Thursday, October 1, 2009

Vegan MoFo is upon us! Vegan friendly relief good items: Vegan MoFo #1

Hey bloggers and readers! Last year I blogged every weekday of October in celebration of Vegan MoFo, or Vegan Month of Food. I had a blast and it really gave me the push I needed to be a frequent blogger.

What's Vegan MoFo, you ask? I quote from The Post Punk Kitchen's website:
"The idea is to write as much as you can for the month of October about vegan food. The blog entries can be about anything food related - your love of tongs, your top secret tofu pressing techniques, the first time your mom cooked vegan for you, vegan options in Timbuktu - you get the idea. There is no strict guideline for how much you have to write, but we shoot for about 20 times a month, or every weekday."

Vegan MoFo is a blog event celebrated around the world in celebration and promotion of vegan food. If you're a local reader, excuse me when I sound like I'm talking to the international community.

I would have loved to start off MoFo #1 with something home-cooked or home-baked but maybe this post will be something completely different from what other Vegan MoFo bloggers would blog about. If you haven't heard the news, my beloved country, the Philippines, was hit by massive Typhoon Ondoy over last weekend, leaving 80% of Metro Manila completely flooded and half a million people displaced. I believe the death toll is 246, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Floods have reached over 10 feet high and they have not receded in some areas. People say that Ondoy is worse than Hurricane Katrina.

The great thing about the Filipino spirit is that we want to help out in any way we can. To be a Filipino in this state of calamity means giving your all for your fellow countrymen. No dependence on the government for us, nosiree (that's a whole different rant). Everyone has and is chipping in -- whether it's through donating relief goods, cash, or time to volunteer at packing centers or evacuation centers. Classes have been called off for the week and even the kids are helping out.

Flood refugees are in immediate need of food, and fast. The usual food care package a refugee and his/her family receive is composed of rice, canned goods (usually sardines, corned beef, and / or luncheon meat), instant noodles, and water. I'm not about to get on my high horse and say they shouldn't be eating meat. When you've lost your home and are struggling to survive and get your life on track, you definitely don't have the luxury of choosing what goes in your mouth.

But if you're someone who wants to donate to disaster victims and would like to give something different, let me enlighten you: give something vegan.
Not only are vegan items more nutritious than their meat counterpart, they give you more bang for your buck.

Here are some food ideas one can donate to a refugee's care package:
  1. Rice -- always a staple grain in Filipino cuisine and something that easily fills you up. White rice is of course more preferable, as it cooks more quickly than the brown or red varieties.
  2. Mongo beans -- this local legume is absolutely cheaper than meat and has a long shelf life. It's a good source of protein and fiber, which canned meat lacks. Best to get cracked mongo beans so they cook quicker. True, dried mongo beans need to be cooked and not all victims have access to cooking utensils, a makeshift stove, and drinking water for that matter. Perhaps soup kitchens that are popping up everyone should consider making mongo guisado over arroz caldo with chicken. Cheaper, more nutritious.
  3. Canned beans -- beans in tomato sauce are usually available in most supermarkets and there are always the kind packed in salted water. True, beans-in-water isn't as tasty as anything floating in sauce, but when you're a refugee, I'd think you'd take whatever you can get. Oh and, these are cheaper than canned meat.
  4. Crackers -- something that also fills you up cheaply. I am partial to the regular Skyflakes kind because it doesn't have milk (their wholewheat is not vegan).
  5. Peanut butter -- who doesn't love peanut butter, aside from those allergic to it? My favorite brand is Lily's because it doesn't contain additional oil and high fructose corn syrup. Made from local peanuts too, so you support local peanut farmers. Peanut butter is a quick source of protein, fat, and fiber, and easily goes with crackers and bread which are cheap. I've actually once eaten rice with peanut butter once, when I didn't have access to more palatable vegan food. Not the worst thing.
  6. Bread -- I like Olsen's over Gardenia because [a] it's cheaper, [b] it's vegan, and [c] it doesn't have an ingredients list that requires you to major in Chemistry.
  7. Soymilk -- I know I know, some brands are pretty expensive, but I love the brand Soyfresh because it's in the same price line as cow's milk. Aside from 1-liter tetra packs, Soyfresh comes in individual-sized drink boxes. Something for the kids, who need as much calcium as they can get.
  8. Sugar -- Most refugee parents would like to get sugar in their care packages because they mix this with water and feed it to their kids. I can't pull up a site right now but I think it's got something to do with dextrose. Or even blood sugar. Not only is brown sugar "healthier" than white, it's cheaper too.
  9. last but not the least... Water.
I hope this post enlightened you.

Hey international readers!
If you'd like to help us out, please visit Google's site on Help for Typhoon Ondoy victims. Scroll down to "credit card / paypal donations" if you'd like to make a monetary donation. Scroll down to "US-based drop off points" if you'd like to make a donation in kind. Sorry, I don't see any other drop off point for other countries. You can check Google's site frequently for updates. What's urgent right now is monetary donations because these will reach us faster.

If you're wandering what's happening to the non-human flood victims, the Philippine Animal Welfare Society is spearheading rescue efforts in Marikina, one of the most devastated cities in the metro. They currently have 16 animal refugees. More information on and pictures of the flood rescues here. Anyone can also drop off their pets in the PAWS Animal Rehabilitation Center here, while he/she attends to his/her survival. If you would like to make a monetary donation, view their instructions here. If you prefer in kind, view instructions here. Find out what they really need here. For the international readers, best to donate money.


Best effort to do a Vegan MoFo post every weekday in October but given that we're in a state of calamity, I'll do my best :)


Monique a.k.a. Mo said...

Thank you so much for blogging about this.

jenni said...

This is really helpful, thanks. Sometimes I don't know how to help in situations like this.

When I was a kid, and went to church, there was a hilarious story about large southern baptist ladies in Texas who sent a bunch of second hand bras to africa, and the recipients were like, "gosh, thanks."

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