I'm so glad Veganuary is here.
It's that time of year again when new diets are often a popular resolution following a long holiday season of decadent and indulgent eating. This year, I returned to England to find a wide assortment of vegan foods EVERYWHERE. Vegan Papa John's, McDonald's, full-English breakfasts, no-Beef wellingtons, mince pies, fudge, crispy 'duck', and Christmas pudding, to name a few. And yes, these highly sugary, fatty, processed, and chemically enhanced items were so... comforting. It had been years since I had any of those and surprisingly, everything tasted very similar to how I remember and my brain just lit up like it was Christmas! And in fact, it was Christmas.
Despite the initial appeal, I soon began to miss my kitchen and all of the things that I use to create vegan magic there. After 2 weeks, I finally had enough and started declining the Thai no-fish cakes, and the yum yums, and chips because NOTHING TASTES AS GOOD AS HEALTH FEELS. Usually, we eat a lot of fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and grains. We also patron our local vegan restaurants for cake and other delicious items. It all seems to balance well with everyone being healthy and happy. Over the last few weeks, I had to relearn a valuable lessson.
Surprise! Not all vegan food is healthy.
Many people look to veganism as a way to lead a healthier lifestyle. And yes, there are many many ways in which this is true, but let's keep a good perspective on this. I'm not sure that eating a pepperphoni and cheeze pizza followed by ben and jerry's non-dairy caramel core ice cream can be considered the healthy option despite being 100% cholesterol free. Of all of the reasons people choose to be vegan, health is just one of them. I'm also sure there are so many 'suitable for vegans' products on the market right now because there was scarcely little real food in the hyper-processed items in the first place.
I do not say this to discourage you. Especially if this is your first foray into vegan cuisine, please do try it all. But be mindful that there are some fantastic, easy-to-make whole-food vegan recipes out there, that not only taste good but will leave you feeling good after you eat it. It is really easy to grab vegan meat replacements and prepared meals, which are good to try, but let us not forget the heart and soul of the vegan plate should be real food. Trust me, your body will thank you for the fiber, hydration, and nutrients it needs to function properly.
Here is a list of my favorite YouTubers and bloggers to help get you started.
Sadia at Pick Up Limes. She is a nutritionist that creates really easy-to-follow and flavorful meals. I love her energy and sincerity. She's the master of gentle real talk.
Miyoko Schinner - Yes, that Miyoko! She has a plethora of youtube videos made before Miyoko's Creamery provided artisan vegan cheese to us all. She recently launched a youtube cooking show featuring her butter. I can't wait for her to come out with frozen vegan croissants. (I'm going to keep putting that one out into the universe until it happens.)
Isa Chandra Moskowitz - I can't say enough about this kitchen diva. I have all of her cookbooks, of which there are many. Although my first vegan book was, A Kind Diet, by Alicia Silverstone, I bought it accidentally. It changed my world and thankfully, I was able to start my vegan journey with the Veganomicon and Vegan Cupcakes Save the World. One of the OG vegan food bloggers with the Post-Punk Kitchen, Isa is definitely a heavy influence on my vegan techniques. From her I learned, ABS - always be soaking...ie. almonds need to soak for 8-24 hours before you can blend them for almond milk. :)