Vegan. Been Thinking About It? Part I
(Disclaimer. Fred says you probably won’t like this post. You can skip to the bottom and get right down to business with the pizza.)
I am a little amazed at how much buzz there is right now about changing one’s lifestyle to a vegan diet. I don’t even need to explain what that means, right? Switching to a way of eating that is totally plant-based is no longer a concept that is unfamiliar. I also realize that changing to a vegan diet is not an easy path for everyone. There are many books to read on the subject. The one that I really love is The Veganist, by Kathy Freston. It is available on Amazon. Her basic premise is that sometimes a gradual change is easier to make. Her attitude is non-judgmental, and this book was very helpful to me as I made my own personal transition from vegetarian to vegan.
I started out 45 years ago, when I was 25 years old, by becoming a vegetarian. There was a moment in time when I made this decision. I was driving my car and got behind a truckload of pigs on their way to the slaughterhouse. I could literally emphasize so much with their fear that I felt it in every part of my being. When I opened my mind to what the death of animals for food really is I felt I could no longer participate in it. I saw that when you eat a dead animal, you are taking death and fear into your own body, as well as supporting that fear and death. I gave up all meat. That was not a challenge for me. I was never a big fan of eating meat, but I did love me some fried chicken, shrimp cocktails, and tuna salad. At this point I was a real cheesehead, and could seriously put away some pasta. Off and on, about four times, I think, I lapsed into eating fish. This was usually provoked by travel, especially to fishing villages in Mexico, where I partially justified my lust by “supporting the local economy.” I was also traveling a lot for work, going to restaurants, and by the time I was in my 50’s, battling with my weight, which made fish a form of protein preferable to cheese.
I always felt better about myself in the strict vegetarian phases, and what would usually end a fish phase was a good episode of food poisoning. The thing that got me cured of fish permanently was watching the struggle a fish put out to hang on to its life. It was impossible for me to deny the fear and suffering I witnessed from the beach as I watched people fish. I also became more and more informed about the health hazards associated with eating so many fish, and how endangered the ocean has become from overfishing. And, let’s face it–a hunk of flesh is a hunk of flesh, whether it’s lamb or tuna.
I used to think that being a vegetarian was easy but that being vegan would be incredibly difficult, if not impossible. I tried in once a few years ago, and lasted for three days. Just too many changes to make. Let’s face it; in order to make a radical change in your lifestyle you have to be highly motivated. To stick with that change requires the ability to make a quality decision and not veer from it. Tomorrow I’ll tell you what finally made me go vegan, what that change was like, and why I wouldn’t go back. If this is a change you’ve been thinking about I’d really like to help you on your journey.
Now, how about some vegan comfort food in the form of Vegan Pizza.
I have also gone gluten-free. That’s another subject all together, but for this pizza I use Udi’s Frozen Gluten-Free Pizza Crust, available at Whole Foods. You can use any crust.
I also use a jar of marinara sauce, I like Paul Newman. This pizza is an simple Sunday night supper at Casa Ellis. I keep it easy.
In 2 T of olive oil sautée
1 medium onion, chopped for 5 minutes on medium heat. Add
4 cloves chopped garlic
1 chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped mushrooms. Continue to sautée for 5 more minutes.
This is enough topping for 2 Udi crusts.
Coat the crust with marinara sauce and then half the vegetables.
Top with homemade
Vegan Ricotta Cheese
I got this recipe from my dear friend, Edward Tomlin, and I use it so much. Great for anything that needs cheese. Creamy and delish. I just keep a batch in the refrigerator.
In food processor blend
1/2 cup raw cashews
1T lemon juice
2 T olive oil
2 cloves fresh or roasted garlic
When these ingredients are all blended and nuts are well chopped add and blend well
1 package firm tofu, drained and crumbled. My favorite is Mori Nu (12.3 oz.)
1 1/2 tea dried basil
1 tea salt.
Taste and see if you’d like more salt.
Bake according to instructions on the Udi package. You are going to LOVE this. I just serve it with celery sticks. Like I said, keep it easy.