Column: The modern vegan

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If you’re an animal lover, a health nut or an environmentalist, the thought of going vegan has probably crossed your mind. Perhaps you haven’t made the leap because you don’t want to grow out your beard or live in a Volkswagen van.

When meat-eaters think of vegans, they probably picture long-haired, sandal-wearing, tree-hugging, tofu-munching hippies. And while the tofu part is still relevant, I am pleased to say the modern vegan has evolved.

This idea that vegans are living radically, off-the-grid lives is archaic. It is easier than ever to switch to a cruelty-free lifestyle, and being a modern vegan means not having to give up your current life, but rather making adjustments.

For instance, tofu is only one of many meat alternatives. And while I personally enjoy fried tofu paired with sauteed vegetables and chili sauce, you can go fully vegan without ever having to look at tofu if you prefer. Seitan, tempeh, and jackfruit are popular alternatives to meat, because they share a similar, chewy texture. When prepared with the right seasonings, the taste can be just as savory and satisfying as a piece of steak (without the guilt).

Eating out can be tricky, but Los Angeles is one of the better cities in the country when it comes to accommodating to vegans. According to happycow.net, there are 54 strictly vegan restaurants in the greater Los Angeles area. That’s not including restaurants where the menu has vegan options, but isn’t a strictly vegan joint. When you factor those in, there are probably hundreds of places you could eat at once you make the switch to veganism. The key is to look up the menu online ahead of time to check your options.

Some people think that vegans have to give up the convenience of fast food, but that’s not true. If you’re looking for quick, cheap food, Taco Bell is the lazy vegan’s oasis. According to Taco Bell, the beans they use are lard-free, making it easy to substitute beef for beans in a number of their items. They even have a post on their website titled “How to Eat Vegan at Taco Bell.”

The modern vegan is not so different from he who chooses to eat meat and animal products. The two can be in the same social circles, go out to eat at the same places, cook with the same equipment and even end up with similar looking meals. With the internet at our fingertips, ready to answer “Is this vegan?” in 0.5 seconds, there’s no reason to not try a cruelty-free lifestyle.