As an omnivore the idea of becoming or even eating vegan can make one want to run screaming to your nearest burger joint. No butter? No cheese? Aaaahhhh! I was once this person, but let me share with you my survival guide to adding a little more plant base to your diet without the sweaty palms.
Many moons ago I lived across the bay in Berkeley. On nearly a daily basis as I walked to school I passed by a little vegan restaurant next to one sweaty stinky hot yoga studio. Just close your eyes and picture it, the smell of hot smelly free spirits next to tofurkey heaven. Puke. This was also my first experience with vegan food and hot yoga, a combo I certainly was not ready for. Needless to say, I wasn’t running to try either. When an adventurous trendy friend came to stay with me, she insisted that we try vegan food. We walked in, it was quiet, our waitress had a giant nose ring, and was annoyed that we weren’t committed vegans. Clearly we made the mistake of admitting it before ordering. I don’t recall what my friend ordered, though she actually liked it, I on the other hand ordered “chicken fried rice” and hated it. There was nothing chicken about it, and it hardly had any veggies with the exception of some clearly frozen peas and carrots. The “chicken” flavor was just artificial and weird. How could this be a healthier way of eating? Yuck. Needless to say it took me YEARS before I tried anything vegan again.
My next experience was again with friends. Robert and I were new parents, out way to late trying this new vegan restaurant. Robert’s dinner was unidentifiable, mine was inedible. I’m pretty sure we stopped for a cheese pizza on our way home. Strike two. As time passed the world around us seemed to embrace the vegan. We watched Forks over Knives, had a convincing conversation with an Aunt & Uncle of mine, and even attended an edible vegan dinner or two hosted by my vegan cousin. When our vegan friends came to dinner I began to realize that some of the dishes I made all the time were actually vegan. We started this blog and meat and its irresponsibility became a hot topic of conversation. Vegan meals were on my radar, vegan meals in restaurants began to stand out on the menu, and Missy hosted a Vegan Friendsgivingmakuah that was full of deliciousness. I made a Vegan apple pie and it was so tasty! Now I have a baby who doesn’t handle cows milk via my milk and I made the pledge to be a ceremonial omnivore in 2018 forcing me to think outside the animal for most of my meals. I have realized that it is possible to enjoy vegan food as an omnivore. It really is!!
Taking a few steps back I always found it baffling that SO SO SO many vegan dishes are trying to be something they are not. Why are vegans spending so much time remaking meaty dishes? Why can’t they just create something that isn’t trying to be something else? Something that is full of real food, not all these ingredients that taste “like” cheese, “like” chicken, or “like” beef. You’re a Vegan…own it. When you tell an omnivore that this tastes “like chicken”, its not like frog legs, it actually tastes nothing like chicken. NO MATTER WHAT YOU SAY. Sorry. Also isn’t the point to sort of stand up against meat? Its seems a little oxymoronic to create meaty substitutes, instead embrace the plant!
So if you are a vegan and you’re making dinner for an omnivore or if you are an omnivore who wants to dabble in a little vegan cuisine the number one rule is don’t call it something its not and don’t be fooled if it claims to be something its not. It says cheez but it will not taste like cheese! Nutritional yeast is savory, tasty and delicious sprinkled on popcorn, but it is not cheese. Tofu can be marinated, fried, satay’d and is hearty but no matter what is done to it it is not meat. This, my friends is why so many people think they hate vegan food!
Next choose dishes with lots of veggies and little fillers. The heart of every diet should be to eat real whole foods. This can’t be more true than it is in the vegan world. Vegetables are AMAZING. They don’t need artificial “butter”, sweeteners, or “flavorings”. Do the earth some justice and choose recipes that honor the plant for what it is.
Lastly if it sounds scary, it is, if it looks gross, it probably is (my grandma always said you eat with your eyes first!). However if you stick to simple delicious real food you will be able to add a plethora of yummy plant based eco-friendly dishes to your collection. Your body, mind, and the planet will thank you for it!
Plants – its whats for dinner!
Here are some of my recent favorites 🙂
Broccoli Soup (use the veggie stock above)
Extra Tip for Omnivores – If you can, simply substitute animal products for non-animal products to lighten your consumption. For example when I make teriyaki sauce I use safflower oil instead of the butter my family can’t tell there is a difference. Instead of sour cream on my veggie chili I add mashed avocado. I add almond milk or even skip the milk altogether in my oatmeal. Take the time to consider the dish and see if there is an easy option to make its footprint lighter. What are some simple substitutes you can make?