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Planting Ideas

August 27, 2012

I’ve been on a documentary kick lately and with my interest in healthy nutrition I saw three Guerilla-style documentaries: Food Inc., Vegucated, and Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead.

Food, Inc.

Food Inc. was the most eye-opening for me personally. Its primary focus is meat production in the United States. Most of us have this perfect image of a farm where cattle roam free, eating grass and fertilizing our lands, with a jolly farmer family lovingly herding them. The reality is dark, gory and very  disturbing. Most of the meats that we get in the grocery stores are owned, butchered and packaged by giant corporations who are driven by one thing and one thing only – profit! This translates to growing, killing, and processing as many animals per day as they can while keeping the costs low by simplifying the manufacturing process and employing cheap, unskilled labor. Sadly, there is very little regulation in the US laws regarding farm animals and meat production, so bad practices turn into best practices — even for smaller farmers — in order for them to compete. This leads to pollution, disease and infection. To reduce the risk of e. coli, some companies resorted to washing meat with ammonia before packaging it! Ammonia – the stuff in cleaning products and hair color agents. Disturbing!

Vegucated continues to build on the anti-meat concept by filming 3 meat-loving New Yorkers that take a 6-week vegan challenge. Their film talks more about animal cruelty when it comes to beef, pork, chicken, fish and eggs. They keep it relatively light but still show some heartbreaking images of farm animals in pain. I am not completely naïve in my principles and I know that when I order a 6oz medium-rare filet that a cow died for me to enjoy it, but I guess I was secretly hoping that more humane practices were followed to minimize amount of pain for the animal, which is by far not the case. Milk and dairy production took me by surprise. In order for cows to continually produce milk they need to give birth (obviously). The film showed cows get inseminated by a giant turkey baster-like thing and the minute the baby calf is born it’s taken away from its mother and the milking process continues until the cow gets old, sick, or infertile, in which case she turns into hamburger. They showed a mommy cow running after her newly born calf as the men were trying to pull the two apart. I never cared much for cows but the image of a mother and baby being torn apart brought me to tears.

Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead was a perfect cherry on my vegan research sundae. This is a story about an overweight Australian man who comes to America for 60 days to do a juice fast. He ends up losing 90 pounds, also healing his auto-immune disease and getting off his steroid medication. Along the way he meets a trucker who also suffers from the same auto-immune disease and weighs over 400lbs. The last third of the movie covers the trucker’s story and the conversion he initiates in his community to getting more folks to drink fruit and vegetable juices. The film ends in a typical Hollywood fashion with everyone getting happier and healthier.


So what does this all mean, you may ask? Am I going to become vegetarian or vegan or start juice fasting on a regular basis? Rome was not built in a day, so I am not quitting animal products cold turkey. I will however take baby steps towards a plant-based diet.

For starters, I am replacing my signature chicken and avocado salad with vegan options, like a quinoa black bean salad:


Did you know that quinoa is a grain which is a pure protein?

I am also starting to experiment with non-animal protein. The other night I made a broccoli stir-fry with tempeh. Tempeh has a unique texture, like grainy tofu.


To bulk up the stir-fry, I added mushrooms and celery.


Nutritious and good for my farm friends, which puts a big smile on my face.


The trick to making a vegan meal taste good is to add a fatty/calorie-rich ingredient, but just one to keep the fat and calories low. In this case, it was peanuts that transformed the veggie goo into a delicious meal that got my hubby to grab seconds.


Watermelon makes for a perfect summer dessert.


Over the next few weeks, I’ll be trying out new recipes and improvising with plant-based ingredients.  Stir-fries, curries and pastas seem to be good vegan candidates so I’ll be trying to incorporate them more. I’ll still have animal protein (at least while we finish the backlog in the freezer), but in lower quantities and definitely less frequently.

[Jane Asks]: Would you become a vegetarian? How about vegan?

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