Sunday, March 05, 2006

Exiled, But With A Rowboat. A Vegan's Guide to Desserts

Don't get lost in the metaphor. The point I am trying to make is that desserts can be a minefield to navigate.

Don't get me wrong, desserts should be eaten in moderation. Instead of, cutting them out completely. What would we do without desserts on birthdays? (that is, if you aren't a Jehova's Witness.) What do we eat after the mash potatoes and Tofurkey on Christmas?

As we pretty much all know, eating desserts in restaraunts is almost out of the question (unless its a vegan restaurant or specializes in vegan items.) The caviats to this are fruit platters (which arent really a "dessert", and sorbet, which is typically vegan. (Ben & Jerry's Sorbet will be available in supermarkets this Spring, Yipppeeee!!!)

Many co-ops and a handful of supermarkets are carrying things like vegan cookies and brownies, tofu chocolate pies, etc. The deli counter at the Hunger Mountain Co-op in Montpelier, Vermont actually had vegan chocolate cake for sale by the slice on Friday. Look around and you might find something.

The bigger problem is when you cannot make it to a store, or they don't carry anything like that. Then you are on your own. There are many vegan recipes, but you need to know how to weed out some of them. For example, the brownies I posted turned out delicious (I'm eating them right now as I type), but I wouldn't serve them for company because they sag in the middle and don't stay together since there are no binding agents (which normally would be eggs) in them. You can add egg replacer to recipes, and use things like applesauce, mashed bananas, corn starch, etc in baked goods to replace eggs.

I suggest to use recipes from place like PETA, Viva, Farm Sanctuary, IDA, etc, if you are presenting to company because these are the experts on veganism. Many recipes off message boards will work, but sometimes they will sag or not hold. The experts (including chefs and people who have made the recipe before) know the exact conversions, tips and tricks, and what type of replacer for what type of recipe (or for their specific recipe.) Many times people try to take a regular recipe and "fix it" by adding an egg replacer, only to screw it up because it was the wrong one. (For example, using the 1 oz applesauce = 1 egg conversion in cookies will make them too moist and gooey. You should use cornstarch or something less liquidy)

When making a vegan dessert, it is nearly always best to use a recipe that is vegan to begin with than to try and veganize a recipe on your own. PETA2 has many (yummy) vegan dessert recipes.


Another hard part about desserts are when people ask you if vegans can even eat dessert. It gets old quick. Even most semi-sweet chocolates are vegan! Then there are the times when people ask if you can "bend the rules" just "once". I normally try to be a civilized person towards non veg's when they ask rediculous things, but this just makes me mad. Its asking "Do you want to promote the veal industry just this time?" And usually its not once. If you gave in every time someone said that you wouldn't go 2 days before you got asked again!


Hope this helps torch some of the mines for you!
Lots of Love from the vegan brownie muncher,

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