What the Hell does a Vegan Eat?

Big Curry Noodle Pot Without fail, when someone finds out I’m vegan, I get asked what I eat. The question usually comes across like they are trying to figure out if I eat at all, as if they believe that the only food available in this world comes from animals. They just can’t imagine that there is any non-animal food out there, let alone anything edible. I’m pretty sure these people envision me crawling around my neighbors’ yards, baaaaa-ing frantically as I munch on dandelions and crabgrass all day. Not that dandelion greens aren’t delicious (sauté them in a little toasted sesame seed oil and garlic and you’ve got yourself an incredibly delightful side dish) nor crabgrass can’t be enjoyed (the seeds not only make for good cereal, they can be fermented into a tasty beer!).

Wait, I’m not helping the vegan image here any, am I?

My point is, I often find myself resisting the urge to punch these people in the face and follow it up with, “Are you kidding me?” I don’t, because that wouldn’t help the vegan image any either. Instead, I smile charmingly and tell them I eat everything and anything as long as it doesn’t have eyes or come from something with eyes. Except for potatoes. That usually gets a laugh and then I can launch into my spiel...that being vegan isn’t about sacrifice or exclusion. It’s not about not eating something. It’s just the opposite. It’s about what I get to put on my plate. It’s about inclusion. The entire world’s food supply is at my disposal but I only have so much space in my tummy so I’m thoughtful about what goes in it. It just so happens that meat and dairy and eggs don’t make the cut. But everything else is fair game, so to speak. It’s as deliciously simple as that. Besides, when I tell them that Oreos and Pringle's are vegan, they seem to calm down a bit. As if all is sane in the world once again. (Never mind the fact that the reason they are vegan is because there is no food in our food!!)

Of course, I can’t be too harsh on the haters. I was, after all, one myself. I remember when my sister-in-law went vegan. Not only did I think of her as a total nutcase, I loudly voiced my frustration over what I perceived to be a total inconvenience to me, like when we had to go to a veg*n restaurant or buy “special” foods when she came to visit. Oh, the disruption to my life! The horror! The misery of having a vegan sister-in-law! How did I ever survive? Where's my Purple Heart?

Well, as they say…karma’s a bitch. Not only do people perceive me as a nutcase now, the carnivore’s wrath is 10 times what it used to be even just five years ago. Today, people are suspicious of vegans, like we're part of some sort of Taliban ploy to bring down America one anemic, protein- and B12-deprived person at a time. Vegans might as well go burn the flag for all the unpatriotic accusatory stares we get.

So, how do I help bolster the image of vegans? How do I present veganism as a gift to oneself? As an opportunity to do more for the environment than any other single action? As a way to live more thoughtfully and compassionately while at the same time having a gluttonous amount of delicious fun?

One dish at a time.

What the hell does a vegan eat? Let’s start with this:

Chocolate-Blueberry Cake from Fatfree Vegan.

Chocolate-Blueberry Cake from Fatfree Vegan

It is blackberry season here and I had just gotten a fresh batch from our farmer’s market along with the blueberries so I put both on top. I also had leftover soy-gurt, which made for an nice, creamy little complement.

I’ve also been craving quiche for the past week so I got out one of my favorite cookbooks, Vegan Brunch, and whipped up this delight made with tofu, cashews, broccoli, red pepper, and zucchini:

Weekend Quiche

Oh, and we finished up the veganized Julia Child Bourguignon I wrote about earlier this week.

So yeah, that’s just some of what the hell this vegan ate this weekend.