A Filling Vegan Brunch

Photo by Claire Matern for Local Roots NYC

As a person who worships all things meat, it was a challenge to create vegan options on my menus. When I was younger, I tried to go vegan for a month and didn’t do my research. I came out of it starving and emaciated—veganism was painted in my mind as torture. I remember declining many invitations to brunch during that period of my life. How could I eat in a group setting without eggs or cheese or -gasp- BACON?

Over the years, I read books like Don’t Feed the Bears and tried to eat at vegan restaurants to learn what could be substantial and delicious (RIP Foodswings!). What really drove it home was dating a vegetarian. At first, I made two dinners and eventually got tired of washing so many dishes. I had to compromise and reduce the presence of meat. I didn’t eliminate it, but it was just not in a starring role anymore.

Now, when I create menus, I start with a sauce that could work for both vegan and meat entrees. That way, I have a more efficient shopping and prep experience. Vegetarians can always eat vegan but not the other way around.

You can certainly be an unhealthy vegan. Loading up with bread and potatoes is easy but the real secrets to nondairy survival are sauces, spices and texture. Replace butter with oil based spreads, pestos, gremolata, aji, and nut butters. Cheese can be substituted with whipped, flavored tofu and miso. Pack your spice cabinet with a variety of mixes like garam masala, ras al hanout, adobo, furikake, dukkah, harissa, Chinese 5 spice, herbes de Provence, jerk, za’atar, bbq dry rub, and pickling spice. Alternate vegetable textures between puree, roasted, spiralized, diced, fried, poached, and stewed. Mix and match so you don’t get tired of all the groceries you bought that week.

Here are some of my favorite vegan recipes for brunch at home:

Got any other vegan tips? I’m always trying to learn more.