America is awesome when it comes to vegan food. It’s when I travel and have access to Western food that I remember this. During our travels throughout Thailand and Cambodia, we ran into so many Western restaurants, grocery stores, food items, etc. I would gawk as I walked down the street or the aisle of the grocery store, just taking in all the non-dairy milks, nut butters, cereals, and breads and more that I could buy instead of having to make myself (if only I wasn’t living out of a suitcase). I often forget all of the foods I don’t have access to when I’m in China, but the moment I step food in another country with Western shops, I’m reminded that China is all about their meat, eggs and dairy and a plant-based diet is still craziness to most of the locals here.
At first I usually get all “woah is me!” as I think through all the foods I used to be able to buy in America. It was so nice to be able to go out and buy almond milk if I didn’t want to make it. Or got to a vegan restaurant in NYC, have a delicious meal, and then choose from dairy-free and egg-free dessert options. Or buy a pre-packaged meal full of delicious plant ingredients when I was in a pinch and didn’t feel like cooking. It was awesome. And while I know a plant-based diet is still foreign and crazy to many Americans, it’s starting to catch on. YAY!
For example, thanks to Instagram, I learned that Ben and Jerry’s just produced their new non-dairy ice cream line! HELLO!? Can you ship me some? Also, So Delicious just started a new line of almond milks and yogurts that are carrageenan free. It also seems that vegan restaurants are popping up everywhere so that it’s really easy to eat out as a vegan in most cities. Basically, vegan products are popping up everywhere in America, making it super simple to follow a plant-based diet.
So, while there are days when I’m more aware of the lack of specialty vegan products here in China (a.k.a none), or I’m frustrated that I have to make my own homemade tortillas for our Mexican dinner, or I forgot that I don’t have any Homemade Oat Milk on hand and can’t make my muffins, I have SO much to be thankful for! Our city is overflowing with produce that’s cheap and sold close to our apartment. Rice, potatoes and noodles, which are cheap staple-foods, are everywhere. Not having access to lots of packaged or pre-made vegan foods also forces me be more creative with the foods I do have access too. Also, when I do travel or go home to America, I appreciate so much more all the delicious, plant-based foods and restaurants available to me.
Man, all this talk about food is making me hungry! Looks like a good time to start talking about this Brown Rice Salad with Italian Tahini Dressing. I love this salad because it’s full of so many different colors and textures and is hearty enough to eat as an entree. The celery and almonds add the perfect crunch and the chewy raisins give bursts of sweetness. Plus, with the protein from the brown rice, chickpeas and tahini, it’ll fill you up and keep you going for hours!
Feel free to switch up the add-ins or even the dressing. Cold rice and pasta salads are perfect recipes to be creative with! Let me know if you give this recipe a try and what you thing. Leave a comment or take a picture and tag #theconscientiouseater on Instagram!
- 4 cups cooked and cooled brown rice
- 1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup chopped red onion
- ½ cup chopped celery
- ½ cup raisins
- ½ cup almonds, chopped
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- Italian Tahini Dressing:
- 5 tablespoons tahini
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons water
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1.5 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs
- 2 clove garlic, minced
- black pepper
- Red pepper flakes
- Place the cooked and cooled rice in a large bowl. Stir in the chickpeas, red onion, celery, raisins, almonds and parsley.
- Stir the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and drizzle over the brown rice mixture.
- Toss to combine.
- Chill for 1 hour before serving.