Say you go to a grocery store to get items to make for dinner. Virtually, your choices are unlimited. However, if you’re vegan then those choices do in fact become limited. There’s a circle of things you are able to get that are both healthy and filled with nutrition. Besides the clear cut no to meat and animal by-products, one category that may confuse you are the processed goods. Sure, there are signs on the packaging that may help you differentiate between what you can and can not eat whilst being a vegan. However, this isn’t a certain bet. There was possibly a time when being vegan meant restricting yourself to nothing but vegetables. However, there has been an increase in vegan friendly dishes ever since the lifestyle has gained popularity especially in recent times. While you need to be vigilant nonetheless, areas that used to be grey are lighting up now for vegans.
With that being said, processed goods such as pasta are still in a question mark area. There are signs to know whether the product you picked up is or is not in factin accordance to your taste and whether it’s actually something that you’ll enjoy eating. This article will highlight those signs as well give you some amazing alternatives to the traditional techniques and ingredients to make your vegan lifestyle a little easier. Let’s get started!
The problem with processed goods and your dilemma is quite simple – what are the raw materials that go into this item? To understand this, let’s first look over at the very essence of being vegan.
There are three broad categories into which you may fall depending upon your life choices; there are those who eat meat and other animal products such as milk, yogurt, cheese and eggs, then there are those people who abstain from eating animals as per say, however, they eat animal products and lastly, there are vegans who abstain from eating both. Being vegan has been misinterpreted as something of an eating choice. On the contrary, it is in fact a complete life style choice. Vegans keep themselves from buying anything even remotely connected with animals which include clothing materials such as fur or wool etc.
To get back to the matter at hand, it is thus quite necessary for a vegan to be absolutely sure of what goes into the processed goods that they eat. An example of such a processed good would be the beloved pasta.
One common misconception about vegans is that they don’t enjoy the food that people who aren’t vegans enjoy. Difference in taste is quite possible, but that’s for everyone. A vegan can also like pizza just as much as the next guy. Their abstinence from eating pizza from where someone who isn’t vegan eats pizza from isn’t because they hate it all together. They essentially hate the fact that an animal was harmed in anyway whilst making something. Hence, they try to find new ways that may seem unconventional at the time. They find alternatives, they don’t disregard. Technically, every flavour can have an alternative and that is what a vegan advocates.
What Is Pasta?
Quite frankly, many vegans may abstain from eating pasta fearing that one of the ingredients going into its making was eggs. The notion is wide spread, but it is an inaccurate one. Pasta noodles are in fact made up of a mixture of flour and water. That is of course, the more traditional way of making pasta. This does not put pasta in a sure vegan friendly zone because there are some companies that do in fact add eggs into pasta. What I may have in mind when I think pasta is different from the image you have in your mind. I may think of macaroni and you’ll think of lasagna. It’s the case old to-may-to or to-mah-to story; they both mean and represent the same thing. Yet, in different forms.
If you’re thinking of having friends over and can’t really decide on something that’ll satisfy everyone whilst being respectful to their vegan life style, then serving up a pasta dish is a sure form to get you praise and applause. You may at first feel like your choices are essentially limited to nothing but fruits and vegetables. You may fear that it’s the same taste over and over again. However, times have changed. There are a great many new alternatives that can give you the taste without having in fact contributed to disrupting your life style.
Selecting Pasta Noodles
Here’s the ticker, while pastas aren’t necessarily supposed to contain egg or milk, some companies do in fact find it easier to compose rather than using plain water. The egg makes the pasta stickier and less prone to breaking. Hence, your vigilance needs to remain on high alert at all times. Thank god for manufacturing ingredients list. Those are, quite frankly, a life saver. By jotting down the ingredients that go into its making, you can save yourself from eating something that may alter your system due to a medical condition or, in this case, disrupt your vegan choices.
Now, obviously you have to put back something that doesn’t mention ingredients at all and only has fancy packaging. Trust me, that’s a mistake you will highly regret. A little known fact is that there is actually a symbol to indicate whether or not animal products are used in the given product.
Try looking for a square enclosing a huge dot in its centre on the products box. Found it? Now, what color are the square and the dot? If it’s green, then you just hit your vegan jack pot. This item does not contain animals or animal products. If, however, the color is red then you best put that box away because this does contain animal or animal by products. Here’s an example, you love marshmallows? Well, they aren’t vegan either! Yes, it’s true. Marshmallows contain gelatin extracted from animal bones.
Now, there is one pro about being vegan. Since so many people are now entering the vegan life style, it has been made a fact that manufacturers are paying due attention. Brain child like vegan ice-cream are also being invented.
Pasta is supposed to be primarily vegan anyway. All you have to do, if you don’t want to look over the ingredients one by one, is look at the symbol and put it in your shopping cart or back on the rack.
In order to affirm that your pasta noodles are in fact vegan, have a look at the ingredients list. If there is any ingredient that is derived from a dairy source such as lactose, casein etc. your pasta noodles are definitely non-vegan and you should go for one that does not enlist these dairy derivatives.
Prepared Pasta Dishes
There are vegan safe dishes and dishes that a vegan must avoid if he or she wants to continue their lifestyle. The topic at hand is regarding pasta dishes. Pasta falls into a broad category as I have mentioned, it’s all a matter of interpreting the same thing. Items, for example lasagna puts you out of harm’s way because they’re essentially just strips. Similarly, spaghetti and macaroni are also classified as clear cut vegan safe dishes. However; the problem arises when the spectrum is enlarged even further to include items such as ravioli. In ravioli, the filling is necessary. Most of the ravioli you find at grocery stores are pre-filled i.e. you need to look at the filling as well in them. The filling is what usually puts a vegan off. Common fillings include cheese or meat, things that a vegan abstains from.
This was your first step in screening out a non vegan component. Majority of the pastas have many additives and other additions that render it non vegan. If the dough of your pasta is made from flour and water and the rest of the pasta has non vegan sauces and fillings such as the cheese ravioli pasta, then it is not fine for consumption. If the sauces and fillings are all from vegan sources such as tomatoes, olive oil etc. then it is vegan friendly pasta.
These are very important pointers and should be kept in mind when making vegan pasta. Next, we are going to talk about what additives can make a pasta vegan safe.
Vegan Safe Pasta Dishes
Lastly; we’re going to move on to what you can make for yourself using your pasta of choice. Pick out any unsaturated oil; those are oils of plant origin. The oils a vegan avoids are essentially saturated fats; those are oils of animal origin. Again, the simplest thing to do is to look out for the green symbol. Oil you can count on every time would be the all favorite olive oil. You can boil your pasta and add items such as tomato sauce to it. Mayonnaise isn’t vegan safe. This needs to be kept in mind because a lot of the times people pick out salads where pasta is covered in Thousand Island dressing. One of the constituents of thousand islands is mayonnaise.
You should definitely try out pasta with avocados. Not only are avocados a rich source of energy, but their texture is creamy and it tends to be fulfilling. Similarly, lentils and quinnoa can equate to the vegan version of Bolognese pasta. The list is by no means exhaustive. Mushrooms can be used to make fetuccini pasta, red wine sauce, pumpkin sauce, cilantro pesto, walnut sauce and so many other things.
Personally, the top pick would be creamy lemon asparagus pasta. Instead of traditional white sauce, you can add additives that are vegan friendly or even gluten free depending on your taste. It’s not just pasta dishes that you can find a healthy and vegan alternative for, literally everything has been found to have an alternative flavor for. A vegan isn’t barred from having food as a whole. For example; a vegan avoids meat that is a source of protein. Now, they’re aware of the fact that they need protein in their diet nonetheless, but instead of limiting proteins to nothing but meat, they find other sources. These sources are in accordance to them being vegan.
Bottom line is that being vegan doesn’t have to mean that you’re letting of of all the good stuff. It doesn’t mean that when someone has Mac and cheese, you’ll be left with nothing but broccoli. It’s genuinely all about your outlook on things. In this case, your outlook was your moral high ground of abstaining from anything that has the remotest link to animals because you feel that’s not what people should be eating. The fact that you’re part of the one percent of the population shows how much thought you put into being different. Thus, you shouldn’t have to feel like it’s a hard choice. Alternatives exist everywhere in world. For those who don’t like chocolate, there is strawberry. You can have Mac and cheese too, the difference being that you’d have to cook it using ‘unconventional’ methods. A great alternative to get that cheesy taste with your pasta is to add yeast. See, there’s so much that you can do whilst keeping your lifestyle unadulterated. You just got to find the means and stick to them. Don’t be discouraged by limited choices.
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