Hi! My name is Steffi and I write a food blog called Don’t Fear The Vegan with the help of my husband and daughter. On our blog we share recipes, give out information about vegan places and products, and put some topics out there about the vegan movement too – if for no other reason than to get people thinking. I am honored that Vegan Mainstream has asked me to participate as a guest writer for Vegan MOFO (Vegan Month of Food).
Every vegan has ended up where they are for reasons unique to them as individuals, so I thought I would start my first post with the story of how my family started down the vegan path. On our site we will also be taking part in Vegan MOFO with our theme Vegan A – Z, where we will discuss some of the things we find essential in our vegan food creations. We would love it if you stopped by and joined the conversation.
My journey began over ten years ago, initially for health reasons. I suffer from a disease that too often gets kept behind closed doors and no one cares to talk about. Like most diseases it is debilitating, it stays with you your entire life and there is no cure. Unlike many terminal diseases, survival and a semi-healthy life are possible with a great support system and the maintenance of a healthy diet. I am bulimic. With my husband’s help I stopped taking diet pills, got rid of the scale and started eating more healthily. In the beginning we went vegetarian rather than vegan, which is odd because I am allergic to dairy and don’t really care for eggs, but as sick as it made me I still loved cheese.
Over the years I read more about vegetarianism and I learned more about the other aspects of food production, and the hidden, darker stuff like the animal abuse and torture. The other important stuff. Once you begin educating yourself it becomes difficult to have your motivation be simply about the health benefits of a vegan diet. I’ve spent a fair amount of time on the web following a wide range of vegan sites and unfortunately I have noticed quite a bit of invective hurled at those who have stopped eating animals for primarily health reasons. I do not understand this. When I hear that people are beginning a plant-based diet for health reasons, I’m happy, because I know many will, like me, eventually come to embrace the compassionate aspect of being a vegan as well.
When our daughter was born with a dairy allergy we already knew how bad dairy and eggs were, so we made the decision to raise her vegan. I gave up dairy in order to nurse, which ended up being close to three years, after which time my cheese addiction had passed. I still indulged occasionally, only to get violently ill, which made no sense. The choice to go full vegan myself was a no brainer, though now I wonder why it took so long.
Yes, this is the month of food and how does this relate? Veganism has allowed me to maintain a steady weight without even thinking about it. That little thing called bulimia is almost gone from my memory banks, except for, when I try on clothes. Point being is that I now eat freely without concern. I even do dessert and junk food on occasion (about 3 times a week) without going into a deep state of depression.
Back in the day when I was a binge eater one of the things I loved was Cinnabon cinnamon rolls that you can find in most malls. Why these cinnamon rolls specifically? First, they are in the mall so after a tough day of trying on clothes it was perfect. Second, the dough is moist, the cinnamon part is gooey and the icing is amazing. Third, they are so big you could make a meal out of one. I have thought about these cinnamon rolls many time over the years and every time I pass by their booth and get a whiff I reminisce. Well, I have finally come close to replicating their recipe — but it’s even better because it’s vegan.
Vegan Cinnamon Rolls
1 package dry yeast
3/4 cup warm vanilla almond milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup vegan butter
1 tsp Himalayan salt (regular salt may be used)
3/4 cup heavy cashew cream
1/2 cup applesauce
4 – 5 cups All purpose unbleached flour
1 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup vegan butter (softened)
1/2 cup vegan butter
1/2 cup powder sugar
1/4 cup vegan cream cheese
1/2 tsp maple syrup
In a large bowl dissolve yeast in warmed almond milk. Add remaining dough ingredients except flour and mix well. Add flour one cup at a time until dough is no longer sticky. Lightly flour hands and begin kneading dough. Knead into a large ball. Keep in bowl, cover and let sit for at least an hour in a warm place until dough doubles in size.
Once dough has risen preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface until it is approximately 21″ by 16″ and approximately 1/4″ thick.
For the filling spread the softened butter over the entire surface of the dough. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together in a bowl and then cover the butter with it evenly. Carefully roll dough starting on the bottom long end and roll all the way to the top. Cut roll in 1 1/2″ slice and place on a baking sheet greased or covered with parchment paper. Bake for 12 minutes or until light golden brown.
While rolls are baking make icing. Beat cream cheese, maple syrup, and butter well with an electric mixer until well blended. Slowly add in powdered sugar. When rolls are done and still hot, generously add icing to each roll. Eat. A napkin and a glass of milk substitute of your choice, coffee or chai are recommended.
Have you ever put all your energy into creating something in the kitchen for guests, only to have them turn their nose up the moment they learn it’s vegan? I have encountered this on many occasions; people will reject vegan food without tasting it based on the (mistaken) belief that “if it’s vegan it must taste bad”. At first I took this reaction poorly, then I turned it into a challenge. Could I create vegan dishes that appeal to people who are scared of a vegetable based diet? Could I help omnivores to learn to not fear the vegan?
If the reaction of our daughters friends to the vegan sweets she shares is any indication the answer is yes. Open their minds young!
I wish I could say that I never liked food made with animal products but that wouldn’t be true. Both my husband and I were raised meat eaters so we had an idea of what my carnivorous friends might be looking for in vegan food. When I hear somebody say, “I could never go vegan/vegetarian because I couldn’t live without _____” , I view that as a dare. I have always loved creating new recipes and I began to research recipes from our past, looking for ‘comfort food’ I could veganfy.
This focus on recreation started me down the path of making my own seitans. Just because we are vegan doesn’t mean we should be denied the pleasure of eating Reubens, gyros, tacos or BLTs (without guilt.) While I initially created the blog as an outlet for my recipes and to engage myself in the global vegan community, it will be evolving into a platform to promote the DFV line of seitans, which we will be bringing to market in the near future. It is our family’s hope the blog and our line of seitan will inspire people to start down the path of veganism.
The best part of blog has been the chance to become part of the worldwide community of vegans and the opportunity to explore the great and inspiring things people are doing in the movement. We at Don’t Fear The Vegan are all about community and love to share information. The only way to grow veganism is by sharing.