Monday, February 18, 2008

Black History Month with a V*gan Twist

Sorry...this is a long post but it's necessary to show my admiration for the people below.

February in America is Black History Month so I want to honor those who struggled in the past to build this country and in the present day to bring hope and kindness and culture to US society.

I want to honor a couple people in particular for the talent and celebrity that they have brought to the forefront of present-day modern America.

These men and women have fought adversity to shine through and show their creativity to all of us in profound ways. Although I should be honoring all African-Americans, this is a vegan blog so I am going to honor just a select few Black Vegans.

Russell Simmons (vegan):

Russell Simmons (born October 4, 1957 in Queens, New York), is an American entrepreneur and activist. Simmons was the co-founder of the pioneering hip-hop label Def Jam, a founder of Russell Simmons Music Group, and the creator of the clothing fashion line Phat Farm and the fragrance label Atman.

Erykah Badu (vegan):

Erykah Badu (born Erica Abi Wright, February 26, 1971) is a Grammy Award winning, American R&B, soul, and hip hop singer and songwriter, whose work encompasses elements of jazz. She is best known for her role in the rise of the neo soul sub-genre, and for her eccentric, cerebral musical stylings and sense of fashion. Early in her career she was recognizable for wearing very large and colorful headwraps. For her musical sensibilities, she has often been compared to jazz great Billie Holiday.[1] She was a core member of the Soulquarians, and is also an actress having appeared in a number of films playing a diverse range of supporting roles.

Reverend Al Sharpton (vegan):

Alfred Charles "Al" Sharpton Jr. (born October 3, 1954) is an American Baptist minister, political and civil rights/social justice activist, and radio talk show host.[1][2] In 2004, Sharpton was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. presidential election. Sharpton has many critics who believe he is doing more harm than good. Sharpton sees much of the criticism as a sign of his effectiveness. "In many ways, what they consider criticism is complimenting my job," said Sharpton. "An activist’s job is to make public civil rights issues until there can be a climate for change. So when people get angry at me for raising these issues and making them public, well, that’s my job! That’s what I’m supposed to do. If I could not get the public’s attention on an issue, then I’m not a good activist."

He is an activist for equal rights for Blacks, Gays, and Animals. He would definitely be a great president for this flawed country.

Andre 3000 (vegan):

André 3000 (born André Lauren Benjamin on May 27, 1975 in Atlanta, Georgia) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, rapper, hip hop producer and actor. He is half of the successful hip hop duo OutKast and is also the creator of Cartoon Network's Emmy-winning show Class of 3000. André is also a vegan. In 2004, alongside Alicia Silverstone, André was voted by PETA to be the 'World's Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrity.' He is a force in the music industry and joins hip hop, rap, pop, soul, funk, and doo-wop to become a creation all his own.

Coretta Scott King (vegan) (R.I.P.):

Coretta Scott King (April 27, 1927 – January 30, 2006) was the wife of the civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., and a noted civil rights leader, author, singer, and founder and former president of the King Center in Atlanta, Georgia. She is a recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal and the Gandhi Peace Prize.

A long-time advocate for world peace, in 1957, King was one of the founders of The Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy.
King called her adoption of a vegan diet in 1995 a blessing. Her son, Dexter, had been vegan since 1988, saying that an appreciation for animal rights is the "logical extension" of his father's philosophy of non-violence.
King was vocal in her opposition to capital punishment and the 2003 invasion of Iraq, thus drawing criticism from conservative groups. She was also an advocate of feminism, lesbian and gay rights and HIV/AIDS prevention.

And in honor of these innovative, creative souls I made a dish just for them.

I made Blackened Cajun Tofu:

I also made a side of Waldorf Salad (which doesn't have anything to do with Black History Month but was a great side dish):

Blackened Cajun Tofu:

1 lb. extra-firm tofu, drained, pressed, and sliced into four thin slices, then each piece sliced from left top corner to bottom right corner forming 8 long triangles
2 TBSP nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 TBSP olive oil

Mix yeast, salt, pepper, chili powder, and cayenne pepper on a plate, set aside.
Preheat a pan over medium-high heat, add 1 TBSP oil and let heat for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Take a slice of cut tofu and dredge in yeast-pepper mixture. Place 4 dredged tofu triangles in pan and brown on both sides, approximately 3-5 minutes on each side. Take blackened tofu off of pan and lay on paper towels to absorb excess oil. Add last 1 TBSP oil to pan and heat for 30 seconds-1 minute. Dredge the other 4 tofu triangles in yeast-pepper mixture and add to pan. Brown both sides and place on paper towels when done.

Simple Waldorf Salad (I know the ingredients seem odd but trust me, it's awesome):

1-1/2 apples, cubed
1 TBSP lemon juice
2 medium stalks celery, sliced in 1/4" pieces
1 cup red seedless grapes, each grape sliced in half
1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped.

Chop apples and place in large mixing bowl, sprinkle with lemon juice. Add celery, grapes, walnuts, and mayo. Stir until well combined and chill in refrigerator for an hour or so.

It sounds weird but it's really good.

Parts of the biopics on modern Black Vegans were quoted from their respective Wikipedia pages. To get more info on each person, simply go to and type in a name.


Shelle said...

I really liked your idea of honoring these people. They've all done tremendous things, but Russel Simmons is the funniest. :)

Torina said...

Hey, Kyle! I linked to your blog last week through Yahoo! and forgot to bookmark it for the Waldorf salad recipe. I wanted to make it for my parents for dinner tonight, so I searched and searched through Yahoo! Answers to find your original question--did it get erased? Anyway, now I'll never forget your blog name :) Keep the great vegan recipes coming, and I'll let you know how my salad turns out!!

Anonymous said...

Dude, my Culinary Arts Professor used to work in California and Russell Simmons used to come in all the time and order poached egg whites.

It annoyed the hell out of Chef Jim, because without the yolks eggs are ridiculously hard to poach.

I guess that was before Russell Simmons went vegan?

Kyle said...

I don't know when Russell Simmons went the vegan route, Anonymous. All I know is he is one now.