Weekend Reading, 1.4.15
January 4, 2015

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

It feels so strange to be typing “2015” as a part of these posts! How time flies. I hope that everyone has enjoyed this first weekend of the new year.

I’m back from Vieques, and while I miss it, I can’t say I’m not happy to be immersed in a cityscape again. It’s also a joy to be reunited with my kitchen. Like many folks, I love to mix up and invigorate my culinary routine in January, and the following recipes have inspired me already.

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Tis the season for wholesome and delightful baked goods. These morning glory muffins from my New Veganism column are a little on the crunchy side (they’re made only with date paste, so they’re definitely not very sweet), but they’re brimming with nuts and dried fruit, and they’re a great way to start the day.

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What a wonderful spin on Hoppin John! Mushroom and black-eyed pea sliders with sautéed greens on pumpkin top knot rolls–absolutely delish.

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I love the taste of peanut in stews, so it’s no surprise that I’m absolutely salivating over Rika’s Cashew Peanut Stew with Roasted Butternut Squash and Parsnip!

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My boyfriend, the pasta lover, is going to flip out when we sample this tasty recipe for rigatoni with lemony broccoli.

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Finally, Katie’s portabello mushroom steaks look beyond flavorful: full of herbs, onions, and a fragrant broth.

Reads

1. Hope a bunch of you saw this awesome profile of Ethan Brown, the CEO of Beyond Meat. I’m a huge fan of these guys and their mission, and I was psyched to see such extensive coverage of their product. One thing I liked about the article was that it anticipated the “Frankenfood” critique. As I’ve mentioned before, I disagree strongly with categorical claims that all plant based meat replacements are Frakenfoods. For one thing, it isn’t fair: as Brown himself notes in the article, most of the newer faux meats are made with very wholesome ingredients. It also misses the point of these foods, of course, which is to spare the lives of animals.

One might argue “why faux meat?” Why not just eat lentils and nuts and grains? Well, these foods might not provide the same familiarity of texture and taste that faux meats (or cheeses, or yogurts, etc.) do. I’m the first to claim that homemade cashew cheese is every bit as delectable as goat cheese, but I’m also well aware of the fact that a nice sprinkling of melted Daiya on top of a veggie burger or a vegan pizza hits the spot in a way that some of my own pantry staples don’t. I’m so glad that these products exist, because they allow vegans to enjoy a compassionate diet without feeling that they’ve surrendered too many of their familiar favorites. And there’s also a lot to be said for convenience, because not everyone who wants to eat more plants will necessarily love to cook.

The author of the article sums this up perfectly:

Why turn plant proteins into burgers and dogs? Why not just eat them as peas and soybeans and seeds? To which I say: taco, chimichanga, empanada, crepe, pierogi, wonton, gyoza, stuffed roti, pupusa, pastie, pig in a blanket, croque monsieur, pastrami on rye. Culture is a lump of flesh wrapped in dough. If you want to save the world, you’d better make it convenient.

Yup.

2. An interesting look at the lengths that scientists around the world must go to to obtain research permits.

3. A fascinating article on “plantibodies,” antibodies in plants that could be used to create a wide array of life-saving drugs.

4. I had mixed feelings about this article on the evolution of emotion, which is also an article about animals’ emotions and how that impacts our sense of self as humans. On the one hand, I’m always fascinated by firsthand accounts of animal behavior (in this case, observations of chimpanzees, gorillas, and lions in Africa). On the other hand, I was troubled by the nature of some of the research being done to explore animal emotion (which amounts to torture). Even if that’s sort of besides the point–not the author’s concern–it’s always a struggle for me to read about the kind of brutality involved in these experiments. I also thought that the author contradicted himself at times, wavering between a focus on animal empathy and adjacent assertions about the unthinking nature of animal behavior (in fairness, these assertions usually had a sensible context). Anyway. Interesting.

5. This isn’t an article that I can link to, but I do want to recommend Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History.

The premise of this book, which reads like a thriller even if it’s science journalism, is that there have been five mass extinctions in known history, and that we are in fact in the midst of a sixth–more subtle in some ways than the others, but equally potent. The cause? Human beings, the “weedy” species that has, through hunting, deforestation, and pollution managed to wipe out a tremendous amount of biodiversity in a relatively infinitesimal amount of time. The book is structured into thirteen chapters, each of which describes a bygone species and uses that species’ extinction story to talk about the ways in which have–and perhaps have always had–a violent relationship with the natural world around us. It is grim, but it is fascinating, and if you care about animal rights, I think you’ll find it to have a particularly strong impact.

This week, a nice long Vieques recap, not to mention a return to my kitchen! Hooray. I wish you all a lovely night.

xo

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    5 Comments
  1. What a nice surprise to see my sliders featured here, Gena! Thank you so much.

    Outside Magazine is my “guilty pleasure” read whenever I travel and I picked up the latest issue because Kelly Slater was on the cover (another guilty pleasure) – but was so amazed and pleased to see the article about Beyond Meat. I’m not a huge fan of their current products, but I’m a fan of them doing what they are doing. And, of course, I will be trying their new burger when and if it makes its way out to meat-central, a.k.a. Oklahoma!

    • Annie, my pleasure to share! Such a great recipe. And I can’t wait to taste the Beast Burger, either!

  2. Happy New Year Gena! And thanks for sharing those delicious sliders of Annie’s. I love her baked bread and those fries are calling me.
    Such a cool article on “plantibodies” too. Great week to you 😉

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