[Killeen Daily Herald]
As most of us know, when it comes to discussing sensitive subjects with the ones we love, religion and politics are to be avoided at all costs.
As a vegan, I testify that food should be added to the list.
If you've ever made the mistake of passing Grandma's green bean casserole at the Thanksgiving dinner table or politely refusing your best friend's pie at the church social, you know food -- and the appearance of rejecting someone's cooking -- is as personal to some as their deepest-held religious beliefs.
I should probably back up a bit. What exactly is a vegan?
The word "veganism" was first coined in the 1940s as "a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude -- as far as is possible and practical -- all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose."
Some people see a lot of restriction in that definition. I see freedom -- freedom to explore food beyond what you're used to, and greater than that, freedom for the billions (yes, billions) of animals unnecessarily caged and brought to slaughter each year.
Cutting out meat, dairy, eggs and all other animal products opened my outlook and my refrigerator to so many other ingredients that I've never felt deprived of anything. With that in mind, here's a rundown of where I and many other vegans meet our nutritional needs.
Now that you know veganism won't kill you, you may wonder how to incorporate some of these bare ingredients into meals you'll enjoy.
Overwhelmed by the amount of raw materials (both literal and figurative) at my disposal when I first became vegan, I turned to the Internet and my local bookstore for guidance.
(I should note, vegan meals are rarely more complicated to prepare than ones involving meat; I mean, how often have you found yourself slaving over a chicken breast, perplexed at how much longer you need to wait before you've killed the salmonella?)
Making the transition to veganism can be overwhelming, but it can also be immeasurably rewarding. At the end of the day, you'll be eating healthier, tastier meals without sacrificing any animal lives in the process.
And next time you're trapped rejecting one of your friends' homemade dishes, you'll have an excuse nobody can argue with.
Contact Rachel McReynolds at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7548