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The Cake and the Controversy, Part 1: The Controversy

Posted by at 1:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (16)


pb-cake1It was never intended to be controversial. I simply shared a photo of my self-made, hybrid-recipe birthday cake in an e-mail to some friends and family (yes, that’s the actual cake pictured). I was quite pleased with the end result, which I described as “a dark chocolate layer cake with an intense peanut butter cup-like filling, topped with a peanut butter cream cheese frosting and a rich chocolate glaze—and all vegan.”

That last word—”vegan”—sparked the controversy. A family member e-mailed me this: “It looks delicious, but I’d rather have it with real ingredients. Sorry about that. I guess the proof is in the pudding.” Real ingredients? Get real!

This was my reply: “With all due respect, I’m confused by your comments. All of the ingredients I used were real. They just were not ingredients derived from animal sources, making them lower in fat, cholesterol-free, and cruelty-free (the egg and dairy industry‘s factory farming takes inhumane animal treatment to barbaric levels).”

The proof is indeed in the pudding. I shared slices of the cake with my colleagues, who are honest almost to a fault when it comes to my baking samples, and they all agreed that it was excellent. One of them said that she would have never known that the cake was vegan. In a taste test between a store-bought bakery cake and mine, mine would win. Previous rave reviews of my vegan baking inspired me to write a recent PETA Prime post.

pb-cake1

The "controversial" cake.

And that led to this response: “I guess it is a matter of perspective. I guess I was using ‘real’ in the sense of regular coffee vs. decaf, or regular soda vs. diet. To each his own.”

My rebuttal: “The comparison to regular coffee vs. decaf or regular soda vs. diet is not quite the same as comparing non-vegan food to vegan food. Using the term ‘regular’ gives the impression of it being superior, much like the way ‘normal’ was often—and sometimes still—used in a derogatory way. Perhaps ‘traditional’ (different, but not necessarily better or worse) would be more palatable, so to speak! A better analogy might be with building a house. The owner decides what materials to use. Everyone uses different combinations for different reasons, but the end result is the same-a house-and one is not necessarily better than the other. The composition of the house is what is best suited to the needs and desires of the individual, just like the composition of a vegan recipe is best suited to the needs and desires of a vegan. However, to carry the analogy a bit further, some of the materials for the traditional (non-vegan) house would have involved the use of slave labor, cruelty, and environmental harm in the form of factory-farmed animals, while the non-traditional (vegan) house would have been slave-free, cruelty-free, and more environmentally friendly.”

If a vegan cake tastes just as good—or even better than—a non-vegan cake, for the sake of animals, the environment, and one’s own health, the vegan option takes the cake every time!

Click here to read “Part 2: The Cake,” where I reveal the recipe, with all its real ingredients!

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16 Comments

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    Robin says...

    May 13th, 2011, 3:08 pm

    Real? For so many people these days, “real” baking ingredients include growth hormones given to farm animals and are present in dairy products. Those growth hormones give those desserts a certain je ne sais quoi…. And then there’s that “real” chocolate that conventional folks prefer, that, unlike pure chocolate, is adulterated with milk as well as additives. I volunteer to taste-test whenever you bake!

    Renata says...

    May 13th, 2011, 6:17 pm

    Yes, Robin, you are totally right. A glass of cow milk contains approximately 8 million (or are they billion? I don’t remember)pus cells. They are definitely real.
    Good that Rick remained calm: with such gross, arrogant, offensive, short-sighted and totally wrong comments one would be tempted to reply on the same level!

    John Virag says...

    May 13th, 2011, 6:18 pm

    Looks and sounds like a fantastic cake. Looking forward to the revelation in the Part 2. However, I do see where some confusion could arise. You stated “topped with a peanut butter cream cheese frosting” Cream cheese, the last time I checked IS dairy…..even though there are some great alternatives made from tofu out there. (which i tend to crave on occasion) Perhaps instead of using traditional titles we could stop attempting substitutes and just state something like smooth peanut butter frosting? My mouth is watering looking at the pic!

    Stephanie says...

    May 13th, 2011, 6:19 pm

    Rick – you also have to also reveal who is the lucky BIRTHDAY boy/girl! Wish I was related!!! Stephanie

    Joelle says...

    May 13th, 2011, 7:28 pm

    Interesting conversation. It’s hard to have it without sounding high and mighty I’ve found. But the willful ignorance I’m confronted with is sometimes so defeating to me….

    Mary Ann says...

    May 13th, 2011, 7:39 pm

    Can’t wait to get the recipe!!! Looks delicious and “bakery worthy”.

    Justin Prater says...

    May 13th, 2011, 8:17 pm

    The person that said “real ingredients” needs to seriously be educated.

    march says...

    May 13th, 2011, 8:20 pm

    please post the recipe, want 2 try:)

    Rick Thompson says...

    May 13th, 2011, 8:38 pm

    In response to Stephanie’s question about who was the lucky birthday boy/girl: it was my birthday! Since I love to bake, it’s a “real” treat to make my own cake–and eat it too!
    In response to John’s comments about the cream cheese frosting: fear not, it was vegan (Tofutti). But, yes, it could be called creamy peanut butter frosting instead.

    Michael says...

    May 13th, 2011, 9:16 pm

    The word ‘real’ actually bothers me in other areas too. How often have we all heard people talk about REAL women as opposed to models? Models are not robots or aliens from outer space. What does that mean???? Models actually have their own problems too!

    But this is the first time I have heard it used regarding ingredients. It doesn’t make any sense at all. Wow. People need to spend some time reading before they speak!

    The cake looks and sounds fantastic!

    Jane says...

    May 14th, 2011, 10:21 am

    You are an artist— A REAL ONE!

    Colette says...

    May 16th, 2011, 4:49 am

    Can’t wait for the ‘real’ recipe ‘real’ soon! Your cake is the ‘real’ deal. Oh come on, really now …

    dawn says...

    May 16th, 2011, 9:47 pm

    Mmmm,it looks REAL yum! Hurry and reveal that recipe!

    rushell says...

    May 17th, 2011, 3:35 pm

    omg that looks delicious!!!! what is the recipe???

    Adam says...

    May 21st, 2011, 5:43 am

    From the article I wouldn´t say the other person who said real ingredients, was: gross, arrogant, offensive, short-sighted and totally wrong comments, it´s just he said what a lot of people whould say, because it´s the way most of us have been broght up. It´s society, but I´m sure it´ll make him think about all this. The best words would be alternative ingrdients or new, or a total new recipy.
    Adam.

    Veganette says...

    October 14th, 2011, 3:00 pm

    The cake looks so delicious! I would always have the vegan option and I would probably react the same way to the cake response. What is interesting is that vegan option is also much tastier than the animal-ingredients-filled one! Soy milk, soy steaks etc. I can’t believe how some people choose to eat animal products even though vegan products are available to them, rich with everything a human body needs AND delicious. I guess the ‘traditionalists’ see it much like in ‘Matrix’ – they want the steak, even though it’s a lie (and harmful) to their body!

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