Easy, Four-Ingredient, Crispy Fried Chickpeas

Vegans are lacking protein. How many times have you heard that? By now, it’s a distant echo that somehow still seems to taunt all the cruelty-free eaters in the vegan-verse. But the thing is, we know it’s not true. Vegans get plenty of protein. In fact, for all the omnis out there– your meat gets its protein from plants. That’s right– you heard it here first. Well I don’t know if you actually heard it here first, but if you did, that’s freaking awesome and you’re welcome.

Some of the greatest sources of protein in the vegan world come from lentils, beans (legumes) and other foods like tofu and seitan. Not to mention the loads of seeds and nuts that are also protein-rich. As I continue to force myself to eat– I mean, journey down the road of embracing a completely whole foods diet (similar to my early vegan days when I didn’t know what to eat and had no idea that Champ’s Diner existed), I will continue to load up on more protein-rich goodies, and beans have always been one of my favorites. Mix them with rice and you’ve got a source of complete protein, meaning that all nine essential amino acids are set in that protein to help your body do all the amazing things it’s capable of doing, besides going to and from work and laying to watch Netflix (calm down, I’m pointing a finger at myself).

Chickpeas are pretty high on that bean list– also known as garbanzo beans, they are not only yummy, but really versatile in the kitchen– after all, they can turn into falafels. If that ain’t a miraculous transformation, I dunno what is. But, when you’re tired of eating them in their natural form, and don’t feel like making falafels, try out this recipe. It’s basically breaded and fried chickpeas, but the great part is, it shouldn’t take you too long to make because you don’t need anything more that a few ingredients, and a few simple steps– in less that 20 minutes, you’re in fried bean heaven.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 15.5 oz. can of chickpeas, not drained
  • 3/4-1 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs (plain or panko breadcrumbs can also be used— whichever you choose, be sure that your breadcrumbs are vegan! Many brands contain dairy and/or eggs)
  • 1/8-1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt

What to Do:

  1. Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium heat with olive oil in it.
  2. While the oil is heating, mix the breadcrumbs and salt together in a medium-sized bowl.
  3. Open the can of chickpeas, but do not drain them of the water in the can.
  4. Test that the olive oil is fully heated with a very small drop of water (do not stand over the oil because it will splatter when hot!)
  5. Using a metal spoon, transfer the wet chickpeas to the breadcrumb mixture, draining each spoonful of water but leaving the chickpeas wet (the water from the can acts as the “binding agent” and helps the breadcrumbs stick to the chickpeas fully, so you want them to remain wet!).
  6. Transfer about half the can, mixing the beans into the breadcrumbs quickly, then transferring them to the oil slowly and carefully so the oil does not splatter.
  7. Shake the pan to spread the chickpeas across evenly.
  8. Let the chickpeas fry over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes, then, turn the chickpeas and continue to fry for an additional 3-4 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.
  9. Drain the fried chickpeas on a dish that has been lined with a dry cloth or paper towels.
  10. Repeat these steps with the remaining half-can of chickpeas.

Date Posted on Instagram: 2/18/2020

*Product Review*: Vegan Toona!

Tuna — a saltwater fish that is part of the mackerel family. The size of the fish can range, depending on the specific type. Are those quick, fun facts what come to your mind when you hear the word “tuna”? Yeah, me either. When we hear that word, most of us think of the minced flesh that comes in a can. But even that description may be off-putting to some– well, by some, I mean non-vegans. Because, like any sentient being, that minced mush in a can is indeed flesh.

Before going vegan, like a lot of non-vegans, I tried to eat more tuna and seafood on my initial route to health. Sea creatures do not usually contain large amounts of fat and most people view eating them as healthy– in fact, many people go pescatarian before going full-vegan. Or, they just stop there.

I was a big fan of canned tuna in my pre-vegan days. But thinking back on it now, filling a sandwich with tuna that is loaded with mayo isn’t necessarily #healthgoals. Either way, I hadn’t had tuna in about two years– that is, I hadn’t had any form of a vegan variation since going vegan. Until recently 🙂

Vegan tuna in all it’s canned glory.

First, a bit of the back story; when I was still in my exploratory vegan days (although those days don’t ever truly end, do they?) I happened to find some mock vegan tuna as part of a vegan “starter kit” online. I bought the kit (this was over a year ago), and I tossed the tuna in the cabinet because– well, that’s me. I was excited to try it, but wanted to “wait” to showcase it for whatever weird reason. I recently cleaned out the cabinets and saw that lonely lil’ can in the back, still unused. First, I thought about why I was so weird to wait to use this canned baby for so long (yes, really), then, I made a tuna sandwich!

The canned tuna I had was made by a brand called Sophie’s Kitchen. They make plant-based seafood which is amazing, because I love seeing plant-based seafood all over Vegan IG. I hope to try a lot more of their products in the future, but for now, I’m also trying to calm down on the processed goods, so it’ll have to wait. But check them out and see what they have to offer!

Now, for the nitty gritty– how did it taste? What was the flavor like? The texture?

Before I get to all those deets, I have to preface this with saying that anything that is vegan (with the exception of the amazing things they’re doing with the Impossible and Beyond Burgers as well as some seitan-based chick’n sandwiches) is usually never going to be an exact replica of what you were used to eating on an omni diet. You have to learn to adapt your palate a bit, as well as relish in the fact that something that is reallly close to what you used to eat (especially if you prepare it the same way) is still really delicious, and now, cruelty-free.

That being said, visually, I was pleasantly surprised. It actually looked like canned tuna. Not a carbon copy, but it could fool an omni, for sure. It was packed in olive oil, which was refreshing because actual tuna packed in oil is usually packed in vegetable oil, and I always thought that was weird because veggie oil seems more appropriate for cooking and not packing. It fell apart in chunks, and just looking at, I was a happy camper.

That black shadow in the back– Trey thought he was getting some toona too. Yeah, right.

Texture-wise, I was also happy. It felt like what I was used to eating when I ate a tuna fish sandwich! But then, is it truly that hard to replicate a minced meat texture? Something to think about! It was a little bit heavier, but not overly so.

The flavor was kinda scary. I know about some products, like kelp granules, that help to mimic that seafood flavor. And although this didn’t taste exactly like tuna fish, that seafood-y flavor was definitely there. It mixed well when I added other ingredients and mayo to it, and once all that was mixed together, it legit looked like meaty tuna.

All the flavor, none of the cruelty.

As I just mentioned, when eaten on it’s own (I took a few bites before adding anything else), it was a bit heavier in my mouth–not like a fully light seafood feel. That could have been because of the pea protein and/or potato starch bases I’m assuming, because that is what this mock delicious-ness is mostly made of.

So, at the end of it all, I’d definitely give this canned delight a 8/10 and I would hands down purchase it again. I think for transitioning vegans, it might take a bit before they feel comfty mixing it plain into a salad or eating it out of the can. For me, two years in, I’d gobble the can down plain– eh, I might add a little salt and pepper.

But for transitioning vegans looking for that comfort food feel of a delicious “tuna” fish sandwich slathered in mayo on bread– just imagine, you could be eating this, completely cruelty-free:

Fried Tofu Strips

Fried chicken is a southern staple in the US. It’s also an extremely popular food in the Black community. So, I’ve had my fair share of fried chicken over the years, pre-vegan. When I went vegan, it was crazy to experience fried « chicken ». I couldn’t believe (and still can’t believe) that I was having something that I couldn’t ever imagine being able to enjoy as a vegan. I know I haven’t had even a modicum of the fried « chicken » that so many brilliant vegan chefs and minds have created, but I wanted to contribute in some small way by making my own version of something that could easily be made at home. It absolutely mimics the flavor of fried meat… is it as good as the fried chick’n I’ve tried so far? That’s debatable. Is it healthier that any fried chick’n I’ve tried so far? Also debatable. Did I make several test batches and eat most of them in one sitting, by myself? Abso-frickin-lutely.

ATTENTION: This recipe requires 24 hours of prep time! Please plan accordingly!

What You’ll Need:

For the Dry Batter:

  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour (gluten-free flour can also be used)
  • 3 tbsp seasoning salt
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp parsley

Wet Ingredients:

  • 4 flax eggs: about 3 tbsp water + 1 tbsp flax seeds = 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Other Ingredients:

1 package of extra firm, organic tofu

What to Do:

Step six, slice the tofu once down the middle horizontally while it is laying flat.
  1. Freeze the entire pack of extra firm tofu overnight, or for at least 24 hours until fully frozen.
  2. Take the tofu out of the freezer and let it thaw fully– you can speed up the thawing process by placing the package of tofu in a bowl of hot water. Most of the time, I took it out before leaving in the morning, letting it thaw until I returned home for the day.
  3. Once tofu has fully thawed, open package and drain of water completely.
  4. Wrap the block of tofu in a thin cloth or with a few paper towels and press the tofu of any additional water for about 3-5 minutes. While the tofu is wrapped up, use a tofu press or something with weight to help drain the excess water.
  5. After pressing, let the tofu sit for an additional 15-20 minutes to air dry (I know, this recipe requires a lot of prep time, but it’s worth it! :-)). The tofu should be as dry as possible– this is very important, otherwise the water will seep out and change the flavor of the fried strips.
  6. Slice the tofu once down the middle horizontally while it is laying flat. Keep the two pieces together and slice the tofu vertically 4-5 times. You should have 8-10 evenly sliced tofu strips.
  7. Set tofu strips aside and prepare the flax eggs. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the ratio of water with flax seeds (3 tbsp:1 tbsp) x4 to create 4 flax eggs. Whisk together with a fork. Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes to thicken. You may need to add an additional 1/2 to one tbsp of water if the mixture becomes too thick (you want it to be slightly slimy).
  8. While the flax egg is thickening, prepare the dry ingredients to create the fry batter. In a large bowl, combine the flour, paprika, garlic powder, dried parsley and seasoning salt. Whisk together thoroughly until well mixed.
  9. Placed the entire amount of the vegetable oil in a medium-sized frying pan (a large pan can be used, but may cause the oil to be too shallow– add about 1/8 cup more oil if using a large pan).
  10. Heat the oil over medium heat (about 3-5 minutes; test by dropping a very tiny water droplet in the oil to see if it sizzles– DO NOT stand over the oil when testing if it’s hot); while oil is heating, check the flax eggs. Remember, they should be only slightly gelatinous and a little slimy– not too thick.
  11. Create an assembly line of flax egg then the dry batter mixture, then the frying pan.
  12. Gently place one tofu strip into the flax eggs and turn to lightly fully coat. I used one hand for the flax eggs and one for the dry batter so that the dry batter didn’t become too clumpy in the bowl and on my hand as I continued to dip strips.
  13. Gently bring the coated strip over to the dry batter and fully coat.
  14. Gently bring the strip over to the frying pan and place it on one side of the pan.
  15. Place about 3-5 strips of coated tofu into the frying pan, about 1/2 inch apart.
  16. Fry each piece for approximately 4-5 minutes on one side, turn the strip over and fry that side for an additional 3-5 minutes.
  17. Use tongs to gently remove each strip, and place it on a dish or in a container that has been lined with thin clothes or paper towels to drain the strips of excess oil.
  18. Let cool for several minutes, then, transfer to a serving dish.
  19. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley, serve and enjoy! These strips taste amazing with my tangy aioli– you can find that recipe here.

Date Posted on Instagram: 8/1/2019

Lazy Scalloped Potatoes

My recipes are meant to be simple and quick, so when I thought to myself: how can I make scalloped potatoes easier and vegan? this lil’ recipe came to mind. No baking, quick prep and process, and best of all, it tasted extremely decadent. I’ve raved about potatoes many times. They’re a really versatile food and they can be transformed into practically anything. I mean, you start out with a big, round and hard potato, and end up with golden, crisp and soft fries. What kind of magical sorcery is that? And fries are just one of the foods these babies can transform into… tater tots, pancakes, hash browns, I could go on and on, but I won’t because I’m getting hungry. Also, this recipes incorporates my super easy thick and cheezy sauce recipe, which I also use to make mac ‘n’ cheeze.

What You’ll Need:

For the Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup vegan butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (x3) plain, unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt (plus more to taste)

For the Potato Dish:

  • 1 large potato
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp essential seasoning blend*
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
Seasoned potato slices all lined up and ready to go.

What to Do:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Slice the potato into thin slices ( I was able to yield about 20 slices from my potato –not potato chip thin, but thin).
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine potatoes, olive oil and essential seasoning blend and toss until well mixed.
  4. Place potato slices evenly about 1/2 an inch apart on a large sheet tray lined with aluminum foil.
  5. Place tray of potatoes in oven for approximately 10-13 minutes, making sure not to burn them.
  6. While potatoes are cooking in the oven, start the cheeze sauce.
  7. Heat a medium to large sized skillet over low heat.
  8. Add butter and melt over low heat.
  9. Very slowly, begin to add the flour, about 1/3 of the whole 1/4 cup at a time; Use a flat utensil (preferably wooden or silicone) to stir flour into the butter as you add it to the skillet. Stir continuously until all flour has been thoroughly mixed into butter and the entire 1/4 cup has been added.
  10. Reduce heat to a very low simmer– almost as low as you can get the flame without turning it off.
  11. Add the first 1/4 of almond milk and stir slowly into the roux until completely mixed-in to the mixture.
  12. Add the second 1/4 cup of almond milk and repeat the above step, stirring slowly until the milk is completely mixed-in to the mixture.
  13. Add the third 1/4 cup of almond milk and repeat the above step.
  14. The sauce will start to form now and should be nice and thick.
  15. Return the heat to low.
  16. Add the nutritional yeast and salt and stir into the cheeze sauce until fully blended. Continue stirring sauce for approximately 1 minute, then, remove from heat but keep the sauce in the skillet and on the stove burner.
  17. Remove potato slices from oven and let cool on the side while you finish prepping the sauce. Remove the aluminum foil with the potato slices from the sheet tray to cool faster or place the potato slices on a wire rack.
  18. You have two options here: 1) you can remove half the sauce from the skillet now and store it for later use**, or 2) you can follow the next step with all the cheeze sauce still inside the skillet, although this basic recipe yields more sauce than you will need for the amount of potatoes used***
  19. Add the spinach to the skillet and stir into the cheeze sauce until thoroughly mixed.
  20. Place the potato slices into the cheeze sauce and fold the potatoes into the sauce carefully so you don’t break the slices.
  21. Transfer cheezy potatoes to a serving dish and enjoy. Have fun with the toppings! I added jalapeño and a side of ketchup to mine 🙂

Date Posted on Instagram: 5/1/2019

* essential seasoning blend can be found here.

** transfer the excess sauce to an airtight container (preferably glass) and store it in the refrigerator; it will keep for several days but I don’t recommend saving it for more than 5 to 6 days. To reheat: place sauce in a skillet on low heat. Once heat start to melt the sauce, add about 1 to 3 tbsp. of plain, unsweetened almond milk (add the milk one tbsp at a time) to the skillet and stir the sauce with a flat utensil (preferably wooden or silicone) continuously and slowly until sauce becomes “saucy” again. This should return the sauce to it’s thick consistency, but you can add more milk if you want to thin it out even more.
*** so really, you have 3 options. You can also bake more potato slices using another large potato if you want to use all the cheeze sauce in one sitting.

Best New Vegan Food Blogger? That Could be me!

I want to first say thanks to all who read and subscribe to my blog! I love you and think you’re awesome and amazing for being vegan or being interested in the vegan lifestyle, or an eco-friendly lifestyle or even just my personal vegan journey!

That being said, I’m nominated in a vegan awards this year that’s been put together by One Bite Vegan! I’m nominated in the category of “Best New Vegan Food Blogger”. I’m excited because I truly love blogging and it’s even better that I get to blog about topics I’m really passionate about. I love writing also and being able to entertain and/or inform through my writing is what I think my gift to the world really is!

Follow me on Instagram at “thevegangirlnyc” and follow One Bite Vegan at “one_bite_vegan”.

I would love and appreciate it so much if you could go vote for me in that category! To vote, simply go here:

https://onebitevegan.com/one-bite-vegan-food-blogger-awards-2019/

You DO NOT have to vote in every category! Voting ends on APRIL 30, 2019!! Once you vote, you’ll be automatically entered to win a brand new Vitamix Ascent Series A2500!!! Talk about incentive! So go! Go vote for me now! Best new vegan blog category! Gooooo!

This beautiful new Vitamix (valued at over $500!) could be all yours— so go vote for me noooow!

Why I Ditched Chocolate (sort of)

Chocolate. Everyone loves chocolate. Well, my mom has actually always hated chocolate. And if you’re allergic you probably aren’t a fan of it either. Oh, and it’s also toxic to cats and can even be fatal if they ingest a bunch of it. But the point is, most people do enjoy chocolate, myself included.

Even though I’ve been a chocolate fan my whole life, I’ve always been picky about the types of chocolate I consumed. For some reason, I never liked chocolate cake, and I also don’t like chocolate ice cream. Growing up (and still to this day) my favorite forms of chocolate were brownies, muffins (which do not taste the same as cake!) and candies of all sorts– chocolate bars filled with practically whatever, truffles, and pretty much anything that was covered in chocolate, especially pretzels.

Huge, decadent and delicious vegan chocolate muffin — my first 100% vegan treat when I began my path toward veganism.

Going down this chocolate memory lane is indeed nostalgic, and makes it even more obvious as to why I was extremely proud of myself when, after going vegan, I managed to cut out chocolate just like that. I guess I didn’t necessarily have to do this because I live in one of the vegan capitals of the world, where practically any food that exists can be found in vegan form. But the first several months of being vegan was filled with me trying to navigate this new world of eating and my thoughts really weren’t “where can I find vegan chocolate?”. And anyway, before I officially went vegan and I was still in my “vegan trial period”, I actually did have a decadent, giant chocolate muffin from a vegan bakery– and like most omni’s trying vegan junk food for the first time, I was shocked that something that good was vegan.

But as time went on, I eventually tried vegan chocolate in all its glory– not only chocolate treats but I’d had several types of granola bars featuring chocolate that were made by some of the big names in vegan snacks.

However, a few months ago, I started following an organization on Instagram called the Food Empowerment Project (F.E.P). Their goal is to bring awareness to food accessibility throughout the world, and they also shine a light on food injustices in the form of child labor and/or slavery in food production, and how the food choices we make affect the environment, animals and people.

I loved what they were about because it aligned with what I was about and what I wanted to learn about and spread awareness of in the vegan community and perhaps more importantly, outside of the vegan community. One day, a specific post on their Instagram page caught my eye and it prompted me to download the associated app that the F.E.P had created– it had to do with none other than: chocolate.

According to the F.E.P, chocolate, or more specifically, cocoa production, was an industry that had a huge hand in utilizing child and/or slave labor. As a person of color, this was disturbing to me on a personal level, especially being that my Instagram and blog were built on a premise of intersectional veganism, where the injustices of one group are intertwined with the injustices of many groups. I couldn’t continue to fight for the rights of animals and not do something to show that I was also against the exploitation of children and others who were being utilized as slaves in many African countries.

The app that the F.E.P created, called the Chocolate List was meant to be used as a resource to discover which brands of chocolate are sourced ethically and which brands are not. The below screenshot is an example– there are three sections on the app; “R” stands for recommended, “NR” stands for not recommended, and “M” stands for mixed meaning that the brand uses ethically sourced cocoa for some of its products but not all of them. Even with this powerhouse list available to me, I was a little perplexed about some things, which prompted me to start doing my own research.

Screenshot of the Chocolate List app for iOS, created by the Food Empowerment Project.

I’d go to a store and decide I wasn’t gonna buy chocolate from brands that weren’t recommended, but at the same time I’d see some of those not recommended brands with labels slapped across them like “fair trade certified”.

It was confusing to say the least.

I wondered why these brands were not on the recommended list when I’d read so much information that stated that fair trade farms did not use slave labor. In addition to that, some of these brands stated directly on their website that their chocolate was, in fact, sourced ethically via fair trade farms.

So what was going on? Why was the information from the brands conflicting with the information from the F.E.P?

I decided I had to go straight to the source to uncover where the disconnect was. I emailed the F.E.P and anxiously awaited their response as to why some brands that publicly stated they used ethically sourced cocoa were being place on the not recommended list by the F.E.P. When I received a response to my email, the result was quite unfortunate but it opened my eyes further to the lies we are told everyday by the people who run the largest companies and corporations in the world.

An employee and rep for the F.E.P explained that the companies on the “NR” list are there because they source their cocoa from countries and regions “…where the worst forms of child labor, including slavery, is most prevalent.”

You see, the F.E.P creates their ethically sourced cocoa list “…based on the country of origin… and not “…on certifications based on how problematic they have been found to be.”

Apparently, some fair trade certified farms still utilize child slave labor even with the fair trade certification. How is that possible? I wondered the same thing. I presume it all goes back to politics and the bottom line which is money and production of the product. An unfortunate truth. Sure, the farmers in Africa may have a small say in the use of this illegal labor– but most of that weight should come upon the huge corporations that are using these farms– it is they who have the resources to ensure that the cocoa they need is produced under ethical standards. These companies absolutely have the manpower and money to ensure that proper wages and working conditions are in place, and that child slave labor is not used on these farms, especially if those farms have already undergone the process of declaring themselves “fair trade”.

Chocolate is a sweet treat that most of us enjoy — but at what cost?

In the same response email, the F.E.P employee suggested that I watch Shady Chocolate, a documentary that showcases the ills of cocoa production within the industry. I was also given another resource to seek out; a report that was released last May: The Global Business of Forced Labour Report of Findings— this report showcases how prevalent child and slave labor, human trafficking and even kidnapping have been in West African countries that are key players in the cocoa industry. In the report, linked above, the cocoa industry findings begin on page 26.

I watched the documentary, eager to learn more. I had already committed to not eating chocolate from brands on the NR list, but the documentary sealed the deal for me. It was sickening to see the normalization of child and slave labor, and to see footage of a child crying after being trafficked to a neighboring country via bus, dropped off and left there to eventually be exploited for slave labor.

Please watch the documentary. I truly believe that it may spark something in you to want to purchase your chocolate more responsibly. This issue goes to the very heart of everything I believe in and am fighting for. When we have so many options available to us in 2019 when it comes to purchasing and enjoying products that contain cocoa responsibly, why would we pay people to use child and slave labor just so we can enjoy something sweet for a few moments?

I also urge you to download the app and use it as a resource when buying chocolate products. I feel the need to mention that this is completely unsponsored, but instead is stemming from my own journey and experience as I learn more about everything we buy and take into our bodies.

If you’re reading this, then you are likely blessed to have many resources available to you to that allow you to live, survive and even thrive in your life, such as a place to live, a phone, and food to eat. But chocolate is not a necessity in life– it is a luxury. That is all the more reason why you should try to purchase it responsibly. Don’t pay to support child labor and slavery. Once I understood that this is what I was doing, I knew I could no longer continue to do it with a clear conscious, especially not for a luxury food item.

Thank you for reading this blog post and please use your time and energy to seek out more responsible ways to get your food. Visit the links in the above paragraphs as a start to learn more. It all begins with us and as previously mentioned, we have a wealth of options available in this world to cause the least harm possible when it comes to what’s on our plates, so why not give it a shot?

Close-up chocolate image courtesy of Pixabay via Pexels.com.

*Product Review*: The Impossible Burger

So, I finally tried the Impossible Burger. I say that with a tinge of guilt because there is some debate within the vegan community as to whether or not this burger is a legit plant-based meat substitute. Not because of the way it tastes, but because of how it’s been created.

So, before I get to the review, let’s start from the beginning…

Impossible Foods launched back in 2016, revolutionizing the vegan food market with the Impossible Burger— a plant-based burger made with their exclusive, primary ingredient, soy leghemoglobin. Supposedly, this burger looked, tasted and felt like the “real” thing — or what omnivores know to be a burger when it is comprised of beef derived from cows. It was a hit– all over vegan Instagram were pictures of the vegan bleeding burger. What was responsible for that redness that made it look like you had a medium to medium-well burger on your plate? You guessed it; that key ingredient of soy leghemoglobin.

This isn’t an Impossible Burger– but the Impossible is pretty dang close. Now, you can have your burger juicy, meaty and cruelty-free.

Sound great so far?

Well, it almost was until it was revealed that Impossible Foods had conducted animal testing using lab rats to create this phenomenal new burger.

What?!?

Why would they need to conduct animal testing to create a vegan burger? And doesn’t that go against the values of the vegan community? Like not harming animals? And being cruelty-free?

Good point. Yes. Yes. And yes.

To answer everything inquiring minds wanted to know (myself included), the CEO of Impossible Foods released an official statement for the company entitled The Agonizing Dilemma of Animal Testing. The statement explained (in part) that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has specific requirements when it comes to “uncommon ingredients” getting the stamp of approval for human consumption. Impossible Foods’ exclusive heme protein, soy leghemoglobin, was indeed considered an uncommon ingredient. To meet the rigorous requirements of the FDA, Impossible Foods decided that they would conduct experiments using animal testing to ensure the FDA that the protein was safe for humans to eat.


“The billions of people around the world who love meat and fish and dairy foods will not be persuaded to stop consuming these foods by pleading or arguing or encouraging them to try a plant-based diet.”

Pat Brown, The Agonizing Dilemma of Animal Testing

I highly suggest reading the statement (linked in the previous paragraph) because if you read it with an open mind, and more importantly, an open heart, you may see the bigger picture that Pat Brown, the CEO of Impossible Foods, likely has. According to Brown, heme, an iron-containing compound that gives beef that distinct taste and flavor is essential to creating meat substitutes because omnivores crave that taste and flavor. This is an argument I am totally here for because one of my motivating factors as a plant-based recipe developer is that flavors and seasoning and texture are what we are really looking for when we eat our food — we don’t need animal flesh to get that stuff! In addition to their mission to recreate beef flavors in plant-based burgers, Impossible Foods does purposely and specifically seek to change the way omnivores look at vegan food. According to a rep for the company at the recent Natural Foods Expo West convention in California, Impossible Foods’ audience is a “meat-eater” and so they “target first and foremost” just that… meat-eaters.1

Initially, when I discovered the animal testing scandal, I was totally anti-Impossible. I hadn’t tried the burger yet and I didn’t plan on doing so. I even messaged a popular vegan chef when I saw him partaking of an Impossible burger in one of his stories, essentially asking him if he thought it was an ethically okay choice to consume that burger given the animal testing. He ignored me. And I’m glad he did. And by the way, if that vegan chef ever happens to read this and you remember me messaging you about your burger, I’m sorry I bothered you but I was very much in my feelings about that lab testing. I’ve since reconciled our relationship, and at this point, my views on the matter have shifted– quite a bit actually.

Hopefully, animal testing in labs because of FDA restrictions will one day be a thing of the past.

Similar to a point I made in my last blog post about boycotting businesses that don’t meet many of our ethical and moral vegan standards, the same idea applies here. I now feel we have to look at the bigger picture and fight for the greater good. Sometimes we have to make small sacrifices to achieve astronomical results. Losing the life of a few to save the lives of hundreds of thousands is still a difficult choice, but it’s one that does show hope and progress toward a place that is so much better than the one we are in now. Impossible Foods is working toward a vegan revolution, and I think all vegans can agree that this is definitely something we can get behind. This may not be everyone’s view but it’s where I stand, and judging by the success of the Impossible Burger, it’s the mindset of many other vegans as well.

With that, let’s get on to the review part! First, let me say that I’m a BIG burger fan. I’ve been obsessed with burgers since I was a kid, so trying the many vegan versions that exist has been intriguing but in the back of my mind, I always knew these burgers had large buns– I mean shoes, to fill. I know, I know– insert corny joke here.

I tried the Impossible Burger via the slider version that is being sold at White Castle. Wow. It’s good. It’s really good. Everything they promise is there: “meaty flavor” and texture are on point for sure. It would taste a lot better with some vegan cheese, but then again, what doesn’t taste better with cheese? But even without the cheese, it stands up to the challenge of recreating a great, flavorful burger that is cruelty-free. It’s also filling — I had my sliders with fries but tried to focus on eating the sliders first to get the flavor profile and see how it went down in my tummy. The pieces were grinding apart in my mouth the same way I remember ground beef doing, and it’s weird because while chewing, some parts reminded me of meat but then other times I could tell it wasn’t meat– but I’m unsure if the latter part was psychological and simply a byproduct of me knowing that I was, in fact, eating plants.

Impossible Burger sliders at White Castle– yup, they’re legit.

Honestly speaking, I believe this burger would hands down fool a hungry omnivore, however, it isn’t a doppelganger for beef. Upon closer inspection, you can definitely tell it’s a plant-based substitute. Personally, that doesn’t bother me one bit, and I know a lot of vegans actually prefer that, as a reminder of the dead and likely tortured animals they used to consume is not something they want on their plates. But again, the goal is to convert as many omnis as possible– and we have to bring them in with what they know to be familiar already.

I really want to try this in a bigger burger form, so I might even do a second part to this review when I get a chance to have another Impossible Burger. And now is the perfect time to do so, because in January of this year, Impossible Foods released the Impossible Burger 2.0— an updated, gluten-free version of the patty. I’m excited to try it and I’m looking forward to seeing what Impossible Foods will come up with next. Have you already tried the Impossible Burger? What did you think? Do you have an opinion on Impossible Foods conducting animal testing to get the green light on the burger? Let me know in the comments below!

References:

1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nbf-Mz7-0mU (begins at 5:00; video courtesy of The Vegan Zombie)

https://vegnews.com/2017/8/impossible-foods-ceo-speaks-out-about-animal-testing

https://vegnews.com/2019/1/impossible-foods-unveils-impossible-burger-20

https://impossiblefoods.app.box.com/s/27skctwxb3jbyu7dxqfnxa3srji2jevv

Burger and fries image courtesy of Engin Akyurt via Pexels.com

Lab image courtesy of Pixababy via Pexels.com