Exploring how far I can take vegan food was only one of my motivations for creating a vegan menu. The other impulse originated from a documentary I came across recently. Forks over Knives takes a critical look at the western diseases from the perspective of the people’s diet. The main message of the documentary is that there is a direct causal relationship between the excessive amounts of meat, dairy products, sugar and fat consumed in our western diet, and the still increasing diseases of our era such as diabetes, heart attacks, strokes and cancer. According to the doctors and researchers featured in the film, all these diseases can be avoided and even cured by a whole-foods, plant-based diet.
The documentary not only discusses research results, but also shows the healing process of several people suffering from the previously mentioned diseases. For example one of them had already five bypass operations, another woman was diagnosed with breast cancer, a third woman survived two heart attacks and was predicted to live only another 6 months, and yet another group of patients were suffering from type 2 diabetes. After changing to a plant-based diet they not only could dismiss their daily medicine but are still alive today.
In the documentary, several different studies are presented – all of them concluding that the excessive meat and dairy consumption is directly causing and spreading the aforementioned severe diseases, which by the way appeared only in the last 50-100 years in significant numbers. T. Colin Campbell was interviewed in the film about his China Study, in which he and his Chinese colleagues evaluated data about the diet and diseases of the Chinese population. The result of his several decade long work was the proof of a direct causal relationship between the consumption of animal products, and cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Caldwell B. Esselstyn came to a similar conclusion during his studies, which he published in his book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. He showed that a whole-foods, plant-based diet not only stops or even heals cancer, but also reverses the narrowing of the arteries. Several other doctors were interviewed in the documentary who also confirmed the positive, healing effects of the vegan diet. Although, the most convincing to me were the patients who were healed of their serious diseases only by changing their diet.
Along with the documentary a book has also been published with the same content and messages as discussed in the film. Additionally in the book you can find tips for changing your diet to vegan. Also included in the book are more than 100 recipes helping to take the first steps into a meat and dairy free healthy future. One of the recipes was this homemade almond milk I originally found at Savory Simple along with the recommendation for this documentary. I used the almond milk both as garnish and as broth for the broccoli soup below. Cow milk is basically an emulsion of fat, protein and water. Nuts are rich in fat and protein, so any kind of nuts can be used to make a purely vegan milk. If you might wonder about the missing calcium – nuts contain about the same amount of calcium as milk, so there’s no need to worry.
Similarly to my previous post, I created this vegan soup for a Hungarian vegetarian foodblog contest organized by a friend. I used the almond milk in a very simple dish, which basically contains only two ingredients: broccoli and almonds. If making soup, it’s always worth to set aside some blanched, still firm pieces as garnish. I reserved some nice florets and cubes from the stem of the broccoli, which I blanched only shortly to keep them al dente. Many people use only the florets of the broccoli, although the stem is edible too. I like to use the stem to cook a broccoli stock, which I use afterwards to cook the florets. For the cream soup you can also puree the softened stems and press it through a fine sieve to remove hard fibers.
From the homemade almond milk I created small almond panna cotta cylinders using agar-agar. Because I don’t own any cylinder-shaped silicon molds, I jellied the almond milk in a plastic cup and used an apple core remover to cut out the long tubes. I pureed the remaining jelly and used it as garnish along with some reserved broccoli stem puree. The roasted almonds served both as crispy and a kind of “spicy” component. Actually, the dish can be served without the soup too.