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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Feeding Vegan Food to Non-Vegans

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Myself included, of course.

Kir Royale! Never underestimate the impact of a pre-dinner cocktail on the appreciation your guests will have for your meal...

Saturday marked the culmination of Vegan Week 2007. A week of deprivation (or was it depravation....he). As you've already read, I celebrated the end of this event by inviting over a group of non-vegan friends (found five willing guinea pigs, though hubs skipped out and ordered PIZZA) and feeding them a mostly-vegan meal.

Well guess what, it turns out that you can feed vegan food to non-vegans and they will not only eat it, but actually enjoy it.

I can't say I developed any more grace in the kitchen and I continued my previous record of dropping things, spilling things, and a minor grain explosion. Thankfully none of this happened whilst I was wielding the blow torch (more on that later).

Anyway, here is the menu I put together, along with links to the recipe posts. I decided to be brave (or crazy....or both) and create my own recipes as I went. Not sure if it's the best idea for someone who hasn't a lot of experience in vegan cooking, but I went ahead anyway. Read on for comments, pictures, recipes and witticisms.

Apéritif - kir royale (sparkling wine with crème de cassis - I confess to not checking if these particular selections were vegan). I just wanted to ply people with drink in case my experiments went awry.

Appetizer - homemade rosemary fleur de sel foccacia with bruschetta topping

Salad - mixed greens with walnut dressing, dried cranberries and toasted walnuts (no recipe link for this one - basically 2 T canola oil, 1 T walnut oil, 1 T balsamic vinegar, fleur de sel, 1 T dijon mustard, fresh pepper, and mix)

Soup - parsnippity soup with red pepper coulis

Entrée - Veggie lentil phyllo strudel with sweet potato truffle purée, topped with port-braised mushrooms

Dessert - dark chocolate hazelnut torte

It was a feast suited to vegans and non-vegans alike. I was surprised and ecstatic to find out that not only was it good for vegan food, it was actually good food. Period.

So....vegan readers, try one of these recipes next time you have non-vegans coming over....they'll like it and you might even get a convert or two. And non-vegan readers....give some of these a try. You won't die if you don't eat meat for a meal (I didn't!) and they're actually tasty! Never underestimate the power of a roasted veggie. :)

And a few final thoughts and observations on Vegan Week.....

1) Overall, I can see the appeal of a lot of this lifestyle. It's always nice to think that we're lessening our impact on the planet, and if one can do this at the same time as consuming tasty nibbles, all the better. That said, as a non-vegan, it's a little bit frustrating to go to the effort of researching and trying to prepare something....and with nearly every recipe, receiving comments to the effect of questioning the vegan status of a given ingredient. Fair enough - and I'll confess that I didn't go out and buy vegan sugar and I didn't go out and buy vegan margarine (they do exist, but I actually despise margarine and wasn't about to buy a second tub....). It felt at times like an uphill battle. There's a great article on vegetarian diplomacy on the website. I can't admit to being a perfect, fault-free vegan for a week....but there was quite a bit of effort. Don't knock it!

2) I did quite a bit of reading during the past week about animal impacts on the environment, particularly the effects of factory farming. Now, while I'm happily ensconced in my position at the top of the food chain, and I don't see that changing any time soon....this is definitely some food for thought. If you want more information (not for the faint of heart or stomach), click HERE , HERE or HERE. Again, don't click if you're eating or are planning to eat soon. I really would like to make an effort not to contribute to this sort of thing, and will definitely be decreasing meat consumption (particularly of the fast food variety) and buying more naturally raised meats. If my cows are happy and pastured and content, that's what I'm after. So this was a bit of an eye-opener.

3) I learned a lot about efficiency and food production. It takes 16 pounds of grain to make one pound of beef (i.e., a cow, over its lifetime, will consume 16 pounds of grain for every pound of meat it yields). So....not only is it inefficient, but cows are eating food that could be consumed by humans (and likewise pigs, chickens, etc.). It certainly puts things in perspective anyway. More food for though (is it dinner time yet? I'm STARVING!)

4) I've mentioned before and I'll mention again....meat and dairy substitutes are NASTY. In order to properly and joyfully adhere to a vegan lifestyle, I think it's important to visit offerings of other cultures (many asian and african countries come to mind) to find food ideas. The North American standard of meat, potatoes and vegetables (MPV for short!) just isn't the same when it's only potatoes and vegetables. Legumes are our friends, and I will endeavour to make more with them. That said, I have been devouring cheese like there is no tomorrow ever since first thing Sunday morning.

Make sure to come back for more posts about delicious food, including an upcoming theme week about the food of España, as well as an entry into the Cupcake Round-Up hosted by the Cupcake Blog!. Yum!

Thank you for reading! And, comment-whore that I am....pleeeeeeeeeease comment. :)


Mia said...

Trying to eat vegan requires a commitment that most people are not ready to make. I find that I eat vegan quite a bit by accident. Vegan margarine is actually pretty good. I tend to eat vegan by choice and to avoid dairy. My dairy avoidance is for health reasons.

I managed to miss your parsnip soup when you posted it. I will be making it next weekend after I do some major shopping.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the links to the articles. It was quite informative and makes me want to do some more research in order to make smart consumer decisions.

Some of the information was very disturbing. I guess I'm naive in thinking that "factory farming" doesn't exist.

Thanks again,

Anonymous said...

What an incredible menu!

It's funny because while I do eat meat, we were raised to eat all our veggies so I'm always found vegetarian cuisine so enjoyable.

Wish I could have had some of the food on the menu!

Susan Voisin said...

Your vegan menu looks wonderful! I'm sorry to hear that you got comments questioning the veganity (veganness?) of your ingredients. I get that, too--almost always erroneous comments. Some people would rather sweat the details than embrace the big picture. Fortunately, not all vegans are like that (just the annoyingly vocal ones.)

About the margarine, if you ever do have to buy margarine again, Earth Balance tastes better than any other kind on the market, and it's vegan. I mean, MUCH better. Even if I weren't vegan, I'd buy it.

Susan Voisin said...

Oh, and your photo at the top is absolutely gorgeous.

Anonymous said...

The good thing about being a vegan is that non-vegans can eat what we eat, even if we vegans don't eat what they eat.

Scott Hughes
Vegan Discussion Forums

Kati said...

Congratulations on completing your Vegan Week! Your food looks spectacular - I will definitely try some of the recipes.

Anonymous said...

As a vegan, I want to thank you so much for being kind and open to this lifestyle! Everything you do counts, and your menu looks amazing [:

Meat and dairy substitutes are kind of those "oh crap, I have no time/energy to make a real lunch" foods. On a normal day, I eat a lot of roasted veggies or stir-fries (when I'm lazy) and usually just eat legumes, tofu, and nuts as protein. Meat and dairy substitutes are highly processed and not eco-friendly anyway.

Hope you continue to incorporate cruelty free meals in your diet!

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