SisTot Vegans: Fair Trade Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the 4 year Old’s Birthday Party

Kira-Satya, My 21 month old daughter, enjoying a cupcake.

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Here is the the kick-off blog piece for SisTot Vegans.

Kira-Satya, My 21 month old daughter, enjoying a cupcake.
Kira-Satya, My 21 month old daughter, enjoying a cupcake.

I made these yesterday morning for my 4 year old’s birthday party. They were a fantastic hit, enjoyed by everyone. I surprised quite a few non-vegan folk who didn’t know that it was possible to make a superior tasting cupcake without eggs, animal based butter, and animal based milk.  I enjoyed photographing my masterpiece.

I got the chocolate cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Save the World via Chow website.  I did my own modifications for the recipe. Because the birthday party was for 2-6 years olds, I thought it would be a good idea to reduce the sugar that the recipe calls for by 50% and replace it with coconut sugar which has a low glycemic index and can prevent the crash and burn hyper kid syndrome that many birthday cupcakes are known to produce. I also ended up using 50% less sugar for the vegan butter cream frosting recipe as well (I used my own recipe for the buttercream frosting which I will share towards the end of this post).

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What makes these cupcakes special is that they are not only vegan and organic; most of the ingredients I used came from brands that are much more ethical than many other brands selling vegan foods. This is because ‘cruelty-free’ vegan products often promote the idea that cruelty-free means no non-human animal may have been directly harmed or killed, but the way the ingredient were sourced could come from human exploitation and abuse which is common-place within a capitalist food system built on racialized and sexualized exploitation. My dissertation explored this phenomenon of “cruelty-free” vegan products that are marketed as compassionate and sustainable, despite the human suffering and pain that had gone into producing them…and the disturbing reaction of so many food companies and pro-vegan patrons who do not care about this. *I used coconut manna to make my buttercream frosting. I love coconut manna and everyone agreed that the frosting was fantastic because of the fullness of taste and texture that the coconut manna brought. 

Buttercream Vanilla Frosting Ingredients

3/4 cup Nutiva Buttery Spread

1/4 cup Coconut Manna

1/2 cup Coconut Oil

3/4 cup of Confectioner’s sugar (I made my own using the Dry Vitamix blender container and putting in the Coconut Sugar)

Instructions: Whip all ingredients on high, using a mixer, until creamy and fluffy. Apply to cupcakes once they are cooled down.

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Here are the brands I used for cocoa, sugar, coconut oil, shortening, vanilla, and coconut manna that were fairly traded, vegan, and hopefully caused the least amount of suffering (in comparison to other brands).

And here is the recipe book where the cupcake recipe is from by Moskowitz and Romero: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Click on the image to get it now!


Like what the Sistah Vegan Project Does? Donate and/or Find out about our upcoming projects and books.
Also, download the Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matters spring 2015 conference recordings and learn about our 2016 conference, ” The Role of Foodie+Tech Culture in an Era of Systemic Racism and Neoliberal Capitalism (Challenges and Possibilities).

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Finally, a FAIR TRADE Vegan Butter that is ORGANIC and More SUSTAINABLY SOURCED!

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A lot of vegans I know use Earth Balance for their vegan butter. I stopped using Earth Balance awhile ago, after I wrote my dissertation and discovered that, at least for me, they are not as ‘ethical’ as they market themselves to be. The sourcing of their coconut and palm oil was not transparent. I did not know if the human laborers harvesting their ingredients were being treated fairly (actually, I don’t like the word ‘fairly’ so much. I like the words ‘mindfully’, ‘lovingly’ ,and ‘compassionately’ when describing the conditions in which human beings should be entitled to work/exist within.)

At the market, I saw that the company Nutiva is offering a vegan butter spread that is  organic, more sustainably sourced, and “Fair For Life” certified. I have been enjoying Nutiva’s products for years, as they offer healthy, organic, vegan and sustainably sourced items for quite a while. Their hemp products have been consumed by my family, for years. I have blogged about how I grew all my babies on Nutiva brands of hempseed oil, hemp seeds, and chia seeds. I found this new buttery product by Nutiva to be quite good and not nearly as salty as Earth Balance  ( I personally do not like salty butter spreads). I’m also grateful to see that the packaging is non-BPA (however, people are so focused on BPA-free I am wondering about other potentially harmful chemicals in packaging that not only effect the consumer, but also those who must make it in factories and the environment it usually ends up polluting). I’m just hoping that eventually these containers can be compostable. One of my biggest gripes about vegan products that tout themselves to be ‘so ethical’, is that the packaging is obnoxiously wasteful. I know a lot of resources are used to even make compostable packaging, however, I’d argue that this is far less cruel to the environment than the current packaging options used by many companies making food products, vegan or not.

(But, this post isn’t really directly about Nutiva’s buttery spreads, is it Breeze?)

It is safe to say that many of us privileged vegan consumers need to understand that MOSTLY everything we eat( unless otherwise noted via fair labor/trade practices) is mostly likely sourced via CRUEL methods. Yes, a non-human animal may not have been directly harmed in many our favorite snacks, drinks, meals, etc., but what about the human animals? There has been a lot of focus on fair trade and organic cocoa and coffee for years, but one must understand that this is just the tip of the iceberg. We live in a globalized capitalist world economy. By default, capitalism = exploitation of non-human animals, human animals, and what human beings (at least here in the global North) call natural resources (i.e. water, land, minerals, etc). I get a lot of people arguing with me about my definition of capitalism = exploitation as being just plain pessimistic. For the record, I draw my understanding and definitions from Henri Lefebvre, Neil Smith and Angela Davis to name a few; critical thinkers who have written and researched extensively about how capitalism is the anti-thesis of cruelty-free. Capitalism CANNOT exist without exploitation and abuse. Hence, if you are buying vegan certified products, because they are within the globalized system of capitalist economies/commodity chains, there is a very small chance that they are actually ‘cruelty-free’ beyond ‘no non-human animal was directly killed for this product to be in existence.’ I talk about this in my blog post from a few months ago, in which I critique a pro-vegan meme that suggests strawberry harvesting and ‘cruelty-free’ in comparison to watching videos of slaughterhouse animals.

Anyway, I just wanted to leave you with a few of the things that were going through my head while testing this new Nutiva product out. I really have no answers about how to create cruelty-free products that really encompass my definition of ‘fair’.  I perhaps am pessimistic, but it would seem that is is capitalism that is the problem. Even with ‘green capitalism’, it is unclear to me that that is ‘fair’, as there are many communities that are forced to sell their resources even under ‘fair’ and ‘green’ practices when they’d rather just not be part of any economy based on capitalist logic; however, because it may mean poverty or not, many of these communities must become part of ‘green capitalism’ in order to survive versus just doing their own thing outside of capitalist logic.

I would love to hear what people think about this. I know comments may already be heavily biased towards the consumer-privileged end, as it’s rare that I have any posting as the person who harvests vegan resources (because I’d imagine that would be a completely differently embodied knowledge about the commodity chain that is not romanticized through the eyes of neoliberal capitalism).

Anyway, I just wanted to give a shout out to Nutiva brands anyway. They may not be perfect, but I think so far, they are a better example of ethically sourced and produce vegan products. But, unless you are the person working on that plantation in which these ingredients are sourced, you will never know how cruelty-free and ‘fair’ it is. And I think that is what a lot of people on the ‘privileged’ end of vegan consumerism need to ALWAYS REMEMBER. Just because a company’s label claims it is ‘fair’ or ‘cruelty-free’, doesn’t mean you should accept it without thinking more deeply about it. I know I probably won’t be buying this product again, but wanted to check it out and let people know about it. I use local sourced olive oil for our family’s ‘buttery’ needs. What is the likelihood that people working on these plantations have access to using social media to constantly tweet and Facebook about the conditions in which they work and live? Thus far, all the ‘information’ I receive about new ‘ethical’ products come from the consumer/company end and not the end of the actual people harvesting and living there. I do not want to imply that Nutiva is dishonest– I just wanted to put it out there that you just don’t know if you aren’t there where the resources come from.

(IF YOU SEE ANY TYPOS IN THIS POST, FEEL FREE TO POINT THEM OUT. MY COMPUTER SCREEN IS BROKEN. I NEED TO SEE THROUGH PINK AND PURPLES LINES IN ORDER TO TYPE. ) 

 

Foraging in my neighborhood: is it a privilege?

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I like to forage while I walk from home to get the kids from nursery school. I push them back up the hill in our double stroller and it takes 80-90 minutes. On the way, we eat herbs and fruit that grow every where. Plums, Meyer lemons, figs, blackberries, rosemary, and lemon verbena to name a few.

Yesterday I passed by a beautiful bush with clear purple berries. See photo above. Do you know what it is?

Is foraging a privilege or not? I feel like it is for me, for the most part. I live in North Berkeley. Most people who have a house here can afford a little land and have it landscaped professionally. For the renters of apartments and homes, the landlords do the same to the land. They have edible plants planted, but it seems more aesthetic than to eat for these residents. Why do I think this? The fruit usually ends up falling to the ground and rotting. So, this waste bothers me, so I try collect as much as I can, while walking down the sidewalk. If it’s on an apartment building complex, I do the same. I make sure that I’m picking from plants in which it is obvious no one cares to use or harvest it. If residents don’t want passerbys forage, they post signs stating that and I respect those wishes. At the same time, I try to be careful of how I forage and where. I know many may not want to hear this, but as a visibly Black person, I try to make sure when it is appropriate to forage. My area doesn’t have many Black folk and I worry that I may be read as ‘stealing’ or ‘trespassing’ when I forage, vs. when, say, white looking people do. I am acutely aware that whenever someone is arrested in the area for home break ins, I see the cops arresting a Black person 90% of the time. Again, I wonder what this does to the perception of the non Black residents who live there. Just some food for thought…

I also think about whether or not there is a connection to rises or declines in urban foraging to gentrification happening in the SF Bay area. Anyone have a take on that?

Also, do you forage? If so, why or why not? Like how I write? Wanna support more? Check out my 3rd book project about Black male vegan heroes: gofundme

 

 

Pineapple Mint Sorbetto: What is Your Favorite Vegan Ice Cream or Sorbet Place in East Bay/SF Bay California?

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This morning we went to Almare Gelato in downtown Berkeley, CA on Shattuck Ave. They have freshly made gelato and sorbetto every day using natural ingredients. Today Luna (above in the photo, 2.5 years old), Kira (5 months), and Sun (5 years) had Pineapple Mint sorbetto and it was fantastic. They also had kiwi as well as strawberry sorbetto, but our favorite was the pineapple mint combination. There were even fresh mint leaves in the sorbetto, not the fake crap.

Almare Gelato’s sorbetto flavors are very rich and creamy. I have never experienced such creamy soft sorbetto in the USA. We had this type of sorbetto when we were in Italy (of course), so I’m pleasantly surprised that we have

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                                (Sun and Luna)

access to similar experiences here in the East Bay area of California.

Do you live in the SF Bay/East Bay area? If so, what are your favorite vegan frozen dessert places?

Breeze Harper is a Bitch…

Breeze Harper is a Bitch Magazine interviewee, that is! Hey the title made you click :-)

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If you like Bitch Magazine, I just wanted to let you know that I am in the latest Food issue for this month. I have a VERY long interview in the magazine. I talk about Sistah Vegan Project, decolonial food politics, critical whiteness issues, animal compassion and more.

It was a lovely interview with Vera Chang. Her set of questions were one of the best, well-thought out, and critical inquiries into the Sistah Vegan Project that I have ever experienced during an interview. You can go here to check out the latest issue. People can download the digital copy or the paper copy. Also, Bitch Magazine is sold in a lot of stores throughout the USA.

Vegan Pizza Makes Baby Happy

 

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My favorite place to eat pizza is in Fairfax, CA at Good Earth Natural Foods Grocery. With the exception of the Daiya cheese, all their pizza ingredients are organic. I can even get a custom made vegan and gluten-free pizza! The other week, we ordered a mushroom and roasted garlic pizza with Daiya cheese. Yummy! But, I think my 2 year old daughter’s expression really shows how enjoyable it was.

 

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Eva Luna is full and happy, her face freshly cleaned… Thanks Good Earth!

If you’re in the Fairfax, CA area, I highly recommend you check them out, as well as the Fairfax Scoop, my favorite ice cream shoppe offering vegan ice cream and sorbet.

In other Sistah Vegan news, please check out the Sistah Vegan Web Conference happening September 14, 2013, from 10am-6pm PST.

What could make these babies so happy?

What could make my 2 and this 4 year olds so happy!?

Ice cream. Vegan ice cream from Curbside Creamery in Oakland, California. They had a little stand up in Temescal this summer. I became excited to see that they offered non-soy based vegan ice cream. It is based on nuts and it was fantastic! They open up this fall in Oakland. Check it out here: Curbside Creamery

In other news, Sistah Vegan is gearing up for our first annual critical race feminist oriented web conference, “Embodied and Critical Perspectives on Veganism by Black Women and Allies”. It is September 14, 2013. Go here for more details and registration information. 

Vegan Doughnut Burger: Antidote to ‘The Luther’ and ‘The Itis’ from Hella Vegan Eats, Oakland.

Ever watch The Boondocks? Well, here is the healthier vegan version of “The Luther”. LOL. I got it at Hella Vegan Eats. They’re in the East Bay CA area. Kamut beet patty with two toasted donuts. The Donuts were not that sweet at all! Was good! Yummy! And no, I didn’t get “the itis” after eating it.

Vegan Doughnut Burger.
Vegan Doughnut Burger.

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My kids, Sun (4 yrs) and Eva Luna (2 yrs) chomping away on the vegan ice cream pop called paleta.
My kids, Sun (4 yrs) and Eva Luna (2 yrs) chomping away on the vegan ice cream pop called paleta.

Also, check out the Sistah Vegan Web Conference “Embodied and Critical Perspectives on Veganism by Black Women and Allies”, which takes place September 14, 2013.