By convenient vegan I do not mean following a plant based diet when it is easy or convenient to do. No, I want to highlight a few of my favorite vegan convenience foods that can actually assist with the transition to a plant based diet, or help those who want to join Meatless Monday, eat a little less meat, or (like my son next week) have family coming for dinner and want to surprise them with your no-meat cooking skills.
Many times in the regular food world, convenience foods are prepared meals that tend to be high in sugar, salt, and have a lot of additives that would not be considered healthy. And it’s true that many of the prepared vegan meals can have some of the same problems. However, the foods that I’m highlighting today are less processed, have fewer ingredients, and are high in overall quality.
While some vegans, especially those who have been following a plant based diet for a long time, tend to eschew meat substitutes altogether, I think that they have merit, not only for transition, but for anyone who is short on time or simply wants the flavor of meat without the killing the animals part.
While Gardein in general has a variety of delicious meat substitutes (see my Chick’n Piccata), from beefless beef, to chickenless chicken, and even fishless fish, the highlight tonight is the Chick’n Sliders. After adding some favorite toppings like onion, tomato and avocado, serving with some baked sweet potato fries, you’ve got a great, easy meal that even kids will love.
(The reason you’re seeing the box instead of the actual sliders is that when I went to prepare dinner, I discover that I was out of avocado and mustard. One I could do without, but both? No way. So, leftovers for tonight, sliders, with avocado and mustard, tomorrow.)
Beyond Meat is a newer addition to the vegan meat options, and a long awaited one. In addition to being plant based and Non GMO, it is also gluten free, bringing vegan convenience to a wide range of people who avoid gluten. Their Beef-free crumbles are soy free too! The best part is, they are delicious, and easy to add to any meal to give it a little flavor and texture. Check out my Peachy Quinoa Salad made with Beyond Meat! (Click here to save $1 on Beyond Meat!)
Confession: When I was at the IDEA World Expo, I spent a lot of time at the Daiya booth. After all they were handing out free (vegan) pizza! As the only vegan option within a few miles of the Anaheim Convention Center, it was only natural that I’d be drawn to the Daiya booth. First known as the company that made great meltable vegan cheese shreds, Daiya now has a variety of prepared and convenience food, from several varieties of pizza, delicious cream “cheese,” and both chunk and spreadable vegan cheeses. Not only are they all dairy free, they are soy and gluten free as well.
Sweet Earth Seitan
I love the meaty texture and versatile uses of seitan. While preparing your own seitan is really not too difficult, I have always preferred the taste of some of the pre-made versions available. What I really like about Sweet Earth Seitan is that it contains the same ingredients that I would use if I made it at home: wheat gluten, soy sauce, and seasonings (see the picture below).
Follow Your Heart
I usually make my own salad dressing, but as a former ranch dressing lover sometimes I want a little creamy goodness. Follow Your Heart not only makes the best vegan mayonnaise, Vegenaise, they also make my favorite salad dressing, vegan Creamy Garlic. They have a vegan ranch too, but I’ve never seen it available in my local stores. Other Follow Your Heart products include the new vegan shreds (haven’t tried them yet, but I’m looking forward to it!) and vegan cream “cheese.” They have a variety of products that are gluten and soy free too, so be sure to check out their website for more information.
When I first became a vegetarian, over seven years ago, and even four years ago when I went completely vegan, it was a challenge to find some of these products, especially out here in the desert. Now, I’m happy to say, even my local Vons carries Beyond Meat, Daiya, and Gardein, and while I still have to travel a little to find Sweet Earth Seitan or Follow Your Heart, it is a lot easier than it used to be. Go Vegan!
Do you have a favorite convenience food, vegan or not? Would you run in 109 temps? Do you prefer exercising in hot or cold weather?