A Dozen Ways to Serve a Sweet Potato (A Photo Essay)

November 27th, 2010 7:06 pm by Kelly Garbato

Fry's Vegetarian - Sweet potato

Regular readers know that I’m no stranger to pop culture analysis. (In fact, I watch so much television that it’s only a matter of time before I start to resemble the potato above. But at least it’s sweet!) Well, for my next VeganMoFo trick, watch while I dissect the above advertisement – and then refute it with some super-hot vegan food (not-)porn action. Shall we?

A large, rather symmetrical sweet potato (Seriously, when’s the last time you’ve seen such a beautifully proportioned sweet potato? I would love to peel the hell out of that baby!) occupies most of the real estate in the ad above. The potato is dissected into six discrete pieces by a cartoon-like, white dotted line that’s been superimposed over it, thus evoking the look and feel of old-timey butchers’ posters. You know the kind: hanging in Sam the Butcher’s storefront, such posters helpfully illustrate the different “cuts” of meat one can obtain from the body of a murdered and dismembered nonhuman animal. (Google, for example, “cuts of beef”. This is an image that PETA seems fond of mimicking/parodying, with debatable success. But I digress, and dangerously so!) Other images in the series depict a zucchini and eggplant carved up similarly.

Because every “cut” of the sweet potato is identical to the others, the ad seems to be suggesting that such visual analogies are ridiculous; humorous, even. Compared to “meat,” plant-based foods are boring. Monotonous. Lacking in variety or diversity. Undifferentiated masses of blah. In other words, being a vegan/vegetarian sucks balls.

The most interesting aspect of this ad series is that it’s promoting – wait for it! – vegetarian food (!). Specifically, Fry’s Vegetarian Foods, which specializes in meals heavy in mock “meat.” Though I’m disappointed to see a vegetarian company engage in the negative stereotyping of plant-based foods, I can’t exactly say that I’m shocked, given the context.

I know, I know; it’s all in good fun, right? Except when it’s not. The consumption of animal flesh and secretions is largely a choice in Western cultures – and one category of “reasons” (excuses, really) that carnists commonly use to justify their dietary choices involves societal mythconceptions and prejudices concerning cruelty-free options, i.e., that any foodstuffs that do not contain animal by-/products are necessarily boring, bland and monotonous. Rather than cater to these harmful stereotypes, we should actively challenge them.

Which brings me to the VeganMoFo Photo Essay portion of this post. What follows are twelve gorgeous, creative, yummy dishes that incorporate sweet potatoes as a primary ingredient. (I might have just as easily executed this project with zucchini or eggplant, but hey, ’tis the season, am I right?) The tip of the proverbial iceberg, these photos and recipes demonstrate that vegan foods are anything but boring.

Now grab a knife, fork and potato peeler and dig in, MoFo-ers!

1. Roasted Sweet Potato Salad With Black Beans and Chili Dressing:

sweet potato salad

2. Baked Sweet Potato and Red Pepper Wontons:

More Vegan Wontons - Baked Sweet Potato and red pepper filled!

3. Sweet Potato Latkes with a Vegan Sour Cream:

sweet potato latkes with a vegan sour cream

4. Sweet Potato, Pumpkin and Spinach Puffs:

sweet potato, pumpkin and spinach puffs

5. White Pizza with Sweet Potato and Caramelized Onions:

White Pizza with Sweet Potato and Caramelized Onions

6. BBQ Lentil and Baked Sweet Potato Soup:

bbq lentil and baked sweet potato soup

7. Baked Sweet Tater (topped with raw almond butter, ground flax seeds, hemp seeds, unsweetened coconut, coconut oil, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt):

Baked Sweet Tater

8. Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili:

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

9. Cookie-Crusted (!) Sweet Potatoes:

finished sweet potatoes

10. Sweet Potato Fries (Chef’s Choice, holla!):

sweet potato fries

11. Sweet Potato Chips (take your pick, peeps!)

Sweet Potato Chips

…and, for the grand finale…

12. Vegan Sweet Potato Pecan Ice Cream:

Vegan Sweet Potato Ice Cream

Oh, hell, let’s just make this a Baker’s Dozen, mkay? Here’s a dish you can share with the canines in your family.

13. Golden Baked Tofu and Sweet Potatoes (for dogs & their peoples!)

2010-03-17 - Baked Tofu & Sweet Potatoes - 0003

(Hint, hint: sliced and dehydrated, sweet potatoes make for pretty NOMy DIY dog chews, too!)

With that, I hope we’ve laid the issue of vegetable versatility to rest. Veganism only hinders those cooks whose minds were narrow and stagnant from the get-go.

Tall-nut resists the dinosaur invasion

And merciless: plants don’t scream when you kill and cook them.

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Photos are shared under a Creative Commons license by the following Flickr users: sassyradish; Halyma; sweetbeetandgreenbean; penguincakes; well.written.or.badly.written; sweetbeetandgreenbean (redux!); prideandvegudice; flyzipper; sweetbeetandgreenbean (she loves her sweet potatoes, yo!); massdistraction; travelvice; VeganBaking-dot-net; smiteme (hey, that’s me!); and denn, for the win.

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