During a short four-month blip in my life I became vegan. I bought rice wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, ume plum vinegar, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, champagne vinegar. I bought grapeseed oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, and walnut oil. I bought tempeh, and seitan, and faux meat. I spent hundreds of dollars on vegan cookbooks and hours watching PETA sponsored secret footage of animal cruelty, snot and tears streaming down my face.
No wonder vegans are so miserable.
I kid, I kid. In fact, I commend those who give up animal products from their everyday lives. Not only are they healthier for it, but they are also doing the planet a favour, because livestock burps and farts are one of the leading causes of global warming. Seriously.
But I just couldn’t do it. I took one whiff of those creamy, cheesy filled jalepeno poppers and I was once again cheese’s bitch. And I’ve tried vegan cheese, so don’t even try with all that, “Oh well I tried this really amazing tapioca-based vegan cheese and it was better than the real thing ever was.” Bullshit.
That said, I thank veganism for several things:
1. Learning how to cook in general: prior to becoming vegan my meal rotation consisted of spaghetti, stir-fry, and perogies. But when I became vegan I had to learn how to follow a recipe, use different cooking techniques, and experiment with new flavours and ingredients.
2. Vegan protein: although I never really got on the faux meat boat, I love tofu and seitan. I’m sure you already know what tofu is, but for those of you who aren’t familiar with seitan, it’s a seasoned wheat-based product with a chewy texture much like meat. But without trying to be meat. It is so goddamn good. My favourite way to eat it is fried and then tossed in hot sauce and vegan butter and then wrapped in a tortilla with vegan ranch sauce, lettuce, and shredded carrot. What? I never said it was healthy.
3. Nutritional yeast: I know, it sounds disgusting, but trust me, it’s not. I don’t really know how to describe it without totally turning you off of it, so just google it and then eat it.
Vegan Southwest Tofu Scramble
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup corn (fresh is ideal but frozen it fine)
1/2 red pepper, diced
1-350g pack extra-firm tofu, pressed and crumbled
1/2 to 1 tsp chili powder
1/2 to 1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
2 green onions, diced
1 handful cilantro, coarsely chopped
Heat oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add corn and cook until it begins to brown. Add red pepper and cook until just softened. Add crumbled tofu, spices, and nutritional yeast and gently toss in pan until evenly coated. Add beans and cook until heated through. Add remaining ingredients and toss until combined.
Serves 3 to 4.