Vegan Grandma

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Are We Superior?

A non-vegetarian friend who was questioning my concern for animals asked me "Don’t you think you are superior to the animals?" I wasn’t sure what "superior" meant, but I told her that if I was superior to the animals, that didn’t give me the right to cause pain and suffering to them. She had no argument against that point.

If "superior" means better, how are humans better than any other species. Are we better for the planet? Actually, we're in danger of destroying our planet. Are we kinder? Not on a long shot. What other species engages in organized warfare against its own kind, or causes unspeakable pain and suffering to other creatures for all of their lives? Sure, we have developed higher technology, but has our technology helped the planet or helped our own species? Our technology may destroy us. Maybe humans can do higher math or write great novels. If the doers of higher math and the writers of great novels are superior to the animals because they can do those things, then they are superior to me because I can’t do those things. Does that give the mathematicians and writers the right to cause pain and suffering to me?

Many creatures can do things that humans cannot do. Dog’s, for example, are very good at noticing subtle changes in the environment which humans can’t detect. That’s why dogs have often alerted humans to dangers the humans did not notice. Some creatures can navigate by means of the magnetic lines of the earth. Does that make them superior to us?

I think there is no superiority, just differences. No race is superior, no gender, no religion, no culture, and no species. I believe that we all have the right to be on this planet, and we have the right to live our lives without the interference of anyone else. I think this whole idea of superiority has caused a lot of suffering in this world.

The awful wrongs and sufferings forced upon the innocent, helpless, faithful animal race, form the blackest chapter in the whole world’s history.-Edward Augustus Freemen, History of Europe
Crostini and Three Vegan Spreads

The first vegetarian cook book I ever owned was Professional Vegetarian Cooking, by Ken Bergeron, published by John Wiley and Sons, Inc. Before I bought the book, I was eating only salads and tofu/vegetable stir fries which I threw together. I then went to Vegetarian Summerfest in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where Ken Bergeron was in charge of the meals. I was thrilled by the variety of vegan options that were available, and I immediately bought Ken Bergeron’s book.

Since then, I have made many of his recipes. One thing I often bring to my vegetarian club's potlucks, because everyone seems to like it, is an arrangement of crostini and three vegan spreads. I put the spreads in three little bowls and put the bowls in a big flat basket. I put the crostini in the basket around and between the bowls. I think it looks pretty.

The following recipes are for the spreads I make and the crostini. All of them come from Professional Vegetarian Cooking. The recipe for Carrot-Ginger Spread is adapted from a recipe in the book. You can use crackers instead of making crostini, but I think the crostini are good. I sometimes use Quilts, a vegan cracker.

Vegan Sundried Tomato Pesto
Makes 1 cup
From Professional Vegetarian Cooking, by Ken Bergeron, published by John Wiley and Sons, Inc., page 56

1 1/3 cup sundried tomatoes
1/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves
Pinch of hot pepper flakes
1 tablespoon capers
For the Garnish
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced

Put all ingredients except the garnish in a pan and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and remove from heat, allowing the tomatoes to soften for 20 minutes. Stir several times during the 20 minutes.

Grind to a chunky paste.

Place in a bowl and top with garnish, or spread crostini lightly with the pesto and top each crostini with garnish.

The following recipe is adapted from Professional Vegetarian Cooking, by Ken Bergeron (page 58) He calls it Roasted vegetable Spread. Ken uses a combination of carrots and butternut squash. This recipe, calls for only carrots and adds ginger.

Vegan Carrot-Ginger Spread
Makes 1 cup

4 cups carrots, large dice
1 cup onions, large dice
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, small dice
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch pepper
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 400 F. Put the carrots and onions on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Stir the mixture once or twice during cooking time.

Add the almonds to the pan during the last three minutes to toast them. Remove the pan from the oven and deglaze the pan with water. Allow the mixture to cool.

Toast the chopped ginger in a dry pan over medium heat, stirring often until the ginger begins to brown (be careful not to burn the ginger). Process the carrot mixture and ginger together in a food processor until smooth. Season to taste. Garnish with sliced almonds.

NOTE: The temperature of 400 F. is important. Cooking the carrots at a lower temperature would result in less carmelization and cause them to dry out.

Vegan Olive Pesto
From Professional Vegetarian Cooking, by Ken Bergeron, page 57
makes 1 cup

I cup ripe black olives, pitted
½ cup imported olives, pitted
2 tablespoons capers
½ teaspoon garlic
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic or red wine vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process to a chunky paste.

Crostini (vegan)
From Professional Vegetarian Cooking, by Ken Bergeron, page 55
makes 30 crostini

French baguette(a long narrow loaf of French bread-check the ingredients, but I believe French bread is usually vegan) cut into 30 thin slices
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt as desired
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Brush both sides of the baguette slices lightly with olive oil. Place the baguette slices on a sheet pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired, and bake for 5 minutes. Turn over the crostini and bake for another couple of minutes.

You can add 1 teaspoon of crushed garlic to the olive oil to make garlic crostini.