My friends like that I cook vegan. They have lots of questions. It is one of the reasons I started this blog. There’s a new buzz word I’ve heard “plant-based diet.” The phrase has two very unappealing words to me. Plant, and diet.
I’ll stick with vegan. I’m a Vegan Chef in an industry that cooks with meat, lots and lots of meat. The last few weeks as I’ve been working on the Tofu Bacon, I’ve taken heat. In hindsight, maybe I shouldn’t tell my co-workers what I’m working on at home. But then they miss the opportunity to learn. My fellow culinarians ask me “What’s the point?” And it isn’t even a question. It is a statement meant to dismiss the topic of a meatless diet.
Other chefs see me eating meat. “What?” Ok. I said, I’m a vegan chef. I didn’t say I was vegan. My partner is vegan. She is dairy free, meat free, and gluten free. Which is why I started cooking 100% vegan at home in the first place. (still looking for that vegan gluten free person). We were vegetarian for a while, and that I can do. Lots of butter and cheese and you have flavor, right? Eliminate the butter and cheese, and I had to come up with alternatives. I’ve spent five years working on this.
Still, my co-workers don’t understand. No chicken stock? No pork fat? No Bacon? No prosciutto wrapped shrimp or Mile high roast beef sandwiches?
No, and no. Not at home. Next question they ask, “Where’s the protein? Hmm, legumes, lots of beans, lentils, dahl. Grains: barley, quinoa, millet. Rice, lots of rice. It is a valid question. But when the right combination of food comes together to make a meal, balance and harmony is achieved, and happy diners ensue.
Neither my partner nor I have had any ill benefits from eating this way. And we will continue. And I will continue my quest for that perfect vegan meal. The one makes your whole body, mind, and soul sing.
And I’ll take heat from the other Chefs. They’ll berate me, dismiss me, and think I’m some kind of subversive in their midst. I’ll still get their respect by swinging burgers and steaks, pizzas, salads, and vegetable sautes on the line or in the banquet kitchen. And I’ll keep their respect just by showing up to work every day. Even though I am a Vegan Chef at home.