I am gently dabbling in a vegan lifestyle. I have not adopted it fully, but rather along the same lines as the cookbook author, Mark Bittman. He chose to eat a more vegetarian and vegan diet based on his own health needs, but he also points out the great benefits a plant-based diet has on our planet. You can read and listen to his thoughts on the subject here. His book, Food Matters, goes into more detail and is worth reading.
Anyhow, I have always leaned towards a vegetarian lifestyle both in my desire for healthy foods and my own philosophical beliefs about animals and sustainability. Because I am not a person to view things only in black and white but to rather take a bit of this and a bit of that and mesh them together along with my own values, I have never fully adhered to a vegetarian diet. I don't know that I will now, either, but we'll see where it takes me...
Nowadays, becoming a vegan is much easier and I have been experimenting with it a bit. There are great products on the market that allow you to create yummy foods without relying on animal products. In the process, I developed a strong love for Earth Balance spreads. Their buttery spreads (and in stick form) are so yummy, I'd rather use that than real butter! Other staples to a vegan diet (ones that I already like, thankfully) are tofu, soymilk, and nutritional yeast. I plan to experiment a bit with making my own soymilk and tofu soon....
Rather than calling myself a vegan or vegetarian, I view myself as health conscious. Cutting back on the products derived from animals will greatly benefit my own health, and perhaps help the planet a little bit in the meantime.
So, in my experimentation, I discovered that I love vegan cupcakes! The recipe is here. They are moist and yummy. Next time I make them (very soon, I hope), I will try adding some Earth Balance in place of some of the oil. The recipe is from the book, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.
And on top of all the cupcakey-chocolatey goodness, this vegan frosting is absolutely fabulous! (Vegan or not). It is thick and buttery tasting----but it is so much better for you than the regular butter cream frosting. Try it and let me know what you think!
Rich Chocolate Frosting that happens to be Vegan
1 C. Earth Balance Buttery Spread
4 C. powdered sugar
2 T. vanilla extract
3 tsp. espresso powder
4 T. plain soy milk
1/2 C. good quality cocoa powder
In a bowl, mash the butter with the back of a spoon until it is smooth. Add the remaining ingredients, reserving 1 T. soy milk to check for consistency. If the frosting is too dry/thick, add the remaining soy milk (or more). Whip the frosting a bit until it reaches a glossy and smooth consistency.