Let me preface with this: I am kind of vegan. When I’m at home, unless I am busting out some traditional Swiss cheese dishes for some rare occasion, no animal products pass my lips. And let me also preface with this: the food I eat is YUMMY. Not to mention, my breath has been delightful since cutting out animal products. (Except for when I eat bananas. What is up with that, bananas?!)
It started over a year ago, when I demolished Laughing Planet’s double chocolate cookie and learned that it was vegan. “But it’s the best cookie I’ve ever eaten,” I thought to myself. “HOW CAN THIS BE??” I was furious. I am a notorious baker and epicurean. In high school, my friends would come to my house to make cookie dough, and when we were done with the dough we had half a tray of actual baked cookies to show for it. What I’m saying is, when it comes to deliciousness, I know my stuff. Then here comes Laughing Planet, with its vegan mouth orgasm, and my entire gastronomical world was upended.
I used to look askance at vegans because I simply didn’t understand what they ate if it didn’t involve milk, eggs, or at the very least, cheese. Now I get it. There is actually a whole world of yum that you can craft from veggies, fruit, nuts, soy products, wheat gluten, and coconut oil. (Dear heavens, coconut oil! Any baking recipe that calls for oil, replace it with coconut oil—it makes everything better.) It might sound weird to the uninitiated, but it is true. And there’s only one way to get over those feelings of confusion and wariness: try out some vegan fare for yourself. On purpose.
If you have a potluck to go to, make it for that—then you’re not stuck with the dish if you don’t like it. It’s worth trying out. We could all be a little less dependent on the animal industry, not just for cruelty reasons (although the large-scale livestock industry as a whole is super-gross—I mean, REALLY), but to be better stewards of ourselves (yes, meat can have its place, but the American diet relies on it above and beyond recommended amounts), and our environment (growing meat and dairy requires far greater amounts of energy than plant farming, and produces far more waste—and methane).
This will be my first holiday season as a mostly-vegan, so I sought help from my friend, Shannon Noel Pfingsten, a fellow gourmet and vegan of five years. She had a surfeit of holiday appropriate vegan recipes to share with me, and they all sound delicious:
Entrée: Thanksgiving Pot Pie. While time-consuming, it feeds a real crowd and is, in Shannon’s words, “super-duper delicious.” Find the recipe at http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/thanksgiving-pot-pie/
Dessert: Triple Nut Chocolate Tart. So good it becomes a holiday tradition. http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/triple-nut-chocolate-tart/
Appetizers: Mushroom and Nut Pate (healthier than animal-based pate). Find it at http://vegetarian.about.com/od/saucesdipsspreads/r/walnutpate.htm
Spinach and Artichoke Dip. Having personally enjoyed this dish, I vouch for it completely. Oh boy, do I. Shannon subs the sundried tomatoes with green chilies. Go to: http://theveganmouse.blogspot.com/2009/10/veganmofo-spinach-artichoke-dip.html
It’s also quite fun to peruse vegan recipe sites. Some greats are www.theppk.com, www.vegetariantimes.com, http://mobettavegan.blogspot.com/, and http://theveganmouse.blogspot.com/
You can also find a ton of great cookbooks at the library. Anything by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Dreena Burton, or Colleen Patrick-Goudreau will serve you well.
I hope your animal-free explorations are gratifying. I will say this: my vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe is even more popular than my non-vegan recipe; and not just because I will show up to your picnic with a bowl of just cookie dough (no salmonella threat from vegan dough, folks!). If you can’t muster the energy to whip up a whole vegan dish, get thee to Laughing Planet for a cookie! Or for a crowd, grab a pack of Oreos or Trader Joe’s Joe-Joes—those things have been vegan all along. Ohhhh snap.
by Mica Habarad