Jackfruit, native to Southeast Asia and common in areas like India, Africa and the Caribbean, is a relatively recent and happy discovery for me. Though I’m sure I had skimmed over the name numerous times on Indian menus, I had never taken notice prior to going vegan. These amazing fruits are the largest tree-bearing fruit and weigh up to 100 pounds! Check out this page with a ton of details on jackfruit and also how to cut one up yourself(I’ve never tried this – just buy cans at the local asian market).
I can’t help but find it a little funny whenever I see the scrunched up noses on the mildly concerned looking faces of people who I’ve just told that I am vegan. “That must be hard. What do you eat?” Jackfruit is just one of the many amazing and wildly versatile foods that I had only discovered once I set aside my habits of eating animal products.
And that’s what it was for me. Habit. Eating meat and other animal by-products was simply an action I had been raised to consider normal. Once learning the truths about the negative impacts of using and consuming animals, changing these habits became incredibly easy.
That’s not to say that after I decided to go vegan I never missed the half and half in my morning coffee or the melted cheese on a pizza. I certainly would have loved to have a bite of gelato or tiramisu when I was in Italy. And certainly there have been times when a BBQ sandwich sounds mouth-watering.
I’m sure many people’s reaction to hearing me say would be, “well then why are you vegan?” And that is a perfectly fine question to ask. My response to this is another question: When I know I can not only survive, but thrive on a plant-based diet, why would I want to contribute to the violence and cruelty towards animals?
It’s so amazing to me that I sometimes feel like my food options, in addition to my mind, have actually expanded. Yes, you read that correctly. This realization came to me when I was browsing through old notes on my phone a while back and happened upon some old grocery and meal idea lists from before I went vegetarian. Every single meal was meat-centric. Every single meal! And even worse, it was limited mostly to chicken, beef and the occasional salmon. When I compared those lists to my current ones, I realize how many more different meal ideas I can come up with when I started with plant-based options.
And this brings me back to Jackfruit, a great example of plant-based ingredient that has led me to make vegan versions of some meals I have always known and loved such as Tacos and Vegan BBQ Pulled “Pork” Sandwiches. Using jackfruit, I’ve also created some new delicious meals that I may not have discovered otherwise. What is even more satisfying than realizing that I have widened my culinary experience, I know that I am doing so with a clean conscience.