Venturing Into Veganism

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Written and Photographed by Grace Herndon, Contributing Writer

Whether you are a vegan for life, looking to begin a vegan diet or simply love finding new ways to enjoy food, here is a guide to the vegan options on the UW-Madison campus.

Remember: vegan food is food — plain and simple. Vegan meals contain many of the same base components as even the most meat-heavy meals. A vegan lifestyle entails a diet with no animal by products; this includes meat, seafood, dairy milks, cheese, eggs and gelatin. Anything tied to animals is off-limits to a vegan diet.

There are variations in veganism depending on the individual, for example some vegans choose not to eat honey and foods derived from insects, while others see no problem in that. Some vegans follow a plant-based diet by avoiding processed and refined foods. All vegans have different reasonings, some choosing a vegan lifestyle for health reasons or allergies with others staying vegan for the ethics. Whatever the case, veganism is an interesting and fun diet that has a lot of yummy offerings.

Rushing between lectures, meetings, sports and studying leads to difficulties in finding time to eat three full meals a day, let alone cook. With this in mind, a quick and healthy vegan option is Memorial Union’s sandwich and salad gem: Carte. The full salad bar offers made-to-order options with fresh and local ingredients, like gorgeous greens, colorful veggies, hearty protein-filled options and filling toppings. You can select from the menu of signature salad varieties, or get creative by building your own bowl.

If you only have five minutes to grab lunch and head to class, Carte offer pre-packaged, grab-and-go snacks. Celery with peanut butter, fruit salad, or grapes and carrots sticks (just avoid the dairy dip) are your best bet! Carte also offers healthy drinks to quench your thirst; sip on tasty Calypso lemonade, Kombucha and electrolyte-enhanced water with your meal for the ultimate energy-boosting lunch or dinner.

If you are staying in or have time to be adventurous in the kitchen, a delicious and warming winter dinner option is a variety of roasted vegetables. This meal is incredibly versatile and super easy, plus you can customize it depending on your cravings. All you need is an assortment of fall produce, such as golden and sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots or winter squash. To up your produce game, head to Whole Foods Market, the Willy Street Co-op or even the Dane County Farmer’s Market for seasonal veggies.

Chop the produce into equally sized cubes and place them on an aluminum foil-lined pan with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Place the pan in the oven at 350°F for roughly 40 minutes or until golden and soft. If you need an extra flavor kick, quickly sauté spinach or onion while your veggies are cooking. Pair your masterpiece with rye bread and vegan butter (Earth Balance is the best). This dish is also a great option to bring with to a club or friend potluck, since it requires little work to make it look delicious; the veggie rainbow you have concocted is more than enough to appeal to the group.

Give these options a try, and reap the benefits of healthy meals coupled with awesome flavor! Vegan or not, these options are tasty, filling and will put a smile on your face. Venturing into Veganism brings new food discoveries around every turn and can help you become more in-tune with your own body, health and well-being!

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