Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Happy Heart

It's just a couple of weeks away: Valentine's Day. Whether you love the holiday or hate it, you still deserve a good meal that day.

I'm partial to eating in to avoid the crowds. There are plenty of wonderful ideas online for romantic meals. For example, Vegetarians in Paradise offers two complete menus, with recipes at and

For even more ideas, the Vegetarian Society of Britain has a menus and recipes at and

Those saucy Brits also have information on "The Food of Love," about the aphrodisiac qualities of vegetarian foods at

The Vegetarian Resource Group has "Recipes for Valentine’s Day" at This one sounds both delightful and super-easy:

(Serves 4)

Rose water can be found in gourmet stores or the gourmet section of your market. Orange-flower water would also work nicely in this tart, refreshing dessert.

One 10-ounce package frozen raspberries, thawed
2 Tablespoons rose water
One 12.3-ounce package lowfat firm tofu, drained

Drain raspberries. Reserve several raspberries and about a tablespoon of juice. In blender or food processor, combine raspberries, remaining juice, rose water, and tofu. Process until smooth.
Divide mixture into four dessert dishes. Refrigerate several hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled. Just prior to serving, garnish with reserved raspberries and then drizzle a little juice over the top of each dish.

Recipe by Mary Clifford, published in Vegetarian Journal, P.O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203.

The nutritional breakdown sounds like this mousse will keep your Valentine's heart healthy, too:
Total calories per serving: 65
Fat: 1 gram
Carbohydrates: 9 grams
Protein: 6 grams
Sodium: 55 mg
Fiber: 3 grams

But for some, only a nice dinner out will do. So I’m asking for suggestions -- Do you know of any romantic restaurants in this area where vegetarian valentines can dine to their hearts’ content?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Vegan hedonism

A co-worker forwarded me the link to this story in the New York Times, titled "Strict Vegan Ethics, Frosted With Hedonism" (if you don't already have one, you'll need to sign up for a free login to read it). It's about a punk vegan chef and how she creates luscious dishes -- especially cupcakes -- without the typical eggs, butter and cream. She and her co-author have two cookbooks: Vegan With a Vengeance and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, and she also has a public-access TV show in New York. It's an interesting read.

Be sure to click on the "Related" recipe links -- the butternut squash rice paper rolls sound FABULOUS!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Say Cheese

I'm still excited.

An email this morning from Vegan Essentials, a mail-order company, indicates they now offer Isle of Bute Sheese, a vegan cheese alternative imported from Scotland. Seven flavors are available - Gouda, Mozzarella, Blue, Cheddar & Chives, Hickory Smoked Cheddar, Strong Cheddar and Medium Cheddar. At $9.95 for a half-pound, it's pricey. Still, I'll be placing my order tonight.

After all, this is a product that was among the winners of VegNews magazine's 2006 Veggie Awards. It was the editors' pick for "Food You Can’t Find in the U.S.," and they described it as "so authentic even omnivores can’t tell the difference." So I have been eagerly awaiting a chance to sample this wondrous-sounding product.

I'll let you know how it is!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Taking vitamins and medicines

Cold and flu season is upon us, and that got me thinking about vitamins and medicine. I buy vegetarian versions of vitamins and supplements whenever possible -- even Vitamin E, which is tough to find in vegetarian versions. Most vitamins aren't vegetarian -- they contain stearic acid or gelatin -- but there are versions made with vegetable stearic acid or vegetarian capsules. You generally can't find these in your corner drug store. You'll need to visit a natural-foods or health-food store to get them, and they're usually a bit pricier than the non-vegetarian versions.

But when it comes to prescription medicines, it's almost impossible to avoid animal ingredients -- or animal testing. If you need a particular medicine for your health, the alternative -- not taking it -- isn't a very viable option. So I take the medicines I need to and do the best I can otherwise to keep things vegetarian.

A vegetarian friend was upset recently when she saw that a medicine her doctor gave her was tested on animals. Unfortunately, this is a common occurence. Obviously, early trials of medicines cannot be done on humans, so alternatives must be used. More non-animal alternatives are being used than in the past, and it's my hope that fewer and fewer animals will be killed or put through misery for our comfort.

I confess to not knowing much about the issue -- I think my distaste for the subject has kept me from wanting to know much about it and taking something of a "head in the sand" approach, beyond looking for the "not tested on animals" line on products. Not something I'm proud of. In doing some online research for this blog entry, I came across the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which is a group of "Doctors and laypersons working together for compassionate and effective medical practice, research, and health promotion." Its Web site has a wealth of information on the use of animals in research and education, and the alternatives that it promotes.

What about you? How do you approach vitamins and medicines as a vegetarian?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Restaurant Roundup

A reader recently asked the Journal's food editor, Michael Hastings, for advice on vegetarian-friendly restaurants in town. The reader has vegetarian guests coming and wants to take them to places where they will be comfortable.

The fist thing to consider in this situation is whether your guests are vegetarian or vegan. In general, vegetarians don't eat meat, poultry or fish, but include dairy products and/or eggs. Vegans don't eat any animal products at all. In my experience, it's easier to find a vegetarian restaurant meal than a vegan one. But there are vegan options out there - you just may need to do extra research before choosing a restaurant.

Some cuisines are usually a good bet for vegetarians: Italian, Asian (Chinese, Thai) and Indian, for example. Some are not – obviously, barbecue restaurants and steak houses are not going to be your best choice. You may want to inquire before choosing a Southern, family-style restaurant or cafeteria – even the vegetables may be seasoned with meat.

Cassandra and I write about notable restaurants from time to time, but we haven’t done a "roundup" before. The following is not comprehensive, but suggests the variety of options in town. These are moderately priced restaurants that I tend to go to again and again.

Athena Greek Taverna, at 680 S. Stratford Road. From a simple vegetarian pita sandwich to an elaborate vegetarian moussaka, this restaurant offers a lot of tasty choices.

California Fresh Buffet – 1370 Peters Creek Pkwy – (On the Web at This may have the best salad bar in town. And on the hot bar, vegan items are clearly marked. A restaurant with something for everyone.

Cha Da Thai (on the Web at at 420-J Jonestown Road, Winston-Salem. A beautiful, intimate restaurant with many vegetarian and vegan options.

Finnegan’s Wake – 620 N. Trade St. Through the use of faux meats, this Irish pub offers everything from a vegetarian shepherd's pie to a vegetarian reuben.

La Botana Mexican Restaurant – 1547 Hanes Mall Boulevard. An extensive regular menu has all the usual suspects, done well. But the specials menu (you may have to ask for this, since it is separate) includes several vegetarian dishes that you won't find anywhere else.

Nawab Indian Cuisine, at 129 S. Stratford Road. The menu in the restaurant (although not online) indicates the vegan specialties among its many vegetarian dishes.

Szechuan Palace, at 3040 Healy Drive. Elegant Chinese food, with a knowledgeable waitstaff that will help you choose vegetarian or vegan options from the extensive menu.

West End Café, at 411 W. Fourth St. From soup, salad and sandwiches to fancy dinner specials, this Winston-Salem institution has it all, and a fair bit of it is vegetarian.

Again, this is by no means a comprehensive list, but just a starting point. Readers, please let me know about the must-go places that I’ve left out.


Friday, January 12, 2007

Blogged to order!

Julie and I have been doing this blog for several months now, and we'd like to know what you'd like to see more of -- or less of -- in the blog in the future. Do you want more vegetarian recipes? More ethical discussions about being a vegetarian? More links to cool sites or vegetarian-related news stories? Or is there something we haven't even touched on yet that you wish we would?

We want to get some good discussions and feedback going, so please let us know what YOU'RE interested in reading about!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Sad Note

Anne Weaver, who with her husband, Wes, founded the Very Vegetarian Society of Winston-Salem, died on Sunday, Jan. 7. But the society says that, "Though Anne is gone, the Very Vegetarian Society will continue her legacy of education and support of vegetarians, new and old."

Mrs. Weaver and all the members of the society were lively, warm and welcoming when Cassandra and I attended one of their meetings last fall. Meetings are held on the first Tuesday of each month, and the next one will go on as scheduled, on Feb. 6. For more information, go to

Friday, January 05, 2007

Vegetarian Museum

The Vegetarian Museum is a cyber-museum dedicated to telling the history of vegetarianism in the United States, from the 18th century to today. It was founded by Karen and Michael Iacobbo, the authors of Vegetarian America: A History.

The Web site is still in development and promises lots of additions, but there are already some fascinating and educational items in their "rooms." I was unaware of the role that was played by A. Bronson Alcott -- an abolitionist, the father of Louisa May Alcott and one of the founders of the American Vegetarian Society. In 1843, he helped start a small community called Fruitlands in Harvard, Mass., devoted to such ideas as veganism, animal rights and women's equality.

Other exhibits include an article about an 1853 vegetarian festival in New York; a 1953 article about vegetarian muscle-men; information about vegetarian socialite Maude Russell Lorraine Sharpe and The Millennium Guild; 18th-century folk hero Johnny Appleseed; and turn-of-the-century Thanksgiving postcards.

I look forward to seeing more additions at this site!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The littlest vegans

A friend recently asked about issues involved in raising a vegan family - an area where I have no personal experience. In such cases, I turn to the ever-reliable Vegetarian Resource Group. VRG offers extensive resources on most aspects of vegetarianism, and as I expected, it has a wealth of information on this subject as well.

An entire section of the VRG Web site, at, focuses on raising a vegetarian family. The article "Vegan Nutrition in Pregnancy and Childhood" is a good place to start. It reassuringly states, "A well-planned vegan diet can easily be used during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and childhood." It goes on to explain how to create such a diet, offers a sample meal plan that shows how simple it can be, and more.

But the VRG site recognizes that nutrition isn't the only issue involved. It offers suggestions on how to help vegetarian families navigate a nonvegetarian world, from suggestions on how to hold a birthday party that nonvegetarian friends will consider "cool" in "Let’s Party" to tips on "Traveling With Vegan Children."

Judging by these resources, it appears that raising a vegan family is similar to living as a vegan. You just need to educate yourself and do a little planning to keep your diet on an even keel.

It also appears that vegan parents can have as much fun with food as anyone. A great site for parents looking for ideas to fill their child’s lunchbox (or adults looking for ideas for their own lunches is the Vegan Lunchbox blog, which features photos and recipes for incredibly creative packed lunches.

Readers, can you share personal experiences, or recommend other helpful resources or strategies to make raising a vegan family easier?