I still remember the first time I saw an elephant. I was 6 years old and my family took a weekend trip to a zoo back home in Brazil. A while ago, I had the chance to live in South Africa for six months. During that time I went on a safari and, among a range of other wildlife, I saw for the first time the magnificent elephants roaming around in their natural habitat. It was incredible!!
Recently, elephants appeared in the headlines of several newspapers as new population assessments indicate a dramatic decrease in their numbers, mainly as a result of poaching. One headline in The Guardian stated: “Saving Africa’s elephants: Can you imagine them no longer existing?” The report explained that due to poaching and the unquenchable “hunger” for illegal ivory trade, the population of savannah elephants shrank 30% between 2007 and 2012. However, not only elephants, but as many as two thirds of all wild animals could be extinct by 2020, another recent report explains. An interesting book that I have been reading and would highly recommend is: “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History” (available on amazon UK, DE, US, CA).
Now, you might be thinking what does this have to do with veganism? Well, a lot indeed! Here are my reasons:
Although ivory trade is the biggest threat to the elephants, agriculture has also been acknowledged as a huge threat to wildlife, including the elephants from Africa and Asia. On a large degree, wildlife has been displaced to make room for crops that will end up as a feed for animals kept in factory farms to supply the increasing demand for meat. In Brazil, for instance, approximately 5.6 million acres of land are currently used to grow soy beans which are largely exported and used to produce animal feed. Another report in The Guardian showed that agriculture is a huge contributor to deforestation, causing habitat loss and extinction of species. This same report cited a study published in the scientific magazine Nature which indicates that agriculture represents a huge threat to wildlife – in fact, some reckon its negative effects to be greater even than climate change.
Well, I can say that one of the reasons that made me go vegan was the knowledge of the staggering amount of land that has been cleared to make room for crops that will ultimately feed animals in factory farms. My goal with this blog is help people realize that vegan meals are delicious, healthy and easy to prepare. And talking about delicious and healthy vegan meals, today I prepared unforgettable sweet potato mini breads to inspire you to bake without any animal product!
- 1 ½ cup (approx. 250 grams) of cooked and smashed sweet potato
- 2 and 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 package (7 grams) of active dry yeast
- 1 cup of warm water
- 1 tablespoon of vegan margarine (or vegetable oil)
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 1 tablespoon of maize flour (optional)
- Steps are show in the pictures
- Pill the sweet potato, cut in pieces and bring to a boil till they are soft (alternatively you can place them in the microwave for around 5 minutes, till soft). Drain the water and mash the sweet potatoes.
- In a large bowl, combine warm water, yeast, margarine, salt and sugar. Add the mash sweet potato and the maize flour. Stir and slowly add the flour and beat till smooth.
- Turn onto a floured surface; knead till smooth and elastic. Cover and let rise till the size is doubled (around 45 minutes).
- Place the dough in a floured surface. Roll out the dough (start in the center, working outward towards the edges but not rolling over them). Use a rounded tool to cut oval shapes. I used a dessert bowl (diameter 10 cm). Hold the dough in your hand, add the filling (I used chopped grill veggies and homemade tomato paste) and stick the edges together to seal the filling. Carefully roll then between your hands to form a bowl (floured your hands to avoid the balls to stick at your hands). Place the balls in a baking dish. Leave them for 30 min to rise again.
- Optional for brushing the breads: Combine 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1/3 cup of warm water, 1 tablespoon of maize flour, ½ teaspoon of turmeric, 1 teaspoon of melted margarine or coconut oil. Mix very well, and brush over the breads. It will made the breads more shinning and soft.
- Preheat the oven to 200 °C. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
- This recipe yields approx. 20 mini breads.