When I dove head first into the wondrous world of veganism (on June 13th, 2005 – I’ll never forget it!), I thought I’d never eat anything palatable again. I climbed the volcanic mountain of morality and tossed my taste buds into the bubbling lava, considering this ultimate sacrifice as a necessary right of passage in my journey to becoming Completely Vegan Ashley. After having seen the horrors of the meat, egg and dairy industry, I didn’t care if I died clasping a half–eaten carrot in one hand and an iceberg lettuce leaf in the other – at least I’d die knowing none of what I saw in those videos was my fault. Oh, new little vegan me!
Whenever someone tells me that they have decided to go vegan, the second thing I share after congratulating them on making such a selfless lifestyle decision is that going vegan doesn’t mean giving up all the foods that you loved PV (“pre-vegan”, of course)! If there’s one thing I wish I could tell my wide-eyed self on that first day of my life in the vegan light it would be that I could eat whatever I wanted, not that I was giving up taste all together by adopting a compassionate lifestyle.Burgers, hot dogs, pizza, blueberry muffins, cheesecake, chips, french fries, Caesar salad, ricotta stuffed shells – you name it, I eat it. The only difference is I use slightly different, non-animal derived ingredients. The best way to illustrate this is to take a peak into a few of this past week’s dietary delights. Last night the Hopkins household dined on the best tacos I’ve ever had in my freaking life! Tortillas (Bearitos are our fave – delish, organic and vegan), refried beans, Tofutti sour cream, Romaine lettuce, Roma tomato and homemade seitan crumbles sautéed with taco seasoning. All organic, über cheap (especially when you make the seitan) and not one animal had to suffer.
This week I felt like an apple pie, so I looked up the best recipe online, subbed the non-vegan ingredients for vegan ones (veggie shortening and Earth Balance vegan butter) and the result? Ahhhhhh-mazing! I also had fun veganizing a completely and utterly not vegan recipe I found while perusing blogs about frugal living.
The result, which I’ve named the Marlboro Man’ Vegan Brothers’ Favorite Sandwich (a play on the not vegan version’s title), is a sandwich that would fool any self appointed carni. I can see it now: donning a florescent orange trucker hat, sandwich sauce dripping all over his camo shirt, in true caveman fashion exclaiming, “Me man! Me eat meat!” It should be noted though that said sandwich should come with a disclaimer – vegan doesn’t necessarily mean healthy! While free of hormones, trans fats, poly saturated fats and cholesterol, my MMVBFS isn’t for those who are afraid to cook with a little, no, a lot of vegan butter! Think “Two Fat Ladies… Go Vegan!”
The key to tapping into the limitless vegan menu is tossing out any preconceived misconceptions about vegan “rabbit” food and just following your heart and hunger! Want a Whooper? Find a bangin’ vegan burger recipe and flame broiler away, friend. Don’t forget the Tofutti cheese slice and Veganiase. And for the love of all things holy, do not let the nastiness of a Boca Burger find it’s way to your plate. They taste like cardboard – get you some Life Lite Vegan Ground “beef”, garlic powder and vegan Worchestshire sauce and your in business! Want some Popeye’s Red Beans and butter biscuits? Find a copycat recipe online and switch things up a bit. When I sped past a Popeye’s on my moped one day after class, my nostrils filled with that nasty yet familiar fast food smell, I went home, busted out the beans and a bottle of Liquid Smoke and voila. Vegan Popeye’s. The possibilities are endless!
So next time, when a none-the-wiser omni inquired about your daily menu, just remember that you most likely wondered the same thing and tell them the flat out truth: “I eat whatever you do. I just do it a little different!”
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