I grew up and have lived the majority of my life on a meat and potatoes diet. Northern Ohio is a hodgepodge of ethnicities, and with these different cultures come all kinds of delectable delights, from German Weiner Schnitzel to Slovak Chicken Paprikash to Asian Pork Fried Rice. I moved to mid-Ohio as a young adult, and here you’ll find the same focus on meats with a variety of smoked, chopped, fried, and grilled varieties to choose from.
Yet my love of animals, combined with the stellar energetic benefits vegan diets provide, had me tossing around the idea of becoming a vegetarian/vegan for some time now. To be honest I didn’t make the leap because I was a bit panic stricken on how to switch from cooking the foods I knew to such “radically” different ones.
Well the good news is that I finally took the plunge into vegan chefhood, and as is usually the case with fear, I needn’t have worried. I simply started by punching into Google one of the easiest recipes I know, proceeded by the word ‘Vegan’. Here is what I found:
Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Spaghetti from the Minimalist Baker. My heart skipped for joy when I saw that word ‘minimalist’ in the search results. You see once recipes start exceeding 10 ingredients, I just kind of check out. But those Minimalist Baker’s really know their stuff, making vegan both easy and tasty.
I was also a little worried about locating items at the grocery. So I went on a day when I had time to relax and just browse the isles slowly. The only item it took a little while to find was the “nutritional yeast.” It wasn’t with the vitamins or weight control items, and I had trouble locating it in the natural foods section – I asked three different people before finding it tucked away in the corner by the chia seeds.
Aha – found it!
BONUS: I now know where the chia seeds are!
I added sunflower seeds to my spaghetti for extra protein. As the recipe states, the sauce can be a little bland when you first take it out of the blender, so adding extra spices to taste is recommended. Since I was feeling a little under the weather this week, I liked the subtlety of the flavor and didn’t get creative with added spices.
SOME VEGAN COOKING TAKEAWAYS
- Make it a process. Before venturing into veganism, I became gluten-free (I’m a celiac), red meat free, and (kind of) sugar free. All of these changes took time, and are meant to be learning experiences. I plan on adding one new recipe at a time until I’ve built up enough variety and nutritional understanding to completely switch over.
- Be ready for it. If it doesn’t yet feel right, make other positive changes that do feel right for you instead.
- Talk to other vegans or vegetarians. I got a pep talk from my Enlightenment for Schmucks co-blogger Trina about becoming vegetarian, and hearing about her switch helped embolden mine.
Most of all, make it fun! This first experience was positive and easy for me, and that helped allay my fears tremendously. And even though I have a long way to go, it feels good to have had my first experience as a vegan-cook-in-training.