As an aspiring vegan — and current vegetarian — I try to limit myself to buying vegan groceries for my apartment. I already don’t eat meat and consume massive amounts of oat milk, so making sure my groceries don’t contain other animal products isn’t that much of a stretch. To save money, I’ve been focusing on eating at home lately, and therefore, have been eating vegan.
Yesterday, I broke my vegan streak with a Peach Milk Tea.
Why I’m not a vegan (yet) — The vegetarian to vegan pipeline
- There are foods I want to try and places I haven’t been. I’m nineteen. There are so many restaurants I haven’t gone to and dishes I haven’t cooked. I want to enjoy things before I write them off.
- With meat, substitutes are easy to come by, especially in New York City. If there aren’t any plant-based options, I could order something sans meat, which is why I find it easy to be vegetarian. With dairy and eggs, that’s a little more challenging.
- I have a limited understanding of nutritional value. Before I eliminate foods from my diet, I want to make sure I know what to replace them with.
- Veganism can be expensive. I’ve cooked two “cheap” vegan dinners this week, but they still ate up a lot of my monthly food budget. Eating vegan isn’t the most financially sustainable option for me.
- I could, technically, start eating vegan tomorrow if I relied on beans, rice, oats, etc., but I want to eat things I enjoy. I don’t yet have a collection of vegan meals that I can cook. I’m sure I’ll develop one as I find new recipes, but for now, I want to prioritize being happy with what I’m eating over being vegan.
Vegan pantry staples
Cooking a hearty meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner isn’t always feasible, even when I’m eating animal products. It was important to try some easy, vegan products that I could prepare quickly. As I was grocery shopping, I found two new favorites: vegan eggs and oat milk creamer.
I used a powder called VeganEgg, serving as a soy, plant-based egg replacement. I found that it’s best to cook with minimum olive oil on medium-high heat, waiting until the eggs brown a bit. Vegan eggs don’t cook as quick as non-vegan eggs, but they were still easy to make.
I also started using Planet Oat caramel oat milk creamer in my coffee. My homemade iced coffee went from mostly non-dairy to completely non-dairy.
Both of these substitutes aren’t strangers to people who are already vegan, but they helped my breakfast go from vegetarian to vegan, and are now staples in my routine.
I like to choose vegan when I can. Right now, that looks like swapping out non-vegan groceries for vegan ones and learning how to cook with substitute ingredients.
Curried chickpea recipe — My new vegan go-to
My favorite dinner this week was a curried chickpea recipe I got from a ChooseVeg article. It was easy to prepare with my limited cooking skills and kitchen supplies. As I was browsing Google for some low-maintenance vegan options, I struggled to find recipes that reflected my key search words — ‘quick,’ cheap,’ and ‘easy.’
Often times, veganism feels complicated and unattainable. This article gave me a lot of options that were accessible — both in terms of simplicity and affordability. While I’ve only tried two of the recipes on the list, I think that the curried chickpeas will remain a favorite on my eventual journey from vegetarian to vegan. Click the links to check it out! Enjoy!
Lauren is a 19-year-old Politics and Creative Writing major at NYU. She currently lives in Hamilton Heights, but is from a small town in Ohio near Lake Erie. She's previously been published in online zines such as Unpublished, Lithium, and Luna Collective.