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Thursday, November 22, 2012

These are Five of My Favorite VEGAN Things! Part 1


One prominent myth around veganism is that it is a lifestyle of “deprivation” – a lifestyle that involves “giving up” one’s favorite food, articles of clothing, way of living, and so on. Even though while leading a vegan lifestyle one does affect a number of changes, the “giving up” is not equivalent to “deprivation”. It is simply the formation of new habits and ideas in place of the old or letting go of conditioned habits and ideas because they lose validity in the new scheme of things. As a vegan-aware individual’s world-view expands to include the welfare and rights of all living beings and living systems on Earth, new habits and favorites form. Needless to say, these new habits are based on the principle of minimal harm.

The blog is excited to launch a new series on this space, These are Five of My Favourite Vegan Things! Through this series, every now and then, a vegan friend will share five of their most favorite vegan things—just about anything—edible and non-edible!

The blog is grateful to friend and well-wisher, Susmitha of Veganosaurus for consenting to open this series with her list. Being a veteran vegan, widely travelled and well informed, the blog greatly values her articulate opinions on all matters vegan!

So, here’s presenting the first part in this series!


 
Susmitha

I'm honored that 'Vegan India!' asked me to be the first person to curate a collection of my five vegan discoveries here. There are so many vegan wonders out there, some which are made to be vegan and others which just happen to be vegan 'by mistake'. Having been vegan for over nine years, I certainly have a lot more than five on my vegan favorites list but these are what I would like to share with you today.


Red Star Nutritional Yeast
1 The very first thing that I must mention is Nutritional Yeast. I don't think I'd have ever discovered it if I hadn't turned vegan. Nooch (that's what vegans call it with love), imparts an umami flavor to the dishes it is added to. For those who don't know, umami is the fifth taste, the other four being sweet, salty, spicy, and sour. Nutritional Yeast comes in the form of delicious flakes of nutrient rich goodness and can be used as a condiment, sprinkled on food or blended into sauces, chutneys, marinades, soups... well, if you love Nooch as much as I do, you'd put it into just about everything you prepare.

If you know someone who is travelling back here from the US and if they can spare some luggage space for you, then you could order Red Star Nutritional Yeast from Vegan Essentials. It is a B12 fortified brand and is less expensive than what we get here.

These days, Nutritional Yeast can be found in certain places in India too. In Bangalore, I have seen it at the little organic store at Jaaga.


Chocolate Ganache Cake
2 I know there are a lot of fantastic vegan recipe blogs and websites on the internet today, but I'd like to get a little nostalgic here and share the link to the very first website I started to follow dessert recipes from. In my early days of veganism, when I was a complete newbie to baking and had a terrible craving for chocolate cake, I discovered a site called Vegan-Food.net (http://vegan-food.net) and it was a real life saver! Even to this day, the baking recipes closest to my heart (or more precisely, my tummy) are the Super Moist Chocolate Cake and Chocolate Chip Cookies from Vegan-Food.net. They are the first vegan baked desserts I ever attempted, way back in 2003. After all these years, they continue to be a big hit among my friends and family, regardless of their food choices.


3 Talking about desserts, here's something I really wish comes to India soon (starting with Bangalore, of course) – Turtle Mountain's Purely Decadent range of Vegan Ice Creams. Here's how many ice cream packs hubby and I went through in a three-month long stay in the US a few years ago. :oP

Turtle Mountain Vegan Ice Creams

Of course, homemade vegan ice creams are just as delicious! Especially those made with different nut mylks (mylk = vegan milk). I often make vegan ice creams at home and keep encouraging everyone to do the same. When you're not restricting yourself to animal milk, a whole new world filled with delicious plant-based mylks opens up. And then, there's no end to the various combinations of creams and ice creams that you can make.

Vegan Mango-Pista Ice Cream
Here's my Vegan Mango-Pista Ice Cream that you can easily make at home. Change the nuts and the fruits and you have a whole other flavor of ice cream. Don't want a fruit based ice cream? No problem. While grinding the nuts initially, just add a vanilla bean or melted chocolate or coffee powder or ground cinnamon... you get the picture. :D Oh and you must try making ice cream with coconut mylk, it's fantastic!


4 Ice creams are not the only yumminess you can whip up out of nuts. A very delicious part of my vegan diet is Vegan Curds. As a South Indian, the first vegan alternative I looked for is curds/yoghurt. Initially I used to make it out of soy but later I discovered the magic of peanut curds and cashew curds. Though I don't have a dependency on curds any more, meaning that I don't feel the craving for it on a daily basis, I do prepare curds once every few weeks and peanuts are my main choice. Because of their natural oils, the curds turn out thick, creamy, and oh so satisfying!

Here are links to some vegan yoghurt recipes and tips: Tongue Ticklers, Vegan On The Prowl, and my own blog Veganosaurus.


5 The final thing on my vegan favorites list today is Dr. Nandita Shah's SHARAN-India seminars (http://sharan-india.org). More and more Indians are going vegan each day thanks to Dr. Nandita's simple and insightful way of helping people make the connection between our food choices and our health. I have personally attended many health seminars and healthy cooking demos conducted by her, and have always been impressed by the way she answers all kinds of questions in a patient and clever manner so that even an argumentative person would see the point clearly. Add to that, the array of delicious food served at these events and anyone can see that it makes absolute sense to go vegan.

The SHARAN website is a goldmine of information for vegans and aspiring vegans living in India. Among the various topics covered are health-related articles, recipes using locally sourced ingredients, and meetings of vegans that happen at different cities in India.

And that ends my list of five vegan favorites. I'm looking forward to seeing more of these collections here by other Vegans in India.

Thank you once again for having me over, 'Vegan India!'

Susmitha :)

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Susmitha on Internet: A vegan food blogger and jewellery designer, below are the links to Susmitha’s food blog and jewellery store, and their respective pages on Facebook.
Veganosaurus Blog: http://blog.veganosaurus.com
Veganosaurus Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/veganosaurus
Art by Susmitha Vegan Jewellery Store: http://art-by-susmitha.itshandmade.in
Art by Susmitha Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/artbysusmitha