Monday, November 9, 2009

how to feed a vegan for the clueless

this entry is dedicated to my vegetarian and omnivore friends who have always wanted to help a fellow vegan out by cooking for them, but don't really know what to do. lots of pics, all repeats. why would you want to cook for a vegan? i dunno, out of the kindness of your heart, or perhaps the lovable vegan you know-(cough, cough-hint-hint) might have had a life changing event take place-(the birth of a child, a sudden illness, or the death of a loved one) and might not be in a position to cook for themselves for a few weeks. one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me has been this very act, and i've made a personal commitment to bring hot dishes or tasty treats for those who need them during these life cycle events.

not everyone who reads this blog is vegan, and it is my hope to share the message by letting everyone know 1) being vegan ain't that hard, and 2) even if you don't wanna be vegan--cooking for a vegan in need isn't such a daunting task after all. if you've been called to duty to make something for a vegan, don't freak out. here are some handy dandy tips to keep you from losing your mind, and who knows--maybe you'll even try something and like it!

if you have some basic culinary skills, vegan baking is one of the easiest things to do. pictured above are the banana date walnut scones from veganomicon. you don't have to buy a vegan cookbook to get a recipe either, you can borrow a copy of a popular book from your public library, or conduct a google search for a recipe by typing "vegan_____recipe" and you'll get a ton of recipes or links to some good ones. recipe czar is nice and so is you can even look at my blog or my other buddies blogs and get great recipes there! my favorite source is the post punk kitchen.

if your cookin' skills ain't that grand, you can always buy specialty foods in the natural foods section of your local grocery store or food co-op. pictured above is kashi's sicilian veggie pizza, and it's completely vegan. kashi has many frozen entrees that are pricey, but vegan if you don't know how to cook. most packaging contains a label that clearly states this. if you can't find it, just look at the ingredients. if it says it contains meat, fish, milk, eggs, or any animal by products, then it isn't vegan. trader joe's has gone to great lengths to make sure that the food they sell is clearly labeled with specialty diets in mind. if you're puzzled, go to your local food co-op, find a loveable hippy worker, say "i'm cooking for a vegan and am me find something!" and they'll totally hook you up. if you don't have a food co-op near by, you can always look at this link sponsored by PETA-(i can't believe i'm plugging them, because they annoy me so) called "i can't believe it's vegan!" and they list all of the popular brands of food that are accidentally vegan. note: a large portion of these prepared foods are chemically, but vegan.
again, if you lack the knack in the kitchen, you can always order a pizza with veggies, sauce, and no cheese. pictured above is a shot of me from my 36th birthday eating a slice of pie from max's place, which uses vegan cheese. many places do not, and to be perfectly honest--pizza is so much better without it. you might want to ask a place if they use milk or eggs in the crust if you're ordering a pie for a vegan.
the produce aisle is heaven for vegans. again, if you don't have the know how or the energy to cook--get a bag of baking potatoes, bake 'em all up, and bring them to your recouping vegan buddy with a complete array of vegan toppings: salsa, earth balance-(popular vegan margarine), guacamole, tofutti sour supreme-(a vegan version of sour cream), and bacos brand fakin' bacon bits. most commercial imitation bacon bits are vegan, and made of soy unless the package says "100% bacon bits".
if you asked a vegan, "do you like stir fry?" most would answer, "does a bear shit in the woods?" you just can't go wrong here, either. pictured above is something i threw together at my friend baucco's annual mongolian bbq: tempeh, hoisin sauce, green peppers, red peppers, zukes, and some broccoli. easy peasy. if time is a constraint, go to your local chinese eatery and get a veggie stir fry with some tofu added. watch out for things prepared in fish sauce. my buddy chris says you can avoid this dilemma by telling the waitstaff you're buddhist. who knew.

so there you go. next time you encounter an ailing vegan in need, you'll know what to do. thanks for reading and good luck.


pixiepine said...

Nicely done!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. Will be very helpful for confused peeps. I have already received several Facebook hits from friends on "what should I cook for my vegan friend coming for Thanksgiving?" I love being the token :)

miss v said...

i love this post. my husband is ovo-lacto veggie, claims that vegan cooking is too daunting (even though we have a fully stock vegan pantry).

so i called bs and sent him the vegweb site and yelled "dance monkey!". we'll see how that works out.... ;)

Julie said...

Other easy meals include pasta with non-meat red sauce, pasta tossed lightly with olive oil and a little pepper, cooked veggies, a platter of raw veggies with hummus... There are a lot of easy things to make. And if you're taking food to a vegan's house to feed them while they are recuperating or are in mourning or what have you, chances are that they have all the 'condiments' on hand, so you don't have to worry about finding vegan margarine and the like.

Another really easy option is to go to a salad bar and throw a bunch of vegetable ingredients into a container. You might want to be nice and leave the ingredients in little piles in the container, so that if your friend doesn't want, say, chickpeas in her salad, she can pick them out in a group.

The tip about finding vegan recipes online is great. If you have an internet connection, you've got vegan recipes.

Thanks for helping out the clueless!

Chelsea said...

What an awesome, useful post! And "does a bear shit in the woods" cracked me up - it's so true!

Mona said...

Wow, I blinked and Kashi became awesome. I really need to try that pizza.

This is a really great post. I actually really love the suggestion of convenience foods. When my father was recovering from surgery, people brought us a mix of homemade stuff and convenience foods. It was nice, because it wasn't a rush to use everything up and a few weeks later, we were still appreciative of the quick meals.

Another suggestion I have is to think about what things you already like to make that are vegan or are easily made vegan. (Someone brought us cous cous stuffed peppers for instance, and she made some vegan for me by leaving out the cheese.)

Monique a.k.a. Mo said...

This is great! And who is that hot lady in front of the pizza?! :)