I follow a vegan diet. Honestly speaking this is not difficult and it does not give me the feeling of missing something. There are a lot of substitutes, which I also do not buy, because they are either full of artificial additives or / and they look like meat products, which I personally find very weird. I am a vegan for health and ethical reasons, so it is very odd to eat stuff full of artificial additives that may not be very healthy. Thus, many convenience products offered in supermarkets are not an option for me. I still do not have the feeling to miss out on something. To a big extent it makes my life much easier. In big supermarkets I am not distracted by fancy offers and the unbelievable amount of products offered. There are only a few sections I am going to. Indeed, I have to admit, that it may be more difficult having a vegan diet in a small town, where the supply of fresh fruit, vegetables, legumes, cereals and co. is much more limited.
On top of being vegan, I also follow a gluten free diet. The common reaction of people who hear this is:”Then there is nothing left you can eat.” or:”You cannot eat anything tasty.” A refreshing change was a man selling chocolates. When he offered me to taste one, I replied, that I cannot eat them because of my diet. Knowing what people usually think, I said:”Yes, I know, I miss a lot.” He replied:”But you also win a lot.” I loved what he said, because it is very true. I do not believe that my diet is a burden. It opened up a whole new world. I started discovering food, that most people (in the western world) are not even aware of its existence. You start cooking differently, you start to be more conscious.
I am Austrian and what Austrians love, apart from a plate full of meat (like Schnitzel, Schweinsbraten or a proper Würschtl), is sweet food. We love cookies, cakes, tarts, strudels, tee cakes, creams, pan cakes (Palatschinken), sweet dumplings, etc. Because, I am unlike any other Austrian I also love sweets. Baking is a tradition in my family. Instead of making a drama out of me having a vegan and gluten free diet, my sister simply started experimenting. She was successful and spoiled me with the most delicious sweets. I dedicated her a blog (only in German). The Austrian cuisine even knows a type of sweet dish that is eaten as a main dish. This is called a Mehlspeise (literally: flour dish). I think it is so particular to Austrian culture, that there is not even a proper translation for this. If I am wrong, let me know. However, being a vegan, I was deprived of all types of sweets that need beaten egg whites. It is not sever suffering not to eat these things, but indeed a Kaiserschmarren can cheer me up.
But the deprivation seems to be over. Aquafaba, is a totally natural replacement for beaten egg whites. It is the water in which you cooked legumes, that you usually pour down the drain. This water can be beaten until it is a nice white cloud. A nice cloud that lets the Austrian vegan heart beat a little higher and dream of Kaiserschmarren and many other treats. I tried it out and made my first meringues and Kaiserschmarren. The recipes need some more adjustment, but I envision sweet and fluffy times ahead.
So why do I write in a blog about sustainability about aquafaba? Indeed food is an important factor in achieving sustainability. Many people still think that life without animal products is less colorful. This is simply not true. The example of aquafaba shows that there are many possibilities. I am sure many more things will be developed in the next years. A vegan diet does not only consist of tofu. I do not want to write about the suffering and the environmental burden that the production and consumption of animal products causes. There is enough information about these topics. Indeed the cruelty should be reason enough to stop eating animal products. For still too many people it seems to be totally acceptable to unnecessarily torture animals for their nutrition, while they are petting their domesticated animal. And people seem preferring being blinkered, refusing to see the truth. I do not want to judge. I ate meat for many years.
I think many people do not switch to another diet, because they think they will miss something. For some people it will not matter how many documentaries about animal farming are produced. As long as they feel that not eating animal products will reduce their life quality they will resist to change and find excuses (like I did). But what I see out there, is limitations that people are facing in a world of plenty. Supermarkets are full of food. As soon as one is vegan, there is nothing left to eat? If someone’s diet is consisting only of varieties of meat products and milk products, then this diet is restricted. Even in my case, all what is additionally excluded are certain cereals. Again if nothing was left, my nutrition before having a vegan and gluten free diet would have consisted of varieties of meat products, milk products, bread and pasta. Is this a healthy diet? Moreover, isn’t it shocking how many convenience products are erased from the the shopping list, because they contain some animal products (like milk powder, or gelatin) or gluten? The industry feeds you with the same stuff all the time. The industry simply suggests you that there are many options, by introducing different packaging, flavor (which also has often a weird source) or form. But at the end of the day it is pretty much the same crap.
If someone now wants to argue that there are so many varieties of meat and things one can make out of meat. Did you know that there are more than 20,000 tomato varieties? Of course there is much more you can make out of tomatoes, apart from ketchup. There are about 40,000 bean varieties. No, chilly con carne is not the only option. Additionally, now one can use the water to bake something nice!
The man in the shop was right. With a vegan diet you win a lot, because you burst the chains of restriction.