Our friends at MTV.com posted an article on foods they suspected Jay Z might be missing now that he and Beyoncé are dabbling in vegan dining. Though it was surely intended to be tongue-in-cheek, the author merely reinforced the common omnivorous misconception that vegan food is some kind of downgrade. He couldn’t be more clueless.
So, in an effort to educate the misinformed, I have amassed a list of vegan substitutions, treats and all out delicacies that will have Jay and Bey wondering what took them so long to make the switch!
1. BRUNCH: There is no shortage of top-notch vegan restaurants to satisfy anyone’s brunch cravings. From the Spinach Avocado and Walnut Sausage Florentine at Sage Vegan Bistro in L.A., to the “Nuevos Rancheros” at Candle 79 in NYC, we’re covered. And if the couple feels like making breakfast in bed, they can always try this Tofu Benedict recipe from the Vegan Cookbook Afficionado!
2: BACON: In my experience, people who like/prefer turkey bacon tend to make a seamless transition into veggie bacon. It tastes pretty much the same! One of my favorite brands is Lightlife Smart Bacon. Of course, as with the majority of vegan foods, bac’n is something that you can easily make at home with wholesome ingredients like coconut, eggplant or tempeh.
3: “CLAM” LINGUINI: Apparently, Jay is a big fan of this classic Italian dish. Well, luckily for him, it’s already been successfully veganized. Mock fish or oyster mushrooms sub seamlessly for clams. Check out the recipe here.
4: CHEDDAR CHEESE: Teese, Daiya, Sheese…these are only three of many vegan cheese brands that have been making vegan mouths happy for a while now. I mean, come on, a vegan grilled cheese sandwich made with Daiya even won a NON-vegan grilled cheese competition last year! And if you’re comfortable in the kitchen, you can even make your own…
5: VANILLA WAFERS: Yup…we’ve got these too. Visit Whole Foods and grab a box of these Back To Nature Vanilla Wafers with all natural ingredients to boot!
6: WINE: Have you heard of Barnivore? It’s the online guide to all things alcoholic and vegan. They even have an app for on-the-go lushes. Some of us consult it daily…but I’m not judging!
7: “LOBSTER AND SCRIMP”: May Wah, Vegetarian Plus, and Sophie’s Kitchen are the big names in vegan seafood. They’ve got just about everything you could think of, including “lobster” and “scrimp.” Check out this recipe from PETA for vegan Shrimp ‘n’ Grits!
8: BEIJING DUCK: Mock Duck is old news…literally. Chinese monks created it from wheat gluten centuries ago to avoid eating meat. Nowadays, you could try and make your own, but it’s super simple to just pick up a can from your local Asian market. Then, you’ll be ready to whip up this Lemongrass Noodle Bowl w/ Mock Duck.
9: JELLO: Any Whole Foods or health food store will carry a vegan-friendly gelatin. The “real thing” is nothing more than animal bones, skin, cartilage etc. that has been boiled down to a goo that will help hold candies and other processed foods together…(I’m looking at you, Starbursts!) Agar-Agar and Carageenan (aka Irish Moss) are two other gelatin subs that you can find in many Asian or Caribbean markets.
10: THE PIG: Fine, so Jay is co-owner of The Spotted Pig, a place that’s not particularly famous for its veggies. But, they have loads of veggie sides that could make a delightful vegan meal (hold the butter!), and if Jay is smart, he’ll use his experience to introduce some vegan-friendly main dish options to the menu!
11: ICE CREAM: Vegan ice cream makes the world go round. We can make ice cream out of nearly anything: soy, coconut, rice, cashews, hemp milk, almonds…I am sure I’ve probably left something out! My current obsession is the DF Mavens brand. Their Key Lime Pie flavor with gluten free crust chunks blew my mind. However, at iEatGrass, we are a little DIY crazy, so my ice cream is most often homemade, like this 99.915% raw Rocky Road number:
12: STEAK: For knife and fork “meatiness,” many vegans turn to our favorite gluten-y staple, Seitan. If you pick up a bag of vital wheat gluten, you can make it yourself with minimal effort. Beyoncé has been baking vegan cupcakes, but if she’s really feeling fancy, she can try her hand at this Seitan Steak in Beurre Blanc Sauce…and invite me for dinner.
13: WINGS AND SLIDERS: Even we vegans have the munchies sometimes. And when those moments hit, it’s nice know that if you have a couple of packs of Gardein goodness in the freezer, you won’t have to eat your arm. Not so vegan.
14: THE GOLDEN ARCHES: Fast food doesn’t have to equal crap food. Veggie Grill is a (vegan) restaurant chain that serves up burgers and fries the healthier way. After all, when is the last time Ronald McDonald invited you to come enjoy a Quinoa Power Salad?
15: SUSHI: There was a time when vegans had to settle for a simple cucumber or avocado roll when they went out for sushi. That time has passed. Meet Beyond Sushi, the NYC-based restaurant that has revolutionized the once fish-centric dish. Celebrity Chef, Guy Vaknin is the mastermind behind it all and they come up with new, eccentric specials all the time!
16: FRICASSEE: I can’t believe we are even discussing fricassee. For those who don’t know, a fricassee is basically a French stew where the contents are briefly sauteed, and then braised to finish them off. Yes, the most common type was made with chicken, but clever vegans know that there are no boundaries in a cruelty-free kitchen. Well, besides the ones that keep out cruelty. How about this Tempeh and Wild Mushroom rendition?
17: CARAMELIZED BEEF TENDERLOIN: Gardein strikes again. And I gotta tell ya, you’d be hard pressed to find a piece of beef as tender as their beefless tips. All beefy cravings are sorted with these bad boys, minus the suffering and cholesterol. And if you’re seeking some caramelized action, go for it, with this sexy looking sandwich recipe from Midwest Veg!
So, if you’re reading this, Jay, I extend my kudos to you for giving the lifestyle a try. Hopefully this little list (read: sarcasm) will reassure you that veganism is not about deprivation, it’s about abundance and variety. I promise, the best is yet to come!