Veganuary-31 Days of Plant-Based Eating

As we step into a new year, many of us are filled with the enthusiasm to make positive changes in our lives. One such transformative resolution gaining popularity worldwide is Veganuary. 

Veganuary

Veganuary is an annual challenge that encourages individuals to adopt a vegan diet for the entire month of January. The goal is to raise awareness about the impact of animal agriculture on the environment, health, and animal welfare. Participants are urged to explore the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle, not just for themselves but for the planet as a whole.

Going vegan may seem daunting at first, but in reality, it’s simpler than you might think. In this blog post, we’ll explore what Veganuary is all about and provide practical tips on how effortlessly you can make the switch to a plant-based lifestyle.

Start with the Basics:
Begin by familiarizing yourself with vegan alternatives to your favorite foods. Plant-based milk, meat substitutes, and vegan cheeses are readily available in most grocery stores. This makes it easy to replicate the flavors you love without compromising on taste.

Explore New Recipes:
Embrace the opportunity to discover exciting and delicious vegan recipes. There’s an abundance of online resources, cookbooks, and food blogs dedicated to plant-based cooking. Experimenting with new flavors and ingredients can be an enjoyable and fulfilling part of your Veganuary journey.

Gradual Transition:
Going vegan doesn’t have to happen overnight. Start by incorporating more plant-based meals into your diet and gradually phase out animal products. This approach allows your taste buds and habits to adjust at a comfortable pace.

Connect with Community:
Joining online vegan communities or participating in local events can provide valuable support and resources. Sharing experiences, recipes, and tips with like-minded individuals can make the transition smoother and more enjoyable.

Embrace Whole Foods:
Focus on incorporating whole, plant-based foods into your diet. Fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and nuts form the foundation of a healthy vegan lifestyle. These foods are not only nutritious but also versatile and delicious.

Plant-Based Swaps

Dairy Milk:

Swap cow’s milk for plant-based alternatives such as almond milk, soy milk, oat milk, hemp milk, coconut milk, or rice milk.

Easy Oat Milk recipe here

Eggs:

Replace eggs in recipes with plant-based alternatives like applesauce, mashed bananas, silken tofu, chia seeds, or commercial egg replacers.

Cheese:

  • Explore vegan cheese options made from nuts (like cashews), soy, or nutritional yeast. Many stores now carry a variety of vegan cheese alternatives.

Sliceable Cashew Cheese Recipe here

 

Meat:

Replace meat with plant-based protein sources like tofu, tempeh, seitan, legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas), and meat substitutes like veggie burgers and sausages.

Eating Out as Vegan

Eating out as a vegan can be a satisfying experience by employing a few key strategies. Begin by researching restaurants in advance, looking for those with vegan options or menus. When ordering, clearly communicate your dietary preferences and don’t hesitate to modify dishes by omitting animal products.

HappyCow is a free app that has helped consumers discover vegan food options at 200,000+ restaurants, cafes, and grocery stores in 180+ countries. 

Reading Labels and Ingredients

Read Labels

One of the most common and trusted logos denoting vegan products, especially in the U.S. is the Vegan.org Certification. The Vegan.org certification logo denotes that the product contains no animal ingredients and is not tested on animals. Over 1,000 companies and products carry the logo today.

While a “vegan” label on a food product provides clear information that the product is suitable for a vegan diet, the absence of a vegan label does not automatically mean the product is not vegan. Some products may be vegan but not labeled as such due to various reasons, such as a lack of certification or the company’s choice not to emphasize the vegan aspect.

Read Ingredients

To determine if a product is vegan, you should check the ingredients list and allergen information on the packaging. Look out for common non-vegan ingredients such as dairy, eggs, and honey. Additionally, be aware of additives or flavorings that may contain animal-derived components.

By making simple adjustments to your diet and lifestyle, you can contribute to a more sustainable and compassionate world. Remember, going vegan is not about perfection but progress. Every small step you take toward a plant-based lifestyle makes a significant difference.

So, challenge yourself this January and discover how simple and rewarding it can be to go vegan, even if it is only for the month.

Sign up for the 31-day Veganuary Challenge here

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A Conversation With Emma Torbert From Cloverleaf Farm

We were fortunate to have the chance to speak with Emma Torbert from Cloverleaf Farm to hear about the unique structure they have and the sustainable practices that they use. Emma got her masters in Horticulture from UCD and worked for the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis for seven years. Cloverleaf is an 8-acre organic orchard and farm outside of Davis, California on the Collins Farm that specializes in peaches, nectarines, apricots, figs, berries, and vegetables. The Cloverleaf follows regenerative principles including no-till, rotational grazing, and cover-cropping. The farm is co-owned by Emma Torbert, Katie Fyhrie, Kaitlin Oki, Yurytzy Sanchez, Neil Singh, Tess Kremer, and Kyle Chambers; who all manage the farm together in a cooperative and consensus-based fashion. You can find The Cloverleaf Farm’s produce at the Sacramento Farmers Market on Sundays and at various grocery stores in Davis, Sacramento, and the Bay Area. 

Cloverleaf seems to break the mold of what a traditional farm functions like. Traditionally farms are passed down generationally within families, but all of your farmers come from diverse backgrounds, how did that model get started at Cloverleaf?

“We started out a group of four women and then the farm passed through a number of different partners. As different people were leaving we were realizing that for the sake of future transitions and the longevity of the farm operation a worker-owned cooperative farm would be best, although we are currently still structured as a partnership. There are currently seven partners right now.”

“We’ve been working with the California Center for Co-op Development for the last four years trying to figure out a way that everybody can own equal equity in the farm. 2014 was the first time that we started profit sharing and equity sharing. The equity sharing is not yet equal but that is what we are working with the CCCD on.”

“One of our core principles in our vision statement is working as a team. An important thing in thinking about farm management for us is recognizing everybody’s different skills and working together without an established hierarchical structure. We rotate who gets to be the crew leader every couple of weeks, so they are essentially the boss for those two weeks, which means everyone gets a chance to step into a leadership role.”

How do you limit your greenhouse emissions?

“In terms of limiting our carbon footprint, we do a number of things. In terms of the transportation of our food, we try to deliver as locally as possible. We purposefully choose markets that are closer and do not take our products further than the bay area. We are always making the decision to try to sell closer to home.”

“As for what happens in the field, all of our vegetables get grown no-till. Our orchards and all of our annual crops are no-till, which means that we don’t use a tractor very often at all. In doing that we use less fossil fuel. We’ve also put solar panels around the farm, and can’t wait until we can add more.” 

“Something else that really contributes to greenhouse gas emissions is water use. We use moisture sensors so that we use as little water as possible. We tread that fine line of watering as little as possible without stunting the growth of the trees in our orchards.”

What are your pest management practices?

“We are an organic farm so we don’t spray any pesticides while the fruit is on the trees. We do use pheromone sprays, which disrupt the mating cycles of a lot of stone fruit pests. We put out raptor perches and owl boxes. The main pests that we have trouble with are ground squirrels and gophers.”

How do you try to limit your food waste?

We’ve been trying lots of different things for many years and I feel like this year it’s all coming together, we have very little food waste coming from our farm right now. Our compost pile is pretty tiny right now considering the size of our farm.

“We have an Ugly Fruit club, which allows people to buy our third-grade fruit at a discounted price. We also create a lot of value-added products like jams and dried fruit, which allows us to still sell our less aesthetic fruit instead of wasting it.”

“Something else that we do is donate to the food bank, especially this year when we’re worried about our community being food insecure.”

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Five Tofu Marinades

It is important to note that all these recipes will work great with baked, grilled, panfried, or crumbled tofu. These recipes work great in rice bowls, with veggies like bok Chou, onions, snap peas, carrots, and broccoli, or in a creative taco! Let us know what you create by posting a picture and tagging @davisfoodcoop!

Sweet Garlic Baked Tofu

  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh garlic
  • 2 teaspoons warmed honey
  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons mirin
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons peanut or toasted sesame oil
  • 1 block extra-firm tofu, cut into 3/4-inch cubes

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
  2. Place the grated garlic and ginger in a medium bowl. Add the honey, light soy sauce mirin, water, and oil. Whisk well to combine all ingredients
  3. Place tofu cubes in a single layer in an 8×8″ glass baking dish. Take care not to crowd the pieces of tofu. Pour the marinade over the tofu pieces, turning them to coat well on all sides.
  4. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Rotate pieces and bake for 15 more minutes, checking periodically that the liquid has not completely evaporated. Remove from oven and serve hot with dipping sauce or use in stir-fries.

Taco Tofu (Crumbed or small cubed)

  • 2 Tbsp Tomato Paste 
  • 1 Tbsp Water
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 2 tsp Chili Powder
  • sprinkle of Cloves
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 Block Extra-Firm Tofu
  • Best with diced onions and mushrooms!

Instructions:

  1. Mix tomato paste, water, and spices in a bowl. Add cubed or crumbled tofu and evenly coat.
  2. Heat cast iron with a little oil.
  3. Saute diced onions and mushrooms.
  4. Add tofu and cook on medium heat until onions are slightly translucent.

Ginger Baked Tofu

Stir fried tofu in a bowl with sesame and greens

  • 1 pound extra-firm tofu, sliced into 1/2-inch thick rectangles
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced (2-3 cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and minced (2-inch piece)
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup Mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
  2. Pat the tofu rectangles dry with a paper towel, and place on a sheet pan with a rim. Brush the tofu with the sesame oil. Bake for 30 minutes, flipping each piece over after 15 minutes. Carefully drain most of the oil from the sheet pan. Mix together the ginger, garlic, tamari, Mirin and maple syrup, and pour it over the tofu. Bake for another 15 minutes until the tofu is firm and the sauce has reduced. Remove from heat and serve, drizzled with the sauce from the baking pan and garnished with fresh minced ginger, sesame seeds and scallions.

Cilantro Lime Grilled Tofu

  • 14-ounce block extra-firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 bunch cilantro, washed and dried
  • 1/3 cup fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1/4 cup black or white sesame seeds

Instructions:

  1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Beginning at the short end, slice the block of tofu into 8 even rectangles. Lay the tofu on a baking sheet and sprinkle with tamari. Let sit, flipping once while preparing the pesto.
  3. Cut the stems off of the washed cilantro and puree the leaves in a blender or food processor with the fresh ginger, oils, sugar, salt, and lime juice. The resulting pesto should resemble a vibrant green smoothie.
  4. Lightly oil the grill. Using a metal spatula, place the tofu on the grill and cook for 2 minutes. Flip and grill for 2 minutes on the other side. Remove to a plate and let cool, then toss with the cilantro pesto and garnish with ½ cup sesame seeds, black or white. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate until ready to use.

Miso-Sriracha

  • 12 ounces extra-firm tofu
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
  • 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
  • 2 tablespoons Sriracha
  • 2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons white miso

Instructions:

  1. Slice the tofu crosswise into 8 squares. In a large non-stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over high heat. Add the tofu and sear until golden brown on each side. Reduce to medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of tamari, cook for 1-2 minutes, then flip the tofu and continue cooking until all the tamari is absorbed. Remove and reserve the tofu.
  2. In a medium sauté pan, combine 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, seasoned rice wine vinegar, Sriracha, 1 tablespoon tamari and brown sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking to blend in the sugar. Turn off the heat and whisk in the miso paste until smooth. Gently add the tofu to the sauce, flipping once to coat. Let sit.

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Farming While Black – Leah Penniman Speech

From EcoFarm’s YouTube Channel:

“Some of our most cherished sustainable farming practices have roots in African wisdom. Yet discrimination and violence against African- American farmers has led to a decline from 14% of all growers in 1920 to less than 2% today. Soul Fire Farm, co-founded by author, activist, and farmer Leah Penniman, is committed to ending racism and injustice in our food system. Earlier this year at the EcoFarm Conference, Leah shared how you too can be part of the movement for food sovereignty and help build a food system based on justice, dignity, and abundance for all members of our community.”

“Leah Penniman is a Black Kreyol educator, farmer/peyizan, author, and food justice activist from Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, NY. She co-founded Soul Fire Farm in 2011 and has been farming since 1996. Leah is part of a team that facilitates powerful food sovereignty programs – including farmer training for Black & Brown people, a subsidized farm food distribution program for communities living under food apartheid, and domestic and international organizing toward equity in the food system. Her book, Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land is a love song for the land and her people.”

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