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21 April 1999 Issue
Making Vegan Cooking and Activism Easier- Some Tips for Forging Ahead

By Scott Frizlen

Well, I just wanted to insert a few tips on making your life easier as a vegan
or even a starting vegan/activist. I'm well aware of time constraints for cooking
and activism, and even the financial constraints of convenient vegan foods.

What I've found is that while there are many veg-friendly organizations that
have some great products, sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and go
to the mainstream for convenient cooking information. Also for gourmet
information. There are a lot of great gourmet vegan and vegetarian chefs out
there, don't get me wrong. But there are a lot of omnivores and carnivores
that are also great chefs - even if the meat or animal product they're using is
objectionable.

I've learned a lot from these "unruly" people and have even purchased their
products (vegan products, of course). Yes, I'm the guy that stands in line
and looks at all of those pocket cookbooks from Pillsbury about chicken and
fish and meat - but all of the while I'm VEGANIZING the ingredients in my
head.

So, do you see what I mean? Just because you're a vegetarian or vegan
does not make you a great cook and just because someone is a meat eater
does not mean the recipes should be discounted and thought to be bad. I've
found good stuff on both sides of the street, even if it's just useful information.
Meat and dairy and mainstream eaters tend to rely on convenience - and
hence have gotten quite good at making things easy for the cook. As long as
it's vegan, I'm up for it! Who cares if it was meant for chicken - let's re-invent
it! Veganize it!

With that having been said, I provide the following mail order catalogue
information from the omnivore community:

Spices, etc. These guys are at: www.spicesetc.com or 1-800-827-6373.
For snail mail: Spices, etc. PO Box 5266 Charlottesville, VA 22905-5266.
These people have everything as far as spices - including the hard to find.
Plus they even have sausage seasonings for andouille, kielbasa, sweet and
hot Italian sausage - etc. So you can make your own vegan sausage using
these spice mixtures and seitan and tofu, etc. Of course, these spice mixtures
are meant for meat, but who cares? You can improvise and use non-animal
meat analogues.

They also have herbs and spices and bulk teas - and hot sauces, bbq sauces
and a whole lot of hard to find stuff including natural food colorings and
flavorings. Nut and seed and pepper grinders are also on the list. Highly
recommended...Lots of convenient stuff! Plus Jamaican, Cajun, Italian -
you get the picture!!!

Also, for spices don't forget to click on www.chefpaul.com. Yes, that's
Chef Paul Prudhomme's website. I've found some great info and products
and info there-so don't miss out! Snail mail at: P.O. box 23342,
824 Distributors Row, New Orleans, Louisiana 70183-0342
Toll free phone:1-800-457-2857 or fax: 1-504-731-3576

And let's not forget Tony Chachere's website at: www.cajunspice.com 
They have a great cajun/creole all purpose seasoning as well as more
seasonings and hot sauces, bbq sauces, mustards, etc. Giant Eagle even
carries the Tony Chachere's cajun/creole spice mixture with their hot sauces.
They have cookbooks too. This can help you master the cajun/creole style
of cooking.

Exploring Ethiopian cooking? Looking for cookbooks and exotic spice
mixtures such as "berbere"? Check out www.mercatousa.com
You'll see how adventurous vegans learn about other cultures by default.
You'll love it. The address for Merkato Market is 2116 18th St. NW,
Lower Level, Washington, D.C. 20009 Phone # (202) 483-9499

There's a lot out there - the point being to not just cut off non-vegan
influences on your growth as a cook and an activist. "Wisdom comes from
the strangest places" as a friend of mine likes to say. Keep an open mind.
You'll be glad you did!

As vegan activists, we must remember not to become isolationists. We must
remember what it was like to be mainstream and not to have cared about
your food as long as it TASTED good and FILLED you up. Don't lose sight of
taste and fun just because you're vegan. A lot of people wonder how I can get
my more mainstream friends to get into the vegan diet. And that's my secret -
I give them the info on veganism (i.e., "Why Vegan" pamphlet) and then give
them great recipes and a great meal. And show them how painless it really is.

A lot of meat eaters and such say to me, "I'd like to be vegetarian, but
the food is so lousy ." There in lies the rub, as Shakespeare said. It's a
shame, because as I've always told people - I eat more varied foods now than
I ever did as a meat eater or vegetarian. You learn about other cultures and
disciplines by default. Most vegans know about Indian and Asian and the food
of other cultures. But I challenge meat eaters to claim as many culinary
literates among their ranks. What people need to realize is that the further you
get into vegetarianism - the wider your horizons. I think most of the main-
stream thinks the opposite. By expanding ourselves and getting proactive with
showing the masses how diverse we are - we will win them over. That's why I
think it's every veg and vegan's duty to be able to cook a good meal or at
least know where to get one. If you know you're not a good cook, don't lose
your argument by serving a lousy vegan meal to a carnivore. Go to someone
else for help. Someone who is interested. Or know the best restaurant serving
a prime vegan dish.

That's all for now...Next time we'll explore companies that cater specifically to
vegetarians and natural foods. There's a lot out there!

sfrizz@hotmail.com 

Go on to Shared Blood = Shared Life
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