I may not be convinced of the viability of a 100% vegan world, but I do believe we'd all be better off if we ate a lot less meat and dairy. And that's why I've enjoyed learning from venerable, if somewhat unconventional, vegan chefs like The Vegan Zombie and The Vegan Black Metal Chef.
Is There Life Without Cheese Pizza?
But as I noted in my somewhat skeptical post on vegan cheese, I have a hard time imagining my diet without cheese. In particular, as someone who makes pizza about once a week, I have a hard time imagining my life without cheese pizza.
Sure, vegan pizza is possible. But much like the rather odd notion of a vegan philly cheese steak, I have always assumed that vegan pizza is just a pale imitation of its mozzarella-loaded counterpart.
Yet I couldn't be more wrong. Or arrogant.
An Entirely New Pizza Experience
A few weeks ago I wondered into my local Whole Foods, having just posted on a vegan-related video. They were hawking a vegan pizza loaded with broccoli and spinach at the lunch counter. "What the heck," I thought "I'll give it a try."
It was a revelation. While I've enjoyed a cheese pizza since, I must say that eating a pie without the usual oozing melted cheese was an entirely different culinary experience. I could taste the crust better, and the fresh, tasty ingredients stood out beautifully.
Hummus Pizza is Not as Weird as it Sounds
Today I tried something a little weirder—vegan pizza topped with hummus and cucumbers. As someone who's ambivalent at best about cukes, I assumed this would be a step too far. Again, I was wrong. It was garlicky, fresh tasting, and the baked cucumbers took on a savory note that their raw counterparts lack.
Chatting with the pizza chef, she told me she's been experimenting with more vegan recipes. From breadcrumbs fried with olive oil and herbs, to a smokey babaganoush topping, it seems there is a whole world of vegan pizza out there to explore.
And I intend to explore it.
Calling All Vegans (And Pizza Lovers)
But as a (partially) reforming cheese-a-holic, I need your help. What toppings have you tried on vegan pizza? What do you recommend? What toppings would you avoid? Leave your advice, suggestions, recipes and ideas in the comments below. I'll try them out, and may even post a follow up of any that stand out.
As an occasional meat-eater who loves fake meat, I doubt this is a first step toward true veganism for me. But rather a realization that we often get lazy when we cook with meat and dairy. By stripping out those tasty, yet conventional and energy intensive, ingredients, it gives us an opportunity to experience vegetables in a whole new light and challenge ourselves to get a little more creative with our cooking. Given that we should all be eating a whole lot more vegetables, that can only be a very good thing.