Chicago Vegan Guide for the Cali “Vegan-ish” Gal

Chicago Vegan Guide for the Cali "Veganish" Gal

Although I’m not vegan, healthy food is healthy food. What does that mean? I can see a lot of great qualities that come out of veganism. However, I don’t have the willpower, nor desire, to forever say goodbye to French butter with chunks of Fleur de sel, freshly whipped Chantilly cream, or stinky soft cheese. But I’ve always believed everything good and indulgent should be consumed in moderation. That includes things like veganism, vegetarianism, or a meat eating carnivorous lifestyle. 

With that in mind when people ask me what kind of recipes I develop, for me to say they are healthy doesn’t fully encompass what I mean. I think it’s easier to describe myself as the Vegan-ish, Vegetarian-ish and Carnivor-ish. In my experience, consistent healthy eating has a better chance of success if it’s done without being entirely restrictive. (Except for fast food and food-like processed products. Those are 100% not-ok in my book.)

Diet, a dirty four letter word

My style of eating isn’t a diet. I don’t appreciate what the world has made of the word. “Diet” connotes restriction, exclusion, starvation, and general angst. I have a healthy way of eating that comprises of common sense, lots of colors, natural grains, and lean meats. (But of course the occasional burger, fried chicken, and cake are also in there.) Over the years, I’ve learned to pull bits and pieces from different healthy food methods like veganism and vegetarianism. However, I’ve also learned to research and avoid fad diets such as the unhealthy Paleo, or diabetes inducing gluten-free diets.

Meat free environment for a meat-eater

Given my persistent desire to learn more about food and how to enjoy it guiltlessly, I was excited to attend my first Chicago Veganmania. The small convention had companies sampling new dairy/meat free products, exhibitors displaying campaigns against animal cruelty, and local restaurants cooking up (pricey) selections of their vegan dishes. Overall, I enjoyed the experience and opportunity to taste new things like nut-cheeses, “chicken salt” seasoning, and brownies made from black beans. Chicago Vegan Guide for the Cali "Veganish" Gal

As I wandered around, I accepted the flyers and leaflets being handed out and dropped them in my small reusable bag. When I got home and had a free moment, I took everything out and spread it across my kitchen island. I felt a bit overwhelmed by all the information I’d tossed in my bag, so I decided to just dive in. I began with one of the booklets called “The Guide to Vegan Chicago”. As I flipped through the less than 6” tall, staple bound pamphlet I read about the definition of veganism, examined a sort of cheat sheet to vegan eating necessities, and perused a list of Chicago restaurants that pride themselves in being dairy & meat free.

Whether you are a full Vegan, Veganish like me, or just testing the dairy free waters, these recipes will satisfy meat-eaters and meat-substitute-eaters alike: ♦ Vegetarian/Vegan (& low budget) Carrot Osso Bucco, a meal to impress!

Cardamom Crème Oatmeal Sandwiches, (Accidentally) Vegan and only 288 Cal each!

Cauliflower Ceviche Tostadas; Vegan as h**l and Good Enough for Meat-eaters! Vegan Chipotle Cashew “Queso” (Cheese); Not just for vegans!

Although this is not a comprehensive list of all things/restaurants vegan or even vegetarian in Chicago, its a great start. My suggestion would be if you visit any of these restaurants or stores speak with the owners and ask about places they recommend. That’s the best research you can do.

You don’t have to be a vegan. The bacon in my refrigerator says I’m not.

My hope is that the takeaway you get from leafing (or clicking) through this booklet is that there is something for everyone in the vegan lifestyle. Its not an all or nothing club. To be healthy is to be open minded, and to be a foodie is to eat what tastes good. Veganism has its place in both of those ideas.

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