Food

How to order vegan at fast food resturants

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Image via Pintrest.

What do you eat? Is probably the question I’m asked the most as a vegan. And I have to try really hard not to roll my eyes. There is so much food—it’s glorious. But for new vegans—and people considering transitioning or reducing their consumption—knowing what is and isn’t okay can be difficult when you’re desperate for a feed in public. So, here you go:

McDonalds

There’s been a lot of controversy about this. I don’t know about how it is overseas, but in Australia, the chips and hash browns are vegan. You can also get burgers without meat and cheese—I am fond of a hamburger with no meat, and then putting some fries inside. There’s also the option to create your own burger—but keep in mind, some of the fillings will be cooked alongside meat. You can ask them to cook it separately, but whether or not they do it is another thing. Plus, Maccas are always super busy. Also, the salsa fries are vegan! Rejoice!

Dominos

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Vegan pizza, oh my god. Image via PETA.

The classic bases and tomato sauces are vegan. I order any of the vegetarian ones, and simply remove the cheese. There’s loads of veggies we can eat—like tomato, spinach, capsicum, pineapple, olives, and so on. Considering you could veganise a $5 value pizza for a meal, Dominos is pretty exciting.

Also, GARLIC BREAD. That is all.

 

Red Rooster

Again, GARLIC BREAD IS VEGAN! Holla! Also, they sell roast veggies. Admittedly, they’re often not great—but if you’re stuck with nothing else, it will sustain you. Of course, you could always order a burger without meat, cheese or mayo, and ask for salads instead. For the most part, workers are very understanding and helpful—but maybe don’t do this if they’re super busy, because they will absolutely hate you.

Hungry Jacks

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Introducing: the Veggie Whopper. Yummmm. Image via Vegan Outreach.

Did someone say Veggie Whopper with no cheese or mayo? YUM! At first, I was wary about a burger lacking mayonnaise, but trust me: it works. Also, sometimes I just bring my own mayonnaise or vegan cheese. Regardless, when you’re drunk or starving or need some kind of comfort food, this giant burger will totally hit the spot. And don’t forget the fries and onion rings! Mmmmmm onion rings.

Grill’d

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The Veggie Vitality! Image via PETA.

Exciting news! Grill’d have recently announced an entirely vegan burger to their menu—the Veggie Vitality!  It features a quinoa veggie patty, sweet potato, beetroot, pineapple, avocado, carrot and lettuce. It is quite tasty and very satisfying, but I’d highly recommend asking for tomato relish sauce as well, to give it a bit more of a zing! Otherwise, there are numerous tasty vegetarian options you can veganise (by removing products like cheese, mayonnaise and pesto). My personal favourite is the Garden Goodness burger, which (ordered without cheese) is amazing. Adding pineapple is always a bonus for me! All of Grill’d’s chips are also vegan—sweet potato chips! Zucchini chips! Potato chips! Yum. The tomato relish sauce is vegan and serves amazingly with these options. Watch out for the super low carb bun though—it has egg! All other buns are vegan, though. Give it a try!

Subway

A delicious Veggie Delight sub is sure to cure any hunger pains! You can order any white, brown or wholemeal bread and a range of amazing veggies, like carrot, lettuce, cucumber, tomato, avocado, pickles, olives, and so on. There is also a veggie patty available, but I prefer a simple salad sandwich. Vegan sauces include BBQ, tomato, sweet chilli and sweet onion—the latter is my personal favourite! Sadly, none of the smoothies or cookies are vegan. Oh well, at least Oreos are!

Guzman Y Gomez

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Burrito bowl with no cheese. So much love. Image via Canberra Vegan.

I actually cried tears of happiness to find out the guacamole here is vegan. I mean, YUM! You can basically order any of the “veggie” options without the cheese, and it will be vegan. There’s burritos, burrito bowls, guacamole and chips—not to mention frozen alcoholic beverages. Wink wink. Definitely somewhere you should check out!

Kebab shops

Two words: felafel kebabs. Vegan. Delicious. I particularly love adding pineapple or hummus to mine, with a sweet chilli or BBQ sauce—as well as a heap of veggies! Don’t be afraid to ask what vegan options they have! But keep in mind, sometimes places make their own hummus, and I have been caught a few times where the hummus has not been vegan (bad news for your stomach). Enjoy!

 

 

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Guide on cruelty-free transitioning

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So maybe you don’t want animals to die. Maybe you feel bad about the suffering some of them go through. Maybe you really wish you could live a life that’s as sustainable and caring as possible. But how? How can you even think about limiting or discontinuing your consumption of animal products? It’s such an ingrained part of society. It’s everywhere. We’re taught that it’s natural, that it’s normal, that we as human beings have superiority over non-human animals. That it’s our right to consume them. But is it our right to allow them to suffer? To be the cause of their suffering? No.

Do you think as I do? Does it sadden you when you see those horrific videos of pigs in cages too small to move? Where farmed animals may never see the sun or fell the grass under their feet, where their lives are taken advantage of purely for our purposes of consumption? If the answer is yes, you may want to consider at least limiting your impact—and here’s my little handy guide of how.

Milk:

This is probably one of the easiest things to change, because of the variety you have in what you choose to drink. There’s so many choices! You’ve got multiple types of soy milks, each creamier than the next, or almond milk, sweet rice milk, coconut milk, macadamia milk and hazelnut milk. Whether its cooking or coffee, these things work just as well. Personally, I think the cheap soy milk is great—and bonus, it contains lots of protein and nutrients to fill you up.

Cheese:

This is often the most difficult thing I hear people say. In fact, I used to be one of those people. Having been vegetarian for 7 years before becoming vegan about 10 months ago, I would always respond with yes, I’m vegetarian! But I could never go vegan. I love cheese. Dairy is my favourite food group. And it really was. But after researching what a lot of dairy cows go through—that they’re (often) artificially inseminated and kept pregnant their entire lives to produce dairy, with their babies taken away to become veal or future dairy cows—I decided no food could ever be worth their cries.

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Image via Just The Food.

Even so, replacing cheese was really difficult for me. Some vegans avoid substitutes all together, by using other ingredients—like avocado or tomato paste—for that “melty” effect. However, as a former dairy lover, I do enjoy cheese—but fear not! There is plenty of choice for cruelty-free dairy! Biocheese happens to be a favourite of mine, and for around $7-9, it’s certainly worth it. The texture is a little different to your usual cheese, but it’s super creamy and to die for when melted—even better than actual cheese, I’d argue. There’s also Tofutti cream cheese and sour cream, both of which are super creamy, tasty and useful in cooking. Any health food store will sell plenty of these kinds of things—and even Coles and Woolworths. Furthermore, I’ve recently discovered you can make your own cheese, using things like cashews, and nutritional yeast flakes, which have together create a creamy, cheesy flavour. Google is your best friend—explore, experiment and have some fun eating some tasty creations.

Meat:

Meat is probably the easiest thing to replace, give up or reduce. We really do not need it to survive—you can get all your nutrients and more from plants. But if you do long for meat, there are vegan alternatives. Firstly, you have things like grilled mushrooms, or other veggies—using the right flavouring, they can be quite similar. Tofu is also a great substitute when cooked well. A personal favourite of mine is to thinly slice tofu and coat with paprika, salt, pepper and garlic, before searing it and making a delicious dipping sauce to go with it—healthy and super easy for lazy people like me. There’s also plenty of fake meats. The frozen section of supermarkets normally have a great choice of burgers, sausages, pies, schnitzels, and so on. Textured soy protein is a new personal favourite of mine—it’s super cheap at around $3 for a big bag; just add water and heat. It can be used for the same kind of thing mince is used for.

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Image via Pura Botanica.

There’s also plenty of online shops where you can find all sorts of goodies! Lam Yong has a physical and online store, and they sell everything. I am crazy excited to try vegan prawns, soy duck and vegan drumsticks.

There’s really plenty of options. I’m not here to force you—I’m just expressing my experiences in attaining a healthy cruelty-free lifestyle. Going vegan has been the best thing I’ve ever done, and my life, as well as the lives of the animals who are slowly being saved by this movement, is better for it.

Vegan lasagna recipe

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Note: this image isn’t actually my cooking. I always eat my cooking before taking photos. That’s how delicious it is. Mmmmmmmm…

I was vegetarian for seven years before becoming a vegan about six months ago—and I’ve never felt better. But after seven years of perfecting an amazing vegetarian lasagna recipe, I pretty much have to start all over again as a vegan! And there’s a couple of ways to do it—this is just my personal favourite. And it’s loaded with veggie goodness! Warning: reading this will probably make you really, really hungry!

Ingredients:

Use whatever veggies you have in the fridge. But in case you want some guidance, this is what I normally use:

  • Zucchini
  • Onion
  • Carrot
  • Broccoli
  • Mushroom
  • Capsicum
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potato
  • Tomato
  • Vegan butter (I use Nuttlex).
  • Wraps (I use Mountain Bread so it’s not as heavy as pasta sheets—use whatever you like, though!)
  • Garlic
  • Soy milk—or some other kind of non-dairy milk
  • Flour
  • Tomato pasta sauce (or you can make your own—just blend tomatoes and herbs together. Delicious.)
  • Vegan cream cheese (I use Tofutti).
  • Optional: vegan mince.

Method:

  • Chop up/grate all your veggies; you choose what you do to what. For the sweet potato, you’ll want to chop them into the smallest pieces you possibly can. I cook these before the lasagna so it doesn’t take as long. Simply put the chopped sweet potato into a microwave-safe container for steaming, fill with a little hot/boiling water, and cook for about 10 minutes or until soft. Do this first, and then chop the rest of your veggies.
  • Use a medium-to-large sized pot (depending on how much you’re making!) and begin by sautéing the onions with some garlic, pepper, and whatever herbs you feel like adding (BASIL IS AMAZING, JUST SAYING). You can also add mushrooms and zucchini here if you wish.
  • Add your vegan mince (if you’re using it), and most of your other veggies (except for the sweet potato) into the pot. I like to leave some carrot and tomato slices for the creamy layers of the lasagne, but do whatever you like. Add the tomato pasta sauce and adjust to taste.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees.
  • Make your creamy sauce: add butter, and slowly stir in the flour to make a nice consistency. Remember: this will thicken as time goes on. Add some garlic, Tofutti, and a little bit of soy milk if you don’t want to use butter. You could also use nutritional yeast flakes here. Alter to taste, and make sure to stir: this mixture burns easily. Take it off the heat when done.
  • The sweet potato should now be cooked. I like to mash it up with a fork, some vegan butter, Tofutti, garlic, salt and pepper at this point to make mashed sweet potato.
  • Spray a large oven-safe dish with canola oil (or something similar). Line the base with your first layer of Mountain Bread (or whatever you’re using. Note: I’ve never cooked with pasta sheets before, so if you’re using those, read the instructions).
  • Spoon tomato mix onto this first layer, enough to nicely cover the wrap.
  • Add another layer of wraps on top of the mince mixture. Then spread your sweet potato mix on this layer, before adding about half of the creamy sauce.
  • Repeat steps 8 and 9 until all mixture has been used. The final layer will be the creamy sauce. Feel free to add some vegan cheese or basil here—depending on what you’ve got, and what you like.
  • Place lasagna in the oven and cook until the top layer is crispy. Since we’re vegan (yay) we don’t have to worry about under-cooking meat, and since I’ve used wraps, you don’t have to worry about the pasta sheets being under cooked.

And there you have it, folks! Delicious vegan lasagne. If anyone has any tips, feel free to leave them in the comments!

Love, the poor and lazy uni student vegan.

THE BEST vegan chocolate ball recipe ever!

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My partner and I tried this recipe out of an experimentation that turned into—seriously—the BEST vegan chocolate thing I’ve ever eaten. And it wasn’t even that difficult! If I can do it, I figure anyone can do it—assuming you have some kind of blender available (we use one of those Magic Bullets or whatever).

So, all you chocolate lovers rejoice! Here’s a delicious and simple recipe you’ll love!

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Ingredients:

  • Dates
  • Orange juice
  • Peanut butter (a few table spoons)
  • Coco powder (or some form of chocolate powder that’s vegan.)
  • Fried noodles (or some kind of dried noodles—just to add some crunch! It’s delicious, trust me.)
  • Dark chocolate
  • Skewers (can be used without, though)
  • A blender

Note: use as much of these ingredients as you wish. The dates are the basis for the recipe, so that will essentially be the amount of mixture you end up with. I’d recommend using more peanut butter than you’d think.

Method:

  • First, you’ll want to soak your dates in some orange juice. This will soften them and add some sweetness. If you want to soak them overnight, that’s great—but I’m impatient, so I let them soak for a few minutes before microwaving them (but not for too long!). You want them to be soft enough to blend.
  • Combine the soft dates (drain the orange juice—though you can use a little of this for a bit of extra moisture if you wish) with the peanut butter, coco powder, and blend.
  • Put mixture into a bowl, and add the fried dry noodle bits, which should be broken apart. Mix.
  • If the consistency is right, you should be able to roll the mixture into small, bite-sized balls using your hands. Place these on a tray (use foil or baking paper if you’re lazy like me and don’t want to wash it up later).
  • Melt some dark chocolate—enough to cover the pieces. You can do this on the stove at a low heat (make sure to stir thoroughly so you don’t burn it) or the microwave.
  • Use the skewers (or whatever you think) to pick up the chocolate pieces, and dip them into the dark chocolate. Cover as much as you can. If you have left-over chocolate, simply use a spoon to pour on top of the chocolate balls.
  • Place tray in fridge—serve when the chocolate has set.

This process actually doesn’t take too long, and my god: they’re delicious, and very worth it! And there you have it folks—enjoy!

DELICIOUS vegan egg salad mix

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Are you drooling yet? Image via PETA.

Time: 5-10 minutes.

I don’t know about other vegans, but something I find myself often craving is an egg salad sandwich. Obviously, being vegan, I’m not about to break my morals to eat one; so I’ve been on the hunt for a great recipe that doesn’t involve animal abuse.

There’s lots of recipes on the internet; this is just my particular one I’ve found (and god, it’s DELICIOUS!). I’m giving you the poor uni student version of vegan cooking—also, the lazy version. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • Tofu (I don’t think it matters what kind).
  • Nutritional yeast flakes (you can find these at your local health food store; filled with all kinds of good things vegans need! The bag is around $10, but it lasts a fair while and can be used in so many other things).
  • (Some recipes call for some kind of sulfuric egg-tasting salt, but I’m too poor for that; normal salt works fine.)
  • Vegan mayonnaise. (A lot of the 99% fat free mayonnaise are actually vegan! Yay! I use Praise.)
  • Vegan butter. I use Nuttlex which can be found in most supermarkets. If not, some kind of oil would also work. A teaspoon should be enough.
  • Instant mash potato (or actual mashed potato, it doesn’t really matter.)

Method:

I don’t really measure anything—I go by consistency and flavour. You be the judge! About a teaspoon of most ingredients, but a fair bit of mayonnaise (depending what you like) and a larger amount of tofu.

  • Crumble up your desired amount of tofu into an average-sized bowl (depending on how much you’re making!).
  • If you’re using leftover mashed potato, combine this with the tofu. If you’re using instant, you’d probably want to do that first, mixing the powder with hot water (but not too much, as we have other liquids to go in!).
  • Heat your vegan butter in the microwave for 10-20 seconds, depending on your microwave; just enough to melt. If you’re using oil (which may change the flavour), you can skip this step.
  • Combine potato, tofu, butter and all the other ingredients in the bowl; mix. From here on, it’s about adjusting: add more of the flavours and things you like more. I personally like to add a fair bit of nutritional yeast flakes, mayo and the turmeric; I just prefer the flavour. See what you like!

Optional: If you want to make curried eggs, add a bit of curry powder!

Serve this deliciousness however you like! Enjoy!

 

It’s a Vegetarian Wonderland! An Au Lac Review

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It’s hard to be a vegetarian sometimes—especially in a society dominated by the meat industry. I would certainly be very rich if I had a dollar for every time I’ve gone to a restaurant only to find no vegetarian options, other than a bowl of chips or boring garden salad. Fellow vegetarians, we know this feeling well. But fret no more: we have Au Lac’s Royal Vegetarian Cuisine!

I cannot express how amazing it is for a vegetarian to find a restaurant where you don’t have to worry about being stuck with a boring meal. A restaurant where you don’t have to worry that the cooks will accidently slip in some form of animal product. Where you know they didn’t cook your vegetarian meals with the same pans as they cooked meat in. A place where you feel at home—only with tastier food, fantastic and fast service, as well as a stunning, elegant atmosphere, complete with forest-inspired wall art and crystal chandeliers.

I stumbled across this place a few weeks ago, and was instantly greeted like an old friend. Despite the fact that I accidently entered the store half an hour before opening, the workers insisted it was okay—they were happy to serve me, despite not yet being open. All this was delivered with a smile. Of course, I declined and insisted I would come back when they were open—and I did. Even when I paid for my meal with dollar coins and asked for a tax invoice, they smiled (I’m an annoying customer, I know).

Au Lac is 100% vegetarian, with vegan and gluten and nut free options available upon request, and are dedicated to bringing customers the finest, healthiest meals from only the freshest producers. Because I know you’re probably wondering, the meat-free alternatives are made from a variety of products, including soy protein, wheat flour, mushrooms, and an extremely healthy Asian plant called konnyaku. Quality and health has been a part of Au Lac’s philosophy since it first opened in 2000 with two store locations: one in Dickson, Canberra, and the other right here in Wollongong—2/166 Kiera Street. Opening hours are Monday to Sunday, from a convenient and handy 11.30am to 2.30pm, and 5.30pm to 10.30pm.

So let’s get to the important stuff: the food. Honey soy chicken. Soy chicken nuggets. Soy chicken satay sticks. Satay soy beef. Soy chicken in plum sauce. Fried soy fish in a savoury ginger sauce. Fried soy squid with spicy salt and chilli. Braised tofu with vegetables and cashew nuts.  And let’s not forget dessert: banana cake, sundaes and deep fried ice cream. Okay, my mouth is now watering. But best of all about Au Lac? They’re affordable—affordable enough for even a poor university student, with prices ranging from $5-$18. The average main meal is around $15.90, with boiled rice a shockingly cheap $2.50 per person.

It’s the little things that really make a place special, and Au Lac is one of those places. Trip Adviser Australia rates Au Lac a 4.5 out of 5 stars—and I’m going to do the same. On a side note, I’m now starving and desperate for some vegetarian goodness. Try it—and thank me later!