Friday, February 20, 2009

The Apartment Vegan: A Manifesto

This being my first post, I figure I should start with a bit of a manifesto. Why the hell do I think that I know anything that anyone else cares to read? I suppose the whole point of this blog is that I would like to put information out there that I wish was easily available when I was first starting out as a vegan. There is a huge misconception that vegan food is boring and expensive, and that isn't at all true. Pre-packaged store bought vegan food is boring and expensive, but then again so is pre-packaged store bought omnivore food. Learning to cook your own vegan food is something that every vegan needs to do. Surprising few newly adopted vegans actually know how to cook for themselves already.

My plan is to try and share all of the useful tidbits of information that I had to learn the hard way, in hopes that it will help some other people make the choice to go vegan, or that it might make it easier on those who are first starting out. Trust me, I know how hard it can be, but I also know how easy it can be once you get the hang of it. I hope to share that with anyone who stumbles across this. Also, I really love food and want to talk about it as much as possible and I happen to be a vegan.

If you are looking for a vegan-blog full of wheat grass shots, broiled nut seed shell fiber loaf, and other such uber health conscious dribble, this is probably not the blog for you. That is not to say that I don't try to be healthy. I like staying fit just as much as the next guy and veganism is definitely a great way to lean in that direction. The thing is, I like food that tastes good. If there is a better tasting, but less healthy option, that is still vegan, I am probably going to use it. Being health conscious had absolutely nothing to do with my choice to go vegan, that was entirely based on my personal ethics.

Speaking of ethics, you are also pretty unlikely to hear me go on a rant about the plight of the animals and how meat eaters are murderers. Of course I don't think it is right to contribute to death and suffering, just to satisfy my hunger. The thing is, I don't think that it does anyone any good to walk around screaming, yelling, and tormenting people with pictures of slaughtered cows. In my opinion all that does is draw a clear line to separate the vegan and non-vegan camps. It paints the picture of the crazy vegan who only cares about animals and will do terrible things to you and your family if you disagree. When we make people scared of us, they stop listening to us. When we make people think we are crazy, they don't trust what we say.

My theory on reaching out to omnivores is this. Why don't we stop focusing on what is so horrible about their lifestyle, and trying to brow beat them into converting and just show them what is so great about our lifestyle. Being a vegan is awesome! Once more people see the good things about veganism and stop focusing on this misconception that all vegans are crazy people who are waiting in the shadows with cans of red paint to throw on their fur coats, they might just start listening to us.

That is probably the last paragraph you will read about my ethics (in this blog at least.) Like I said, this whole project isn't about sharing or showing off my morals. This is about me loving food. I love to buy food, I love to cook food, and I LOVE to eat food. Luckily for me I have crossed paths with some amazing people in my time as a vegan and have learned a lot about not just vegan cooking, but cooking in general. This has made it possible for me to eat delicious vegan food on a regular basis, even though I live on a relatively slim budget.

When I first became a vegan, I noticed one huge problem with almost every vegan cookbook that I came across (and trust me, after 12 years of Christmas' and Birthdays, I have about every vegan cook book imaginable) and that is that most all of the recipes rely on hard to find(and often expensive) ingredients. I don't want to have to make a weekly stop at the health food store, just to be able to cook dinner every night. I want to go to the little grocery on the corner of my block, just like everyone else, buy some food and then go home and cook. There are the rare occasions when I agree that there are uses for these exotic substitutes that so many vegan recipes rely on, but I think that should be the exception to the rule. So shortly after I became a vegan, I stopped reading vegan cookbooks and started spending a lot of time in the kitchen. Having an aunt and a brother who are both amazing chefs and endless sources of culinary knowledge has certainly helped me a lot along the way as have the countless other vegans that I have met over the years both in real life and via blogs and message boards.

Something I have always wanted to do was to write a vegan cook book that didn't rely on substitutes and just focused on making good vegan food with ingredients that are readily available. In my head I always called it The Apartment Vegan. I am hoping that this blog is a step in that direction.

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