When President Clinton replied, “I guess I am,” to Sanjay Gupta’s query, “Do you call yourself a vegan?” it was, I think, a turning point for the way the rest of the world looks at a vegan lifestyle. You could argue that there are thousands of vegans who have long shouted themselves hoarse about the benefits of a plant-based diet, and who deserve more credit than Clinton does, and I won’t fight with you. But here’s why the once-burger-chomping Clinton’s embrace of veganism is very important: because it tells everyone out there who swears they cannot live without meat and/or dairy products that they can change. More, that change could save their lives.
I often find in the media stories about ex-vegans who go back to eating meat, claiming their doctors found they were deficient in something or the other. Here’s what I don’t get: the deficiencies usually are for iron, Vitamin B, and Vitamin D, and if you work hard enough on balancing your diet and investigating the right foods to eat– surely you owe your health and your family that much– you really won’t even have those. If you do have them, you could pop a vitamin pill and you’d be fine. On the other hand, eating a meat- and dairy-loaded diet can cause diseases that can really, truly, honestly kill you, like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and many cancers. All of these are all preventable if you follow a plant-based diet. So here’s the choice: you could eat all the meat and dairy you want and pop pills to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, and take insulin daily; or you could just eat healthy, delicious, life-giving fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. It goes without saying, but you’d be a fool to choose the cholesterol pills and the insulin.
And there are no excuses for not eating healthy vegan food. This blog and countless others on the web, and a large number of vegan cookbooks, now offer a variety of delicious recipes that will never leave you wanting another meaty burger or steak. Trust me. I grew up eating meat and fish. I loved dairy– I could drink milk by the gallon. More, I loved cooking with these foods for my family and friends. But after becoming a vegan more than four years ago, I have never craved animal foods except perhaps in the first couple of weeks. My tastebuds have changed, and my health has never been better. The number of omnivore friends accepting dinner invitations to our house hasn’t dropped. Most guests enjoy the healthy foods I cook and even feel liberated to eat more of them because they know they don’t have to worry they will feel awful afterwards.
Now, to share some real food with this food for thought, here is a recipe you will absolutely love, and one that I had promised to share in my last post. Try it with a hefty vegan burger, like my Bean and Oats Burgers, or my Spicy and Fat-Free Black Bean Burgers.
Or with my vegan BLT. Enjoy, all!
Whole-Wheat Hamburger Buns
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour.
2 tbsp vital wheat gluten flour (optional– use it if you can because it gives the bread a great texture and a better rise)
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tsp sugar
3 tbsp vegetable oil
Mix the sugar, 1/2 cup warm water and the yeast in a mixing bowl and set aside for about 10 minutes until the mixture starts to froth, indicating the yeast is alive and well.
Sift all the flours, salt, and baking soda into the bowl. Knead on low speed in a stand mixer or by hand for about 3 minutes, trickling in 1 cup of water until you have a dough that’s smooth but slightly sticky. If you are leaving out the gluten, knead at least 2 more minutes.
Add the oil and continue to knead until the oil has been absorbed by the dough, about 1 more minute.
Now place in an oiled bowl, turning over once to coat all over with oil, cover with a kitchen towel, and set aside for 2 hours until the dough has risen.
Punch down the dough and divide into 6 balls
Shape them into smooth balls. Place the buns on a lightly greased and floured baking sheet, at least a couple of inches apart. Flatten the tops slightly with your fingers, and let the buns rise for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 370 degrees. Place the buns in the oven and bake 25 minutes.
Brush the tops with a little oil for a pretty, glossy look. Sprinkle some sesame seeds or poppy seeds on the top, if desired.
Remove to a rack and allow the buns to cool before breaking them off.