Veganism is the practice of refusing to eat animal products, and it is different from vegetarianism because it is accompanied by a philosophy that considers animals sentient beings who shouldn’t be subjected to living in enclosed conditions for the commodity of humans. Dietary vegans abstain from ovo-lacto products as well, and any other animal-derived products; ethical vegans apply this philosophy to all areas of their lives, and abstain from using products that have been tested on animals, that are an animal by-product and so on. If you’ve decided to become a vegan and eat that way, then you’ve got a lot of reading ahead of you. Vegan cooking is a science in itself, but you ca start small and make progress.
Although veganism is a complex practice, we are just going to focus on vegan cooking and show you what the basics are; if you are not interested in the philosophy however, keeping a vegan diet just for health reasons is just as recommendable. Moreover, cooking without meat, eggs or dairy requires a lot of fantasy, and you need all your imagination in order to cook something wholesome. Yet veganism has a lot of tricks and secrets, as you’re about to find out.
First of all, you need to learn how to shop; as a vegan, you have to be careful about reading labels and making sure you’re not consuming some ethically-ambiguous product. To help you out, here are a few seasonings, herbs and condiments that are safe for you to have, and which will give you a head start on your vegan kitchen:
- Whole sea salt – This salt is slightly gray in color, and it is better than commercial salt because it is vacuum dried and retains lots of seawater minerals;
- Tamari – Replace your regular soy sauce with tamari, which doesn’t have artificial preservatives and is wheat-free;
- Apple cider vinegar – Unlike all other vinegars, this one doesn’t interfere with digestion, on the contrary, it helps;
- Egg-less mayonnaise – In certain place you can find this at the store, under the name Vegenaise, but if you can’t find it, there are numerous recipes as well, and they are easy and quick to prepare;
- Herbs – As a vegan you rely on herbs to give the most taste to your meals, but what should never-ever miss from your kitchen are turmeric, garlic, anise, cardamom, oregano and dill.
- Whole grains – These are not exactly seasonings, but you do need to have them in your kitchen: brown rice, quinoa, barley, oat groats, kamut, rye berries or teff.
Whole-grain pastas are also recommended for vegan cooking, as well as brown, red, green or yellow lentils, tofu, tempeh, miso paste, nuts like almonds, cashews, pecans and walnuts; sunflower, sesame, or pumpkin seeds are also important, as well as some of the following types of beans: black, adzuki, anasai, black-eyed peas, lima, pinto, soy, chickpeas or navy. It is good to have as many options as possible and to know what they are, because as a vegan you also rely on seasons and what they produce, as well as on climate and geography. So if a certain type of beans or grains cannot be found in your area, you can always replace them with something else.
We hope that you enjoy vegan cooking, and that it will help you lead a healthier, more conscientious life with respect towards all living beings and nature.