Vegans of Color

Because we don’t have the luxury of being single-issue

Limitations are in the Eye of the Beholder August 23, 2008

Filed under: vegan — Kanika Ameerah @ 11:23 am

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? 🙂


7 Responses to “Limitations are in the Eye of the Beholder”

  1. Anne Says:

    Hi Kanika,
    I had a friend who made a similar comment. He is an omnivore, and he said that he has a similar diet to mine (vegetarian), he just needs a lot more variety (i.e. meat). Agh! He chose to eat meat at every single meal, which didn’t seem like a lot of variety compared to my diet!

  2. Megan Says:

    I agree. I started trying way more ingredients and cuisines than when I was an omni. I don’t know why I got more curious, but it’s been one of the most positive aspects of being vegan for me. :3 I love cooking now!

  3. leftofemma Says:

    It always seems weird to me that omnis think that all we eat are apples and carrots when there are thousands of different varieties of fruits, vegetables, and grains to explore and only a handful of different meats.

    Becoming vegan forced me to find out how a lot of simple dishes are made so that I know what to avoid or modify. I had no idea how to make pesto or baba ghanoush until I became vegan.

  4. Maria Says:

    I think that being vegetarian makes you think outside the box when it comes to food. I am always trying to find new, good recipes that are meat free. There are tons out there. It seems when I ate meat, I didn’t try as hard to have a healthy well-balanced meal to eat.

  5. johanna Says:

    Ditto what everyone else has said — I am a much more adventurous eater than most, if not all, the omnis in my life, & it didn’t happen until I cut out meat & then dairy.

    I keep seeing amazing recipes on food blogs for soy ice cream… but we don’t have an ice cream maker, sigh.

    I also don’t see veganism as limiting in that, er, I don’t see that stuff as food anymore.

  6. supernovadiva Says:

    i’ve heard that argument so many times and some of the people never leave their comfort zones.
    as going out was expensive, i got into cooking especially when i turned veg. my love of cooking taught me to appreciate the food in restaurants better, for now i knew all the work that goes into it. i would have not attempted injera, curries or tangenes before. i would not have created -seriously- an entertainment closet for my kitchen arsenal and serving dishes. i have so many cookbooks. i brought the world to my kitchen. i don’t feel limited at all.
    i can’t wait to buy the icecream maker attachment to my kitchenaid. it’s on once that happens. becoming a parent is now causing me to turn into a veg martha stewart/ julia childs.

  7. tuimeltje Says:

    That thing about limitation bothers me, as well. While I mostly get it from omnis, I occasionally get it from my vegan partner, which bothers me so much more.

    As for becoming more adventurous about food after going vegan, well, before going vegan I had not heard of things like miso, falafel, injera and a whole lot of other foods I’ve come to love, and if I had come across things like seaweed and enoki mushrooms, I’d probably have considered them icky rather than worth a try. So yeah.

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