So things are getting interesting in the vegan world these days. The three biggies in “Gourmet World” — taste, texture, and presentation — are changing the landscape of healthy eating. You may be surprised to find out what you’re missing!
First, let’s make sure we are all on the same “foodie” page and define exactly what today’s vegan actually eats and does not eat. Here is the dictionary definition of vegan: “a strict vegetarian who consumes no animal food or dairy products; also: one who abstains from using animal products (as leather).” Since we are only delving into food options today, we will leave the other vegan lifestyle choices out of this article.
After speaking with the people who are actually creating all those delicious desserts and entrées for their vegan clients, the trend seems to be all about finding substitute ingredients and developing the skill to rework the recipes — intensifying the flavors, ensuring the textures are pleasing, and using elements that have color and form pleasing to the eye.
So here are our eight vegan eating tips for omnivores.
1. Consider becoming “vegish.”
Actually, you’re already a bit “vegish” if you are eating some vegetables and salads. List all the vegetables you like, then the ones you don’t like, then the ones you have yet to like or not like. Maybe you need to explore how they are prepared, whether they are organic (which usually tastes better), and most importantly, how they are seasoned.
Here are some other eating lifestyles for you to check out. Just find the one(s) that suit you:
- Flexitarians eat a mostly vegetarian diet, but occasionally eat meat. Many people who call themselves “flexitarian” or “semi-vegetarian” have given up red meat for health reasons, while others have done so for environmental reasons and only eat free-range or organic animals and animal products.
- Pescetarians are chiefly vegetarians; however, they also eat fish.
- Vegish is an otherwise vegan who still eats fish.
- Vegetarians don’t eat meat or fish; however, they do eat animal byproducts such as milk and eggs.
- Vegans eat no meat, fish, or animal byproducts.
2. Enjoy cooking more of your meals at home.
Meatless Monday is not a new idea. During World War I, the U.S. Food Administration urged families to reduce consumption of key staples to aid the war effort. “Food Will Win the War,” the government proclaimed, and “Meatless Monday” and “Wheatless Wednesday” were introduced to encourage Americans to do their part. The result was overwhelming; more than 13 million families signed a pledge to observe the national meatless and wheatless conservation days.
If you want to try some morning meals, check out some of our Lifehack authors’ posts. Helena Negru has gathered 20 vegan breakfasts full of protein and Tegan Jones has 10 more breakfasts, meals, and snacks. She also found 20 more to consider!
3. Host a vegish-based dinner party potluck.
Ask your friends if they are interested in trying new dishes and make this a party project. Forward this article to them and see what happens. Go ahead and put some burgers on the grill and maybe even grill some veggies while you’re at it. Just have fun doing it!
4. Frequent restaurants with vegan menu items.
See what the pros are cooking! Some of our most successful home recipes are inspired by entrées we try at the fine restaurants we frequent. Even if you don’t order a vegan selection, ask how it is prepared and you just might get inspired!
Here are the top 10 vegan entrées from “The Oregonian.”
And here are the six vegan dishes from “America’s Best Vegetarian Restaurant Recipes.” Look for things like that the next time you are out dining or better yet, go ahead and try one at home!
5. Do the math.
Will adding some tastier vegan dishes to your diet save you money and extend your life expectancy? Probably, but you need to check your grocery shopping habits and see if you are paying for convenience at the expense of nutrition and taste.
6. Know your veggies.
Look for local veggies that are organic and really fresh. There are more and more small farming operations that specialize in high-quality produce free from pesticides and added chemicals that taste better and are better for you. Here are 10 vegetables you could be eating that, if seasoned to your taste and prepared for freshness, could add some variety to your diet.
Look for world veggies at specialty markets. Here, in a very entertaining slide show, are 14 vegetables from around the world that you may not have heard of. The truth is, the world is full of edible, healthy and flavorful roots, stems and leaves, the vast majority of which you’ve probably never tasted. In the spirit of culinary adventure, we hope this list will prompt you to titillate your palate with something new. Try replacing those carrots, potatoes, lettuce or celery with one of these exotic vegetables — that is, if you can find them.
7. Use fresh herbs.
Fresh tarragon and dill, grown naturally right in your own garden or indoor window garden, will add incredible flavor to carrots, green beans, pea pods, and your own favorite vegetable. Make sure you cook your veggies just enough to be tender and flavorful.
8. Know your sugars (and other sweeteners).
White sugar, (a big sweetener in our foods) is processed with bone char. While there are many sugar substitutes available (six are approved by the FDA), I will not be covering them in this article. Below you will find some other common sweeteners. And don’t forget: honey is an animal product!
Your body works very hard for you by taking what you eat and converting it to energy. Make sure you know what’s going on inside of you by doing your homework. Keep up with your health by checking in on the websites listed below.
Maybe looking into the “vegish’ eating lifestyle will be more tasty, more nutritious, and even more inexpensive than what you are currently eating. Believe me, your body will thank you and your quality of living could very well improve.
Featured photo credit: Chocolate Vegan Brownie/Jois de Vegan/Carolyn Busse-photographer via media.lifehack.org