Cooking and Baking Manifesto

by Constanze

While looking at old posts I realized how much this blog has changed over the years. When I started blogging in 2007 there weren’t so many other vegan blogs available. I had a simple point and shoot camera, no clue about how to take a decent picture, no clue about how to develop a recipe etc. I just started blogging because I wanted to connect with other vegans. Which worked out absolutely wonderful!

The focus of my blog has changed. I used to post several times a week, sharing a lot of what I ate on a daily basis. Now I don’t post that often anymore and if I do, I share mostly baked goods. There are several reasons for this. I have a sweet tooth. But Dresden doesn’t offer many options when it comes to vegan cakes, cookies, etc. I am used to baking my own cake. And I think it is fun. Baking your own cake from scratch is a challenge and I like that, too. Cake is something special and it’s something that should be shared.

I’ve  thought a lot about what vegan cooking and baking means. Many people see veganism as a hardship. They think it is a lifestyle focusing on what you cannot eat rather than what you can. But vegan cooking and baking offers so many new possibilities. Over the years I found many new and awesome ingredients. I think vegan cooking and baking can be something independent, something special, something that surprises people. It is a lot of fun to use an unusual ingredient and see how it works. Or to try a new method of baking or cooking things.

When I started to bring food to parties or when I cooked for my friends, I constantly asked myself: „Does this taste like the omni-version?“ I don’t do this anymore. I stopped bringing something like a black forest cake to a party and waiting for people to tell me „Oh, this doesn’t taste like soy.“ Instead I made a whole different cake. So people would stop comparing. So I would stop comparing. I don’t want people to see veganism as a fake and substitute lifestyle any longer. I gave up animal ingredients because I think it is wrong to use animals. But I am not deprieved, I am not missing out on anything, I am not suffering. This way of eating is not hard.

This is why I spent a lot of time learning to make my own cake, cookie, muffin, ice cream recipes, etc from scratch. Baking is where I can be most creative.  When it comes to cooking in general, this is what I can do best, I think. It is very challenging to see if the ratio of flour, sugar, and fat, the combination of different flavours and ingredients will work out in the end. Or just turn into a giant mountain of sad crumbs. If I would ever write a cookbook, it would be a baking book. I am way less creative when it comes to cooking regular meals. Veganism started all this. It taught me how to bake.

I do live in a country/society where veganism is not always seen as a healthy lifestyle by most people. (Especially not if you are pregnant!) And personally I think that is all ok. I am not a health nut. Of course I take my vitamin B 12 and I do eat a balanced diet. But I am a vegan for ethical reasons and I don’t buy into the „clean eating“, no sugar, no gluten, no fat ideology. (I want to make sure I get all the nutrients so I can keep up living as a happy vegan and I don’t want to be someone who had to give up veganism because they didn’t take care of themselves.) When I post a new entry and I receive a comment by a person who tells me that „yes, the food looks delicious, but right now I cannot have gluten, fat, sugar, etc…“ it makes me sad. Sometimes these people have their good reasons (like a gluten intolerance) but sometimes they might buy into the latest fad.

I have read books about how to live a fat-free vegan diet and I am sure these diets can be helpful for certain people with certain health conditions. But I don’t think they are necessary or useful for me. If I would follow them, they’d probably do more harm then good. I used to be overweight for most of my life and I lost the excess a couple of years ago. Not on a vegan diet though. I was a vegetarian back at that time and my eating habits weren’t the best. I counted calories, I cut out all fat, I cut out all sugar, I followed a lot of restrictions. And I felt miserable.

Since then I have learned that for me the best way to go is not only a balanced diet but also a fearless diet. I don’t want to avoid certain foods for the rest of my life. (Except for animal products of course.) I want to eat the occasional fast food and cake. I want to drizzle some olive oil onto my pizza or my pasta. I do not make the perfect food choices every day and I do think it is okay. Everyone has to eat and I like to eat. But I don’t want food choices (healthy or unhealthy) to take over my life. As I said, I do think a balanced diet is important, but I also think it is important to not stick to it from time to time. To eat a piece of cake with all the oil, all the sugar, and all the white flour and not be afraid of it. And never ever use the phrase „guilt“. As a woman, being thin and beautiful is what you are supposed to aim for. And these days everybody tells you you’re going to get there effortlessly by cleaning up your diet, by cutting out „bad foods“, by going vegan. I am so tired of this and I don’t want anybody to feel bad for eating a slice of cake. Cake was never meant to be healthy, it was simply made to be enjoyed. And that’s what I am trying to do here. Enjoy my cake. And I hope you do, too.

You can read more about my take on veganism as a new diet trend here.