Thursday, May 19, 2016

Surviving Vegan Week

Chances are, you saw the word "vegan" in the title of this post, and you're already scoffing. I grew up in rural PA, so I assume some of you are already feeling that your food choices are being judged. This isn't a post about health, because I'm not a doctor. I don't know if being vegan will make you immortal, or if it will save the rainforest. Rest assured, I have no interest in condemning you to a life of legumes.

Earlier this month, I decided to try being vegan for one week. Just to try it. Just to see if I could live that way as so many of my friends and family have insisted they could never do. You know what I discovered? Are you still with me? 

It's kind 

I know. Bear with me. 

If you are someone who really likes to cook, someone who enjoys trying new techniques and experimenting with new ingredients to create your own unique dishes...vegan cooking can be a really interesting challenge. If you hate cooking and are vegan, please comment because I have no idea how you do it. If you can somehow NOT think about all the stuff you can't have, and instead think of all the cool stuff you've never tried, you'll be fine. If you're thinking "waah but vegan food is gross" that's fine too. I'll eat all the salmonella free cookie dough myself. Go...Idk, never eat apples again out of spite, or something.  

I survived vegan week, and I liked it. In fact, vegan week has more or less progressed into a vegan month. There have been struggles, though. Oh my, yes. Quitting cheese is no joke. For me, quitting cheese was harder than quitting cigarettes. Vegan mac and cheese will probably never cut it for me. (I'm sorry, full time vegans. Nooch, while ok tasting and full of essential B vitamins, does NOT taste like parmesan. It just doesn't. ) BUT... no more random tummy pains! Hooray!

Here are the vegan products that will be welcome in my kitchen regardless of whether or not the change is permanent.

Tofutti is not as sharp as cream cheese. It is still spreadable and tasty as hell. It's got way less fat too, if that's a thing you care about. Is it really "better than cream cheese?" Probably not. It's still pretty damn good, though.

This shit. THIS SHIT IS DELICIOUS. No, it's not better for you. Eat it anyway. What, does regular ice cream have a gun to your head? Did a dairy farmer help you hide a body or something? Did you know that if a coconut falls on your head it could kill you? Coconuts are a menace and they must be stopped.

Gluten is your friend, guys! Unless you're allergic, then I'm sorry I brought it up.  My attempt at homemade seitan was...meh. "Seitan" is the stuff they make tofurkey with to give it that "almost meat" texture. It's basically witchcraft. I really really like adding this to bread dough. The bread turns out extra poofy with an added protein boost. It's cheating, but who cares? I buy it on amazon. The comments are hilarious. "Do you sell a gluten free version of this?" Hahaha no they don't. It's gluten! It's literally flour that's had all the other stuff stripped away. A gluten free version would be a bag of air, silly goose!

Dear Mayonnaise, I know we haven't always been the best of friends. I tolerate you on sandwiches, but usually I'm happier without you. We can still talk, but unless you have sriracha in you, I'm gonna be spending more time with vegenaise. It's basically sweetened vinegar with the texture of greek yogurt. It's not mayo. It holds it's own, and I respect that.

"How do you find the vegan at a dinner party? Don't worry they'll tell you. HA!" It's true, but the real reason it's true is because if you're going to someone's home for dinner, you HAVE to mention it eventually. Either you can let them know in advance and potentially annoy them, or you can bring your own food and potentially annoy them. You can't win. Also, (and I apologize to my friends and family in advance) people are straight up MEAN when you don't eat meat. This was true when I was a vegetarian in highschool, and it was true during my vegan week. People you love and respect will make passive aggressive, or just plain aggressive remarks. They will treat you like you're from another planet. I've heard it said that vegans are pretentious, but honestly I haven't met enough to know if it's true or not. I grew up in central Pennsylvania where people love their guns, their illegal fireworks, and their meat.

All in all, trying the vegan diet was a good experience for me. I eat more veggies now. I can skip the cheese, usually. My cooking has improved. I'm pretty sure I didn't save any cows, but I learned some stuff about where my food comes from, and that's a good thing, right?

*Side note- There is a surprising list of junk food that just happens to be vegan. Some of it still haunts my dreams. Duncan Hines cream cheese frosting is vegan?? WHAT THE HELL IS IN IT THEN?