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  1. The Essential Guide to Cooking with Tofu

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    tofu

    The Essential Guide to Cooking with Tofu

    Tofu is a sorely misunderstood food, with somewhat of a bad reputation. Many people see tofu as a spongy, flavourless health food eaten only by the strictest of vegans. 

    That couldn’t be further from the truth, many people simply jump into cooking tofu without doing their research, so they don’t know how to use it properly! 

    The blandness of tofu is one of its finest traits, this means it can be flavoured in hundreds (probably thousands) of different ways, to suit whatever type of dish you want to create.

    According to legend, tofu originated in China about 2000 years ago when a Chinese cook accidentally curdled soy milk when he added nigari seaweed. Shocking to know that it wasn’t invented by some hipster in their one bedroom apartment, right?

    Tofu has since become a popular food across the world, particularly in asian cultures where it is fried, dried, frozen, fermented or even used in soups.

    Before we get into the best ways to prepare and use your tofu, it’s important to understand that there is more than one type of tofu available to buy from your local supermarket, health food shop or asian food store. There are 3 main types of tofu you're likely to come across in recipes and on store shelves:

    Types of Tofu

    • Silken Tofu - Silken tofu is soft, creamy and blendable. It’s often used for desserts, puddings, sauces or even smoothies. (Silken tofu is great for making vegan cheesecakes!)

    • Medium Tofu - A nice middle ground, denser than silken tofu but still delicate. Commonly used in soups or miso.

    • Firm Tofu - Your best friend when you’re just starting out with tofu. A firmer tofu, great all rounder for cooking uses. Absorbs flavours. Great for stir frying, oven baking, pan frying or making tofu scramble.

    Preparation

    Unfortunately tofu isn't as simple as just taking it out of the packet and using it, however the preparation is minimal and extremely easy, and it’s vital to achieving delicious, flavourful tofu. 

    You’ll notice that your tofu comes in a sealed pack full of liquid, so opening it over the sink with a pair of scissors is usually the least messy option. You’ll then want to drain all the liquid away, and press your tofu. I cannot stress enough how important this step is. Regardless of which type of tofu you are using, and what the end result is going to be, you always need to press your tofu. 

    You can buy a fancy tofu press online, but if you’re like me and already have a kitchen full of gadgets and a bank account screaming at you to stop buying things, you can easily press your tofu at home with no specific equipment. 

    Simply wrap your tofu in a clean kitchen cloth, or place it between a few clean pieces of kitchen roll, and then weigh it down with a large cookbook or something else heavy. This will push the water out, and the cloth will absorb it. There’s no set time for how long you need to press your tofu for, but 20-30 minutes is generally a good shout.

    Marinade

    This next step is really going to apply to the use of firm tofu, if you're using silken tofu, at this point you usually just follow what the recipe says, you’ll probably be blending it up with a load of delicious flavours anyway, so you don’t need to worry about adding anything beforehand.

    Whatever savoury dish you’re planning to use your tofu for, the chances are you’ll want to add some flavour, and soaking your tofu in a marinate is the best way to do this. You’ll want to marinade your tofu for as long as possible, I often do mine the day before and leave it to marinade in the fridge overnight. This gives it plenty of time to really absorb all the flavour.

    You’ll also want to cut your tofu into the size and shape you want it before you marinade it. This created a bigger surface area for the flavours to stick to. There’s no set rule for this, but for salads and stir frys, I like to cut them into 2x2cm squares, and for poke bowls or wraps into fingers. 

    There are ENDLESS options for tofu marinades, and if you pop into google what type you're looking for… barbeque, mexican, sweet, asian, spicy… you’ll find something perfect for your creation.

    Of course you can also create your own tofu marinade, by throwing together whatever you think will work. As a general guideline you need one of each of the following:

    Fat - to help bring everything together and get your tofu nice and crispy when its cooking. E.g: Sesame oil, olive oil, soya yoghurt, coconut milk, peanut butter or other nut butters or oils.

    Acid - Allows all the ingredients to mix properly, because the water in the tofu won’t like the oil otherwise! E.g: lemon, lime, orange, wine, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, hot sauce, liquid smoke, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, miso paste, maple syrup, agave, sugar, molasse, date syrup.

    Aromatic - for a deep flavour, and a mouth watering aroma. E.g: onion, garlic, ginger, nutritional yeast, thyme, basil, rosemary, oregano, paprika, cumin, coriander, sage, sesame, parsley, wasabi, tarragon, turmeric.

    While not all these combinations will go together, don't misjudge the power of using two contrasting flavours to create something unique and delicious. Also make sure you let me know what marinades you come up with in the comments below, and tag us in your foodie makes on instagram.

    Cooking

    Now for the pièce de résistance, you’ve worked hard to this point, you've drained, pressed and marinades your tofu. Now it's time to cook it. You probably know at this point how you want to cook it, but as a general rule, how you cook it depends on what kind of dish it’s going into. 

    Baking - this is perfect for salads, wraps and sandwiches.Place your tofu into a lined baking tray, and pour over any excess marinade you have left, although you don’t want it to be swimming! Bake at about 200c for 25-30 minutes or until its crispy and golden brown, turn once during cooking for a nice even bake.

    Stir fry - Stir frying tofu is exactly what you would expect, you just add it to a hot pan and cook! Ensuring all sides get even pan time. It’s best to cook tofu on its own though, and then add it at the end, otherwise it has a tendency to fall apart when it gets knocked around by the other ingredients.

    Scrambled - If you’ve never had tofu scramble, you need to. It’s a great breakfast option on toast, or a must have for a breakfast burrito. This ones a bit more in depth, so I’ll just point you in the direction of the recipe for it, which you can find here.

    tofu scramble

    Air Fryer - Simply whack your tofu into a preheated air fryer at about 130c. Cook for 15-20 minutes, shaking at about 10 minutes so it cooks nice and evenly.

    Griddle -  Another ‘exactly what it says on the tin’ option. Your marinade will crisp up amazingly on a preheated griddle pan, and you’ll get the added lines of crispiness. This is perfect for topping salads.

    Barbeque - Tofu makes for a great option for barbeques. I like to make tofu and vegetable skewers and marinade the whole lot. Then simply place them on the edge of your barbeque so you can easily turn them, and cook until your veggies are cooked! I recommend mushrooms, fresh vine cherry tomatoes and pepper.

    Now that you’ve become a tofu master, your food choices have probably doubled. Tofu makes a great healthy way to pack a meal full of protein, with one cup providing more than 20g of protein. 

    Make sure you let me know what you get up to with your tofu, tag us in your recipes and share your tofu hints and tips in the comments below so we can all learn from each other!

     

    Written by Amy Northwood
    Her-Bivore
    My passion for food and conservation has led me to where I am now! My aim is to show people that veganism can be diverse, tasty and adapted to fit every lifestyle and budget!
    You can find me on Instagram

    Amy Northwood - Her-Bivore

     

  2. The Easiest Way to Shop Cruelty-Free Fashion

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    Fashion Blog Photo resized (1)

    Vegan Fashion

    Transitioning to veganism is about more than just changing your eating habits. It’s about removing animal exploitation from your life all together, and this includes making vegan fashion choices.

    We believe there is no point In simply throwing out any fashion items you already have that aren't vegan. You can either wear them until they’re worn out, or consider giving them to a friend or family member, or donating to a local charity shop.

    Vegan fashion doesn’t have to be expensive, and thanks to so many companies already swapping leather and wool for vegan alternatives, it can be easy to find.

    What to Look Out For

    It can seem overwhelming with so many different material names to learn and look out for, so I’ve made a table of those commonly found and safe for vegans!

    Those which are most sustainable and environmentally friendly have been highlighted green, as we all want to do the best we can for the planet we share!

     sustainable fabrics table

    Many vegan products can be found in everyday clothes shops you’d find on the high street, with brands like H&M and GAP going completely fur-free.

    If you’re after something a little more special and you want to support fully vegan businesses, here are some of my favourites:

    Ethics - a UK based ethical vegan clothing company.

    HeartCure Clothing - UK based but ships worldwide. ‘For change markers, life savers and earth lovers’

    Mud Jeans - Upcycled and recycled jeans, ships worldwide.

    Willowkind - Sustainable, organic, cruelty-free fashion for babies, kids and adults.

    These are a few of my favourites, but what about you? Let us know of any great ethical vegan clothing and fashion brands we’ve missed in the comments below! We love to hear from you!

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    Written by Amy Northwood
    Her-Bivore
    My passion for food and conservation has led me to where I am now! My aim is to show people that veganism can be diverse, tasty and adapted to fit every lifestyle and budget!
    You can find me on Instagram

    Amy Northwood - Her-Bivore

    Stay up to date with all our latest articles

  3. About The Youtubers That Are Giving Up Veganism

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    Image Of The YouTube Homepage

    There seems to be a lot of vegan YouTubers renouncing the lifestyle at the moment.

    It can be extremely disheartening to see, and also damaging to the vegan movement itself. These people have built up a following that believes in the work we are trying to do; they have positioned themselves as vegan role models to the masses.

    Needless to say, when they suddenly turn their back on the fundamental vegan beliefs, it certainly deals a blow to everyone who followed them.

    When many people have respect for these YouTubers, it may cause some people to question veganism. We listen to the justifications of their decision and try to see it from their perspective. That’s what these YouTubers are there for when you think about it. We want an insight into the lives of these people, so we can’t help but try to relate.

    The first thing to remember is the difference between vegan and plant-based, many of the YouTubers were simply following a plant-based diet, but often use the word vegan in order to obtain more views, especially if they make a video about why they’ve ‘stopped being vegan’.

    The Health Scares

    The predominant reason that is given for renouncing veganism is the supposed negative impacts the diet has had on their health, despite for many years there being a stereotypical idea that vegans are the epitome of health.

    They may not be lying - they may have lost hair, chipped teeth, hit an unhealthy weight etc, while on a plant-based diet.

    It needs to be clarified that the drastic impacts these people are seeing in their health, are due to them suffering the effects of an ‘unbalanced’ diet, which thousands of people struggle with every year, regardless of their diet.

    One of our main objectives here at Her-Bivore is to promote that a healthy vegan lifestyle is obtainable and provide the latest information to make it very much accessible for everyone.

    There are no nutrients you can’t get from a vegan diet, with the exception of vitamin B12, but this is also a risk for omnivores due to irrigation practices in recent times. We explained this in a previous post that you can read here.

    There are a number of fad diet trends that fall within the scope of a plant-based diet, such as the raw food diet and the juice cleanse diet. These, if not done properly, can cause such health issues.

    I’m not saying they can’t be great for your health, but they have to be thought about and often planned to ensure all the required nutrients and food groups are being obtained.

    I recently came across this video that sums this up perfectly.

     

    The Important Thing To Remember

    While it is intensely frustrating - those that have given up veganism, were not ever vegan in the first place.

    Veganism extends much further than what you choose to put in your belly. It is a lifestyle of compassion and change.

    Those that have truly adopted a vegan lifestyle don’t ever look back. The reasons for their choice run so much deeper than their own self. It is a choice for the lives of billions of animals, and the planet.

    If there is something that isn’t working in their diet, they find ways to make it work, they address the situation and realise that there are thousands of other vegans worldwide that are doing just fine and have done so for years.

    Community Over Influencers

    If you find that someone you follow has suddenly changed their beliefs for their sake of self, don’t let this take a toll on you.

    Take a break from YouTube and come and hang out with other vegans either online or in your local community.

    Sites like Eventbrite will turn up results near you for vegan events that you can attend. If, by chance, there aren’t any - take the chance to set one up yourself! There will be vegans near you and it’s a fantastic opportunity to meet likeminded people such as yourself.

    Alternatively, there are literally hundreds of vegan Facebook groups that you can join in just a few clicks. Each strives to create a supportive environment that allows you to share what’s on your mind without judgement.

    A couple I really like at the moment are One Billion Vegans, which is just packed full of thought-provoking conversations and questions. The other is Rate My Vegan Food (which can be a little edgy sometimes but good for a laugh - you’ve been warned!). 


    While it has been a bit doom and gloom, I hope you find something useful from this article and hopefully it has given you some ideas as to where you can turn next!

    What are your thoughts on the matter? Have you actually witnessed this happen with any YouTubers you follow? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

    Remember, you can follow us on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date with our latest recipes, news and content. You can also get our updates delivered straight to your inbox by signing up to our weekly newsletter using the form below.

    Written by Jack Ricketts
    -Him-Bivore
    Marketing has always been my career focus. I am striving to promote a plant-based lifestyle to the masses through positive campaigns and sharing the benefits of veganism. The animals, and the planet, need us more than ever to make a change. 
    You can find me on Instagram

    Stay up to date with all our latest articles

     

  4. Vegan Teen Receives Nomination For The Nobel Peace Prize

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    "School Strike For The Climate

    At 16 I was getting into fights, had no thoughts on my diet and my primary concern was how cool I was at school.

    Fast forward 7 years and there is a 16-year-old in Sweden that has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her incredible stance on climate change.

    Greta Thunberg has given up meat and given up flying for the sake of the planet. Not only that, but she is making her point known; encouraging students to attend demonstrations and giving talks to raise awareness of the impact people’s actions are having on the environment.

    If that wasn’t enough, she recently addressed the EU at the Global Climate Change Conference, COP 24, and she certainly didn’t mince her words.

    As vegans, we often find ourselves at the butt end of a joke. Greta’s speech, however, should stand as a poignant reminder to us all. That being unpopular for the sake of a cause is far more important.

    We can all make a difference. No matter who we are or where we are in life. There is urgency in Greta’s message. There is corruption and greed across the globe and it is plummeting us further into this environmental crisis.

    She’s probably right, they won’t listen for now. That’s why you and what you are doing is more important than ever.

    Change happens when one person has the courage to stand up and say “enough”.

    We should all strive to follow Greta’s example and be the change that we wish to see in the world.

    Read More >> 


    Follow us on Facebook and like us on Instagram to keep up to date with our latest recipes, news and content! You can also get our updates delivered straight to your inbox by signing up to our weekly newsletter using the form below.

    Written by Jack Ricketts
    -Him-Bivore
    Marketing has always been my career focus. I am striving to promote a plant-based lifestyle to the masses through positive campaigns and sharing the benefits of veganism. The animals, and the planet, need us more than ever to make a change. 
    You can find me on Instagram

    Stay up to date with all our latest articles

  5. Do Hospitals Have To Provide Vegan Food by Law?

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    hospital food cover photo

    Should Hospitals Have to Provide Vegan Food?

    With over 600,000 vegans in the UK today, there’s no arguing that veganism is on the rise. With so many jokes about the quality of hospital food, you may worry about the quality of vegan food, given that even some restaurants struggle with creating tasty and wholesome vegan meals.

    Hospital stays are often where people are at their most vulnerable, and a healthy diet can definitely help to improve people's moods and possibly even their recovery time.

    Veganism now comes under the international human rights provisions and vegans in the UK are protected under human rights and equality law, so in theory they cannot be discriminated against due to their lifestyle or dietary choices, so surely this must mean that well balanced nutritious vegan meals are provided, right?

    With an entire Facebook group dedicated to Vegan Hospital Food Hits and Misses, does more need to be done to provide better universal vegan options in hospitals?

    We spoke to a few vegans who have had hospital stays, and we asked them about the food they were offered and provided during their stay, and you’ll see that not all hospital food is created equal.

    One vegan was offered just a carton of orange juice and a dairy yoghurt as a meal, while many others report simply being given toast and jam for the entirety of their stay. One patient at Leeds General Infirmary was given a ‘meal’ consisting of a banana and a plate of lettuce and tomatoes.

    bad vegan hospital option, lettuce and tomatoes

    A report from one woman was that 'My partner is seriously ill in hospital and this is today's dinner! Note the butter! Yesterday he was given nothing whatsoever and the day before it was a broccoli and Stilton soup!

    vegan option for seriously ill with butter

    Not all reports were bad however, with some hospitals (such as Southampton and Derby) having gone above and beyond to provide appropriate food for their patients. With separate vegan menus seen at Croydon University Hospital and St Georges consisting of several choices such as vegetable curries, butternut squash and bean stew, vegetable bake and much more.

    hospital vegan menu

    One patient was even visited by the catering manager who took note of what they would like and then went out to buy vegan sausages for the patient.

    One recurring piece of information is that if you know in advance that you will be staying in hospital, be sure to let them know that you require vegan meals. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible, but be sure to let them know when you can.

    Have you had a hospital stay recently? Let us know how the food was (good and bad) in the comments below, and you can always share your stories with us on Facebook and Instagram.

    Written by Amy Northwood
    Her-Bivore
    My passion for food and conservation has led me to where I am now! My aim is to show people that veganism can be diverse, tasty and adapted to fit every lifestyle and budget!
    You can find me on Instagram

    Amy Northwood - Her-Bivore