“I don’t know how you can live without cheese or meat,” is a comment I get daily from my friends or what people say when I say I am vegan, well half vegan because I eat fish. Most people perceive vegans as extreme animal activists who judge those who do consume animal products, however, that is not the case. There are several individuals who omit animal products from their diets for other reasons such as health related issues. Regardless of why someone choses to live a vegan lifestyle, there are several difficulties a vegan experiences when cooking or baking. On top of that, going out to eat is a struggle every time.
“You’re the vegan sitting there and you’re like ‘can you get me a side of vegetables without butter?’ and they’re like ‘oh sorry there’s already butter in it,’” said vegan Kaelie Huff.
Yet, vegan-ism is believed to be on the rise. According to Onegreenplanet.org, the amount of vegans in the US has doubled since 2009. That means, 7.5 Americans abstain from consuming animal products. Due to the increase in vegans, there is becoming a bigger market for vegan friendly restaurants. These restaurants still cater to regular eaters but also make vegan dishes or are able to cook meals with vegan substitutes.
Cafe Deluxe, a small restaurant in Reno, Nevada, does just that. They have a wide variety of dishes that can be made vegan or non-vegan. In addition to their vegan-friendly dishes, all of their produce, bread and meat is organic and local.
“We get our eggs from a local egg lady, we buy local bread we buy local produce, we try to do everything local. What I think sets us apart from other restaurants is our menu does still offer meat,” said Huff who is also the manager..
So what exactly happens in the kitchen that makes vegan dishes possible?
“We can use hummus, obviously a good meat substitute. We have baked tofu and tofu spread. For cheese we use Daiya, we have veganaise instead of mayo. We have vegan sausage too,” Huff explained.
Huff also says that vegan dishes do take longer to cook than regular meals do. However, that does not lessen the amount of vegan orders that are given at the cafe everyday.
“We will go through 18 pounds of tofu scramble, we get a huge vegan crowd on the weekends,” Huff said.
It’s clear that creating vegan dishes is no problem for Cafe Deluxe, however, a recently conducted survey listed that only one out of 20 people are vegan. The reason for not being a vegan? It’s just too hard.
“A lot of times people are pushed away from it because things like kale and quinoa come on the menu and they’re like I don’t wanna do this,” Huff explained.
For college sophomore Taylor Henderson, cutting out her favorite foods from her diet is not an option.
“What would be hard to cut out is cheese and milk. That’s basically what I eat everyday,” Henderson explained.
What meat-eaters do not know is that individuals who consume a plant-based diet are at lower risk for cardiovascular disease, cancers and disease in general. In fact, dosomething.org says that the average cholesterol of an American vegan is 133 as opposed to a meat-eater, who’s cholesterol level is 210. Huff agrees with these facts, as a vegan who reaps the benefits.
“People that are vegan have so much more longevity and are so much more healthier and have good metabolism and their skin clears up. If you have a problem, it’s going to be solved if you make your diet better,” Huff said.
Even for University of Nevada student Taylor Crowhurst, who tried the vegan diet, noticed changes in her health.
“I felt lighter and healthier; it made my bones stronger and just helped with being athletic and agile,” said Crowhurst.
For those who are wanting to become vegan, Huff has a few tips.
“Definitely don’t do it cold turkey. Just slowly lean off, you can always find substitutes,” explained Huff.
So even if you have a sweet tooth, or a need for cheese, there are several ways to fulfill those cravings while still sticking to a vegan diet and staying healthy.