10 years, 4 months ago

Plant protein is not a sufficient substitute for developing or maintaining a healthy CNS, or optimum brain function. The essential amino acids that are necessary to produce DHA and EPA come from fish, meat and dairy products. High-protein plants only produce ALA, which the body must convert to EPA and DHA. Studies show that the human body is very ineffecient at doing this; best case scenerio 6-10%...more likely in the 0.5-3% range. Basically, plant-eaters need to consume 10-100X the protein to produce the same results, as a diet that includes meat, fish or dairy products. Basically...there is a reason you have canine teeth.

love2eat 10 years, 4 months ago

There are many ways that people can follow a vegan diet. I am vegan, and the recipes included with this article represent the very extreme end of the vegan eating spectrum. They are way too fatty and rely on too many highly processed ingredients for me to feed them to my family. I realize that some vegans and vegan wannabees want such food, and if dishes like those help people to boycott cruelty and eat a diet that is less damaging to the environment (animal agriculture produces huge amounts of greenhouse gasses) then I say, "go for it."

But if you not only care about animals and the planet --but also yourself, and want to save money both now --buying the food, and later --on medical care, then you should eat a low-fat whole-foods vegan diet. Eat lots of fresh whole fruit, fresh green salads, steamed, baked or broiled vegetables, cooked whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, soups from lentils, split peas or black beans, stirfries, and bean burritos, are but a few examples.

What we enjoy eating is very much a learned behavior, and when you look and feel better eating a low-fat plant based diet, it's amazing how much you come to love it! For more info visit any of these websites:

love2eat 10 years, 4 months ago

Catbacker -- if by chance you are interested in looking at the REAL science (ignoring of course biased studies funded by ag special interests -- which unfortunately have predominated in schools for some time)

I suggest that you read either of these books:

The China Study by T Colin Campbell The 80/10/10 Diet by Douglass Graham

Both are well referenced to the peer-reviewed medical journals.

love2eat 10 years, 4 months ago

Catbacker -- I think you might have confused "essential fatty acids" (the building blocks of fats) with "amino acids" (the building blocks of protein) DHA and EPA are types of essential fatty acids, and you are right that our bodies manufacture these from ALA -- (an omega 3 fatty acid) but you are wrong to imply that this process is contingent upon the source of amino acids.

You are also mistaken about plant protein in general. If by chance you are interested in looking at the best science on this topic I suggest that you read either of these books:

The China Study by T Colin Campbell The 80/10/10 Diet by Douglass Graham

Sadly, your post stands as clear evidence of the down side of allowing agricultural special interests (like the Dairy Council) unfettered access to our schools for several generations. You are not alone in thinking as you do, but the preponderance of science (especially if you don't count the biased studies funded by big food interests) suggests that getting all one's protein from plants, is not only sufficient, but has many advantages -- For example plant protein is not as acidifying to the body and so you don't lose as much calcium from your bones trying to neutralize it. (A major cause of osteoporisis is overconsumption of animal protein)

Both the books above are well referenced to the peer-reviewed scientific journals.

idarastar 10 years, 4 months ago

These "fake-meat" substitutes are still not good for you. Highly-processed anything is not good; just read the LONG LIST of ingredients! My protein: black beans, red lentils, nuts, quinoa, rye and sometimes tofu. The key is to eat foods as close as how they natural grow. I've never seen a Yves sausage or Boca burger fall from a tree.

UncleDirtytoes 10 years, 4 months ago

Great article and interesting discussion. Thanks for sharing the info everyone. But is there an implication that all the vegans at the VegLawrence potluck are women? Are there no men that make this "compassionate" choice? And can't one be compassionate and still eat meat (even if we don't bother to find out whether the meat comes from factory farms)?

Oh wait, I'm a man and I've been vegan for 8 years (vegetarian for 18) and been to most of the VegLawrence potlucks! And I think once you are aware of and understand the system of factory farming in which over 10 billion animals in the US are slaughtered every year (to the detriment of Americans' health, the environment of the entire planet, and, of course, the 10 billion animals), it's hard to claim a particularly compassionate lifestyle - at least when it comes to the treatment of nonhumans.

That's why I made the choice. And both my brain and my health (not to mention my conscience) have only been improved since then. I'll see some of you on Tuesday the 26th! ~mark (only one of the Dirtytoes!)

momsy 10 years, 4 months ago

Im sorry. But if you think that my brain will not function properly due to my diet, you might want to find Marty McFly and his Flux Capacitor, and go back in time and tell Albert Einstein to not be a vegetarian. Or any of these amazing minds of the past...

"Our task must be to free ourselves . . . by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty." "Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival for life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet." -Albert Einstein, physicist, Nobel Prize 1921

"The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men." -Leonardo da Vinci, artist and scientist

"As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields." "What I think about vivisection is that if people admit that they have the right to take or endanger the life of living beings for the benefit of many, there will be no limit to their cruelty." -Leo Tolstoy author

"Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages." -Thomas Edison, inventor

morica 10 years, 4 months ago

My husband and I have been vegans for 16 years and have not suffered any ill effects of our diet. We make it a practice not to use the processed foods. I make my own meat substitutes which is quite simple to do once you know how. I was surprised to see that granulated sugar was used in the cupcake recipes. I have never seen the use of granulated sugar in any of the vegan cookbooks that I own nor all purpose flour. It's nice to know that there is a committed group of vegans who get together on a regular basis and share ideas and recipes.

Doug Peschka 9 years, 5 months ago

I am a vegan.However, speaking strictly for myself,while I will not eat meator any other product made from an animal,I will respect and, if necessary, defend YOUR right to eat it.Doug Peschka

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