I’ve heard people say that “vegan food is gross” and I always find that funny because there really is no such thing as vegan food to begin with. Vegan food is regular food without animals in it. So then what they are really saying is “Food without animals in it is gross.” Hilarious. Anyway…
During my transition to vegetarian cooking, and more recently into vegan cooking, I found myself going through three phases of adjustments. Now, during my vegan challenge, I am going through the same phases again, this time weeding out dairy, eggs and other animal products. If you are new to vegetarian or vegan cooking these are a few things you can expect during your journey.
Phase One: Hidden Gems
Many meals are “accidentally” vegetarian or vegan simply because they already contain no animal products. Some recipes may call for meat or cheese and you can simply choose to omit it or use a replacement(see phase two). I call these hidden gems because they are meals you are already familiar with and can continue to enjoy without much effort, if any. I invested in a great book Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions which has a bunch of recipes, educates you on vegan substitutions and even helps you veganize your favorite recipes. Vegan cooking has never been easier!
Phase Two: Imitation is the sincerest flattery
Ok so just because I don’t eat bacon anymore doesn’t mean I will deny its tastiness. There will be the meals which contain primarily animal products(think mac n’ cheese or a juicy burger) that any recently converted vegetarian or vegan will undoubtedly crave and then find themselves into a frantic search for a recipe that will produce an acceptable replacement. Even though some may say it’s silly to stop eating meat only to eating a fake version of it. But I feel like this is just part of the transition process and to full fill cravings to keep us on the track toward our plant-based goals. I personally prefer not to eat fake meats because they are highly processed. But I don’t believe it’s all or nothing and I do believe there is a time and a place for these products. I’ve found are some amazing recipes online that create vegan versions of traditional dishes such as this Zucchini Fettuccine with Rosemary Butternut Creme Sauce I found during my search yesterday and I can’t wait to try it.
Phase Three: Make it your own
There may come a time when you start getting creative. Rather than trying to make vegan versions of non-vegan meals, create brand new vegan meals! I’ve found are some amazing recipes online that create a whole new style of food from a world of ingredients, some of which I’ve never heard of before or never used in my own cook such as nutritional yeast and miso paste. Some combinations are so interesting and inventive that I never would have thought them up on my own. A good example of this would be vegan parmesan cheese.