Salads have a bad reputation because, in English-speaking countries, salads have sucked for a long time. I remember being a vegetarian in the 90s and eating a lot of iceberg lettuce with ranch dressing and calling that salad. Sizzler and Soup Plantation had decent salad bars, but they still weren’t great and were poor representations of what salad can be.
Salad can be pretty awesome when you break away from the basic-salad mould and try different ingredients and types of salad. The best salad is Burmese tea salad which is made with fermented tea leaves, spices, and dried nuts. I can eat it every single day, but I don’t because it has lots of caffeine, and I’m very sensitive to caffeine. I basically can’t sleep at night and think the world is going to end if I have too much of it. Not fun!
Thailand has some amazing salads, which are a mix of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy. Thai salad also has a nice variety of different textures. Somtum or papaya salad is a very popular dish in Thailand and is made with green papaya, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, limes, garlic, chilies, and Thai spices. There’s also yum hua plee which is a banana blossom salad that has roasted peanuts, shallots, mint leaves, cilantro, chili flakes and other seasonings. These salads are delicious, refreshing, and packed with flavor. When paired with sticky rice, they can be quite filling.
Even though salad is awesome, it’s not the only thing that vegans eat. I only eat salad about three times a week, but I try to add dark lettuce to many of my dishes for that extra dose of leafy greens. There are so many vegan options out there. Even if you live in a place that is not vegan-friendly, you can still find things to eat other than salad. I lived in a country that didn’t even have tofu let alone Tofurkey or Follow Your Heart vegan cheese, yet I still ate well because I had access to beans, rice, pasta, fresh produce, and spices.
Different vegans eat different things, but I think the healthier vegans eat less processed food and eat more whole foods. I eat a lot of beans and vegetables. There are so many things you can do with beans, you’d be surprised! Beans are cheap and go well in many dishes like soups, sandwiches, burgers, burritos, stews, nachos, and curries. You can also blend beans to make dips.
Any dish from any country can be made vegan. There’s a Mexican soup called menudo that is originally made with cow tripe. Guess what? There are vegan menudo recipes. American soul food is very meat-heavy, but vegan soul food is just as delicious if not better.
I grew up eating a LOT of meat. Like my diet was 80% meat because that’s how we roll in Latin American households, unfortunately. Even with my diet being so meat-heavy, and not having very many vegan options around, I was still able to stop eating meat and ate a variety of different food.
When you’re a vegan or thinking about going vegan, your only limit is your imagination. If you have the palate of a toddler and only like fast food, pizza, and pasta, it might be harder for you to find a good variety of vegan options because you’re looking in a very narrow area of the vegan food sphere which contains the blandest and unhealthiest food possible. Open up your world and you will see endless possibilities of delicious vegan food you can eat.
A vegan diet is not limiting at all. It expands your palate and helps you make healthier choices as well as compassionate ones. If you feel limited by a vegan diet, you need to explore new dishes either by going to vegan restaurants that serve food from different countries or going to the market and trying new fruits and vegetables that you haven’t tried yet. You can always look up recipes to see how to cook that new veggie you have never seen before.
I grew up eating mostly processed food and sugar, but I was able to become a vegan who eats a wide variety of different healthy dishes. I get tired of eating the same thing all the time unless it’s beans and rice. I change up my food all the time and can do that easily because…
1) I cook.
2) I eat food from different countries.
3) I try new dishes or ingredients as much as possible.
4) I’m lucky enough to live in a vegan-friendly country with a huge variety of vegan options.
If you’re able to do or have most of those things, you will never feel limited by a vegan diet and will instead feel liberated by it.