Thoughts on Veganism and My Favorite Food

I haven’t talked about it much, but I was raised in a vegan household. My parents are ex-hippies that still cling to some of the vestiges of the Summer of Love, even though they both became quite successful in their careers. It’s a bit strange to see an avowed hippie like my dad (who still says things like “far out, man!”) riding around in a brand-new E-Class Mercedes. But such is life – we’re all a bit of a mystery, right?

When I grew up and started making my own nutritional decisions, I learned to love the dairy, meat, and fish that my folks still avoid. I will say that I only eat those items sparingly, for health reasons more than any political motivation.

I still feel a little ashamed that my  all-time favorite food is a simple steak and mushroom pie. In hopes that it will relieve me of my shame, I’m gonna share some different takes on the dish I found online, describe what (in my opinion) makes a great pie, and hopefully work out a compromise between the veganism I was raised with and the red meat dishes I consider guilty pleasures.

For examplethis vegetarian recipe for steak mushroom pie is a fairly close imitation of the real thing. While traditional versions of the dish contain red meat, this recipe uses Quorn meat substitute instead. Though it is not a vegan recipe (it contains ingredients like eggs and cream) it is a nice compromise between the diet I was raised with and one that includes some animal-derived products. I’ve made this version twice, and I have a bit of advice if you give it a try: fry your own favorite mushrooms in butter and pour them over the top of the pastry before service. Fresh mushrooms cooked in butter add a little of what’s missing when you don’t use actual steak.

If you want to get a taste of the real deal, I recommend this very easy version I found on the Daily Mail’s website. Though I’m not a fan of the cubed steak they suggest (to cut down on the fat content), I pretty much follow it to the letter. Personally, I think the kind of steak used to make the dish matters – I prefer dry-aged rump steak because it is extremely tender but still carries a strong flavor.

So what makes a great steak and mushroom pie besides the choice of meat? Three things, in the opinion of THIS ex-vegan child of the hippie movement: perfect pastry, wild or organic packaged mushrooms, and your favorite hot sauce or salsa. If you’re not a fan of spicy food, at least add garlic, green onions, or another ingredient to add aroma and taste to the dish.

Now that I’ve shared my secret passion for a dish built around steak, I’m hoping I can start to come to grips with the diet I’ve chosen. The idea behind my post is simple – share your little secret with a world of strangers and it will be easier to talk to my folks about it. Sure, it’s a little weird for a grown man to be scared of his parents’ opinion, but up until I put this post together I never thought I could come clean. Have a favorite version of this dish you want to share? Questions about preparing the meal? I’m here to talk steak pie with anyone. So drop me a line!

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