Delicious Vegan Dish of the Day:
Today we were “sheltering in place” with some friends. We had pasta with pesto for lunch and jambalaya (with Italian sausage) for dinner. Our friends’ dog ate a LOT of cheerios off our floor.
When you stay in, you don’t buy anything. No money spent!
Friday Tips for Living Vegan and Living Cheap – with kids!:
Identify the craving
I know I’ve written about this idea before, but I can’t emphasize the importance of “identifying the craving” as you transition to a vegan diet. Sure, there are tons of vegan substitutes out in the world, such as Tofutti cream cheese, Daiya mozzarella, Field Roast sausages, etc. Those are great in their own way, but sometimes we don’t actually need a direct “substitute” for the meat, dairy or eggs we are used to eating. Here are some of the common, actual, cravings I realized I had when I started my own vegan transition.
Fat and salt: You will hear it time and time again from people. “I could never give up cheese!” I’ve said it myself. Now, I’m proud to be able to say “cheese was the last thing I gave up – and I’m so glad I finally did it!” Seriously, I felt so much healthier and happier when I cut out most dairy, but cutting out the cheese really made a huge difference in my life. But not eating cheese didn’t stop me from craving cheese early on. Thanks, once again, to Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, I learned to figure out what cravings really were (hint: not always the cheese itself). A lot of times when I felt like I wanted cheese, what I really wanted was fat and salt. So, I would top pasta with pine nuts instead of Parmesan. I would add cheese-free almond pesto to my cheese-less pizza to get that savory flavor. Crackers were topped with some hummus and nice, salty, olives. Often these kind of substitutes were enough to quell any cheese desires I had. That, plus realizing that dairy – hence cheese – has to come from impregnated cows who then loose their babies was enough to help me give up dairy-based cheese for good.
Creamy and cool: One of my favorite dips growing up was onion/sour cream dip. You probably know the kind. It was basically onion soup mix and sour cream all mixed up together. Together, with Ruffles, it transports me back to football filled Sundays. Now, I have found a great version of this recipe with caramelized onions and Tofutti sour cream. But I have also realized that a lot of time creamy dairy-based dips and spreads are all about a creamy and cool taste. So, I still use Tofutti sour cream occasionally, but just as often I top my chili and nachos with chunks of avocado, or I dip crackers in hummus to satisfy that same creamy and cool craving.
Familiar favorites: When I first stopped eating dairy I really thought it meant that I couldn’t go out for bagels anymore. Sure, I could get bagels and Tofutti cream cheese and eat them at my house, but I wouldn’t pick up a bagel on the way to work, or out with friends, because who wants a dry, plain bagel! Then, one day, I actually looked at the menu in a bagel shop and realized they had peanut butter – and hummus! I was thrilled, because what I really wanted wasn’t just a bagel and cream cheese. It was the ability to just stop by a bagel shop and get something tasty to eat. In the end I found that I sometimes enjoyed a bagel with peanut butter even more than the ones with tofu cream cheese. Sometimes we just have to look for other options that fill us with that cherished sense of comfort and familiarity.
For more on this topic I highly recommend Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s podcast episode entitled “Life After Cheese.” She does explain a lot about cheese, but also about many other issues related to transitioning to a vegan diet.