Vegan Deli

Vegan Deli  by Jo Stepaniak

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Raising Vegetarian Children
by Jo Stepaniak, M.S.Ed., & Vesanto Melina M.S., R.D.

Raising Vegetarian Children

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Do you have questions about being vegan? Send them to Jo using this easy form. She would be happy to address your individual concerns as well as general inquiries about vegan ethics, philosophy, practical applications, and living compassionately. Jo cannot respond to questions about nutrition or answer questions that have already been addressed in the Archives

Jo will make every attempt to answer each question personally, however, due to her schedule, this may not be possible. If a reply is forthcoming, it could take up to a few weeks, so please be patient. It is also possible that your question will be answered directly in the "Ask Jo!" column rather than an individual response.

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Is Coffee Vegan?

Is coffee vegan?

Technically speaking, all coffee is vegan. It is blended and ground from the roasted unripened fruit of a small tree known as the coffee plant.

Coffee is vital to the economies of more than 50 tropical countries. The two largest producers of coffee today are Brazil and Colombia. Coffee plantations also abound in other South and Central American countries, Cuba, Hawaii, Indonesia, Jamaica, and several African nations. Growing and tending coffee plants involves handpicking the fruit, discarding the thin, parchment-like covering, and cleaning, drying, grading, and hand-inspecting the beans for color and quality.

Traditionally, coffee is a shade-grown plant. It also maintains a high cash value, second only to oil in the international market. Consequently, coffee has helped to preserve rainforest and ecological diversity, unlike beef production and the lumber industry which have slashed and burned precious forest. Unfortunately, nearly half the world's coffee producers have succumbed to technological "advancements" and are now producing sun-grown coffee in order to reap rapid yields and short-term economic gain. These mass production "advantages," however, exact an enormous toll. Sun-grown coffee requires heavier chemical inputs, is more costly to maintain, and drastically depletes the life-span of the plant. It also has transformed coffee plantations into ecological deserts where fauna and flora are unable to survive and land degradation, water pollution, and chemical poisoning are rampant. In addition, sun-grown coffee has decimated indigenous cultures who encounter ongoing health hazards and face economic devastation.

Coffee, like tea and cocoa, contains caffeine, a stimulant that affects many parts of the body including the nervous system, kidneys, heart, and gastric system. Caffeine can also be addictive. Decaffeinated coffee has had the caffeine removed by one of two methods before the beans are roasted. The first method is to chemically extract the caffeine with the use of a solvent. The solvent is washed out before the beans are dried, and the roasting process dissolves any remaining residues. The second method is called the "Swiss water process," which involves steaming the beans and then scraping away the caffeine-rich outer layers.

Some people believe that caffeine is harmful to our health. Others claim that the methods employed in growing coffee are unsound and unjust. From these perspectives, one could question whether coffee is indeed a vegan product. Certainly, the use of coffee is not one of the most exigent issues confronting vegans, and many might contend that what they do to their own bodies is solely their own business. Nevertheless, if coffee-drinking vegans are concerned about the humaneness, environmental soundness, or healthfulness of coffee -- as is appropriate for anyone attempting to live a fully compassionate life -- they can eliminate it or use it in moderation and seek out only sustainably-produced shade-grown coffee that is marketed in accordance with internationally recognized fair trade standards. Organic, shade-grown coffee can usually be found in food co-operatives, natural food stores, and some specialty coffee shops. If it is not labeled as such, be sure to inquire.




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Vegan Vittles:
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Vegan Vittles: Second Helpings by Jo Stepaniak

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The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook

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The Food Allergy
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