Vegan Bytes #10: Springing Forward

Welcome to the newsletter that focuses on helping you learn more about veganism and how to apply it to your daily life. The Vegan Bytes Newsletter is dedicated to keeping you up-to-date with the world of food, and answering your vegan nutrition questions.

In this issue...

*Thoughts: Why peanuts shouldn't freak you out
*New pages... Now YOU can share your opinions
*New VIP Password Page: Beat vegan gas (not the kind that goes in your car!)
*Your questions: Is free-range all it's cracked up to be?
*Recipe of the Month: Tempeh Bacon

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It's not the peanuts...
It's the state of our food industry

Warning: The details in this section are disgusting...

It's not the peanuts, or the tomatoes, or the jalapenos or the spinach; it's the state of our food industry!

I'm sure we've all heard about the peanut scare in early January and February of this year; 500 people became sick and seven died from salmonella poisoning linked back to a peanut factory.

The guilty Blakely, GA plant is owned by the Peanut Corporation of America, of Lynchburg, VA. In response to the illnesses, the plant recalled all products ever produced at the facility, filed for bankruptcy, and then subsequently closed down.

At the plant, there were roaches, mold, a leaking roof, feathers and feces over food prep areas, and other completely disgusting things. There are reports from an ex-worker at the plant that he saw rats in the roaster that were then blended in with the peanuts, and he often saw rat droppings in the food prep area.

In addition, even after the plant knew their products had salmonella, they kept shipping food to the consumers.

And, this salmonella outbreak wasn't even the first on record for the factory. On twelve separate occasions, the plant had been found to have the bacteria in its products, but they never cleaned up the production lines.

In 2006 and 2007, the Agriculture Department repeatedly found that same plant to be in violation of cleanliness standards. There were gaps in the doors large enough for rodents to enter, rusty equipment near food areas, unmarked spray bottles, open peanut butter containers, and other unclean surfaces.

The sad thing is that this plant is not the exception to the rule, but rather an example of how poorly regulated our food industry is.

When it comes to slaughterhouses and animal agriculture facilities, there are so many facilities and so few inspectors that many of them are very infrequently visited. When they are visited for inspection, the inspection simply can't cover the entire enormous farm, so it's a cursory check.

This particular company suffered a loss of one plant, but in the grand scheme of things, because they filed for bankruptcy, it's not a huge punishment. The company has many other plants and losing one is often easier and cheaper than improving the quality of its facilities.

What can we do?

Keep being outraged. Keep talking about this, keep reading about it, and keep telling people about it. Though negative word of mouth may make only a small dent, you may also ignite more outrage and eventually make a difference.

Think about writing a letter to the USDA and FDA asking that more inspectors be ordered onto food production facilities, and slaughterhouses.

Consider buying locally made foods from smaller production facilities.

In the case of peanut butter, you could make your own by buying shelled peanuts, shelling them, and grinding them with a good quality blender. It does seem like a drastic and inconvenient change to make, but it should prevent you from contracting salmonella.

Like many websites, Vegan Nutritionista is constantly growing and changing, and if you signed up for this newsletter a long time ago, you might not have read our new information. Our blog page keeps you up-to-date with new articles on the site.

Click here to go to our blog for updates on the site.

Exciting Developments on the Site

The most exciting new thing on Vegan Nutritionista is that we are now able to take submissions from you... the reader!

That's right. Just like on wikipedia, flickr, and MySpace, you can now write comments, share tips, and rate other comments all on our site.

Eventually, I will be adding a forum for asking and answering questions, and many new places to share what you know and read what other people know. I hope to give you all a friendly, accessible place not only to find information, but to share it as well.

Do you have an amazing recipe that you always pull out of your hat when someone is doubting vegan food, or when you want to pull the ol' bait and switch? You know, the one where you serve something amazing, wait for everyone to say they love it, and then tell them it's made with tofu or without cheese?

Click here to share your all-time best vegan recipe now. You can also view other people's recipes, comment on them, and rate them.

The second sharing page lets you talk about soy. People debate openly about the benefits or drawbacks to a diet high in soy. Some show statistics about soy's healing attributes and others show it leads to cancers.

What do you think about the controversy?

Click here to share your opinion on soy products. You can also comment on other people's submissions, as well as rate them.

Vegan Bytes Insider Password

The following page is created just for Vegan Bytes Insiders... it's a special hidden page that only you can see, and it's my way of thanking you for reading each month.

The following page is password-protected and will require a password from you. This password will change occasionally and you will always find the most current password in the most current Vegan Bytes Newsletter.

p.s. case sensitive

Vegan Chemical-Free Gas Remedies
The one negative drawback to eating a vegan diet is that you often eat more fiber than the typical person. Doesn't sound negative, right? Well, it can be for your digestive system. Never fear though... I have researched and found several amazing, natural, chemical-free gas remedies.

Take A Fruit Bouquet Workshop
Fruit Bouquets are a creative way to show someone you care, without having to cut flowers or buy chocolates. Take this workshop to learn how to make your own fruit baskets, including pineapple daisies, chocolate-covered strawberries, and grape tulips.

Learn All About Nut Cheeses
Vegan cheeses are abundant in grocery stores across the world, but most of them are still lacking something. Tree nut cheeses are the fabulous and new (somewhat) addition to the vegan world, and their flavor is unparalleled.

"Isn't it okay just to eat free-range?"

Dear Cathleen,

I am wondering what your stance is on someone who eats free-range, cage-free, organic, naturally raised animals/animal products? What would you say to that person? My fiance (who does eat meat) and I often get into that debate.

~Amy, Colorado

Hi Amy,

First, I think it's great that someone cares enough about trying to reduce the suffering of animals to pay a little more for their meat and dairy products by getting free-range, etc food. Especially if they are cutting back on the amount of animals they eat, they are making a difference over the typical American/Western diet.

Second, I would definitely encourage both you and your fiance not to try to convince each other to eat one way or another. I find that when we try to pressure others to eat according to our beliefs, it may work for some time, but eventually that person is going to lose sight of why they are eating that way, and will eventually revert back to their prior way of eating. People have to do things at their own pace and for their own reasons. In my experience, the best way to sway someone is by setting a great example. Be happy with your eating choices and others are more likely to follow.

Now, if I were to get in a respectful debate about that question, the answer could either be short and sweet, or more drawn out. The short and sweet is that I simply don't believe that animals are meant for human consumption, regardless of how they are raised.

Longer answer...

Peter Singer is often called the father of veganism, simply because he has an indisputable argument that the assumption by humans that we are more important than other species of animals is speciesm (Animal Liberation) Philosophers can't find a way to argue with his point. Much like how people used to think that Africans were a lower form of human, speciesists believe humans are a higher form of being than other animals.

Ultimately, all beings suffer, and who's to say a cow's suffering is any less important on a grand scale of suffering than ours? And, by that measure, why do we not think it's alright to let humans suffer and eat them? Many animals are at least as smart as toddlers and mentally challenged adults, and we would never think of eating them. So, that's one argument.

You can look at it from a food chain perspective-- humans aren't made with carnivore bodies. We have blunt teeth and nails and a long digestive tract (not conducive to meat that starts to rot in our bodies). We more closely resemble an orangutan or chimpanzee than a meat eater like a lion or leopard. So, the "natural" way would be for us to forage for edible plants and possibly also eat insects.

Of course, we aren't in the wild, so in more practical terms, there is no cruelty-free way to eat animals. Eating another animal is cruelty.

In addition, the labeling system in our food system has seriously gone to junk. "Free-range" and "cage-free" mean almost nothing, the term "organic" is constantly under scrutiny, and "naturally raised" is just a way for factory farmers to make money on unsuspecting bleeding hearts. I don't mean to sound so cynical about our food system, but it is widely known to be in a bad state right now.

Another argument that you can use is that regardless of how they are raised, animals eaten by humans is one of the largest contributors to climate change on Earth right now. Animals consume far more resources (water, grains, energy) than even the entire transportation industry combined. To truly make a difference for the environment, you should cut back or eliminate your consumption of animal products.

Also, if people are eating free-range for their health, the marginal difference between those animals isn't enough to make up for the cholesterol and illness that comes from eating animal products. From a health perspective, you can avoid (and sometimes reverse) critical illnesses by sticking to a plant based diet.

There are so many ways to go with that debate. As long as you remain respectful and remember the time before you learned about animals, you can have a great impact on someone else's life talking it through. I hope that helps!


Recipe of the Month

Tempeh Bacon

Tempeh is fermeted soybeans that are packed tightly together into a brick. It has a nutty flavor, but can easily be seasoned to take on other flavors, which is why it's great in this bacon recipe. You can find it in the refrigerated section of the grocery in vacuum-sealed plastic.

The longer you let this marinate, the smokier and baconier it gets. That may creep you out, or it may make you happy, but it's something to note. It's delicious on a sandwich or with a tofu scramble for breakfast, or just on its own.

When you steam tempeh first, it takes some of the bitterness out, and allows it to more easily absorb the flavors you give it.


1 200 g. package of tempeh
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
4 Tbsp. soy sauce or Braggs
1 Tbsp. smoke flavoring
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 c. water
4 Tbsp. oil


Cut the tempeh in strips and steam for 10 minutes. This helps to soften it and allows it to absorb the marinade.

While the tempeh is steaming, mix together the soy sauce, water, maple syrup, smoke, and garlic in a flat dish.

Marinte the tempeh in the liquid ingredients for anywhere from a few minutes to overnight (depending on how much flavor you want it to have.)

When you're ready to cook the tempeh, preheat a saute pan with the oil. Cook the first side for 4-5 minutes, until brown.

Flip the tempeh and deglaze the pan with any leftover marinade or some water, and cook the second side until it browns, about 3-4 minutes.


That's all for this month!! I hope you enjoyed reading it.

Comments? Feedback? Ideas? I'd love to hear from you. My website is here to help you, and I love to hear feedback on how to better do so. Just use my contact page and let me know what you think.

Next time I send you a newsletter it will officially be spring! Have a great month!


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