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Tag: vegan

Vegan in Japan (Part One)

History and Practical Tips

We made history running the very first vegan group trip to Japan, and it was a huge success. (And then we ran a second right after!)

While Buddhism-inspired vegetarianism has been part of the Japanese culture since around the 6th and 7th centuries, “veganism” as a concept is very new. In this first episode of what will be a podcast series, I provide a frame through which to understand the challenges and the threads of eating plant-based in Japan, including 

  • the influence of Buddhism and other factors that resulted in a mostly plant-based culture for a good portion of its history
  • how the move toward modernizing Japan — as of 1868 during the Meiji Restoration — instilled the habit of meat consumption 
  • the fact that Japanese cuisine is very regional and dependent upon tradition and location
  • how chefs are revered as the end-all, be-all of food preparation and to question ingredients they use (including animal products) could be seen as a challenge to their skill and expertise
  • the “foodie” fervor surrounding Japanese cuisine can sometimes border on the absurd, which gives rise to elaborate food rituals and ceremonies but can also provide ample material for satirical commentary

In the episode, I also provide a number of suggestions for what to look for generally if you are traveling in Japan as a joyful vegan, including

  • which items to look out for that typically have animal products in them
  • what and how to ask for vegan options
  • where to find the best options, generally speaking

LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE!

Pretzels Were Made for Vegans (at Easter)

The History of the Holy Knot

The history of the delicious, soft, pillowy pretzel goes back hundreds of years and demonstrates once again that we have more food traditions that reflect abstaining from animal products than indulging in them. Take a listen to the Medieval origins of this food, how it saved a city, and why it’s associated with Easter.

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Non-Alcoholic Shirley Temple for Dry January

A Classic Mocktail with Quality Ingredients

You know I love me my wine and whisky (Scotch in particular), but David and I have been immensely enjoying a little Dry January.

My husband is a mixologist maven, and he’s proving that to be the case with the non-alcoholic concoctions he’s drumming up this month, including a favorite mocktail of mine from my childhood — from many of our childhoods: Shirley Temples!

I’m happy to say this version is more sophisticated than the ones I grew up drinking, because it’s all about quality ingredients — like anything else. Of course, you can use whatever brands you prefer, but here’s what we use to make spicy, sweet, delicious Shirley Temples!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Maine Root Ginger Beer
  • 1 ounce Grenadine
  • Luxardo Cherries for garnish
  • Ice cubes (I prefer crushed over cubed)

Directions

Fill a glass with ice. You can use a pint glass, but David uses a Collins glass, which I prefer.

Start by adding 1 cup of Maine Root Ginger Beer – its robust, zesty profile makes it superior to other ginger beers / ginger ales.

Next, add 1 ounce (or more) of Grenadine for a touch of sweetness. We also add a little of the Luxardo cherry syrup.

Use whatever maraschino cherries you prefer, but if you want to elevate it, use Luxardo brand cherries. David uses a pretty metal cocktail skewer for the cherries and a metal straw for the sipping. 😊

Let me know if you create your own Ginger Bliss Shirley Temple! Cheers to the simple joys of a well-crafted mocktail by my favorite mixologist! 🍹

Prevent Compassion Fatigue and Burnout

LEARN TO PREVENT COMPASSION FATIGUE, CULTIVATE RESILIENCE, AVOID BURNOUT, AND PRACTICE SELF CARE

…all while being an effective advocate and voice for animals. In our 3 hours together, we will be focusing on how a mindfulness and compassion practice can heal and prevent compassion fatigue, burnout, and empathic distress.

If you missed the live event, for a limited time, you can receive the 3 hours of video presentations, plus reading materials and resources! Reviews of happy participants can be found here.

PLEASE JOIN MY MAILING LIST FOR FUTURE EVENTS. YOU CAN ALSO PURCHASE MY EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION WORKSHOP.

By the end of our 3-hour workshop, you will learn:

  • Practical strategies for cultivating a compassionate orientation to the world — one that looks through the lens of hope instead of despair and optimism instead of cynicism
  • How to foster a commitment to animals and advocacy without feeling guilty that you’re not doing enough or bearing witness enough
  • Everyday tools for deepening your compassion and connection with friends, family, strangers, and yourself
  • How to prioritize resilience, self-care, and healthy empathy so you can increase your impact without compromising your mental health
  • And so much more!

Drop into the present moment

I don’t know about you, but that is certainly easier said than done. It’s so tempting to look back on the past with remorse and regret. It’s so easy to look to the future with dread and fear. In all those ways, we’re not in the present moment.

One strategy I’ve often used and shared with others is to look down at your feet when you’re in your head, worrying about the future or lamenting about the past.

Another practice I find useful is a Five Senses Check-In. It’s very simple. From wherever you are at anytime, simply acknowledge:

  • five things you can see
  • four things you can touch
  • three things you can hear
  • two things you can smell
  • one thing you can taste.

I actually enjoy this very much and often find myself smiling as I bring all of my attention to the present moment. Try it, and let me know what you think.

Read some reasons people have registered:

“Sometimes I get a bit of compassion fatigue and I just ignore everything or I start to get hopeless and sad and overwhelmed about the world. I am hoping to get some coping skills and habits to help me with this.”

“Although I’m not currently experiencing burn out related to compassion fatigue, I have in the past, so am looking forward to Colleen’s tools for preventing it from happening again. I know that any workshop by CPG is going to be helpful and an excellent use of my time and money. 💜”

“I am so excited about the upcoming workshop! Recently, I have felt that I’ve lost something. I feel like I need to figure out how to deal with this and renew my compassion and conviction.”

“I am joining your workshop because I’ve been vegan about 8 months and it has been a very dark and painful time. I did get immediately into animal rights activism, and I overdid it, even though I had read about burnout. I ignored the signs and plowed ahead, and just about did burn out. I am looking to add to my toolkit to include self-compassion.”

Jewish Cuisine

A Plant-Based Celebration of Diversity, Continuity, and Resiliency

On the one hand, “Jewish cuisine” or “Jewish food” is difficult to define, because it is influenced by the foods in the many countries where Jews have emigrated to. And it’s as diverse and adaptive as the Jewish people themselves.

On the other hand, there is indeed something we can call “Jewish food,” characterized by a rich tapestry of flavors, ingredients, and cooking techniques, and influenced by the dietary laws and culinary traditions found in Jewish religious texts.

Jewish cuisine celebrates diversity while at the same time serving as a unifying element for a community that has been dispersed across the world.

Let’s explore this together in today’s episode.

My Prayer for Humans on Behalf of Animals

My hope is that we can navigate through this world with the grace and integrity of those who most need our protection.

May we have the sense of humor and liveliness of the goats; may we have the maternal instincts and protective nature of the hens and the sassiness of the roosters.

May we have the gentleness and strength of the cattle and the wisdom, humility, and serenity of the donkeys.

May we appreciate the need for community as do the sheep and choose our companions as carefully as do the rabbits.

May we have the faithfulness and commitment to family of the geese, the adaptability and affability of the ducks.

May we have the intelligence, loyalty, and affection of the pigs and the inquisitiveness, sensitivity, and playfulness of the turkeys.

My hope is that we can learn from the animals what we need to become better people.

May it be so.

Please feel free to share this text, share any of the graphics on your social media pages, or print either version of the PDF. One is titled A Prayer for Humans; one is titled A Hope for Humans.

PDF: Prayer for Humans on Behalf of Animals

PDF: Hope for Humans on Behalf of Animals

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Barmbrack (Irish Fruitcake) Recipe

Vegan, Dairy-Free, Scrumptious Fruitcake — for Halloween or Anytime!

Barmbrack is a traditional Irish fruitcake known for its unique connection to Halloween. The name barmbrack comes from the Irish term báirín breac, which means “speckled bread.” It’s a moist, sweet loaf made with tea-soaked raisins and sultanas.

What makes it particularly special is the inclusion of symbolic items baked into the cake. These items, such as a ring, a coin, a pea, and a stick, carry distinct meanings for those who find them. The tradition of including these objects in barmbrack turns it into a form of fortune-telling game.

Barmbrack’s association with Halloween in Ireland is rooted in the tradition of divination and superstition. People would eagerly anticipate the slicing of the barmbrack on Halloween night, as the item they found in their slice was believed to foretell their future.

For example, finding a ring meant one would be married within the year, while discovering a coin signified good fortune. Today, barmbrack remains a beloved treat during the Halloween season, and the tradition of including symbolic items continues to be a fun and cherished part of this festive time in Ireland.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups mixed dried fruit (raisins, currants, sultanas)
  • 1 cup strong brewed black tea (cooled)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp marmalade or apricot jam (for glazing)

Directions

  1. Start by brewing a strong cup of black tea and letting it cool. Once cooled, pour it over the mixed dried fruit in a large bowl. Make sure all the fruit is submerged. Cover the bowl and let it sit overnight, allowing the fruit to plump up.
  2. The next day, preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and line a 7-8 inch round cake tin with parchment paper.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, spices, and salt.
  4. Stir the applesauce and vanilla extract into the soaked dried fruit.
  5. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the fruit mixture, stirring until well combined.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and smooth the top.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Remove the Barmbrack from the oven and let it cool in the tin for a few minutes. Then, transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Once the Barmbrack has cooled, warm the marmalade or apricot jam in a small saucepan. Brush it over the top of the cake for a glossy finish.
  10. Slice and serve your vegan Barmbrack. It’s best enjoyed with a cup of tea or coffee.

This vegan Barmbrack is a delicious treat for Halloween or any time you want to savor a spiced fruitcake with a bit of Irish tradition.

Colcannon (Irish Mashed Potatoes) Recipe

Vegan Colcannon — Plant-Based, Nutrient-Dense, and Delicious!

Colcannon is a wonderful example of traditional Irish cuisine, resonating with the principles of “cucina povera” or “poor cuisine” reminiscent of Italian cooking, as I’ve previously explored elsewhere, especially in my podcast.

Both culinary traditions share a common thread of resourcefulness and thriftiness, elevating humble ingredients into wholesome, comforting dishes. Just as “cucina povera” in Italian culture transforms simple ingredients like bread, olive oil, and tomatoes into exquisite creations such as Panzanella, colcannon epitomizes the Irish approach to turning basic staples, such as potatoes and greens, into a heartwarming, belly-filling, and flavorful masterpiece.

These culinary legacies, rooted in simplicity and tradition, remind us of the enduring connections between food, culture, and our own ancestral stories — especially for those of us with Irish roots.

Ingredients

  • 4 large russet or yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 4 cups chopped kale (curly kale works well)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (or your preferred plant-based milk)
  • 4 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 4 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Boil the Potatoes:
    • Place the diced potatoes in a large pot and cover them with water. Add a pinch of salt to the water.
    • Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the potatoes for about 15-20 minutes, or until they are tender and can be easily pierced with a fork.
    • Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot.
  2. Prepare the Kale:
    • While the potatoes are cooking, blanch the chopped kale in a separate pot of boiling water for 2-3 minutes, or until it’s bright green and tender.
    • Drain the kale and rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking process.
  3. Mash the Potatoes:
    • Use a potato masher to mash the cooked potatoes until they are smooth and free of lumps.
  4. Add Plant-Based Milk and Vegan Butter:
    • To the mashed potatoes, add the unsweetened almond milk and vegan butter. Mix well until the butter has melted, and the mixture is creamy. Adjust the milk and butter to achieve your desired consistency.
  5. Fold in Kale and Green Onions:
    • Gently fold the blanched kale and sliced green onions into the mashed potatoes. Ensure they are evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
  6. Season and Serve:
    • Season the colcannon with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust the seasoning as needed.
    • Serve your vegan colcannon hot, and enjoy this comforting and flavorful dish!

This vegan colcannon is a delicious, plant-based twist on the traditional Irish dish, perfect for a hearty meal any time of the year, especially around St. Patrick’s Day or Halloween.

Did You Know?

Traditionally, colcannon was a cherished dish served during Allhallowtide, a period encompassing All Hallow’s Eve (Halloween / October 31st), All Saints’ Day (November 1st), and All Soul’s Day (November 2nd). This hearty Irish fare, consisting of mashed potatoes, kale or cabbage, and often accompanied by hidden treasures like rings and coins, was not only a delicious treat but also a part of festive fortune-telling rituals.

Why People Say Almonds and Avocados Are Not Vegan

Avocados and Almonds are [Vegan] Red Herrings

Ever since this ridiculous clip from (one of my favorite shows), QI, the Internet has been abuzz!

The fact that there’s so much buzz around whether or not avocados and almonds are VEGAN and that vegans are hypocrites for eating them reveals four things to me:

  • 1. that non-vegans love to play the gotcha game.
  • 2. that vegans haven’t done a very good job clarifying what “vegan” means.
  • 3. that almonds and avocados have become red herrings to distract and deflect away from violence in animal factories and slaughterhouses.
  • 4. non-vegans who use this argument are belying the fact that they have no other strong defense for justifying eating animals.
  • 5. Vegans take the bait every single time.

Vegans Are Imperfect Because Humans Are Imperfect.

Here’s what I think.

There is no such thing as a certified vegan, and there is no way to attain perfection or purity — as imperfect humans in an imperfect world.

And that’s not what being vegan is about.

So…should I eat foie gras because my organic kale was grown in soil amended with chicken manure? Should I eat pork and chicken’s wings because the apples I buy were pollinated with domesticated honeybees?

That makes absolutely no sense.

The idea that we should do nothing because we can’t do everything is illogical and self-defeatist. Don’t do nothing because you can’t do everything. Do something. Anything.

This is Not a Vegan Problem. It’s a Human Problem.

What’s more, before European colonists brought the honeybee to the United States, native bees alone pollinated all the wild flowering plants and the crops grown by indigenous peoples. That was before we replaced diverse habitat with monoculture (almonds and avocados).

So, the reason farmers RENT bees is because we’re wiping out native bee populations and because these monocrops are intensively farmed.

THIS ISN’T A VEGAN PROBLEM TO SOLVE. This is A HUMAN problem that CAN be solved with some resourcefulness, ingenuity, foresight, and frankly compassion on the part of farmers, scientists, and policy-makers. 

You wanna help bees? Stop wasting time criticizing vegans for doing something. Look in your own back garden to see what you can do to make a difference, and don’t do nothing!

Imperfection is built into begin vegan, because imperfection is built in to being human.

Vegan in Bordeaux

Finding delicious plant-based meals in this historic city

Eating vegan in Bordeaux is easier than ever before. Not only are there vegan-only and vegetarian-only restaurants, being a diverse, cosmopolitan city, there are numerous international restaurants and cafes. Join me on a vegan journey to Bordeaux in today’s Food for Thought podcast episode!

Resources Mentioned in this Podcast

Ecoles de Vin — for the least expensive glass of wine you’ll ever drink!

Da Bartolo Osteria Pizzeria — great pizza marinara!

Tripletta PIzzeria — great, authentic pizza marinara

Monkey Mood — vegan Indonesian restaurant

L’échoppe à Sushis – L’échoppe à Poké — Japanese / Poké / Vietnamese restaurant (non-vegan with lots of vegan options

Dis Leur — vegan tapas bistrot

Au Nouveau Monde — Québécois pub with vegan options, including poutine

TY’K Affinage — vegan cheesemaker in Brittany, France

Joyful Vegan Trips — all-inclusive vegan trips around the world