Back to the Basics

There are exciting times on the horizon at Veggie Campus.  We’ve been focusing on a simpler and more thoughtful approach to eating and cooking, which we will be sharing with you in the form of blog posts and YouTube videos, starting with this one.  When we decided to move to Asia, we hoped it would open our minds and give us a new outlook on life.  Well, it already has and it began to before we even stepped off of the plane in Taipei.  Especially regarding our outlook on Veggie Campus.

For some background, let’s take it back to a few weeks before Andrew and I moved, when I learned that I would not be able to buy hemp seeds in Taiwan. Apparently they’re illegal. Suddenly the reality of many foods I would potentially be parting with hit me. Once we were settled in Taipei, it was clear there would be more challenges.  Foods we learned to rely on, such as tempeh or nutritional yeast, were unavailable or difficult to access. How would I make vegan cheese? How would I get my protein?! (Queue very tiny violin).

In all seriousness, for us these seemingly small changes in options became a big deal and added time to our day.  We had just learned how to cook plant-based, now we felt we were learning all over again.  Luckily, our trip to Vietnam came up quickly and we could forget about all of this and let go for a bit.  Eh, not so fast.  While in Vietnam a few things transpired.

  1. I realized I can’t eat tofu. Through a second round of tofu trial and error, I confirmed one protein go-to’s is no longer an option for me.
  2. There aren’t a ton of plant-based sources of protein in Vietnam outside of tofu. Other than that it’s mainly rice and veggies.  What was I going to eat?  What was going to happen to my muscle without protein?  How was I going to survivvvveeee?

Guess what?  I was fine.  In fact, my health and energy thrived, which was surprising.  And what was I surviving on?

  • Vegetables, and very few selections of them, mostly greens
  • Fruit, such as bananas and mangoes
  • Grains, mostly rice and oats
  • Legumes, limited in quantity and mostly beans, lentils and peanuts
  • Tree Nuts, such as cashews, almonds and walnuts
  • Seeds

The simple stuff.  Straight forward, no frills.  No pizzas, lasagnas, cashew cheeses.  This is some age-old vegan stuff here.  I’d heard this before, but it hadn’t quite clicked the way it did this time.  It seems I’d fallen into a fluffier, admittedly self-imposed, food trap.

A newbie to the world of plant-based eating, I was making things too complicated. I was focusing on the wrong things.  First, protein comes in many sources, but I became so fixated on only tempeh, tofu, hemp seeds and quinoa as my main sources.  Second, I wanted to try new recipes, keep things fresh and learn how to make renditions of foods I thought we, and our followers would feel the most comfortable with.  Foods like pizza, mac n’ cheese and sandwiches.  I also became much too attached to certain foods  because they were readily available in the United States.  The United States is so fortunate for the endless options of ingredients and foods in every store, however I think it can almost make things too complicated and wasteful.

Our experience in Asia so far is that ingredients are more straight-forward, but still delicious.  Instead, there is a focus on changing flavor profiles with spices and herbs.  At the core of it, I’ve learned a combination of the above plants in simple forms are all that are needed to be healthy and strong.  So, we’ve been taking it back to basics and it’s been making a world of difference in our lives.

Whether you area a foodie who gets excited about the newest food or restaurant trend, or health-conscious and steer clear of ingredients if an article comes out that there is concern, our relationship with food is constantly changing. Especially if how we are eating is new territory.  Our taste buds change and adjust, our shopping habits change, our body is always learning how to react to new foods.  Within this ever changing landscape, taking it back a few steps with a simpler approach to eating and cooking makes our lives easier.  I’m not saying we’re never having tempeh again or making a fun and interesting recipe, however we started Veggie Campus as a place to make life simpler in the world of plant-based eating.  We are just getting back to our roots.  We look forward to sharing our approach with you, based on some key principles.  Awesome recipes and sources are coming your way to hopefully make your lives easier, too!

Caryn & Andrew