A few weeks ago I announced I was going vegan. Well, I should have said I would try to go vegan – because I did – but I didn’t stick with it. At first I felt pretty bad about it. I was embarrassed to have made the announcement prematurely. I felt guilty because I felt like I was choosing my own cravings over animal rights. I felt disappointed in myself for not succeeding. But then I did some reflecting, and told myself that if I really wanted to be vegan, I could continue doing so despite having had a ‘slip up.’ I could persevere, start over, and go back to square one, so to speak. Realizing that, and recognizing that I had a choice, made me also realize that I just don’t want to be vegan. Not right now anyway.
I know a lot of people will find this offensive, wrong, upsetting. And to be quite honest, learning that veganism is a very heated topic has actually been part of what has made me question it and helped me to be okay with the fact that it isn’t for me at this point in my life. I was completely shocked and upset when I started reading some of the aggressive, hostile, and judgmental rhetoric being used in many vegan websites, books, and forums. My favorite vegan recipe author – Angela Liddon of Oh She Glows – faced serious backlash from people when she announced that her daughter would eat mainly vegan but would be allowed to try non-vegan foods. I found it deeply disturbing that people felt entitled to ridicule, shame, and even threaten another human being for their own personal choices.
Now, I’m not saying that all vegans are like that, or that I am opting to not be vegan because of a few nasty people on the web. What I’m getting at, is that all that negativity opened my eyes to the fact I was doing the exact same thing to myself. I was shaming myself for wanting to eat meat and cheese. I was judging myself harshly, and pushing myself to make a life commitment I was not ready to make. I thought that by announcing it online, I would force myself to stick with it. But I found myself very unhappy, struggling to follow through, and questioning my decision constantly. If I don’t think it’s right to criticize others for their choices, why on earth was I doing so to myself?
So at the end of the day, I am back where I started a few months ago. Eating mainly vegan (and oh boy, do I know that many out there will argue there is no such thing as “mainly vegan”), doing my best to find plant-based alternatives, and not ridiculing myself if I want to partake in the cheese that everyone is enjoying at a dinner party. I feel fine with that, and although I would never push any diet or belief system on anyone, I am comfortable giving the advice that you do what feels fine to you too!
Well, that’s quite a long ramble I went on, all just to say, while I no longer am applying the label of vegan to my lifestyle, I will certainly continue to try eating a vegan diet whenever possible. Case-in-point, I found no need to add any dairy or meat to this lovely lasagna, and I promise neither will you. It’s that darn delicious! Enjoy 🙂
- 1 package firm tofu, pressed to release excess liquid
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 stalks celery, minced
- 1 small red bell pepper, diced
- 1-2 tbsp Italian Spice Blend
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1/2 cup minced fresh basil
- 1 box of oven ready lasagna noodles
- 1 jar Marinara sauce
- 1 1/2 cups grated vegan mozzarella
- Follow the package directions on the lasagna noodles you are using to preheat the oven to the appropriate temperature. I use “oven-ready” a.k.a. “no-boil” lasagna noodles that cook in a 375 degree oven, but different brands of noodles vary. If you can’t find oven-ready noodles; boil, drain, and set aside your cooked noodles and continue on to step 2.
- To press tofu: Line a plate with a few paper towels. Cut tofu in half lengthwise and lay on the towel-lined plate. Set more paper towel on top, place a second plate on top of this, and place a heavy object on top. Let sit at least 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add a little oil, and sauté the onion, celery and pepper for 2-3 minutes until onion is translucent. Add the garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes more. Use your hands to finely crumble the tofu into the pan. Add salt, pepper, spice blend, nutritional yeast, and lemon juice. Let cook 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until any liquid has evaporated. Stir in the fresh basil and remove the skillet from the heat.
- Assemble the lasagna:
- Spread 2-3 tbsp Marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish.
- Place a layer of noodles along the bottom – I usually do three lengthwise and then break a fourth noodle to fit crosswise at the end.
- Spread half the tofu mixture on top of the noodles, then spread a little less than half the sauce on the tofu.
- Top this with another layer of noodles, then the rest of the tofu, then most of the sauce. Leave a little sauce for the next step.
- Add one last layer of noodles, then a very thin layer of the remaining sauce, and then the grated cheese.
- Cover the lasagna with foil and bake according to the instructions on the pasta box. I personally bake mine for 40 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown. You can follow this same cooking time if you used boiled noodles. Different oven-ready brands vary though, so check the box to get it right 🙂