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I think that since I have not eaten meat in 6 months but sill occasionally eat dairy and eggs, that makes me a flirt so here is where I post my rant. You know what I find gross (aside from meat of course)? Things that pretend to be meat or are commonly substituted for meat or dairy. I have tried several brands of fake meat including many of those listed and cheese that's supposed to be the "best non dairy cheese" going and you know what I think? It's all garbage! And you know what else? Tofu and Tempeh are also gross! The only way that I have found that I like Tofu is in Pad Thai at restaurants and thats likely because its fried, sometimes battered and cooked in tons of yummy sauce. The only way I like any of this garbage is with tons of fat/sauce and that's one of the reasons I considered becoming a vegetarian is not liking the meat enough to eat it without piling on the condiments. I have yet to find Seitan anywhere so not sure how I feel about that one. Also, there is nary an umeboshi plum or rice syrup or sea vegetables etc. to be found within 30 minutes of me. And any place that does have such things (an hour away) not only costs a fortune in gas (read:emissions) but is also insanely expensive! Even more so than a nasty steak. So while I will definitely continue to do the Vegetarian and mostly vegan thing, I'm really looking for a book of delicious recipes with common, not fake ingredients that will meet all of my nutritional needs. Sorry about the negativity I just really wish that the world (Especially Ontario) made it easier to be a Veg!
I understand the frustration, but I'll share an anecdotal example from my own experience (still very new) to illustrate the way I look at this:
I had some soy milk in 2002, and I seriously thought I was going to gag. It was the most disgusting thing I had ever had in my mouth. I don't know if it had spoiled or if it was flavored with something...or what. But it had a VERY strong soy aftertaste, and I had to drink a soda and eat something to get the horrid flavor out of my mouth.
For the next 5-6 years, I didn't TOUCH soymilk. Ever. I loudly proclaimed that I hated it to anyone who asked, and I bought ricemilk whenever I wanted a vegan sub for dairy milk.
For the past month, my family has returned, as a group, to vegan eating. I had to buy soy milk for a recipe, and I purchased a big red carton of Silk (which is the only brand they carry here). I handled it like nuclear waste...I'm sure I looked stupid, but I didn't care. Soy milk is gross, and I knew all I needed to.
The upshot is, I made the recipe, and it was incredible. I made oatmal with the soymilk later in the week, and THAT was incredible. I sniffed the container, and it didn't have that sickly smell like soy formula. I drank a small glass of it. It still doesn't thrill me, but I was not revulsed. It had a clean, creamy taste. I have tried vanilla Silk and chocolate Silk, now, and both taste FABULOUS.
My point is this: Some of those meat subs you taste will be god awful...I mean truly disgusting. Some won't. Some of the meat subs you taste will be awesome in a recipe, but horrible just sliced on a sandwich or consumed alone. You don't HAVE to use these products at all. You don't have to sub for meat if you don't want to. Just try to retain a sense of adventure and patience. You will find pleasant surprises along with the bad ones.
eat superhero plan...no fake anything in there!!! just great healing food.
Thanks Amy. Funny enough, I do actually like soy milk. Especially the vanilla stuff which isn't terrible good for me but it's a treat and it's fare trade organic.
As for the Superhero plan, I'd like to give it a go but as I mentioned, most of the ingredients in the recipes in the book are nowhere to be found. I know in the book you say that's unlikely but I live in Ontario and there is no Whole foods. The closest thing to a health food store to me sells some food but mostly supplements. That's where I lucked into Tempeh (ewww) one time but other than that I have found nothing there that isn't already in my grocery store. I have asked for some of this stuff but get the same response that I would likely be the only one buying it. Quite frankly I just don't find the superhero plan affordable or practical at this point. I keep looking everytime I go in but there's never a change. I could order online but again, expensive.
My hunt for good "fake-less" food cookbooks contines....
1000 Vegan Recipes by Robin Robinson is the best vegan "everyday cookbook" in print! It is the only cookbook that has been to help me make the adjustment to a committed vegan life. I recommend this cookbook because it has so many recipes (not just a few) that have been easy to make and taste amazing. I can't recommend it enough! Good Luck!
Do you have any asian food markets near you? I found a ton of stuff there that is in the book that I can't find elsewhere.
Also, if nothing else, you could order some of the stuff online. Eden foods has a ton of stuff...sea veggies, umeboshi plums, mirin, shoyu....yeah, its not the best choice since it has to be shipped, but if you order a couple of things at the same time that'll help with both shipping costs and the environmental factor. The expense there isn't that great (for the sea veggies anyway) because the are dried and seem to last forever.
Also...no one says you have to go superhero (at least not from the book). Beans are cheap, readily availible, and a great source of both protein and fiber. Cause I'm with you...I don't like tofu (except in small doses in scramble type things) and the fake meats suck. Maybe it's because I'm so new to veganism, but I can't stand them...my sister, who has been veggie over 20 years like them.
I say just get beans, grains, and veggies.....that way you're kind of eating superhero, but in an affordable way.
Yeah, I totally agree with Barbra.
We live on Okinawa, and though I have the advantage of being near all kinds of "Asian" ingredients, I can't find most of the vegan staples people tend to think of. I think the commissary has soy dogs...but that's about it.
Start with soups. They are so good and filling and guilt-free and CHEAP. Almost any broth-based soup recipe is easy to modify vegan, I have learned. Roast vegetables with spices and nuts and eat them over rice or flavorful grains. Roll tofu in cornmeal and pan fry them in Earth Balance for a fattening treat. Throw a handful of these tofu cubes into a salad of your favorite things. Make a waldorf salad with vegan mayo. Make friends with some new root vegetables from the produce section.
I have ordered things from Bob's Red Mill site (they ship to me at my FPO address, so I know you can get them in Ontario), and they were not as pricey as I feared they would be. Nutritional yeast and egg replacer so I can make yummy vegan mac & cheese.
Veganize some cornbread recipes and eat that with sauteed cabbage and some beans. You wouldn't believe how good that is. Buy some Brussels sprouts (fresh, raw ones from the produce section) and slice them into quarters. Sear them on high heat with Earth Balance or olive oil. Some salt and pepper and chopped pecans or walnuts added is ridiculously filling and satisfying.
These are all things my family has eaten over the last three weeks as we stumble around trying to learn how to eat vegan. I hope some of it is helpful.
The first recipe book I tried was Anne Gentry's "Real Food Daily" cookbook. Its a small book but chock full of great recipes. I've made several recipes including a tofu ricotta cheese that did taste like the real thing. Its a great learning book as well. I just love it. And there aren't a lot of odd/strange things to buy. Also I like "Vegan Express" by Nava Atlas another little gem. "VEgan PLanet" is good as well and "Cooking the Whole Foods Way" by Christina Pirello is fantastic. I have to order things on line too and this forum turned me on to Eden foods and Wow was I surprised to find virtually everything I needed and not as high priced as I have been paying. I just figured one day that I was spending a lot of money on gas to travel to a store in the next town over twice a month that I could spend online shopping instead. It balances out. It has taken me months to gather items up just one or two at a time but they last a good while as well. I also hate the meat and cheese substitutes and I even made seitan which is labor intensive. I came to the conclusion that I don't need a substitute for something I'm not eating anyway. I too tried soy milk years ago and thought it was gaggy. Now I love it and soy silk creamer is wonderful in hot chocolate or coffee. I order from Bob's as well, love Barley cooked with brown rice best. They also have a huge catalog of recipes. Lundberg's has a brown and wild rice mix that is wonderul with oven roasted veg. I was a professional cook for 25 years and its been hard making changes, finding foods and products but again its such a fantastic adventure learning and doing new things. I hope these sources work.
I totally understand your frustration. I'm in Nova Scotia and I can barely find anything. There is a small health food store by my house and they have some baking supplies I can use, like the 'enjoy life' semi sweet chocolate chips, but besides that store, it's not easy. At superstore/supervalue I found the earth balance vegan butter and they have a 'rice cheese' that my boyfriend was really good on pizza and didn't taste fake at all. I'm basically trying to substitute little things, like the butter, milk, cheese, etc...especially in terms of baking. But when it comes to eating, I don't like half the stuff I tried. I tried one of those processed fake meats and it was gross and I don't like beans or many vegetables at all so for now I'm trying to stick to fruit, rice, and some basic tomato pasta options.
I made seitan last night and I havent tried it yet, but I'm pretty sure i'm not going to like it as I'm kind of a picky eater. You might want to look into another book called 'veganomicon.' It has alot of information on different beans, grains, vegetables, and other things and tells you what you can use them for and how to cook them. It's basically all recipes but I found it really simple and basic and it's definitly something I'm glad I have. There's also a recipe for Seitan in the book..but if you check out youtube there's some footage on there as well. Good luck! =)
I don't know if this will help spice things up, but I stumbled upon this website that has lots of yummy looking dishes with natural ingredients that should be relatively easy to find. I have been a flirt for about a week and intend on going vegan starting next week, so I haven't tried any, but hopefully it will help!