Seldom a day goes by that I don’t high five a coworker, stranger or friend over the latest way bacon has been formed in to a dessert. In fact, I am surrounded by people who proudly fly their “meatarian” flag high, and that’s cool. But it’s time I let the BK community in on my deepest, darkest foodie secret. I have an unhealthy addiction to peanut butter. OH, and I’m a vegetarian.
And at the 28th Annual Vegetarian Food Festival, I learned that not only am I not alone, but I could reclaim bacon chocolate. Here’s the low down on living meat free, not flavour free.
There’s always dessert
We all know dessert isn’t supposed to come first but at the fair, there were nearly a dozen bakeries so it seemed acceptable to make dessert a first, second and third course occasion. Now, while the average cupcake doesn’t contain ground beef, many vegetarian’s avoid eggs, butter and other products deriving from animals. I’d simply mention the vegan diet, but there are so many titles associated with what people do and don’t eat, it’s easier to just focus on the goodies. Like bacon chocolate cupcakes. Wizardry, people!
Faux does not mean faux pas
It’s becoming easier to be a vegetarian with the variety of meatless options on grocer’s shelves. I’m taking tempeh, textured vegetable protein and tofu. Together, these three make up fake bacon, fake chicken wings and even fake ground beef. They substitute easily in to any recipe and per portion, generally cost less than meat. At the fair, I tried patties and hotdogs that no carnivore would be able to distinguish!
There IS fashion without fur
Vegetarians were not shy to spend on apparel that reflects their beliefs. Around the fair, booths could be found sharing animal free shoes, belts and tees, many with adorable pro animal sayings or lol cat like imagery. I went home with an “I’m a veggie saurus” t-shirt, as I found it amusing and unoffensive. I might also now be the proud owner of knee socks with the word “Tofu” scrolling down the sides. Hey, I’m a soy fan.
Meat is hiding in unsuspecting places
When you decide to take vegetarian and veganism to the full extent, you have to recognize where animal products are hiding. What’s in your shampoo, lotions and toothpaste? The whole idea gave me a bit of the heebie geebies, but at least I left with delicious smelling hands.
You can still be a well known chef and entertain a crowd
I was thrilled to sit in on Doug McNish’s raw food demonstration, and later steal him for a rapid fire interview. A successful, published chef, he is frequently hired to teach kitchen staff how to cater to vegetarian and special diet patrons. From hiding veggies in food with the aid of a high powered processor, to appreciating Russell Simmons for being the vegan face of Hip Hop, and his colorful veggie tattoos, Doug is as fun, informative and as bitchin’ as any chef we’ve ever met. He has even lost 100 pounds with his lifestyle change. Want to know what he’d serve Nadia? Herb crusted tempeh, roasted apple and sweet potato mash, white wine and garlic sautéed kale and tempura avocado. Yum!
Peanut butter is a diet essential
Okay, that might not be true for everyone, but there were still more than a few peanut butter tents to sample at. I went home with 3 unique jars, peanut butter and honey, cinnamon swirl peanut butter and white chocolate peanut butter! Think about it, they’re cheap and nutritious (maybe not the chocolate ones). I can’t be the only vegetarian who would be satisfied eating it for breakfast daily.
So I came, I sampled, I conquered some meatless meat. Fairs like this are amazing because they bring alternatives to the mainstream. It’s okay if you’ll never wear an “I’m a veggie saurus” t-shirt like me, even a meatless Monday or veggie friendly BBQ can be a fun new way of cooking in your home. But take my advice and never ask a vegetarian where they’re getting their protein. This fair proved we’re all doing just fine.
By: Eva Severed
Learn more about Doug McNish here.
Buy his Cookbook, Eat Raw, Eat Well here.