Happy Herbivore Blog

April 14, 2012

This Week's Q&A (Talking Tofu, B12 & More)

You've got questions, I've got answers!

1. I am just wondering if you think the fake meat items are healthy or not? I do realize they are not all created equal but can you give me any suggestions as to which are good and which are bad? What do I look for to assess these?

I think it's important to remember that all fake meats are heavily processed foods. Some are also down right junky -- made with oil, processed flour, preservatives and isolated soy proteins. Are they healthier than their meat counterparts? Sure, but are they a healthy food? No. Do I think a processed meat once in a while as a treat is okay as part of a whole foods, plant-based diet? Yes. I have a tofu dog from time to time and I'll buy the fake sausage for my husband once in awhile (usually for his birthday). I think fake meats and cheese can be helpful during transition, but overall they should accent the diet, not be a main player. We lived abroad all last year and now live in a small town where we don't have much access to the meats, and I think we're better off.

2. How much vitamin B12 supplement do you take and how often?

I don't take any supplements. If you are concerned with vitamin B12, I recommend reading this article by Dr. McDougall about a vitamin B12 deficiency.

3. I own Everyday Happy Herbivore, but was wondering about the Happy Herbivore Cookbook. Are the recipes in HCC as easy as the ones in EHH? Are they basically the same, just different recipes? 

Yes they are as easy, I use the same cooking style in all books; just different recipes and "themes".

4. Where's the best place to find Mori-Nu tofu? Do I have to order it online?

My supermarket (kroger) carries it, but it's on the shelf (not in the produce section) near quinoa and couscous. It was in the "asian" section of my supermarket in St. Maarten. Most supermarkets and health food stores should have it. You can get it online, too.

5. I'm trying to convert my 3-year old but it has been a big challenge. Do you have kid-friendly recipes? Do you have ideas on how to progressively transition her?

The Happy Herbivore Cookbook has a kid-friendly icon, indicating which recipes the testers kids like best, and and all of the recipes in Everyday Happy Herbivore were approved by my testers children. The Herbie Parents group is for parents, not specifically moms.

Start giving your child plant-based food immediately. Talk to her about why you aren't eating meat and dairy/eggs anymore. Give plenty of choices too -- instead of 1 option, allow her to have a muffin, or toast, or fresh fruit, etc. I find kids transition better when they have options and no one thing is forced.

6. I have noticed you use a lot of processed ingredients in your recipes. Ketchup, taco seasoning, etc. This is a bit of a turnoff for me. Is there a reason you do so? 

I use "Everyday" ingredients for ease -- making healthy, plant-based eating more approachable and easy for people. You can make your own taco seasoning (I have a blend in my cookbooks, but you can also find blend recipes online) and you can also use tomato sauce, or unsweetened ketchup (Westbrae makes a great brand), or again, make your own ketchup, which is pretty easy to do and worth the little effort it requires. 

While I personally strive to use as few processed foods as possible in my diet, I find it's not always possible or realistic for most people, myself included. I find using condiments sparingly is a good compromise

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