Happy Thanksgiving everybody. I love any holiday that centers around food, and in America, that is every holiday. Unfortunately, traditional American Thanksgiving fare is not vegan. And while you can easily veganize most sides by omitting butter, it’s a bit harder with the main dish…Poor turkeys. So what’s a hungry vegan to do? Well you could go out and get a Tofurkey, but I refuse to eat anything with such a nonsensical name. Plus, they are full of processed crap and come out of the frozen food section. No thanks! Here is what I am making for Thanksgiving.

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Daiya speaks to me. It says "Sprinkle me on a carb and pop me in the oven, bitch"

I’m not really a big fan of faux meat and dairy in general. While I think they are awesome for those who need help transitioning or just need a fix once in a while, I would rather get down on some whole, real foods. I consider them  a junk food, and so I don’t eat them often. (A writer once compared eating fake meat to masturbation…) That being said, there are a few faux products I will pepper into my diet every now and then.

I think I have written before about my appreciation for Tofurkey slices…the first time I had a Tofurkey sandwich was a good 8 years after I stopped eating meat because, well, like I said—not big into the pretend stuff. But I did miss the flavor of a smoked turkey sandwich (with avocado and tomato and stone ground mustard on fresh whole grain bread, OhMyGasm) so I was stoked to find Tofurkey comparable to the packaged, processed lunch meat of my childhood. When I first bit into a Tofurkey sandwich, presented to me by an old room-mate, the first words out of my mouth were, “oh…I feel naughty.”

The other faux-animal product I enjoy from time to time is Daiya “cheese.” I’ve had bad experiences with nearly all of the fake cheeses I have tried, which is upsetting because in my pre-vegan days, I had a pretty serious relationship with sharp cheddar cheese. We were on and off, hot and heavy, eat-a-whole-block in one sitting. Sigh.

For the most part, non-dairy cheeses taste a bit weird, the texture is funny, and they don’t melt. But Daiya shreds DO melt, and although I don’t really enjoy the unmelted shreds, every now and then I like to buy a bag of the stuff and have a little ooey-gooey fun.

My favorite thing to do with them is have a Mexican party. Stack sandwich is one of my favorite mexi-meals to make with leftovers, and Daiya shreds are a welcomed addition to my layers of beans, veggies and home-made guac. The boy and I had a quesadilla party a few weeks back, and we bought Daiya, which I was excited about. (He ate real cheese. I have never dated a vegan.) Editor’s note: Originally I wrote “my boy,” here. My mom then emailed me accusing me of being possessive. The subject line of the email was “man slave.”

Other things I like to do with Daiya include make grilled cheese, tomato and avocado sandwiches, and home-made pizza. So tell me what you do with your Daiya. Have you found a better cheese alternative? Are you a faux-meat fan or do you shy away, like I do?

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That better be a Tofurkey dog...

 

I hate fake; fake orgasms, fake boobs, fake baking, and fake friends. However, in the vegan world, many grapple with the dilemma of fake meat. There are some vegans who decide to eliminate meat from their diets but instead of replacing it with wholesome combinations of grains, legumes,and veggies, they replace it with fake meat. These are usually newbies or junk-food vegans who live off vegan pizza, soy bacon and faux chicken nuggets. Many seasoned or hard-core vegans turn their noses up at these ‘meat’ munchers- I myself had a particularly snooty vegan look down on me for admitting I sometimes take a b12 vitamin if I’m worried I haven’t been getting my daily dose. “True vegans know how to make the right dietary choices so that they get what they need without using supplements,” she said before clicking off in her hoity-toity faux leather heels. I was pretty peeved, so I get why a vegan may get upset about being looked down on for keeping a Tofurkey habit.

There are tons of arguments for and against fake meats, and lots of articles highlighting the dilemma. My favorite article,for obvious reasons,is titled Is Fake Meat the Same as Masturbation? In this one, the writer compared eating fake meat  being like cheating on your vegetarianism, to  masturbating being like cheating on your partner. Others claim the blatantly obvious:If you’re trying to follow a vegan diet, then eating fake meat is better than eating real meat.

In my opinion, fake meat sits next to vegan marshmallows on the junk-food shelf. Even though soy ‘chicken’ may be comprised of whole foods (soy protein, vital wheat gluten,  grains, potato starch, etc) it has still been processed, and processed foods should be eaten in moderation, period. That being said, I’ve had some incredible vegan dim sum thanks to my brother in Honolulu, and some amazing vegan general tso’s ‘chicken’ complements of Whole Foods. But if I want to invite some herbivores over and have myself a nice BBQ, I would rather whip up a batch of spicy black bean burgers myself then go to the store and get a box. That way I can cook my beans myself, hand pick all of the ingredients, and feel confident that what I am eating–and serving– is good for me. Plus, making your own burgers looks impressive, and the only reason people invite friends over is to try to impress them with their cooking/house/well-trained husband. However, when you’re in a hurry, are feeling lazy or just want a goddamn piece of Tofurkey (stuff is like crack..), go for it. Everything in moderation baby.

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It’s been just shy of two months since I decided to embark upon my vegan journey, and I would just like to take the time to say that dammit, I feel good.  Let me count the ways…

My energy level has skyrocketed. I have always been pretty high energy, but never like this. I am able to get out of bed much easier in the morning, I have no afternoon nap craving and while I still enjoy the flavor of coffee, I don’t crave caffeine the way I used to. I find that my runs have been much easier, and instead of dragging through that last mile, I have actually had the ambition to add distance and intensity. It’s pretty sweet. While I am still waiting on that constant DoYouThinkSheIsPregnant? glow, I have noticed a new shine to my hair. On top of this, I find myself thinking throughout the day, damn, I feel good. spontaneous interpretive dance often follows. And really, I haven’t had any crazy withdrawals or suffocating cravings, although I swear my room-mate Lindsay was eating a bowl of yogurt and I could smell it all the way down the hall.

Since Hannah has also decided to go vegan for a bit, a mission that we have labeled ‘vegan semester,’ we have been doing a lot more cooking together, sharing meals three to four times a week. I’ve had a great time with her, laughing in the kitchen and adding little bits of love to our meals. awwww.

Also, an event worth mentioning: tofurkey. In the past, I have always been opposed to fake meats. I would rather just munch a carrot. However one thing I do miss from my meat-eating days is a good turkey sandwich. I whine about this to Ben every time I see him enjoying one, and it is honestly the only thing I still miss after 7 years of vegetarianism. However, today Hannah gave me a slice of tofurkey, and at first I wrinkled my nose. The snob that I am, the last thing I want is to turn into one of those vegetarians who simply replace meat with meat-subsitutes and never come near anything green or crunchy. However, and upon tasting the tofurkey, which had a great smokey taste and a texture comparable to its meatier counterpart, I actually uttered the words “I feel naughty.” I didn’t mean to, it just came out. While I won’t make tofurkey a part of my regular diet, I am definitely excited about the possibility of a phenomenally sexual tofurkey, tomato and avocado sandwich in my very near future.

So far, no negative effects, aside from being super obnoxious at family functions and social events that involve eating.

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