Food compatibility and relationships

4th August 2010

Food compatibility and relationships

by Rachel

Could you stay seriously romantically involved with someone who didn’t care about food the way you do?

That’s the question posed over at the CNN blog Eatocracy and surprisingly, the majority of respondents say that it is indeed a dealbreaker in a relationship.  The gist of the post seems to be aimed more at epicurean foodies who look for like-minded palates in a mate, but it’s worth exploring other aspects of dietary discordance too, like sustainable food or vegetarian/vegan diets.  I had been vegetarian for a little over two years when I met Brandon.  Our whirlwind relationship moved quickly and I seriously think that the first inkling I felt that hey… this could actually be the one started when I looked in his refrigerator freezer that first weekend and saw at least five different varieties of Morningstar Farms veggie burgers lining the shelves.  Brandon wasn’t vegetarian then, but had undergone a kind of mid-life crisis months earlier and had ditched his fast food diet for veggie burgers and taken up running again.

Food played a large role in our budding relationship those first few months.  I was on the tail end of my recovery from an eating disorder and Brandon was a bachelor who cooked most of his meals in a microwave.  I turned him on to sesame rye crackers and hummus, veggie taco salads and homemade healthy pizza.   He reintroduced me to chocolate, bread and ooey gooey cheesy pizza from our favorite local pizza parlor.  I tried not to evangelize vegetarianism, but since we planned meals and grocery shopped together, our meals tended to be vegetarian.  In fact, I can recall only two instances after we met in which Brandon ate meat — once when he and his brother dined out together and without me and again when we dined out with friends at a restaurant with a very limited veggie-friendly menu.  Within six months after we moved in together, he went completely vegetarian.  My mom, who was slow to understand my vegetarianism for the longest time, chided me for “making” Brandon give up bacon.  “Let that boy eat some meat already!” she’d scold.  True, I didn’t exactly relish the idea of kissing Brandon after he’d eaten charred animal flesh nor did I want to see it in my refrigerator, but what my mom didn’t understand is that I didn’t force Brandon into anything; he went vegetarian because he loves me and knew how important it was to me.

Vegetarianism, however, is the point in which our shared taste in food ends.  I’m both health- and environmentally-conscious and also try to follow a relatively low glycemic diet for health reasons.   Brandon?  Eh, not so much.  I love green vegetables — kale, spinach, broccoli, okra, Brussel sprouts, salads…  The only vegetables Brandon eats are the “bad” white ones — corn and potatoes.  He can tolerate certain vegetables in things, like soups and stir-frys or on pizza, but you will never find him digging into a plate of freshly steamed vegetables on their own.  Here’s an example of our different palates: Neither of us are foodies nor do we even really like to cook.  One evening I was busy with work and other things and left dinner up to him.  After a half hour of rooting around in the cabinets and refrigerator, I asked him if he had any ideas.  “Veggie chicken nuggets?” he suggested. “And….?” I asked.  He shuffled his feet.  “Uhh, French fries?”  “How about Quorn chicken with a baked potato and steamed broccoli?” I asked.  He wrinkled his nose.

We try to prepare dinners that both will like and find satisfying, but often times we’ll also each fix our own dinners, too.  A veggie burger or chicken patty for him; a veggie burger or veggie chicken and a side of steamed veggies for me.  It may seem odd to some, but it works for us.  How about you?  Do you and your partner share similar or completely different dietary tastes?  Could you ever be in a relationship with someone who isn’t on the same page as you when it comes to food?

posted in Food Culture, Rachel, Vegetarianism | 30 Comments

9th March 2010

The selflessness and selfishness of altruism

by Rachel

Meet Stella.  She’s the gorgeous bloodhound who spent an hour happily slobbering on a bone in the backseat of my car on Saturday as part of an animal rescue transport operation I volunteer with.  An owner-surrender to an animal shelter in northern Ohio, Stella eventually reached her destination later that night with a nonprofit bloodhound rescue group in Tennessee, who will train her to work with law enforcement.

I’m passionate about many causes, but grad school really ate into any free time I had to volunteer the past couple years.  After I graduated last year, I, in typical ADD fashion, wanted to immediately throw myself in an avalanche of causes.  Part of successfully living with ADD is realizing that your zeal and enthusiasm often exceeds the grasp of your limitations and so these past few months I’ve thought long and hard about what it is that I’m most passionate about.  Yes, I’m very concerned about poverty and homelessness issues and this blog is evidence of my commitment to eating disorder awareness and promotion of healthy body images, but what I’ve been most passionate about since an early age is animal rescue.  Our house was always overflowing with both kids (there were four of us) and animals and our pets were all very much beloved members of our family.  I rescued my first animal at the age of six — a box turtle slowly meandering across the street I lived on who found a new home in the woods behind our house.  My mom worked as a 911 dispatcher at a police department and through it we adopted a black lab puppy some cruel boys tried to kill by cinching it in a plastic garbage bag and throwing in the dumpster (Bear lived to the ripe old age of 15), and a Irish Setter mix puppy, abandoned with his litter mates in the snow (all but one of the seven puppies found homes within the department).

Our family menagerie has included cats, dogs, fish, hamsters, rabbits and even a trio of baby Lovebirds I tried to nurse after their mother died.  A family who lived down the street from my childhood home had a mini-farm with cows, goats, chickens, a turkey and even burros and they’d hire me to “farm-sit” whenever they went on vacation.  The hours I spent there at the farm, laying in the hayloft with only the quiet cooing of speckled chickens insulating their eggs, are among my favorite childhood memories.  My mother sometimes referred to me as Dr. Doolittle for all the time I spent with both our critters and various wildlife and indeed, as a fat kid who was taunted and harassed virtually every day of the school year, I often preferred the company of animals to that of other kids.

Just months after moving into my first apartment, I defied my no-pets lease and rescued two kittens I’d found on the side of the road.  Word must have spread, because I was soon “found” by a succession of stray cats, none of whom I could resist.  A few years later my eating disorder struck and I went vegetarian, originally because it offered me a convenient excuse to exclude large swaths of foods from my diet.  Later, I saw a flier for a local Earthsave chapter that held monthly potlucks and was amazed to find that there were actually other vegetarians in Porkopolis.  It was then that I began to learn about the horrors of animal slaughter and the often brutal and inhumane treatment of the animals and I soon realized that I couldn’t very well say that I was for animal rights so long as I continued to eat them.  As I learned more about factory farming and animal abuses and progressed in my own personal eating disorder recovery, I became an ethical vegetarian, a lifestyle I remain firmly committed to today.

Our furfamily now consists of two rabbits, six cats and a foster-who-am-I-kidding-I’ll-probably-keep-cat and I will be picking up several bunnies this week to foster until I help them find their forever homes.  We recently got involved with rescue animal transporting, which some have called kind of like an Underground Railroad network for dogs.  The way it works is this: dogs are rescued from high-kill shelters and/or abuse and neglect and transported by volunteers to shelters or adoptive homes waiting for them.  States like Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia are considered non-adoptive states for the high numbers of unwanted/abandoned animals, so sometimes these animals can only find temporary or permanent homes in regions like the Northeast where there are more adopters than adoptees.  The transports are broken down into legs of about 60-90 miles one-way and volunteer transporters — or pet taxi drivers –  then hand off  the animal to the volunteer taking the next leg of the journey.  Sometimes these travels can be two- and even three-day long events.  We transported three dogs a couple Saturdays ago that were coming from the Midwest and going to Canada!

Volunteerism is supposed to be altruistic, undertaken selflessly in the name of helping others without the expectation of personal gain, but I have to admit that I’m a selfish volunteer.  What do I get out of animal rescue?  Joy. Pride. Laughter.  Confidence.  For me, helping animals is not only the right thing to do but I find the gratitude of a fast wagging tail and sloppy kiss rewarding beyond measure.  I get to meet lots of like-minded people who don’t think I’m crazy for the number of cats I keep and get the chance to indulge my dog fix (I can’t have one of my own as our lot isn’t suitable for a dog and Brandon is adamant that he doesn’t want one).  I also do rescue work as a tribute to all the pets who have immeasurably enriched my own life and for those I was unable to save.  But perhaps  most of all, helping animals helps me feel better about myself.  Knowing that you’re needed, that you’re making a difference even if only in the life of one dog or cat is one of the biggest self-esteem boosts I’ve ever found and the animals never gripe that you’re doing it wrong.

How about you?  Are you involved with any causes, organizations or activities that you find enriching and rewarding and help you feel more accepting of yourself?

posted in Personal, Rachel, Vegetarianism | 12 Comments

7th January 2010

If we are what we eat, what do the contents of our refrigerators say about us?

by Rachel

You’ve heard the aphorism, “You are what you eat,” right?  Well, here’s an interesting project that seeks to expose our innermost selves.  In a creative exploration of hunger, photographer Mark Menjivar photographed the contents of strangers’ refrigerators and posted them to his website along with a brief description of the contents’ owner.  From the virtually empty refrigerator of a person living on a meager fixed income (image 2) to the refrigerator of a female short order cook who can bench press 300 pounds with a coiled snake resting on the top shelf (really! it’s image 15), it’s certainly an interesting peek into the lives of diverse people from different regions and backgrounds.  In his artist’s statement, Menjivar explains:

For three years I traveled around the country exploring food issues. The more time I spent speaking and listening to individual stories, the more I began to think about the foods we consume and the effects they have on us as individuals and communities. An intense curiosity and questions about stewardship led me to begin to make these unconventional portraits.

A refrigerator is both a private and a shared space. One person likened the question, “May I photograph the interior of your fridge?” to asking someone to pose nude for the camera. Each fridge is photographed “as is.” Nothing added, nothing taken away.   These are portraits of the rich and the poor. Vegetarians, Republicans, members of the NRA, those left out, the under appreciated, former soldiers in Hitler’s SS, dreamers, and so much more. We never know the full story of one’s life.

My hope is that we will think deeply about how we care. How we care for our bodies. How we care for others. And how we care for the land.

So, what would the refrigerator of a eating disorder-recovered, vegetarian, health-conscious 30-year-old journalist from the Midwest look like?  Here’s a peek into my own fridge.

If we are what we eat, what does your fridge say about you?

posted in Class & Poverty, Food Culture, Food News, Rachel, Vegetarianism | 26 Comments

25th November 2009

The almost-Thanksgiving “What I am Thankful For” post

by Rachel

Happy almost-Thanksgiving to all my American readers.  This post is coming to you a day early because, like so many of my fellow countrymen, I’ll be taking tomorrow off to sleep in before gorging on some Tofurkey and pumpkin pie and then vegging out in a stupified food coma with my closest friends and family.  When writing about Thanksgiving, I’m mindful that it’s traditional, especially for women, to dwell on one of these tried and true topics:

  • How to Prepare the Perfect Sumptuous Thanksgiving Bounty with All The Trimmings
  • How to Avoid Going Berserk and Attacking Your Annoying Relatives and In-Laws with a Carving Knife
  • How Not to Eat a Bazillion Calories and Subsequently Watch Your Ass Double in Size
  • Why, Two Decades After Second-Wave Feminism, Women Still Slave Away in the Kitchen While Men Get to Sit on Their Asses and Watch Football All Day
  • Or, the most popular of subjects: Feeling All Thankful and Shit

I’m generally not the kind of person to make a maudlin list of things I’m thankful for, but it does seem to be the obligatory Thanksgiving cliche, so I’ll bite.  It goes without saying, of course, that I’m thankful for my friends and family, good (mental and physical) health and that I live in a country where I am free to make such sappy and mushy posts like this one.  So, here goes a list of 10 random things I am thankful for:

1.  A job

Considering all the layoffs this year, especially in my field of journalism, I am so grateful that I am still gainfully employed in a job that, for the most part, I love and doesn’t keep my ass confined in cubicle hell.

2. The Internet

I am so, so glad Al Gore invented this, because how else could I waste time when I should be working than by playing Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook?  The Internet also gives me the power to work from home, the opportunity to pursue my passions and hobbies, a soapbox by which I can unleash all my innermost rants and raves and allows me to cheaply indulge my book-buying compulsions.  But most of all, it’s allowed me to meet so many awesome people — not to mention, my husband — and to discover and read dozens of smart, witty bloggers.  Thanks, Al!

3. My furbabies

The outpouring of support I received from you all here after my cat Grayson died indicates that I’m not the only sucker for a furry face.  My kitties give me so much and all they ask for in return are food (preferably canned), shelter and the occasional rub behind the ears.  I am so grateful for them, as well as the chance to open our home this year to two more unwanted kittens and one traumatized cat.

4. Morningstar Farms

Seriously, because I think we’d be reduced to eating peanut butter and jelly most days if not for its easy-to-fix line of faux meat products.

5.  Dark chocolate, avocados, eggs, coffee, peanut butter, sunshine

And everything else “experts” warned us were harmful that have turned out to be good for us, after all.

6. My brother and sister-in-law’s poor planning

Their admitted carelessness means that I’ll be getting a new (and our family’s first) nephew in December!  I am so very grateful for the chance to mold little Chase into a Bruce Cockburn-loving, tree-hugging, feminist, vegetarian, lefty Pittsburgh Steeler’s fan.

7.  Having a great stylist on speed dial

My prematurely-bald husband simply doesn’t understand how a good or bad hair day can set the tone for the entire day.  Yay for a stylist who knows how to cut short hair well!

8.  Netflix and my DVR

I am grateful for Netflix for how else could I wile away the weekends catching up on the entire 11 seasons of Law & Order: SVU on demand?  And to my DVR, for allowing me to mercifully fast forward through those god-awful Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem TV commercials.

9.  Adderall (and a good prescription health care plan)

Since going on Adderall for ADD a couple years ago, I now no longer have to embark on a daily hunt for my car keys (and other misplaced items) and have managed to actually finish a few projects through to completion.  Hurrah for legal amphetamines!

10.  And last, but certainly not least… Readers of The-F-Word!

Because you all totally rock!

So, Americans and non-Americans alike… what are you thankful for?

posted in Other, Personal, Rachel, Television & Film, Vegetarianism | 7 Comments

2nd November 2009

Fabulous fall soups!

by Rachel

We visited my niece and nephew for Halloween this weekend and my thoughtful sister-in-law made us a simmering pot of vegetarian cheesy potato soup.  I find myself craving soup more and more as the last leaves dance to the ground and the temps turn chilly and my sister-in-law’s soup was so delicious that I copied the recipe and made a huge vat of it the next day, most of which we’ve already devoured.  I made some slight modifications in mine to make it healthier, like adding more carrots and potatoes and substituting lower-fat ingredients.  Here’s the recipe:

Cheese Potato soup

Cheesy Potato Soup

5 cups water

6 cups diced potatoes

2 cups diced onions

1/2 cup diced celery

1 cup chopped carrots

1/3 cup Parkay Butter Spray (if you use real butter or margarine, you may want to use just 1/4 cup)

2 vegetarian “chicken” bouillon cubes

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

12 ounces fat-free evaporated milk

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

8 ounces shredded 2% cheddar cheese

Mix all ingredients except for milk, parsley and cheese in slow cooker.  Cover and cook on high about 6-7 hours.  When veggies are soft, mix in parsley, milk and cheese and let cheese melt.  Heat thoroughly, serve and enjoy!  If you want a thicker consistency, add some cornstarch dissolved in milk and/or mash some of the potatoes. In the future, I might try adding leeks and/or corn to make this soup even better.

I don’t know many soup recipes (check out my vegetarian vegetable soup recipe here), but I just ordered two cookbooks so that I can fix even more yummy soups: Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook (from which my sis-in-law got the recipe) and 125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes. I know from the Campbell’s vs. Progresso post that many of you also like homemade soups.  Please post your recipes in the comments below or link to one of your favorites.

posted in Rachel, Recipes, Vegetarianism | 17 Comments

29th October 2009

Ridiculously cute (and healthy!) Halloween treats

by Rachel

Someone from Disney FamilyFun magazine emailed me last week with the most cleverly fun — and healthy! — Halloween treats.  And bonus, they’re all vegetarian!  I wish I had an iota of this creativity when it comes to food.

Black Bean Cat Crudite´s

No bones about it, this kitty skeleton makes a healthy centerpiece for Halloween parties or school gatherings. Just arrange assorted fresh vegetables and a bowl of your favorite black bean dip in the shape of a spooky cat.

Edible Eyeballs

Set out a platter of these creepy peepers, and your party guests are bound to do a double take. Simply slice carrots into 1-inch-thick chunks, top each with a blob of cream cheese and one half of a pitted black olive, and they’re ready to serve.

Salty Bones

It wouldn’t be Halloween without a skeleton—in this case, one that’s been disassembled into a pile of tasty bones to pick. Unroll a tube of refrigerated breadsticks we used an 11-ounce tube to make 12 bones) and separate the rectangular pieces.  Working with one piece at a time, stretch the dough to lengthen it a bit and then use kitchen scissors or a knife to cut a 1K-inch slit in the center of each end. Shape the resulting four flaps of dough into knobs that look like the ends of a bone. Place the dough bones on an ungreased baking sheet, spacing them a few inches apart, and sprinkle on a little coarse salt.  Bake the bones at 375° until they are light golden brown, about 12 minutes.

English Mummies

These yummy mummy pizzas make a quick and fun Halloween lunch or dinner. To create one, first spread a tablespoon of pizza sauce onto half of an English muffin (toast it first, if you like). Set olive slices in place for eyes and add round slices of green onion or bits of red or green pepper for pupils. Lay strips of cheese (we used a pulled-apart cheese stick) across the muffin for the mummy’s wrappings. Bake at 350° until the cheese is melted and the muffin is toasty, about 10 minutes.

Pumpkin Roll-Ups

Here’s a wholesome snack to serve before the kids head out to trick-or-treat. Lay American cheese slices or spread cream cheese on sun-dried-tomato tortillas, then roll them up and cut them into 1-inch sections. Use a toothpick to secure each roll-up, topped with a sprig of cilantro or parsley.

Melon Brain

Created from nothing more than a small, round seedless watermelon, this spooky cerebral creation is bound to turn heads. First, use a vegetable peeler to remove the entire green rind, exposing the inner white rind. Then slice off the bottom of the melon to make a flat base that will keep it from rolling.  With a toothpick, outline squiggly furrows that resemble the folded surface of a brain. Finally, carve narrow channels along the tracings with a sharp paring knife (a parent’s job) to expose the pink fruit beneath the rind.

posted in Food Culture, Health, Nutrition & Fitness, Rachel, Recipes, Vegetarianism | 9 Comments

13th October 2009

Weighing In: Campbell Soup and Progresso Food Fight

by Rachel

I’m introducing a new regular series I’m calling Weighing In in which I review products related to any of the F-words discussed here.  The Federal Trade Commission recently passed a law that would require bloggers to disclose any perks or payments they receive from companies for reviewing their products, so I want to remind readers that I do not accept compensation or freebies for any product I review here.  You can read my non-advertising policy here.

As a food historian, I’m oddly fascinated by the mm-mm militant war raging between General Mills’ Progresso soups and the Campbell’s Soup Company.  The battle is so heated that there’s even a Soup War website where you can lend support to your favorite brand.  The soup war is a longstanding one, but it reached a boiling point last year when Campbell placed an ad in The New York Times showing a can of Progresso with the caption, “Made With MSG” opposite a can of Campbell’s Select Harvest with the headline: “Made With TLC” (tender love and care).  Progresso retaliated by announcing a month later that it had removed MSG from 26 of its soups and then also ran a full page ad in the Times announcing in large red block print: “Campbell’s has 95 soups made with MSG.”  The soup war may be a silly marketing creation, but the stakes are high for both company: Campbells overall sales in 2007 were a staggering $7.9 billion, while General Mills had sales of $13.7 billion in the fiscal year ended May 25 of that year.

The leaves are turning into shocks of crimson, orange and yellow here in my part of Southwestern Ohio and nothing is better when it’s chilly outside than a simmering bowl of vegetable soup.  The best (and cheapest) soup is my own vegetarian vegetable soup, but sometimes there’s no beating the convenience of heat-and-eat, especially when it’s on sale.   So, I decided to conduct my own taste test to find out which processed vegetable soup is best.  The contenders: Campbell’s Select Harvest Light Southwestern-Style Vegetable and Progresso Light Italian-Style Vegetable.  Yes, it is a bit like comparing apples to oranges — Progresso also makes a Southwestern-Style Vegetable and Campbell’s an Italian-Style Vegetable, but both are made with meat-based broths that don’t appeal to this vegetarian.

Campbell's Select Harvest soupCampbell’s: The first thing I noticed about the Campbell’s variety is that the ingredients are extremely easy to read and the text is larger.  Ingredients include carrots, celery, tomato puree, tomato paste, black beans, corn, green and red bell peppers and celery with footnotes explaining what any unfamiliar and chemical-sounding ingredients like cellulose gel and citric acid are and why they’re included.  The label also claims the soup to be 100 percent natural, heart healthy, and a rich source of fiber and vitamin A, all of which also appeals to this health-conscious tree-hugger.  As detailed on Campbell’s website, each can contains two servings of: 50 calories, a half-gram of fat, 480mg sodium, 4g fiber, 4g protein, 20 percent vitamin A, four percent calcium and eight percent iron.

I read a news report sometime last year about the ways in which Big Food is seeking to manage rising food costs without raising prices.  The majority of companies either reduced portion sizes or watered down its products.  Campbell’s certainly seems to have done the latter.  I found its soup to be very diluted and the broth to be bland and virtually flavorless.  What few vegetables I saw floating in the bowl were soft, but not mushy and the colors were still bright.

Progresso soupProgresso: The first thing I noticed about the Progresso soup was the large “Weight Watchers” points endorsement featured prominently below the Progresso label.  In fact, it’s easier to read the WW blitz than it is the ingredients, which include tomatoes, celery, green beans, carrots, tomato paste, peas, penne pasta and spinach, amongst other ingredients and additives.  Each can contains two servings of: 60 calories, zero grams of fat, 820mg sodium, 4g fiber, 2g protein, 25 percent vitamin A, six percent calcium and four percent iron.  Unlike Campbell, nutritional information for Progresso soups is NOT available on its website.

I found the Progresso soup to be very flavorful, much more so than the Campbell’s variety — you can actually see that the broth is peppered with a variety of spices.  I wished that they had omitted the pasta and included more veggies, but I found an abundance of both.

Who wins? I love Campbell’s easy-to-read labeling over Progresso’s squint-worthy text, but I’d definitely buy Progresso on my next grocery shopping trip.  Both soups cost about the same price, but I found the Progresso to be a much better bargain.  Of course, the Progresso does contain nearly double the sodium, which might be of concern to folks watching their sodium intake, but it also contains more calcium and vitamin A than the Campbell’s brand.  Both varieties are extremely limited in their vegetarian offerings, so quality may vary depending on which flavor varieties you compare.

How about you?  Do you like Campbell or Progresso better?  Add your soup reviews in the comments below.

posted in Health, Nutrition & Fitness, Rachel, Vegetarianism, reviews | 38 Comments

26th August 2009

Peta: People Effecting Terrible Absurdity

by Rachel

The good news: Peta has removed its highly offensive “Save the Whales” billboards. The bad news: They still don’t quite *get* it. Here’s part of Peta’s response to the hordes of complaints they received about the campaign:

The original billboard is being replaced with one that says “GONE. Just Like All the Pounds Lost by People Who Go Vegetarian.” We agree that a world where self-esteem is unrelated to body size would be a wonderful place, but we also know that most people feel depressed and embarrassed about their weight and often need some tough love.

While this billboard has caused some people to “shoot the messenger,” it has also created a great debate about the message: that people are eating themselves to death. Americans now eat more than 1 million animals an hour—animals who are raised and killed in appallingly cruel conditions. Something drastic must be done to shake up society’s complacent acceptance of the national obesity epidemic, and we want people to know that they have options: Pills and procedures are not the solution. The human illnesses and animal suffering that a meat-heavy diet causes are completely unnecessary: a pure vegetarian diet is the optimum diet.

So, according to Peta’s circular “logic,” a world in which people feel good about themselves and their bodies is awesome, but until then we’re going to shame and ridicule them — for their own good, of course!! I actually agree with part of Peta’s second statement above — animals raised for slaughter die a brutal, inhumane death to satisfy our selfish palates with no benefit to health to be gained by the slaughter — but I don’t think that this campaign has created the kind of “message” Peta intended. Instead it just reinforces the stereotype of the angry, self-righteous vegan killjoy and proselytizer who cares more about animals than people, therefore further setting back any progress made by other and more sane animal rights advocates in convincing a meat-loving public that a vegetarian diet is the healthier and more humane choice. If Peta can’t be humane to their fellow humankind, how do they expect to convince anyone to be humane to animals?

Perhaps People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is a misnomer for Peta.  How about People Effecting Terrible Absurdity?  Or People Engendering Tawdry Actions?  Anyone have any other clever synonym suggestions?

posted in Body Snarking, Fat Bias, Vegetarianism | 21 Comments

11th August 2009

Against animal cruelty, but not human cruelty?

by Rachel

As if I needed another reason…  this new promotion reminds me yet again of why it is this vegetarian absolutely and vehemently refuses to support PETA.

Peta whales

For most of us, summer is fading fast, but for residents of Jacksonville, Florida, bikini season lasts all year. What does the Sunshine State’s endless summer mean for PETA? Our phone lines ring off the hook with reports of “beached whale sightings.” Good one, guys.

Luckily, we know the secret to getting—and maintaining—a killer beach bod. Did you know that vegetarians are 20 to 30 percent leaner than meat-eaters? So, to help residents and tourists “lose the blubber”—and hopefully to deter prank callers—we’re launching a brand-new billboard urging people to go vegetarian:

For a heartbreaking story of one woman’s reaction upon being bombarded with this billboard at a Florida beach, read here.

posted in Fat Bias, Vegetarianism | 46 Comments

9th July 2009

On yogurt

by Rachel

I’ve been eating yogurt again after my doctor encouraged me to start eating breakfast regularly. I like yogurt (although I don’t seem to get the same orgasmic experience from it as the women in yogurt commercials) but I’ve always eaten it in spurts. My yogurt variety of choice since my eating disorder days has been Dannon’s Light & Fit yogurt for the precise reason that it is branded as the “lowest calorie, nationally branded light yogurt available” (a 6-ounce cup used to have 60 calories; they’ve recently increased the sugar content, raising it to 80 calories). Dannon offers a gamut of Light & Fit flavors with enticing names like White Chocolate Raspberry, Blackberry Pie and Lemon Chiffon, but all seem to taste practically the same: like a watered-down smoothie with a cloying aftershot of sucralose (which is probably the reason for why I eat yogurt in spurts). It also contains high fructose corn syrup, which I usually avoid, but I gave it a pass this time considering that most brands of yogurt also contain it (Check here for a list of HFCS-free yogurts)).

After getting the breakfast RX, I did something Bold and Daring: I bought the Yoplait Light yogurt instead at 100 – 110 calories per 6-ounce cup. I chose Yoplait mostly because it’s the “only leading yogurt with vitamin D in every cup!” which is good for me since my doctor also found that I have the vitamin D levels of a vampire. During my eating disorder, I would never have looked twice at the Yoplait — it has 40 more calories! — but oh, what a difference 40 calories makes. The Yoplait yogurt has a much thicker, almost custard-like texture than the Dannon brand and actually tastes like the concoction advertised on the cup. I tried the Lemon Meringue Pie variety last night and I’ll be damned if it doesn’t actually taste like the filling in my Aunt Linda’s recipe. Strawberry Shortcake and Pineapple Upside-Down Cake? Also delicious. I even bought a few tubs for my sweet tooth husband who eats yogurt at most twice a year.

I would make the switch permanent had I not discovered only this morning that both Dannon and Yoplait (and other commercial yogurt brands, I’m sure) contain kosher gelatin, which may be copacetic for Jewish folk, but not for vegetarians (kosher gelatin is kosher because it’s made from hides or bones and not flesh, but it still contains bones and bits from fish, horse hooves, pigs and other animals).  I tried Stoneyfield Farms (gelatin-free) soy yogurt years ago and didn’t like the taste, but maybe it’s worth a second try.  I could always try making my own homemade yogurt, but there’s the whole lack of culinary skill and motivation to contend with.  Does anyone know of any other commercial yogurt brands that don’t contain bits of animals in them and that don’t also require me to travel to far-off health food stores to find them?

posted in Personal, Recipes, Vegetarianism | 53 Comments

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