"I have always eaten animal flesh with a somewhat guilty conscience." Albert Einstein - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 01-25-2011, 01:37 PM
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Hello for the first (but not last) time Veggieboards. I will get started with my rant.

I am, among other things, an aspiring cook and dietitian, avid seeker of knowledge and a newfound vegetarian. Over the last 6 years or so I have been attempting to make an honest effort to switch over to a strictly vegetarian diet. I have always found an excuse as to why it was a poor choice. (e.i. hypoglycemia, bad career move for a young cook in a mountain town, a passionate love for BBQ, etc..)

I have decided in the last 6 months that trying to live a life of self denial in direct dereliction of conviction and truth is not only disrespectful to ones self, but also unhealthy to ones body and abusive to ones mind. I quit drinking alcohol completely, removed any evidence of tobacco from the premises and even gave my pipe to a friend. The change has been very interesting

Last month I decided it was time to move ahead to my diet, knowing inevitably the decision I would make was straight on to vegetarianism with a foreboding thought of veganism lingering in my sub-conscience. I have evolved away from foolish mis-planned, naked romps into the unknown, screaming the whole way with my eyes closed, praying to the stars I'd manage to get through to the other side without inevitably tripping and landing in a heap of regret (meat). I have studied a great amount on the topic this time around and also am a much more experienced chef and dietitian. The only thing I worry about leaving behind is the social attributes gained from sitting around a grill BBQing pork ribs, roasting a turkey with the fam on thanksgiving or having a crab boil on Fat Tuesday. Though if these people would cast me aside for acting strongly in defense of the belief I hold strong to, I would sooner be rid of them for being bigots.

As my best friend of 18 years once said, "If I decided to go streaking, whoever follows me is my friend." ...He was quite drunk. Lol. but he was right (in context). If we have an idea and the fuel to make it happen (his being lunacy and Sierra Nevada) then those who follow are our allies. right?

Having just moved to Denver Metro 5 months ago and only knowing one or two people up here, it is important for me to have a group of minds to consult with. Especially during the difficult first couple months of the transition.

I will not return to the life of substance abuse and blind cruelty to life. I will continue to never abuse myself or anything I would use to better myself. I will know respect for my body and the life that surrounds it. That is all.

Name's Jonny Dazzo! Nice to meet ya'!

“The real satanist is not quite so easily recognized as such” - Anton Szandor LaVey
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#2 Old 01-25-2011, 01:49 PM
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What a great first post. I really admire the fact that you've switched even though it's obviously something that presents social and lifestyle challenges for you - these can be the most difficult obstacles to overcome, so kudos to you and your bravery. I know it can be especially hard for people who, like yourself, cook as a profession and are used to cooking with meat. I especially like

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Though if these people would cast me aside for acting strongly in defense of the belief I hold strong to, I would sooner be rid of them for being bigots.

This is my attitude towards it, too. Friends are friends, and true friends will always try to understand, and not shun you for something like this.

I like the Einstein reference very much, he was a man I find very inspirational and who I have great respect for. Amongst other things he's said on the subject, he's always quoted as saying "Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet." Which I also think is spot on.

I hope you find the support you're looking for here, and that it eases the transition of the next few months for you.

Lots of respect to you and it's nice to meet you!
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#3 Old 01-25-2011, 05:12 PM
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Welcome

There are no reasons to not go vegan, only excuses.
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#4 Old 01-25-2011, 07:03 PM
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Beautiful Rant!

Nice to meet ya too and hope you connect with other veggies in your area.

You need not miss out on any events due to food, especially with you being a chef! You can bring veggie choices and make them more interesting and flavourful than the dead flesh anytime. As a nutritionist, you can use that too, as you probably know and are constantly learning you can have a much healthier life as a veggie.

Keep us updated on your happenings
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#5 Old 01-25-2011, 10:26 PM
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Thank you for kind and wise words. It made me truly happy to read a post in response to my incredible rant that not only acknowledged the words I was typing but complimented me so highly on them. It has honestly given me a little more courage and i appreciate your intellectual efforts to humor a fellow intellectual in his long and arduous rant on "beliefs" and "conviction". lol. I read your post three times through, makes me feel good, ya know? I originally wasn't going to rant on as I did but there was the little "no-more-self-denial" angel on my shoulder pushing me on. Pretty sure the demon died of kidney failure do to beef and vodka consumption. Whoops!

“The real satanist is not quite so easily recognized as such” - Anton Szandor LaVey
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#6 Old 01-27-2011, 02:04 PM
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The nice thing about a vegetarian forum is that you can rant away as much as you like about why it's great to be vegetarian! Be sure to keep us updated on how the journey's going, I hope it's going well so far.
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#7 Old 01-27-2011, 02:30 PM
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Welcome to Veggieboards! I hope you find your new journey easier than you expect. Going veg is becoming more and more mainstream, and you may be surprised to fine that people are much more accommodating and helpful than you anticipate.

It is our choices that show what we truly are far more than our abilities. ~A. Dumbledore
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#8 Old 01-28-2011, 03:26 PM
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What a great intro, Jonny While it's good to get rid of bigots, that doesn't mean you still can't flex your culinary muscles during holidays.

So you can't BBQ pork ribs. That doesn't mean you can't still use (or make your own) BBQ sauce and grill up vegetables. Want something "meaty?" Try throwing some tempeh or portabello mushroom caps on the grill.

So you can't roast a turkey. That doesn't mean you can't come up with a fabulous Thanksgiving spread. For this most recent Squash Day (I'm trying to get that used by vegans instead of "Turkey Day," whaddya think?), my meal celebrated foods native to the Americas: corn, cranberries, squashes, potatoes and tomatoes. The main event was minestrone soup made with roasted pumpkin and baked into hearty bread bowls. I made my own cranberry compote, roasted corn on the cob in its own husk, made some very garlic-herb mashed potatoes, and more! It was an event! For Christmas, I did my research and saw that the Christmas traditions we know today were taken from the Feast of the Son of Isis, so I had an Egyptian spread for my banquet. It was delicious and my omnivorous friends didn't complain. In fact, since I make so much food, they were more than happy to take bowls and plates of leftovers on both holidays

So you can't do a crab boil. That doesn't mean you can't try some "seafood" dishes using mock meats or tofu. Some people make a "tuna fish" salad sandwich using baked tofu, Match brand mock meats makes a plant-based "crab" so you can make crab stuffing and crab cakes, and no one's stopping you from boiling red potatoes and corn on the cob in salty water with mock shrimp!

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#9 Old 01-29-2011, 12:03 AM
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Thank you Vegan_Foodie. All very good ideas. Especially the Egyptian spread on Christmas. I may just have to steal that one from you.

The main thing I will miss is the togetherness of the occasion. Obviously I will simply bring my own alternatives to family and friend gatherings given that I rarely ever host and even if I did no one would come over. I can see it now. Sitting around the dinner table with grandpa, grandma, mom, dad and the three other siblings (the good, the bad and the worse) as they join forces (a phenomena that only occurs when the family is all together, the stars are aligned and I accidentally cough and bring attention to myself) in picking apart whatever new thing I happen to be doing in my life at the time. Last time it was sobriety. The time before that, dating a girl with two children. This next time it will be vegetarianism. I don't hold it against them. It's out own, special, Italian way of getting to know our family members. By throwing words at each other.

I digress. Luckily one other thing I am pretty good at, besides ranting and raving, is culinary arts. I love to experiment, build from scratch, deconstruct and build again with different blue prints. One extremely important part of being Veg*n is watching what you are putting in your body. (something I was still huge on even as an omni) This is one thing most people in the country-and I think probably a lot of other places-are pretty bad at. I love to make things from scratch, working with raw ingredients to for my own version of what I want with exactly what I need. I'm already making my own rice and almond milks, pressing and freezing my own black bean burgers, Churning ice "cream" made from rice milk and maple caramel. Beside just feeling all around fantastic, I'm also excited for all the culinary adventures I am bound to be having v ery very soon.

By the way, What is mock shrimp? Because I totally will do a crab boil with vegetable shrimp.

“The real satanist is not quite so easily recognized as such” - Anton Szandor LaVey
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#10 Old 01-29-2011, 09:36 AM
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Since your family is a fan of picking apart anything new in your life, it sounds like this year's holiday events will be the same as ever One thing that I do and highly recommend for any occasion where you're not hosting the meal is to insist that you cook with the host. Here's what I say: "Thanks for the invite! As you probably know, I'm vegan, but I don't want you going out of your way. I would like to know what you plan on making for the menu, and then I'll come by early and help you cook. Any dishes that can easily be converted into a vegan dish I'll make vegan. This way, you get help and I can ensure there's food I can eat." A typical American Thanksgiving (I don't know if you do anything different being Italian...I know my family, which isn't from the States, celebrates with some "traditional" food and then our traditional food) includes things like mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing/dressing, green bean casserole, corn on the cob and cranberry jam/jelly. That's awesome, since all of those can easily be made vegan...or vegetarian When I visited my mother's house for Thanksgiving two years ago, I made the mashed potatoes using roasted garlic, soy milk and vegan butter. I made the green bean casserole from scratch by making a mixed mushroom cream soup using garlic, various mushrooms, soy milk and corn starch (to thicken). Then I poured this over fresh green beans in a casserole dish and topped with everyone's favorite crispy onion straws (which are vegan anyway), then baked as usual. We had never had a green bean casserole made from scratch and everyone really enjoyed it. Corn on the cob is a no-brainer: just make sure no one pre-butters all of them. If your family stuffs the bird on Squash Day, ask to make the stuffing first, then remove a portion for yourself and have them stuff the rest into the poor turkey carcass. Just make the stuffing using a mushroom or vegetable broth instead of chicken/turkey/beef/oyster broth and you're set.

This way, they get help in the kitchen and also get to see that your vegetarian food isn't "weird," it's all the stuff they already enjoy. The fact that you enjoy cooking will really help you with this!

Mock shrimp is usually found in an Asian market (in fact, I've only ever found it there) and it was soy-free. Actually, it was made with regular, all natural ingredients. Writing that made me wonder if there are recipes for it and asking Ms. Google returned this at the top: http://feedingmaybelle.blogspot.com/...hrimp-dim.html This is a mock shrimp made by cooking eggplant in broth using seaweed and other ingredients. That seems pretty easy to me!

If you want to use wheat gluten (seitan), I found this recipe here: http://www.indiadivine.org/audarya/v...ck-shrimp.html
UnShrimp

1 recipe basic gluten
1 gallon water
1/2 cup MSG
1/4 cup sea salt
1 bag Zatarain's crab boil
1 T corn oil
-Cook gluten, slice 1/4 inch thick and then cut into 1 x 2 inch pieces (or into shrimplike shapes). Combine rest of ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes. Boil the gluten in the broth for 30 minutes. Then let it soak overnight in the broth, keeping the crab boil bag in the broth as well. Drain before using.
-It mentions that if you want less broth, open the bag of crab boil, measure out a proportionate amount, tie in cheesecloth and use that.


I don't know if I'd use MSG but that's up to you.

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#11 Old 01-29-2011, 10:43 AM
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Yeah my family does all the traditional omnivore Squash Day foods. Shouldn't be hard for me considering I already hate turkey and am usually recruited for cooking duty. I'm stoked now about it. Cooking the same old mundane, American tradition food can get extremely boring. This will be a good chance to switch it up and make better and more flavorful versions of the same foods.

What is Vegan butter? Does have a similar build to dairy butter? I worked as a sous chef in a small, traditionally French kitchen for a couple years. The rumors are true. Butter to toast the breaded, butter in the desserts, butter to mount the sauces, even butter in the vegetable sauté, don't even get me started on the caramelized onions. So suffice to say my training bends me to use butter in my cooking. Over the years I have worked hard to break free from butter as a texture, body and flavor enhancer. I don't like to fill my dishes with fats and oils, it seems disrespectful. (I also stay away from frying anything as much as I can help it) Currently I have been using margarine for some things but I don't really trust that anymore.

I have used seitan several times working under various Chefs. I was never too fond of how any of them utilized it. I have thought about grabbing some to experiment with for years now. Guess it time.

Interestingly enough, my family's Christmas tradition is sushi. Once upon a time, 5 years ago or so, my father asked me if I could prepare sushi-style veggies and procure sashimi grade fish. I hesitantly said yes and it was set in stone. The reason I like sushi isn't for the fish though. Even as an omni I ate and prepared tons of vegan sushi for vegans and omnis alike.

“The real satanist is not quite so easily recognized as such” - Anton Szandor LaVey
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#12 Old 01-29-2011, 12:50 PM
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During the Squash Day in question I made a different side: mashed potatoes and pumpkin. I made the big tub of mashed potatoes, but portioned some out and mixed it with pumpkin puree (I've since moved on to only use freshly roasted pumpkin instead of the canned) and seasoned that. It was a big hit, which was too bad because I didn't make a whole lot of it. "No one is going to want to your food," my mother told me when I offered to cook some new dishes. She later said she meant, "We're going to have so much food that we don't need more dishes" but of course it didn't come out that way, haha! But there was truth to it...in theory. I had neglected to remember how much my family liked trying new things, how much my sister loves pumpkin and the potential taste buds of her (then new) sweetheart.

Vegan butter is far superior to margarine. Keep in mind that I do not bake and I know that margarine cannot be "properly" swapped for butter (something about water content?) so I don't know if vegan butter can be swapped in baking. What I do know is that it tastes like butter...that slightly sweet cream flavor. I buy Earth Balance brand, which you need to check...most of their products are vegan but a couple are not. They also make a vegan soy-free butter. It doesn't have as sweet a flavor but I still use it. Like you, I had cut butter out long ago and really only use butter to make things brown...but only if I want that sweeter taste. Oil is easier for me to use (more handy) so I usually end up using that. My partner really enjoys butter with his potatoes and really enjoys the hell outta potatoes, so he likes to have it on hand. I also use butter if I'm making a roux or mirepoix.

Seitan can be "easily" made at home...I put quotes around that because I've never actually done it. I tend to avoid gluten (IBS) so I don't want to have a lot of it on hand. I will use it on occasion when I want the texture, and I buy it. Buddhists in China were the first to come up with wheat meat and I do buy some canned at the Asian market because I really like the flavor. If I'm making a stew or pasty, I will buy the chunks. Again, I don't buy this stuff often but I haven't had any complaints or problems when using it.

Sushi Christmases sound like fun, and what a great excuse to spend a lot of time preparing a meal that looks great (the holidays). I would recommend adding in:
-soy wrappers (for the color)
-summer rolls (click for my recipe...but you seem far more experienced in professional cooking than I [I've been cooking for 85% of my life now but none has been professionally trained] so I'm sure you've encountered it)
-vegan dragon rolls and sashimi (made by very thinly cutting just the flesh from bell pepper...it's really cool)
-homemade udon noodle soup...without the fish sauce

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