Just this morning I learned that there's a new blogging challenge: It's called Vegan MoFo (no, not what you think; MoFo in this case stands for Month of Food), and it runs through all of September. I'm too late to officially register, but that doesn't really matter: I can blog whatever and whenever I want, so I will.
They have a page with Official Daily Themes
which I might stick to or not (again, free to blog whatever), and I may use the odd one that speaks to me as inspiration. Today, I picked 'Five Vegan Foods You Cannot Live Without".
If I were trying to be a smartass (a label which without doubt many people wouldn't hesitate to attach to me), I would name the five food groups vegans shouldn't live without: Vegetables, legumes, fruit, grains, and nuts/seeds. But that would be a bit boring, so I'm rather going to talk about stuff that isn't strictly required from a nutritional perspective, but oh-so damn tasty.
|Extremely yummy vegan cake at|
Frankfurt's vegan cafe Edelkiosk
I hear you: If you open a pack of tofu and smell it or taste it, there's hardly anything that could be less appealing when it comes to culinary adventures. But here, just as with meat, it's all about the preparation and the spices. If you were to bite into raw animal flesh without any condiments, you wouldn't be thrilled in a culinary sense either. I love tofu just because it has so little taste of its own. It means you can make whatever you want out of it. Slice a block of firm tofu after draining it, soak it in a tasty marinade for half an hour, and fry it or grill it - surprise, surprise! It's utterly yummy! Scramble it with a fork, add some kala namak
, turmeric, diced onions, a diced tomato, fry it up in some canola oil, and serve it sprinkled with fresh chopped herbs, and you have a wonderful replacement for scrambled eggs - without the saturated fats, trans-fats, cholesterol, hormones, and animal cruelty. Or, take silken tofu: Some miso soup with wakame and cubes of silken tofu is a real treat on a cold winter day. You can even make the most delicious desserts, cake frostings, and other treats from it, once you add a bit of sweetener, fruits, and flavorings like vanilla or cinnamon.Vegan cheese.
No, I don't mean the bland, rubbery stuff from last century which you may still find in your local health food store. I'm talking about the perfect sandwich slices by Wilmersburger
or Jeezini Santi
, the wonderful grated un-parmesans from parma!
or Go Veggie
, the yummy vegan cream cheeses from Tofutti
, and the incredible melting-and-stretching mozzarella-like shreds from Daiya
. There's SO much good vegan cheese around these days that "I-could-never-go-vegan-because-I-love-cheese-so-much" is becoming less and less of an excuse to continue animal exploitation. Apart from that, while they are not exactly health food, they have way fewer calories, less saturated fat, and are lactose-free.German Hefeweizen beer.
Did you know that many beers aren't vegan
? Unfortunately, a whole range of animal products is used to make beer - unless it's from Germany, where purity laws allow four ingredients only: water, grain, hops and yeast. Hefeweizen is an unfiltered, naturally cloudy wheat beer, full of yumminess, and completely vegan.Dark chocolate.
When I was still eating dairy products, I used to find dark chocolate not very attractive and mostly opted for the milk chocolate - it tastes less bitter, more smooth and mellow. But taste can evolve. It's the same as with drinking wine: At young age, most people prefer the sweet wines, but over time taste advances and many people gravitate towards the dryer wines (vegans: here, as well, goes the same as for beer: Many wines contain animal products, but there are lists on the Internet
which can help you find the vegan wines.) Now I love a good piece of dark chocolate. We mostly buy Green & Black's
which comes in a variety of flavours (not all of them are dark, but many are) and is fair-trade and organic. They used to have Cherry, which was my favorite, but that hasn't been available in at least a year. Their website still lists it (albeit with a flag 'currently unavailable'), so there's hope that it might return some day. The other favorite is Hazelnut & Currant. Unfortunately, there are some chocolate companies, like Lindt, which put animal fats (butter) into their dark chocolate. It makes absolutely no sense, because cocoa butter is so much better in chocolate than animal butter, but they still do. At any rate, reading the label will show you the way.Vegan ice cream.
Unfortunately, the Netherlands are still a developing country when it comes to the availability of vegan ice creams - and those which you can buy at the supermarket mostly contain high-fructose corn syrup. I wish we had the marvelous Coconut Bliss
here which we tried in San Francisco - in particular, the cherry amaretto
variety is incredibly tasty. What we do get at our local health food store is Soyeah soy ice cream, which isn't all that bad, and one of the supermarket chains has a very decent mango sorbet
which comes without hidden dairy ingredients and without HFCS. There's also Professor Grunschnabel
made from coconut cream in the Netherlands, and it's supposed to be tasty too, but it's only sold at a few cafes/ restaurants in Rotterdam where I hardly ever go, and they're at the other end of the city or have insanely limited opening times, so I haven't even tried to haul it home on the bike yet during this beautiful and unusually hot summer we had.Sushi nori.
I love sushi nori. I mostly don't even use it for making sushi, but I've lately started to make roti or tortilla wraps, filled with leafy greens, avocados, herbs, strips of celery, red peppers, cucumbers, and/ or carrots, some kind of dressing, and with an outer layer of sushi nori for lunch almost every day. I buy a pack of 50 for €8.50 at a Japanese deli, which is about 10% of the price they sell the nori at the supermarket or the health food store (7 sheets for €2). But here it gets dicy: The other day, I read somewhere that commercial nori algae are grown on the shells of mussels, which is where they derive the calcium from. Dead, uninhabited mussel shells alright, but still mussels. Usually, if something that requires animal ingredients is fabricated on a large scale, there is some killing or suffering involved. I haven't yet fully researched this subject, but it makes me feel very uncomfortable about eating nori. I might have to look into this and find certified vegan nori, even though it may be more expensive than the 50-sheets pack I currently use.
Of course, there's no real 'I can't live without these foods'. Singling out ingredients or products because you 'can't live without them' is usually just an excuse for not changing your eating habits. And I've been living without one or the other of them for long periods of time. But they do make vegan life so much more pleasant and tasty.