Previously, I’ve blogged to explain the basics of a vegan diet: here and here — and also warmly recommended: here and here.

Now I would like to share a bit how my thinking about eating — and cooking — is slowly changing now I’m a vegan for some seven years. (Being a vegan is a hip and trendy thing in Israel. At 64, it’s fun to be part of the trend.)

I started to notice how most omnivores eat animal produce with some other side dishes and that is it. For them, salads are just on-the-sides.

Further, I became aware that most of these animal products taste like nothing, so their cooks need to spend most of their kitchen energy on flavoring them. They could not “cook” without garlic, onions, salt, pepper, sugar and lots of herbs. The art of cooking became the art to camouflage that the food is tasteless.

Slowly this charade has penetrated the vegan part of their meals too. Fresh cucumbers and cooked potatoes are served with salt on them (yuck!), potato chips with barbeque taste (which warped mind will come up with that we should try to created carrots that taste like oranges and oranges should taste like carrots?), etc.

And then we have non-foods that also need to be dressed up, like white “bread”, pastas and rice. Add some other stimulant like carbonated and hot caffeine drinks, and the meal is replaced by a race to stimulate. Food is to feed and please the body, not to only falsely excite it!

I don’t mean that food should be tasteless. I knew a restaurant where everything was sensible and well-balanced. The bread was sour-dough because that destroys less of the grain and the water used for making it was hand-pumped, etc. The only problem: all its food was tasteless and all its good intentions worthless. Needless to say, the eatery closed years ago. A cook is not a pharmacists. Enjoying a meal is important. However, taste should not come before substance!

This all, while non-animal produce often tastes great on its own. Broccoli or carrots – roast them in aluminum foil and the tastes are fully kept, don’t disappear into the water. Split peas or tofu – really do not need any additions to be tasty. Whole-wheat bread of at least a day old with peanut butter (without salt and sugar) is a feast to eat. Ever chewed on a leaf of lettuce – instead of dousing it into vinegar to make it soft and mask its taste)? This becomes especially true when we phased out addictions to sugar, salt, spicy, caffeine, etc.

Real food should taste great of its own. Yet, running after taste makes us end up with non-foods and their dressings (with addictive substances mixed in or on the side). Dressings are for wounds, not for foods!

My priorities:

  1. Don’t buy junk food. Detox, phase out the drugs and addictions. Replace them by real food. (You don’t have to be a vegan to do this.)
  2. Think about a balanced meal: variety, protein, fiber, some fats, etc.
  3. Think about combinations that would taste well and that need chewing – the ancient art of being satisfied by quality, not quantity.

Eating like that is not only better for the environment, the animal world and our own health; it also supports our in-born attraction to truth and reality. No more fake food!

We need simpler meals, not to become ascetic, but rather to have the richest, tastiest meals. Real Hedonists eat Spartan!