During this whole process I’ve done a lot of
obsessive careful thinking about what goes into my body. As a lifelong vegetarian who’s married to a vegan, we have to be creative sometimes about what goes onto the dinner table.
One of the most annoying things for me about being vegetarian (and my wife being vegan) is that people assume you don’t like sugars, fats and the like. They assume you want a dry salad or a giant plate of boiled green beans for dinner. Sorry, no. We like fats and sugar just as much as the next person, and struggle with portioning them as well. We just don’t want the meat (or dairy) part of the meal – and that doesn’t mean just leave it off and serve us sides. A girl gets hungry!
I’ve had a lot of success taking non vegan or vegetarian meals and veganizing them – replacing margarine with butter, non-dairy milk for milk (almond milk is my favorite), and meat substitutes (gluten, soy, TVP) for chicken, beef and turkey (links to a few of my favorite recipe sources are below). Since I started cooking (really cooking, not dumping pasta in water) I’ve learned that homemade just tastes better. But why is that?
I think the answer lies in this: clean eating. The basic idea is that you should use whole foods, and avoid anything processed. Now, that’s not going to be possible ALL the time, but the above site also mentions the 80-20 rule, that 80% of your eating should be clean, and 20% is “cheat”. That may be a little stricter than I can do, but 65-35 seems like a reasonable goal.
Favorite Recipe Sources:
Smitten Kitchen – literally everything I’ve made from here is delicious. She uses a lot of whole foods and simple ingredients with incredible results. When she makes something with meat I just swap it out. No harm, no foul. It doesn’t hurt that her kitchen is as tiny as mine. If she can do it…
All Recipes – I like that this source lets you search by whatever ingredients you may have on hand. I also like the reviews below each recipe. V. helpful.
Vegan with a Vengeance (she also has a blog here) – Source of the awesome seitan that I’ve made killer “chicken” with. Also a fantastic vegan broccoli quiche (among other favorites)
Simply Heavenly! – This is the cookbook that started it all. My parents bought this cookbook decades ago, and have passed on the love to the next generation. It’s written by a bunch of Monks in a monestary in the Midwest somewhere, and part of their religion is that they don’t eat meat, dairy or eggs. And they want to convert other people to veganism. Apparently the baby Jesus doesn’t want you to eat meat? Anyway, they take the flavors and recipes that you grew up eating – things like potroast and fried chicken – and make them vegan. Holy cow (haha!) is their stuff good. The book is out of print but Amazon has a bunch of used copies for sale.