Dad tries vegan!

28 Jan

I’m half-italian and most people can guess that. I’ve got dark eyes, a set of hands that are ever-moving while I’m talking, and I really, really like to feed people. I mean I really like to feed people. It’s a bit of a problem. But in my house growing up, that was how we showed love. My Mom explained that this was part of their ‘peasant ancestry’. Her family never had money, so food became the medium through which her family could express their love for one another.

DSC01849In case you missed the post, last week my Dad confirmed he has either had his eyes opened or his body snatched by aliens who have replaced him with Robo-Dad Version 1.0 (non-judgmental, curious about veganism, acknowledges a diet void of meat and dairy won’t cause you to wither and die). He asked me for a favour. He asked me to cook vegan food for him, for a week.

Always the obliging, obedient daughter (hah!) I accepted this task willingly. Thanks in large part to helpful meal suggestions by readers, my Dad will be chowing down on these dishes:

  • Smoky Split Pea Soup from Appetite for Reduction (I also sent him home with Field Roast frankfurters to sub out his childhood favourite: lentil soup which was unfortunately made with dairy and chicken, and German weiners.)
  • Rainbow Chili (I call it this because I can’t think of a single colour not represented in this. Used Sol Cuisine Veggie Crumbles for additional protein and to mimic that typical chili texture)
  • Sweet Potato Black-Bean Quesadillas with Daiya (I’ll post the recipe for this soon. Let’s just say this dish is my security blanket, I think I could make it with my eyes closed. It’s always a hit.)
  • Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar (Cookies are a dish, right? They are in our house.)
  • Succulent Shepherd’s Pie courtesy of my dear friend Vanessa (He better eat this barefoot, because her pie will knock his socks off)

In addition to cooking and baking, I tried to give him some pantry basics, including: a single serving of Spiced Carrot Cake from Sweets From the Earth, 2 Ginger Snappers cookies from New Moon Kitchen, Tofurky Roast Beef Style slices, vegan margarine, Zen Chocolate Pudding, various Gardein products, vegan parmesan, Daiya, So Nice soy milk and strawberry soy milk from Natura.

In the midst of all this excitement, I noticed the dogs were jealous of all my kitchen activity, and how could I resist? I made up a batch of vegan doggy biscuits too!


{Quick directions here: 1/4 cup dried fruit (not grapes or raisins as they are toxic to dogs!), 1/4 cup pumpkin puree, 1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour, 1/4 cup of oats. Preheat oven to 350F, and line sheet with parchment. Mix all ingredients together well. Roll into 1 inch balls about 2.5 inches apart, press down on tops to flatten. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool and refrigerate. Fight urge to not feed them all to your dog[s] at once. Feed within one week!}

Dad picked up his goodies tonight.  He is genuinely excited. No lamenting what he’s “giving up” and not a single comment about animal foods being “good for you”. He’s a stoic dude, so seeing him calmly accepting the kindness of another person (especially one of his children) was really touching. He was really adorable too, asking about what needs to be refrigerated, and what the Daiya can be used in (answer: ALL THE THINGS). He did not turn up his nose at the thought of meatless ‘chicken strips’ or vegan cheese.  This is a guy who a few months ago told me soy makes men grow boobs.

I’ll be sharing his progress throughout, and while I am guardedly optimistic (we do live in a non-vegan world), I think this is a huge step for Dad, for me, and for our relationship. I am so thankful that I get to do what my Nonna, my Mom and my Aunts all do to share their love: they feed each other. While what I feed my loved ones is different, I do it with every bit as much passion, excitement and humility. Aw, dang. Now I’ve got a hankering for my Mom’s tomato sauce…

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10 Responses to “Dad tries vegan!”

  1. Debra Roppolo January 28, 2013 at 10:07 pm #

    Lovely! And if all that good food — especially Vanessa’s shepherd’s pie — don’t convert him, I don’t know what will! ;-) Let us know how it goes!

  2. Luna January 28, 2013 at 11:00 pm #

    I was previously going to share my favourite recipe for bean chilli but I see someone has already done that (it’s the best comfort food isn’t it?!) Since your family is Italian, here is my Spaghetti Puttanesca sauce recipe instead (sans anchovies of course). It is super easy and super fast – perfect for a quick fix meal at the end of a hard day when you can’t be bothered cooking much. Hope your Dad likes it!

    2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
    1 large onion, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, crushed
    2 Birds-eye chillies, chopped finely (or whatever chillies you’ve got, to taste)
    1 1/2 cans of tinned tomatoes (Roma are best)
    About 1/2 cup black Kalamata olives
    Good handful fresh parsley
    Salt and pepper to taste
    Optional: 2 rashers vegan bacon, 1/2 cup red wine, vegan parmesan

    Saute chopped onion in olive oil over medium heat until soft and translucent.
    If using vegan bacon, chop into strips and add this with the garlic and chillies; fry a couple of minutes to release flavours (let the bacon crisp a little).
    Add tomatoes (and wine if using); break tomatoes up a bit.
    Add olives (pitted or not), turn heat to low and simmer until sauce is reduced, thick and glossy.
    Meanwhile, cook spaghetti (or pasta of choice) in boiling salted water until al dente. Add two or three ladles of the cooking water to the sauce to thin slightly.
    Drain pasta and toss with a little of the sauce. Add parsley, salt and pepper to remaining sauce and stir.
    Put pasta in bowls and ladle sauce over the top. Serve with an extra sprinkle of parsley and vegan parmesan if desired.

    All the best to you and your Dad,

    • The Veganomaly January 29, 2013 at 11:10 am #

      Wow, thank you Luna! Can’t wait to try this!

  3. Sarah Morley January 29, 2013 at 4:53 am #

    This is a great idea for your dad … just please PLEASE point out that “dried fruit” in the cookies for the dogs absolutely mustn’t include sultanas / raisins as they’re very toxic to dogs (and cats). Even a small amount can cause kidney failure. Fresh grapes shouldn’t be given to dogs either.

    • The Veganomaly January 29, 2013 at 11:09 am #

      Yikes, good point! I always think people already know that! I’ll add it now. Thanks, Sarah!

  4. rosa kliese January 29, 2013 at 8:38 am #

    Love the article Shannon excellent writing as usual. you have a special talent in writing whereas the reader can actually see and taste the food you’re talking about.

  5. Tracy T January 30, 2013 at 4:55 pm #

    I love your blog! It’s heartwarming to see your dad open up to the vegan idea. I hope he succeeds. I have to admit that I’m really curious what triggered it. My dad went vegetarian (nearly vegan) in the last few months despite loving meat and eating so much of it in the past. He did it for the animals! He nearly went veg a couple of years ago after reading Jonathan Foer’s “Eating Animals,” but couldn’t stick to it. He then watched a graphic video that I sent him and he decided he wanted to be veganish again! I think/hope it’s a permanent change. He’s also been speaking to people about it too. My mom’s been vegetarian for several years now.

    By the way – I didn’t know raisins were poisonous to dogs!

    • The Veganomaly February 1, 2013 at 6:34 pm #

      Wow, Tracy that is so awesome! I think a lot of it has to do with not being ‘pushy’ with parents. I think it’s often impossible (or at the very least hard) for parents to accept advice from their children, or to acknowledge that their children figured something fundamental out that they feel guilt for having ‘missed’. Perhaps that’s why so many parents just quietly acknowledge that a vegan lifestyle is more peaceful and lean into it. That’s just my two sense based on a few experiences I’ve been a part of. Yay, veg parents!

  6. Clare February 1, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

    Yay!!!! I just found you while angrilly looking for vegan Toms (because wtf using animal skin is not sustainable or animal friendly). You are smart and funny and now have been shortcutted on my phone. Yay!

    • The Veganomaly February 1, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

      Oooo Clare! So happy you find me! Looking forward to making you laugh more in the future. Yay!

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