Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Why Vegan # 1

So I've learned a few things since starting the Vegan journey almost two years ago. 

I've waxed not so eloquently about some of these details but maybe have not covered enough to make my journey clear to my readers. 

The big question I would've and did ask when starting this trip is "How to go Vegan and what have been the best helps along the way?"

And since January is right around the corner, and January is the month when humanity generally decides to make healthier choices, I think the timing is right to share our personal Vegan 101 path. 

Are you considering going meatless? Once a week? Cutting back? Do you want to live a greener life and reduce your carbon footprint? Are you motivated by health? Animal protection? A combination of both?

In this season of overindulgence, while considering your future health and choices, here are some details that may build a map of the route we are on. 

The following information is fluid rather than concrete because I haven’t read all or cooked from all Vegan cookbooks and websites. However, the resources I’m supplying have been helpful to me on my journey. And they have been well worth the cost of trying the recipes and buying the books.

The first three are recipe books that have a decent amount of teaching on the whos, whats, whys and hows of Veganism. If you are concerned about the environment, your health and furry (or not so furry) little (or not so little) critters you would choose well to check out Thrive Foods, The Kind Diet and Skinny Bitch Ultimate Everyday Cookbook. Each of these contain loads of details and help on how and what to do. Each of them also contains some tasty recipes. Some of the ingredients are likely odd for the newbie Vegan or wannabe Vegan, especially in Thrive Foods and The Kind Diet. Thrive Foods really does a great job explaining why to consume the unusual items he suggests. 

Not using/consuming animal products makes a huge difference in our environment. Again, Thrive foods goes into loads of detail about the impact of animal farming. Recycling, walking or riding a bike everywhere, buying local…these things all add up, but avoiding the use of animal products knocks it out of the park. 

If words like Miso (just opened my first bag ever), Tempeh (started dabbling a year ago) and the idea of eating sea vegetables (gag) makes you feel overwhelmed, you can breeze past those ingredients and revisit them as you feel more comfortable. Thrive has smoothie recipes and raw meal ideas. Skinny Bitch has a vegan cookie that will fool anyone. And The Kind Diet has a couple of recipes that have become go-to for me. 

Documentaries are also a great source of information on health and environment. (Food Matters, Food, Inc. Forks over Knives, King Corn, Vegucated, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead)Do note that if you are sensitive about animal suffering, you may struggle with many details. And documentaries always have a bent.   

Inform yourself to make the decision that is best for you and one you can live with. And no matter what decision you make, you will discover nay-sayers and critics. What you choose to put in your body is a lot like your spiritual beliefs. What I believe spiritually is truth. But that truth, no matter how real it is, feels, is shared with others, documented by ancient writings etc. etc. is a personal decision. I believe and base my life on truth, many others do not. And beliefs can be passionate and polar opposites. Veganism, food, diet and nutrition contains those same camps and sometimes they are light years away from each other.

Another cookbook that is of value for newbies or explorers is Supermarket Vegan, especially if you live in an area without Trader Joes, Whole Foods, co-ops or Farmer’s Markets. Supermarket Vegan is a good resource. Heavy on salads and sides, light on desserts, but lots of recipes where you can find ingredients in your local grocery store.

One of my most valuable basic books is The Complete Guide to Vegan Substitutions. It contains charts and details, recipes for just about every substitution you might need to find. It shows how to veganize your favorite recipes. It’s a basic building block. The handful of recipes I’ve tried will be ones I’ll tweak the next time I make them, though, because they were a bit bland. It offers a basic foundation to build on rather than the perfect book for the recipe you will serve to your next gathering of omnivores (meat and dairy eaters...). Vegan on the Cheap is another good resource. I like (and so does my budget and body) using whole foods to make my own meals. These both help me to do that.

Next Topic: 

Basic Cooking Trials and Tribulations. Transition from Traditional to Vegan. One step at a time.