Updated on 09.10.14

Dinner With My Family #11: Enchiladas, Vegan or Otherwise

Trent Hamm

Several people have emailed me recently, asking why I’m vegan. It’s not political at all. My dietitian simply recommended it based on some minor health issues that could potentially escalate into something serious. My diet (for now) is vegan with an occasional piece of fish (maybe once a week or every ten days). Eventually, I plan to move to being an ovo-lacto vegetarian (meaning I can eat pretty much anything that’s not meat). This was the hard path suggested by the dietitian, but I’d rather nip this in the bud so that I can always be around for my kids and wife. I certainly don’t “judge” those who eat meat (in fact, I pretty much don’t care); however, I do know that some people eat certain diets for political reasons and others eat them for medical reasons, so I’m trying to show inexpensive recipes that work for those people and can easily be modified for people with less-restrictive diets, since it’s easier to modify meals to be less restrictive than modifying recipes to be more restrictive.

That being said…

One of my recent projects has been to go through my old collection of recipes and look for ones that had minimal animal-based ingredients. What recipes had only one or two ingredients that I couldn’t eat?

I came across one of my favorite recipes, our homemade enchiladas. I figured (without really thinking about it) that I wouldn’t be able to have them. When I actually studied the recipe, though, I realized there was only one key ingredient that I couldn’t eat – the meat.

So I decided to give it a whirl, replacing the meat with tofu. Would it work?

Vegan Enchiladas

Enchiladas served

Across the board, we all thought it was quite good.

What You Need

If you intend to make your enchilada sauce from scratch (which I do), you’ll need:
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 large onion, chopped and sauteed
3 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons corn starch (in four tablespoons water)

This is actually far less expensive than buying two cans of enchilada sauce. You can get the ingredients above for about $1.10 or so, which is less than a single can of enchilada sauce. Make it yourself: it tastes better and is cheaper.

For the filling, we use:
1 lb. firm tofu, drained and mashed (obviously, this can be substituted for other proteins, see the bottom of the post)
1 onion, chopped and sauteed
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/3 cups picante sauce
3 cups steamed spinach
12 tortillas

The filling is the expensive part. I purchased the tofu, onion, garlic, picante sauce, spinach, and tortillas for $8.60. This ended up making 12 enchiladas, bringing the cost per enchilada well below a dollar. It would have been less expensive with a different protein.

The Night Before (or Early That Day)

You can easily steam the spinach in advance. Just take out a large pot with a lid, add about a cup of water to it, then add one pound of fresh spinach. Bring the water up to a gentle boil, then cover the pot and let it sit with the water gently boiling for thirty minutes. This will wilt the spinach perfectly, and it can be saved for a couple days.

You can also chop the two onions and saute them. Chop the onions into fairly fine pieces, then put them all in a skillet with a few drops of vegetable oil and cook over medium heat until they become translucent and begin to brown. Remove them from the heat and split them into two separate equal amounts (one for the sauce, one for the filling). You can add a bit of chili powder to this if you’d like, but I don’t find it necessary. Again, the onions can be reserved for a day or two without any problems.

Preparing the Meal

First, make the sauce. Just combine all of the sauce ingredients (except for the corn starch) in a saucepan and cook it over medium heat for twenty minutes or so, stirring regularly. When the twenty minutes are up, add the corn starch and water mix, stirring it in, and let it cook for about another minute. You have yourself a rich enchilada sauce. You can make this in advance as well if you’d really like, but this can easily cook while you’re actually preparing the enchiladas.

You should pre-heat the oven in here, too. Pre-heat to 350 F (about 180 C).

For the enchilada mix, combine all of the filling ingredients except for the spinach and the tortillas in a large pot and mix thoroughly until it’s very consistent. Here’s what ours looked like, using tofu.

Enchilada mix

Once your mix is ready, lay out a tortilla, put a small amount of spinach in the middle, then put two or three heaping teaspoons of the filling on top of the spinach. Spread it out across the tortilla, something like this:

Constructing enchilada

Roll up the tortilla. I usually fold it something like a burrito when I do this, as I fold in the sides a little bit, then I roll the whole thing up as tightly as I can. Put the finished tortillas in a 9″ by 13″ baking pan. It should hold 10-12 of them depending on how fat you make them.

Once you’re done with the tortillas, pour the sauce on top, then stick them in the oven for 25 minutes. Delicious!

Enchiladas in pan

This is our pan of enchiladas mid-meal after we’d eaten several of them. Our whole family liked them. Yes, our children enjoyed the tofu enchiladas. Part of the appeal, I think, is that the other flavors and the “smashed” texture of the tofu made it largely unnoticeable.

We served it with a steamed vegetable mix on the side.

Not Vegan? Looking for Modifications? Try These Options

Obviously, you may want to replace the tofu with your meat or beans of choice. You can basically use any type of bean in place of the tofu, as well as ground beef, chorizo, chicken, steak strips, or even fish or shrimp if you so wish. Use whatever sounds good to you here – most anything will work and give the dish a distinctive character.

You may also want to put some cheese or sour cream on top of the enchiladas. Choose a cheese to your liking. With the sour cream, I recommend serving it on the side, simply because not everyone likes sour cream.

If you like it spicier, use cayenne pepper or add some stronger peppers right to the enchilada mix. My children don’t really like that level of heat, but it’s certainly easy to bring the heat here.

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  1. Lindsay says:

    I’m vegetarian and I just made black beans & rice enchiladas last night. Using cheese of course but no meat! And it’s great that there’s no soy in it. The recipe called for red pepper flakes but I left it out this time since last time, it was too spicy for me. So that will add some heat to it as well.

  2. Bill in Houston says:


    I was wondering if your doctor said you have diverticulitis. If so, did he recommend the colon resectioning surgery? I can only say it has worked wonders for me. Being a heart patient I don’t eat a lot of meat or fat, but even high amounts of carbs can lead to quick weight gain.

    As for the enchilada recipe, not bad. I’m a Texan so I’d make it spicier and go with beans instead of tofu. Also, your costs are astronomical. The local Korean supermarket chain (H-Mart, out of Atlanta) sells tofu for 99 cents a pound in many varieties. We buy 40 packs of flour tortillas (or 100 packs of corn tortillas for about three bucks at Costco of all places). Also being Texan I’d use corn tortillas. Off the top of my head, a dozen corn tortillas would be thirty cents, the onions about eighty cents, the spinach would be a buck, and the Picante sauce about $1.50. Plus spices, which we have in the pantry in bulk. Mind you, we’re a lot closer to where your veggies come from (mostly Mexico this time of year).

    I can envision the sauce you’re making. Sounds quite good!

  3. Des says:

    Vegan enchiladas are one of our favorite go-to recipes. Like Bill above, we use bean rather than tofu (although, now that I’m thinking about it, grilled tempeh sounds kinda good…) We also add corn, diced tomatoes, and green peppers if they are in season. Its also a good recipe to sneak zucchini into when you have way too much of it :)

  4. Ryan says:

    Sounds tasty, would love to find a new Mexican dish that is actually healthy. Me and my girlfriend will have to try it sometime soon!

  5. Kate says:

    LOVE vegan enchiladas, but we’re definitely into beans rather than tofu. Especially black beans… mmmm!

  6. leslie says:

    I too was thinking this would be good with black beans. I just really don’t like tofu. Might put this on the menu for next week since we are sort of drowning in “sale” tortillas that I picked up last week.

  7. anna says:

    It sounds delicious. Thirty minutes seems an awfully long time to wilt spinach. I think five minutes will do it, and it still looks like spinach.

  8. valleycat1 says:

    #5 Anna – I agree. And if you’re going to mix it all together, you could saute the onions, then add the spinach to that pan & cover for a few minutes & the spinach will wilt.

    We make green enchiladas & just use a good (we like a chunky style) green salsa for the sauce.

    If you switch to corn tortillas, they need to be warmed briefly so they don’t split when you roll them.

  9. Annie G says:

    I’d sub frozen chopped spinach – 12 oz bag at Kroger costs 88 cents, just defrost and squeeze out liquid.

    I recently posted my enchilada recipe on my blog, which I used Morningstar Farms chik strips in, but I suggested using beans or mushrooms or baked tofu for those who don’t like meat analogs.

    I also use thin corn tortillas, which are often on sale for $1 a package (not sure how many in the package, but it is a lot).

  10. Sara A. says:

    I would have used Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) for a meat substitute instead of tofu. You buy it dehydrated and add water so it is cheaper, plus it is firmer and has a consistency more resembling ground meat. Our grocery store has it in the bulk bins near the dietary supplements.

  11. Interested Reader says:

    This looks good, although I’d add some more chili powder and cumin and maybe some cilantro and lime.

    But you DO NOT need to boil spinach for 30 minutes that’s way too long. You can either cook it with the onion. OR put it in a non stick skillet with a tiny bit of water and stir it around until it wilts/steams in the water.

    It should take 5-6 maximum.

  12. Brittany says:

    This looks delicious, but needs some cheese to be fantastic. Om nom nom. This sounds good with beans as well.

    And Bill, I’m a former small town Midwestern whose now in a large Texas city, and I must say we luck out in these food costs. I never ate tofu in the Midwest and remember it being crazy expensive (~$4), but here I can get it for just over a dollar. Tortillas were a similar change. These are more “aspriational” goods in the midwest than they are in Texas cities, apparently.

  13. Migdalia says:

    Trent, I bet your enchiladas are pretty good and you can put in them whatever you want, but as someone who are from and lives where the enchiladas come from (Mexico), I just wanted to make the point that this has nothing to do with the original ones. So I think this are not enchiladas, this are Trent burritos with spices.

  14. Lorena says:

    I’ve done homemade vegetarian enchiladas in the past — I use a black bean filling with diced bell peppers and corn, red sauce and corn tortillas. This sounds like an interesting variation which I’ll have to try sometime.

    As opposed to other commenters, I like that you have such basic recipes — it allows everyone to customize it to their liking, whether it’s spicing things up or using different condiments or fillings. It really gives people a starting point for frugal dinners and shows that vegan/vegetarian food isn’t all brown rice and steamed vegetables!

  15. Bill says:

    What does the ‘ovo’ part of ‘ovo-lacto’ I’m pretty sure lacto means milk but I have no guess for ‘ovo’ part. No judgment, I don’t care what anyone does till they think I should too.

  16. Interested Reader says:

    @Bill – ovo means eggs.

    An ovo lacto vegetarian is someone who eats eggs and dairy.

    There are some vegetarians who just eat dairy.

  17. DeeBee says:

    I tried the Smart Ground vegetarian crumbles in a batch of chili and liked it. I think Morningstar Farms also makes a ground meat substitute that you might like as well. I plan to try these enchiladas in the future.

  18. Steven says:

    Vegan…political? Do you mean ethical? Honestly, I think it’s too bad that you don’t care beyond your own well-being, and you make that pretty clear in your comments. Is the reason you chose organic produce a decision that’s based on your health, or the health of the planet?

    You might want to check out the documentary Earthlings or Food, Inc. I’ve been vegetarian for 6 months now and Vegan for about 2 weeks and I see no need for meat or animal products. I think your food series could be a little more creative and experimental. I imagine some of the reason you’re not interested in sticking with a Vegan diet is because it’s pretty boring. I bought a cookbook called 1,000 Vegan Recipes and I’ve only found one recipe so far that I didn’t care for. Everything else has been great, and I could tweak the one bad recipe to better suit my taste.

    I’m disappointed, I guess, that you put distance between yourself and the “politics” of Veganism. It’s an important issue…

  19. marta says:

    Steven, I have got that book, too, and it shows that there is a whole world of recipes beyond enchiladas, burritos and whatnot (I also think the recipes here have been somewhat boring). “Asian Vegan Kitchen” is a good one to have, especially for fans of Indian and Southeast Asian cuisine.

    As for the ethics, well, it’s only a good thing if people eat healthy stuff and restrict their meat consumption, whatever their reasons are. I think that Trent has made it clear several times that “political” or environmental issues come *after* health and financial benefits — a bonus, not the main concern.

  20. Heather says:

    I am finding these posts inspiring because we get into a huge meal rut in our house and these give me something to mix things up a bit. I like the focus on the technique with various options to adapt based on personal preferences and pantry stock. I’m definitely going to try your enchilada sauce recipe which is healthier than the one I have that uses a full cup of oil!

    Can’t wait to try these with black beans like several people suggested!

  21. Jane says:

    Steven – You’ve only been a vegan for two weeks! Maybe wait a little longer before you pontificate on a blog and lecture Trent about his reasons for eating the way he does.

  22. con says:

    I’ve been a vegetarian for 6 years and a vegan for about 1 year. I don’t miss any animal product at all in my meals. There’s too many alternatives out there for that to matter to me. I certainly don’t care what others eat; heck, I used to eat meat all the time and loved it. I would just like to say, though, that whoever said Trent was wrong with saying he’s not doing it for political reasons, I agree I don’t think that’s the right term. I think you do it for health reasons or “ethical” reasons, like me. Or possibly you can’t afford meat. I don’t get “political” at all. What it took for me was to see the horrible way animals are treated/slaughtered for their meat when I personally can exist without it.

  23. con says:

    I will say cheese was the hardest thing to part with. I’ve tried veggie cheese and can eat it, but it’s not the same. But, I have gladly given it up and look forward to finding some better soy or whatever cheese to use.

  24. Steven says:

    I wouldn’t consider my comment a lecture, just an opinion. And just because I’ve only been eating strictly Vegan for 2 weeks doesn’t mean that I haven’t reduced my dairy consumption to almost zero before then. And, I don’t really think it makes a difference how long I’ve been doing something to render an opinion on an issue. I think animal rights and the environmental concerns of raising meat for consumption are serious issues worth consideration.

    As for my comments about this series being a bit bland, I stand by that statement as I’ve been far more experimental in my cooking over the past two weeks of being Vegan than I’ve seen in this entire series. Food should be fun and exciting. I think Trent needs to expand his horizons and try some “exotic” dishes. And, to be honest, from what I’ve seen in this series, the meals that Trent prepares don’t seem like they’d provide the proper nutrition that a Vegan needs in their diet. It isn’t all about not eating something, but also being sure that what you do eat provides you with the vitamins and minerals necessary to be healthy.

    That’s my opinion.

  25. Earth MaMa Jo says:

    I agree with another poster’s suggestion of trying this recipe with TVP. I only started experimenting with this product a few months ago. I have found that some recipes translate better with TVP, others with tofu. Sometimes all that is needed to improve the texture of tofu is frying it up a bit in a skillet before adding to a recipe (after it has been drained and mashed with a fork). I try to keep an eye on how much fat I add when doing this, using small amounts of olive oil or Canola oil spray.

    To compensate for a cheesy flavor, it was recommended to me to try Nutritional Yeast Flakes. I just got some the other day, so I haven’t tried it yet.

    I’ve been altering recipes to suit the vegetarians in the house for about seven years. Sometimes it has been a real challenge. But it has evolved into a family activity, which is nice.

  26. Interested Reader says:

    Trent I agree that you need to be more adventurous with your eating and look to some really good vegan cook books.

  27. Joan says:

    Love this series and all the comments. I am gonna try several versions of these starting with Trent’s recipe and using commenters ideas. Thank you to everyone.

  28. Joyce says:

    Trent, another meat substitute that’s actually pretty good is seitan. You can buy it at Kroger here in GA, or if you want to, you can google it for a recipe. It’s really easy to make, and can be used in many different recipes as well as for a lunch meat substitute. One of the best vegan cookbooks out there, imho, is “Veganomicon,” by Isa Moskovitz and Eva(?)Romero. Isa also wrote “Vegan With A Vengeance,” which is another good one.

  29. Johanna says:

    @con: There is no nondairy cheese that’s exactly like dairy cheese, so if that’s what you’re looking for, you’re going to be disappointed. But in my opinion, both Daiya and Sheese come reasonably close. Daiya is good for its melted texture (although it doesn’t have the same bubbly-chewiness as melted dairy cheese), and Sheese is good for everything else (slice it and put it on crackers, and you *might* be able to fool someone into thinking it’s dairy).

    They’re both hard to find, although that’s getting better. Whole Foods stores in my area sell both brands, and I’ve even seen Daiya in a mainstream grocery store. If you can’t find them at a store, you can order them online, but that gets expensive (since you have to pay for expedited shipping and a cold pack). But Sheese, in particular, is very flavorful, so you only need to use a little bit at a time, and it stays good forever (I’ve kept open packages of it in my fridge for months, and they’ve still been good).

  30. con says:

    @Johanna: Thank you very much for the suggestions. We don’t have Whole Foods here where I’m from, but I’ll look into the Sheese. That is all that I am sorely missing from my vegan diet. Otherwise, I’m quite content.

  31. Emma says:

    To #14 Steven. Dear, two weeks or 6 months of being a vegan is hardly an experience that gives you the right to lecture others.(smile) But I like your energy.

  32. Rebecca says:

    Trent, If you consume any animal products in your diet, even a little fish, you are NOT VEGAN. Please stop calling yourself one.

  33. Luci says:

    @Steven: Sounds like you’re in the vegan honeymoon phase ;) Over the last 11 years that I’ve been vegan, I’ve come to realize that anyone should be APPLAUDED for becoming vegan or vegetarian, or simply cutting back on their overall meat consumption, whatever their reasons or motivations may be. I care about the well-being of both people and animals, so it’s a win-win situation when one decides to change their eating habits for the better.

    Also, I enjoy these recipes because they’re simple, frugal, healthy, and easily customizable. Cooking is about being creative, and I enjoy simple recipes because I can either make it as is, or change it up depending upon what mood I’m in (or what’s in my pantry). I’ll be making this recipe with brown rice tortillas (since I’m allergic to gluten), and either tofu like it says, or beans. And, last time I checked, this is a financial advice blog, not a cooking blog.

  34. kk says:

    Great recipe. Thanks for sharing. Another way to cut down on your costs is to make your own tortillas and your own picante sauce. Being in the Midwest I’m guessing those items are pricey. I can imagine with a sudden diet change like this it is a bit difficult to find a balance between your diet restrictions and what children enjoy eating. It takes time to find & tweak recipes that will work for the whole family. This was a great compromise.

  35. David says:

    Bill: What does the ‘ovo’ part of ‘ovo-lacto’ I’m pretty sure lacto means milk but I have no guess for ‘ovo’ part.

    “I had an ovation!” the actor man said,
    But I thought it uncommonly queer
    That people and critics by him had been led
    By the ear.

    The Latin lexicon makes his absurd
    Assertion as clear as a peg.
    In “ovum” we find the true root of the word:
    It means “egg”.

    Ambrose Bierce

  36. Mel says:

    I admire you for acting on your principles. However, not every vegan, vegetarian or organic-only meat eater is that way for the same reasons as you. If Trent wants to state his diet is almost entirely vegan, and distance himself from any ethical/(political) or related discussion and focus on what he actually has to say, that’s his choice and you should respect that.

    Personally, I have never eaten meat. That was a choice my parents made, first for themselves and then for their children. They made that choice for environmental reasons. I have chosen (and continue to choose, every time I eat) to stay on the same path simply because I see no reason to do anything different. That’s my own choice and for my own reasons. I consider myself ethical and try to make environmentally sound choices, but that’s irrelevant to my diet.

    My biggest irritation about being vegetarian is people – vegetarians, vegans and meat-eaters alike – who insist on extrapolating my diet into a whole tree-hugging activist way of life. I’ve been criticised for wearing leather shoes while vegetarian, for goodness sake! I’ve been accused – by someone I’ve never met – of ‘worshipping false idols’ for choosing not to eat meat. I’ve had people being offended on my behalf for someone else mentioning meat in my presence – or god forbid, showing the homemade sausages or other meat products they’ve just been given. I’ve had many, many people trying to ‘convert’ me to eating meat, using any number of arguments.

    It’s what I eat (or don’t), no more, no less. It says *nothing* about my beliefs – ethical, environmental, moral, religious or otherwise. The sooner people make the separation between the two, the better for all concerned, in my opinion.

  37. Andrew says:

    Textured vegetable protein is a highly processed, nutritionally bankrupt industrial product that bears almost no resemblance to actual food.
    If you want to be vegan, fine. More power to you! Just don’t pretend that eating fake meat is a healthy alternative–to anything.

  38. Johanna says:

    To anything? I’m pretty sure that, at the very least, fake meat is a healthy alternative to cyanide.

    “Processed” and “industrial” aren’t necessarily synonymous with “unhealthy,” but if you don’t want to use TVP, you can get a similar texture by freezing tofu and then squeezing the water out. (And tofu, by the way, is exactly as “processed” as fresh cheese, since it’s made in exactly the same way. You can even make it yourself at home using dry soybeans and lemon juice. But it takes a long time, makes a big mess, and saves almost no money.)

    And I’m pretty sure that anything you can actually eat actually is actual food.

  39. Johanna says:

    @Rebecca: “Trent, If you consume any animal products in your diet, even a little fish, you are NOT VEGAN. Please stop calling yourself one.”

    I understand where you’re coming from here, but I hope you can appreciate that when you insist on keeping the purity of the word “vegan,” it makes things awfully difficult for people like Trent (and me) – whose diets are a lot closer to vegan diets than to typical omnivorous diets – to talk about what we eat.

    When I have to describe my diet, I usually say “I’m mostly vegan.” Or “I’m vegan at home, but not when I’m out.” Or (jokingly), “I’m a bad vegan.” Maybe you don’t have a problem with those ways of phrasing it, but I’ve had people tell me “No, no, no! You’re not any kind of a vegan, so stop calling yourself one!” Or “Being vegan is like being pregnant – you either are or aren’t, there is no ‘mostly.'”

    The problem is, even if I do dance around using the word “vegan” – “I don’t eat meat, and I mostly avoid eggs and dairy products too” – at least half the time the person I’m talking to will say “Oh, so you’re vegan.” Am I also obligated to correct them? What’s more, most non-vegans aren’t attuned to the distinction between (for example) “I would like a vegan meal on this particular occasion” and “I’m vegan.”

    I use the word “vegan” in talking about my diet not because I’m trying to be part of the “vegan club” (so many of the vegans I know are jerks that I wouldn’t want to be in such a club), but because it’s the easiest way to talk about my dietary choices (which are just as valid as your dietary choices) in a way that people will understand.

  40. CW says:

    Excellent timing. I’m batch cooking chicken breasts and will use some of the cooked meat in my new Enchilada recipe. THANK YOU! I didn’t have Enchilada Sauce on hand and really like being able to make my own (cheaper & I know what’s in it!)

  41. CW says:

    My apologies to anyone offended by my posting about cooking chicken.

  42. Steven says:

    I think there’s a certain level of protection of the word Vegan by those who prescribe to such a diet. Wasn’t vegetarian the old vegan? Used to be that folks who were vegetarian didn’t eat dairy or eggs and over time, that’s changed and a new word was used to describe people who abstain from any animal products (vegan). It’s a protected word, for some people it’s almost religious in it’s importance.

    It’s sort of like the word Straightedge. It’s an all or nothing commitment, not something you do once in a while, or something you step away from for a while and return to. Either you are and always will be, or you never were.

    As for the comment that I’m in the “Vegan honeymoon,” maybe. I guess we’ll see. Like I said before, I’ve been eating vegetarian for six months (and reduced my dairy/egg consumption during that time) and am not fully Vegan for a little over 2 weeks now. I don’t have any desire to eat meat, cheese, eggs so I don’t feel like I’m really sacrificing anything.

    I agree that everyone who decides to eat a vegan or vegetarian diet, for whatever reason, is doing something beneficial and that should be applauded, but I find it disappointing that when it comes to environmental issues (or animal rights issues), Trent has somewhat of a history of distancing himself. There was a post some time ago that basically said that he wasn’t concerned with [some environmental issue] because “science” would fix it. Well, I think that’s a pretty crappy attitude to have since *I’m* that science that’s supposed to “fix” the problems (I’m an Envirnomental Science major with a Chemistry minor.) From my perspective, “science” can’t fix the problems without the help of society, and I don’t believe we can continue to operate the way we are without literally destroying our planet.

    So, maybe it’s that attitude that I’ve seen from Trent that set me off on this issue as well. The issues I’m passionate about aren’t the same as the ones Trent is passionate about, but I wish they were. I wish everyone were concerned with our environment and was willing to do their part to help. Maybe I’m still young enough to be naive…

    And to the poster who said this is a personal finance blog and not a cooking blog…Trent posts recipes, that allows me to make comments on them.

  43. Steven says:

    (And I’m still not sure how my *opinion* is considered lecturing by certain folks.)

  44. Thea says:

    Trent – your food blogs seem to generate the most acrid discussions. Personally, I wish you’d stop doing them, but for your own sake. You’re constantly berated for the food choices and photos. I just don’t see how this is positivly benefitting you. If you want to be vegan or veganish (for the occassional piece of fish), then just do it but I think this is getting a little too personal. This week you’re being criticized for not caring enough or choosing to be vegan for the wrong reasons. It’s getting ridiculous!
    Steven- you’re the kind of vegan that I can’t stand. You are condecending and elitist. You’ve drank the kool-aid and now are militant for the evironment. Good for you but not all people share your opinion or your fervor. People come to these kinds of decisions when they can and at their own pace. You ARE lecturing and frankly, it’s annoying. Could I change your mind about becoming a carnivore? No, you have to do it yourself and no amount of preaching is going to help you in your decision. Also, you are not the “science” that’s going to fix it. Get through school, get a job and then you can talk. I am the science that is changing the world; you’re only reading about it. I’ll give you a nickle worth of free advice- It’s not as glamorous as you think it’s going to be. Get over yourself, kid.

  45. Riki says:

    This discussion actually brings up a really interesting point: why do dietary choices cause such judgment, defensiveness and anger? We have veganish, not-vegan-enough, go-vegan-or-you’ll-kill-our-planet, and I’m-sorry-for-mentioning-chicken posts after one innocent recipe posted by Trent. I suppose this topic simply taps into an already controversial subject.

    Personally, I can totally see where Trent is coming from with his recipes. When it comes to making significant dietary changes like Trent has, I think the first place people want to look is the food they know. How can the familiar food that I used to enjoy be modified so I can continue to enjoy it? Personally, if I were to go vegan (and I’m pretty sure that will never happen), the first thing I would want to do is find a good pizza recipe. I gather from this blog that Trent isn’t the most adventurous person in the world and so his familiar choices make a lot of sense to me. I suspect (and hope!) we’ll see more experimentation from him over time.

    Johanna — you continue to provide well-reasoned and well-written comments. Thanks!

    Steven — Passion about the environment comes in all shades and colours. I’m not vegan and eat lots of meat, but I’m obsessive about recycling, reducing packaging, and burning fewer fossil fuels by using my car less. You’re vegan, but you travel all over the world and burn tons of fossil fuels in the process. Don’t be so hard on people who don’t share your dietary choices.

  46. Andrew says:

    From Wikipedia:
    TVP is made from high (50%) soy protein soy flour or concentrate, but can also be made from cotton seeds, wheat and oats. It is extruded into various shapes (chunks, flakes, nuggets, grains, and strips) and sizes, exiting the nozzle while still hot and expanding as it does so.[3] The defatted thermoplastic proteins are heated to 150-200°C, which denatures them into a fibrous, insoluble, porous network that can soak up as much as three times its weight in liquids. As the pressurized molten protein mixture exits the extruder, the sudden drop in pressure causes rapid expansion into a puffy solid that is then dried.


  47. Johanna says:

    @Riki: There are lots of ways to make good vegan pizza. The key is to use lots of flavorful vegetable toppings, like sundried tomatoes, olives, marinated artichokes, and caramelized onions. I often leave off the cheese entirely, but when I do use nondairy cheese, I find that putting it *under* the sauce and toppings keeps it from drying out. Sometimes I add pine nuts or sliced almonds to replace some of the richness of the cheese. Using artichoke puree or sundried tomato puree instead of (or addition to) regular tomato sauce makes for a nice change. Tofurkey Italian sausage is a good topping, if you’re into that sort of thing. And if you sprinkle the unbaked pizza with plenty of dried oregano and garlic powder, your kitchen will smell just like a nonvegan pizzeria.

    @Andrew: I don’t get it. What part of that is supposed to disgust me?

  48. SwingCheese says:

    @Steven: Perhaps people perceive your comments as “lecturing” because of the attitude they (the comments) seem to have. There is something about your comments that indicate “lecture”, but I can’t put my finger on what it is, exactly.

    @Andrew: I’m with Johanna – what is it about the TVP-making process that is meant to be so disgusting, or prove your point that it is the foulest thing a person could eat? It just sounds like a plant-based food that has been dehydrated.

  49. Andrew says:

    I just think that when you eat a vegetable it should look like a vegetable, not Soylent Green.

  50. David says:

    Like Johanna and SwingCheese, I am not altogether sure why TVP should be considered disgusting from Andrew’s description. TVP doesn’t taste of much, it is true, but it absorbs well the flavours from the other ingredients in a dish.

    These, on the other hand:

    water (49%); meat (12%); skeletal tissue; connective tissue; blood vessels; peripheral nerve tissue; plant material; adipose tissue; bone; and cartilage

    are the ingredients of the typical American hamburger, which is made of “ground beef” or textured animal protein. As someone remarked – yum.

  51. Johanna says:

    @Andrew: That’s fine. If you don’t want to eat TVP, nobody’s saying you have to. But I’m now even more confused about what your point is, since your personal opinion on what vegetarian food should look like has nothing to do with me.

    Also: What is your opinion on breakfast cereal?

  52. Andrew says:

    Johanna-if my opinion on what vegetarian food should look like has nothing to do with you, why do you even bother to respond to my posting? Now I’m confused–

    As far as breakfast cereal goes (although why you care about what I think is, again, confusing)–most of it is garbage.

    David–a hamburger is 49% water!! I’m shocked!

  53. David says:

    No need to be shocked. The human body is about 60% water, and water (like everything else except neutron stars) is about 99.9999999999% empty space. There isn’t really very much of anything, which is why what there is ought not to be mocked just for not looking like a vegetable despite being one. After all, quite a lot of things with that property end up as Vice-President of the United States.

  54. Karen says:

    This recipe does sound good. And thanks #40 & #41 for making me laugh. Trent has kids so I can see why his diet would not be as adventuresome. He is following the diet that he was told to so some people need to get off his back.

  55. partgypsy says:

    Another good place to look for “vegan” recipes are lenten dishes. You can make spanakopita without cheese, lentil soup, a variety of stewed vegetables in tomato sauce over rice, stuffed peppers, and even cookies made with olive oil rather than eggs and butter.
    I am not totally observant in this fashion but do take this time of year to try to eat less meat and eat some traditional dishes. I don’t think it matters the reason people eat less meat. Eating less meat is beneficial for a number of reasons (health, environmental, ethical) it shouldn’t be an all or nothing proposition, I find that elitist and exclusionary view of it (you are not a true vegan, etc) is not very encouraging to those who may want to find ways to eat a less meat heavy diet and not be judged for it.

  56. Andrew says:

    David–thank you for making me laugh! As for vegetable VP’s, can you spell “potatoe”??

  57. Interested Reader says:

    @Karen – I know kids can be picky eaters, but why shouldn’t parents try to be adventrous eaters and try new thigs. It makes a good role model for kids.

    I don’t have kids, but my nephew who is almost 3 will eat almost anything. He’s had bites of all kinds of food – Pad Thai, he loooves quacamole, he likes fresh salsa, he eats mangoes and papayas, brocooli, cauliflower, he’s had Indian food. He never eats off the kids menu when they go out to eat, they just order something for him and save it for the next day.

  58. Evita says:

    Trent is bashed when he takes a political stance.
    Trent is bashed when he does NOT take a political stance.
    Trent is bashed when he tries to be a vegan
    Trent is bashed when he does not try hard enough to be a “pure” vegan.
    Trent is bashed when he makes unusual dishes with “exotic” (hard to find) ingredients.
    Trent is bashed when he makes meals that are not adventurous enough.
    No wonder he does not read the comments anymore!!

  59. Steven says:

    This will be my final post on this article. I’m not trying to “bash” or lecture anyone. If I’m coming off that way, it’s NOT intentional and is something that’s being lost in “translation.” My opinion might not be the same as many folks on this page very often…my apologies. I’m not just going to disappear from TSD because I don’t always agree. And when I DO agree, I don’t comment because I think “good article, Trent” comments are silly or I might not have anything to contribute. It just so happens that when I disagree, I offer my opinion because I feel like I might be able to offer a different perspective. For those who “bash” Trent, it might not be that we’re bashing him for sport but are offering another, differing, opinion. A bunch of glad-handing comments are boring and don’t make for very good conversation.

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