Do you know what that ingredient is? Have you often found yourself reading nutrition labels in udder bewilderment trying to decipher ingredients you can't even pronounce? STOP! If you can't pronounce it, odds are you don't want to eat it! In fact, this ingredient is...animal protein. Could have fooled me.
This post is courtesy of Courtney Mayhew. Thanks again!
Last night while playing games with friends, we got on the topic of hidden animal byproducts in so many of our foods. One of the guests kindly brought over chips that had whey in them, not realizing, as many people don't, that whey comes from cows milk. It was a good reminder to me that when first becoming vegan, it was difficult to know what was "safe" to eat. My husband even made a cheat sheet in his I Touch so that he could use it as a reference. When it comes down to it, every last part of the animal is used in the production of something for human consumption/use. Read your labels and if you are not sure, then don't eat it! I wouldn't recommend eating something with an ingredient you don't recognize anyway. It's your body and your health! What is more important than that? So if the ingredient list is longer than 5 items, it probably isn't all that good for you regardless, vegan or not. And be easy on yourself, it's a learning process. You will make mistakes as you go and that's okay, as long as you learn from them. Remember, this isn't about "purity." This is about trying your best to not do any harm. For the animals, your health and the earth. Just do the best that you can and you will get better at it. And always remember that whole foods are the healthiest option. You will never have to worry about those nasty hidden animal byproducts when you're eating your veggies!
Did you know...
that blood from slaughtered animals is used as an adhesive in plywood, found in cheese-making, and is used in many medicines?
that gelatin is a protein obtained by boiling the skins, tendons, ligaments and/or bones from cows and pigs? it is used in jello, candies, marshmallows, ice creams, yogurts, shampoos, and most cosmetics.
that glycerine is animal fat? it is used in cosmetics, chewing gum, and many foods.
that lanolin is a product of the oil glands of sheep? it is used in many skin care products, cosmetics, and chap stick.
that rennet (rennin) is an enzyme obtained from calves' stomachs? it is used in cheese-making as well as many coagulated dairy products.
that stearic acid most often refers to a fatty substance taken from the stomach of pigs? it is used in many cosmetics, soaps, chewing gum, and food flavoring.
that tallow is rendered beef fat? it is used in wax paper, crayons, margarines, soaps, cosmetics, and many food items.
My husband's "cheat" sheet.
Do Not Eat or Use:
sodium stearyl lactylate--animal fat
This is by no means, an all inclusive list. There are several more in depth lists available online. I like the one from the International Vegetarian Union and it can be found here. Animal Ingredients A to Z is also a great guide. You can purchase it here. Do I carry this list around and check it often? Never. I just want you to know that lists like this are available for your reference. And let me say it again...if you eat whole foods and minimize your intake of processed or packaged foods, you will not have to worry about it!
I have the perfect recipe for you to get started with! This red and white cauliflower bake from Vegan Yum Yum by Lauren Ulm is awesome! The tofu ricotta has an excellent flavor and consistency while the "cheesy" cauliflower and tangy marinara contrast each other perfectly. Don't let all of the recipe steps overwhelm you. It isn't that difficult to make and the end product is really worth it. We have made this twice in the last month already. It is great served with greens such as broccoli or kale and it heats up excellent for left overs. It can be made gluten free by using Bob's all purpose GF flour.
Red and White Cauliflower Bake
Serves 4 (though I think it is actually closer to 6 or 7)
1 T olive oil
2 t dried Italian herbs (I used basil, marjoram, and oregano)
2-4 cloves garlic minced
14.5 ounce can stewed tomatoes, blended
1/2 t salt
4 cups cauliflower chopped small and steamed
Herbed Tofu Ricotta
1 package extra firm tofu pressed and crumbled
1/2 t salt
2 t dried basil
1 t dried rosemary
1 t dried marjoram
1 T lemon juice
2 T nutritional yeast
1 T olive oil (optional, I did not use)
fresh cracked black pepper to taste
2 T cornstarch mixed with 2 T water
1/4 cup Earth Balance margarine
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 T tahini
1 T lemon juice
1 t stone ground mustard
2 T nutritional yeast
1 cup non dairy milk
1/2 t salt
black or white pepper to taste
1 cup bread crumbs
Start by making the marinara. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the herbs and saute for 1-2 minutes, being careful not to let them burn. Add the garlic and saute for another 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and salt and then simmer until the sauce has the consistency you like (about 15 minutes). The longer you cook it, the thicker it will become and you want it thick.
While your sauce is cooking, chop the cauliflower into small pieces and steam.
Now make the herbed tofu ricotta. In a blender or food processor combine the tofu, salt, basil, rosemary, marjoram, lemon juice, yeast, olive oil (if using), pepper, and cornstarch/water mixture.
Next, make the white sauce. Whisk the margarine in a saucepan over medium low heat until melted. Add the flour and whisk into a paste. Add the tahini, lemon juice, mustard, and the yeast and whisk well. Slowly add the soy milk, whisking well to make the sauce smooth. Add the salt and pepper and whisk over medium high heat until mixture is thickened. This takes around 10 minutes or longer.
Assemble the casserole
Place the tofu ricotta in an oiled 1 1/2 quart casserole dish (shallow and long works better than deep and narrow), press it down to form an even layer.
Mix the cauliflower with the white sauce and spread it over the tofu layer. Add the tomato sauce on top of the cauliflower, then top with the bread crumbs. Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and browned.
Let this sit for at least 10 minutes so that it can firm up. It tastes just as good all mashed up though,so if you can't wait, go for it! and it heats up really well, holding its shape much better the second day.