Help the Hens in Battery Cages by Replacing Your Eggs

According to the American Egg Board, the U.S. produces about 75 billion eggs per year. That enormous amount is being produced by the more than 325 million egg laying hens confined in battery cages (small wire cages stacked in tiers and lined up in rows inside huge warehouses). Those shockingly high figures only represent 10% of worldwide egg production. Of course, this kind of massive production is in response to demand. Fortunately, demand is something we all have control over when making food choices for ourselves and our families.

My food choices became much easier for me a few years ago when I realized that I was eating an embryo of another animal when I was eating an egg. I distinctly remember the moment when I cracked an egg to discover 2 yolks and immediately had the image of twins in my mind. I realized that each egg I had eaten could have been a living thing if the natural course of events would not have been interrupted by an industry who knew I would buy what they were selling. Anyone else have the Incredible Edible Egg tune in their head right now?

So if you are disturbed by my last post and do not want to contribute to the suffering of animals, a seemingly small yet amazingly effective change you can make is to reduce or eliminate eggs from your diet. To make this a simple and easy decision, I wanted to give you some wannabe vegan options that are readily available, much healthier and guilt-free.

Each one of the following is equivalent to one egg:

  • 1/4 cup plain silken or soft organic tofu ( non-organic is made from GM soy)
  • 1 organic banana (assuming the flavor goes well with the rest of the ingredients)
  • 1/4 cup organic applesauce or pureed prunes (you may want to add 1/2 tsp baking powder to offset the heaviness of the fruit)
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 Tbsp. water + 1 Tbsp. oil + 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp. ground organic flax seed in 3 Tbsp. water (my personal favorite for baking)

If you are looking to replace egg whites in a recipe:

  1. 1 egg white = 1 Tbsp. plain agar powder dissolved in 1 Tbsp. water, whipped, chilled, and whipped again

There are also a lot of pre-made egg replacements you can buy at the grocery but I avoid using them. They have a lot of what I consider unnecessary and unhealthy ingredients because they need to be preserved in order to be shipped and sit on store shelves. It doesn’t make sense to me to replace something unhealthy with something potentially even more unhealthy because of convenience.

So, please take some small steps in the direction of compassion by using less or no eggs in your diet. I, along with all of the future hens who will be saved because of the reduction in demand, will be forever grateful.

If you want to learn more about hens in factory farms, please visit:

If you would like to see more statistics about egg production and consumption, the USDA website has very up-to-date reports and tables you can download.

Let me know if you have any thoughts and/or suggestions about egg production or using egg replacements in the comments section below, on facebook or via twitter.

Is Flax Seed the Vegan Baker’s Miracle Worker?

I spent the weekend trying to find a good recipe for vegan pumpkin cookies to take to a family dinner. Unfortunately, the recipes that looked somewhat tasty had a lot of ingredients that were not very healthy – even though they were technically vegan. I finally found one that used oatmeal as the base and gave it a try. Not much success. They could be described as blobs of dough that didn’t remotely resemble anything I would normally associate with pumpkin cookies. So I went on another search to find a better recipe. What I found rocked my world!

The pumpkin cookie recipe I found called for an egg replacement for the equivalent of 2 eggs. Being a fairly novice vegan baker, I thought to myself, ‘What the heck can I use for an egg replacement that won’t have me traipsing all over creation trying to find it?’. I did a quick internet search and found what is sure to be a life changer – ground flax seed and water (can you get any more simple than that?!) is the perfect egg replacer! At first, I thought, no, this can’t be true. It seems too simple but I gave it a try. I was running out of time and needed a miracle. Flax seed delivered!

Not only did the cookies turn out really tasty, the texture of them was comparable to those Soft Batch cookies I used to inhale when I was a teenager. You remember those don’t you? The cookies that were supposed to mimic Mama’s homemade cookies right out of the oven. Heaven only knows what horrible list of ingredients were in those tasty morsels but they sure were yummy. I was so thrilled to find something that reminded me of them and were healthy!

So, here’s the scoop. If you need an egg replacer for a baking recipe in order to make it vegan all you have to do is mix 2 Tbsp of finely ground flax seed with 3 Tbsp of water for each egg you need in the recipe. Mix together and let set for a few minutes until they reach that gooey egglike texture. Then mix it with the rest of your ingredients as called for. Voila! a vegan miracle has occurred in your kitchen!

Not only are flax seeds a great egg replacer, they are great for your body! They contain Omega-3 fatty acids that help keep your heart healthy, Lignans which contain antioxidants and tons of Fiber to keep things movin’! So including them in something that people might consider an indulgence is a great way to balance the health scale a bit.

One caveat though. If you are one of those people who feels like flax seed has a strong taste you may want to add more of the spices or flavorful portions of your recipes to overcome it. My brother Justin is one of those that doesn’t really like spicy or pumpkin-y food so he really liked these cookies since the flax seed kind of overrode the cinnamon and cloves. I really like the pumpkin-y spices so I’m going to try another batch and up the cinnamon and cloves until I get the spice level I like.

In case you are curious to try it out, the recipe can be found here on Natural Papa’s Blog.

If you want to learn more about the benefits of flax seed, WebMD, Flax Seed Heath and Women’s Fitness all have great information.

Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating – Book Review

 

Vegan

Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating by Erik Marcus

 

When I picked up the revised edition of Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating by Erik Marcus at my local library, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I hadn’t read a book about vegan issues in a while and as I flipped through the pages deciding whether to check it out or not, the content seemed interesting and broad enough to retain my interest. It did much more than that!

Erik starts the book with Part I: To Your Health. It looks at the state of our nation’s health and our quality of life. He highlights Dr. Dean Ornish’s work, including personal stories about people who have suffered from heart disease. Cancer and The China Project are also examined and links are shown that the consumption of animal products can trigger the development of colon, breast and prostate cancers. Of course, a section about health benefits without weight loss would be incomplete, so he also talks about how a vegan diet can easily reduce your body weight to its optimal level and discusses the work of Dr. Terry Shintani.

The ‘Perfect Food Isn’t’ chapter was of particular interest to me because I experience a dramatic shift in the happiness of my body when I cut out dairy products and I am dismayed by the implications of the constant barrage of messages to drink milk and eat cheese that we experience as Americans. Mr. Marcus does the topic justice by explaining what dairy does to your body and how we are being manipulated by special interests.

The final chapter in this section was the most eye opening for me. It is entitled; ‘How Now, Mad Cow.’ I had no idea what was going on in the 80’s regarding mad cow disease. Now I know that was intentional. I also didn’t fully understand that a discussion on Oprah Winfrey’s show between Howard Lyman and Dr. Gary Weber about the disease was what spawned the well known lawsuit she endured. I also know much more about how this disease proliferates and how we as a species are seriously compromising the health of ourselves and our children (throughout the world) by consuming beef products from factory farms.

Part II starts off with Rescued! a chapter about Gene and Lorri Bausten who started Farm Sanctuary. The chapter Chickens and Eggs is next with a devastatingly complete depiction of the horrific conditions of poultry which are used for egg production or slaughtered for meat. If you are a Vegetarian who eats eggs, you may want to take a look at this chapter before your next shopping trip.

Erik goes on to explore the lives of pigs, dairy cows, veal calves and beef cattle. He notes throughout these chapters how breeding practices and conditions are creating an environment of disease, misery and death, not only for the animals but for the people who consume their products. This section ends with a chapter named The Killing Business. It explores both sides of the slaughterhouse situation and completes the horrific life cycle of the animals.

If you weren’t convinced by now that consuming animal products is not in anyone or any animal’s best interest, Erik goes even further in his discussions about world hunger, public property violations by the National Cattlemen’s Association and his personal journey to his current stance on veganism. The New Four Food Groups from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine Vegetarian Starter Kit is included for those who are interested in eating a more plant-based diet.

Overall, I agree with Howard Lyman when he says, “Reading Erik Marcus’s Vegan is a critical first step for anyone wanting to extend both the quality and length of their life, and the planet’s life.” So read the whole book or just those chapters that interest you. I am sure that you will be more informed and more able to make better choices when it comes to deciding what you consume. Once you do take a look, please let me know what you thought!

The revised edition of Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating by Erik Marcus is 211 pages and includes a foreword by Howard Lyman the Director of Eating with Conscience Campaign of the Humane Society of the United States. There are three main sections; To Your Health, The Truth About Food Animals and Beyond the Dinner Table along with two appendices; The New Four Food Groups and Resources.

If you would like to learn more about Erik Marcus, his website and blog can be found at vegan.com. You can also find him on facebook, and twitter.