As a lifelong member of PETA—People Eating Tasty Animals—I was surprised to meet my first real vegan (vee-gun) a few years back. Well I’ll be, I thought, A girl who sustains life on lettuce and tofu. But as we often are about the unknown, I was wrong. Several meals and an incredible friendship later, she has shown me that not only can vegan food be nutritious, but also downright delicious.
Veganism is a way of life. Some people choose to be vegans because of the health benefits, but more often than not it is based in love and respect for animals and the environment. While vegetarians avoid fleshy meats, vegans avoid all animal products even including leather, fur, wool and anything tested on animals. In the culinary world this means saying goodbye to eggs, butter, milk and cheese. With all these restrictions I was skeptical not only about the lack of protein but of course, taste. Fortunately, there are numerous alternatives for animal products that not only provide needed protein but can also satisfy any palate.
Below you’ll find a link to a 3-course, vegan-approved meal. Most ingredients will be easily recognized. A few names, however, will raise eyebrows. Quinoa, (keen-wa) for instance, is a grain-like seed that, when cooked, has a light crunchy texture and tastes slightly nutty. It was added to the salad for its high protein, calcium and iron content. Lexington Co-op on Elmwood not only carries quinoa but also any bean, seed, lentil or soy product you could ever want. It is truly a vegan’s paradise.
Maori Rice is the showcased main event. All the ingredients are familiar, even if they are a strange combination. My friend Christina has been hard-pressed to find anyone who did not enjoy this dish. Brown rice should always be used in place of white. White rice has next to no nutritional value, while brown rice is packed with B vitamins; vitamins which help maintain healthy skin, increase metabolism and combat stress. The sweet potatoes are an excellent source of B vitamins as well.
And lastly, just because vegans avoid milk and eggs doesn’t mean they don’t relish a good dessert! On the contrary, some of the best cupcakes I have ever had were vegan-friendly. These Banana Split Cupcakes are a perfect way to end what may be your first (of many) vegan meals. And after your second (or third), you might just find yourself saying, “Vegan. It’s what’s for dinner.”
To download the recipes for this tasty dinner, click here!
Read “Got ism?”, another Buffalo Rising story on dietary choices.