No doubt it was a big moment for Chloe Coscarelli, a vegan baker from Los Angeles, when she won first place on the Food Network’s show Cupcake Wars last year. And it was a big moment for veganism, too. Hundreds of thousands of Americans were introduced to the idea that vegan food can be just as decadent and delicious as the treats they are accustomed to eating that are made with conventional ingredients like eggs and dairy products. For many people this idea came as quite a shock. After all, since eggs and dairy products can be found in virtually every treat, not to mention every other dish typically eaten in our culture, isn’t their prevalence proof they are necessary to cooking and baking? As any vegan with a sweet tooth can happily report, they are not. We use eggs and dairy products simply because our ancestors used them.
Generations upon generations ago, our ancestors experimented with the ingredients then available to them, and passed down the knowledge of how to use them to us, from parent to child, from chef to student, from cookbook to cookbook, down through the ages. And because these and other animal ingredients were plentiful, did their jobs well, and, until recently, were not known to be unhealthy and were not considered to be unethical, there was no need to experiment with alternatives. And so no one did.
Today, animal-based foods are everywhere – in every supermarket, in almost every restaurant and in almost all cookbooks – even though we can make most of the foods we love to eat without them. And even though other ingredients can do the same job without hurting animals, the planet or ourselves. And, as Chloe Coscarelli showed, they can be just as fluffy, creamy, and delicious. In the case of Chloe’s cupcakes, even more so. And thankfully, you do not need to be a master baker or spend three hours every night cooking from scratch to enjoy such treats.
Last night, with a few vegan buttermilk* biscuits left over from dinner, and a daughter with an insatiable sweet tooth expecting a tasty dessert, we made the strawberry shortcake pictured above. We used MimicCreme’s Healthy Top Whipping Cream. Quite honestly, we are at a loss as to how to explain exactly what happens in our mixing bowl as we beat a cold liquid made of nuts into a frothy, creamy whipped topping, identical in taste and texture to whipped cream – rich, lightly sweet and oh so creamy.
Yes, there was a time when veganism was a lot less creamy than it is today, but thankfully those days are gone. Today, ready-made delicious vegan treats and ready-made ingredients like MimicCreme to make delicious vegan treats stock the shelves of natural food stores. As we celebrate our nation’s founding, let’s do it the way we always have: by over-indulging in our right to decadent and delicious sweet treats. Only this time, let’s do it without harming other creatures who value their freedom just as much as we value ours.
*yes, buttermilk! Easy to make by mixing a little bit of lemon juice with vegan non-dairy creamer, and letting it set to curdle for a few minutes before using.
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