World Tofu Day
annually on July 26th (since 2014)
World Tofu Day was created by the Society for the Protection of Animals (SPA) Canada to offer an opportunity for people to celebrate plant-based diets and to encourage them to bring animal-friendly foods onto their menus. It celebrates the many alternatives to animal products "and the many advantages of living a cruelty-free lifestyle." It's also a day to get people to try tofu and to view it in a new way, "as a tasty, versatile food that can easily replace many animal-derived products to avoid encouraging the horrible farming industry." The first World Tofu Day was marked in 2014. In Montreal, at least 12,000 people attended a vegan barbecue on the inaugural celebration.
Tofu is made from soybeans that are curdled and then pressed into blocks. It is high in protein, relatively low in calories, and low in carbohydrates. It is low in saturated fat but higher in heart-healthy fats. Tofu contains iron, magnesium, manganese, selenium, and calcium, and is sometimes fortified with other minerals and vitamins. Tofu is versatile. It takes on the flavor of what it is cooked with, it can be used to make anything from the main dish to a dessert, and just like meat, it can be fried, grilled, steamed, baked, or pan-cooked. There are tofu curds, pressed tofu sheets, frozen tofu, and burgers and sausages made from tofu.
Consumption of tofu goes back to the tenth century when it was created in China. Soybeans were widespread and the tofu was easy to make, so it became an affordable option for those who didn't have the financial means for meat. The Chinese added herbs to tofu to give it flavor, and they fried, smoked, and dried it. A good source of protein, it was already associated with healthy eating back at this time, although not specifically with vegetarianism or veganism.
Explorers from the West came across tofu in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but it wasn't until the early twentieth century, when Asian immigration to the West expanded, that tofu reached the broader culture. It at first was found in Asian shops but eventually made its way to mainstream supermarkets. The Book of Tofu, published in 1975, did much to help introduce tofu to the Western world, as well as to encourage vegetarianism and veganism. With the book's release, tofu became inextricably linked with vegetarianism and veganism. On World Tofu Day, tofu is viewed in new ways and eaten, and plant-based diets are celebrated!
How to Observe World Tofu Day
The day could be celebrated by organizing a picnic or barbecue with tofu and inviting your friends who have never eaten it before. You could also make a tofu dish at home or order one at a restaurant. Trying other vegan or vegetarian foods is another great way to take part in the day!