Over the past several years I have slowly moved from omnivore to vegetarian, to something I call flegan. I cook and eat nearly all vegan at home but I’m a bit more flexible about it in social situations. When I go to someone else’s house I wouldn’t ask them to make a vegan meal, and restaurants often do not have vegan options. In those situations I would not eat meat, but I might eat some dairy, egg, or (rarely) fish. I don’t often advertise my eating habits but occasionally someone will notice and be curious about it. Commonly they ask how I get enough protein or calcium in my diet (neither of which is ever a problem in a well-balanced vegan diet by the way- but that’s a topic for another post). The oddest reaction I ever encountered was a person who couldn’t understand how I could be a vegan since, in his words, vegan food is all “grey and mushy”.
I was speechless! I have often played with food art as a cake decorator, and later making charabentos for my children. I love my vegan food because it is usually so beautiful. Vegan meals have fresh vegetables as a central component, so they are full of vibrant colors, textures, and tastes, while meat eaters appear to me to often eat brown fatty meat with brown fatty gravy and mushy white potatoes.
His comment had me puzzling over perceptions and in idle moments my thoughts would return to it. As a result, I have actually thought of three foods I frequently use that can be mushy, and are either brown or white. (And that is how a blogpost theme is born). But I still don’t think he wins his point because, although the three foods are not always pretty, they are all what I call “magic” vegan foods. To me a food is magic if it has many uses, can substitute for a non-vegan staple, and/or it can be labelled a superfood because of its nutrient value. But most important, magic foods used right make vegan meals so good that doubters like my friend couldn’t help but be won over. Can you guess what my three less-colorful staples are? To find out, you will have wait for the next three posts. But it will be worth the wait, I promise, because I will also include recipes, resources, and ideas for using them to make your cooking a bit more magical, too.