If I had a peanut for every time someone asked, “Is it hard being vegan?” I would probably be able to fill about 20 jars with organic, hand pressed peanut butter. Crunchy, because it’s my favorite.
I understand that this question comes from a good place. It’s either from genuine curiosity or some strange quasi-compliment that is supposed to respectfully acknowledge my “discipline” in my diet and lifestyle choice.
But I promise you. Discipline is not the front-runner of what drives my vegan-ness. Honestly, discipline plays a very minute part, because my motivation doesn’t derive from wanting a hot bod (as everyone knows vegans have) or to live to be 113. It’s almost entirely compassion mixed with passion and sprinkled with contribution. You don’t need discipline if you whole-heartedly believe in something.
So the question of “is it hard to be vegan?” is, to me, equivalent to the following questions:
- “is it hard being Jewish?”
- “is it hard learning Spanish?”
- “is it hard to have a sister named Julia?”
- “is it hard to vote for a democrat?”
Again, I acknowledge that the question comes from a good place. It’s just a tad tantalizingly fruitless to me. I’m not a martyr; it isn’t hard to follow something I deeply believe in.
It also helps that I have some delicious and preferable vegan-friendly substitutes to vegan-unfriendly goodies. I want to share a few of my favorites with you, whether you are vegan, thinking about it, or in the habit of burning every vegan cookbook you can find.
Banana “Frozen Yogurt”
I sincerely believe this trick is the Lord’s good gift to vegans. You take a banana, chop it up, freeze it for a while. Once it’s nice and frozen, put it in a food processor or blender, and puree it.
It tastes almost exactly like vanilla frozen yogurt, and the texture is the same. It’s wonderful. And it’s not super filling like frozen yogurt, or too sweet. I add either PB2 powder to the food processor to make it peanut butter flavored, or instant coffee to make it coffee flavored. Sometimes I go crazy and add cocoa powder to turn it chocolate.
Chocolate Banana Avocado Pudding
1 part banana: 1 part avocado: 1-2 tbs cocoa powder (or however chocolate-y you want to make it). The fat content of the avocado (mind you, an avocado is entirely composed of really really good fat, not the saturated fats of regular pudding) with the texture of a banana make it to be the exact same texture as regular pudding, with a deeper and richer tone. A banana and an avocado are both relatively flavorless, or at least devoid of intense startling flavor. So they pair really well. And then the cocoa powder gives it a definite taste of chocolate.
Peanut Butter Banana Granola Bowl
People tend to be very worried about how vegans or vegetarians will get enough protein. Peanut butter, my friends, the magical peanut butter. This is one of my favorite things to do with peanut butter. I take a banana and slice it, then put in peanut butter and then top it with a healthy serving of granola. And stir it around. Sometimes I add honey or cinnamon (I do loads with cinnamon) or chia seeds and call it good. It’s hearty, filling, and filled to the brim with enough protein to last the entire day. Sometimes, if I’m feeling really sassy, I use Cinnamon Toast Crunch instead of granola. I know. Party hard.
Vegetables and Potatoes
This is a good recipe for the microwave-dependent dorm cook. I buy a bag of frozen vegetables from the store and a potato. The potato can be either sweet, white, or russet; they’re all full of nutrition and benefit you greatly. I scrub the skin of the potato, pierce it a few times with a fork for good measure, and then stick it in a microwave bowl and microwave it for 4:21 minutes. Then I turn it over and microwave it for a tad longer. I ‘wave the frozen veggies according to their directions. Then I chop up the steamed potato and mix the two together with a little seasoning, a little salt, a little pepper, and some vegan butter (not necessary, but delicious). This is honestly one of my favorite meals. It’s warm, hearty, meat-free, and easy.
I’ve always been a fan of substitutes and getting creative. I would much rather follow a crazy applesauce-chia seed oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe than a standard chocolate chip. And not just for the health benefits; I took a certain pride in producing a baked good that required a few dozen adjectives in order to describe it’s mastery. So the task of substituting in order to respect my diet appeals greatly to me, while I could see that being a frustration to others.
For some, being vegan seems arduous and unfortunate. “Heck, being vegetarian sounds difficult, and them Carrots are asking me to forgo pizza rolls?! Too far!” I’m not poking fun at you. I’m really not. It’s not hard to be vegan, but it is hard sometimes to enjoy being vegan.
One purpose of this blog post is to encourage those who are feeling as if they are eating the same vegan things for every meal and to give ideas on how to spice up life for vegans and non-vegans alike. But it also works two fold; now I am able to refer someone when they ask me “Is it hard to be vegan?” and I don’t have to answer it to their face.
In light of that, I hope I answered the question.
Peace and Blessings,
“It is the ultimate luxury to combine passion and contribution. It’s also a very clear path to happiness.”