What do vegans eat? #4: Fruits and vegetables

The base of the vegan diet is of course fruits and vegetables. For some reason people seem to think that basing your diet on mainly these food groups is limiting, when the truth is that there are so much fruits and vegetables out there that I haven’t even tried all of them yet. And I’ve been vegetarian for more than 10 years!

Fruits and vegetables are categorized a little differently depending on if you look at it out of a scientific or culinary standpoint. Since this is about cooking I will use the culinary categorization and give you some examples of different fruits and vegetables;

fruitsnvegetables

Fruits:
Banana, apple, pear, nectarine, blueberry, strawberry, orange, lemon, kiwi, mango, watermelon, cantaloupe melon, pomegranate, grape, persimmon, rhubarb, plum, raspberry, coconut, cherry, date, guava, grapefruit, jackfruit, rambutan, sea-buckthorn, peach…

Vegetables:
Carrot, beet, potato, parsnip, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, artichoke, spinach, kale, collard greens, squash, zucchini, eggplant, lettuce, cabbage, watercress, onion, garlic, leek, celery, bamboo shoots, tomato, cucumber, pumpkin, okra, avocado, pepper, cassava, ginger, wakame, nori, kombu…

Well, you get the point. There are tons of them. Beans, since they are a podded vegetable, could also be included here, but I will give beans and other legumes their own post later on.

How do I cook vegetables?
Vegetables can be cooked in almost any way you can think of, depending on the type. You can stir fry them. You can bake them in the oven; as part of a casserole or pie, or just plain with oil and seasoning. You can boil or steam them. You can use them as ingredients for patties. You can deep fry them. And of course you can eat most of them raw!

How about fruits?
I love eating fruits raw, just like they are, but of course you can also use them in cooking and baking. You can make smoothies, jams or juices. You can also use them in different desserts, such as pies, cakes or jellies.

Earlier posts in the “What do vegans eat?”-series:
#1: Tofu
#2: Plant-based milk & cream
#3: Ice-cream

4 misconceptions about veganism and vegans

There are tons of misconceptions and prejudices about veganism and vegans, here are four that seem to keep popping up:

1. Vegans eat only salad
There’s so much plant-based foods out there, and so much you can do with these foods, still many people believe vegans eat only salad. Vegans eat tons of vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds, but also plant-based meats, cheeses, yoghurt, ice-creams etc. Contrary to what many people believe being vegan is hardly limiting. I write about vegan foods in the ongoing “What do vegans eat?”-series.

2. Veganism is a diet
Many people have during the years thought I’m a vegan as a way of keeping myself slim and healthy, that it’s a diet just as any other. But veganism is not a diet, for most vegans it’s a lifestyle that includes so much more than just eating healthy food. It’s an ethical decision made out of compassion for animals and humans and a concern for the environment. That it’s healthy is more of an extra plus for most vegans.

3. Vegans are weak and skinny
I’m not a very big person, and some people give veganism the credit for that. And maybe it plays a role in the fact that I don’t really gain weight even though I eat more than a lot of people who I know, but far from all vegans are skinny. Being vegan doesn’t either mean that you are weak, there are a lot of vegan athletes out there (not to forget the world’s strongest man is a vegan!), and building muscle mass on a vegan diet is not really a problem.

4. It’s difficult to be vegan
Just as any life change, becoming vegan is hard. You have to change habits and routines and learn new ways. You have to encounter social situations and answer questions. But once you’re over the initial phase, it gets easier, and eventually it’s not hard at all. For me, the difficulties were never really a big concern, even as a new vegan, because the reason I chose to do it was so much bigger than me. If I would have done it for myself only, maybe I would not have stuck to it, but since I’m doing it for a bigger cause (animals, humans and environment) it’s so much easier.

Focusing on the wrong things

“The animal welfare act doesn’t question the use of animals, or give any criteria for the use of them. We have more laws concerning animals than ever before, and at the same we use more animals than ever before. As Gary Francione has summarized, we use a huge amount of time and money to come up with the right solutions to wrong deeds. From the animals point of view legislation is going to be inefficient as long as it is focused on the wrong things already from the start.”

Birgitta Wahlberg, Animalia-magazine 3/2014
(freely translated from Finnish)

The problem with factory farming is not the individual cases of abuse

When I stood in the city one afternoon several years ago informing people about the conditions of pigs raised for food as a part of an ongoing campaign, one person came up to me and said something like “That’s nothing weird. That’s how it looks like” (pictures in the campaign included pigs living in dirt and sometimes even together with dead friends, wounded pigs etc.). The attitude of the person commenting was that this is normal and that there is nothing we can do about it, so we shouldn’t talk about it or even care.

Is it not exactly this that is the problem? It’s so usual that the animals are suffering that no one reacts anymore, it’s just “normal” and “okay”.

The issue is bigger than just farmers treating their animals badly, there is a problem in the whole system. Raising animals is not simply raising animals, so to speak. It’s an industry where living creatures are held and slaughtered on assembly lines like they were products. There’s no time, no space, no resources for well-being among the animals in an industry like the animal industry today (I don’t believe animals can be happy in any kind of situation where they are used for our purposes, but that’s another story). Animal “products” are cheap, even though the cost of production may not be, and people consume more and more of certain products, which leads to a faster and faster spinning industry. It’s not good for anyone’s well-being – not ours, not the animals’, not the nature’s. Something has to change.

This is one reason why I’m an activist. “Activist” may sound very ugly in some people’s ears, but that does not make me want to stop being one. I’m not ashamed. Prejudices are not a reason to stop fighting for things you believe in. I don’t want to live my life just watching the world get darker, if there’s something I can do to change this world to the better, I will fight to do it. I hope you will too, whatever it is that you believe in.

Super-simple chocolate-avocado mousse

I had a chocolate craving when I got home from work today, so I decided to make something for me and R: chocolate-avocado mousse! I haven’t made mousse based on avocado before, but heard about it enough times to get interested. I love chocolate, and I love avocado, so why not? I found a recipe here that I changed a little to make it completely vegan:

chocolate-avocado mousse

1 large avocado
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup soy or nut milk
1/4 cup syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Put all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Scoop up into small bowls and eat right away, or put them in the fridge for a while to cool down first. Enjoy!