I don't remember much about when I first went vegan. I know it was the second week of August in '01. When people ask I just tell them that I've been vegan off and on for 8 years. From '04-'07 I was floating back and forth between vegetarianism and veganism.
Honestly, my heart always belonged to veganism. I cannot express the amount of self loathing I felt during those days. I would pledge to be vegan at least once a month. It wasn't until late Fall of '07 that I realized this was going to be a lifelong commitment for me. I got two tattoos to remember the occasion. The vegan society flower on one wrist and the Chinese symbol for "fu" (which means the ability to judge right and wrong) on the other . It was my way to remind myself that even if veganism is a struggle for me, I believe it is the ethical thing to do.
I think some of us forget how hard this can be for a newbie. I am not the type to ever shame somebody for struggling with veganism. I love vegetarians just as much as vegans (though vegans win for food hands down!). In the beginning, the easiest thing for me to do was make food I was used to. I didn't own a single cookbook until I was 24 so my source for everything was Vegweb.com. I remember my first birthday as a vegan. My mom told me to pick any recipe and she'd make it. I had her make this chocolate raspberry mocha layer cake because no combination tops chocolate and raspberry for me. This was my first encounter with vegan sweets and my hips haven't been the same since. Hee hee.
Looking back on it, I'd tell the 19 year-old me that all I'd ever need to survive is a good chili recipe, the ability to manipulate tofu, and the knowledge that vegan desserts are just as good (if not better) than the stuff that comes out of a box. Oh, and I can't forget the sketti! Spaghetti was one of the first things I learned to make. It's easy, filling, and super versatile.
This, right here, is what I like to call pantry spaghetti. This is a non-recipe recipe. It doesn't involve anything but pouring stuff into a pot. I sauteed some canned mushrooms (Era bought these and I don't know why) in some olive oil with red pepper flakes. Then I added garlic powder and onion powder. I emptied a 28 oz can of tomato sauce into the pot and added oregano, basil, a pinch of sugar and some salt. Then I simmered for about 20 minutes before adding the olives. Topped it with parm and served it with fresh spinach and a breadstick.
As basic as that is, it was some of the best spaghetti sauce I've had in a while. Even with the canned mushrooms. Brr...
What was the first thing you learned to make as a vegan?