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Saturday, October 02, 2010

Vegan Red Velvet Cake (is THIS a VEGAN version of the $300/$500/$1000 Waldorf Astoria Red Cake?

Vegan Red Velvet Cake: Red Mango Bakery. My Review.

Red Mango Bakery in Brooklyn, New York makes a famous Vegan Red Velvet Layer Cake. It's a tall beet-red stack of fluffy cake and creamy snow white frosting. I don't know how they make it. But I'm just glad they do!

Vegan Cake 2009. It's 2009, and vegan cake doesn't have to taste like cardboard and look like wheat bread. Most everyone loves cake. Evenhealth-conscious, animal loving vegans. Let us alleat cake.

Red Mango Bakery. They are wholesale only, though they do a few specialty orders. Incredibly friendly staff. I found their divine slice of red velvet heaven at The Bean Coffee Shoppe in the East Village NYC. Also on hand from Red Mango was aPeanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake. It looked outstanding. Next extra special treat is going to be a slice of that!

Click ahead for my review of this divine Red Velvet Cake-sorry I can't hand you a forkful to taste-test!....

Vegan Bakery Finds.
I am always thrilled when I find a new vegan cupcake, ice cream store, cake, pastry, doughnut or bakery. No I don't eat these treats everyday, but it's nice to know that they exist if I crave one.

Deprived Vegan Brides Everywhere. As a bride who sadly didn't get to eat her own wedding cake, because there were no vegan bakers nearby, I am incrediblysupportive of quality vegan baking companies that I come across. Red Mango is one of them.

My Review: Red Velvet Cake,
Red Mango Bakery, Brooklyn NY

Shelf Appeal:
Sometimes giant slices of cake can get ignored at places like The Bean.But not this one. Standing tall, proud, and irresistible, this Red Velvet cake, proudly marked vegan, gets snapped up by patrons. With crumbly red bits sprinkled on top of the snow white frosting, how an a vegan NOT try this? I hope the 'vegan' sign doesn't deter non-vegan coffee patrons from checking out just how good a vegan cake can be.

Label Check:
No nutrition label here. I do not know the calories, fat, carbs ect. But just from the taste I can tell that this cake is hardcore. Not low in fat or sugar. And the size is outrageous! Cheesecake Factory sized. Huge. But if eaten in moderation-split between friends, this is a knock-out special treat dessert to try. Get a slice and split it - some soy chai on the side. That's a happy afternoon. Vegans should not be deprived of super special cakes, if they crave it- I say let them eat cake! This one, in moderation...

Taste Test: Is "Yum" a verb? How about"Mmmm"? Because you don't eat this cake, youYum and Mmmm it. Really. It's that good. The cake isfluffy yet has a desirable dense quality. It's nottoo airy or moist. It really reminds me of wedding cake consistency. The frosting is outstanding. A little on the sweet side for my taste, but I guess for Red Velvet you have to go all out. Icing is creamy yet more of a sugar frosting that a 'creamy' frosting. The red crumbles on top are so fun. This cake has some serious sweet-sensational factor, yet it's amazingly not 'heavy'. I think the dairy-free-ness helps keep it easy to eat. And FYI, it's not just me- the reviewers of The Bean all seem to mention the Red Velvet Cake!

Price Check: Around $6 a slice. For the size, I think it's fair. And where else can you get this in a corner street coffee shop? Get you latte, check your cell phone messages, sit in a comfy chair and eat Vegan Red Velvet Cake.

Last Word: I wish Red Mango Bakery was around when and where I got married! That's the beauty of big cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and NYC - you can always find someone doing something (like vegan cake baking) off-the-beaten-trackout of passion. And eventually, if proven a success, it goes mainstream. Veganwedding cake, Red Velvet Cake and PB Choco Cheesecake for all who desire it - is what I envision. Let them eat vegan cake! How Marie Antoinette 2009 of me.

So is THIS
Vegan Red Velvet Cake (from Red Mango Bakery in NYC a VEGAN version of the $300/$500/$1000 Waldorf Astoria Red Cake?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

World Farm Animals Day (Gandhi's Birthday: October 2nd): Every Year, Everywhere

World Farm Animals Day (WFAD), observed on (or around) October 2nd, is dedicated to exposing, mourning, and memorializing the more than 58 billion cows, pigs, turkeys, chickens, and other land animals who needlessly suffer and die every year in the world's factory farms and slaughterhouses.

Happy Vegetarian Day, Week, Month, Life...!

A little late to be reminding us, but we have from now through November 1st (International Vegan Day) to celebrate a series of vegetarian "events" (those we made up) and to great one another cheerfully, slap them on the back hard enough to dislodge any tofu caught in their throats, and to join hands together and rally round the October Pole merrily.

In the words of that ancient vegan marines cheer: Tow - FOOOOO '

October 1 - World Vegetarian day
First WEEK of October 9celebrated variously, first called "World Week of Prayer for Animals" = October 1-8 plus residual days on both sides of 1-8 October)
October 2 - Gandhi's Birthday/World Farm Animals day (FARM) or World Day for Farmed Animals
October 4 - Birthday of St. Francis, Patron Saint of Animals (canonized, therefore it's a Catholic feast day that oughta be vegan)
October 15 - United Nations World Food Day (for global "food security", ample but sustainable agriculture, etc.)
November 1- International Vegan Day (completes the full month of celebration and outreach)

Happy Vegetarian Day, Week, Month, Life...!

Are monkeys self-aware?

Are monkeys self-aware?

New results suggest that rhesus macaques recognize themselves in the mirror, but the debate is far from over

[Published 30th September 2010 04:47 PM GMT]

Read more:Are monkeys self-aware? - The Scientist - Magazine of the Life Sciences

Rhesus monkey
Image: Wikimedia commons, user 13bobby
By Vanessa SchipaniAre monkeys self-aware?New results suggest that rhesus macaques recognize themselves in the mirror, but the debate is far from over [Published 30th September 2010 04:47 PM GMT] Rhesus monkeys may recognize their own reflection in a mirror, indicating self-awareness--a trait traditionally reserved for humans, chimpanzees and orangutans and a topic of much debate among researchers, including Marc Hauser, professor of psychology at Harvard University and the recent subject of misconduct investigations. Rhesus monkeyImage: Wikimedia commons, user 13bobby

The results, published in the September 29th issue of PLoS ONE, question the existence of a stark cognitive divide that separates higher primates from the rest of the animal kingdom.

"In most instances, monkeys do not show [self-awareness]," Christopher Coe, director of the Harlow Primate Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who was not involved in the work, said in an email to The Scientist. But the new study "indicates that rhesus monkeys can acquire this ability in the right setting and with the right tools."

For years, the Gallup mark test has been the standard method for assessing self-awareness. Researchers dye a small tuff of hair on an animal's head, and then give it access to a mirror. If the animal touched the mark while looking in the mirror, researchers concluded it understood the reflection to be its own. Humans over the age of two, chimpanzees, orangutans and potentially gorillas can conclusively pass this test. Monkeys, on the other hand, nearly always fail.

In 1995, Hauser published a controversial paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), which reported that cotton-top tamarins show signs of self-awareness, despite many failed attempts in the past by others researchers. He used a modified form of the Gallup mark test, however, by dying the entire white head of the tamarin a bright color, such a green or pink. Hauser argued that the small mark was simply not relevant to monkeys, causing them to fail the test in the past.

Yet, monkeys react to a Gallup mark that they can see on their arm or hand, noted Gordon Gallup, lead researcher in the field, professor of psychology at the University at Albany, SUNY, and inventor of the Gallup mark test. "If it's salient on their arm, then it ought to be equally salient on their face."

Skeptical after reading Hauser's paper, Gallup requested to see some tapes recorded during the study. "When I looked at the tapes, I was absolutely shocked," he said. "There was not a shred of evidence in any of the video tapes that suggested that cotton-top tamarins could recognize themselves in mirrors."

In 2001, Hauser reported that he was unable to reproduce the results of the 1995 paper. His new findings, published in the American Journal of Primatology, suggested that cotton-top tamarins do not exhibit behaviors suggesting self-awareness, once again limiting this ability in primates to the great apes.

Despite the irreproducible results of the 1995 paper, Randy Schekman, editor-in-chief of PNAS, said the journal does not have plans to retract Hauser's original paper. "The Harvard committee investigating Hauser has not contacted us about it, and we have no reason to pursue the matter unless someone challenges the paper."

Another study, on the rule learning abilities of cotton-top tamarins, unrelated to his tests of self-awareness, was the subject of the recent misconduct investigation and the retraction of a 2002 Cognition paper.

The new study on rhesus macaques now provides more evidence that some monkeys do possess the ability to recognize themselves in mirrors. Luis Populin, a professor of anatomy also at the UW-Madison, who normally studies the effects of drugs such as Ritalin on monkeys, stumbled upon this project when graduate student Abigail Rajala claimed that she observed a monkey using a small mirror provided for enrichment to groom himself. The monkey paid particular attention to the area around an implant in its head, which the researchers used in their studies on attention deficient disorder.

The observation prompted Populin and his colleagues to test for self-awareness in the monkeys, replacing the traditional splotch of color used in the Gallup mark test with the head implant. They also used monkeys that had years of experience with mirrors, which Populin believed was a necessary ingredient for them to pass the mark test.

While looking into the mirror, the monkeys examined and groomed the area around their implant and other unseen areas on their bodies, such as the genitals. In cases where the implant was removed, the monkeys failed to touch their heads at all, but continued to examine their genitals in the mirror. This movie shows a monkey waking up from a nap, reaching for the small mirror outside his cage, positioning it to view himself, and grooming the area around the implant while looking at himself. The view of the head implant has been blocked for discretion.Video courtesy of Luis Populin.

The implanted monkeys also showed sparing amounts of aggressive or submissive social responses, another indication that they did, in fact, see the reflections as themselves.

The paper contains a couple of flaws, however, that "render the results inconsequential and uninterpretable," said Gallup. For one, the monkeys can feel the implant in addition to seeing it, unlike the traditional color mark, which controls for tactile cues. Thus, they could be drawn to touch it, despite their reflection in the mirror.

However, Populin believes he controlled for this by presenting the monkeys with a mirror blocked by black plastic. When the mirror was concealed, the monkeys failed to examine their implant and their genitals as often. "Subjects may touch the area because it itches or it is irritated," he agreed. "Although if that were the case, one would see no difference between the mirror and no mirror condition."

The videos of Populin's work, which were published along with the paper, are no help in solving the debate. Some researchers argue the behaviors in the videos do not illustrate self-awareness, and some argue they do. The videos don't "strike me as compelling, self-directed behavior," said Gallup, "but [they do] strike me as investigative behavior coupled with instances of intermittent social behavior." Contrastingly, Charles Snowdon, professor of psychology and zoology at the UW-Madison, who was not involved in the research, said, "the videos are impressive in that rhesus macaques show some evidence of precursors of mirror recognition," in an email to The Scientist.

Whether there exists a blatant cognitive divide separating higher primates from the rest of the animal kingdom still remains open. "For other species, vocal or odor recognition may be more salient," said Coe, "but until paradigms are developed in other modalities we will not know what other species may have [self-awareness]."

Read more:
Are monkeys self-aware? - The Scientist - Magazine of the Life Sciences

Heart-healthy need NOT be expensive: "Increased spending on nuts, soy and beans, whole grains; less spending on ...meats and ...dairy"

Research news

Heart healthy diet doesn't have to be expensive
"Increased spending on nuts, soy and beans, and whole grains, and less spending on red and processed meats and high-fat dairy, may be the best investment for dietary health," Adam Bernstein and colleagues concluded in a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Read more

Heart-healthy need NOT be expensive: "Increased spending on nuts, soy and beans, whole grains; less spending on ...meats and ...dairy"

Heart-healthy diet doesn't have to be costly

NEW YORK | Fri Sep 24, 2010 5:21pm EDT

(Reuters Health) - Spending more on food isn't the only way to buy the healthiest diet, new research shows.

"Increased spending on nuts, soy and beans, and whole grains, and less spending on red and processed meats and high-fat dairy, may be the best investment for dietary health," Dr. Adam M. Bernstein and colleagues from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and colleagues conclude.

The trick, according to the researchers, is to spend more on plant-based foods.

Several studies suggest that living on junk food can be cheaper than eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, the researchers note in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Research from the UK, France, Spain, and the Netherlands has also found that eating a healthy diet costs more. However, there is some evidence that "healthy diets can be obtained at different levels of spending," the authors write.

To compare the relationship between food spending and diet healthfulness, the team assessed diet and spending data for 78,191 women participating in the Nurses' Health Study. They rated the women's eating habits and multivitamin intake according to the Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI), a tool they developed, with points awarded for consuming healthier items.

Those with the healthiest diets, whose average AHEI score was 59, spent about $4.60 per day on food, compared to about $3.70 per day for the women with the least healthy diets, who had an average AHEI score of 30.

But when the researchers divided the women into five groups based on how much money they spent on food, they found a wide range in AHEI scores within each spending group. The AHEI score difference between the bottom 10 percent and the top 10 percent within each spending group ranged from 25 to 29, the researchers point out.

In previous research, they add, a 20-point AHEI score increase has been linked to a 25 percent lower risk of heart disease.

Spending more on nuts, soy and beans, and whole grains was associated with a higher AHEI score, the researchers found, while spending more on red meat, processed meat and high fat dairy were associated with a lower score. "Fish and poultry, vegetables, and fruit and fruit juice offer the next best investment," Bernstein and his colleagues say.

They conclude: "Although spending more money is associated with a healthier diet, large improvements in diet may be achieved without increased spending."

SOURCE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, online September 1, 2010.

Vegetarians: Plan to Retire in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India

Of all the states of India, Gujarat reportedly has BOTH (a) the highest number and (b) the highest percentage of vegetarian human residents.

The first ALL VEGETARIAN PIZZA-HUT was opened in Ahmedabad.

People of the city are known for their love for food. A typical Gujaratithali (meal) consists of Roti, Dal, Rice and Shaak (cooked vegetablecurry). There are a large number of restaurants which cater to people of all tastes and likes. The cuisine ranges from traditional Gujarati thalisto Punjabi, South Indian, Thai, Italian, Chinese and junk food. Most of the eating joints serve only vegetarian food as majority of the populace is vegetarian. Again, Ahmedabad boasts of the first all-vegetarian Pizza Hut in the world[7]

According to the 2001 national census, the population of Ahmedabad was declared to be 35 lakhs, or 3.5 million people. This figure was only limited to the municipality region. The total population of the Ahmedabad Urban Agglomeration (which also includes the region governed by AUDA) came to 45.19 lakhs, or 4.5 million people.[1] There are 886 females to every 1000 males. Ahmedabad has a literacy rate of 79.89%, which is the highest in Gujarat (87.81% males and 71.12% females are literate).[2] According to the census for the ninth plan, there are 30737 rural families living in Ahmedabad. Out of those, 5.41% (1663 families) live below the poverty line.[3] There are 439,843 people who live in slums in the city.[4] Ahmedabad, being a centre for commerce, has traditionally had a large population of Vanias (or traders), belonging to VaishnavHinduism and Jainism. The majority of residents of Ahmedabad are native Gujaratis and speak Gujarati. There is also a sizable population of Punjabis, Pashtuns, Marathis, Tamils, Sindhis, Malayalis and Marwaris who bring in their native language and culture to the city. The government institutions and military base near the city also bring peoples from across India. The city's population has increased in a major way following increasing economic expansion and modernization.

Ahmedabad also enjoys great religious diversity. According to the 2001 census, 84.62% of the population in Ahmedabad is Hindu, 2.92% Jain, 11.4% Muslim and 0.72% Christian.[5] The community of Muslims is large and culturally significant in Ahmedabad, dating from the times of the sultanate. The city is also home to a major population of Parsis in India. There is also a small population of 300 Bene Israel Jews living in Ahmedabad.[6] Owing to the religious and cultural influence of Jains and many Hindus, there is widespread vegetarianism across the city's hotels and restaurants.


Ahmedabad is known for its diversified culture and the celebration of various festivals with great zeal which transcends demographic and religious lines.

Uttarayan is celebrated as a kite flying day on January 14 every year. The nine nights of Navaratri are celebrated in a traditional manner with people performing garba at pre-arranged venues, which is the folk dance of Gujarat. The festival of lights - Deepavali is celebrated with the lighting of lamps in every house, decorating the floors with therangoli and bursting of fire-crackers. Other festivals like Holi, Eid ul-Fitrand Christmas are also celebrated with enthusiasm. The annualRathyatra procession on the Ashadh-sud-bij date of the Hindu calendar and the procession of Tajia during Muharram are an integral part of the culture of the city.

Also the Hathee Singh Jain Temple built by Merchant Hathee Singh in 1850 AD serves as an example of the culture of the city of Ahmedabad. The temple is known for its architectural styling and designing that consists of intricate carvings.

Road side food stalls - a common sight in Ahmedabad

People of the city are known for their love for food. A typical Gujaratithali (meal) consists of Roti, Dal, Rice and Shaak (cooked vegetablecurry). There are a large number of restaurants which cater to people of all tastes and likes. The cuisine ranges from traditional Gujarati thalisto Punjabi, South Indian, Thai, Italian, Chinese and junk food. Most of the eating joints serve only vegetarian food as majority of the populace is vegetarian. Ahmedabad boasts of the first all-vegetarian Pizza Hut in the world[7]

The architectural landscape of Ahmedabad stretches across the millennium. The architecture of the Sultanate period fused Hindu craftsmanship and forms with traditional Islamic layouts. These developments later gave rise to a fusion which is known as the Indo-Saracenic style. Many mosques in the city are built in this fashion. After independence modern buildings came up in Ahmedabad when renowned architects were given commissions in the city like Louis Kahn who designed the Indian Institute of Management; Le Corbusier who designed the Shodhan and Sarabhai Villas, the Sanskar Kendra and the Mill Owner's Association; and Buckminister Fuller who designed the Calico Dome. Balkrishna V. Doshi came to the city from Paris to supervise Le Corbusier's works and later set up the School of Architecture. His local masterpieces include Sangath, the Doshi-Hussain Gumpha and the School of Architecture. Charles Correa designed the Gandhi Ashram andAchut Kanvinde the Indian Textile Industries Research Association. Christopher Charles Benninger's first work, the Alliance Francaise, is located in the Ellis Bridge area. Hashmuck C. Patel, and his son Dr. Bimal Patel, are renound architects of the city having designed the St. Xavier's High School Loyola Hall, Gujarat High Court and the Ahmedabad Management Association.

Traditional clothes called Chania Cholis being sold at Law Garden

Various parts of Ahmedabad are known for their speciality of folk art. The Paldi area is famous for embroidery from Kutch and Saurashtraregion. Rangeela pol is famous for bandhinis (tie and dye work) while Madhupura is famous for its traditional mojri footwear. Ganesha idols are made in huge numbers in the Gulbai Tekra area. Law Garden is famous for its mirror work handicraft.

Many Gujarati litt�rateurs migrated to Ahmedabad due to its proseperity. Three literary institutions were started in Ahmedabad for the promotion of Gujarati literature - Gujarat Vidhya Sabha, Gujarati Sahitya Parishad and Gujarat Sahitya Sabha. Ahmedabad has many institutes which promoting classical music and dance. A famous event in the cultural calendar of Ahmedabad is an Indian classical music festival organized by the Saptak School of Music from January 1 every year where vocalists and instrumentalists from all over the world are invited to perform. The city has many museums. The Sanskar Kendra, one of the many buildings in Ahmedabad designed by the Le Corbusier, is a city museum depicting history, art, culture and architecture of Ahmedabad. The Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya and the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Memorial have a permanent display of photographs, documents and other articles of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel respectively. The Calico Textile Museum has a large collection of Indian and international fabrics, garments and textiles. The Hazrat Pir Mohammad Shah Library has a collection of rare original manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Sindhi and Turkish languages.

So, vegetarians of many languages, nationalities, and persuasions: plan your retirement in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. But vegans: retiring there, living there, or even visiting there may NOT be all that easy because, if it's anything like my most recent trip to Mumbai, getting a meal NOT soaked in milk or topped with butter or ghee will be a significant challenge to the faint of heart.