As of late, I find myself having to defend and explain my veganism to a lot of people. I chalk this down to one of two things:
1. I’m meeting a lot of new people on a regular basis (through work, various events and inevitably mutual friends), who are instantly intrigued/horrified/incredulous/skeptical when they hear I’m a vegan.
2. Most people (whether old friends or new acquaintances) generally like being provocative, if only for the sake of a good discussion or debate.
Now I’m never one to complain – but I won’t lie, it does get to be a little bit tiring and redundant sometimes. I recently found myself wishing I could create a small animated short on why I’m vegan which would automatically play every time somebody asked me the question (but that’s just the design geek in me).
In all seriousness though, I always try to answer questions in the most clear, diplomatic and succinct way possible, no matter how ridiculous they sound. I make it clear that it’s a personal lifestyle choice and I don’t seek to impose my views or lifestyle habits on everyone. If it’s a person I’m a little more familiar with I’ll offer to cook or bake something for them, because in my experience nothing can win over a skeptical omnivore like a superb vegan cookie.
The other day, over a lunch discussion I mentioned how lazy I had been with food prep lately, and somebody asked me something that got me thinking:
“Isn’t it really hard to be vegan? What do you do when you get home at the end of a long day and you just don’t feel like cooking? I would just make a cheese sandwich but you can’t exactly do that. What’s your ‘cheese sandwich’?
My initial response was to say I just eat whatever’s on hand and doesn’t need much prepping, which may range from pre-made veggie burgers to a smoothie, but after thinking about it later on I realised that I definitely have my go-to quick meal staples.
Ful mudammas is always a winner, and comes together in a snap – as does my incredibly simple chickpea scramble or a even just a simple hummus avocado sandwich.
But if I had to pick my all-time favourite quick and easy go-to meal, it would without a doubt be this.
- 1 serving of extra firm tofu, preferably pressed but not necessary (I find)
- 1/2 a cup of chickpeas
- 1/4 red onion roughly chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 small tomato, diced
- 2-3 button mushrooms, sliced
- 1/4 red/green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 small carrot, finely grated
- 1 small courgette/zucchini, finely sliced
- 1-2 tsps Bragg’s liquid aminos (or soy sauce)
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp curry powder (mild)
- 1-2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
- coconut or olive oil
- Black pepper to taste
- Slice up all your veggies. To speed this up I use a little hand grater/mandolin slicer which is a lifesaver (just make sure you don’t accidentally slice your fingertip off in the process – it happens.)
- Heat your choice of cooking oil (or vegetable stock – for lower fat cooking) in a large pan, and start to sautee the onion and garlic, followed closely by the rest of the veggies. Cook for 2-3 minutes on medium heat till the vegetables start to soften.
- Crumble the tofu in using your hands, then add the Bragg’s, turmeric, curry powder, nutritional yeast and lemon juice. Add a splash of water if needed and stir to mix. I typically add a pinch more of whatever seasonings I’m feeling, so the amounts in the recipe are just a guideline. Go with your gut, especially if your gut tells you to add more nooch.
- Add in the chickpeas and cook for a further 3-5 minutes, depending on how soft you like your vegetables and until the tofu has absorbed all the flavours.
- Serve solo or avec some spinach/greens if you so wish. Sometimes I add some baby spinach or kale in right at the end until wilted which is delicious.
The great thing about a tofu scramble is that bar the seasonings, there really are no rules. You can add as many or as few veggies as you like, add in beans, fresh or dried herbs, or top with avocado, crumbled up veggie sausage – pretty much anything goes.
It’s one of those dishes that is so much simpler than it looks/sounds. Choc full of veggies, protein and downright delicious.
One thing’s for sure – it definitely beats a cheese sandwich.
So on that note, I’d love to know – what is your ‘cheese sandwich?’ Vegan or otherwise?