Elevate Difference

Veganize This!: From Surf & Turf to Ice-Cream Pie--200 Animal-Free Recipes for People Who Love to Eat

One of the struggles faced by many vegetarians, vegans, or any other person who has a restricted diet is that you can no longer eat the “comfort foods” you enjoyed earlier in your life. One of my favorite foods to eat when I was a child was beef stroganoff. I can still taste it when I think about the flavors, aromas, and even its delightfully sloppy appearance. Alas, I no longer eat red meat, so beef stroganoff is not a part of my culinary repertoire. And although I’ve made the low-rent version with mushrooms and cream sauce, the flavors and aromas that went along with this venture are just not as memorable.

Veganize This! author Jenn Shagrin gets this quandary, and thoroughly addresses it in her cookbook. A self-described “lazy vegan” who grew up enjoying Italian and Chinese food in a Jewish home in Youngstown, Ohio, Shagrin respects the importance that certain rich, classic recipes can hold in our lives. She succinctly describes the dilemma of eating according to your ethical perspective, while creating food that not only tastes amazing but appeases your nostalgic side as well. The goal of her compilation is to help people recreate recipes that were originally centered around meat, in a stellar vegan style.

Despite her self-description, Shagrin's recipes are anything but lazy. She has created concoctions that are ambitious, interesting, and sometimes a bit terrifying. In the mood for meat and potatoes? Try dijonaise-crusted "beef" tenderloin medallions with vegan béarnaise sauce over roasted eggplant and garlic smashed potatoes. Anyone up for chicken wings? Bourbon buffalo mole "chicken" wings with vegan bleu cheese-avocado oil aioli are sure to please.

The titles of the recipes aren't the only things that are long; the ingredients lists are extensive as well. No one ever said creating carnivorous dishes in a meatless fashion would be easy. However, due to time constraints and a lack of confidence, I made the vegan bacon as my test recipe.

Aside from having to purchase a few items I don’t keep stocked in my kitchen, such as liquid smoke and mirin, I possessed the vegan staples needed to make the bacon, such as soy sauce, tofu, and onion powder. After a few hours of marinating in the fridge, and then some baking in the oven, my "bacon" strips were done! Anyone who is a former omnivore knows that there is nothing under the sun that can rival real bacon; however, this version was meatier and more substantive than the frozen kind you can get at the grocery store, and infinitely cheaper to boot.

Most of the recipes in Veganize This! require ample time and preparation, and may require ingredients that are not at your local grocery. But I wholeheartedly recommend this book as a staple for anyone who promotes environmental, social, or animal welfare in their diet. Want to enjoy your Grandma’s best recipe, but you no longer eat beef? Veganize This! ensures you will not be disappointed.

Written by: Rachel Muzika Scheib, April 4th 2011

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