April 28, 2009

How to Go Vegan. ~ via Mark Reinfeld, Intent.com

How to Go Vegan & A Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

Author: Mark Reinfeld

We mentioned in our last article how important it is for those who care about our environment to look at the impact their food choices have on our Earth’s limited resources.

Here are five suggestions for those wishing to include more plant-based foods in their diet as a way to go green.

1. Go Slowly. It took years for you to develop your current eating habits. Most people are not willing or able to make radical changes overnight. Many times when people do make drastic changes, they find themselves falling back to old ways when the going gets tough. (Some people are of course ready to go cold Tofurky – only you can decide!)

2. Create a plan. Take a look at where you are at and where you would like to be. You can approach this in several ways. You can commit to having one vegan day a week for a month. Then go up to two days a week the second month, three days a week on the third month…(you get the idea) until you arrive at your desired outcome. Another way is to have vegan snacks for the first month, vegan snacks and breakfasts for the second month, vegan snacks, breakfasts and lunches the next month and so on. An even more gradual approach would be to have one vegan meal a week for the first month, two vegan meals a week for the second month… Make the changes at a pace you are comfortable with.

3. Choose wisely. Remember the importance of feeling satisfied at every meal. Look for vegan alternatives that come close to the taste and texture of the foods you are craving. There are many plant based products on the market now that can make this a delicious transition for you.

4. Educate yourself. It’s extremely helpful for sticking to your convictions to learn about the full impact our food choices have upon our health and the health of our planet. Check out the following books for starters: Vegan Fusion World Cuisine, Diet for a New America, The China Study, and The World Peace Diet.

5. Be gentle. Please don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself falling back into old ways of eating. Simply accept and acknowledge that it takes time to retrain your body and mind to eat in new ways and remind yourself why you are exerting the effort. Stick to your plan as much as possible.

Here is another recipe that is typically made with animal products. This is for a hearty main course from our book Vegan Fusion World Cuisine that will satisfy omnivores and vegans alike. 


Shepherd’s Pie

45 min prep / 1 hour 10 min cooking / 9” x 13” casserole

10-12 medium Potatoes, ½” cubes (approx 12 C)

1 C Coconut, rice or soy milk

2 Tbl Olive oil

¾ C Onion, diced

1 Tbl Garlic, minced

¾ C Carrots, ½” cubes

½ C Celery, sliced thin

½ C Red bell pepper, diced

½ C Mushrooms, sliced thin

2 lbs Tofu, extra firm, crumbled

¾ C Peas

¾ C Corn, fresh or frozen

¼ C Tahini

4 tsp soy sauce

2 Tbl Basil, fresh, minced (1 ½ tsp dry)

2 Tbl Italian parsley, fresh, minced

1 ½ tsp Sea salt, or to taste

1 Tbl Thyme, fresh minced (½ tsp dry)

1 tsp Sage, fresh minced (½ tsp dry)

2 tsp Barley malt syrup

½ tsp Black pepper, ground to taste

½ tsp Crushed red pepper flakes

¼ tsp Cayenne pepper, or to taste


1. Preheat oven to 350°. Place potatoes in a large pot with filtered water. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are soft, approximately 15 minutes. Drain well, place in a large mixing bowl with coconut milk and mash well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

2. While potatoes are cooking, place oil in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add onion and garlic, cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add carrots, celery, bell pepper and mushrooms, cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add water if necessary to prevent sticking. Add tofu and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Place in a large mixing bowl with remaining ingredients except potatoes and mix well.

3. Place tofu vegetable mixture in a well oiled 9”x13” casserole dish. Top with mashed potatoes, using a spatula to create a smooth surface. Score pretty designs on top with a fork. Bake until slightly golden brown and completely cooked, approximately 25 minutes. Cool for 10-15 minutes.

Variations: Potato layer may be placed on the bottom, topped with the tofu layer. Once refrigerated, this creates a more solid foundation, and allows for different sized pieces to be cut and served individually.

Serving suggestion: Serve with Mushroom Gravy (see below).


Mushroom Gravy

10 min prep / 15 min cooking / 3 ½ cups


1 Tbl Olive oil

1 medium Onion, ¼” dice (1 C)

¾ C Shiitake mushrooms, sliced thin

1½ Tbl Garlic, minced

2 C Filtered water or vegetable stock

¼ C soy sauce, or to taste

Pinch Nutmeg, ground

Pinch Cayenne pepper



2 Tbl Spelt flour

2 Tbl Olive oil

1 Tbl Filtered water


1. Create a Roux by placing spelt flour in a small bowl. Add 2 Tbl olive oil and 1 Tbl filtered water and whisk until a thick paste is created. Set aside.

2. Place 1 Tbl of olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add onion and garlic, cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining ingredients except roux mixture and cook for 5 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally. Add roux mixture and cook until gravy has a thick consistency, approximately 10 minutes, stirring frequently.                            


Ready to save the planet? Post your green intent and blog about your green successes and struggles, tagging your posts “greener life.” We may feature your post in this series!


Mark Reinfeld is the founding chef of the Blossoming Lotus Restaurant. He is the coauthor of Vegan Fusion World Cuisine, winner of 9 national awards. His latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Raw coauthored with Jennifer Murray and Bo Rinaldi is available through booksellers everywhere. Please visit www.veganfusion.com for more information.

Read 2 Comments and Reply

Read 2 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Elephant Journal  |  Contribution: 1,509,280