Vegans: What, where, when, why, and how much fun?

I guess I’m not going to answer all of those questions, but at least some of them and and a few others as well.

To me it’s really difficult to think of this whole matter as an outsider, because to me it’s so obvious. Like if I were seeing a painting, it would be right in front of me and I’d have to explain it to someone who wasn’t able to see it, but would be interested in knowing more. And also my envolvement makes this more difficult. I put way too much pressure on this. (Maybe because I’m lazy?) So I will use several online sites to help me to explain veganism to you. With my own words, going vegan will take some effort, but after a while you’ll notice it’s getting so much easier and soon you’ll realize it’s giving you so much more than what it takes away. The feeling of not doing any harm to other living creatures is just so amazing. No more quilt, no more shame. But instead, a very happy feeling about yourself. You are doing something! Yay for being active!

Why vegan?
I will not share any horrible stories, that’s not what my pink and happy blog is about. But just be aware that the meat and dairy industry is filled with them. Here’s a link to Vegan Outreach’s site Why Vegan?  My reason for being vegan is purely about animal rights. Even though environmental issues worry me a lot, too. (A vegetarian diet is a lot better for the environment.) I started out as a “pescetarian,” someone who doesn’t eat red meat or chicken, but eats dairy, fish and eggs, and I kept that diet for nearly a decade. I was around 11 or 12 when I started, and it was about not eating animals that were kept in captivity. As I grew older I dropped the fish off the list of things I’d put in my mouth. I started to become more and more interested in a vegan diet, but found that very difficult and expensive and everything. But then I ran into a vegan cookbook from Sarah Kramer and Sandra Barnard called The Garden of Vegan, and from there it took me about four months until I was vegan. The dairy and egg industry just isn’t any better than the meat industry. I didn’t want to support any of them with my money.

“Cheese”-pesto sandwiches. Nom nom. Fast and simple.

What do vegans eat?
We eat everything except for animal-based things! And most of my vegan friends are almost obsessed with food! There are so many blogs and websites about vegan foods. And very often when I meet my friends, we end up talking about some new flavored soymilk or new vegan products in “mainstream” product lines or just whatever is new and food-related. We love food and we want it to taste good. This is something that quite few (Finnish) restaurants know/understand. (Eating out is pretty much the only difficult thing for a vegan when it comes to food, but I know this is not the case in the States, where you have so many restaurants to choose from – lucky bastards!)

But to the actual things we eat. We eat pretty much the same foods everyone else does, too. We just use other ingredients. Some of them might require  little practise, some not. Here’s how Vegan Outreach puts it: 

Many people believe that eliminating all animal products will greatly narrow their menus. But according to most vegans, quite the opposite happens. Once you start frequenting your local health/natural food stores and co-ops, perusing a few vegan cookbooks, or just following some of the suggestions in this guide, you’ll soon become familiar with the wide variety of options that weren’t a part of your previous diet. Over time, you’ll also discover you can follow almost any recipe – old or new – by substituting ingredients.

For those who prefer not to cook, vegan meals are usually offered at Chinese, Italian, Indian,
and other ethnic restaurants, as well as at many chains, such as Taco Bell and Johnny Rockets. Plus, there are lots of cruelty-free convenience foods to choose from: frozen dinners; canned and dehydrated soups, stews, and chilies; items of all sorts for quick and easy sandwiches like vegan dogs and burgers, deli slices, bacons, sausages, untuna and unchicken salads, and soy and rice cheeses; and delicious desserts including soy yogurts and ice creams. You may even find that your local health food store has its own deli counter, stocked with prepared foods.

The variety of vegan products is growing each year; and supermarkets are carrying more and more products that used to be found only in specialty stores. If meat and dairy substitutes aren’t plentiful locally, you can also order them through online catalogs, such as Pangea or the Mail Order Catalog.

Simple Meal Ideas

Here are just a few examples.

Breakfast

Vegan breakfast foods Oatmeal or cold cereal with fruit and nondairy milk
Toast, bagel, or English muffin with fruit spread and peanut butter or vegan cream cheese
Tofu scramble with hash browns and veggie sausage
Fruit smoothie made with nondairy milk or soy yogurt
Vegan breakfast foods Pancakes or waffles (many brands of prepared mixes and a variety of Van’s frozen waffles are vegan)
Fruit-filled toaster pastry

Lunch

Veggie burgerVeggie burger or dog with fries
Faux lunchmeat sandwich with chips
Veggie pizza
Bean burrito
Falafel pita sandwich with hummus
Peanut butter and jelly

Dinner

Tofurky Italian sausage Pasta with faux meat sauce, faux meatballs, or faux sausage
Veggie chili
Faux meat tacos, burritos, or enchiladas (click here for cooking tips on vegan tacos and chili)
Stir-fry with tofu, tempeh, or faux meat (see tips)
Faux meat with gravy and mashed potatoes
Vegetable tofu lasagna (see tofu ricotta recipe)

Right: Pasta and tomato sauce topped with Tofurky Italian Sausage (photo courtesy of Turtle Island Foods).


Snacks or Dessert

Vegan dessertsNondairy ice cream or frozen soy yogurt
Vegan cookies, pie, cake, or pudding (see recipes)
Fresh or dried fruit
Nuts or seeds
Trail mix
Pretzels or popcorn
Chips and salsa
Energy bar (vegan Clif Bar)

Right: An assortment of delicious dairy-free desserts (photo courtesy of PETA). Keep in mind, though, many popular snacks and other convenience foods are also vegan – see “I Can’t Believe It’s Vegan!”
Going vegan is a project. You shouldn’t dive in head-first without knowing anything about nutrition. But it doesn’t mean you have to know everything before you start. You just can’t omit meat and dairy and eggs and not replace them with vegan sources of protein and calcium. But if you eat a good variety of beans, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and grains, and don’t stuff your face with too much sugars and (vegan) butter, I’m sure you’ll be okay with your quilt-free diet! 
Cinnamon buns baked for Vegan Bake Sale
Veganism is not just about food–it’s a whole new way of living. Sooner or later you’ll probably want to start using only cruelty-free cosmetics, cleaning products, clothes and so on. And all that adds to the great feeling of cruelty-free lifestyle! And you might want to do more–you might want to participate in animal rights events. Or you might not. Anything goes. Some of us don’t want to make “too big a deal” about our diet, and some of use want to dedicate our lives to animal rights. Whatever makes you happy 🙂
Vegan Rocky Road Bars for sale
I hope this helped to “clear the smoke curtain” away from the intriguing way of living known as veganism 🙂
Hop in, you’ll love it!!
xoxo,
Raisa

 

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