Let it be known I have prepared this article upon request from an avid reader and new Vegan. The purpose of this article is not to compare the protein found from vegetable sources to animal sources and condemn one lifestyle or the other. I can do that on personal time if you would like to contact me directly, as I certainly could generate an opinion given the opportunity 🙂
What I will do in this article is somewhat of an introduction to Veganism – particularly low-cost Vegan eating. I will introduce a glossary of terms that a newbie Vegan may run across, along with some ideas for meals and snacks.
As with carnivorous eating for health– Vegan eating for health requires planning and a touch of patience and adventurousness at the onset, and will get easier and more routine as time goes on. I am a big fan of meal prep. Diet-wise it will be your saving grace from caving to those foods of convenience i.e. “fast foods”. They may seem “fast” and convenient but later when you are on high cholesterol medication and unable to fit into your pants, they seem not quite so inconvenient. I digress.
First and foremost – What is a Vegan?
• Vegan: no meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy, wool, silk, or gelatin products
• Vegetarian: no meat, fish, poultry, or gelatin products; ok to have eggs and dairy products
• Lacto-vegetarians: no meat, fish, poultry, or gelatin products; ok to have dairy products
• Ovo-vegetarians: no meat, fish, poultry, or gelatin products; ok to have eggs
Ok – A little Veganese for you dear Readers:
• Nutritional Yeast: an inactive yeast jam-packed with B vitamins, trace minerals, and complete protein properties; it is sold in flakes or a yellow powder and adds a creamy, cheesy flavor to recipes; low in fat and sodium and free of dairy, gluten, and sugar
• Seitan [“say-tan]: aka “gluten” or “wheat meat” NOT GLUTEN-FREE literally made of gluten; very high in protein and used as an alternative to tofu as it has more of a “true meat” texture
• Soy Margarine: non-dairy version of butter; low in cholesterol; used like butter
• Soy Milk/Almond Milk: exactly what it sounds like – cow’s milk alternative made from soy beans and almonds respectively; check label and watch for added sugars; soy milk is higher in protein than almond milk; fat grams roughly the same; low in cholesterols
• Tempeh: made from cooked and slightly fermented soybeans and formed into a patty, similar to a very firm veggie burger; much nuttier and firmer than tofu; high in calcium and protein. *check label because tempeh often has barley and other grains added to it so is NOT GLUTEN-FREE
• Tahini: paste made from sesame seeds; rich in calcium and protein; adds creamy, nutty texture to recipes
• Textured Vegetable Protein [TVP]: aka “soya chunks” or “soy meat”; dried, quick-cooking soy product that holds up well in high heat so used in stews, sauces, and chilis; protein content near equal to true meat
• Tofu: soy product, deeply rich in both calcium and protein, sold commonly in blocks soaked in water [just roll with it]; consistency of egg whites and wonderfully versatile as it literally absorbs whatever it is cooked with; comes in Silken and Regular and the type depends on what recipe you are using it for CLick here for more on the different tofu types
• Quinoa: see chart [treat for my visual learners out there]. Quinoa is cooked exactly like rice except the ration is 1:1 meaning use 1cup of quinoa: 1cup water when cooking it
Now, a few recipes to get you wicked excited:
• 1 pack extra firm tofu, drained
• 1/4 cup soy milk
• 1 tbsp mustard
• 1 cube vegetable bouillon
• 1 tsp salt
• ½ tsp turmeric (opt)
• 1 pack soy chorizo
• 3 small golden potatoes, diced and blanched
• 1 onion, diced
• 1 red bell pepper, julienned
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• black salt for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 400oF. Cook the soy chorizo, potatoes, onion, and garlic in a frying pan over medium heat. Blend tofu, soymilk, bouillon, mustard, salt, and turmeric until completely smooth.
2. Once the onions are cooked, spread out in an 8-inch nonstick baking dish. Pour tofu mixture over chorizo and smooth. Top with vegan cheese and sliced bell peppers. Bake for 45 minutes or until the top is golden and the frittata has pulled away from the sides. Sprinkle with the black salt just before serving.
• 1 small red onion, chopped
• 1 16-ounce package of seitan strips or chunks of seitan cut into strips (try Lightlife Steak Style Strips)
• 1½ tablespoons vegetable oil
• 2½ to 3 cups vegetarian barbeque sauce
• 4 sandwich rolls
• hot sauce to taste
• garnish: lettuce, tomato, green pepper, if desired
1. Drain seitan and set aside.
2. Sauté the onion in vegetable oil in a large pan over high heat until soft.
3. Add seitan, and cook until lightly browned, stirring often. Add barbeque sauce, reduce to medium heat, and cook, stirring every 5 minutes, until the barbeque sauce has thickened to completely coat the seitan (about 30 to 45 minutes).
4. Add hot sauce to taste. Spread seitan mixture on rolls and garnish, if desired.
• 1 cup frozen okra
• 16 ounces veggie sausage links, cut into 1-inch pieces (Tofurky Italian Sausage, Field Roast Italian sausages or another brand of vegan sausage)
• 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 1 large green pepper, chopped
• 2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
• ½ teaspoon dried thyme
• ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
• 1 16-ounce can diced tomatoes
• 1 cup celery, chopped
• 5 cups vegetable stock
• salt to taste (if desired)
• Tabasco sauce to taste (if desired)
• 2 cups cooked rice
1. Fry the okra until lightly browned and set aside. Lightly fry the sausage pieces and set aside.
2. Combine flour and oil in a large pot, stirring constantly. Sauté over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add okra, onion, pepper, garlic, thyme, and ground red pepper. Cook for 1 minute on medium heat, stirring frequently.
3. Stir in veggie sausage, black beans, tomatoes, celery, vegetable stock, and cook 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Add salt and Tabasco sauce if desired. Serve over rice.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
• 1 ¼ pounds soft tofu (try “silken” tofu for a creamier texture)
• 1 16-ounce can pumpkin purée
• ¾ cup maple syrup
• ¾ cup sugar
• ⅓ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1 9-inch unbaked pie shell
1. Preheat the oven to 400oF.
2. Blend all of the ingredients (except for the pie shell) in a blender or a food processor until smooth. Pour the mixture into the unbaked pie shell and bake for 30 minutes. Then turn down the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for another 30 to 45 minutes, or until the filling is set.
Food for Thought:
Remember to pack up leftovers of recipes you make and use for snacks and quick work lunches during the week. There are no preservatives so make sure you keep refrigerated and in airtight container and each recipe will stay good for up to 5 days safely, and will freeze decently well.
Lastly, I want to share a quick tip I came across while I was testing the Vegan Waters.
When a recipe calls for one egg in baked goods [i.e. cakes, muffins, pancakes, breads] simply choose one of the following five options place of the one egg*
1. 2 tbsp corn starch
2. Half of a mashed banana
3. 2 tbsp water + 2 tsp baking powder + 1tsp oil of your choice
4. ¼ cup blended tofu
5. ¼ cup applesauce + 1 tsp baking powder
*keep in mind the amounts listed are to replace one  egg; if your recipe calls for 2 eggs, double the substitutions accordingly…3 eggs? Triple the substitutions… you get the idea
Remember, the Vegan lifestyle is ALL about substitution. It’s not about giving up foods you love, it’s about stretching your creativity and growing your knowledge about available options and re-creating the foods you love.
SO, yes, be Vegan, eat the foods you love? No cluckin’ problem.
A few websites for further reading
• High Protein Meals http://vegetarian.about.com/od/healthnutrition/tp/high-protein-recipes.htm
• FAQ about Veganism http://www.tryveg.com
• More Recipes http://www.vegrecipes.org