Thursday, December 29, 2011

Vegan Challenges

I personally have never really liked meat.  I especially dislike ground meat, but just meat in general is something I've never liked, from a very young age.

So, for me at least, going vegetarian was a very easy thing.  People always act like "how do you survive? what do you eat?"  I can tell that most people really do like meat & to go vegetarian is/would be a major challenge for them.

Somewhere in the past year to year & a half I've been gravitating towards a vegan diet, as I've surely mentioned previously in this blog.  Technically speaking I really should say "strict vegetarian" rather than "vegan" since vegan pertains to a whole lifestyle rather than just a diet, BUT since most people don't know what "strict vegetarian" means I continue to use the term "vegan". (I still refuse to give up honey, still believe it has major health benefits, even though it's not part of a vegan diet)  I should also add that I would really like to some day include more vegan aspects to my lifestyle, but at this time my closet is not vegan & I cannot afford to replace the non-vegan items that are in there.

It was actually quite easy for me to give up all but eggs & cheese.  And after a little adjustments in the baking end of things getting rid of eggs wasn't all that hard either.  But cheese has remained a challenge for me.  (It's funny to me that now that I don't eat eggs at all, when I do eat a baked item that has egg in it I can actually usually taste the egg--& it doesn't taste good to me at all)

I suppose everyone has at least one thing that would be/is tough for them to do without.  I remember reading in one of my vegan cookbooks.  The author was talking about her early days as a vegan & how tough it was & how, when she first tasted a tempeh burger, she "knew she was gonna be ok" as a vegan.  I read that & thought of myself, who couldn't care less about not eating burgers.  Heck, burgers are something I NEVER ate, even when I wasn't a vegetarian, since it's ground meat & I HATE ground meat.  But I can relate to what she was referring to when I consider cheese.

I have always loved cheese.  Now it's not something I eat a lot of or even on a daily basis.  But I sure do like it.  And it's been a tough one to give up completely.  I often think of my hubby, who has a dairy allergy, & just wish I could just be like him & never eat it.  I consider him lucky, but he doesn't see it that way, hehe.

Now I did consider just not pushing it, & being a strict vegetarian with the exception of honey & cheese.  BUT since the whole nuclear disaster in Japan the milk (at least here in California, not sure how far-spread it is) now contains radiation.  And cheese is being made out of that milk.  So that REALLY encouraged me to go 100% dairy free.  It also makes me want to get my toddler off of cheese, which is the only dairy he was still consuming.  At some point, when my stepkids have moved out, my home will be 100% dairy free.  :)  That's gonna be soooo awesome!!

I have tried several types of vegan cheeses in the grocery stores.  Most are downright nasty.  There is one brand, Daiya, that is actually somewhat decent.  But it's a bit pricey & ultimately it still is a very processed food.  It is made out of tapioca.  It comes shredded in bags & comes in cheddar, mozarella, & pepper jack varieties.  It's the best of all I tried in the grocery stores.  I started learning that there were options for making your own vegan cheeses at home.  Thus these are far less processed foods.  The question for me was "how do they taste?"

First I made a vegan "crock cheese spread".  You know, those spreadable pasteurized process cheese food products, it's a duplication of a cheddar version of one of those.  It was REALLY yummy.  The texture wasn't identical, nor was the color, but the flavors sure were.  One of my favorite things of all is simply cheese & crackers & this one really fits the bill for this for me.

A couple of weeks ago I made a nacho cheese sauce out of cashews, but I wasn't too crazy about it.

Yesterday I tried a different recipe for a nacho cheese sauce & it was amazing.  The color wasn't quite identical, but the flavor & even the texture were really good.  Another fave of mine is nachos.  That has always been my fave junk food, when I feel the need to pig out & eat "junk".  Now I can have a much healthier version of "junk" when I pig out.  So long as it tastes the same (which it does) it's all good to me.

I should also add that my super super picky toddler also loves both of these vegan cheeses I have made.  Yesterday we were both dipping tortilla chips into the cheese & eating it up.  And today he requested a quesadilla, which I used the nacho cheese for & he's now eaten two of them!!  That alone makes it worth it, even though it's not even hard to make them.

There are more recipes for vegan cheeses that I plan to try, but just based on these two alone I find myself saying to myself "I'm gonna be ok", just like the author in my cookbook did.

At home I probably follow a vegan diet more than 95% of the time.  But when we eat out I revert to a vegetarian diet, rather than vegan.  It just seems impossible to me to eat out as a vegan, unless you go to an actual vegan restaurant.  Luckily we very rarely eat out, so it's not a big deal to me really.


Danielle-Marie said...

I COULD NOT do without cheese. But I think I could do without red meat and ground meats at the very least because I don't particularly care for either. Eggs I'm not a fan of in the first place. Perhaps you could post your vegan nacho cheese on your crock pot recipes blog?

Also, I have tagged you!

Frau Guten Tag said...

I did post the recipe today!

Thanks for the tag!