Are you a tofu master?

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Welcome!

Hello and welcome to this most fantastic of week-starters, the Staying Vegan newsletter!

I’m a bit excited this morning (I write in the morning, you read in the afternoon,) because… It’s Angela’s birthday!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANGELA!

If you don’t know who Angela is yet, in addition to being my partner in life she’s also my partner in this web stuff we do – if she wasn’t around, I honestly don’t know what the vegan web would look like. I’m beyond lucky to have her in my life, but trust, me, so are you!

Anyway, as birthdays tend to do, this one got me thinking about tofu. Yeah, I know, I need a holiday. Or maybe I need to share some new thoughts on learning, as prompted by thoughts on tofu, as prompted by thoughts on a birthday.

OK, let’s back up.

Thoughts on a birthday

We’re going to have a picnic lunch today (well, we already have by the time you’re reading this.) Sometimes people bug me because we don’t do a lot of recipes, so here are two:

We’re making tofu “egg” salad sandwiches for the picnic, which it turns out are remarkably similar to the chick pea “chicken” salad sandwiches that we’ve been rocking for a while now, because they’re basically one ingredient different.

Today I’m making the version from How It All Vegan, by request, but here’s a rough recipe for either sandwich off the top of my head (I’m writing this in a food court for some reason, and don’t have cookbooks or internet handy):

Take a quantity of tofu OR a quantity of (cooked or canned) chick peas and mash it up until there are still a few chunks left. Add a quantity of vegan mayo, a chopped green onion (CRITICAL!), some finely chopped celery, some spices (black pepper, tumeric, and cayenne work for me,) some relish or chopped pickles if you prefer, a tiny splash of lemon, and mix it up. Serve in a sandwich, or just eat the stuff as is.

There are lots of other variants, but that’ll get you going. If I had a recipe in front of me, I’d put quantities in there, but honestly this is one of those recipes where you want to wing it to your particular tastes – there’s a wide range of acceptable amounts for everything in there, and if you do it my way without measuring you can feel like a rock star chef who “just whips something up.”

And that could form the basis for my “World’s Most Imprecise Cookbook,” but there’s one other thing missing…

Thoughts on Tofu

That recipe, like most vegan recipes I see with tofu, “forgot” to talk about what kind of tofu to use. This has become more than a pet peeve of mine, and might just be a crusade now. I’ve turned this part of the newsletter into a whole post on Staying Vegan that you can read here.

Thoughts on Learning

OK, maybe you haven’t checked out the tofu post yet, so in case you didn’t, I’ve linked to a lesson we had as part of a 7 day cooking basics course we put together last year. I haven’t been pushing it for the past little while because I don’t think the format is as effective as it once was and I want to rework it a bunch.

Here’s what I’ve learned from the feedback we’ve gotten from that project though: we all know stuff, but we all don’t know different stuff, and we forget that what we know isn’t what other people know. I know, it’s awkward, so let’s break that down.

We all know stuff. Even the greenest (as in new) vegan out there knows something. It might just be “food goes here” (pointing to mouth,) but if you’ve chosen to go vegan, you must have a reason, no matter how “minor” it is, so if you don’t know any of the “how” you’ve got a piece of “why” figured out, at least for now. Compare veganism to, say, rocket science, to use a cliche. I know rockets use fire somehow. That’s about it, and I was trained as a physicist! The newest of new vegans knows more about veganism than I, with a piece of paper saying I know about physics, knows about rocket science. So congrtulations for knowing as much as you do!

We all don’t know different stuff. By this I mean that there are gaps in each of our knowledge bases, and some of those gaps are the same (I’ll guess that there aren’t a lot of us reading this who can talk in depth about what vitamin K is and does, for example,) but for a lot of things, especially things that some of you might think are basic elements, it turns out it’s a 50-50 mix of people who know it or don’t.

With that 7 day course, I found that most people already had abround 4 of the 7 days figured out already. The catch? Those 3 really valuable days were different for every person who told me about them. Which leads to the final part of the awkward sentence of the week:

We forget that what we know isn’t what other people know. We are, each and every one of us, “vegan micro-gurus.” I can almost guarantee that there’s some trick, fact, skill, or idea related to veganism living within you that nobody you know has ever heard of or seen. It might be super-basic, but here’s the kicker – it’s only super-basic to the people who know it!

Anyway, what this all comes down to is this: if you’re not learning, try teaching. If you see a post on Staying Vegan (or elsewhere) that covers something you’ve already got a good handle on, recognize that there are a lot of people for whom it’s totally new, and consider adding to the lesson, either on your own website or in the comments section. Even if it’s just a confirmation that the information is good, it’s going to help others out by validating what’s already there. And whether it’s online or in person, don’t be afraid to share your knowledge, even if – or especially if – it seems like a really simple thing that you thought everybody knows. In the worst case it’s going to start a discussion around the topic, which could lead to new ideas for both of you, and in the best case you’ve just helped someone learn something, and simple things are the best things to teach because they take so little time to make a difference in someone’s life.

Thanks!

Thanks again for being a subscriber, a commenter, and yes, a teacher, and for telling your friends about Staying Vegan. I really appreciate your feedback!

If you were forwarded this by a friend, please thank them for me! You can subscribe to your own copy by clicking the newsletter link at the top of any page on the site. If you’re a subscriber, consider forwarding this to a friend or five!

This newsletter goes out (almost) every Monday afternoon, see you next week!

Jason

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