GO Veggie!

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GO Veggie!

I’m giving up cheese. Wait, I thought you just said on Friday you don’t like to give up entire food groups (because let’s be honest, cheese is its own food group). Ok, let me explain. Recently I was invited by GO Veggie! to attend a cooking demonstration at Whole Foods led by Spork Foods.  Heather and Jenny, the sister duo who founded Spork Foods, are amazing vegan chefs who offer catering, cooking classes and healthy eating demonstrations based on their love for veganism and healthy foods.  They are official brand ambassadors for GO Veggie!, a cheese alternative that offers products suitable for vegan and lactose intolerant diets.

go veggie

Admittedly, I’m not vegan or lactose-intolerant but I was intrigued to find out more.  I am committed to healthy eating (well, except for an occasional cupcake) and I wanted to find out if a cheese alternative was really worth it. 

go veggie 2

I headed to Whole Foods one evening after work and was delighted to meet Jenny and Heather who are pretty much the friendliest, warmest people you will ever meet.  No wonder their business is so successful, who wouldn’t want to take advice and learn some new skills from these women.  

spork foods

I tried their queso dip, which was absolutely amazing.  I honestly couldn’t even tell that it was made with a cheese alternative.  The dip was gooey and creamy, just like queso is supposed to be.  I always get nervous when a product is supposed to substitute for the real thing because I feel like it will never measure up, but I have to say, the texture, consistency and taste were all up to par.  It had a nice spicy kick from the GO Veggie! pepper jack “cheese”, which I was lucky enough to take home with me.  I’m thinking some spicy egg sandwiches may be in order!

queso dip

go veggie 3

I also had the chance to ask Heather and Jenny some questions about vegan diets that I thought would be interesting to share with you all.  I’ve made it clear that I’m not vegan, but I do enjoy making vegan choices on occasion like going to a vegan restaurant with friends or choosing the vegan salad option at my local lunch place.

Q: What are some of the advantages of a vegan diet over other types of diets?

A: The way that we view being vegan is actually like a lifestyle choice, rather than a diet, in the traditional sense.  The biggest difference between choosing to be vegan vs. going towards a conventional “diet” choice is how all-encompassing this lifestyle is.  We find that people are drawn into being vegan for many reasons, including health, animal welfare, environmental issues or religion, and no matter what opens your mind to veganism, the other aspects of it reveal themselves over time and make you all the more passionate about your decision.  

Q: If someone is considering going vegan, what things should they consider adding to their diet to replace any nutrients lost from foods that need to be eliminated? 

A: Anyone, whether they are vegan or not should definitely be aware of what they are putting into their bodies.  We always recommend eating a wide variety of fruits and veggies, grains, beans, seeds and other plant-based foods to get all of the nutrients you need.  Nowadays, with fortified non-dairy milks, tofu, and yogurt it’s easy to get adequate amounts of B-12, and other nutrients that people used to have to supplement when going vegan.  It is important to get your blood checked to ensure that you’re not anemic, or deficient in B vitamins, but that varies so much from person to person.  

Any advice about what needs to be added and eliminated from a person’s diet is so personal.  One overarching recommendation that we can give is to ditch heavily processed foods with hydrogenated oils, refined sugars, flour and salt.  Everyone is better off eating foods that actually expire!

Q: What are some easy ways to start incorporating more vegan meals into your diet if you are not ready to go full-fledge vegan yet? 

A: Great question!  If you think of dishes that are already vegan, or can be made easily without meat and dairy, you’ve already got a head start.  A bean and rice burrito with veggies, for example, is an easy way to eat a vegan meal without feeling like you’re changing your whole eating regimen.  You can even indulge in the guacamole.  

Pasta marinara, falafel and hummus, minestrone soup, salads, many Thai or Vietnamese dishes and more are already naturally vegan.  The only thing to remember is to ask if any lard, fish sauce or other animal products are used – and if not – eat up!  Once you look around and realize that there are SO many things you can have, incorporating vegan meals gets easier and easier.  

Q: If someone is looking to “veganize” traditional recipes, what kinds of things can they think about substituting in? 

A: We love “veganizing” our favorite traditional dishes, because it allows you to still have all of the comfort and familiar flavors that you love, in a healthy way.  Items like GO Veggie! vegan Parmesan, Cheese Slices, or Cream Cheese make it so easy to have rich and delicious flavors and textures.  Knowing that you can still have your bagel and cream cheese in the morning, or cheesecake for dessert is exciting.  

We also use a wide variety of non-dairy milk like almond milk or oat milk in our recipes because they work in most contexts, even when heated. We also recommend using a variety of beans as a great protein source.  One brand called Eden even cans their beans with kombu, a seaweed (that doesn’t have an ocean-like taste) to make your beans more digestible!   

Q: Are there certain foods that people are surprised to learn are vegan-friendly? 

A: Definitely! There are so many things like pita and hummus, falafel,  chips and salsa, avocado rolls, bruschetta, smoothies, and more items that people don’t realize are already vegan. And people are confused by what the term vegan means.  It means that you don’t consume animal products of any kind, but alternatives like vegan cheeses, non-dairy milks, vegan butter, meat alternatives, etc are all fair game and are delish!
Pretty informative, huh?  And in case you want to try out the queso dip yourself, here’s the recipe!
 [yumprint-recipe id=’14’]

Ok, so I’m not giving up cheese completely but since I don’t think it would be too much of a stretch for me to join Cheese Aholics Anonymous, I love that I have an easy alternative.

Readers, have you ever tried GO Veggie!?  Would you join me in Cheese Aholics Anonymous?  Do you ever choose vegan meals?

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