Going Vegan (Part 3): Vegan for a month, what now?

It took me at least two years to gather enough (cooking) experience, courage and information to help convince myself to become a vegetarian – but it only took six months to go vegan.
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After having successfully adapted to a vegetarian diet, I thought to myself: “Why not go all the way out and try out veganism? You’d only have to give up a handful ingredients, can’t be that difficult”.
Not the best-founded argument out there, but this is what I kept telling myself before making the decision. Of course the fact that dairy products tend to feel heavy on my stomach helped, but I was struggling when it came to eggs. Once more I told myself it’s just one small thing to give up and if it doesn’t work out I can always go back to being a vegetarian.

This is when I launched my July Vegan Challenge and blogged about my experience.

Honestly, the transition felt pretty natural. If I observe my recipe posts before starting the challenge, they had all been vegan-friendly for a couple months, it’s like my mind was subconsciously asking or preparing for it.

The whole thing kicked off in an amazing way!

The moment I posted on my social media outlets that I was going vegan, I was flooded by supportive messages from regular followers as well as people I had never heard of before. It’s as if I had unlocked access to this lovely vegan people community and everyone was happy to welcome me and help me make this as easy and fun as possible.

Even though adaptation to this diet was pretty smooth, a couple things did slightly change (all in a positive way).

I was already a label-reading freak, but now I had to take it a lot further and polish my ingredients knowledge some more since now I had to filter out some things I didn’t have to before (planning on writing a post about label reading some time as well).

I now carry a lunch box with me most of the time just to make sure I have at least one proper meal when I’m planning on spending most of the day out (or at work). I prefer having something to rely on than leaving it to luck to find a restaurant serving vegan food (happy to see them slowly making an appearance on the map though). Fortunately, this has become a fun habit since I have to come up with meal ideas that I can easily carry.

My cooking has been injected a lot more colors and creativity.
I’m re-discovering vegetables and spices, some of which I had never used before. I’ve narrowed down the foods that I eat so better make the best out of those I still consume.

Fruit is where it’s at!
Sometimes I might be short on time to bake myself some vegan treats so I’ve noticed that I end up snacking a lot more fresh fruit (read bananas) which has resulted in a slight preference for these instead of pastries or other flour-based desserts.

This week marks two months and a half since I went vegan and I have no plans of going back. The stories and information I’ve shared over this Going Vegan series of posts are more than enough reason for me to keep it up. I believe that by giving up meat I’m contributing to make this a fairer world for every single creature living on it and that thought makes me quite happy.

Closing off the go green rambling – hope you enjoyed my testimony and found some interesting food for thought in it.
Now, let’s bring back the recipe sharing on my next post, stay tuned!

Read “Going Vegan” Parts 1 and 2 here:
1. (Part 1): From Omnivore to Vegan
2. (Part 2): Green Activism!

(Vegan) Pesto Pizza – Meatless Monday Recipe

Even though I wasn’t a big cheese-eater before going vegan, I did appreciate cheese integrated on specific foods, read: pizza and lasagna. These two just aren’t the same without it.

Frustrated thinking that I’m never going to enjoy pizza the same way again, I took the challenge to develop my own vegan take on pizza and today I proudly share the results. You can argue it’s never going to be as tasty without real cheese but this version comes pretty close and definitely satisfies my craving. It’s crunchy on the crust, juicy in the middle and 100% plant-based!
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Tip: The cheesy touch on this recipe is provided by a creamy pesto that I’m using as a cheese replacement. I enhanced its flavor by adding some nutritional yeast (quite interesting ingredient right here). It is deactivated yeast in the form of flakes or powder; has a nutty, cheesy taste, reason why it’s used as a cheese replacement by vegans. What’s fascinating is that nutritional yeast provides a complete protein containing all 9 amino acids the body can’t produce which is tricky to find when you follow a plant-based diet.
Feel free to use the same pesto for other sandwich combinations, pasta or salad meals.
Source: Wiki – Nutritional Yeast

Thrilled to be joining the Meatless Monday recipe-sharing community once more with this idea.
Are you going meatless today? What’s cooking on your end?

Ingredients (enough for 2 pizzas):
For the pizza dough:
270g (Spelt) flour
70g semolina (flour)
1 teaspoon salt
7g yeast (one little package)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons olive oil
200ml warm water
For the pesto:
5 garlic cloves
70g cashews (or walnuts or your favorite nut or combination)
2 handfuls fresh spinach leaves
1 handful fresh basil leaves
14 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
Salt and pepper to taste
+ Your favorite pizza toppings: I’m using some red onion, tomatoes and mushrooms this time.

Method:
1. Let’s start by preparing the pizza dough. In a deep bowl combine the flour, semolina and salt. Separately, mix the yeast, maple syrup, olive oil and warm water. Make a whole in the middle of the flour mix and throw in the wet ingredients. Start mixing and eventually kneading with your hands until you get a smooth dough. Cover with a clean towel and let rest for 1 hour.

2. While the dough is resting, let’s work on the pesto.Easy as just putting everything in a food processor until you get a creamy texture. Make sure to taste a little bit to determine if you need to add more salt or pepper.

3. After the hour has passed, knead the dough some more and divide into two parts (you can either refrigerate it covered with some plastic wrap for later use or roll it immediately).
Roll the dough over a floured surface and transfer to a baking tray lined with wax paper (it’s easier to add toppings, etc. once the pizza dough is already on the baking tray).
Cover the dough with a thick layer of pesto and add your favorite toppings. Since I’m not using any tomato sauce for this pizza, I made sure to add some tomato slices as a replacement.

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C and bake for 15 minutes.
Buen provecho!
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