Easy "Teriyaki" Sauce

Now, according to wikipedia traditional teriyaki sauce includes mirin but sometimes that can be kinda hard to find in the states so here’s a way to make a basic glaze that tastes pretty similar to traditional teriyaki sauce, is pretty lot on spoons, and can be used with just about any type of meat or meat substitute.

What you’ll need to make the sauce:

- 1 cup hot water

- 1 cup white sugar

- 1 cup soy sauce*

- ¼ cup minced garlic*

- ¼ cup minced ginger*

To make variations:

- pinch of red pepper flakes

- a couple dashes of rice wine vinegar

*low-sodium soy sauce can be used

*you can buy pre-minced garlic and ginger (normally they’re located in the produce dept of most grocery stores), or you can easily used ground ginger or garlic if you don’t have any fresh stuff on hand 

Cooking Instructions

- Mix hot water and sugar together until all the sugar is dissolved (this mixture is called a “simple syrup”)

- Add soy sauce, ginger, garlic (if you are adding vinegar or red pepper flakes do so now) and mix well

- Take meat product or meat-substitute and place in a large skillet or pot, pour sauce over this and turn on medium heat until it starts to boil (start to bubble)

- Cook on medium heat, moving meat/substitute every five minutes) until meat product or meat substitute is fully cooked and sauce has reduced into a syrup

- Tada! You’re done. Serve this over rice with some veggies (either cooked with the sauce or steamed on the side) and you’ve got a nice meal that can make quite a few leftovers.

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Der Leberkäse aka Fleischkäse is a delicious German specialty food similar to bologna sausage. It consists of corned beef, pork, bacon, and onions and is made by grinding the ingredients very finely and then baking it as a loaf in a bread pan until it has a crunchy brown crust. It is said to have been invented in 1776, although this story has been heavily contested. The name literally translates to “liver-cheese” due to the fact that older recipes included liver and because of the cheese-like texture of the dish. Since the modern version typically has no liver, the term “Fleischkäse” became widespread. 

I don’t make the slavery comparison lightly. Slavery is the system that stripped my ancestors of their pride and possessions and brought them to this country in chains. Slavery is the system that forced my ancestors to live without freedom and work without compensation for generations. Slavery is the system that created so many of the inequalities African Americans still encounter today.

Understanding the horrific impact of slavery is why I agreed to be the Goodwill Ambassador for a UN memorial honoring the victims of the transatlantic slave trade. I wanted to do my part to ensure that something as devastating to the human condition as slavery will never happen again. Just as I want to ensure that something as devastating to both the human and the animal condition as eating animal products is ultimately judged just as harshly as slavery is today.

In the way I make comparisons between the meat industrial complex and slavery, others have made the same comparisons with Nazism. As unpopular as those comparisons might be, they need to be made as well. Consider the words of Holocaust survivor—and vegan– Alex Hershaft, who told the Jewish Journal he couldn’t help but see the parallels between the meat industry and the Nazi Holocaust, including “the crowding, cattle cars, brutality and the routine and efficiency of mass extermination….I echo the wisdom of famed Yiddish writer Isaac Bashevis Singer: ‘For the animals, life is an eternal Treblinka,’” referring to the Nazi concentration camp.

Speaking of Singer, if you’re not familiar, he was an iconic Jewish writer who grew up in a Warsaw ghetto and fled to America on the eve of the Holocaust. In his classic book Enemies: A Love Story, he describes the reaction of one of his characters, a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust, to watching an animal killed for its meat:
As often as Herman had witnessed the slaughter of animals and fish, he always had the same thought: in their behavior towards creatures, all men were Nazis. The smugness with which man could do with other species as he pleased exemplified the most extreme racist theories, the principle that might is right.

Singer didn’t write those words lightly— he was a European Jew who understood all too well just how cruel and inhumane the Nazi mentality was. Who spent most of his life trying to make sense of the damage the Nazis did to his family and his world. When he writes, “in their behavior towards creatures, all men were Nazis,” you can feel the pain of that truth.

Notice that Singer didn’t say that people are Nazi’s all the time, but rather than just in how they treat animals. It’s a crucial distinction and really gets to the heart of what I’m trying to convey in this section. Eating animals does not make you terrible person. It does not make you a Nazi. Or a slave trader.

It does, however, represent some of our most unconscious behavior. Our unconscious mind that can make us blind to another being’s suffering. That allows us to hold on to racist theories. That allows us put our own perceived needs over the common good.
“The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essence of inhumanity.“ George Bernard Shaw.

Breaking out of that sort of unconscious mind set is why I go to yoga. Why I practice meditation. And yes, why I don’t eat animal products.

—  Russell Simmons “The Happy Vegan”