Not long ago, “eating vegan” was quite a divisive subject. It was a lifestyle only thought to be practiced by few and far between. Nowadays, more and more people recognize the benefits of veganism and are looking to move towards a more plant-based lifestyle.
If you are interested in taking a step towards plant-based living but are hesitant about cooking meals at home, don’t worry; vegan meals are not just plates of raw carrots, celery, and bland tofu. Vegan cooking can be a fun and flavorful new hobby that expands your pallet, all while benefiting the environment and your health.
What we eat is one of the most impactful decisions we make in our lives. It is our fuel, and it impacts where our dollar goes and can either be medicine for our bodies or poison. The trend of going vegan is backed by a number of ethical and health-related reasons that make people feel better about what they put in their bodies.
For example, Gregory Jon Mancuso of Florida notes that he not only believes in the health benefits of veganism but that “everyone should feel empowered to choose what they want and don’t want to eat.”
By choosing to go vegan or even just cut down on your animal by-product intake, you are making a choice to cut down on your carbon footprint and express compassion towards your fellow living creatures. One pound of hamburger meat equals around 75 kg of carbon emissions, which is equivalent to using your car for three weeks!
So, the next time you swap your hamburger for a veggie burger, you are contributing to a larger effort to combat climate change and protect your planet.
Cleaning out your pantry and refrigerator of all animal byproducts can be a daunting task. The key is to find the right replacements for your staple items.
For example, if you are someone who loves to bake and your favorite recipe calls for eggs – try swapping them out for applesauce or bananas. There are also tons of milk alternatives using soy, almond, coconut, oat, or cashew, making the dairy swaps easier now than ever.
Recreate Your Favorite Classics
Part of the fun of vegan cooking is getting to take a look at your old favorite meals with a fresh eye, use your problem-solving skills and creativity to recreate your favorite dishes in a new vegan way. This is a great way to not only ease yourself into a vegan lifestyle with comforting classics, but it can be a fun challenge to make it taste just as good if not better than its non-vegan original.
With companies like Beyond, Field Roast, and Daiya, revolutionizing plant-based meat and cheese alternatives, the sky is truly the limit to what you can make. Think vegans can’t have a tasty lasagna, pizza, or shepherd’s pie? Greg Mancuso of Florida says “Think again!” The plethora of meat and dairy alternatives nowadays has made it far easier to choose to cook vegan.
Plant-based cooking is a great opportunity to expand your pallet and become exposed to new foods and flavors that you may have otherwise overlooked. There are countless world cultures whose delicious cuisines are very vegan-friendly.
Indian cuisine, for instance, is a fantastic one to try out. Many of their recipes are rich with flavor and spices and are entirely plant-based. A great first to try is Chana Masala, which is a type of curry made with chickpeas, tomatoes, garlic, onion, and plenty of spices often served with rice and naan (a type of bread).
Mediterranean cuisine also has great vegan staples that you can expand your culinary horizons. Learn to make your own falafel at home and put in a pita with hummus, tabbouleh, or baba ghanouj for a delicious take on a classic sandwich.
When you step into your vegan cooking journey, be sure to bring plenty of spices along with you. They are, after all, what can either make or break a dish.
Experiment with different spices and combinations to turn a tired dish into something new and exciting. Have on hand all of your classic seasonings and herbs as well as a few new ones to spice things up a bit, like turmeric and cardamom. Oh, and don’t forget one of the all-time favorite vegan staples: nutritional yeast.
Making the plug towards plant-based living is a major lifestyle change that can positively impact your wellness and the environment. The important thing to remember when learning to cook vegan meals is to just have fun and to always be open to learning. This way, you will be less likely to get bored by the same old recipes.
With a little practice, you’ll be a pro-vegan chef in no time, and you’ll feel great while doing it!