Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Prince of Tofu

The fascination started with the corner of a box...

See? It's that little bit of pop culture that jumps up suddenly and catches you totally unawares. I want to frame it and it put on a wall and say, "Hey look! This is worth contemplating!" I'm not much for big brands and big companies, but this definitely justified my willingness to try something new. What does all that stuff mean?

David Mintz, an Orthodox Jew, developed Tofutti as a kosher caterer. In Manhattan, that kind of specialization can really help a business. He was looking for a way to serve ice cream after meat without violating ancient Jewish law, which forbids the mixing of dairy and flesh at a meal. This is interesting to me because here's an intersection point for the kosher diet and the vegan one, both related in my eyes, since their restrictions are at least ostensibly based on belief.

Because he's kept kosher for 15 years now, I asked my friend Stephen about it, and he told me, "I am very familiar with Tofutti. It is a mainstay in kosher homes and we use it frequently. Especially in the summer or during Pesach or at Thanksgiving." He continued, "Tofutti is one of the leading Pareve products on the marketplace. That means it is kosher, vegetarian and dairy free. Its products are commonly used as substitutes for recipes which include dairy ingredients, eg, Tofutti sour cream is often used with mexican dishes like chili, tacos, burritos or fajitas. Tofutti 'creamer' is used to make mashed potatoes. Tofutti ice cream is used as a sub for natural ice cream. And so on"

Wow, not only is he very knowledgeable, but we've definitely found common ground here. Much as I'd like to make my own everything, to me, a well-stocked fridge has both Tofutti sour cream and cream cheese somewhere behind all the home-cooked leftovers in plastic containers. In the heat of putting a dinner together, it's good to know that these products are there for the impassioned grabbing.

When I asked Stephen to interpret the label, he requested more detail, but he did offer me this: "Because it is pareve and certified kosher there is a stricter standard and more certainty that the product is not even exposed to trace amounts of dairy ingredients, or meat for that matter, since it would render the product unkosher and unmarketable."

This is only the beginning of what Stephen had to tell me. There's definitely more than one post in this!  Stephen is now the Unofficial Expert on All Things Kosher right here on The Nervous Vegan.

Much more to come. Stay tuned. Same Monkey time, same Monkey channel!


  1. Wow, I'm an expert! Albeit unofficial....I'm so honored :)

  2. I posted a lot more today. Hoping you like it. I'm the one who's honored! :-)

  3. Tofutti does make at least one product with meat in it.The salmon cream cheese. :/