Think it’s tough to be vegan?
It can be at first. Just ask Gina Miller, policy analyst at International Fund for Animal Welfare.
Gina’s first Thanksgiving after converting to a meat-free diet was really challenging. She didn’t know about Tofurkey, or other meat-free options. Being clueless in the kitchen, in general, didn’t help matters. Gina said she ended up getting through the holidays by eating her weight in mashed potatoes.
Now Gina makes enchiladas stuffed with tofu, onion, kale, pepper and mushrooms. Her friends take one taste and can’t believe the dish is vegan.
Mexican food has “been my secret weapon in proving to people that being vegan doesn’t mean that I eat lettuce all day,” Gina says.
She also makes easy recipes like White Chili. All you have to do, Gina says, is saute onions, garlic, salt and pepper in olive oil for two minutes. Then add two cans of rinsed chickpeas and two cans of rinsed white kidney beans. The next step is to add six cups of veggie stock and a few handfuls of chopped kale. Put on a lid and simmer for 45 minutes. You can serve this tasty, healthy dish with a few chopped chives or rosemary on top.
“The Conscious Cook” is a book of simple vegan recipes, according to Gina. She also recommends googling “vegan recipes” or organizing a potluck with friends and neighbors to get started.
Other options include specialty vegan restaurants. Some vegetarian restaurants are more than willing to serve their dishes as vegan upon request. Most traditional restaurants have a separate meat-free menu. Even if they don’t, says Gina, they usually are “very willing to take animal products out of their dishes upon request.”
Grocery stores are also quite responsive to ordering tofu, tempeh and other vegan foods, Gina claims. She’s really had no problems in this area at all.
For support in starting a vegan lifestyle, Gina suggests joining a local vegan meet-up group or volunteering at a nearby farm or sanctuary “where pigs, sheep, goats, cows, turkeys and chickens are rescued from slaughter and are able to spend their days soaking up the sun.”
Meeting a baby cow at a state fair was Gina’s deciding moment in becoming vegan.
“He was tied up all alone in a stall,” she says, “and after looking him in the eyes, I finally made the connection that my ‘beef’ used to be a living, breathing, sentient individual.”
“Sounds obvious,” she adds, “but a cheeseburger isn’t called ‘dead cow’ for a reason.”
Maybe it’s tough to become vegan at first, but it sounds like the transition gets much easier and tastier as time goes on.
For Gina, at least, it would have been tougher not to change.