Sunday, July 6, 2008
When natural isn't better
I just got back from the vegetarian/vegan Mecca, NYC. We had great meals at Angelica Kitchen, Red Bamboo, and Two Boots Pizza. I can highly recommend all eateries. I'd wanted to try Angelica for several years and it did not disappoint. I had soup and a salad and HS had a seitan burrito. Red Bamboo has an extensive ecletic menu. This time we both had seitan; a sandwich and a skewer plate. Two Boots is my new favorite pizzeria, and they have a hearty vegan slice. They just need to put their jalapeno pesto on it (not really a pesto, more of a puree, and I'm sure it's vegan) and it would be perfect.
I have a letter to the editor in Natural Health magazine this month. My letter is in response to an article about sustainable sandalwood products. I say that sandalwood has been pushed to the verge of extinction due to the perfume industry, and that it's better to buy products with synthetic sandalwood, which smells exactly the same but uses only a fraction of the resources that sandalwood tree production (sustainable or not) does. It's important to replant sandalwood, of course, but I think it's a mistake to always prefer "natural" scents. In some cases it takes a ton of flowers, leaves, etc. to produce a gallon of essential oil. It just reminds me a bit too much of meat production in its resources in/ product out ratio.
Another way that I don't prefer natural is in regards to sweeteners. Actually, just one sweetener, agave. I figured out a few years ago (it involved tequila; don't ask) that I'm violently allergic to cactus derivatives. I can stay away from tequila but agave is more pernicious, often masquerading as a "natural sweetener." It rules out a lot of energy bars or vegan sweets for me. I'm writing about it because there is next to nothing on the 'net about agave allergies/reactions. (My reaction is horrendous stomach pains.) If you know anyone who's also allergic to agave, holla back so I know I'm not alone!