I used to be a huge milk and cheese lover. And let’s be honest, dairy products are pretty yummy. But just because you’re vegan doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy that taste—or at least something very close to it! Here are some of the dairy alternatives that I consume regularly.
Almond milk can usually be found at most grocery stores. But if you don’t like the taste of almond milk, or if all the extra ingredients in it (carrageenan, added sweeteners, etc.) freak you out, you can make nut milks in a matter of minutes at home. All you need is a fine strainer, a blender, some water, and your favorite nuts of choice. Place 1 and ¼ cups of nuts in a blender and fill the rest with water–you can even use coconut water if you like your milk super sweet. Blend well and then strain in order to make delicious nut milk. I like to also sweeten with vanilla extract and stevia.
Nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast that is rich in b vitamins and vitamin b-12, which usually is difficult to get for vegans. It has a cheesy taste that is great to put on salad dressings or as a topping to gluten-free pasta or pizza!
Dr. Cow’s Nut Cheeses
These are a bit pricey, so I only get them once in awhile, but they are so delicious. They are dairy-free, gmo-free cheeses that are made with cultured nuts, sea salt, and probiotics. Most store-bought cheese alternatives like daiya and tofu-cheese have tons of additives and “natural flavors” (which really means chemical flavors) and usually leave me with an aching stomach, but Dr. Cow’s cheeses have four ingredients max and are easy to digest. They come in several flavors, like macadamia, hemp, cashew, and brazil nut. I recently used the aged cashew flavor to make a vegan, gluten free pizza and it was delicious!
Homemade Parmesan Cheese
If you’re looking for a quick way to make parmesan cheese to add to the top of your salad or a pasta dish, you can simply blend garlic and brazil nuts or pine nuts in a food processor. So simple, yet so delicious!
Vegan pizza made with Dr. Cow’s nut cheese. Yum!
An avocado roll and an asparagus roll with brown rice from Ozu in Brooklyn Heights. This was only one part of my meal! I also had edamame, salad, and miso soup. Stuffed!
I love going to Japanese restaurants. Not only do they tend to have cool and trendy environments, but they also have tons of options for people like me. Apart from that, however, they also have some hidden bad guys. Here’s how to eat properly when you’re feasting on Japanese cuisine.
Watch Out For
Sauces: Unfortunately, most sauces in Japanese dishes contain soy sauce, which not only has indigestible gluten, but also is usually packed in sodium. Avoid this! Whenever I go to a Japanese restaurant, I bring my own gluten-free, low sodium, tamari sauce. You can’t tell the difference. San-J even sells them in individual packets so you can discreetly carry them in your purse or pocket. You can find them at your local health food store or order them online at amazon.
Farm-Raised Fish: Although I don’t eat fish, I recognize that there are some serious health benefits in doing so. However, if you’re eating farm-raised fish (especially salmon) you can kiss those benefits goodbye! Farm raised fish have tons of toxic additives and dyes. In addition, these methods are very detrimental to the underwater environment, as the additives that are fed to fish seep out into nearby waters. If you must consume fish, make sure to engage in a conversation with the chef and ask about farming practices. It’s very possible that there will be some wild options on the menu.
Purse-Seined Fish: A large portion of fish are caught using the purse-seining method. Purse-seining is when two boats hold the sides of a large net in order to catch fish. The result is that the nets, although intended to capture only one type of fish, also catch several other sea creatures before discarding them. The amount of bycatch resulting from the use of this method is numerous and damaging to the underwater environment. So unless your fish is caught with troll or pole-and-line methods (again, don’t be afraid to ask the chef) it’s best to stay away.
Your Japanese Staples
Vegetable Rolls: Japanese restaurants usually have a ton of vegetable roll selections, from sweet potato, to asparagus, cucumber, avocado, and pickles. Some even like to get creative with their rolls and put a bunch of vegetables in one. Order some of these and swap white rice for brown rice. If you happen to be at a restaurant that doesn’t offer the swap, you can always just get some rolls without rice at all. Three or four of these topped with gluten-free tamari sauce will leave you stuffed!
Edamame: Although soy in the form of tofu, soymilk, soymeat, etc, is overly processed, filled with additives, and detrimental to your health, natural edamame is a great and complete source of vegetarian protein. Share an edamame appetizer and you’ll have a full day’s serving.
Miso Soup: Minus the tofu, miso soup has tons of benefits, especially for vegetarians. The miso in miso soup has tons of b-vitamins, including b-12, which is difficult for vegans to get. It also serves as a good source of protein and amino acids. The wakame in the soup is high in vitamin A and copper, which helps your skin’s ability to regenerate cells and keep its elasticity. Make sure the soup is not made with fish broth if you are not a fish eater.
Hope these tips help you for your trip to the Japanese restaurant! For more tips on how to make environmentally responsible decisions when eating fish, take a look at this chart from Monterey Bay Aquarium.