There are few things more cliché than a vegan (or vegetarian) eating a salad, and few things could have sounded less appealing to me 5 years ago. But as I write this, I’m devouring a bowlful of delicious salad. Look!
Five years ago I could list the vegetables I liked on one hand. Corn, potatoes, asparagus, broccoli, and mushrooms. (All of those in cooked form only.) The word “salad” conjured up images of wilted iceberg lettuce with a two slices of cucumber and a tomato wedge, drenched in some highly processed, creamy goop: in other words, something practically inedible.
In defense of salad, I want to clear up a few things.
- Most pre-made dressings tend to be junk. I’ve never found a salad dressing that beats this one: oil, balsamic vinegar, a bit of salt, and a bit of sugar. All to taste. Lemon juice or even mustard works in place of vinegar if you like. I put these ingredients in the bottom of the bowl while I start chopping and dicing, to let the salt and sugar dissolve.
- Salad should not have iceberg lettuce in it! Nothing should, for that matter. There are so many leafy greens out there with actual flavor, not to mention nutrients. My current favorite is spinach, which is the only green in my salad above.
- Salad has no rules. Put anything you like in there! You like wine, capers, jalepeno, and leftover sauteéd squash? Go for it! My favorite extra salad ingredients are walnuts and black beans. They add weight to the salad, both literally and in terms of hunger, since they contain more carbs and fat (healthy fat) than your ordinary salad veggies.
Now some of you are saying, “That’s great, but what if I don’t like greens or raw veggies at all?” Well, I’m sure you like something. Start from there, and experiment with adding small amounts of other foods. If your salad is a bowl of cucumber, pine nuts, and olives with just a touch of romaine, that’s ok! Start eating more salads and I promise you’ll start liking salad. Maybe even loving and craving salads!
See, a strange thing happens when you start eating more vegetables. You start liking more vegetables. Things I used to only eat under very particular instances I now enjoy and use every day. (Tomatoes, carrots, and onions are on this list.) Taste buds die and are replaced with new ones regularly, and you can teach yours to love the foods that love you back. How great is that?
Here’s what I put in today’s salad, in case you’re curious: spinach, mushrooms, carrot, black beans, walnuts, avocado, and tomato. Dressing was the simple vinegar-oil-sugar-salt combo I mentioned above.
- This blog post is the first in a series in which I refute my former excuses for not being vegan. Several readers suggested I follow up on the Excuse List, and I appreciate the feedback! This post addresses my concerns of hating salad and of not liking most vegetables.