What's wrong with you? So what do you eat? I could never give up cheese and eggs. Would you be offended if I ate meat in front of you? What do you eat when dining out? All you eat is salad, right? No really, why can't you eat this?
My answer: I chose to be vegan to be healthier and more sustainable. As a vegetarian I knew the dairy and egg industry was abhorrent, but loved eggs and cheese and the convenience of eating a slice of pizza for dinner. I refuse to go PETA on someone's ass because they love meat. Being vegan is a lifestyle choice and ideology; if I impose my views and opinions on someone else based on their diet, I'm no better than a religious nut.
Also, there's those who argue that being vegan requires tons of money. I disagree -- I have four dollars and seventy-five cents in my bank account and have somehow managed to still feed myself without dumpster diving. It also helps having a pantry full of canned and dried goods.
In saying that, I introduce to you two vegan dishes Tati and I created over the past weekend. The first, a simple salad created from Trader Joe's groceries.
Warm beet and green bean salad with butter lettuce.
The second, a delicious pasta dish crafted from what was available in my kitchen at the time.
Warm Beet and Green Bean Salad
1 can cannellini (white) beans, drained and rinsed
2 handfuls fresh green beans, rinsed and chopped in half
1/2 lb beets, tops removed and peeled
1 small head butter lettuce, leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350°F. Peel beets and chop into quarters. Set aside.
Boil pot of water over medium-high heat, add green beans. Boil green beans for 2-3 minutes, drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.
Place beets onto baking sheet, drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven, add cannellini beans to baking sheet. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, until beets are fork-tender.
Meanwhile, combine green beans and butter lettuce in a bowl. When beets and white beans are done cooking, add to bowl. Drizzle with lemon juice and remaining olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Lemony Tofu and Kale Spaghetti
2-3 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 block firm tofu, pressed and sliced
1 bunch kale (dino or curly), torn into bite-sized pieces
1 pack spaghetti (I used linguini), cooked
salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste
Cook pasta al dente according to directions, 7-8 minutes. [Don't forget to add salt to the pasta once boiling; I nearly had an Italian slap me because I confessed I never added salt while cooking pasta/spaghetti]. Slice half of the lemon thinly, reserve the other half to be juiced.
Warm 2 tbsp olive oil in pan over medium heat. Add garlic, sauteé for 30 seconds. Add tofu, cook for 5 minutes. Add sliced lemon pieces, cook for a few minutes. Add kale and sauteé for 2-3 minutes.
Drain pasta (don't rinse it!), add to pan with tofu and kale. Using tongs, toss and stir pasta in the pan. Add remaining olive oil and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper pieces.