New Season, New Possibilities
Spring has finally arrived! I'm pretty excited even though it's been raining nonstop in Oakland since spring sprung. But beyond the changes of the literal season, is the changes of the figurative ones as well. I find that when a new season arrives, it gives me an opportunity to reflect on my life and how I'm living it.
But for some reason, with Spring in particular, I do this more deeply. Maybe because the flowers are starting to bloom, the birds are chirping and the air just feels a little bit clearer, but I find that Spring feels ripe with new possibilities, just like New Year's but with no hangover the next day. And I doubt that I'm the only one feeling this way so I figured that others might find this time to also reflect and maybe come back to some of those New Year's resolutions, like making more vegan choices. Plus, I feel like you can never share too many tips and options for folks looking to make more vegan options.
So there are a few basics that I think that people eat that are meat- and/or dairy-centered that they think that maybe there aren't any vegan options OR that the vegan options aren't as good. Now, the veganized forms of your favorite foods are going to taste different. That's inevitable BUT it doesn't make it any less tasty or satisfying.
Vegan Burgers and Fries
I love veggie burgers. And they've gotten so good at making veggie burgers that you may not even realize that its vegan! The hot things right now are Beyond Burgers. I love their crumbles and their chick'n strips. They are delicious! But I do have to say that these patties are way to close to the real texture of ground beef and so after not having animal meats in over a decade, I didn't personally like them. But for those making the transition, they are great! You can buy them in the meat section of your local grocery store, yes, the meat section! You may have already seen it and not even known! But this is a great start.
I find that the yogurt craze has made it seem impossible for people to go vegan. And to be honest, I struggled finding a yogurt that I really enjoyed until... Forager's. Their cashew-based yogurt is amazing; creamy, smooth and with a great taste. It reminds me a little of Greek yogurt in that it's a bit on the tangy side but oh so delicious! There are other options like So Delicious brand yogurt which is coconut-based which I think is super good but not the best, in my opinion. I buy the unsweetened of any yogurt and add sweet berries and maybe a handful of granola to make it sweeter without adding too many grams of sugar. There's also soy-based yogurts which are lowest on my list, not because they're made of soy but because I just don't like the taste of the unsweetened one and again, I try to stay away from food items that have lots of added sugar.
Pizza, Pizza and Some More Pizza
PIZZA! It's one of my favorite foods! I've loved pizza since I was kid, despite my mom's constant saying that "pizza no es comida" and would refuse my brother and I the pleasure of eating pizza any time we wanted it. But as an adult, I do what I want and I eat pizza! When I went vegan, I thought I wouldn't have good pizza again but, boy! was I wrong? There are some great vegan cheeses out there that you can top your pizza with. Daiya is the starter cheese. It's not my favorite but I do enjoy it every once and a while. My ultimate favorite is Follow Your Heart. Their cheeses taste like cheese and melt like cheese. You can also make your own cheeses. Miyoko Skinner has a great vegan cheese making book in which she teaches you how to make them in your home. Ive tried it once and it did not work out but doesn't mean it won't work for you. But I'll probably try it again as I move to trying to make more of my own things.
Nacatamales, Tamales and other Latinx goodies
We are so lucky in that so many Latinx people are going vegan and brining their traditional foods with them. With online like Vegancita and Salvi Vegan, you can get your conchas and Salvi tamales without the animal products. You can also find pupusas and vegan tacos and burritos in any of your favorite taquerias. If you're in Oakland, Obelisco is a great spot in which they have an actual vegan menu full of delicious Mexican treats! And when your abuelita makes her nacatamales, like mine does, you can always ask her to make you one without meat and being the loving abuelita that she is, she will! My Mami doesn't really understand why I'm vegan but she'd never deny me the joy and pleasure of eating her Nacatamales. Same goes for one of my tias who added a vegan fritanga on her restaurant's menu in honor of me and my other Tia who is also vegan! If you ask, you shall receive! haha!
But in all seriousness, making the change to more plant-based and vegan can be difficult. There's no denying that veganism is seen as a classist lifestyle and it can be. Having a diet high in fruits and veggies can be expensive and can also be difficult if you live in a food desert or swamp like many of our communities do. But those of us with privilege can combat some of this by purchasing more organic fruits and veggies to help the demand go up and bringing the pricing down. Plus, supporting those who pick our foods by making sure that they're not sprayed by toxic chemicals as they pick what we eat. Also, working with the corner stores in our neighborhoods to carry more fresh produce and vegan options and showing them that there is a market it for it.
So I hope that these options give you some small steps into making more plant-based and vegan choices. Though I wish that everyone would go vegan, I know that it might never come to fruition but I sure as hope that we can lessen our dependence on nonhuman animals, for their sakes, for the sake of our planet and for the survival of our own species.
What did I miss? What are some of your favorite go-tos?