As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, many people use the day to do community clean-ups, spring cleaning household items or clothing to donate to neighbourhood organizations, or think about their own impacts on the earth by re-assessing their food choices and think about turning Vegan or Vegetarian to lessen the impact livestock-based farms may have on the environment.
Vegan vs Vegetarian
The core difference between these two dietary choices are simple. Vegans do not eat animal products, while vegetarians don’t eat animal meat/flesh, but may eat products that come from them (such as dairy and eggs) – although some semi-vegetarians may eat fish or seafood. People typically choose these diets because of health concerns, religious restrictions or moral concerns about harming animals and the environment.
Health Benefits of Plant-Based Diet
Whether you are choosing to become a Vegan or Vegetarian, or simply want to add more vegetables to your current diet, there are many health benefits of a plant-based meal.
According to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, here are just a few of the powerful benefits of a plant-based diet:
· It supports your immune system
· Plant foods reduce inflammation
· A plant-based diet helps maintain a healthy weight
· Plants are high in fiber
There are a number of websites, cookbooks, and YouTube videos to help you add more plant-based meals into your diet. It can be as simple as making sure you have a vegetable at every meal or ensure that half your plate is loaded with vegetables! These small changes can have a big impact on your overall health and well-being.
Vegan Cauliflower Tacos
Here is a delicious plant-based meal by Minimalist Baker that you can try right away!
· 2 small heads cauliflower (chopped into bite-sized pieces // smaller pieces roast more quickly!)
· 2-4 Tbsp avocado or coconut oil (if avoiding oil, omit or sub with water)
· 3 tsp ground cumin
· 2 tsp chili powder
· 2 tsp smoked paprika
· 1 tsp sea salt
· 4 cloves garlic (skin on)
· 1/4 cup raw almonds
· 1 15-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes (drained)
· 2 cloves raw garlic (peeled)
· 2 Tbsp olive oil (or sub water)
· 1 medium lime, juiced (~3 Tbsp or 45 ml as original recipe is written)
· 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
· 1/2 tsp cumin
· 1/4 tsp sea salt (plus more to taste)
· 1 Tbsp maple syrup (plus more to taste)
· 1-2 whole chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (more for spicier sauce)
· 12-15 whole corn tortillas (to keep grain-free, use my Plantain Tortillas)
· Lime juice / wedges
· Fresh cilantro (optional)
· Thinly sliced red cabbage (optional)
· Pepitas (optional)
· Sliced avocado (optional)
· Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (204 C) and add cauliflower to 2 large baking sheets (use more baking sheets if increasing batch size). Add oil (or omit/sub water), cumin, chili powder, paprika, and salt. Toss to combine and roast on the bottom rack for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and tender.
· To a separate baking sheet, add raw almonds and the 4 unpeeled garlic cloves (amount as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size). Roast on the center rack for 10-12 minutes or until the almonds have started to brown/crack and the garlic is starting to get golden brown in color. Remove from oven and set aside.
· While cauliflower finishes roasting, add drained, fire-roasted tomatoes to a high-speed blender along with almonds, roasted garlic (peeled), raw garlic (peeled), oil (or water), lime juice, paprika, cumin, salt, maple syrup, and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.
· Blend on high until creamy and smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more lime for acidity, garlic for kick/zing, salt for saltiness, paprika or cumin for smokiness, maple syrup to offset heat/add sweetness, or chipotle peppers for more heat.
· To serve, warm tortillas in the microwave or in the oven directly on the still-warm oven racks until pliable. Then add 1-2 Tbsp of the romesco sauce and a generous portion of cauliflower. Serve as is or garnish with lime juice/wedges, cilantro, cabbage, and/or pepitas (optional).
· Best when fresh. Store leftover sauce in the refrigerator up to 1 week (or 1 month in the freezer), and the cauliflower in the refrigerator up to 3 days. Reheat cauliflower in a 350-degree F (176 C) oven until warm (best when fresh).