Saturday, August 14, 2010

There is a Freedom To Eating Vegan

Almond Toffee "Lace" Cookies

I start this discussion with cookies.  All things start with cookies, right?!  Anyhow.  Here you see Almond Toffee Cookies, which I modeled after lace cookies - the delicate and thin cookies that you sometimes see at holiday parties.  They are crisp, especially when chilled, and have a pleasant, almost toffee-like chewiness.

Funny thing is I've never had a lace cookie.  I've created this recipe based on what I've seen/read about this type of cookie, and worked around that.  I'm noticing this more and more through my cooking and baking, that some of the dishes I am creating as vegan versions, I've never had the 'un-vegan' version.  I can usually determine the flavors, textures, and overall sense of the dish from what I read and research, but it's sometimes odd creating a vegan dish based on my perception of the un-vegan version.

You see, I really only developed a love for cooking and baking after becoming vegetarian.  As a child, I remember enjoying baking and cooking with my mother a little, and even into my teen years.  But, when I had to start cooking regularly after moving out and attending university, it always disturbed me to work with animal flesh.  I was talking to a friend about this just yesterday, and she inspired me to write about this today.  I remember buying chicken and pulling sinewy pieces away when preparing it.  It was always more appealing to buy the 'skinless boneless chicken breasts' because it was "cleaned up" for me.  I didn't have to pull away the fat or the meat from the bone... less yuck factor, and less thought process about what that was I was actually handling.  And then that whole matter of handling and food safety.  The concerns of touching, cutting, preparing chicken or other animal flesh followed by immediate hand washing, counter cleaning, and cutting board sanitation.  You know, that is truly ridiculous.  Rather insane, how much we need to do to ensure we can eat meat "safely" (and is it really ever safe, from a health perspective, or in terms of what meat production is doing to our planet).  

There is a freedom to eating vegan.  Not that we don't have food safety issues - but, there is far less to worry about.  You can wash your vegetables and rinse your grains and beans, and pretty much be done with it!  No eggs to fret about with baking.  No worries about whether your raw-chicken-fingers touched your dish towel or whether you are cutting vegetables on a different board than your meat.  I do a lot of food preparation.  Just about every meal we eat I prepare, and most of it involves plenty of cutting, dicing, slicing, washing, sorting, tossing, peeling, mixing, blending, baking, cooling... you name it... if there's food prep to be done, I'm doing it!  Yet, I have a sense of food preparation freedom, because I don't have to worry about all those grotesque food safety issues that are part of meat-eating.  This is something I absolutely love about eating vegan.

Why not free yourself from many of the issues inherent in meat and dairy consumption?  You don't have to turn vegan overnight.  Start with cutting out a few days a week.  See how you feel.   There is a freedom you will enjoy, and that freedom will be shared by the animals you are sparing with every meal.

Side note: I haven't forgotten the Chickpea Sunflower Burgers.  Will have it posted in just another day or two... just felt like sharing these thoughts.

(Also, I've enabled comment moderation on this blog.  Please don't let that discourage you from adding your thoughts.  The only reason I've started it is because I've had a lot of spamming in the past couple of months.  Blogger has started a spam detection, but I need to have comment moderation in place to use it, so I'm giving this a try for a month or so.  Bear with me!)
Pathogen-infested, feces-splattered chicken can technically be fresh, cage-free, and free-range, and sold in the supermarket legally (the shit does need to be rinsed off first).  (Source: Eating Animals)

21 comments:

Allysia said...

Dreena, I totally agree! Back in my meat days, I would only prepare the heavily processed stuff, like chicken fingers or pre-made burgers, so I didn't have to deal with the 'parts'. It was only when I became vegan that I really started to enjoy cooking!

Josiane said...

Almond Toffee Lace Cookies? Oh my, that sounds fabulous! I can't wait to be able to try these!

Being vegan is associated to freedom in so many ways for me...

tweal said...

Great post Dreena, and I have thought much the same things as you. I never liked handling meat, and even the smell of raw meat could turn my stomach. I remember a few times when prepping chicken, opening the pack and thinking it had gone bad because it smelled so vile...and having to throw it out because I didn't know if it was safe. I would sniff and sniff, pressing my nose close to the chicken, trying to decide if it was edible or not - and in hindsight, if I could get my face that close without being sick, it probably wasn't rotten. Now I just avoid meat and it's so much easier :)

veganspoonful said...

I agree! I currently have some lemon-blueberry muffins in the oven, and I just enjoyed licking the bowl and letting the kids each taste the batter, too. Lovely not to worry about salmonella!

What really grosses me out is when omnivores don't have dedicated cutting boards for meat, veggies, etc. Even as a vegan, I have a different cutting board for onions than I use for fruit, or bread, because who wants the bottom crust of banana bread to taste like onions?! But at least I don't have to worry about blood, or fecal contamination, seeping into my cutting boards! Yuck.

As always, I enjoyed reading your thoughts and as a fellow vegan mom am continually inspired by your work. Keep it up!

amandaelis said...

This is so true. I, too, never enjoyed preparing meat and always panicked about sanitation. As a college student, I mostly shied away from meat, but still bought frozen, pre-cooked strips of chicken because I thought I needed the protein. It wasn't until I became vegan during my senior year that I truly began to love cooking.

Between the necessity of proper meat-handling, reliance on antacids, and prevalence blood pressure meds, it's amazing the lengths we're taught to go to in order to eat something that wasn't meant for our bodies. Although many people view veganism as a limitation, you're so right that it's actually liberating.

The Moffatt Family said...

Those cookies look delish.

Since you have comment moderation could you allow people with other IDs to comment? Currently, I'm using my Google Account but would prefer to comment using my website and name.

Jennifer B. said...

My family went off dairy about a month ago for health reasons. But more and more we are finding ourselves seeking out plant-based meals and alternatives to meat.

And of course, nothing beats being able to lick the spoons with no threat of bacteria or worse!

Cara Sheppard said...

Those cookies sound absolutely heavenly! I became interested in cooking after becoming vegan (I've been vegetarian since I was 11, and have never actually cooked meat), but it was more out of necessity than anything else. Now, 8 years later, I LOVE cooking, and even blog about it from time to time. Who woulda thought?

herfancy said...

Those cookies sound positively scrumptious. I bet your version tastes even better than the un-vegan one as butter tended to leave a real "residue" "aftertaste" - I can't even describe it - that the vegan versions are free of. Much nicer.

And oh yes, vegan cooking is a joyous experience to me. No icky bits to worry about. It really is a nice experience even in a tactile sense.

Lauren M said...

YES! YES! That's IT! Eating vegan freed me! I told that to some people recently who voiced they thought it would be difficult to cook vegan. NO! It FREED ME! I love cooking now whereas it was a chore before. Like, ugh, gotta get that chicken washed and pull out the sack of guts, gross! Why did I torture myself like that?

veganfoody said...

Definitely. My children grew up not being able to experience the simple pleasure of scraping the bowl after cake making, something that my brother and I used to fight over regularly! They can now - if I haven't beaten them to it, that is :o)

But there are other freedoms too. One of them is caused by the need to look outside the box of what we call a meal (unless we are the type of vegans who exist of meat substitutes); we have had to learn about other ingredients, that are unfamiliar to most meat eaters, and learn how to use them. I use a far greater range of vegetables, grains, beans and pulses than any meat eater I know. And it amuses me when they consider our diet limited - in truth, it is theirs that is bland and boring.
A good vegan diet is adventurous, always interesting, exceptional in the breadth of ingredients used healthy to boot!

veganfoody said...

Definitely. My children grew up not being able to experience the simple pleasure of scraping the bowl after cake making, something that my brother and I used to fight over regularly! They can now - if I haven't beaten them to it, that is :o)

But there are other freedoms too. One of them is caused by the need to look outside the box of what we call a meal (unless we are the type of vegans who exist of meat substitutes); we have had to learn about other ingredients, that are unfamiliar to most meat eaters, and learn how to use them. I use a far greater range of vegetables, grains, beans and pulses than any meat eater I know. And it amuses me when they consider our diet limited - in truth, it is theirs that is bland and boring.
A good vegan diet is adventurous, always interesting, exceptional in the breadth of ingredients used healthy to boot!

Alli said...

Great post! I totally agree that being vegan "frees" you a bit from all of the unnecessary worries about food cross-contamination. I don't have to worry as much about leaving food out, too.
I always thought that being vegan has widened my love for cooking and food and made me explore different kinds, as opposed to be "limited" by a vegan diet (which often people think being vegan does.)
Thanks for posting!

Veganessa said...

these look very tasty!

Tracey said...

I completely agree with you on what it used to be like to cook meat before I became vegan. I used to be grossed out to handle the chicken and other meats, but would still force it. Now I enjoy cooking more than ever and have become much more creative with my recipes and cooking. I have rediscovered an old passion and I have being vegan to thank for that :) By the way, those cookies sound sooo delicious!

Melissa said...

It's funny that you say you only discovered a love for cooking after going veg. I was telling Billy the other day that if I wasn't vegan, I'd probably never cook and just make the same old boring thing over and over again.

So here's to vegan cooking and the discoveries to be made!!

Chay said...

Where is the recipe for this cookie...would love to try it!!! yum!

Pearl said...

yes, I agree it makes eating simpler. no moral ickiness.

it's too easy to look at animal parts and see the counterpart joints on my own body.

Indeclinable said...

I'm pretty sure that never having to deal with gross, gristly, bloody bits is one of the best parts of being a vegan.

Well, that and getting to poop twice every day. :)

I love your cookbooks, by the way--any rough date for when the new one will be coming out?

Lori said...

Where can i find this recipe, they look really good.

Dreena said...

Lori, the recipe will be in my next cookbook, coming out fall 2011. I do have some new recipes from this book posted on my recipes page, btw. :)