By Betsy Bruns
It’s my “veganniversary” this month, and because going vegan is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life — for health and personal peace — I encourage you to give it a try.
On January 1st, 2012, my husband and I were sipping coffee in bed and decided to watch the movie, Temple Grandin. This biographical T.V. film is about Temple Grandin, an autistic woman who spent time on a cattle ranch as a child in the 1950s. The movie details her struggles with autism and portrays her innovations as revolutionizing practices for humane handling of livestock on cattle ranches and slaughterhouses.
Temple Grandin is clearly a notable woman who, because of her autism and gender, battled to overcome discrimination in the rugged midcentury cattle ranching industry.
Watching this movie, I did not experience Temple’s inventions as humane. The double rail conveyer system used to bring cattle calmly to the slaughterhouse is used to handle half the cattle in America, and in my opinion, resulted in increased production, slaughter, and suffering.
According to the USDA Factbook, Americans were consuming approximately 195 pounds of meat in 2000 — which is about 57 pounds more per year than they did in 1950. According to the World Economic Forum, 1.5 billion cows are slaughtered each year. A staggering number of sentient beings killed, aided by inventions such as a double rail conveyor system highlighted in the film.
Before the credits rolled, I knew I was giving up meat. Each year since, I celebrate this decision on New Year’s Day.
In 2014, a nonprofit organization called Veganuary was launched, and to date, millions of people have pledged to go vegan for the month of January. As a result, human health and the environment are improved, and animal cruelty is reduced. I encourage you to learn more about this movement at https://veganuary.com/.
Over the last 10 years, I’ve tasted and created many vegan recipes. The meatless meat dish that I had the most fun with is my vegan ribs. The texture and flavor remind me of a McDonald’s McRib.
“Spare the Ribs” Jackfruit Ribs
1 20-ounce can young green jackfruit (Trader Joe’s is my favorite brand), rinsed and drained
¼ cup water
1 cup chopped medium red onion
2 cloves crushed garlic
½ cup of your favorite barbecue sauce
1 ¼ cup vital wheat gluten *
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
½ to 1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup water
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
½ to 1 cup barbeque sauce for brushing
Heat a 6-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add ¼ cup of water and chopped red onion. Cook until softened. Add the crushed garlic and stir. Allow to cook for another two minutes. Add rinsed jackfruit and ½ cup barbecue sauce and stir. Cover and reduce to medium-low heat for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through and mashing jackfruit with a spatula or fork. Once cooked and tender, take your time and really mash it until the pieces break apart. You will be surprised how much this resembles pulled pork. Set aside and allow jackfruit to cool — you will be adding the remaining ingredients to this pan.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line an 8×8 or 9×9-inch pan with parchment paper.
Combine the vital wheat gluten and all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir well. Add the water and liquid smoke to the cooled jackfruit. Add the dry ingredients to the jackfruit next and stir until the ingredients are evenly distributed and all wheat gluten is absorbed, adding a tablespoon or two of water if needed.
Spread the mixture evenly in the parchment paper-lined baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Using the parchment paper as a sling, lift out of the pan and transfer to a plate or cutting board. Cut into four pieces. Spread barbeque sauce over the top of each piece and transfer back into parchment paper-lined pan, barbeque sauce side down. Coat the top with barbecue sauce and return to the oven. Bake for 30 or more minutes, until ribs are firm and cooked in the middle and a little crispy along the edges.
Cut each piece once more — creating 8 “ribs” and serve with additional barbecue sauce.
*Vital wheat gluten is a protein found in wheat. It resembles flour and is used to make “wheat meat” or seitan.
Chocolate Nirvana Crème
This crème is heavenly — warm or cold — and is my favorite sweet creation because of the healthy ingredients.
Serve as a dip with fruit, drench over pancakes or waffles, pour atop sundaes, or lick the spoon until your heart is content. This is a decant treat you can eat without regret.
2 cups rolled oats
½ cup cocoa powder
¼ cup cornstarch or arrowroot powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
5 oz. medjool dates (about 10 large) soaked in hot water for 10 minutes to 1 hour
¼ to ½ cup grade A maple syrup – adjust the sweetness to your liking
4 cups warm water
Using a highspeed blender with a heating element and the ability to cook food, add all ingredients to blender and blend on high for five minutes or until cream begins to thicken. You will hear the motor slow down and the sound get louder as the creme gets to the right thickness. Once thick, stop the blender and quickly transfer to a large container. It will thicken more as it cools. Store in refrigerator.
If you don’t have a high-speed blender, you can use a standard blender, transferring mixture to a medium to large saucepan once blended. Stir over medium to high heat until desired thickness is reached.
Recipe and photo by Betsy Bruns
Recipe and photo PCRM
Betsy Bruns is a plant-based health coach and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) practitioner. When she isn’t making healing food taste like comfort food or helping clients tap away stress and cravings with EFT, she’s soaking up nature and dreaming of ways to make life more delicious for all beings. Visit www.Vegsetter.com.