Weekend Reading, 10.12.14
October 13, 2014

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Welcome back from the weekend, friends. I’m posting a day late in honor of the long weekend, which I enjoyed so very much;  my boyfriend and I spent an evening at Mari Manor, and I can’t wait to tell you all about in a separate post. Now I’m home, catching up on work and gazing at the following wonderful recipes (and thought-provoking links).


Sorry to share my own recipe, but…you guys gotta try these pumpkin pancakes, from my latest New Veganism column for Food52.


Love the looks of this rye berry and cauliflower salad from Naturally Ella.. Just omit the feta to make it vegan (or use cashew cheese, yum)!


Speaking of salads, this beet and carrot salad with herbs and “bits” (various delicious seeds) looks amazing. Once again, substitute the yogurt dressing to make it vegan.


Craving a comforting, classy dessert or breakfast? Help yourself to a slice of marble bundt cake.


Finally, and before we kiss plums goodbye altogether, Jessica’s lovely cornmeal plum cake isn’t to be missed.


1. In the mood to be awestruck? Check out this incredible slideshow of freshwater fauna.

2. A common misconception about vegan diets is that they’re exclusive or privileged, reserved only for upper or upper middle class white cosmopolitans. This ignores the diversity, racial, socioeconomic, and geographic, of the vegan community. Another misconception is that they are exclusively a modern phenomenon, and as such they’re an affront to culture and history (expressed through food). If you’ve found yourself grappling with these arguments, I highly recommend reading Alexandra‘s fabulous Our Hen House article celebrating the rich histories of largely vegan cultures (certain African peoples, Jains, and certain Buddhists included). I also recommend checking out her bibliography for further reading and insight.

3. I thought this whole article from The New Yorker, about whether or not human beings like to be alone with their thoughts, was interesting. But I especially appreciate the author’s conclusion:

Perhaps most troublingly, proclaiming that we’re unable to enjoy our own thoughts suggests that our mental weather is always supposed to be pleasant. But unhappy thoughts often serve the same purpose as bodily pain, alerting us to problems that need to be resolved before they get worse. The human mind is not meant to resemble a postcard from paradise forever fixed in a state of tropical bliss. It’s a vast and perplexing wonderland whose entire topography can change in an instant. We could try to navigate that inner world in a way that circumvents the unpleasant and irksome. Or we could face the looking glass, press through, and wander.”

Yes, here’s to wandering.

4. I appreciated this article, also via The New Yorker, primarily because it’s unusual to read ruminations on the ethics of eating seafood (eating meat gets a lot more attention in mainstream media). And of course I’m glad that the author takes time to consider the intelligence of octopi. But I confess, I do find it troubling when so much of the focus of why we should or should not eat animals is placed upon intelligence. Yes, pigs are more intelligent than dogs, but is that the reason they shouldn’t be made to suffer and die? And yes, octopi may be far more intelligent than most of us realize, but should that revelation suddenly change our relationship with consuming them? Should we only slaughter unintelligent animals, and/or reward intelligent ones by sparing them?

I like when attention is called to the inner lives of animals’, to their incredible capacities for communication, their social bonds and intelligence. Recognizing these qualities helps us to understand that the differences between us and our animal neighbors are often more of degree than of kind, and it deepens our sense of kinship with them. But I don’t think that our sense of compassion should rest exclusively on admiration of animal intelligence, or on some sense of self-recognition. I think a large part of it is and should be founded on the idea that it is wrong to cause sentient creatures unnecessary pain and suffering, to bring them into the world needlessly so that we can eat them, also needlessly. By all means, let’s celebrate the fact that animals have qualities we all admire, too–intelligence, a capacity for love and loyalty, and so on. But let’s also remember that, even in the absence of these qualities, they’d be feeling creatures who experience pain, and whose lives we need not ruin to suit our own tastes.

5. When my boyfriend called my attention to this article about Soylent, which has been formulated as a liquid food replacement, I’ll confess that I’d barely read a word before I felt a sense of unease, which then turned to a bit of horror, at the idea that mankind would ever opt in to forgoing food. You can and should read the article; it contains an interesting profile of the product’s developer and champion, Rob Rhinehart, a few arresting facts about convenience foods in general, some musings about whether or not fast food is a boon to womens’ liberation, and so on. But really, one of the author’s closing thoughts–because she herself tried Soylent for five days–summed it all up for me:

Indeed, for me the only real upside to replacing food with Soylent was that my first real food after five days – half a proper New York bagel with butter, Cowgirl Creamery Mt Tam cheese, a perfect Jersey tomato, and a pinch of Maldon Sea Salt – tasted so utterly, incredibly good that the hand with which I lifted it to my mouth started shaking uncontrollably. I will remember that meal for the rest of my life – and I have been unable to recreate its ground-shattering deliciousness since.”

To embrace a product like Soylent as anything other than a supplement strikes me as tragic because it totally defies the beauty, the pleasure, the cultural value, and the sheer joy of eating and sharing food. Say that these things don’t matter if you like, but I wouldn’t want to live in a world without them, not even for a day, much less five.

And with that, happy Monday.


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  1. Great post. I thought you might be interested in watching this Vice Documentary on Soylent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8NCigh54jg

    It sounds so nasty to me and although it’s maker claims it has essential nutrients, there is just no comparison to eating whole foods. I did find the part in the documentary about lab conditions where Soylent is produced to be telling – not only is it unclean, but there are rats running around as well!

    Great blog, been reading for a while thanks to my girlfriend pointing it out. We have tried some of your recipes and enjoyed them! Keep up the great work!

  2. Yeah I have no issue with soylent being around. Some people don’t care a lot about food. For food bloggers etc may be unfathomable but so be it. I don’t imagine a life on soylent. Though I’d be willing to try it if someone gave out free samples. Probably something I’d keep in my desk draw for the odd time I didn’t make out out for lunch or stayed back late. But that’s me, if other people choose to drink it more – ain’t troubling me.

  3. Living among a lot of techies, I’ve been hearing a lot about Soylent and its creator. While I have absolutely no authority to diagnose such things, nor have I met the man in person, I would not at all be surprised to hear if he has a sensory processing disorder of some kind that makes food preparation and consumption an overwhelming task. While I adore food and eating, I’m glad he found something that works for him and evidently many others.

  4. Great post, really liked it! And have to try your recipes…

    In case some of you have been thinking of doing a detox cleanse, check out our website at http://asmoothieaday.weebly.com. I tried JJ Smith’s 10 green smoothie cleanse and it really worked! Her book is also full of information and tips about what kind of food you should and should not eat. And there’s plenty of delicious green smoothie recipes as well! And it’s not only about loosing weight but simply about eating right and feeling better. I really recommend!

  5. “…unhappy thoughts often serve the same purpose as bodily pain, alerting us to problems that need to be resolved before they get worse. The human mind is not meant to resemble a postcard from paradise”

    I ADORE that sentence. The pressure to always be cheerful and optimistic can be overwhelming. All those pictures with ‘inspirational’ words super-imposed onto beach scenes! Sometimes our thoughts aren’t all little rays of sunshine. And its really comforting to realise that’s absolutely fine.

  6. I knew I was craving something, but wasn’t sure what, until I saw the picture of your pancakes. Must make!

    That soylent stuff is truly unnerving. My favorite piece in response to it is this Marxist analysis of how “in the era of neoliberalism, we can feel most human by eroding our humanity. We creatively derive chemical recipes to remove the need for recipes; we find pleasure in the ingenuity with which we eliminate pleasure from our wardrobe.” If you have a hot minute, I’d recommend reading the whole thing!: http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/05/19/solyent-neoliberalism-and-the-politics-of-life-hacking/

  7. Love the links as always Gena, but more than that I love your thoughts that go with them. I too am very uncomfortable with discussing animal intelligence as measure of whether we should eat them or not. It seems all to close to the ideas of eugenics and the idea that, for example, people of colour had smaller brains and therefore didn’t “mind” being slaves, and it would, if taken to the extreme of logic, mean that we could kill those with learning difficulties/disabilities…. all very troubling stuff.

    I wonder whether you were ever on a diet that consisted only of Ensure? Supplements like Soylent will forever trigger painful memories of traumatic inpatient treatment to me.

    I’m not sure what the holiday was but look forward to hearing about your nice weekend
    h xx

  8. ah yes the soylent thing. i remember reading about last year when there was a kickstarter and i could not imagine eliminating the social component of sharing a meal with friends and family. while i see the value in a food replacement like soylent–perhaps in situations where food is scarce and nutrients in high demand, i don’t think it will find a spot in my home any time soon.

  9. I really like your weekend reading series. And in the middle of a rough morning, that SA slideshow totally lifted my spirits.

    And, of course: “But I don’t think that our sense of compassion should rest exclusively on admiration of animal intelligence, or on some sense of self-recognition.”

    A thousand times yes.

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