Who prefers savory to sweet to start their day? ME! I've always preferred to keep my mornings stable with protein, fresh fruits and fresh vegetables. Unfortunately for me when I went vegan, the savory morning recipes were hard to find or duplicate. Especially because eggs were a key ingredient for me! I really missed eggs and would have little pangs of regret when I saw others enjoying them for breakfast (come on, vegans, don't lie - you have feelings about what you used to eat. You just make a choice not to eat those ingredients in favor of what consider to be the greater good for you / animals / the planet).
Then, my most amazing husband produced JustEgg from a grocery bag. With "egg" in the label, I thought it was convenience eggs (i.e. - the kind that have already been scrambled for you in a container and mass produced). I eyed the bottle skeptically and he said "it's vegan." What? Sure enough, the product is mung beans in a liquid form that cooks and scrambles like egg. It is great standalone or can be added (as I do in several of my recipes) to give the color or binding power of animal eggs. It's a vegan miracle! One I walked by many times thinking it was another animal product (read why as follows) as I thought about how tofu scramble or chickpea flour frittatas just don't cut it for me when I want a true egg-like breakfast (sorry, they just do not and I've tried a bunch of recipes).
Sustainability Spotlight: There is a great debate about non-animal product food or food substitutes titling themselves as an animal ingredient. This debate is happening across social media (why are vegans obsessed with making food look like meat when they don't want to eat it!?) or in political debates for lobbyists (labeling it as sausage confuses the buyer and they are purchasing meat alternatives thinking they are cost-effective animal-based meat brands). This debate is insidious and a large component of how we have evolved as a society to consider meat a "protected food."
Humans are omnivores - we eat meat and plants and have evolved behaviors and physical characteristics which allow us to be both. We had to be both when we first evolved into modern humans. Catching prey takes a lot of energy and you aren't always lucky enough (or skilled enough) to come back with animal-based protein. So, most of the group were gatherers (taking less caloric effort) and collected plants, nuts and seeds in order to supplement (or in many cases carry the load) for food supply. At this point, we were mostly plant-based.
Enter modern agriculture, and if you have taken any history class you know, the world's society evolves materially. We no longer have to expend so much time hunting or gathering (or the calories to do so), and we can stop roaming. We can stay in one place and use the planet's resources to create bounty while also cultivating animals for food. And that, my readers, is the glorious turning point for human evolution that allowed things like art, music, and leisure. It also was a turning point that created wars over resources, proposed power over those less fortunate, and set us on the path to our excess society. We are also moving towards being more carnivorous.
Fast forward though the years, society was built upon placing socio-economic concerns of the people as a subset to money and power. Those in power stay in power (generally) because of their amassed money / fortune. That has been what occurred with the dairy, cattle, hog, and fishing industries. They were borne from a young society where Americans built their recipe books and tables off of the surplus that was America's farming and animal production. We then, as Americans allowed their power to grow politically, monetarily and within our culture. We became obsessed with meat and animal products as a majority of our recipes, favorite meals, and consumer-based culture.
The industries exemplified in the documentaries you may have heard of / watched about dairy or animal production are a product of us. You, me, and our history. They are built on the demand and need of these products to fulfill our cultural history and the emotional ties we have to that history. It's what we are used to, it's what we expect, and it's what we know.
So, I argue, you aren't "confused" when you see a meat alternative package at the store. How could you be? You know what meat looks like, smells like, feels like, and cooks like which is NOT the same as meat alternatives; no matter how closely it resembles animal products. There is simply no comparison - it's an alternative and truly doesn't claim to be the real thing. What it does do though, is marry your cultural associations with animal products and your thoughts about moving away from those products into a sustainable world that no longer impose upon us carnivorous foods.
So, this sustainability spotlight is simple - for vegans or vegan-curious, don't let your cultural background OR the political pressures convince you what you are doing is "wrong," that you are "confused" (come on, that's even more telling about any of those arguing about this topic that you are not intelligent enough to understand your choices), or that wanting the comfort of your emotional culture is "hypocrisy." As you walked through this blog, I hope you understand why you want your meat alternatives and why you want them to look like / be titled like the animal ingredients you no longer choose to consume.
This is how we change the narrative, keep choosing alternatives as meat or dairy-based labels. Sally forth and make this oven pancake with JustEgg which is not egg at all, but that I'm happy to title and use as MY real version of an egg as a vegan.
Savory Bismarck Puff:
2/3 cup oat milk
1/2 cup JustEgg
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp herbed salt
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp vegan butter (I used Melt brand)
1 tbsp avocado oil
Spinach and Peppers Salad:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
pinch of salt & black pepper
1 full bell pepper (I used two colors; only 1/2 of each)- sliced and cut in half
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes (quartered)
2-3 large handfuls of baby spinach
Optional: fresh basil (julliened)
Place a 10-in oven-proof skillet into your oven; now, start the oven to pre-heat to 425 degrees F.
Whisk all ingredients in Savory Bismarck Puff in a large 4-cup measuring cup (or small bowl) until no lumps remain. Set aside.
Once the oven is up to temperature, remove the skillet from the oven (with mitts!! It's very HOT) and immediately add the vegan butter & avocado oil. Let melt as you swirl it around the bottom of the skillet and slightly up the sides of the skillet.
Pour your batter into the pan immediately from the middle and let it spread naturally to the sides o the skillet (you will see some of the oil / butter in ribbons on the sides of the skillet, that's desirable and correct.
Now, slide your pan into the oven and set the timer for 25 minutes.
While your puff is baking, mix oil, vinegar, salt & pepper in the bottom of a large bowl; now add all remaining ingredients of Spinach and Peppers Salad. Mix thoroughly, pulling dressing from bottom of the bowl up through the salad to coat the leaves of the spinach lightly. Set aside till puff is ready.
When the puff is done, it will not be loose in any spots, will have "bubbled" a little on the edges and look slightly brown / crisped (it will also have pulled away from the skillet just slightly). Remove (with mitts; now it's even hotter!) and set to cool slightly.
Serve puff with salad (I like to fold pizza style slices of the puff in one hand and fork large portions of the salad with the other).
With love & hope for a better future for all of us - Jamie