The Benefits of Vegan Cuisine & A Southwest Tempeh Chili Recipe
By Mark Reinfeld
Earth Day is the perfect day to commit to doing what you can to help preserve and protect our environment. Many do not realize that making changes to your diet is perhaps the most effective way to lighten our footprint on our fragile planet. Those accustomed to eating meat may shy away from some of the facts surrounding the environmental impact of an animal-based diet. The statistics are staggering and challenging to ignore.
A UN report entitled “Livestock’s Long Shadow” indicates that livestock production contributes to more greenhouse gasses than the entire world’s transportation industry combined. That’s a lot of gas! In addition to the global warming angle, there is a convincing case for switching to plant-based foods when you consider the following:
The environmental impact of a vegan diet is a fraction of that of a meat-based one. According to Conservation International, the average carbon emissions from an animal product based diet are 11 tons per year per person. The average emissions on a plant-based diet are 6 tons per year. Another interesting tidbit of information is that it takes approximately 3 ½ acres of land and 2500 gallons of water a day to support an animal product based diet. A plant-based diet utilizes only 1/6 of an acre of land and 300 gallons of water a day. According to the USDA, 1 acre of land can produce 20,000 pounds of vegetables. This same amount of land can only produce 165 pounds of meat.
While all of this information may be persuasive on an intellectual level, when it comes to our food choices we are dealing with a primal instinct that is not so easy to change. At Vegan Fusion we specialize in helping people who want to include more vegan foods in their diet do so in a gentle and delicious manner. Many of our recipes are designed to replicate the tastes and textures of dishes that contain animal products, so there is never a feeling of deprivation. Here is one of our favorites, from our cookbook, Vegan Fusion World Cuisine:
Southwest Tempeh Chili
35 min prep / 25 min cooking / 5-6 servings
¾ C Onion, chopped
½ C Celery, chopped
1 Tbl minced Garlic
1 tsp Jalapeño pepper, roasted, seeded & minced
8-12 oz. Tempeh, cut into 1⁄8” cubes
4 C Filtered water or vegetable stock
14.5 oz. Fire-roasted, crushed tomatoes
1 large Ancho chili, soaked in water until soft, seeded & minced
2 Tbl Tomato paste
1 Tbl Barley malt syrup, optional
1½ C cooked & drained kidney or black beans or one 15-ounce can
1 ½ C Corn, fresh or frozen
¾ C Cashews, roasted, no salt, chopped
6 Tbl soy sauce, or to taste
1 Tbl Lime juice, fresh squeezed
1 Tbl Chili powder
1 tsp Cumin powder, toasted
Pinch Cayenne pepper, or to taste
Black pepper, ground to taste
Sea salt, to taste
3-4 drops Liquid smoke (optional)
1½ Tbl Cilantro, minced
1. Place onion, celery, garlic, jalapeño, tempeh and water or stock in a
3 qt pot and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Add tomatoes, barley malt syrup, and tomato paste and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans and corn and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining ingredients, remove from heat, mix well and enjoy. Flavor improves over time.
Serving suggestion: Garnish with a small scoop of Vegan Sour Crème (try tofutti brand), additional minced cilantro, and a sprinkle of toasted pumpkin seeds.
Mark Reinfeld is the founding chef of the Blossoming Lotus Restaurant. He is the coauthor of Vegan Fusion World Cuisine, winner of 9 national awards. His latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Raw coauthored with Jennifer Murray and Bo Rinaldi is available through booksellers everywhere. Please visit www.veganfusion.com for more information.