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A Journey Towards Veganism - Conclusion

A Journey Towards Veganism - Conclusion

September 26, 2020 / Patrick Zavorskas

It certainly has been quite some time since I last made a post about this, hasn't it?

The good news is, despite all the craziness in the world over the past few months - with supermarkets running out of food, literal mobs forming at some stores, and even dealing with produce rations - I still managed to maintain a consistent healthy and vegan diet! *Round of Applause* "thank you, thank you" 

I started this diet change back in January, thanks to the loving support of my current partner. My boyfriend has been vegan for quite some time, and it was always something that I had considered for a multitude of reasons. In the beginning of my journey, I actually found it quite easy to make the transition - I didn't really eat meat beforehand and, thanks to being a barista at the time and constantly experimenting with milk-options, I didn't really drink milk and preferred the taste of coconut milk a lot more. The real challenge, however, came in finding meals to cook during the unexpected quarantine. 

When first making the transition, I loved the idea of being able to explore brand new meals and recipes - every weekend, I would search for exciting new things to try, buying all the ingredients needed. I would then spend the remaining time to meal prep, getting everything ready for the week. I had meals that consisted of cannelloni bean tacos with grilled corn pico de gallo or even the occasional vegan penne vodka with cashew cream. One could say that I started off on the slightly glamorous, "Food Network Chef-esque" path - but in all honesty, it didn't last that long... 

Meal preps soon became rushing to get a meal together, and planned courses began to turn into eating the same three meals over and over again - with quarantine and Covid-19 changing everyone's approach of something as simple as going grocery shopping, it became increasingly hard to ensure I could get the ingredients I needed to make the meals I wanted to for quite some time. Even now, as I am writing this post, my fridge consists of those bean tacos, frozen vegan veggie burgers, some frozen vegan chicken tenders, and a bunch of ingredients to make salads

All that said, there is a lot that I have learned about going vegan that I would love to share with all of you - you have been here since day one, it only seems right! So here is my conclusion to my "Journey Towards Veganism" and everything I learned along the way - plus some recipes! Hope you enjoy! 

My Actual Food Choices Can Make A Difference

One of the main lessons veganism has taught me is that every individual has the ability to reduce environmental harm with their food choices. Long before becoming vegan, I actually had a close friend who transitioned to veganism in support of the environmental reasons behind the diet. She informed my friends and I about how the primary ways of cattle farming and the production of beef can be harmful towards the environment. In most situations, the beef industry can be extremely destructive, using up to 2,500 gallons of water to produce just one pound of meat. In the past, I had always been told to “take short showers” or “turn the faucet off while brushing your teeth” to conserve water, but certainly never to stop eating hamburgers. After doing more research, I learned that a plant-based, vegan diet uses considerably less water than a meat-based diet. By becoming vegan, I felt like I was starting to do my part.

As someone who never thought I could give up cheese or ice cream (I literally live with a Certified Cheese Professional), I fully believe this lifestyle has enabled me to become more open-minded when it comes to my diet. While there are certainly vegan substitutes for just about any food out there, they are often expensive and highly processed. However, again, this has challenged me to re-imagine my meals and focus on adding more fruits, vegetables, beans, and complex carbs to my diet. Through this experience, veganism has drastically changed my taste and improved my willingness to try new dishes.

Veganism Became A Lifestyle and A Community

Veganism has also helped me form some wonderful friendships and join communities that promote healthy and sustainable lifestyles. Social media, particularly Instagram, has allowed me to talk to other vegans and find recipes, tips, and info about the vegan diet. Since becoming a vegan, I’ve also learned more about sustainable food production and now strive to patronize local farms, communities, and businesses, which come with their own circle of like-minded people. 

Furthermore, not only have I tried so many new foods since going vegan, I’ve also become a more conscious consumer and global citizen. I now prioritize cutting down on waste, recycling, and reducing consumption of unnecessary goods whenever possible. As someone who went vegan primarily for the health benefits, I now realize that a vegan diet and a sustainable lifestyle go hand-in-hand. While I’m a huge advocate for veganism, I believe it’s up to each individual to find what works for them and what excites them about living sustainably. Veganism has ultimately allowed me to feel healthier and happier while educating myself on the causes behind environmental problems and the ways in which we can work toward a sustainable future - one meal at a time. 

Vegan Meals To Try

Banana Pudding 

Serves: 8 Servings | From Making Thyme For Health

Gather Together:

Banana Pudding:

  • 2 and 1/2 cups Silk Organic Soymilk Unsweetened*
  • 4 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/4 cup organic sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large bananas, sliced
  • 12-15 vegan vanilla wafers

Meringue:

  • 1/2 cup aquafaba
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • splash of vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons organic sugar

Directions: 

  1. In a measuring cup, combine 1/2 cup soy milk (or other plant-based milk) with corn starch and 1/4 cup sugar. Whisk until dissolved then pour the mixture in a saucepan with the remaining milk and warm over medium heat. Bring to a low boil and continually whisk until mixture starts to thicken, for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla extract then transfer to a bowl and allow to cool. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours or up to overnight. Once the pudding is thickened, use a hand mixer to beat it until smooth. This step is key to getting a smooth pudding-like texture! Don’t skip it.
  2. In an 8×8″ dish (or similarly sized dish) cover the bottom with vanilla wafers. Top with a layer of bananas then cover with pudding. Refrigerate while you make the topping.
  3. In a large bowl, add the aquafaba along with 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar. Beat on high for about 7-10 minutes, until stiff peaks begin to form. Add sugar and vanilla extract then continue to beat until dissolved. Taste test and add more vanilla or sugar as desired.
  4. Lastly, spread the meringue topping on top of the pudding layer, using the back of the spoon to create little peaks. Place under the broiler for about 20-30 seconds, or until the top is light golden brown. Careful to keep an eye out while you’re doing this step so that it doesn’t burn. Refrigerate for another hour before serving, then enjoy!

Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells 

Serves: 8 Servings | From Love And Lemons

Gather Together:

For The Squash: 

  • 1½ cups cubed butternut squash
  • extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 16 jumbo shells

For The Cashew Cream:

  • 1½ cups raw cashews - soaked in water overnight
  • 1 cup fresh water
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper

For The Filling:

  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup crumbled firm tofu
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup cashew cream, from the recipe above
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the butternut squash with a drizzle of olive oil and a few generous pinches of salt and pepper. Roast until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
  2. Make the cashew cream: Blend together the drained raw cashews, fresh water, garlic, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper.
  3. Make the filling: In a medium skillet, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Add the spinach in increments, along with a pinch of salt, and sauté until all the spinach is incorporated and wilted. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Squeeze out any excess liquid and chop. In a medium bowl, combine the spinach with the crumbled tofu, oregano, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, at least 1/4 teaspoon salt, freshly ground black pepper and 1 cup of cashew cream. Season to taste, adding more salt and pepper as desired.
  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the shells and cook according to the package directions until al dente. Drain.
  5. Assemble the shells. Spread ¼ cup of the reserved cashew cream on the bottom of an 11x7-inch baking dish. Fill each cooked shell with some of the filling and a few cubes of butternut squash, and place into the baking dish. Drizzle a little olive oil over the shells, cover with foil, and bake for 15 minutes, or until heated through. Remove from the oven and serve with the remaining cashew cream.

If you are considering going vegan, these tips can definitely be a lifesaver! Share with us how you will transition into going vegan by following us on Instagram @itouchwearables and Facebook @itouchwearables and by dropping a comment and like. Also, be sure to check out our new articles published daily and the latest styles on iTouchWearables.com!

-Patrick

 


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