Vegan Vent

I’m a fairly new vegan. And I am certainly no expert on nutrition. It took a lot of googling, trying, tasting, asking and arguing to find out everything I know now about how to eat a balanced plant based diet that works for ME. And harms no living creatures. Except my housemate who eats all my dark chocolate. He will be harmed.

Along this enlightening journey, I’ve come across a few common points of contention between vegans, veggies and meaties. The rest of this post will either make you laugh and nod your head knowingly or sigh in exasperation and close the browser window.

  • Non vegans LOVE to preach to us about how we are deficient in all these different vitamins. It’s hard to believe I am still alive with all the darn deficiencies I have, huh?

Yes, some vegans take vitamins, but so does every upper middle class person in the world! If it is only vegans who are B12 deficient, then why does my meat eating colleague get a B12 shot every 6 weeks because she is tired? And if we NEED to drink cow’s milk to get calcium, then, please tell me why on earth are you taking calcium-laden tablets after drinking supposedly “good for you” cow’s milk for the last 50 years. Yeah, I thought so.

  • And now that we are done de-bunking the stupid vitamins myth, we get the most famous response to veganism. “But, where do you get your protein?”  This question sends vegans into an absurdity induced frenzy!

 A not too little not too big person like me, who doesn’t exercise too often, needs about 40 grams a day. And I get my 40 grams, don’t you worry. But my protein intake comes without the cholesterol and saturated fats. Chickpeas, beans, nuts, broccoli, spinach, avocado, quinoa. And yes, I take a pea protein powder when I gym, but then again, which gym-bunny doesn’t? Need I say more? Good. Now be quiet and pass the hummus!

  • I watch what I eat pretty carefully, but I do have days where I feel fat. Nothing is more annoying than being told, “but you are vegan, you won’t get fat”

Oh trust me; I could get fat on a vegan diet if I wanted to!

The 15kgs did not drop off and stay off due to becoming vegan. At the time, I was not even vegan. My weight loss can be attributed to the introduction of healthier foods into my diet, as well as walking the streets of Boston every weekend. From Forever 21 to H&M to Topshop and back! Now I lead a healthy lifestyle, inclusive of exercise and indulgences too 😛

So the next time you ask me if I am thin because I am vegan, do not take offense when I ask you if you are fat because you eat meat. 

  • Like MANY others, I am prone to colds and sniffles during this season. But once, my boss asked in a surprised tone why I have a cold, if I am vegan. 

Contrary to popular belief, vegans are not actually superheroes. We get sick too. But if you really thought that being vegan means never getting sick, then why aren’t you vegan? 

  • “But vegan food tastes so gross!” This sentence is like blasphemy to vegans.

Obviously, if your idea of vegan food is steamed vegetables, unflavoured tofu, or a boring salad, then yes, it is going to taste gross, and that is not because it is vegan, it’s because your cooking skills suck. If you were eating chicken, would you eat it as is, without a single condiment or particle of spice on it? No. You make it taste good by combining different flavours that complement each other. It’s called COOKING! Sheesh!

  • And lastly, but most definitely not least, the most offensive, repulsive, and ignorant sentence in the history of the world – “But God put animals on Earth for us to eat!” 

Above all, all religions teach the philosophy of kindness and compassion. So don’t pick and choose the sections of your religion that you want to apply to your lifestyle to absolve your guilt. Because ordering a hit on an animal is not kind, nor is it compassionate. And you are certainly not devouring that poor dead cow in the name of religion. And that very same innocent animal you are eating was not PUT here on Earth naturally. He was conceived only to be killed. His life and death were planned out already. And humane killing? Oh puhlease, that is the epitome of an oxymoron!

I hope this will encourage some of you to think twice before picking on vegans. We know that it is sometimes difficult to understand our lifestyle, and occasionally these questions come out of a real curiosity to try to relate to us. But it makes the world of difference to ASK without the intent to prove we are wrong and you are right.

Remember that ignorance is NOT bliss, but that knowledge IS power. 

“When you are dead, you don’t know that you are dead. It is difficult only for others. It is the same when you are stupid”

                               Protein 3

 

 

 

 

 

Nuts about greens!

SALAD.

What does this word bring to mind? Lettuce, cucumber, tomato and feta cheese? EHH! Wrong! 

Let’s clear a few things up:

Lettuce is boring. Stop buying it. 

Chicken on a bed of spinach is NOT and never will be a salad no matter how hard it tries. 

Creamy dressing atop lettuce and feta cheese does not a healthy meal make. Stop lying to yourself. 

Now that you have accepted the above, let me teach how to transform your salad into a meal you won’t be able to live without. Trust me, you will thank me for it. Money back guarantee 😛 

I unashamedly LOVE eating an almost raw salad at least once a day. Someone once asked me to make her the exact same one as me, because I eat it like it’s chocolate. 

I happen to be pretty boring and a creature of habit, and I am happy to eat the same salad every day. Almost. But I want to help you keep it interesting. So, lucky for you, you will get some variety. 

Here is my guide to making the perfect salad! 

Base:

Choose your base for your salad by ascertaining your activites for the day as well as your other meals. If you plan to go out for Italian food, and you are having toast for breakfast, then choose a leaf base, like rocket or baby spinach

If you are going to gym, and/or eating fairly light for the rest of the day, opt for a grain or starch base, like cous cous, quinoa, or whole wheat pasta. 

Standard Veggies:

 Staples like onions, peppers, cherry tomatoes and cucumber are a must in my salads. 

Spiralised&Grated Veggies:

You might want to invest in a spiraliser. It is my most favourite kitchen utensil. 

I use it to spiralise up zucchini, or baby marrow as we call it in South Africa, which normally I wouldn’t eat raw. 

And who likes to eat big pieces of carrots anyway? No-one! Spiralise those too!

Grate some fresh beetroot too. Fresh beetroot is so very delicious, and it’s good for you! 

Optional Veggies:

If it isn’t month end, and you have some extra money to splurge on slightly more expensive vegetables, do yourself the favour of your life, and buy tenderstem brocolli, baby corn and mange-tout. If you are brave enough, you can even chuck in some fine green beans.

Don’t you think this sounds considerably better than your boring old Greek salad? We aren’t done yet, don’t worry!

Protein:

If you are vegan, I know this is probably your least favourite word. I hate it too. Because it always comes from the mouth of ignorant meat eaters, who want to desperately find something wrong with your chosen lifestyle of compassion and care. Ok, I am getting riled up now, so lets revert to food. 

Protein. Yes.A handful of chickpeas, cannelini beans, or any type of beans really, will make a great add to a salad, and ups the calories a little. 

If you have the time, you can even saute a few cubes of tofu, or even better, add tofeta.

Nuts:

I am a certified nut-a-holic. But a handful of raw cashews or pecans in your salad is normal. Almonds are nice too, but wouldn’t be my first choice. And macadamias – well those are reserved for irritating my boyfriend with my apparent loud crunching.

Seeds:

Seeds might be bird food, but don’t diss them. Even you were once just a little seed 😉 Sunflower and flax seeds are both high in nutrients and goodness in their own special way, and it won’t harm you to add a teaspoon to your food. 

And now for my favourite part ..

Dressing:

You are simply not permitted to add store bought salad dressing to my salad. Try a drizzle of olive oil, a half a teaspoon of garlic, salt&pepper, and basil. You will not regret it.

A teaspoon of hummus or cashew cream, along with some sliced avocado (if your stomach so desires and your calorie counter permits) completes this beautiful creation. 

Now obviously, you can (and should) mix it up a little. But try to actually keep your salad a salad please? And not a heap of oily, fatty food with a side of spinach!

“While I pride myself on trying to be creative in all areas of my life, I have occasionally gone overboard, like the time I decided to bring to a party a salad that I constructed, on a huge rattan platter, to look like a miniature scale model of the Gardens of Babylon” ~ Gregory Maguire

salad 1 salad 2 salad 3 salad 4 salad 5 salad 6 salad 7 salad 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aubergenius!

So on Saturday evening my boyfriend was coming to visit me, and he very sweetly asked, “Baby, are you cooking tonight?” After a month of excessive spending, I didn’t have the extra money in my budget to eat out, or to buy any more groceries other than what I had at home for my routine weekday meals. If I had to feed just myself, I would’ve been fine with a veggie burger and soup. But, I am obsessed with being a good host, à la Bree van de Kamp

ANYHOO! I went searching through my cupboard for whatever I could find, and managed to make a perfectly delicious lasagne. Containing only 1 vegetable. Stop judging me.  

Ingredients:

1 aubergine. Yes one!

10 Lasagne sheets that you bought yonks’ ago, and have never used :$ 

3 tbsp. chickpea flour

Vegan Butter (Canola, Earth Balance, Blossom)

Soy Milk

2 cups of liquidised tomatoes that you found in your freezer because your mommy taught you to always be prepared 🙂

Salt, Pepper, Nutritional Yeast, Cumin, Chilli Powder, Garlic, Basil (Duh, I shouldn’t have to tell you this)

Vegan Cheese (optional)

Parboil your lasagne sheets for about 5 – 7 minutes. 

For the filling:

  – Apparently aubergines need to “sweat” before cooking them. Gross, but OK. 

 – So slice up your big ol’ aubergine into thin slices, and salt them well. Wait for them to start perspiring like I do when I do burpees. Once they do, rinse them off. 

 – Set them on a baking sheet, and sprinkle some cumin powder and chilli powder over them. 

 – Stick them in the oven to bake for about 12 minutes

For the white sauce:

 – Make a rue with chickpea flour and vegan butter.

 – Add crushed garlic, some salt&pepper, and nutri yeast.

 – Add soy milk until it has reached the desired consistency

For the tomato sauce:

 – Bring your liquidised tomatoes to a boil.

 – Add a smidge of ketchup to thicken (if you don’t want to cheat, then let your tomatoes boil for like 7 days) 

 – When sufficiently thickened, add some fresh herbs & chilli powder. 

We had a bit of a debate when it came to deciding how to layer the lasagne. Since we were low on ingredients, this is how we did it:

    White sauce

    Lasagne sheets

    Aubergines

    Tomato Sauce

    Lasagne Sheets

    White Sauce

Make sure your oven is pre-heated to 180 degrees. 

Top with grated cheese, nutritional yeast and dried basil.

Chuck it in the oven for about 20 minutes.

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We found this dish surprisingly filling (excuse the pun!) It just goes to show that you can make satisfying, homely vegan food on somewhat of a budget, provided you have certain essentials on hand. 

*Serves 1 hungry vegan, 1 extra hungry meat-eater and a binging housemate*

 

 

lasagne1

 

 

 

lasagne 2

Veganecessities

Taking the leap towards veganism is not an easy feat. You need self-control, planning, patience and a brilliant food processor!

I renounced all animal products 20 months ago and haven’t regretted it once, not even for a split second. I’ve experimented with all the different types of eating plant based foods, from raw vegan to junk food vegan to soy vegan to healthy vegan. I have finally found a good balance that works for my body and lifestyle. 

I am all for the premise that we all need to go on own journey to find what works best for us. But I’d like to help you along the way. So I’ve come up with a few food items that are ALWAYS on my shopping list, and I simply would not be able to live without. OK maybe I could, but I’d be really depressed 😉

I’m not one of those super rich hippies. Just a regular one, with an average job, and a love for fashion so I can’t afford to break the bank on overpriced health foods. These key ingredients are great because they are easily available, cost effective, healthy in moderation, long lasting AND versatile. 

NUTS! These poor things will never see the light of day in my presence. They’re high in GOOD calories and fats. And if you listened to me like I said before, and bought a good food processor, you can make a delicious cream out of cashews and macadamias. And they are freaking delish, end of story. 

CHICKPEAS! Whether you have them in their canned form, in which case they make a great addition to salads, or curry, or if it’s been made into hummus, it makes a great addition to uhm, EVERYTHING! High in protein and iron, how could you not love em?

SPINACH! And no, not creamed spinach! Fresh baby spinach can be added to a banana and apple smoothie; used as a base for a salad, or as garnish for your creamy pasta sauce. (And yes, vegan creamy pasta is very possible and very yummy!) I bid adieu to my severe anaemia that I suffered with as a vegetarian, thanks to munching on spinach and other dark green veggies that are packed with iron. 

SPROUTS! If you, like my dad and I, love something crunchy with our sandwiches and soups, then sprouted chickpeas, lentils and mung beans are your lifesaver. 

TOFU! Scrambled. Grilled. Stir Fried. Pan Fried. Quiched. Egg Saladed. You get the point. Tofu is so eager to please, that it will be whatever you want it to be. If you are a gym bunny, then its 48 grams of protein per 100 grams will be the best plant based way to build those biceps 😉 Be sure to have a look at my Tofeta recipe here – it’s a winner 🙂

NUTRITIONAL YEAST! I think this product needs a new name, because most think that it is live yeast, like the kind you would use in bread. Or beer. But no. This yeast is de-activated dried yellow flakes of goodness that are fortified with B12 and give a cheesy nutty flavour to sauces, soups and pizzas. 

AVOCADO! There is more to this unsuspecting fruit than just guacamole. Avo on toast; avo chocolate smoothie; avo choc mousse; avo ice cream. Need I say more? 

SOY! I’ve never had the desire to eat a fake chicken schnitzel or a mock beef patty, purely because I have never eaten the real thing. I was born into a full on vegetarian family, and we sustained ourselves on lentils, beans, and various other vegetables. And the occasional samosa or three. My waist line 2 years ago will corroborate that! I digress. I have nothing against fake meats, from a vegan standpoint. No animals were harmed, and they don’t really taste like meat anyway (according to most meat eaters I have asked) they just provide a quick easy meal for those days you are too tired to cook, and are a decent source of protein. So keep a pack in the freezer, just in case! 

OATS! Whether you like steel cut oats, sugary sweet granola or jungle oats bars, this is a staple for most vegans as it is a super filling breakfast! Here is a hint to make your day – Dark Chocolate Jungle Oats bars are VEGAN! Hand me that and a cappuccino on a Monday morning and then we’re talking!

CHOCOLATE! No convincing necessary, I’m sure! Oreos, Aero Dark, Nikki Dark and selected Lindt’s are vegan. Go forth and indulge!

OLIVE OIL! I am a serious salad-aholic! I make a delicious and nutritious salad daily for lunch and gulp it down like there’s no tomorrow. And I am completely and totally against salad dressing. So I make a simple dressing with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and mixed herbs. 

CHICKPEA FLOUR! Who woulda known that generations of Indians had it right. Chickpea flour aka besan aka gram flour, is the main ingredient of bhajias, those delicious oily Indian specimens of deliciousness. But I’ve found it makes an amazing white sauce, and savoury pancakes, mmm 🙂 Its gluten free too, so if that means anything to you, give it a go. 

If you live in South Africa, and want to know where to buy some of these products to veganize your cooking, please contact me. I would love to help!

Every little bit makes a difference.

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”  ~ Albert Einstein

vegan pyramid