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Recently, the Cooking Channel (the Food Network’s sister channel) aired a one-hour special entitled “The Veg Edge“. A couple of my friends (both of whom are vegan) and I watched the special, drooling the entire time over the featured vegan food.

It also inspired an interesting discussion with my friends on admitting to cravings for and missing foods that are not vegan or vegetarian. If you haven’t seen the episode, about halfway through, vegan chefs and cookbook authors talk about which foods they have missed the most since going vegan or vegetarian.

I have to admit, I liked that segment. My friends? Not so much. They felt it put vegans in a bad light, making it seem like veganism is too hard to succeed at.

I disagree. For one, I don’t think it is “bad” to miss certain foods–even if they are not vegan. I would venture that most current vegans were not born and raised as a vegan. So, far at least a few years, most have eaten meat and cheese and eggs. And while it is great that many are able to go vegan or vegetarian overnight and without another thought of the foods they once loved, not everyone can do that.

I still miss a few of my favorite comfort dishes. Sloppy joes were a weekly feature in my family’s menu. (Which I make now with tempeh instead of ground beef.)

Instead of ignoring or denying the foods you are missing, find a way to veganize them! Many foods, like sloppy joes, require a few changes to make vegan, but taste just as delicious as the non-vegan versions.

Do I think we should focus only on the foods we miss? No. Obsession with a particular food is not healthy.

But I think that pretending you have never missed a non-vegan food (when you have) isn’t helping either. Many people are convinced that they cannot give up meat or cheese or eggs. And we need to tell them that it is OK to miss those foods and offer ways to veganize their favorite dishes. Veganism becomes more approachable this way.

If you are vegan and still have the occasional craving for a steak, say so. Tell us how you deal with the craving and give us the recipe you created for portobello steaks that are better than the “real” thing. Your advice will help a lot of people as you are a great model of how to live a cruelty-free life.

And if you are one of the lucky ones who do not miss the foods you used to eat at all, that’s great! You have a lot to offer to those who are having trouble giving up their favorite foods and you are also a great model of how easy it is to live a cruelty-free life.

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