I’m not a vegan, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy or appreciate vegan dishes. I’m a huge produce fan, and considering all the health benefits a vegan diet provides, I’ve been eager to try some vegan recipes. After searching the web, I wanted to share some tasty recipes I plan to try.
Curried Coconut Quinoa and Greens with Roasted Cauliflower
Normally I am not a fan of cauliflower, at least when it’s raw, but cooked cauliflower can be delicious, especially if seasoned with cayenne pepper, curry powder, and turmeric. I’m a huge curry fan, and quinoa came to be my new vegetarian delight, considering how fast it cooks and how it can work with any flavor profile. This dish combines the awesome kick of curry, throws in the complementary bitterness of arugula, and brings it all together with the crunchy texture of cayenne-seasoned roasted cauliflower. Delish!
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Veggie Burgers
I love sweet potatoes—it’s a root both my husband and I like to incorporate in all our cooking when we need the extra starch. Sweet potato is the awesome missing ingredient I’ve been looking for when making veggie burgers. Seasoned with cayenne, paprika, freshly diced red onion and cilantro, this burger will pack a punch! Especially if you add some lime juice and a fat slice of avocado on top of it.
Butternut Squash Chipotle Chili with Avocado
Unfortunately, this does involve the pains of peeling and dicing a butternut squash, but anything delicious is usually well worth the troubles that go on in the kitchen. Cook inside a Dutch oven; fill to the brim with peppers, onion, butternut squash, and beans; add in that awesome chili taste, pepper, and some avocado on top, and you have an amazing vegan chili.
Voilà: three vegan recipes to try! If you couldn’t tell, I like my foods spicy. I can’t wait to try these and hopefully reap the benefits for not only my health, but my wallet, too. Meat and dairy can be expensive!
Being environmentally conscious is a growing debate in our society. Species conservation, water use, and deforestation are all popular conversations. Another trending topic is climate change and its lasting impact on the planet. It is currently understood that the growth of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere is likely to cause a change in our climate in the future of our planet. However, limiting your impact, or carbon footprint, does not have to be a lengthy process. You can lower your carbon footprint by making small changes to your dietary patterns one step at a time.
Nearly 65% of greenhouse gas emissions are related to livestock, their by-products, and the transportation involved. Large amounts of land, water, pesticides, fuel, and fertilizer are required to maintain the livestock industry at the speed it's developing in the United States. This results in a large amount of manure and pollution that accumulates in the atmosphere, as well as in the water and ground sources. Unfortunately, the waste from the unused excess of these animal products is also increasing our greenhouse gases.
So, what can you do? Reduction in animal products has shown a positive correlation in reducing your carbon footprint. In a UK study on climate change, "After adjustment for sex and age, an average 2,000 kcal high meat diet has 2.5 times as many [Greenhouse Gas] emissions than an average 2,000 kcal vegan diet." Adjusting to a plant-based diet can cut your carbon footprint in half. You can make a difference simply by lowering your consumption of animal-based products. If you aren't comfortable transitioning to a complete vegan diet, start with small changes. Begin to reduce your consumption of red meat, and replace with seafood. Next is the transition to lowering the amount of seafood and dairy products you consume while making sure to incorporate a wide variety of fruits and vegetables for nutritional value. Start small, and implement changes at a comfortable speed so that your dietary changes are sustainable.
The goal is to create a sustainable lifestyle that will have a lasting impact on the environment. Diminishing animal products can not only impact the potential for climate change, but can also aid in prohibiting deforestation and waste. Small impacts on our diet can help reduce the impact of livestock and food waste greenhouse gases, and can lead to an environmentally conscious society overall.
By eating animal-free, I have a more enlightened perspective on issues like sustainability, animal welfare, and nutrition. It’s not easy living this lifestyle. Many times, family, friends, and society seem to be oblivious to what you are trying to do. Temptations to eat meat and dairy are everywhere. My journey wasn’t easy, but I hope this article will give you some tips on making your journey more enjoyable.
1. LEARN TO COOK. This is the most important advice that I can give anyone who wants to become a vegan. If you don’t like to cook or you don’t want to cook, then your diet is going to be boring, and will lack nutritional value. You will find that most restaurants have limited vegan options. There is a small selection of processed, frozen vegan meals in grocery stores, but they are always high in sodium, and very expensive.
The internet is full of vegan recipes. There are hundreds of vegan and vegetarian cookbooks available. International cookbooks are also great. I still find cookbooks at the local thrift stores. The more I cook, the more I learn about food. I learn to read ingredients and nutrition labels. I learn how to convert measurements. I learn how to modify recipes and create my own. It is important to expand your cooking skills in order to deal with cravings. Cravings are what I have seen lead to the fall of young and impressionable vegans.
2. DEALING WITH CRAVINGS. This is what usually sends us back to meat or dairy. After years of eating hamburgers, chicken-fried steak, ice cream, or (one of my favorites) pizza, it is only natural that we crave it once again.
At first, while you are learning how to cook, to relieve those cravings, I recommend that you try the fake, or faux, foods. Make sure to check that they are vegan. Faux meat patties can found in most major grocery stores. Today you can find faux anything online or at natural food stores. There are non-dairy cheeses, vegan pizzas, dairy-free coffee creamers, and various vegan ice creams available.
But, as I mentioned earlier, these substitutes are usually not very healthy. Learning to cook will teach you how to use TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein, made from soy) and seitan (a wheat protein that I make for myself at home). There are substitutes for nearly every single meat and dairy food out there. However, they are not exactly like momma used to make it. That leads me to my third tip: trying new things in order to create new cravings.
3. TRY NEW THINGS. Instead of thinking of veganism as limiting your diet, imagine the possibilities. Take tofu. Most think it is a boring, bland protein. But try to think outside the box and outside of your zip code. Billions of Asians can’t be wrong. Tofu, for example, is a regular part of the Chinese and Southeast Asian diets. There are hundreds of ways to cook and prepare tofu, not to mention modifying tofu to European and American cuisine.
My favorites are Alfredo pasta (using tofu as the sauce) and tofu scrambles (faux eggs with veggies). Moreover, I have learned to cook Indian, Mediterranean, and African. Sometimes it takes creativity to modify recipes to meatless masterpieces. By trying new things, you can share these new dishes with others.
4. BE ACCEPTING OF OTHERS. You might live with roommates, a partner, or family members who do not want to conform to your new way of living. They will probably ask, “Are you sure you’re getting enough protein in your diet?” or they might say, “I just couldn’t live without a hamburger.” They might even fill the house with the smell of bacon in the morning. You could argue with them and tell them they must conform to your way of living or you will disown them. Or you could accept that most people in the Western world are still meat and dairy eaters. Most people will do and eat what they want, when they want.
I believe that living by example is the best method of getting one’s point across. Rather than lecturing my family on the importance of a vegan diet, I have learned to make clear to them what I can eat and what I can’t eat. I offer to cook dinner for my family and friends, or I offer to share with them what I am eating. A decade after I conformed to a meat-free diet, my parents decided to also eat vegan. They won’t admit it, but I think that my example helped show them that this was a better way to eat and live.
5. GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK. I must admit (and I know a lot of vegans might resent me for saying this): I love ice cream. A slight guilty pleasure, over the years, I have had a scoop a few times. Now, I could torture myself with guilt, tell myself that I am a terrible vegan, and decide that this way of living is never going to work for me, or I could chalk it up to being human.
As a newcomer to veganism, you will make mistakes, too. You might see that slice of pizza or a chicken wing and say, “Forget it.” Depending on how we were raised and what we ate in the past, the process of becoming a vegan is not going to happen overnight. We live in a society of meat and dairy temptations.
I became a slight vegetarian when I was 15, eating just fish and dairy for a year. I progressed to cutting out fish. It took me nearly 10 years to get to a point where I made veganism a part of my regular diet. And after 15 years, I still screw up sometimes. But I believe I have done the best I can. Beating myself up over it is only going to make things worse.
Give yourself a break, and ask yourself, “Why did I become a vegan?”
My choice to eat an animal-free diet, I believe, is making the world a better place. Each day, I set forward on this journey, and learn something new and exciting. This new way of living takes conviction, courage, and perseverance. Like any journey, there will be stumbles along the way. But on this path, I promise, there will be rewards. Good luck!
Hello, and welcome to my first blog post for Greener Good. My name is John, and I'm a vegan. I wasn't born this way. I grew up in Ohio, the land of meat and potatoes, where vegetables are an afterthought and veganism is a mental illness. I was a steak-loving, burger-eating, pork chop-frying, “All-American” Joe.
Then something happened that shook up my worldview. A childhood neighbor of mine died from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, also known as Mad Cow. He was a great guy with a wife and kids. His family used to babysit me when I was a kid. He looked sort of like Superman (this was around the time of Superman II with Christopher Reeve). He ran half-marathons and coached high school basketball. When my parents told me how he had died, I swore off red meat. How could I eat it again knowing how bad it was?
But I kept eating chicken, pork, and fish. I wasn't even close to vegetarian. But that simple act of ditching red meat was the catalyst that got me on the path to veganism. It's been a long journey, and had someone told me fifteen years ago that I would be a vegan in my forties, I would have laughed in their face. Some people go vegan right away. They watch Earthlings or Cowspiracy, and boom—they go vegan. Those movies weren't around back when I got started. Had they been, I might have made the switch a lot faster.
My goal with this blog is to get you to go vegan. It's the single best thing you can do for the environment. In my next post, I'll continue my own story. Why did it take me so long? I was vegetarian for nine years before going fully vegan. From there, I'll see where this blog takes us. Do you have questions about the vegan lifestyle? I'd love to answer them. We're in this together!
Until next time,