Tag Archives: vegan

WE HAVE MOVED!

Dearest friends,

Sorry for the lack of quality updates recently…we have had a lot going on…but we wanted to make sure that you all know that our newest posts and updates will be found at the site for our book: DollarADayBook.com

In addition to our most recent happenings, you will find lesson plans, quizzes, recipes and more at the new site, like Kerri’s most recent cooking experiment with Teese brand vegan cheese!

So from now on, we’ll catch up with you at the new site!

Warmly,

Christopher & Kerri

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As heard on “Think” (NPR)


This past Thursday Christopher spoke live on the air with Krys Boyd, the host of “Think”, a show that airs on NPR affiliate KERA in Dallas. The hour long interview covers a range of interesting topics related to the economics of eating, and has caller initiated questions as well. You can click here, or download this interview for free as a podcast through your iTunes account. Enjoy!

– C & K

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Win a Free Copy of “On a Dollar a Day”

From now until March 16, the nonprofit group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is giving away copies of “On a Dollar a Day” to five lucky people. All they’re asking is that you comment on their blog with your favorite frugal cruelty-free vegan tip; winners will be chosen at random from those who post. Good luck!

– Christopher & Kerri

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As seen at VegNews.com

Big thanks to the folks over at VegNews Magazine for featuring us on the front of their Web site today! We are avid VegNews readers, and can’t wait for the next issue to come in the mail.

– Christopher & Kerri

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The Plans of Two Leading Ladies.

I chose this sexy picture of Alicia Silverstone because I know that the folks at PeTA don't care about copyright infringement. And because it's a well composed photo? O.k. so my feminist mind knows that this is questionable. Please forgive me.

I have a thing for Alicia Silverstone. Ever since her leading role in the 90s film classic “Clueless” I have had eyes for her. Kerri doesn’t seem to mind, as she knows that nothing will ever come of it, but when I suggest inviting Alicia to our book release party Kerri’s eyes burn with anger. Not because she’s jealous, but because she’s worried that I might actually do it. While I joke about having a thing for Alicia, my track record for actually attempting goofy stuff is pretty strong.

However, lately its been Kerri who has been talking a lot about Ms. Silverstone. See, like us, Alicia is vegan, and luckily for us she just released a new book called “The Kind Diet”. In it, Silverstone outlines her idea of a superhero meal plan, and for the last couple of weeks Kerri has been experimenting with several concoctions from this New York Times bestseller. Upon first glance it is obvious that her plan is unlike other trendy diet books.

I mean, really, who eats miso soup and collard greens for breakfast?

While many of the meals call for expensive ingredients that are outrageous given our thrifty approach to eating, there are several items that we will continue to make. Like pumpkin seeds toasted with soy sauce as a quick snack, and the krispy brown rice treats made with brown rice syrup and peanut butter for dessert (easy and terribly addicting).

And today, I would have readily traded my oatmeal for some miso and greens topped with ume plum vinegar, or some fried mochi. While we have yet to make a lot of Alicia’s recipes, our time trying out these new meals was well spent, and we’re finally getting to the end of the fresh vegetables that overstocked our fridge; I don’t think I’d ever seen so many plants in there before. Additionally, Alicia has launched a Web site to accompany the growing community of folks who are looking to eat a healthy, and considered diet.

Some of these healthful meals would be perfect for families, and might even be of use for those looking to curb childhood obesity. People like first lady Michelle Obama.

This leading lady has decided to start a national initiative on the issue, and we couldn’t be more pleased. These efforts are absolutely essential, especially now that companies can legally line the pockets of politicians, which might just lead to a political landscape where even more power is wielded  by private economic interests instead of by the will of the people. Just a thought. Maybe the Supreme Court was having a “clueless” moment.

So this week we commend the plans of these two leading ladies, and give a huge thumbs down to the Supreme Court’s decision regarding corporate influence.

Only nine more days until the book comes out. Pre-order now by clicking a link on the right!

– Christopher

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Stephanie Smith, Differences in Aid, and Paul Farmer.

The conversation about food has been both lively and varied this week. Last weekend the New York Times released a feature about Stephanie Smith, a 22-year-old dance teacher whose life has been ruined as a result of eating a hamburger tainted with E. Coli 0157. This moving and educational account of the horror that results from willy-nilly food safety protocols, is a powerful reminder of how far we have to go in order to protect our food supply and our citizens. When asked to comment about meat companies like Cargill, where the meat was traced back to, Smith recounts in the video feature that accompanies the article, “I don’t know how these people sleep at night.”

While Kerri and I are vegan, and don’t eat meat, both of us were moved to sorrow and anger over what happened to this young woman. At the same time, we also, as always, understand the pain and suffering endured by the animal that was served to her. This situation was a double loss, both for the cow, and for Smith as well. As a result of reading this story, it was hard to feel sympathy for the “pain” of those who see the possibility of McDonald’s moving into the Louvre. At the same time, I totally understand their fury about the fact that fast food chain could move into the home of the Mona Lisa.

Yet, towards the end of the week, there was reason to rejoice as the House of Representatives approved an agriculture bill that increased funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps) by $4.3 billion dollars, as well adding $400 million dollars to the Women, Infant, Children feeding program (WIC), and to school aid and child care nutrition programs, who saw an increase of $1.9 billion dollars. We talk about the importance of programs like SNAP in our forthcoming book, and the challenges facing those in poverty within our country. There are those who exploit these federal assistance programs, like an extraordinary example this week where booze, porn, and viagra were being purchased, but the actual fraud rate is minimal (between 2 and 4 percent).

However, while there are 36 million people in the United States who are in need of assistance (12 percent of the population), there are billions of people around the world who have it much worse. Wealthy countries like the U.S., who give the most food aid to poorer nations, have slashed the amount they’re giving to the World Food Programme, leaving the United Nations feeding program about $2 billion dollars short. This means that 40 million people will be directly affected in the coming weeks. Josette Sheeran, head of the WFP at the UN told The Observer, that this could be the “loss of a generation” of children to malnutrition, food riots and political destabilisation. “We are facing a silent tsunami,” Sheeran said. One that she says we haven’t seen since the 1970s.

While this reality is hard to comprehend, Kerri and I were reminded on Thursday that there is hope. We had the chance to hear humanitarian and physician Paul Farmer speak on Thursday, and his level of commitment to those living in poverty across the world over the last 27 years was nothing short of inspiring. For those who have the chance to read “Mountains Beyond Mountains,” Tracy Kidder’s account of Dr. Farmer’s work in Haiti, Peru, and Russia, it is a fascinating and engaging reminder that the most important question that we can ask ourselves is this: How can I use my life to improve the world around me?

– Christopher

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Taking a Vow.

The Los Olivos dining hall at California Polytechnic University at Pomona is fascinating microcosm of the American food system, where in addition to health vegan options you can also find things like this: a bread just labeled "Yellow." Photo by Christopher.

The Los Olivos dining hall at California Polytechnic University at Pomona is fascinating microcosm of the American food system, where in addition to healthy vegan options you can also find things like this: a bread just labeled "Yellow." Photo by Christopher.

I never lived in a dorm. I never had a “meal plan” in college. And as a result I have never experienced or reflected on the daily impact of this process. Until now. In fact, the closest I ever came to eating food in a college dining hall was when I downed a small carton of chocolate soymilk at the University of San Francisco cafeteria nearly a decade ago. However, for the past week I have been lucky enough to eat at Los Olivos, the mess hall at California State Polytechnic University at Pomona.

As a fellow of the Ahimsa Center, which focuses on the practice and study of nonviolence, as a part of the College of Letters, Arts & Social Sciences, I have been well fed three times a day. During this experience I have found that the lessons learned during the dollar diet project, and during our most recent experiments in eating have significantly changed my habits. I find myself asking for smaller portions from the food service staff, making choices based on nutrition guidance from the USDA, and avoiding foods high in fats and sugars.

But in my suite, away from the brightly lit space, and public accountability of the college cafeteria, a package of Oreo cookies occupied a small piece of real estate on our kitchen counter. Yet the space these cookies occupied in my mind was far lager. I avoided them for the first couple of days. I felt that our study of Gandhi was a good reminder about the need for self-restraint. Yet the conversations late into the night gave way to deeper urges, and by one in the morning I was picking the chocolatey goodness from my teeth.

During the following day’s lecture we briefly discussed the notion of “vows.” So today I have decided to take a vow to no longer eat prepackaged cookies. I feel comfortable with this little step, and find that this will keep my sweet tooth on a leash in a simple but practical way. I will limit my sweet eating to specially home baked treats from family and friends, and rare outings at restaurants. It will be like taking my sweet tooth out for a walk every now and again instead of letting it roam the neighborhood.

I will replace this urge with healthier options like strawberries, melon, and grapes in the dining hall while I remain at Cal Poly. These succulent options have been readily available, as have decent vegan options at each meal. According to Dr. Tara Sethia, founder of the Ahimsa Center at the University, this is one of the things she has spent the last few years developing. Her commitment to nonviolence extends beyond the classroom and the study of Gandhi, and into the cafeteria where all students have the option to practice nonviolence (at least in eating).

Every day there has been a delicious nonviolent option, from curry to chili, and yesterday the grilled teriyaki tofu, steamed vegetables, and rice more than satisfied. The salad bars also stand in the center of the dining hall as a testament to student’s interest in leafy greens.

However, the standard fare is far from diverse: corn dogs, burgers, pizza, rows of sugary cereal dispensers, and liquid sugar flowing freely from soda taps. This contrast is a good representation of the current food system in the United States. Where healthier, more sustainable options are available if you make a concerted effort to find them among the faster foods. This is where Gandhian self-restraint comes into play. In my case with the Oreo’s, it may take something like a vow to eat better.

– Christopher

P.S. I am doing a new mini-blog during my stay at the Ahimsa Center. It’s called “Going Gandhi” and will document some of my experiments in truth as related to my study of nonviolence.

PPS. Speaking of sugar…Kerri’s sister has started a cake blog here. Her stuff is artful and tasty, so check it out.

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Vegan Cupcakes Take Over My Brain.

Mostly vegan cupcakes sat waiting on the table at the family cabin in Shingletown, Calif. Of course, the vegan tray made room for one outcast. Cupcakes by Kimberly. Photo by Christohper (iPhone).

Mostly vegan cupcakes sat waiting on the table at the family cabin in Shingletown, Calif. Of course, the vegan tray made room for one outcast. Cupcakes by Kimberly. Photo by Christopher (iPhone).

I’m not sure what it is about road trips that make me feel like whether we are traveling for five hours or five days we need to stock the car full of provisions for the trip. Maybe it is some sort of evolutionary survival instinct that has been passed down from our ancestors that whispers into our consciousness, “bring food, and lots of it!”

But as Kerri and I packed the cooler for our drive to Redding, Calif. for father’s day with her family, the food we put in was quite different than what we would have brought last summer. Beyond a few leftover slices of pizza, we packed apples, strawberries and almonds. No chips, cookies, or other prepackaged foods would make the 10-hour journey with us to northern California. It isn’t that those foods are inherently bad, but since the “dollar diet” our eating patterns have changed.

As we work on our latest project in the economics of eating well, which we’ll fully recount in the book (due out in early 2010), the process of experimenting with our dietary patterns is starting to pay off. In general we tended to overeat before, now we know when to stop. We used to eat far more processed foods, now we cook from “raw” ingredients. The biggest challenge that remains however is eating in social settings with others.

Kerri’s family eats a fairly typical American diet. At gatherings the guys grill up burgers and dogs, and the women cover the tables with bowls of chips, Ritz crackers with dips, some assorted fruits, soda, tea, bottled water, and some type of dessert. This year it was cupcakes, compliments of Kerri’s younger sister.

I struggle during these trips because the chips, cookies, soda, cupcakes, and other high-calorie foods are difficult to resist. I was raised to overeat, and this habit, in combination with calorie dense junk foods, is a disaster for my health.

Today I did my best. When we arrived before lunch I resisted the barbecue chips and the crackers when they came out. But as everyone around me started munching away, the crunching of chips came in like surround sound. Resisting the snack table amidst the crowd of consensus eating made me feel like that lone man standing in front of the tank in Tienanmen Square 20 years ago.

I stayed strong for a couple hours, but soon the rationalizations clouded my will to defy. Kerri said it was o.k. to snack on carrots. Then we took a long calorie-burning walk, which made it fine to have two veggie burgers instead of one (besides, who wants to bring frozen food home on long drive?).

Then Kim came out with the cupcakes and it was game over.

Rationalizations grew into philosophical platforms: eating is an act of communion – if I don’t take part I’m rejecting a shared experience, therefore rejecting her family; Kerri’s sister went out of her way to make elegant vegan cupcakes – abstaining this accommodation would be blasphemous and just plain rude.  And of course the all time favorite way to indulge “bad” behavior: “Everything is o.k. in moderation.”

As the food was put away things got easier, but each day we are here is a challenge. Eating well is hard work, and although possible, there are moments when resistance is futile.

Trying to stay strong,
Christopher

P.S. If you didn’t hear about it, Nestle has recalled all of their cookie dough as 66 people in 28 states have contracted E.coli 0157 from it. If you have some in your fridge, THROW IT AWAY. Cooking it won’t help, because the minute you open it you will have contaminated your kitchen.

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It Starts Today.

Today we start our 30 day challenge of a one dollar diet. This means that for the month of September we will each have one dollar to spend on our daily allotment of food.

When we first started talking about doing this, we didn’t really have an agenda, or any developed sense of why we wanted to do it. It  just seemed like an interesting challenge; one that would force us to see things differently.

We are interested in many of the strands related to this experiment; food choices, consumerism, waste, poverty, social psychology, etc., and this experience may provide insights that could help us better understand and teach about a variety of concerns (we both teach Social Justice in a public high school).

Here are the rules:

1. All food consumed each day must total $1 for each of us. 

2. We cannot accept free food or “donated” food unless it is available for everyone in our area. (i.e. foraging, samples in stores, dumpster diving)

3. Any food we plant, we pay for.

4. We will do our best to cook a variety of meals; ramen noodles can only be prepared if there is no other way to stay under one dollar. (We have six packages and will buy no more)

5. Should we decide to have guests over for dinner they must eat from our share; meaning they don’t get to eat their own dollar’s worth of food. 

Each day one of us will post an entry here with a photo that details how things are going. So if you want some daily entertainment, look no further than: OneDollarDietProject.com

If you think what we’re doing is interesting, inspiring, or just plain nutty, consider SPONSORING our efforts. Simply enter in an amount, click “update total” and follow the prompting. If you don’t have PayPal, it will let you use a credit card. At the end of the of the month all proceeds will go to the Community Resource Center (here in Encinitas, CA) and/or the ONE campaign. We will post evidence of donations at the end.

So stick with us, and feel encouraged to get in touch or comment as we move forward. 

Our first post will come later tonight!

Feeling hungry already,

Christopher & Kerri

 

P.S. PLEASE Subscribe, and tell everyone you know to take a look.

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