Going vegan can be a great way to lose weight, stay healthy, and save the planet. Vegan food is becoming more popular every day, and often tastes great.
If you live in a big city, you’ve likely come across the term veganism. This diet involves abstaining from consuming all forms of animal products. The important distinction between vegans and vegetarians is that while both refrain from eating meat, vegans also count dairy products such as eggs and milk among the foodstuffs that they refuse to eat.
Veganism’s roots stretch back far beyond its current status as a hip diet associated with modern youth culture. In fact, refraining from consuming all animal products is a practice stretching back at least a thousand years. Vegetarianism, on the other hand, can be traced back even further to at least 3300 BC, where members of the Indus Valley Civilization practiced this culinary philosophy.
But it was likely Arab poet and philosopher al-Maʿarri who first described how he lived a life without consuming any animal products at all. For al-Maʿarri and many others since, practicing veganism was an ethical decision based on the welfare of all living beings.
Nowadays, many people have turned to veganism for the many health benefits that it entails. By eliminating meat and dairy from your diet, you’ll inevitably need to rely more heavily on other nutrient-rich food to fill your stomach. Vegans generally eat more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, and seeds than omnivores, and as these food groups generally contain more nutrients than their meat and dairy equivalents, vegan diets often involve higher amounts of fiber, antioxidants, and other beneficial plant compounds.
Others have switched to a vegan diet for environmental reasons. One of the major sources of CO2 emissions nowadays is mass agriculture, with animal farming being the worst culprit. So if you want to help stop climate change, one of the best decisions you can make is to switch to a plant-based diet. That way, some say, global demand for animal products will decrease, and this will in turn decrease the carbon footprint of the agricultural sector.
The fine tastes of Italian vegan cuisine
Italy is a nation known for its rich, flavorful cuisine. However, many aspects of Italian food don’t fit well into a vegan diet. Pizza without cheese and tiramisu without eggs both seem like contradictions that would be difficult for a vegan chef to surmount.
Luckily, vegans have found ways to get around the requirements of their diet while still enjoying many classic Italian dishes, some of which you’d probably never imagined could be made without animal products. Consider this recipe for a raw vegan zucchini lasagna, for example. If you were to see this dish served at an Italian restaurant, you would definitely identify it as a lasagna. But not only is this magnificent dish vegan—it’s also raw. That means no cooking was involved in the creation of this Italian speciality. And perhaps even more importantly, you won’t find any cheese or meat on this lasagna’s list of ingredients.
Instead, layers of basil pesto, tomato cream, raw zucchini, and macadamia cheese are piled on top of each other and then cut into squares. Upon completion, you’ll be surprised at how similar this dish is to the real deal. What’s more is that it might convince the vegans out there to consider going one step further with their diet—going raw.
When it comes to classic Italian desserts like panna cotta, vegan variants also exist. Luckily, they’re extremely easy to make, and taste as good as their dairy-based equivalents. So why not try making a vegan panna cotta with almond milk and pears? Instead of the usual gelatine, agar-agar will add that jelly-like texture to this classic Italian dessert. You’ll also be harnessing the power of vanilla pods to add a sweet flavor to your panna cotta. Finally, chopped pistachios add the finishing touch to a dessert that you’re likely to make time and time again.
At this point, you’re probably starting to believe that any Italian dish can be made vegan if you have the right ingredients. And you’re right. You can even concoct a non-dairy vegan ricotta if you please, and you won’t be disappointed with the results.
The finest of vegan soups
Perhaps the easiest type of recipe to make is a good soup. And vegan soups are no different. Luckily, you won’t have to resort to using any meat or cheese substitutes in this hearty vegan chickpea soup. In fact, you’ve probably made similar soups in the past that were vegan without even realizing it. That’s because so many tasty soups are naturally vegan, and this one is no different. Aside from chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, you’ll need some potatoes, onion, passata, and peppers to complete this soup recipe.
Once all the ingredients have fused together in a boiling pot, serve with a garnish of chopped dill. And if you’ve just cooked this soup for non-vegan friends, test their taste buds to see whether they think it contains animal products. They’ll probably be surprised to find out that no meat broth or crème fraîche was used during the making of this delicious vegan soup.