Not too long ago, I was discussing moving to Europe with a friend of mine when the subject of food came up. I said (jokingly) that my one regret in life is that I wouldn’t get a chance to try out black pudding while I am in the UK. In response, my friend said something to the effect of her needing to be “open minded” to trying new things and that veg*nism limits this.
Like the title of the post states, this comment irritated me to no end. The old assumption that veganism = being restricted in some way, is a major thorn in my side. It implies that the only way that one can have a worldly palate is if they ate meat.
Admittedly, most eateries where I live (outside of NYC) are not vegetarian friendly, let alone vegan. And the few menu options they have for veg*ns usually consist of a wilted green salad, greasy fries, or a soggy veggie burger. Because of this, I’m usually left to using my imagination to create a halfway decent dish while eating out. However, I really don’t see myself as “limited” or “closed-off” in any way. While I really wish that more restaurants here in Westchester had more veg-friendly options on their menu, the opportunity of improvising my own meal is actually quite refreshing.
During my omnivore days, it was easy for me to just order any chicken, seafood or beef dish on the menu…There was no real motivation for me to cook homemade meals or to even try out different cuisines since I had the convenience of living in a society that mostly ate as I did. When I became vegetarian two years ago, I had no choice but to start cooking at home. And with that, I began expanding my cooking creativity in ways as I never have before…Discoveries of new ingredients even perked up old favourites. As I slowly worked veganism into my diet, this even perked up things in the kitchen even more, even with the simple things. Had I not looked for a suitable replacement for honey, I would not have found agave nectar, which adds awesome flavour to my tea…Soon, I’ll be buying an ice cream maker to make soy ice cream, and who knows what kind of frozen treats will come out of it.
The irony of that comment is that I tend to have the most difficult time cooking for omnivore friends, as that they are not willing to try Indian food, hate mushrooms, soy, certain vegetables & spices is allergic to this/that, etc…You can go down the list of things that they won’t eat (except for the usual meat-and-potatoes). So whenever I cook for my friends or family, I just stick to mock meats.
However, because a vegan does not eat animal products, they are seen to be limited in what they eat. How is that? Perhaps, limitations are in the eye of the beholder…
Maybe one day the culinary school trained chefs and restauranteurs in my neck of the woods will come up with new and exciting dishes that will excite the palate of even the most hardcore carnivore…But in the meantime I am going to surf the internet for new recipes…Any suggestions? :)