Meatless and Manly

Vegans are getting a new face--men in their 40s and 50s who have switched to veganism to look better, live longer and feel healthier. The Boston Globe (March 24, 2010) reported on this trend, which focuses on the positive health benefits of dumping meat from the diet. Dubbed “hegans” by some, these men are changing the way veganism is viewed by many. Some famous hegans include Toby Maguire of Spider-Man fame and singer Thom Yorke of the band Radiohead. Many of these men embrace healthy remakes of meaty staples, such as avocado Reuben sandwiches or faux meatloaf.

Pasta is consumed frequently by hegans, who often live very busy or even athletic lifestyles. The diet appeals to single men who cook for themselves, but some are also family men, who have convinced their spouses and children that veganism is the way to more energy and a healthier life.

There are no hard numbers on how many hegans exist in America, because most men do not make their eating habits public. In fact, Bob Bouley, owner of The Pulse Café, in Boston’s Davis Square, says, “Being a vegan is not something I flaunt, it’s just something I believe in.” Fare such as smoked tofu or Portobello maki grace his menu, and in Newton, Mass., a raw vegan restaurant, Prana Café, is poised to become a new hegan hang-out. Owner/operators Taylor and Philippe Wells estimate 10-15% of their customers are hegans, and that number appears to be growing. “We get men who come in who want to cleanse and feel good....It makes sense that it would become a new fad.”

Brewing Up a Trend
Beer has always been a popular beverage and has long been used in cooking and barbecueing. However, the March 25, 2010, Los Angeles Times reports beer is now making it big in bakery items and desserts. Kiss My Bundt Bakery owner Chrysta Wilson stocks her fridge with Mexican beer for her Tecate cake, which is moist, light and crumbly. Wilson cites the carbonation as the key to the cake’s success.

Beer is finding its way into pastry dishes that are not only sweet, but have layered textures and flavors that would not be possible otherwise. What started as quirky beer and ice cream floats have now spread to shakes, cakes, gelato, fritters and candy, such as beer brittle (shown above). At the Golden State, café owner Jason Bernstein collaborated with Scoops gelato chef Tai Kim. Their signature is a float that combines North Coast Old Rasputin Imperial Stout with “brown bread ice cream”--vanilla ice cream streaked with caramel and loaded with caramelized Grape-Nuts. “Grape-Nuts are like a wheat berry,” says Bernstein. “It was bringing out very grainy qualities that were present, but latent, in the Rasputin.”

Beer has a diverse flavor spectrum, from citrusy wheat or tangy sour beers and bitter pale ales, to earthy coffee or chocolate notes. Contrasting flavors can be used in floats, shakes and popsicles. The Golden State began with flavors like chocolate and coffee, but recently branched out by pairing sour beers with tangy, fruity gelatos, such as New Belgium Brewing Co.’s Fall Wilde Ale with black