Make vegan living easier with these eight appliances.
Call it a trend, a fad, or a mass movement towards a conscious way of living, veganism has grown over the years by leaps and bounds, and is definitely here to stay.
Whether as a social justice movement, or as a conscious lifestyle change made by upwardly mobile global consumers, it has definitely made some inroads in many cosmopolitan cities across the world.
But being vegan and following a plant-based diet are two very different things, and there is a planetary difference between the two. While one of them can be followed at convenience and at will, the other requires constant effort, and a complete lifestyle change with accomodations to be made in every aspect of living. Unless one is supremely wealthy, one of the most undeniable facts about being vegan is the sheer amount of cooking that you’ll have to do for yourself.
Whether it is waking up at seven in the morning to milk the almonds, staying up late to leave the chickpeas overnight to soak, or making your own dairy alternatives right from scratch, vegan cooking can be challenging at the best of times, and frustrating at worst. When you’re really down in the dumps and have literally no energy left in you by the end of the week, the temptation to run down to the store to grab a readymade non-vegan version of an ingredient is very high.
With that being said, there’s nothing that can’t be achieved with a bit of planning, preparation, and hard work. You can make veganism work even when you’re burried under a mountain of work and family pressures, and you’re just gasping for some fresh air.
So wouldn’t it make better sense to invest in a gadget of some sort that can take some of the load off of you, and allow you to enjoy some delectable plant-based fare, stress-free? You can gladly utilize your weekends and off days to do some meal prep so that you aren’t stumped for options when you get home from work completely tired and worn out. It will also help you keep unhealthy temptations at bay.
Depending on the kind of diet and cuisine you follow, you’ll want to have a specific set of appliances that will greatly facilitate your transition towards a kinder, greener way of living that isn’t hard on your body, the planet, or on our companion animals, the plant-based diet.
The most essential ones I can list right off the top of my head are:
a.) A food processor
b.) A mixer grinder
c.) A nut milk maker
But you’re going to need way more than these basic appliances if you intend to turn veganism into a lifestyle instead of just a hobby or a passing fad.
So let’s dig in:
A food processor or Blender
Whether it's for the walnut bits in your no-bake brownies, or the crushed almonds on cakes, a food processor helps you grind nuts to just the right consistency for all your favourite festive treats. It not only helps with desserts and baking, but with cooking too. Whether you need thinly shredded lettuce for a garden salad or smooth hummus paste for your Falafels, the food processor is a great appliance to have in a vegan kitchen.
They usually come with multiple blades as attachments and this allows you to accomplish a variety of tasks such as chopping, kneading, grating, and slicing. Food processors can also be used to make nut butters and flours, two vegan ingredients that can be prohibitively expensive outside.
Apart from a food processor, you could also try investing in a blender. Blenders can be utilized to make a range of vegan yummies such as smoothies, dips, ice creams, salad dressings, or even to whip up some delicious raw vegan soup in case you’re feeling particularly healthy.
Unlike a food processor, which only shreds and shears ingredients, a grinder comes in handy for wet grinding, pureeing, and juicing, helping you achieve that liquid smooth consistency that many dishes call for.
Whether you want to grind some smooth Indian coconut chutney, or make the paste to a raw vegan Pasta, a grinder is a priceless piece of equipment to have in your vegan kitchen inventory. It is one of the cheapest items on this list which you’re most likely to already own since it is so versatile and is standard kitchen equipment in most cultures. It can also be easily found in most appliance stores.
Make sure to purchase all three sizes of jars in order to grind different ingredients to their required consistency.
A nut milk maker
If you want to save a ton of money on store-bought packaged milks, then a nut milk maker is a great appliance to lay your hands on. Processed vegan mylks can be ridiculously expensive, costing anywhere between twice to five times the price of their dairy counterparts! And over the long run, this can really make a dent in your wallet.
Hence, it would be wise to invest in a nut milk maker, which would not only help with your daily dairy alternative needs, but also in all your other recipes and culinary creations. After all, plant-based milks aren’t used only in beverages but come in handy for main course cooking as well. Even if you make big batches, nothing ever goes to waste as you learn about different uses for different kinds of vegan mylks over the course of time.
Many of my vegan friends have, over the years, learnt the art of not wasting and now can successfully incorporate the remaining milk into some dish or the other by the end of the week. For example, if I’ve made almond milk for the week for my daily Coffee but still have some left over at the end for whatever reason, I know that I can happily utilize it to make milkshake, ice cream, smoothies, or even finish off the last bit of it with a bowl of cereal. Talk about versatility!
Beside the environmental and energy benefits of not purchasing packaged milk, the other advantages of owning a nut milk maker are:
- The nuts don’t have to be soaked overnight for preparation in the morning.
- Fresh creamy nut milk is ready for usage within just 5–20 minutes of grinding.
- You get only pure nut milk and nothing else. Usually, store bought milks contain only a tiny percentage of the main ingredient with the rest being covered up by fillers, gums, and preservatives, which aren’t exactly great for health in the long run.
Do note that some machines require that you soak the nuts prior to putting them into the machine for milking. And some others require that you use them in combination with a blender or a nut milk bag in order to achieve that smooth, creamy consistency. Some have large storage containers and can make big batches for families, and some have smaller ones that are more apt for single person use.
With so much variety and variability in the features of nut milk makers, one really has to do some homework before choosing a machine so that they can pick the one that suits their lifestyle and consumption patterns the best.
Needless to say, the costlier the machine, the better its features. I’d definitely call nut milk makers a vegan essential!
So why did I include these three in my list of essential equipment? Because they ease your transition into the lifestyle, helping you get into it gradually one step at a time. Besides, barring the nut milk maker, food processors and mixer grinders are standard equipment in most kitchens. So you most likely already own them.
Now, let’s take a look at the rest of the optional equipment on my list, which aren’t essential but great to have.
You’ll be delighted that you got yourself a baking oven prior to going vegan. When it comes to sweet treats, cookies, confectionery, pastries, and desserts, vegan versions available outside are few and far between, or completely non-existent at many places.
What are you going to indulge in when everyone's stuffing their faces with scrumptious holiday fare during festivals and celebratory occasions?
You won’t be able to eat 99% of the stuff they’re eating, and in most cultures, festive dishes are almost one hundred percent non-vegan!
So whether you’ll be visiting your relatives during Christmas, or having your brother and his family over for Diwali, you must have access to something festive and celebratory that is vegan and delicious. Else, you’ll give into the temptation and consume animal based treats just for the sake of the celebrations and terribly regret it later. (we’ve all been there)
So get yourself an oven, put on those mitts, and start baking some cruelty-free goodness!
A secondary item which you could lay your hands on to complement your baking arsenal is a stand mixer.
Stand mixers can be used for kneading dough or whisking egg replacements into freshly usable batter/mixture ready to be turned into your kids favourite cake, doughnut, pancake, cookie, or muffin. And for those of you with space or budget constraints, a hand mixer could always fill in for the stand mixer, helping you accomplish the very same tasks with a bit more effort.
These appliances could be purchased for regular use, kept aside for festive occassions, or whenever the baker inside you chooses to manifest him or herself in the kitchen from time to time.
An Ice Cream Maker
An ice cream maker is a wonderful appliance to have in your vegan kitchen arsenal. Some of us might even call it a must-have.
You’ll not only be able to impress your friends and relatives with smooth, rich and creamy vegan ice cream whenever they come over, but will also have something to cool down with after a long hot day spent lazing by the beach or exercising out in the sun.
By preparing and storing your own plant-based ice cream in the refrigerator, you greatly reduce the temptation to reach out for anything dairy based. This is undeniably one of the biggest reasons to get yourself an ice cream maker. Ice cream makers also help you get ice cream done to just the right consistency, something that you’ll struggle to achieve on your own when it comes to plant-based milks.
On the whole, you’ll save an enormous amount of time, effort, and energy by investing in an ice cream maker while going vegan. I’ve made delicious vegan chocolate ice cream using ice cream makers and also without using them. And trust me, after using an ice cream maker you’ll never want to go through the hassle of manually preparing plant-based ice cream ever again. The consistency of the ice cream was so smooth, rich and creamy, I couldn’t make out the difference between the store brought one and this one.
But the one I made without the ice cream maker was terrible, its consistency was almost ice like, and this was even after getting up to manually stir the mixture in the fridge every hour or so. So much wasted effort for nothing! It was such a huge hassle. Now I either buy regular vegan packaged ice cream from the store, or use my ice cream maker to make some ice cream all for myself.
An Air Fryer
An air fryer can be a great alternative to fried snacks and deep-fried delicacies, regardless of the diet you follow. But when you’re already following a diet that’s overflowing with health, why not go all the way and make the dish a hundred percent healthy? Granted that air fryers might not make your dishes completely healthy, but the amount of oil needed is greatly reduced. And we all know that deep frying is notorious for causing type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and certain cancers, don’t we?
You want to enjoy your food, not regret ingesting all that excess oil that was only needed to make the food edible.
So whether you’re making some delicious Chickn’ nuggets to enjoy a movie binge session, or some Pakodas to go with your evening Masala Chai, an air fryer can let you have all the fun with none of the guilt. So go ahead and invest in one today.
A juicer isn’t a “must-have” on a vegan diet per se. Unless you’re a gym freak, live in a terribly hot place, or are one of those fitness obsessed types, you really don’t require a juicer to live vegan. Besides, mixer grinders do a pretty great job of making fruit juices on their own. It’s only when it comes to juicing fibrous hard vegetables and some sturdy fruits that you’ll actually find yourself lacking a juicer at home. So unless you’re truly obsessed with health and fitness that makes you want to drink raw vegetable juices every single day, you can totally do without it.
Besides, many plant-based doctors advise people to eat fruits and vegetables just as they are without foregoing the goodness of fiber in the pulp, which would just be discarded and wasted while using a juicer. But hey, to each his own. So do what you got to do.
A Food Dehydrator
I saved the least essential for last.
A food dehydrator isn’t a must unless you hike on land, sail out in the open oceans, travel extensively, or go on long expeditions where you’re away from civilization for extended periods of time.
It does come in handy when you want to prepare and preserve food for a long duration regardless of the reason. But unless you live in one of those cold arctic regions, indulge in a lot of hiking and adventure sports, or are planning to get into the raw vegan lifestyle, I’d say skip the food dehydrator and invest in an oven instead.
Even an oven is really essential only to those who have a sweet tooth, or who bake the majority of their food.
You’ll know exactly what you need a few months into the vegan lifestyle. So don’t stress about it and don’t go running around to purchase expensive equipment like dehydrators and ovens just because your favourite vegan role models are.
Buy only appliances which you feel are necessary for your own personal transition to a plant-based diet. Not because someone else is buying it.
Regardless of what anyone else says, if you personally feel that a certain piece of equipment will aid your transition towards a healthier diet, you should totally go for it without an iota of remorse or regret about the consumerism part. You’re already doing a lot for the planet being vegan, so you can definitely choose to simmer there for a while. We must not ruin our mental health and sanity in constant pursuit of the highest ideal.
A lot of vegan influencers are constantly pushing all kinds of gadgets and kitchen equipment onto unsuspecting and gullible new vegans. Remember that they get paid to do this, and you could might as well do totally fine without such expensive equipment.
You may save a ton of money on hospital bills and medicine on a healthy vegan diet, but not if you’re spending the very same, if not even more money on expensive gadgets, convenience products, and gourmet processed food. Make sure to do your own due diligence with every product or gadget you see advertised by a vegan influencer or celebrity. Always ask yourself, “Do I really need this?”, or “How is this going to make my vegan lifestyle easier?”.
Therein will you find your real reason to purchase or not to purchase that appliance in question.