The Benefits of Vegan Cuisine and Southwest Tempeh Chili Recipe

By Mark Reinfeld, Intent

Earth Day is the perfect day to commit to doing what you can to help preserve and protect our environment. Many do not realize that making changes to your diet is perhaps the most effective way to lighten our footprint on our fragile planet. Those accustomed to eating meat may shy away from some of the facts surrounding the environmental impact of an animal-based diet. The statistics are staggering and challenging to ignore.

A UN report entitled “Livestock’s Long Shadow” indicates that livestock production contributes to more greenhouse gasses than the entire world’s transportation industry combined. That’s a lot of gas! In addition to the global warming angle, there is a convincing case for switching to plant-based foods when you consider the following:

The environmental impact of a vegan diet is a fraction of that of a meat-based one. According to Conservation International, the average carbon emissions from an animal product based diet are 11 tons per year per person. The average emissions on a plant-based diet are six tons per year. Another interesting tidbit of information is that it takes approximately three acres of land and 2500 gallons of water a day to support an animal product based diet. A plant-based diet utilizes only 1/6 of an acre of land and 300 gallons of water a day. According to the USDA, one acre of land can produce 20,000 pounds of vegetables. This same amount of land can only produce 165 pounds of meat.

While all of this information may be persuasive on an intellectual level, when it comes to our food choices we are dealing with a primal instinct that is not so easy to change. At Vegan Fusion we specialize in helping people who want to include more vegan foods in their diet do so in a gentle and delicious manner. Many of our recipes are designed to replicate the tastes and textures of dishes that contain animal products, so there is never a feeling of deprivation. Here is one of our favorites, from the cookbook, Vegan Fusion World Cuisine:

Southwest Tempeh Chili

35 min prep / 25 min cooking / 5-6 servings

3/4 C Onion, chopped

1/2 Celery, chopped

1 Tbl minced Garlic

1 tsp Jalapeno pepper, roasted, seeded & minced

8-12 oz. Tempeh, cut into 1/8″ cubes

4 C Filtered water or vegetable stock

14.5 oz. Fire-roasted, crushed tomatoes

1 large Ancho chili, soaked in water until soft, seeded & minced

2 Tbl Tomato paste

1 Tbl Barley malt syrup, optional

1 C cooked & drained kidney or black beans or one 15-ounce can

1 C Corn, fresh or frozen

C Cashews, roasted, no salt, chopped

6 Tbl soy sauce, or to taste

1 Tbl Lime juice, fresh squeezed

1 Tbl Chili powder

1 tsp Cumin powder, toasted

Pinch Cayenne pepper, or to taste

Black pepper, ground to taste

Sea salt, to taste

3-4 drops Liquid smoke (optional)

1 Tbl Cilantro, minced

1. Place onion, celery, garlic, jalapeno, tempeh and water or stock in a 3 qt pot and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Add tomatoes, barley malt syrup, and tomato paste and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans and corn and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining ingredients, remove from heat, mix well and enjoy. Flavor improves over time.

Serving suggestion: Garnish with a small scoop of Vegan Sour Cream (try tofutti brand), additional minced cilantro, and a sprinkle of toasted pumpkin seeds.

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Mark Reinfeld is the founding chef of the Blossoming Lotus Restaurant. He is the coauthor of Vegan Fusion World Cuisine, winner of 9 national awards. His latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Raw coauthored with Jennifer Murray and Bo Rinaldi is available through booksellers everywhere. Please visit www.veganfusion.com for more information.

Intent.com provides content and community for who you aspire to be–personally, socially and globally.

33 comments

Virgene L.
Virgene L.11 months ago

Hey, I'm an omnivore but still would like to try this tempeh chili. The corn and the beans make a complete protein, so it should be satisfying. Thanks.

Vural K.
Past Member 7 years ago

thanks...
Kabin
Konteyner

Ju C.
Ju C.7 years ago

15 years being Vegetarian and loving it!

Charmaine Gonzalez
Marie Gonzalez7 years ago

*tries a spoonful of the tempeh chili* Wow, spicy!

Beth Hartford-DeRoos
Beth G.7 years ago

It saddens me when I see people attacking each other because they do not choose the same food items. And I so appreciate being educated on the value of fake meat, as its a subject that intrigues me. Thank you. Lets contimue to try and build bridges and not walls.

~Beth~

Monica M.
mika m7 years ago

No one is pushing anyone to being Vegetarian. It's just that we recomment to eat LESS meat, not take it away completely. It will save our planet and yourself.
Here are some facts from the movie 'Rave Diet'
87% of our land is being used to raise crops to feed the animals we eat.
one acre of land is gone every 8 seconds
Nuclear plants (causing pollutions) are created.
Half of our water is used to grow crops
The other half is polluted by animal excrements (who wants to go swimming?)
12000 gallons of water to produce a pound of meat.
Marine life is depleating.
Kill wild animals to save cattle
A farm is basically a concentration camp.
90% of chickens have cancer
50% of cows have aids and 80% have lewken.
Because of meat, 4 mill. people have alziemer's disease.
There are feces in our meat. This causes kidney failure.

There IS a cure for CANCER. It is our diet and eating meat ruins our immune system so that it cannot kill off cancer cells. A plant based diet strengthens it.

Think you need protein from meat? WRONG! you can just as easily get it from plants. Examples: beans, lentines, peas, soy etc.

75% of infectious diseases come from animals.
To be healthy we must adopt a plant based diet.
If not, we will die prematurely and will be unable to live our life to our fullest.

I'm not telling anyone to change. I am just hoping that you will think about it and perhaps eat one less meat a day.
Thanks for reading :)

Monica M.
mika m7 years ago

No one is pushing anyone to being Vegetarian. It's just that we recomment to eat LESS meat, not take it away completely. It will save our planet and yourself.
Here are some facts from the movie 'Rave Diet'
87% of our land is being used to raise crops to feed the animals we eat.
one acre of land is gone every 8 seconds
Nuclear plants (causing pollutions) are created.
Half of our water is used to grow crops
The other half is polluted by animal excrements (who wants to go swimming?)
12000 gallons of water to produce a pound of meat.
Marine life is depleating.
Kill wild animals to save cattle
A farm is basically a concentration camp.
90% of chickens have cancer
50% of cows have aids and 80% have lewken.
Because of meat, 4 mill. people have alziemer's disease.
There are feces in our meat. This causes kidney failure.

There IS a cure for CANCER. It is our diet and eating meat ruins our immune system so that it cannot kill off cancer cells. A plant based diet strengthens it.

Think you need protein from meat? WRONG! you can just as easily get it from plants. Examples: beans, lentines, peas, soy etc.

75% of infectious diseases come from animals.
To be healthy we must adopt a plant based diet.
If not, we will die prematurely and will be unable to live our life to our fullest.

I'm not telling anyone to change. I am just hoping that you will think about it and perhaps eat one less meat a day.
Thanks for reading :)

Cheryl T.
Past Member 7 years ago

Well, I noticed that someone mentioned mushrooms...FUNGUS! You probably also smoke pot & cigarettes! I'm SO TIRED of all you "holier than thou" (not the religious connotation) attitudes about meat eaters, it's HUMAN NATURE to be omnivorous, & the females in my ancestry all lived to be past 90 eating meat! I'm NOT giving it up, no matter how it gets to the market! I once had to listen to some nut in a cafe telling me the awful things in the hotdog I was eating while he was smoking a cigarette, needless to say, I told him off! Also, I'm an eclectic Pagan, & am under the impression that what a person eats is a matter of CHOICE, so don't put me down for what I choose! I commented because I'm just so tired of you nuts trying to force veganism on the world! Eat healthy, stay fit, & die anyway! The only way you are going to die healthy is by accident or murder!!!

Tamla Mah
Tamla m7 years ago

Congrats on your transition to being vegan Laura.

It's so important to embrace those who are making an effort to change. If one is made to feel as though 'he/she is not doing it right', this defeats what we vegans would like to see happen in today's world.

Coincidentally (or not?), I noticed today's article 'How to Go Vegan', specifically gives tips on how to transition slowly and carefully, mindfully and healthfully. :)

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/how-to-go-vegan-and-a-shepherds-pie-recipe.html

Laura Schleifer
Laura Schleifer7 years ago

In response to Beth's comments--the absolute worst thing you could do for the world would be to eradicate fake meat products. Given the choice between a population of vegetarians who eat fake meat, and a population of meat eaters, wouldn't you choose the vegetarians who eat fake meat?? The end result for the animals, and for the earth, is the same whether vegetarians/vegans eat fake meat products, or just unadulterated plant foods. And I can assure you that as the availability of fake meat products has increased, so have the numbers of vegetarians and vegans. If you removed fake meat products from the store shelves, a lot of people might go back to eating the real thing, and you certainly would be attracting a lot less newbies to the cause!!

You have every right to encourage meat-eaters to go vegetarian/vegan, as by doing so you're being a voice for voiceless animals who have no say, and it's also better for the earth. But beyond that, you do not have a right to judge somebody else's taste buds. There is nothing unethical about eating fake meat products. If you don't like the taste/appearance of them...then just don't eat them!

Oh, and by the way, not only am I a vegetarian-transitioning-to-vegan, but I've dedicated a large portion of my life to helping homeless people, and am currently forming a new non-profit specifically for that purpose. So please don't assume that anyone who cares about these issues doesn't also care about homeless people--or about humans, in gener