The decision to go vegan can be an overwhelming one, especially in a culture where animal products are in so many different foods. But with growing interest in alternative sources of meals that don't include meat or dairy, many products that vegans thought were gone for good are opening back up. Some of them, by god, may even be better than the original recipes. The times, they are a changin'. Here are five examples of wonderful vegan alternatives--some more obvious than others.
Seriously, making vegan cookies is easy as hell. All you need is one of the many ingredients that you can use to replace eggs--bananas, applesauce, canned pumpkin, etc, etc., and you have yourself a vegan cookie. Just make sure to use dark chocolate or another vegan kind of chocolate if you're craving chocolate chips.
If you're not big on baking, there are plenty of delicious vegan cookies and pre-made cookie doughs available at health food stores like Whole Foods and Mother's Market. Even Trader Joe's has sacks of vegan cookies just sitting on their shelves nowadays. Serve with a tall glass of almond or soymilk and enjoy.
4. Ice Cream
When someone says the word "dairy," you probably think of a couple staples: milk, cheese, and ice cream. But dairy-heavy a good ice cream does not make. The myriad of milk alternatives available now turn out some great ice cream, oftentimes better than traditional milk-based mixes.
Ice cream made with soymilk has more of the traditional flavor that's expected from dairy ice cream. Coconut milk-based ice creams have more of a creamy texture, with the bonus of a hint of coconut flavor (don't worry, the coconut doesn't overwhelm the actual flavor of the ice cream). Even if you're not vegan, you should try coconut ice cream just because it tastes delicious. 3. Pizza
So you're probably thinking, "How is it even possible to make a good vegan pizza?"
Well, let me tell you. Cheese is one of the most confusing elements of the vegan diet. As many different companies have tried creating vegan cheese tastes and cooks like the real thing as companies that make actual cheese. Some have done it better than others (Daiya and Teese are two that come to mind), and it's becoming increasingly more common to find vegan pizzas that aren't just bread, tomato gunk and as many veggies as you can pile without looking too ridiculous.
Even chains like Blaze Pizza are getting on the game, offering vegan versions of their DIY pies. Then there are places like Vegan Pizza in Garden Grove that serve all of the classics, including "meat" lover's and Mediterranean. Travel a little father, and there's even a Chicago deep-dish style pizza at Masa in Echo Park that's 100 percent worth the waiting time.
So you're hanging out with the family on Sunday. There's football on, beers are all cracked and your pops is firing up the grill to slam on some beef sliders, like his dad before him. Well, not anymore! There are literally dozens of different kinds of veggie burgers that are both delicious and super easy to find (not to mention cheap) that you can easily grill right on the barbecue.
Veggie dogs usually taste the same if not better (seriously) with the different spices and vegetables that they pack into the little suckers these days. Portobello mushrooms are also common alternatives to meat that can easily be charred and seasoned, retaining all the medium-rare, juicy goodness the carnivores have come to know and love. There are plenty of other meat alternatives that can suit whatever you fancy -- pulled pork, chicken, ribs, as well.
1. Eating Out
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While going to certain places might be a pain in the ass (steakhouses, for example), it's becoming easier and easier to find vegan options everywhere.
At Yard House for your friend's birthday dinner? They have a menu filled specifically with Gardein (rhymes with protein) products that they can alter to make vegan (most of the items have cheese). Even places like Denny's has veggie platters that aren't just crappy side salads, just make sure you ask for no dairy.
And don't forget, if you ask your server about what's in certain dishes, remember to be not an asshole. Be respectful and mindful that not everyone is fully aware of what being "vegan" entails. Obviously, mistakes will sometimes happen (for example, some veggie burgers have eggs hidden in the ingredients), but don't beat yourself up about it if it happens. Being vegan is a learning process, even for those of us that have been at it for a couple years now.