Vegan with a Vengeance: Pizza
We'll get it out of the way right now: I'm being a bit loose in my veganism. I'm not eating any animals, dairy products, or eggs, but I'm not strictly avoiding sugar, nor actively eschewing honey. Call me a bad vegan. That's fine, because I'm not actually a vegan, I just play one on TV. Or for Lent. That's kind of the same, right?
Photo by Nicholas L. Hall Vegan Pizza, pre-bake.
I didn't figure it would be a terribly tough leap, as my family eats a varied diet with relatively little meat. Many of my routine meals either are or could easily be converted to fit vegan parameters, and I've done the vegetarian thing several times, for significant stretches. No big deal.
When I told my wife I planned to go vegan for Lent, she wasn't exactly thrilled. "It doesn't mean *you* have to go vegan," I told her. She was having none of that, though, complaining about the added time and labor costs of cooking two versions of dinner on a semi-regular basis. If I was vegan for Lent, so were they, at least when eating dinner together at home.
The kids had similar reactions. "What are you going to EAT?!" asked my oldest. I asked her to name the animal products we eat routinely, and she started ticking off animals: beef, chicken, pork, fish ..." She still had fingers left when she started trailing off, running out of foods with a face. "OK," I challenged her, "start naming fruits and vegetables." She spit out a good dozen, going full-steam ahead when I stopped her, asking if she'd gotten my point. "Yeah, I guess you can still eat most things," she said slowly, a surprised look on her face. While a bit reductive, the lesson points to a concept central to the way I'm approaching my temporary veganism, and equally central to what I've historically disliked about that diet and its more freewheeling cousin.
While it's certainly not fair to say this describes all vegans (if you're a vegan or vegetarian, and this doesn't apply to you, never mind my ramblings), most of those who have passed through my circles of acquaintance have approached the diet from a perspective of restriction. Focusing on what they can't eat, rather than the bounty of what they can, I see a lot of vegans and vegetarians settling into a "Boca, tempeh, repeat" dining philosophy that makes me immensely sad.
When I dabble in faceless food, I always prefer to approach it from a different angle. While there are certainly challenges in moving from an omnivorous diet to a vegan one, I see those challenges as something to embrace. I see it as an opportunity to try new ingredients, ideas, and techniques. I see it as a way to stretch myself as a home cook, and have always found things to carry forward in my cooking.
Photo by Nicholas L. Hall Qrappy. This thing tasted like what I imagine a deep-fried puck of wood pulp would taste like. Don't be this kind of vegan.
Of course, none of this has any bearing on whether or not I find myself craving foods I cannot have. Overall, I've found the transition to veganism fairly simple, though occasionally a bit inconvenient. Every once in a while, though, I just really need a slice of pizza.
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