Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Veganizing the Food Network

I know, there's no vegan show on the Food Network. *Sob* Yet. Contact the Food Network and politely suggest they add a vegan cooking show. Starbucks recently altered their menu to reflect customer feedback, and with no vegan options new on the menu, there was clearly not enough momentum on their My Starbucks Idea site. Let's band together for positive change, fellow armchair activists!

But back to the Food Network. Since going from lacto-ovo vegetarianism to veganism, I still find inspiration regularly on the channel. Overall, their chefs use fresh ingredients in most of their cooking, and I love the challenge of seeing what I can veganize. It's often easier than you think!

The first peaches hit Old Hook Farm, and I'm already dreaming of Nigella Lawson's luscious Peach Melba. Simply substitute dairy ice cream with soy (I use Trader Joe's vanilla). Don't want to use that many raspberries for her sauce? Just let some raspberry sorbet liquefy and substitute that instead. So simple. You can even skip the vanilla pod if you don't have it on hand.

Ina Garten, a.k.a. Barefoot Contessa, was inspired to make her Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette after eating a similar dish in a bistro in Paris. Just leave off the cheese, and it's vegan. She finished the meal, eaten al fresco on her porch, with an apple tart. Veganize instead the classic French Tarte Tatine.

I praise Jamie Oliver for exposing cruel conditions the animals people eat live in to his countrymen in the UK, all so many can gorge themselves on nutrition-poor, cheap food choices. No, he's not a vegetarian, but how many chefs in America have gone on national television to talk about baby chickens being macerated, or gestation crates for pigs? Zero. Watch parts of Jamie's Fowl Dinners here. Veganize Jamie's Pappardelle with Mixed Wild Mushrooms by omitting the dairy.

Doesn't Rachael Ray's Mediterranean Eggplant Steaks and Orzo Salad with Walnuts, Oregano and Tomatoes sound yumm-o? Just hold the cheese.

I'll skip Sandra Lee. What's with those wacky over-done tablescapes at the end of every show? I can't imagine the carbon footprint of all the items she loads up on at the craft store (most of which are likely coming from China). And did you ever notice the color coordination of her KitchenAid with the rest of her kitchen decorations?

One Food Network creation I won't be attempting to veganize: Paula Deen's Fried Butter Balls. Don't try this at home, kids, unless you have a cardiologist on stand-by!

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