Over the last few years, more and more people are either cutting down on meat consumption or going vegan. But the reason behind this does not only reside in caring about the animals living on our planet as one may think: vegan diets are gaining more popularity due to their health benefits when compared with meat-based ones. One of those benefits is that vegetarian and vegan diets are considered to be higher in fiber and lower in cholesterol than omnivorous diets. For example, a recent study that involved forty-eight thousand vegan, vegetarians and omnivorous people and that followed and kept track of their health over the course of eighteen years, found that vegetarians and vegans have a lower risk of heart diseases, among a number of other different positive results.
However, many critiques still exist. The most famous one against vegan and vegetarian diets is that their dishes are boring and not as flavourful as meat-based ones. People tend to believe that vegans and vegetarians only eat lettuce and tomato salads, but we are here to debunk this myth.
Vegan diets and new ingredients
It is paramount to counter these critiques to show how many different ingredients can make up a vegan diet. A number of tasty, nutritious and new ingredients can be incorporated to make them more healthier and complex. Vegan and vegetarian dishes can be pretty exciting and fun to eat if one is open to exploring and trying new recipes.
Orzo, for example, is a small-shaped pasta made with semolina flour. It is not commonly consumed in the western part of the world and it is super versatile. It is classified as a pastina (tiny shapes of pasta commonly used for soups and broths) and it goes incredibly well in salads and also as a side dish. There are a lot of different orzo recipes you can try, but the simplest way of making it is cooking it in boiling salty water for ten minutes and then add it to whatever dish you want.
Vegan Greek Orzo Salad
Try to make this recipe at home and bring Greek cooking into your life. You’ll be surprised at how simple and delicious it is.
- 16 Ounces of orzo pasta.
- 3 cups of baby spinach.
- 1 Red bell pepper, diced.
- 1 small red onion, diced.
- 1 small cucumber, diced.
- Green olives, to taste.
- Sun-dried tomatoes, to taste.
- Canola oil.
- Olive oil.
- Vegan parmesan cheese, to taste.
- The juice of a lemon.
- Kosher and black pepper, to taste.
- Oregano, to taste.
- Start by making the short orzo noodles. In a pot, bring water to a boil (make sure to season water with some salt). Cook the orzo noodles until the pasta is al dente (that’ll take about 10 min). Drain, rinse and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl add the spinach, gently torn into large pieces and the diced, raw vegetables (red onion, red bell pepper, cucumber). Add the olives and sun-dried tomatoes.
- In a smaller bowl, add olive oil, canola oil, the juice of a lemon and whisk to make a vinaigrette.
- Add the vinaigrette to the now cooled-down orzo pasta and add this mixture to the vegetables. Fold until all the ingredients are coated. Top with vegan parmesan cheese and refrigerate for, at least, an hour.
- Serve this to your skeptical meat-eater friends, show them how delicious and fun a vegan salad can be and enjoy!
- The ingredients of this salad will develop more flavor over time; so, if you are planning a meal with your friends, make this pasta salad one day before! You’ll be amazed at how delicious it will turn out.
- For your pasta to better absorb the dressing, make it al dente. Take it out of the boiling water after 8 minutes, or when it is still a little bit firm to the bite.
- Try to chop all your vegetables into similar bite-size pieces. By doing this, each forkful will have all the ingredients and you’ll be able to taste every one of them at once, a true journey full of flavor.
If you are vegetarian, try replacing vegan parmesan with feta cheese to get the full Greek-Mediterranean experience.