Week One: Changing Vegan Perspectives
Junk food forever! It’s not all kale chips and chia seeds being a vegan – show us your fave vegan junk food.
Let it be known: I am a vegan — first and foremost, forever and always — for the animals. The environmental benefits come second, followed by human rights. A distant last? Health.
Look, I don’t doubt that a plant-based diet is heaps healthier than the so-called Standard American Diet. Anyone switching from consuming lots meat and dairy will probably experience health benefits. But do I believe that veganism will cure cancer/solve the alleged obesity epidemic (ugh)/guard its adherents against every disease? Hell no. Overblown health claims are, frankly, detrimental to the movement. If you promise a would-be vegan a life of perfect health and the reality doesn’t match up to that promise, how likely is she to stay vegan? Not very. Touting overblown health benefits is not an effective long-term strategy.
Plus, my veganism isn’t a diet; it’s a lifestyle that aims to reduce suffering. So, all this is to say that I love vegan junk food. Unashamedly. Do I indulge in it every day? No. My own body feels best and most in balance when I eat mostly whole foods, with lots of fruit and veggies. But that doesn’t mean I will not scarf down a bowl of ice cream or half a pan of apple crisp or yes, a large portion of a bag of Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos on a Friday night. (Yes, the latter is vegan. I know.) I might eat two or even all three of those.
However, I definitely do play favorites when it comes to vegan junk food. And my ultimate favorite will-drive-many-miles-to-obtain snack? Doughnuts. Delicious doughnuts. I used to think of them as the final frontier in vegan dessert, and craved them with a sugar-desiring hunger. (See this four-year-old post for proof of my obsession! And during VeganMoFo 2011, I talked about missing them. Ha!) Nowadays, I am #blessed to have two vegan doughnut producers in somewhat-easy reach, and I indulge whenever possible. And I have changed my mind about the final frontier: It’s angel food cake. Sigh. I miss that stuff.
So, doughnuts. My all-time favorite doughnut-slinging establishment is Glory Doughnuts, which I mentioned here. Not only does this all-vegan joint bake up dozens of creative doughnuts (those are maple bourbon, the coconutty Chewbacca, and key lime pie in the photo), but they also serve savory breakfasts that just scream “Sunday brunch!” Think tofu fried egg sandwiches, fried cookie butter-filled French toast, PBR-infused Belgian waffles… ugh. Plus, it’s a woman-owned business, which makes me love it even harder. If this place were closer to me (it’s about 25 minutes away, in historic Frederic, Maryland), I would be sorely tempted to eat there all too frequently.
Now, a newcomer to the Maryland vegan doughnut scene: Donut Alliance, previously mentioned here. I’ve only had their offerings once, but I was impressed. Clockwise from top left, that’s strawberry margarita, birthday cake, Samoa, and maple bacon. YUM. I really loved these light, fluffy doughnuts! Unfortunately for me, Donut Alliance doesn’t have a storefront and only sells their goods at Baltimore businesses. Baltimore is about an hour away, so my chances to indulge in these fried treats are few and far between. But I’ll take all the opportunities I can get!
Finally, my #1 choice for cake-y doughnuts: the inimitable Vegan Treats. Is there anything this mecca for sweet-toothed vegans can’t do?! VT is about a three-hour drive away, and I’ve only been there once (for my birthday!) BUT, our local Loving Hut (which is about 45 minutes away, in Falls Church), frequently has VT desserts on offer. That’s where I picked up the doughnut pictured above (and discussed, in great detail, here.) I used to brave the massively long Vegan Treats line at D.C. VegFest to get my fix, but now I’d rather just get some pho at Loving Hut and wrap it up with a VT dessert. ;)
Alas for me, I’ve never been to Dunwell or Voodoo or any of the other big-name vegan doughnuteries. One day. In the meantime, I’ll stick to my local faves. I also just became the proud owner of six individual doughnut ring pans and so far have made one baked chocolate doughnut recipe. It was… just OK. I think, at the end of the day, I’d prefer a deep-fried, totally unhealthy, professionally made doughnut. But if you’re open to homemade goodness, here are some recipes that look pretty good to me:
- These classic glazed doughnuts look heavenly. If I can overcome my fear of semi-deep-frying, I will try them!
- As far as baked doughnuts go, these maple-bacon ones look pretty darn good.
- Vaishali’s aquafaba-based brioche doughnuts make me drool whenever they pop up in my Pinterest feed. Again, just have to learn to deep-fry…!
- Baked apple cider doughnuts remind me of autumn in Minnesota. There was an orchard close to my college, and they made the best apple cider doughnuts.
- Another one to deep-fry: lemon-curd-filled doughnuts.
So. What’s your favorite vegan indulgence? And what’s the best purveyor of vegan doughnuts near you?