Food Activism in the ‘Hood

Vegetarian activists have long known that one of the most effective ways to persuade people toward a plant-based diet is by serving them delicious food.  Besides being effective, it’s also totally non-confrontational, and you don’t need to know the fine points of the issues, like why even well-managed grazing is detrimental to the environment.  Just pass the plate.

My neighborhood association gets together with a nearby church for a combined annual picnic on the church lawn in September, which includes a bake-off contest.  Two years ago I entered for the first time with killer vegan cupcakes decorated as professionally as I could manage.  I learned that the judges seemed to prefer plainer looking desserts, overlooking mine and another even fancier offering to award the prize to a very ordinary peach cobbler.  Last year I couldn’t attend the event, but this year I came back with a bake-off entry I thought more likely to succeed.  I presented a vegan chocolate mousse pie (recipe below), in a store-bought crumb crust, decorated with plain coconut flakes, and not actually baked at all.

I won!  As the judges chatted with me after announcing that my pie had won, I revealed that it contained no dairy products or eggs and was made with tofu.  You should have seen the jaws drop!  “You’re kidding,” I heard several times.  “It tastes so rich.”  “I don’t like tofu, but this is great!”   The upshot was that people who attended the picnic had a chance to actually eat tofu, and the recipe will be published soon in the neighborhood newsletter.  (And I won a modest prize.)  My winning led to some conversations about vegetarianism as well.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of the pie; by the time I thought about doing so, it was nearly gone!

If you like to cook, and can enter any local contests, it is a sneaky but effective way to get a crowd to eat a vegan dish and find out that eating vegan is no hardship.  Just don’t tell them it’s vegan until after the judging.

Vegan Chocolate Mousse Pie

2 – 12.3 oz. boxes of Mori-Nu organic firm silken tofu
1 – 12 oz. bag vegan chocolate chips
1/3 cup + 1 T. liquid sweetener (maple syrup, agave, etc.)
1 + 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 –  8″ pie crust, graham cracker or chocolate

In food processor, process tofu until completely smooth.  Melt chocolate chips along with the sweetener in double boiler or microwave.  Pour melted mixture into the smooth tofu, add vanilla, and combine until smooth.  Pour into prepared pie crust, decorate if desired, and chill for at least two hours.  You should have some of the filling left over, which you can serve as pudding later (or eat immediately!).
Decorations can include additional chocolate chips or shavings, fresh berries, coconut flakes, nuts, or candies.  Additional extracts may be added to the filling, such as almond, coconut, or mint.

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