So the other day I caught a bit of the show "Cupcake Wars" on one of the cooking networks and some of the contestants were vegan bakers. As I was watching the one woman put her recipe together, I noticed that it included a large amount of (as she even called it) "regular, white sugar." Now, I was always told by my vegan friends that white sugar was a no-no, due to the processing which included the use of bone-char....
So, now I'm wondering just how "vegan" those cupcakes are....???
Sorry if it sounds like a silly question, but I'm not too well read on all things vegan : )
I know which show you're talking about - I watched a little of it myself. Actually, only one of the contestants was vegan - the other made what she described as "vegan cupcakes." Do you know which one used the "regular white sugar"? If it was the actual vegan chef, she may not be a purist to the extent that she would exclude refined sugar.
I think that the bone char is something that is used in the refining process, but is not an actual thing that is affirmatively added to refined sugar (someone can correct if I'm wrong). Technically, the sugar itself is vegan, but the process is not. It becomes a quandry for some vegans because while the actual food/ingredient may not contain animal products, the process in creating it may not be particularly vegan, at least from a purist's standpoint. For this reason, it is probably extemely hard (unless you are growing your own food, making your own pasta, etc.) to escape some sort of animal derivative in the chain commencing at manufacturing/growing to the dining room table.
Not all plain white sugar is processed through bone char, only some. So the sugar she was using could have been vegan. Although most vegans eat things with plain white sugar as an ingredient because it is so difficult to find out the origins of all sugars.
Awesome vegan mom to wolverine 11/11 and sabertooth 11/13 and partner to a we also have
I have heard that some municipal water systems use bone char to filter the water, so some animal products can be hard to totally avoid.
Looks like I have vegan water here on the farm! No city water...just pure natural spring water pumped from the ground and through my taps!
I really like this discussion of the sugar issue: http://www.veganoutreach.org/advocacy/path.html#practicalandsymbolic
Thanks everybody for pointing out the differences, I guess there are two factions at work here as the above site that Catnip provided point out. The only Vegans who I've been around and who were willing to speak to me about veganism were of the "militant" kind. They would basically just prepare their own meals for fear of having their veggie burger prepared on a surface that also prepared animal meat (like stated in the article above) and really go out of their way to make sure that the suppliers of said food rose to their standards. On the other hand I know vegetarians who don't mind if their grilled cheese is being grilled next to a big steak. So it all boils down to each individual.
I was trying to find vegan T.giving recipes for my teen son last november and stumbled upon Chef Chloe's site : http://www.chefchloe.com/blog.html
As someone new to vegan cooking, i found her recipes really easy and totally delicious. I made the harvest stuff portabello mushrooms and the pumpkin bread pudding. All of her recipes on that site look great. She has the recipe for the raspberry tiramisu cupcakes which are apparently the ones that won Cupcake Wars and i'd like to try those next.
On the issue of "militant" vegans, here are some examples of products that use gelatin that we may not think about:
-the film used to make most major motion pictures (do you go to the movies or watch them on DVD?)
-match heads and sandpaper
-playing cards and crepe paper
I really liked that article that Catnip posted, because it talked about the importance of getting as many people as possible to stop consuming animal products, which means getting rid of the "vegan police." I also like the distinction between "practical" vegans and "symbolic" vegans. While I understand and appreciate the existence of symbolic vegans, I don't think it's fair to say someone is not a vegan because they eat sugar and drink city water.
Sandy (41), Mama to Oscar (Feb 2009) and Aria (April 2012), infertility and miscarriage survivor 11/25/10 and 6/22/11.
I think of vegan as an aspiration rather than something that any of us can ever be. In reality, almost every product you can buy involves some amount of animal suffering. Cotton fabric requires a ridiculous amount of pesticides to produce, for example. Harvesting wood destroys animal habitats. Processing steel and rubber uses animal byproducts. Heck, even organic vegetables aren't vegan; they require things like fish meal or blood meal to be grown on a commercial level. Anything that uses any amount of petroleum in its manufacture or transportation (so, almost everything any of us has ever bought) contributes to the destruction of our oceans and our air. Really, nothing is actually vegan. Because of their extreme views and often judgemental language, I've noticed that militant vegans tend to push away people who might be willing to alter their lifestyles to be less harmful.
When people ask me about my choices, I explain the thinking that led me to veganism without using language that judges their choices. I explain that first I was drawn to it for health reasons, and my conviction was strengthened later when I really thought about the ethical ramifications of using animals for food and clothing. By framing the conversations around my personal experience rather than an attack on someone else's decisions, I've actually had conversations that resulted in people being more thoughtful about their food choices.