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"Anything You Can Eat, I Can Eat Better!" Easy Veganization of Your Favorite Comfort Foods
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"Anything You Can Eat, I Can Eat Better!" Easy Veganization of Your Favorite Comfort Foods

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Vegan recipes and vegan recipe books are everywhere these days. But that was not always the case. Back in the 80's, when I went veg, we were eating a lot of pasta and veggies, breads and rice. We were not as schooled in carbs then, and didn't realize we were doing anything unhealthy. Over time, it became easier to be a vegetarian or vegan as new products hit the grocery shelves every few months.

It's not always necessary to find new vegan recipes. It's possible to use your old tried and true recipes, even the ones handed down from your great, great grandmother, if you know about the "transition foods." I say so-called, because they help people transition from an animal-based diet to a plant-based one. It's so simple. One of the the most common questions I get asked as a vegan is "So what's left to eat?" Everything you can eat, I can eat better, I say.

Take my favorite recipe for chicken enchiladas. I made this recipe at least once a week for years before going veg. My family loved it, and the page in the recipe book where I found it is covered in food stains, a telltale sign that it's a favorite recipe.

So the recipe calls for:

  • two cups of chopped chicken
  • 1/2 diced onions
  • small can of green chilies
  • shredded cheddar
  • some sour cream

No problem. I can substitute the Gardein or Quorn diced chicken, Better than Sour Cream tofu-based sour cream, and soy-based cheddar cheese -- they make the kind that melts really well now.

The chili I described is now made with Boca crumbles, and topped with Better Than Sour Cream and shredded soy cheddar cheese. Chili dogs made with Smart Dogs are a staple at my house. My chicken-noodle soup is made with vegetable broth, big fat no-yolks noodles, lots of carrots and peas and whatever else is around, in addition to Morningstar Farms Chicken Strips, which I also use for my chicken fajitas. Dairy and meat-free pepperoni and sausage pizza is available from Tofurky and tastes great. The "cheese" melts just like the real thing.

It's not necessary to go searching for fancy, expensive vegan recipes and recipe books, if you just know how to substitute everything meat-based in your favorite recipe with something plant-based, you will never have to give  up your favorite foods

Chicken salad can be made with diced Quorn Chiken and Nayonaisse. Add a little chopped celery and salt and pepper and you're good to go, cruelty free and delicious, not to mention the health benefits of such a swap.

Seriously, don't think about going vegan as a sacrifice or chore, or an insurmountable aspiration. It's a lot easier than you may think, and the benefits are well worth it for you, for the animals and for the planet.




*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.

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Michelle A. Rivera is the author of several books including HOSPICE HOUNDS, Animals and Healing at the Borders of Death (Lantern Books); CANINES IN THE CLASSROOM, Raising Humane Children through Interactions with Animals;(Lantern Books) DO DOGS HAVE BELLY BUTTONS? 100 Questions and Answers about Dogs(Adams Media); THE SIMPLE LITTLE VEGAN SLOW COOKER and THE SIMPLE LITTLE VEGAN DOG BOOK(Book Publishers, Inc.) and ON DOGS AND DYING (Purdue University Press). She is also an essayist and has been published in the vegetarian essay book “Voices from the Garden.” She is a freelance writer/editor and along with her Certified Therapy Dogs, a Humane Educator and R.E.A.D tutor. Michelle is a past blogger for and a writer for several online publications including eHow, Livestrong, Rachel Ray, The Daily Puppy, USA Today, Cracked and others. She has two Certified Delta Society Therapy Dogs: Murphy, a Golden Retriever, and Tabitha, a Standard Poodle; and two cats. All are rescued animals. Michelle lives in South Florida with her husband, John, an attorney, and is the proud grandmother of three lovely children, Austin, Alexander and Adrienne.

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