Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Half Baked: 13 Recipes Under $7.50 for the Urban Vegan

USE THIS A WHOLE BUNCHI've never understood haute cuisine. I've never even understood spending in excess of 15 minutes–or $15–procuring something to eat. I think what most confuses me about fancy, expensive, time-consuming food is that, no matter how succulent the duck or the steak or the lobster thermidor, it will all soon quite literally be excreta (or, on a bad night, ejecta). I've got a lot of reservations about the fashion industry, too, but at least a $300 pair of jeans with sequins on the behind will keep you warm for a few months in the winter. This is probably why it was relatively easy for me to become a vegan.

Nevertheless, I still believe Ezra Klein is right. The prevalence of the GVP (grilled vegetable plate) as the sole vegetarian option at many restaurants is offensive for a whole host of reasons. Besides being only marginally nutritious and woefully reliant on salt, GVPs are also limp, flavorless testaments to the lack of imagination of most chefs. Because as all meat abstainers know, cooking vegetarian isn't only a great way to feel superior, it's also cheap and simple.

With that, I give you a baker's dozen of dishes for the vegan or vegan-leaning vegetarian in the big city who cooks and eats not for the joy of it, but so he won't feel dizzy while running errands. Enjoy!

Hand Mustard
Make sure nobody's looking. Squeeze mustard onto the back of your hand. Lick it.

Veggie Dog in a Piece of Wheat Bread Folded to Resemble a Hot Dog Bun
Dress it up with your roommate's spicy habanero ketchup to taste. Great for breakfast on the go!

Half a Tortilla and Hummus
Smear the hummus around with the back of a spoon and then lick the spoon. Only using half the tortilla will make you feel like you're saving money, even when you eat the other half five minutes later.

Handful of Your Roommate's Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Quick, simple, delicious and a great way to get some protein before going drinking. Not vegan? Humbug! It counts as vegan as long as you're not directly contributing your own money to the production of animal products. That's why you can eat pretty much everything at dinner parties. It's also why you shouldn't do annoying stuff like send back your salad if they mess up and put a little bit of mayo on it. The eggs have already been used and nobody's going to account for the fact that you returned them on principle. You're just going to look like a whiny asshole who wastes food.

Hand Goddess Dressing
Just like hand mustard but less viscous, so lick quickly.

Tofurkey Roast and Ketchup
Cut the raw roast into thin slices and use a spoon to eat the stuffing from their centers. Heat up the gravy from the roast package in a microwave and, when it's done, throw it in the garbage because it looks gross. Squirt some organic ketchup (more lycopene!) on the now stuffingless slices. Serves one, as nobody else will eat it. (Trust me, do not cook the roast. Doing so adds nothing to the flavor and takes four times as long as consuming the thing will.)

Veggie Sausage Served on a Paper Towel
Trader Joe's makes Italian-style veggie links that are great just by themselves. That said, I don't think it's a coincidence that they fit perfectly in the neck of the Goddess Dressing bottle. Dip 'em!

Spoonful of Hummus
Super simple. For a kick, sprinkle with some ketchup and a bit of your roommate's cheddar cheese.

Penne with Onions, Red Peppers, Veggie Dogs and Yellow Soy Cheese Slices
Sauté the veggies with the veggie dog, cook the pasta and cut the soy slices into small pieces. Add everything together while the pasta's still hot so the "cheese" melts. Pour Goddess Dressing over everything and then let it cool in the fridge. For some reason, this will taste like the crab giovanni your mother used to make.

Goddess Dressing in a Lettuce Cup
Rip off a leaf of iceberg lettuce and pour Goddess Dressing into the part where it's most concave. Eat over the sink.

Microwavable Hash Browns with Barbecue Sauce
In a pinch, substitute Soy Vay Island Teriyaki for BBQ.

A Raw Potato
I like Yukon Golds, but there's no reason you can't use reds. Eat it like an apple and ignore the stares.

Worcestershire and Onion Mushrooms
Put some fake butter in a sauce pan and let it melt. Sauté a bunch of old mushrooms and one chopped onion while scouring your cupboards for something else to put in the pan. Find an old bottle of Lea & Perrins and dump a quarter of it onto the onion-mushroom mix. Simmer for an arbitrary amount of time and then dump everything into a big bowl. Feel sort of grossed out just looking at it and put it in the fridge. Come back in a few hours and eat it all, preferably while drunk.

Cord Jefferson is a writer-editor living in Brooklyn. His work has appeared in National Geographic, GOOD, The Root and on MTV.

46 Comments / Post A Comment

jolie (#16)

We needed a whole article on how to eat things directly out of the fridge?

garge (#736)

Would the off-the-hand parts have been intuitive for you? I may have made a mistake and employed a knife or paper towel somewhere needlessly!

jolie (#16)

I would have suggested forgoing the hand altogether and applying the condiments from the bottle directly to the tongue.

Apply dressing directly to the tongue! Apply dressing directly to the tongue!

HiredGoons (#603)

@jolie: this is just getting eerie.

Yeah, uh, that study there? Funded by the Weston A. Price Foundation, which is an weirdo pro-meat anti-vegan lobbying group. So, uh, grain of salt. Or perhaps a big chunk of lard.

Bryan Keller (#3,804)

They actually sound rather reasonable to me:

:The Foundation supports raising animals on pasture as much of the year as possible, and opposes confinement operations, feedlots, debeaking, growth hormones, routine antibiotics in feed, inappropriate feed such as soy, and other practices that harm animals' health and well-being, harm the environment, and result in animal foods that are not optimally nutritious for humans.
The Foundation believes that strict vegetarianism (veganism) is detrimental to human health. Vegetarianism that includes eggs and raw (unpasteurized) dairy products, organic vegetables and fruits, properly prepared whole grains, legumes, and nuts, and excludes unfermented soy products and processed foods, can be a healthy option for some people. However, some people have difficulty assimilating vitamins, minerals, protein, and other factors from plant foods. These individuals may need a higher proportion of nutrients from animal foods to achieve optimum health.:

They definitely do seem a little weird, Gef. But weirder than forming vegetable matter into meat-like textures and shapes? I don't know.

Also, I believe in lard.

Well, at least it ain't as weird as forming meat into other meat-like textures and shapes (see: sausage, McNuggets). Also: "substitute for lard" is pretty much a fool's errand. When lard is required, it's all or nothing.

sox (#652)

i like the idea of less processed, which is what it seems like the study is trying to imply?

but i really hope annie's cheddar bunnies are not anywhere near that list.

Is human breast milk vegan? Cause you could find that cheese lady and strike up a friendship.

krherzog (#4,432)

i highly recommend keeping almonds in your pockets. it looks kind of weird but you can swallow a bunch between drinks to decrease the chance that your blackout will involve eating fried mac 'n cheese on your bathroom floor.

sbma44 (#2,565)

Don't raw potatoes make you throw up?

HiredGoons (#603)

Hearing about it makes me want to.

Bryan Keller (#3,804)

I would rather die than have to live without cheese. Sorry, but it's just not worth it.

hockeymom (#143)

Agreed. At this point in my life, I'm trying to make it thru just one DAY without cheese.

In fact, I could subsist on Diet Coke, cheese (the sharper and/or stinkier, the better) and a glass of wine every now and then.

@hockeymom: Didn't we have this discussion before? And, yes, me too.

Bittersweet (#765)

If "it counts as vegan as long as you're not directly contributing your own money to the production of animal products," can you eat a fucking steak with hollandaise at someone else's dinner party?

Bryan Keller (#3,804)

No you have to sit there with your specially prepared meal, silently judging those around you. Sorry, but vegans bother me.

And no problem retrieving a discarded Double Down?

cherrispryte (#444)

I am confused by the lack of peanut butter spoon on this list.

tigolbitties (#2,150)

methinks the butter makes it not vegan… but i don't quite understand "vegan" so i could be wrong.

cherrispryte (#444)

While I tend to go with Skippy, I'm fairly positive there are vegan peanut butters consisting only of peanuts, and possibly salt.

Bittersweet (#765)

I believe even Skippy is regular butter-free, though it probably has added sugar. Sugar's still OK for vegans, right?

garge (#736)

Refined white sugar, not so much. Something about stomach linings somewhere?

NicFit (#616)

There's no butter in peanut butter, just like there's no chicken in Chicken of the Sea

HiredGoons (#603)

@NicFit: just dolphins and mercury!

oudemia (#177)

I think it's bone char — stomach linings is rennet.

riotnrrd (#840)

Yep. White sugar is made (somehow) with animal bones. I think the souls of the damned are what makes it so sweet.

cmcm (#22,589)

@cherrispryte Also "peanut butter spoon dipped in cereal"

City_Dater (#2,500)

I had always assumed anything consumed while standing in front of the open refrigerator was calorie-free; it's good to know these meals are also vegan.

irishbreakfast (#4,123)

No, no and no. Anything eaten over the sink is calorie-free. Were you raised by wolves?

Worcestershire sauce isn't vegan. It's made from fermented anchovies.

Right! It's basically a British-ized version of fish sauce … and, as such, can be used in just about anything.

HiredGoons (#603)

A spoonful of salsa helps the medicine go down.

Jamie Peck (#2,018)

I have consumed several of these "meals" in darker times and felt super gross about it afterwards. Hand mustard < GVP < actually well prepared and well balanced meals. Not all vegans hate food, I swear it.

PropSword (#2,870)

Hilarious! And gross.

Swass LikeMe (#1,317)

Cord – you are the next Sandra Lee. You may want to trademark that Hand Mustard recipe.

melis (#1,854)

"This is probably why it was relatively easy for me to become a vegan." I have always secretly suspected that most vegans just don't like food.

cmcm (#22,589)

This is giving me flashbacks (and surprisingly, cravings) for my student days of eating raw fake hotdogs dipped in mayo (I am not vegan), hiding in my room so my roommates wouldn't judge me.

Brunhilde (#1,225)

I've been enjoying hand mustard in my cubicle all morning.

16619905@twitter (#280,966)

If you're eating real cheddar cheese, you're not vegan. This line "It counts as vegan as long as you're not directly contributing your own money to the production of animal products" is severely inaccurate. It's like saying, "Well, I don't support dissecting frogs, but since this one is already dead, where's the scalpel?" The whole point is to turn down the entree or snack so cooks/chefs/owners will then see less of a demand for it. If taking a stand on animal agriculture means someone looks like an "asshole," then the entire vegan community will own that. You are a vegetarian, not a vegan.

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