My Shit Don’t Stink: Five Observations on a Vegan Diet

Charcuterie from the Downtown Grocery

Salad greens from Coger's Sugarhouse












I grew up in a meat and potatoes household. My father was (and still is) the type that had strong feelings about what went on the dinner plate, and if it didn’t moo or cluck it was considered a side dish. So imagine my culinary bafflement as I have undertaken a two-week chef gig to cook for a yoga teacher training at Good Commons, a boutique retreat center nestled in the rolling hills of Vermont.

Three meals a day and not an animal in sight. Not only are these yogis avoiding meat, but also dairy, soy and gluten. And I thought downward dog was tough.

It’s not that I don’t have experience or interest in cooking vegetarian dishes. I love connecting with the local farmers and menu planning based on what is coming out of the ground. But how much roughage can a person take? The answer—plenty.

I should qualify… I could easily be sneaking off to the local pizza joint for “Instructor Wings,” a winning combination of hot wings and barbecue sauce named after a special request from the snowboarders who work at Okemo Valley during ski season. Better yet, a mosey to The Downtown Grocery in Ludlow, where chef Rogan Lechthaler is doing some amazing charcuterie. But I’ve been feeling a bit too much junk in the trunk and thought a two-week meat sabbatical might do me well. So here’s what I’ve learned so far.

 Top 5 Observations on a Vegan Diet

5. It’s more fun to chew a perfectly marbled strip steak than bite into a piece of “extra firm” tofu, no matter how well it’s seasoned or seared.

4. Kale is brilliant: it keeps for almost a week in the fridge and can be eaten raw, blanched, sautéed or even creamed with a vegan béchamel, which I made with Earth Balance (soy, I know!), gluten-free flour, almond milk and plenty of salt and pepper.

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America’s Top 10 New Sandwiches — Veganized

Our recent article on America’s Top 10 New Sandwiches has caused quite a stir in the blogosphere, but no one was more riled up  than a group of spunky vegan bloggers. Their de facto leader, Namely Marly, explains:

We read this article with great curiosity but it didn’t take long until the curiosity faded and was replaced with something else. OK. We were grossed out. Particularly at one sandwich that referred to an ingredient called suckling pig. We hoped this was a reference to something other than the obvious, but it appears it is exactly as it sounds. Only one of the 10 sandwiches appeared to be vegetarian. We felt like a cross between Stan Laurel and Rodney Dangerfield, scratching our heads with a half whimper and half scowl thinking, “Why don’t we vegans get any respect?”

So they decided to demand their own respect, teaming together to create tasty and healthy versions of each cholesterol-laden entry on the list of America’s Top 10 New Sandwiches. Hence, America’s Top 10 New Sandwiches — Veganized. Here are all ten of ’em. Follow the links for recipes.

10. The Vegan Spuckie

We called this olive-carrot-mortadella goodness from Cutty’s in Boston “the one sandwich that most successfully merges the old-school method of overdoing it on Italian meats with the new world of artisan, veggie-centric goodness.” Drop the meat part and it’s still drool-worthy. Trina Jaconi Biery of Your Vegan Mom made her own meat-free mortadella, featured here on a ciabatta roll topped with vegan mozzarella and a sweet carrot-olive salad.

Recipe: The Vegan Spuckie

(Photo: Trina Jaconi Biery)

9. Vegan Bulgogi Steak Sandwich

When Allyson Kramer of Manifest Vegan learned there was a Bulgogi Steak Sandwich (from Koja in Philly) on the list, she jumped at the chance to veganize it. As a child she used to eat bulgogi steak sometimes twice a week. Now a vegan, she’s been hankering to try a veggie-friendly version. Served on a hoagie roll (Allyson even provided a recipe for gluten-free hoagie if that’s to your liking), marinated tofu is topped with caramelized peppers and onions, chili garlic sauce, and melted vegan mozz.

Recipe: Tofu Bulgogi Steak Sandwich

(Photo: Allyson Kramer)

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