bowl of vegan chili

Confessions of a Vegan

Warm, comforting vegan chili (I just call it food)

Hi, my name is Jill and I’m vegan. No, this is not a 12-step program that I’m recovering from, this is a way of life. I use “vegan” because I’ve been eating this way since 2011. Back then the term “whole foods, plant based” had not become the over-used term it is today. Also, if I’m being honest, while I eat mostly whole foods, I can’t say that processed foods are not part of my diet on the rare occasion.

I don’t think of a meal as meat + starch + vegetables. My meals are not the absence of meat. They are compilations of many components with lots of variety, colors and textures. What do I eat as a vegan? For me it’s what don’t I eat! My choices feel almost limitless. The key for me is that I concentrate on the starters, sides, and salad sections of a restaurant menu – those are my main go-to’s.

Often when I go to a restaurant, I do not tell the server that I’m vegan. This drives my family crazy. “Just say you’re vegan,” they say. It just doesn’t work. “Hi, do you have anything on the menu that’s vegan?” “Yes, we have a lovely swordfish special.”

I look at them, blink several times, smile weakly and go back to the menu and craft my own meal. I’m good at creating a personalized feast and I love to eat out (assuming no global pandemic). There are very few places or types of cuisines where I can’t find something to my satisfaction. Just think of all the glorious ethnic cuisines in and around NYC.

Every restaurant offers something for me. Still my friends and family with whom I dine often scan the menu nervously and ask what I’m going to eat. Relax, people! Here’s the deal: it’s only one of my meals for the day, I’m there to socialize and spend time together. I’ve got enough junk-in-the-trunk to last beyond this 3-hour time period. And finally, if all I ate was bread and salad (never happens) and round it out with adult beverages and good conversation then I’m more than happy.

What do I cook at home?

Well, this time of year starts the cozy comfort food period and I love all things soups, stews and chili related. I have about 5 or 6 go-to chili recipes alone. Some of my favorites are a lovely Moroccan Chili based on chickpeas. Every other week I throw together an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink chili which uses up leftovers and comes together quickly with beans, tomatoes, handfuls of chiffonade kale or spinach, onions, garlic and lots of spices like this Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili. I don’t always follow a recipe but this Spicy Poblano Zucchini Chili is a favorite and is the one shown in the picture above.

So, happy Autumn to my fellow cozy food lovers. I hope you make some vegan chili (I just call it chili) to warm yourself. Serve it over rice, quinoa or barley. Top with tortilla corn chips, pickled red onions, sliced jalapeños, etc. I’m headed to the kitchen right now!

See my other vegan recipes.

9 Comment

  1. Great post – fun to read! I’m inspired now to cook some vegan Chili ( I mean chili). Thanks!

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