Vegging Out

I didn’t trust Phil Eherenman with his mop of curly blonde hair and his assertions that eating vegan would taste good.

You know, as in no milk, cheese, meat or fish. Then he handed me a bean quesadilla. I bit. It was cheesey, tangy, self-sufficient. How was it possible? Eherenman told me the cheese flavor was from nutritional yeast, the yellow-Velveeta color from roasted red bell peppers, there was a deep rich flavor from the liquid smoke.

“This is powerful stuff,” Eherenman said as he showed me how to make a dip he calls cheesy-beany spread.

Eherenman says he went vegan about seven years ago to improve his health. His knees had been hurting. He thought he’d developed arthritis after years of backpacking through Alaska. He says he had terrible cholesterol and high blood pressure. He was constipated and had hemorrhoids. And the snoring, it was awful.

“I couldn’t sleep at night,” Eherenman said.

So he became a vegan. Eherenman says all his health problems went away. He’s hiking again.

Now, to be honest, I’m not cut out to be a vegan. I love cheese way too much to give it up. I can’t imagine brunch without eggs Benedict and bacon or sausage. I start my day with hot chocolate for breakfast. But, I do understand wanting a healthier lifestyle and having more vegetables in your diet just seems like a good plan.

Eherenman, who teaches cooking classes, is amazingly passionate about being a vegan. He sold me on having more vegan dinners, although I probably won’t give up a meaty cheeseburger.

Cheesy-Beany Spread

  • 1 can white beans, drained
  • 1tbsp. tahini
  • 2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • 1-2 tbsp. roasted red bell pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (only if not using canned beans)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice (or more to taste)
  • a few drops of liquid smoke