Commonly asked question

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One thing I’ve heard a lot since I’ve become vegetarian (and which I imagine others have as well) is the question: “Why would a vegetarian, who doesn’t eat meat, want to eat fake meat? There are so many of them in the stores.”

My answer is simple, and one I’m surprised I have to say so frequently. My choice to not eat meat wasn’t because I hated the taste of meat. In fact, I bet that almost every vegetarian liked the taste of meat when they gave it up for either ethical or health reasons. So, just because I don’t eat meat doesn’t mean that I miss the taste of a Big Mac or cheese-stuffed chicken on occasion, so that’s why I appreciate the meat alternatives, for when I’m in the mood for that taste. I’m just glad that products as versatile as the soy bean can be used to create such a close-tasting replica to the “real thing” without any animal suffering involved and with significant health benefits.

Meat contamination

Some frightening survey results published in the New England Journal of Medicine: out of 200 random retail meat samples, 20% of them contained salmonella. Four out of every five of the infected samples contained a strain of salmonella that’s resistant to at least one antibiotic.

Veggie deli sandwiches

Usually my lunch is made up of leftovers from the previous night’s dinner, which works out well. But last week I felt more like going back to the every day sandwich routine. I bought some rolls (I want to know where you can find whole wheat sub rolls—do they even exist?), some Tofurkey peppered deli slices, and a pack of Tofutti American faux-cheese slices (which are vegan). I added some mustard or Nayonaise, tomato, and lettuce and had myself a nice vegan sub.

I was certainly impressed by the good flavor of the Tofurkey peppered deli slices (they even satisfied Huyen, who gets picky about my faux-meat products) but I was most impressed with how much better the Tofutti faux-cheese slices were versus the Veggie Slices I’m used to. Interestingly, though Veggie Slices have casein (a skim milk protein) to help get the cheese texture, I was more satisfied with Tofutti’s texture and flavor. Note that Tofutti slices have more saturated fat than the veggie slices, but for most healthy-eating vegetarians/vegans, this shouldn’t be a problem.

White tea

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As mentioned below, the current issue of Organic Style (a new spinoff of Organic Gardening) has a brief feature on white tea (this link will likely disappear when the next issue hits the stands). As you may know, I’m a huge fan of white tea’s subtle flavor and find few things more relaxing than a cup of Sow Mee or Silver Needle. Interestingly, while green tea has always been touted for its health benefits, white tea has those same benefits, only amplified. The lower amount of caffeine is just a start.

“The newest health drink comes in a teacup, and this time, it’s not green. The antioxidants in green tea that safeguard cells from damage and prevent cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis are also in white tea—in higher concentrations.”

One thing I didn’t know is that there is now a skin cream made from white tea by Origins called A Perfect World White Tea Skin Guardian. Whether or not it’s actually better for your skin, I don’t know, but it’s still pretty cool to see this rare tea being mentioned outside of tea enthusiast mailing lists.

My letter to Organic Style

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From my letter to the editors of Organic Style magazine:

Thus far I’ve enjoyed the first two issues of Organic Style. Though it’s a little “slick” for my tastes, I’ve enjoyed most of the articles and applaud you for covering white tea in your Nov/Dec 2001 issue. White tea is my favorite kind for its subtle flavor alone, and its health benefits, even beyond green teas, are good to see in a publication of your scope.

One issue I feel I must bring up, though, is with your article “The Problem with Poultry.” While free-range chickens, or “organic” chickens may be slightly healthier, from an ethical standpoint they are really not much of an improvement over factory farmed poultry. The end result is the same: the chickens are killed for food and whether they’re allowed to walk around before they’re slaughtered is a way to make people feel less guilty about eating animals. If someone is truly concerned about ethics with regards to their eating habits (and, indeed, their health), then a vegetarian or vegan diet is the way to go.

Free-range farming isn’t for the welfare of the chickens: it’s just a poor way for humans to justify eating animals.