This new place called Ramen Station just opened in Madison a couple weeks ago. When I went there, it was a no-brainer to start rummaging through the menu to find something vegan. It's becoming second nature to do so – which is surprising because all these months, I've focused on how difficult this was going to be.
Always searching for "the vegan option" or that tiny little Ⓥ hiding somewhere – it really does get annoying. I've learned that, at least in the midwest, all animal products aren't called out and listed all nice, clear, and in the open. Butter is the main coating, cream is the new black, and sauces should not be concealing carcasses.
I thought I'd have to douse everything in oil and salt when vegan popped into my head. What ever would I do to make my food have taste?! Well, the main thing to keep in mind was heavy sarcasm, but quick to follow was every spice under the sun.
Soon enough, curry powder, turmeric, Himalayan (pink) salt, basil, and thyme became my best friends in the kitchen. I started to slowly learn this month that flavor never resides in dead flesh, but what that flesh is marinated, seasoned, and simmered with is the true deliciousness of a dish.
Sauces and spices are all well and good, but substitutions can be just as satisfying if their texture is on par. I've mentioned Luigi's before and will continue to do so when they go above and beyond and actually add vegan cheese to a pizza for me. Going there religiously on Sundays has paid off! While vegan cheese isn't on their menu yet, I've been assured it's not going anywhere anytime soon.
A recent accidental vegan treat I stumbled upon this past month was Jolly Ranchers! Oh, how I missed these tiny blue devils. I found PETA's list of accidentally vegan foods and it's been nothing but helpful. When searching through a vending machine at work or being stuck with normal junk food, this list contains a good chunk of different snacks and candies for any sweet-toothed, compassionate person. Side note for anyone who doesn't know: being vegan doesn't mean you're healthy.
April taught me many things. Double tofu is a two-word godsend, veggie dumplings are your friend, and being a compassionate, animal lover isn't difficult. It can seem as though every morsel of food is against you when you're trying to go vegan, but rest-assured there are people out there that are more than willing to help and support your efforts. Reach out, wake up, and go vegan!