A Vegan Year

Day 24: Malaysian Curry Stew (Takeout)

Day 24 Pic 1 Malaysian Curry Stew
Here we have a bowl of Malaysian Curry Stew from Dao Palate, a vegan restaurant in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn (I don’t live in the neighborhood, but they have a pretty wide delivery area). This dish is made with soy protein, carrots, broccoli and potatoes, and it’s delicious—mildly spicy, really hearty. And they give you enough for leftovers the next day. Other Dao Palate options I can recommend: the Avocado Tartar; Shredded Moo Shu Vegetables; Cilantro Tofu; Pineapple Fried Rice; and Thai Basil Fried Rice are all great, although the fake ham in the latter is very convincing in a way that’s a little gross. The one thing you have to try is the Peanut Butter Bomb; it’s the most ridiculous vegan treat ever. I mean, look at it!

A Vegan Year

Days 22 & 23: Fettuccine Alfredo

Days 22 & 23 Pic 1 Fettuccine Alfredo

Rob took a bite of this Fettuccine Alfredo (from Vegan Cooking with Love) and declared it the most delicious thing ever. A few mouthfuls later, he commented that it was maybe a little salty, and about two-thirds of the way through he apologetically pushed his plate aside and said he was stuffed—and this is from a bloke who always, always has three helpings of any pasta dish. So, yes, this is pretty intense. It definitely does a good job of recreating the creamy, cheesy decadence of your standard Alfredo, but the combination of salt, miso paste, and nutritional yeast was just a little overpowering for our apparently wussy palates. I made enough for two nights, but the second night we had a smaller portion and added a salad for some, ahem, light relief.

I’d make this again, but I’d go easy on the salt, miso, and nutritional yeast, and I’d add more mushrooms (the recipe suggested roasting them, but I just sautéed them and they were fine). Actually, I think I’d try another Alfredo first; this recipe is modified from one in Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s The Vegan Table, but the latest edition of her The 30-Day Vegan Challenge has a new version that uses apple cider vinegar, and that sounds pretty good.

And speaking of The 30-Day Vegan Challenge—I highly recommend this book if you’re a new vegan looking for sensible, compassionate advice (and pictures of tuxedo cats). As well as recipes, it includes a ton of guidance on topics like eating affordably, dining out, and how to cope when your partner won’t go vegan. I found the section on whether humans really “crave” meat especially interesting:

Blood, guts, carcasses, and corpses disgust most of us, and I think it’s fair to say that no one sees “road kill” and starts planning lunch. When we see an animal who has been hit by a car, we tend to feel compassion rather than hunger. . . . Humans don’t crave the flesh, sinews, tendons, muscles, and blood of animals. Obligate carnivore, such as lions and other members of the cat family, do; indeed, they would die without animal flesh. Moreover, they don’t grapple with a moral dilemma or find themselves in an ethical quandary when they contemplate their meals. We do. Humans don’t see birds, squirrels, or cows and start salivating, but if you’ve ever watched a domestic cat react when a prey animal is in view, you’d know what it means to “crave” animal flesh. The cat lies down low and flits her tail; her teeth begin chattering and she makes a funny little chirping sound. Her eyes dilate, and she remains completely still and focused on her potential prey. Is that how you react when you see deer grazing on the side of the road or birds flying overhead? My guess is that you don’t. So, I repeat: we do not crave the flesh of other animals, but what we do “crave” is fat, salt, flavor, texture, and familiarity, and all of these are found in plant foods.

A Vegan Year

Day 21: Amy’s Indian Mattar Tofu (Store-Bought)

Day 21 Pic 1 Amy's Indian Mattar Tofu
Here we have Friday’s quick heat-and-eat goop: Amy’s Indian Mattar Tofu (Amy’s offers a ton of vegan options; there’s a list of them here). This wasn’t an entirely satisfying dinner—the calorie count (280) is low for an evening meal, so I needed a snack before bed to silence my rumbling stomach—but it tasted pretty good. The rice was fluffy, the spices were mild but tasty, and it helps that I love peas. As for nutritional values, this dish has 8g of total fat (1g of which is saturated), 680mg of sodium, and 12g of protein, and it provides 10% of your recommended daily vitamin A and calcium, 15% of your vitamin C, and 8% of your iron—so, it’s pretty salty and there are no outstanding health benefits to be had here, but it’s not too dreadful for something you bung in the microwave and eat a few minutes later. It’s just a shame that my mushed-together mess doesn’t look quite as appetizing as the colorful, be-sprigged meal on the box!

Day 21 Pic 2 Amy's Indian Mattar Tofu

A Vegan Year

Days 19 & 20: Moroccan Vegetable Tagine With Couscous

Days 19 & 20 Pic 1 Moroccan Vegetable Tagine
This Moroccan Vegetable Tagine With Couscous* is another recipe from The Purple Carrot (and as with their Three-Bean Burritos, I purchased the ingredients myself rather than pay for one of their meal kits). I stuck to the recipe fairly closely, apart from a moment of madness where I forgot to add the golden raisins that I’d bought especially for this dinner. I also used a different kind of couscous: the recipe specifies “Moroccan couscous,” but my local grocery store only sells Israeli (aka pearled) couscous, which is about three times the size and takes a bit longer to cook. In any case, it didn’t seem to matter—this dish was delicious and very filling, and it lasted the two of us two nights, with leftovers for lunch. If, like me, you hate asparagus, fear not: the tagine has an intense sweet and spicy flavor that completely disguises the foul, foul taste of asparagus, and the asparagus adds a nice crunch (it’s only cooked for a few seconds). If you’re thinking the ingredients list looks a little long, I reckon you could skip the pine nuts and raisins, but you definitely need the prunes, apricots, and assorted spices. So far this is my favorite of the dinners I’ve recorded here.

* This link takes you to a cached version of the recipe; The Purple Carrot is redoing their website and they seem to have hidden or deleted the old recipe archive.

A Vegan Year

Day 18: Two-Bean Burritos & Rosemary Potatoes

Day 18 Pic 1 Two-Bean Burritos
My apologies for the dearth of dinners! I’ve been diligently photographing my nightly meals, but haven’t had time to post them all; I’ll try to catch up over the next few days. Last Tuesday I made another basic bean tube, pictured above in all its unattractive pre-wrap glory. I diced up an onion and a few garlic cloves, sautéed them in olive oil for a few minutes, then added a tin of black beans (after I’d rinsed them in water to remove that weird foam), a tin of refried beans, and a spice mix of 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (i.e. the same mix I used in the Three-Bean Burritos). Once everything was combined and heated through, I served it with some quinoa (you can just see it peeking out from under the bean goop), and topped it all with vegan cheese shreds, salsa, mashed up avocado, and some Just Mayo (a slightly odd addition, but it tasted great and the texture mimics sour cream).

Worth noting: if you like to do bulk meal prep at the weekend, you can cook up a heap of quinoa (or rice, if you prefer) and the bean mix and then store them in the fridge (they keep for 4-5 days), ready for assembling into a quick burrito dinner—or you can just combine the quinoa and beans in a bowl, stick a few slices of avocado and some hot sauce on top, and call it a Tex-Mex Surprise.

I served the burrito with a side of potatoes (pictured below; Rob and I shared this plate). These were decidedly basic: I just cut up a few potatoes, placed the slices on a baking tray, slathered them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a few shakes of Italian seasoning, and baked them at 400°F for about 22 minutes, turning them once. (I started off turning each slice with a pair of tongs, realized it was going to take forever, and abandoned that plan in favor of randomly scooping them up with a fish slice, flinging them in the air, and hoping they landed on the other side. Worked fine.) And I served them with more Just Mayo because it’s DELICIOUS. I never really liked regular mayo—there was always something a little icky about the egginess—but I love Just Mayo. And my non-vegan husband is pretty keen on it too; I came home the other day to find he’d been using it as a dip for corn chips (?) and had eaten so much of the stuff that he just about made himself vom. Just Mayo, you are welcome to use this delightful anecdote in your marketing materials.

Day 18 Pic 2 Rosemary Potatoes

A Vegan Year

Day 17: Aglio E Olio (Pasta With Garlic & Oil)

Day 17 Pic 1 Aglio E Olio

And we have a repeat! This is our second round of Aglio E Olio (see Day 5 for details; the only difference here is that we used penne rather than fettuccine). This was once again made by Rob, pasta enthusiast and reluctant bowl model. I feel a little embarrassed posting the same dinner, but I want this to be a record of a “normal,” realistic vegan diet—i.e. what a non-chef cooks—and most of us have a repertoire of basic dishes we go back to again and again, so… here we go.

In other news, if you’re thinking about buying a Canada Goose jacket, please watch this video first (warning: it contains graphic footage and is NSFW unless your W is okay with you bawling for hours):

Those stupid jackets were everywhere in bougie Brooklyn last winter, and since the weather here is hardly arctic—and I’m sure there are equally warm options for under $700—it’s clear that the only reason you’d buy one is to show people how rich you are. Why not just have I HAZ $$$ tattooed on your forehead? You’ll be accurately broadcasting your IQ to the world while saving yourself a few hundred bucks! Win-win!

And it’s interesting to compare the footage in the video to this marketing bilge on the Canada Goose website:

We strongly support the ethical, responsible and sustainable use of fur. We only purchase fur from certified Canadian trappers, who live close to land and maintain traditions that have been passed down through generations. They have a profound respect for nature, and we are proud to support them. … We know that whether or not people want to wear fur is a personal choice, and we respect that. In turn, we hope that people will respect our ethical and responsible use of fur.

What a load of waffle! Did you observe “a profound respect for nature” in that video? Would you call skinning a sentient creature alive “responsible” and “ethical”? I’m guessing HELL NO, right?

PS. I can’t post a Vegan Gains video without adding: it’s great that Vegan Gains (aka Richard) is converting fratty dude bros to veganism, but if he can’t capture their interest without throwing women under the bus (figuratively speaking, I hope), then I’d argue that he’s hardly an exemplary advocate. And I’m disappointed that several prominent vegans have chosen to ignore his misogyny when they’ve interviewed him on their YouTube channels. Richard is cute and a bit dorky and you feel sorry for him, sure, I get it—but let’s not ignore all that is troubling about his content. Referencing a “dark sense of humor” doesn’t cut it as an excuse when there’s nothing funny in your statements—and I don’t just mean “nothing funny” in the Annoyed Feminist sense (though I am an Annoyed Feminist); I also mean it in the sense of “I enjoy a good joke and sadly that is not a good joke.” For example, his “most women only want to have children so that they don’t have to work and they can get taken care of” remark is a pretty weak quip; I’m sure most stand-up comedians would reject that one immediately if it was offered to them as free material. If you want to make jokes about us bitches and hoes, at least make them good jokes, dude. Give me a bit of a chuckle before I get back to the important business of filing my nails and having dem babies.