Friday, June 10, 2011
daily bliss: vegan week: day four: chocolatey goodness and competing ethics
Yesterday was an easy, tasty vegan day. For breakfast, I ate my standard steel cut oats with nuts and dried fruit and brown sugar and soy milk, drank orange juice, and sipped a strong chai spice tea spiked with sugar and vanilla soy.
Lunch included leftovers from Monday night and a toasted whole wheat pita.
I met my friend B for coffee at Starbucks and sprang for a grand soy caramel macchiato ($4.99! woah!). Later, I snacked on my usual hummus plate.
After a trip to the grocery store for So Delicious coconut milk creamer per reader suggestions, as well as a half gallon of organic valley skim milk for Saturday and beyond, as well as a bottle of Starborough Sauvignon Blanc (a beveragetastic trip!), I drove to Wilfert Farms to purchase three pounds of asparagus. The farm is just north of town and the drive is pretty, past new mcmansions and old farmhouses.
Last night I cooked a veggie stir fry—asparagus, broccoli, carrots, vidalia onion, ginger, and garlic—with baked tofu and crushed cashews. My standard glaze of tamari, rice vinegar, orange juice, brown sugar, toasted spicy sesame oil, and red pepper flakes coated the veggies and draped the whole wheat cappellini I served with the stir fry.
And, since baking is one of my modes of bliss, I decided to bake vegan cookies: chewy chocolate chocolate chip cookies from Veganomicon, or, online, the Post Punk Kitchen. I'm out of flax seed, so I made them without. I used Valrhona cocoa powder, and a variety of Ghiradelli chocolate chips—the baking discs and the mini chips that I can find only at the outlet store (a must-stop on every trip around the great lake!). If I had more time and patience I would've toasted the walnuts.
I was chatting with my Mom (on the phone, alas) as I portioned out the cookie dough and laughed as I ate raw cookie dough. We always debate the wisdom of eating raw cookie dough, what with the danger of salmonella in raw eggs. The only danger now would be tiny insects in the flour. I tried not to think about the possibility of this non-vegan addition:)
The cookie dough was not as stiff as I thought it would be, and I worried that the cookies would spread all over the sheet. To my relief, the cookies baked up tall and firm. Gregg thought they looked weird, but with one bite his reservations were gone.
Deep, rich, decadent...these cookies defy vegan stereotypes. The premium chocolate adds so much flavor that I didn't miss the distinctive tang of butter (I used organic canola oil in lieu of my preferred baking fat). I will definitely bake these cookies again and share with friends and family.
These cookies challenge the idea that plant-based foods cannot provide satiating bliss. So does an avocado. A handful of pistachios. A perfect roasted and brewed cup of coffee.
And this is an important lesson, where taste and ethics collide. So often people respond to my vegetarianism with statements like, "I could never give up meat. It tastes too good."
After 13 years as a vegetarian, that statement/sentiment can be difficult to understand (except for bacon;)), especially coming from those who seem to espouse a vegetarian ethic, but do not commit to the lifestyle. However, this week has taught me humility and compassion to those who utter such words, since I feel the same way about milk and the pantheon of cheeses and ice creams and sour cream and buttermilk and butter. Oh, and butter.
Taste and ethics collide. Or, I should say, competing ethics: an ethics of bliss, expansion, and mindful deliciousness vs. an ethics of mindfulness and ahimsa (the Buddhist concept of doing no harm). Can these be reconciled? Is it enough to buy dairy and eggs from local producers? From certified organic, humane companies? Does supporting these local friends and farmers and regional cooperatives challenge the industrial complex that mass produces dairy and eggs with nary a thought about the cows and chickens as sentient beings? Is it enough that the cows and chickens that produced my dairy and eggs are "happy"?!?