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Tofu Icons: Vegan Ideas From Recipes To Design
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Tofu Icons: Vegan Ideas From Recipes To Design

Toys, t-shirts and even videogames: not just a vegan ingredient anymore, tofu has turned into the protagonist of many graphic design projects

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"His name is Musuku To-Fu, and he’s a tofu fairy living on the planet To-Fu. He’s always nervous about his head splattering if he falls. Since he is made from silk strained tofu, his head is extremely fragile. However, his head has self-healing powers and will always recover in a matter of hours. He wishes he were the sturdy type, but he never admits it. Because the last time he said it, his mother would look really sad, and he doesn’t want to hurt her feelings.”

When, in 900 AD Japanese Buddhist monarchs baptized a Chinese culinary tradition with the name Tofu, they could never have imagined that it would have, over the course of the next thousand years, evolved to Tofu Sapiens and then Tofu Stellaris. This progress isn’t the result of a kind of Darwinian genetic advancement, but to the the creativity of Shinichiro Kitai (aka Devilrobots), who came up with the idea of an entire Tofu Dynasty, made up of characters with their own precise and defined personality. One weak point they all share in common? Their fragile heads that, like the three qualities of edible tofu found today – may either be silken (creamy and rich with liquids), firm (rubbery but crumbly), or dry (which also crumbles easily).

Other designers, following Shinichiro’s lead, have helped raise this soy milk rennet to iconic status, with T-shirts printed with pro-animal slogans: tofu’s high protein content, of course, makes it a wonderful meat substitute for vegetarians or vegans. And these clever tofu activists have come up with slogans like “Eat beans not beings”, “Save a Life, Eat Tofu”, or even “Give Beans a Chance”.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatments of Animals) has created Super Tofu Boy: a multi-leveled video game whose main character is a cube of tofu, who – racing among slaughter houses and bacon factories – seeks to save his girlfriend who’s been kidnapped by Meat Boy, a bloody piece of slimy animal meat. This seems like a clear answer to the videogame Tofu Hunters: a “shoot ‘em up” game in which players hunt tofu with stag horns and Seitan birds. There’s even a special bonus for players who hit the carton of soy milk left in the woods by a littering vegetarian.

Even food design is having fun with the shape and taste of tofu, which non-fans of the soy product describe as tasting like “wet cardboard”. Jean-Maxime Landry, a young designer from UQAM in Montreal, has created Type-Tofu, a box that resembles the ones building blocks come in, which contain the letters of the alphabet made out of firm tofu, and their liquid. The package features the written message: “Dear Tofu, words fail me to tell you how boring you were and that I never thought of you when I was cooking. But now that you have letters to answer me, I fell the dawn of a relationship and already I find you are more friendly”.

So even the most skeptical eater is now more easily seduced by tofu – this ancient, healthy, and versatile food – suited for both sweet and savory dishes. Beginners can even spart with an app for iPhones and Androids, 1500 + Tofu Recipes is a collection of recipes divided by ingredients and categories: ethnic, vegan, vegetarian, diabetic-friendly and egg/lactose free.

So every time you eat a meatless meal, just remember that an animals may be out there, whispering, arigaTo-fu!

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