By Dana Schultz of MyLittleCelebration.com
Either you get it or you don’t.
Whichever camp you may fall into, this animal-friendly diet is growing in popularity faster than I can change my pants in the morning. As word of its benefits have spread, more and more people have become curious about it. Are you among the curious crowd? The enthusiasts? Or perhaps calling out “Why, why?” in utter confusion at the concept?
Well, not to worry as this article acts as a quick guide on what veganism is, the ‘why’ behind it, and how someone interested in going vegan might make a smooth transition into the diet. That transition is made all the easier with a few favorite recipes.
So just what is veganism?
Simply put, vegans don’t consume meat, dairy or animal by-products – like eggs – as well as honey, as bees are viewed as animals as well. But they can have their fill of any beans, grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables they want.
See this helpful article from VeganOutreach.org for a generous list of meal, snack and dessert ideas, as well as substitute products for all your favorite non-vegan items like hamburgers, pizza and even ice cream.
Why go vegan?
For some people, going vegan is strictly a health choice as a means to avoid high-fat meats and dairy products. And for others it’s more of an ethical or moral decision, having to do with animal cruelty issues or the environment, among others.
Be sure to do some research yourself and find out where you fall. You might start with this helpful article from the Vegetarian Resource Group, which explains why vegans choose to eat the way they do either for health, environmental, and/or ethical reasons.
Vegan Benefits and Resources
When it comes to the benefits of veganism, there are too many to list here. But a few standouts include:
- Reduces the demand for animal production and slaughter, thus decreasing occurrences of animal mistreatment.
- Has a heavy emphasis on fruit and vegetable consumption.
- Is considered a healthy, socially responsible and sustainable diet choice.
- Can reduce grocery bills by eliminating the high cost of meat and dairy.
If you’re considering a vegan diet, here are a few tips on how to make a smoother transition.
- Substitute dairy milk for non-dairy options like soy, almond, rice or hemp milk.
- Focus on getting protein from sources like beans, nuts and soy.
- Try vegan versions of popular foods such as vegan butter, cheese and faux meat products.
- Substitute agave nectar or maple syrup for honey.
- Use ‘flax eggs’ in baking instead of real eggs. Find a recipe here.
On my blog – My Little Celebration – I’ve shared a number of delicious vegan recipes. My personal favorite is the brownies, which I call the best brownies I’ve ever had! I share that recipe here, plus a few other favorites below.
Adapted from Made in Sonoma
makes 6 small brownies
- 1/3 of a 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed [~1/2 cup]
- 1 flax egg [1 Tbsp. flaxseed meal, 2/5 Tbsp. water]
- 1 T coconut oil [or sub canola, vegetable, etc.]
- scant 1/4 c cocoa powder
- dash salt
- 1/2 t vanilla extract
- 1/4 c granulated sugar
- 1/2 t baking powder
- heaping 1/2 t finely ground espresso powder or instant coffee granules
- 1/4 c semisweet chocolate chips [non-dairy for vegan]
- dash of chocolate sprinkles
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 6 muffin tins.
- Prepare flax egg by combining flax and water in a small bowl and letting it rest for 3-5 minutes.
- Combine black beans through instant coffee in a food processor [sift in sugar if clumpy] and puree. Then stir in chocolate chips and sprinkles. Pour batter evenly into 6 muffin tins and smooth the tops with a spoon.
- Bake for 17 minutes or until tops are dry and starting to pull away from the sides. Let cool for 30 minutes before removing from pan.
These days it seems there isn’t a food that doesn’t have a vegan version of it as well. At one vegan site (Oh She Glows) for instance, you’ll find vegan versions of hamburgers, mac ‘n cheese and even Dairy Queen Blizzards!
Here are some food blogs that host a variety of delicious vegan recipes.
Now, go forth and eat vegan! Or at least give it a try. After all, it hasn’t attracted millions of followers for no reason. Find out for yourself why.
October 21st, 2011