I happily encourage you to try including some vegan propaganda in your New Year resolutions. What’s better than aiming at making out future better, healthier, cleaner, and more mindful?
Restaurants, food, drooling
Recently I am visiting more and more places in Warsaw (Poland) that offer vegan options, or are fully plant-based. It came to my attention that the Beyond Burger is finally here and available – me and my partner have tried it so far in two different restaurants. Both times we were shocked, and asked the waiters few times if the dish was really vegan, and are they absolutely sure of it. We would have been fooled still if not for the simple fact, that even though it tasted just like meat and dairy, we could tell one difference – it was somehow way more tasty, filling, and displaying good quality. Even back in the days when we ate meat, we disliked poor quality products, poorly cooked, and dripping with cheap oil.
If you are down to having some culinary tourism fun and check out new things that will inspire you to try more plant-based recipes, below is a list of my personal favorites, and things that I can personally assure to be a perfect fit for a demanding meat-eater.
Jeff’s – Galeria Mokotów / Żwirki i Wigury
Vegan cheeseburger, the new vegan addition, among others, to the most offensively American restaurant’s menu. Other plant-based recipes are vegan fajita, vegetarian nachos, vegetarian quesadilla, etc.
The burger is served just like a classic – with coleslaw and fries on the side. If we were not informed from the go that this dish was vegan, we would have simply thought that this was the best meaty and cheesy burger we’ve ever had.
In fact, my partner has always hated any kinds of burgers, and now as we have been trying new vegan things, he discovered his love for them.
Organic Bistro – Westfield Arkadia
This cheeseburger was somehow even more shocking than the one from Jeff’s because it didn’t resemble a beef burger as much as a medium rare beef steak in a burger bun. When I was still unsure if we got the correct order, as the restaurant serves regular meats as well, I thought I could almost taste the blood. In fact this burger was so convincing, I refused to eat it after first two tries. The meatness of it was so believable, I decided I preferred my regular, unconvincing, ‘not even trying‘ burgers made of mushrooms and beans, because at least I have complete confidence in their plant-based origin.
Over the years of educating myself I have developed a distaste for actual meats, I feel nauseated when I see pieces of animal corpses on the table, served as a meal, and I feel like my brain doesn’t recognize it as food anymore, with exception of shrimps, which are basically ocean worms, and some highly processed products.
Thanks to my passion for criminal psychology I am used to and perfectly comfortable with browsing crime scenes of the most brutal murders, yet I draw the line when someone tells me ‘now eat it‘. It has caused some funny tension during family gatherings, when my Mom would tell me to quit looking at such disgusting images that will surely traumatize me for life, and then she would be baffled why am I opposing to eating what would be a boiled cut off leg of a chicken on my plate. Cognitive dissonance is hell of a drug.
So if you are not convinced about plant-based meals, I wholeheartedly recommend trying this cheeseburger. There’s a big chance you won’t be able to tell the difference, and you’ll find this dish exceptionally well made and satisfying. Plus, it’s served with delicious Belgian fries and vegan mayo. To us this was much better than classic American coleslaw with thin fries on the side like they served in Jeff’s.
Vegan Ramen Shop – Mokotów / Praga
If you really want to have your socks knocked off, this is your place. They serve four different types of ramen. We have tried two of them so far, Clear Shoyu Ramen (very tasty, but not our favorite) and Creamy Shio Ramen that has left us unable to move, lustful for more, and having wet dreams about it for weeks after. I personally really struggle to finish sampling the entire menu, because this is the only soup I want to eat for the rest of my life.
For dessert they also offer vegan matcha green tea ice cream that are a perfect finish to the dinner date. Plus, who wouldn’t want to have ice cream after dinner and never suffer from stomach discomfort? Vegan dairy is our strongest ally in the war with lactose.
Matcha Bistro & Bar – Plac Zbawiciela
Vege Ramen comes to me in my sleep, and leaves my bed entirely drooled over. Especially since after this decadent dinner dish you can enjoy one of the best desserts in the world – ichigodaifuku (daifuku with a strawberry inside), mochi of various flavors, and matcha latte.
Fun fact, this ramen also contains matcha green tea, and it fits perfectly.
I especially recommend visiting this place when the weather department requires cozy and warm solutions. Here you can take off your shoes, and cuddle up on the floor, with pillows, in a truly Japanese fashion.
Orlen – the gas station
Funny story – the first time I have heard that one of the most popular gas station chains introduced vegan hot dogs to their menu, I was very excited, and fell hard for the marketing campaign, determining my future gas station choice forever.
The first time I paid a visit, I was informed that they ran out of vegan hot dogs. Slightly disappointed, but also very happy for the massive demand, I waited for the next time my car needed some fuel.
The second time, I excitedly got one, and as soon as I sat in my car and took a bite, I got very upset. I know very well the taste of soy sausages of all kinds, I’ve tried everything there is available on Polish market, so it was clear to me this isn’t vegan, this is normal, meaty sausage. I figured the next time I’m there I will make extra sure that I am served what I ordered.
And so I did. Turned out, this was actually the vegan sausage. I have no idea where they got it from, but it was very convincing, both in taste and texture. I am already a happy fan of for example IKEA’s vegan dogs, visibly made of beans, lentils and veggies, so I don’t really care personally for being convinced what I’m eating is meat, but if anyone is looking for convincing substitutes, they should certainly give Orlen a shot.
Vegan Pizza (Pyszne.pl) – Wąwozowa
The best pizza I have ever had was not from when I was in Italy, sampling the top tier products of local cuisine. It wasn’t even a ‘real‘ pizza. I discovered this sinful abomination when I was looking for a nighttime food delivery on Pyszne.pl app.
The pizza is vegan because they use Violife vegan cheese instead of regular dairy, and they use vegan meat substitutes. When usually it’s the contest about ‘is the vegan option as good as the original?’, in this case this is vegan thing being infinitely better than the original thing, ruining it forever.
I cannot eat pizza from any other place anymore. This one is just too amazing, it’s like increasing the pizza essence in pizza by 300%, and removing all the negatives, such as being too fat and too dry at the same time, being heavy on the stomach, cheese being low grade, and leaving you feeling like your liver just took a punch and your veins are all clogged after you eat the whole thing, all of that is my usual complaint and reasons why would I ever pass on a pizza.
Right now eating this pizza vs. eating any other pizza feels like someone offered me a choice between a perfect matcha latte and sewer water.
This one is both crunchy and soft, the cheese melts in your mouth delightfully, the toppings are sufficient. My favorite is the Napoletana (pepperoni, black olives, jalapeño) with extra mushrooms. It doesn’t even need any sauce, because the pizza is moist and addictive. And the dough is so well made, the leftover crust is tasty on its own. The pepperoni sausage substitute holds all the taste of pepperoni spices, but doesn’t get too chewy, heavy on stomach, dry, and drowning in oil. The size is also perfect – either for two meals for one person, or one meal for a greedy person.
I always think ‘I’m gonna order pizza, eat half now for supper and then have half for breakfast‘, but for hundreds of times I ordered it, my plan worked out maybe twice, three or four, probably twice, maybe once.
With true zero waste fashion I have given up buying paper magazines long time ago (and frankly who needs newspapers if you can browse memes on your phone), but I know plenty of people still like an old fashion quick read to enjoy on the way home, or in the bathtub, and I have a nice contribution to that.
Recently in a popular convenience store I found the ‘VEGAN WORLD‘ title, and decided to check it out. It’s a part of BeActive franchise created by popular polish coach Ewa Chodakowska, in collaboration with CD, the cosmetic company. On the plus note – they are the only ones being advertized in the magazine, so you are not attacked from every angle by tons of useless crap to buy. I remember feeling very discouraged back in the days when I liked magazines, as the advertisement content was bigger than the merit.
The magazine contains a Falka-approved face washing gel from Vianek, and an exercise DVD from Ewa Chodakowska.
The articles are well written, and very informative for a person who is new to the whole mindful living idea. It provides an introduction to veganism, yoga, meditation, and zero waste. It also promotes other forms of recreational activity such as biking, or water sports. Everything perfectly suitable both for people who are trying to start doing anything, and for people who are already active and look for more options.
I especially liked the section about mindfulness and meditation in regards to food – this is a commonly overlooked aspect of plant-based living. We all know vegans sleep better at night knowing that they don’t pay to kill animals, but it’s one thing to focus on lack of negativity, and another to focus on positivity. The later one is the key – it’s a good practice to even just once a week sit down with your dinner, and think deeply about it for a moment.
Think of all the wonderful nourishment it will provide to your body, of all the vitamins, minerals, water, fiber and energy. To think of how it reached you and your plate – that it has been planted, it grew on a potent soil, with the energy from the sun, and the water. How it has been harvested, and transported right to the store where you found it. Just to be aware of the process, and be thankful for all people and Mother Nature involved in the making of. To make yourself happy with buying food, because you know that what you’re getting is pure benefit, and you reward hard workers who make it happen, and you make this life-sustaining process happen as a consumer.
Eating is like breathing, and it can also be treated similarly when it comes to meditation, with the same results. It’s about awareness, gratitude, and happiness coming from appreciation. Except with food it is something unique to a plant-based diet, because you don’t have to think of slavery and murder. It’s something very important to consider, because the mental benefit of such life appreciation and gratitude goes a long way. It contributes to your self-confidence (if you do good and do no harm, how can you not like yourself, you’re an absolute delight, and no matter who you are, how you look like, it’s your actions and how much you love and care what determines your worth), your stress level (it’s easy to get overwhelmed with how much evil and misfortune is happening in the world, but you can break the mental spiral of negativity by setting the example for yourself – I do good, I try my best, I improve, this is the realest proof of the fact that humans can and will do better given a chance, if I can do it so can they), and overall happiness (the best source of happiness is appreciation and gratitude for what is already there).
The magazine contains helpful tips with how to choose your yoga type, explanations of how yoga is beneficial to everybody – men, women, elders, children. It contains very simple and attractive recipes for breakfasts, dinners, suppers and desserts, and how you can implement the zero waste & mindfulness approach to other aspects of life, such as buying clothes, or doing your makeup. It promotes healthy, natural lifestyle, for example by showing how the best anti-aging treatment is taking care of your health, and exercising your face, as opposed to how the consumerism culture tries to tell us that youth comes only with 300€ face creams. It also contains recipes for DIY cosmetics made of household items, such as coffee grounds.
By the way, you can obtain coffee grounds for free, to use in DIY cosmetics or gardening, if you visit your local Starbucks, even if you’re not their client. Coffee grounds are a waste to them, and otherwise they would just throw them away anyways, you’re free to come and pick it up.
I certainly hope I will see more of this kind of popular media, and I highly recommend it as a kick dose of motivation for the New Year.
To sum up, there’s a lot of new awesome things to try, if you’re thinking of improving on your life, cuisine, everything, this is the perfect way to go, and to get introduced to vegan lifestyle. I hope some of you will try those deliciousnesses, let me know how it went. Cheers!