Monday, April 23, 2012

Cupcakes for Earth Day

Yesterday was Earth Day, and as all vegans know, one of the best ways to contribute to the health of the planet is to minimize or eliminate the consumption of meat and dairy products. Raising animals for food requires huge amounts of fossil fuels, which then release massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The consumption of dairy products harms the environment too, since all those dairy cows produce millions of pounds of manure, which end up in cesspools that pollute our groundwater supplies.

So how does a vegan celebrate Earth Day? I'm glad you asked! In honor of Earth Day, I attended the 1000 Vegan Cupcakes for Charity Challenge at the Tower Bridge Bistro at the Embassy Suites in Old Sacramento. Eleven different bakers or bakeries made cupcakes for the event, which will benefit three charities: the Sacramento Tree Foundation, the Humane Society of the United States, and the Center for Land-Based Learning. The cupcakes were judged by a panel of celebrity judges, including the Humane Society's Jennifer Fearing, Dr. Don Forrester from Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the Sacramento Tree Foundation's Ray Tretheway, Gina Garcia from Yoga in the Park and Yoga Across America, and author and vegan chef Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, who was there signing copies of her books, including The Joy of Vegan Baking.

The bakeries that participated were Sugar Plum Vegan Bakery, Bicycle Bakery, Sweet Stuff Cakery, Vanilla Bean Gourmet Bakery, Busy Bees Cupcakery, Baagan Vegan Cafe, Live Food Academy, Sun Flour Baking Company, Capitol Garage, Tower Bridge Bistro, and Whole Foods Market. It wasn't possible to try all of the beautifully-prepared cupcakes that were available at this event, but I sampled a few.

The Sangria cupcake made by Sugar Plum Vegan Bakery was incredible, very light and moist. I tried the Orange Creamsicle cupcake from Vanilla Bean Gourmet Bakery, which was also light and delicious. The Peanut Butter Cup from Sweet Stuff Cakery combined a chocolate cupcake with a fluffy peanut butter frosting, an unbeatable combination. The Tower Bridge Bistro's Chocolate Macadamia Nut cupcake was excellent, with a dark chocolate cupcake and a light and creamy chocolate frosting. One of the more unusual cupcakes was the Indian Masala cupcake made by Baagan Vegan Cafe, which combined some very interesting ingredients, such as a gluten-free flour blend, coconut oil, tamarind, Indian spices, and pistachios, into a very tasty dessert.

As a bonus attraction, Here's the Scoop! brought an ice cream cart to the event and passed out free samples of their fabulous vegan ice cream. I'm a huge fan of their Very Cherry Chip vegan ice cream, but I decided to try something new. I had one of their Blueberry vegan ice cream bonbons, and it was sensational.

In recognition of the fact that this event took place on Earth Day, there were several placards lying on a table in the center of the room that offered facts and figures about the problems caused by meat consumption. One placard that especially caught my eye said that it takes over 5,000 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef, and it quoted John Robbins, author of The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and the World, as saying, "In California today, you may save more water by not eating a pound of beef than you would by not showering for six entire months."

If you're not a vegan, maybe Earth Day is a good time to think about consuming fewer animal products. Even if you don't believe that you could ever embrace a strictly vegan diet, maybe you could think about going vegan one day a week, or at least eating a vegan meal once in awhile. It may be easier than you think, especially now that it's starting to feel like salad weather.

Kudos to Bethany Davis and the folks at Sacramento Vegan Challenge for organizing this fun event. I hope it becomes an annual Earth Day celebration.

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