How We Vegan

A friend of mine posted on Facebook that she was looking for suggestions and recipes on how to go vegan.  I should say this is the 3rd or 4th time that I’ve started this post and have yet to finish it.  So if you’re reading it, success!!

The first thing is motivation, I’ll get this right out of the way at the top.  We are becoming vegans to promote a healthier lifestyle.  We watched Forks over Knives (Netflix) several years ago and were vegans for a while, lost a ton of weight, felt great, etc.  But went back mainly due to my laziness and complacency.  Recently, we saw What the Health? (Netflix) and re-watched Forks Over Knives and renewed our vigor for the lifestyle.

Will we make trips to Five Guys occasionally? Yes.  While we are striving for a mostly vegan diet, cravings must be satiated.  But when that happens, we have decided that it is not wrong, anthropologically speaking, to celebrate with meat food.  This will likely involve pulled pork that I’ve smoked myself.  Or some kind of time limitation.  Plus when eating away from the house, there still aren’t many vegan options.  Sometimes you’ll have to settle for vegetarianism, pescatarianism or flat out carnivorism.  And that’s ok.  Be selective and mindful of the meat you are choosing to eat.  We don’t go to McDonald’s, for a variety of reasons, one of which is the overuse of antibiotics and the CAFOs that are required to sustain that situation.

So the first thing you will notice about getting started is that many recipe sites require you to do everything from scratch.  I steer away from that or I try to boil down recipes to their necessities.  Canned Beans are fine if a recipe is calling soaking and then cooking.  Canned greens are also very tasty.  The best example of this was this recipe where I had to soak and cook the beans the day before (didn’t have an Instant Pot at the time).  I have to chop and cook the leafy greens (Kale I think) the day before.  The day of involved finding decent tomatoes and chopping them.  Then cook the pasta and bring it all together.  So I did that once, and it took multiple hours and many things had to be cleaned.  I turned it into White Beans, Greens, and Tomatoes and now the whole thing takes about 45 minutes.

I also try to stay away from recipes that require me to drive an hour to a Whole Foods or specialty Organic market.  Don’t get me wrong, I love MOM‘s.  I can go and always find a way for them to take my money in exchange for some organic deliciousness.  But where I live, I have Roland‘s 10 minutes away and Safeway is 20.  So that’s where most things get purchased.

Organic.  As often as possible, but we aren’t militant about it.  I was at a grocery store where a lady was having a meltdown because they didn’t have her normal organic, single source, small batch, artisanal, free-range kombucha.  That stock boy didn’t give a shit about that, and no one has time for that nonsense.  This isn’t Brooklyn, it’s Southern Maryland.

We are fortunate to have some new options in the area.  One of which is Chesapeake’s Bounty who are committed to local produce and has an excellent year round selection of things despite being locally focused.  Most is not certified organic, but a lot of the suppliers follow organic practices.  Recently we joined Chesapeake Farmery, this is a CSA that will deliver a box every week.  So far the boxes have been excellent and include a recipe for something tasty.

Now on to book recommendations.  I cook a lot out of The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen.  There are a lot of vegan options or things that can be made vegan by leaving out the cheese or substituting the butter for vegan butter spread (we like the Earth Balance brand). Not all these things are vegan:

  • Indian-Style Curry with Potatoes, Cauliflower, and Chickpeas (pg 63)
  • Chickpea Fritters
  • Black Bean Patties (put a couple avocado slices on this with some of the Sriracha Mayo)
  • Creamy Brussels Sprouts with Peas and Gemelli
  • Red Beans and Rice
  • Collard Greens
  • Rustic Mushroom, Tomato and Chard (Spinach) with Polenta Casserole

I recently purchased Vegan for Everybody by America’s Test Kitchen which I haven’t cooked anything out of yet.

I also found some good stuff in the Moosewood Restaurant Favorites Cookbook:

  • Moroccan Vegetable Stew (without eggplant)
  • Cuban Black Beans
  • Caribbean Red Beans
  • Basque Beans with Polenta

On a whim (listening to a podcast) I bought the Jerusalem cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi.  I can say that I have found one decent recipe called Barley Risotto which is phenominal.  It is vegan until the Marinated Feta goes in.  We also didn’t care for caraway seeds in the marinated feta, so we substituted with oregano.

Recently, there has been a new addition to my monthly reading the form of Milk Street Kitchen Magazine.  If you aren’t familiar with this enterprise, the former managing editor of America’s Test Kitchen left under contentious circumstances and started this thing up.  It is basically the same as ATK, but they are doing international food.  This means that there is less emphasis on the standard American meal construct of meat, starch and veg.  Definitely worth a look, but even the website costs money.  This dish called Red-Red from Ghana is the best things we’ve had so far.

So that’s about all I have as far as getting started.  There will be more to come about make-ahead and other minor tips and tricks.



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