Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Vegan Shepherd's Pie

I don’t like being negative.

In fact, I think being a positive vegan is one of the best things we can do. With so much anger pointed towards us by meat loving omnivores, it is nice to be positive in return. I firmly believe this is the best way to spread the love and message of veganism.

I think this is especially true when it comes to food. I talk about how awesome vegan food is so much that I am sure people are sick of hearing about it. “Yes, we know fried tofu with nutritional yeast is the best thing ever… We get it!”

When it comes to vegan recipes I have been pretty lucky. There are so many creative vegans out there coming up with really clever concepts and twists on old classics. I bow to these people because I am totally unable to be as creative as these folks. Maybe someday I will. But, until then just talk about others stuff. Which, I am perfectly okay with.

So, my latest attempt it a definite twist on old classic, shepherds pie. If you have never had it, it is basically a bowl of stuff mixed together, add gravy, and cover it in potatoes. Umm, awesome! So when I saw this super easy recipe for vegan shepherds pie, I had to try it!

Sadly, this just did not live up to my expectations. It was just okay. When you cover something in mashed potatoes, there is no excuse for it not to be at least okay. Alas, you can judge for yourself. I have included some extra special thoughts, along with the recipe, after the jump.

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

6 medium potatoes, washed, cubed, and steamed for 15 minutes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound firm tofu
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup green peas
1 teaspoon each dried basil and dried oregano
1 15-ounce can condensed tomato soup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mash potatoes and add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil. Add chopped onions and garlic, and heat until onions are translucent. Mash tofu and add to pan. Continue cooking on medium-high heat for 4 to 5 minutes. Add peas, basil, and oregano. Cook for one to two more minutes, and then set aside.

Lightly grease a 9-inch casserole dish. Spread tofu hash as the first layer; then, spread the tomato soup, and finally, the mashed potatoes. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes

Chubby Vegan Notes
  • This is crazy easy, which is a huge plus!
  • I think tofu was the wrong choice for this. A package of fake meat crumbles would be a million times better. You could even steam and crumble tempeh if you avoid fake meat. I love tofu but in this it just did not work right for me.
  • Peas are delicious, but I think you could add some more vegetables, like carrots and corn, to make this a little bit heartier.
  • Tomato soup…? I don’t know about you but I think that is a little weird. If you have a recipe for vegan brown gravy I would definitely use that before tomato soup. Soup is easy, easy, easy, but a little odd.
  • For a fun twist, I think using sweet potatoes would make this even better. I have a major crush on sweet potatoes though, so take that as you will.
  • Shepherd’s Pie is peasant food and should be adjusted as you see fit. A peasant would use what they had, so you should do the same.
  • If you have any more ideas on how to jazz this baby up, share them my way! 


  1. i'm your latest follower, sorry it took me so long to find your blog. hope to meet ya sometime since we're local bloggers :)

    - rick

  2. Thanks Rick! Hope you enjoy my blog!

  3. When do meat-loving omnivores direct anger toward vegans? I've never heard of anyone being hateful toward vegans for their choices, but I've heard plenty of it going in the other direction. Meat lovers are often called cruel (or have it implied by the constant use of the phrase "cruelty-free" in reference to vegan living). People who wear fur have paint thrown on them by PETA.

    I do think you have shed a positive light on vegan diets from a taste/interest standpoint, but I think you may be overestimating your positivity when it comes to your treatment of omnivores. To me, being positive is about promoting what you believe but not looking down on others who may choose to live differently, especially when it comes to a subject as widely influenced and deeply ingrained in us as food.

  4. Caity- I think this is one of those "have to be in my shoes to understand" type of things.

    When you go out to a restaurant and people roll their eyes when you start asking lots of questions. If you go to someones house for a party and they eat meat in front of you with this crazy look in their eyes and say, "Oh does this bother you... I just love meat." Also, when someone decides to follow a vegan (or even vegetarian diet) and they get lectures from their omni family about how it will be "so hard" and that you are just trying to "be difficult." Maybe when you share meat alternative recipes and people respond with talk about the horrible treatment of farm animals and livestock as "delicious." Maybe the countless comedians that ridicule vegans as being crazy lunatics who only act that way because "they are hungry." Perhaps when "mainstream society" criticizes all vegans for being crazy, hippie, animal rights activists who will chain themselves to a fish tank at Red Lobster... Want me to go on?

    In fact, it is one of the biggest surprises most vegans have when they decided to go vegan. "I am just so surprised by the anger..." I have heard it so many times.

    Of course, do I still love meat eaters regardless, of course. I may not agree with their choices but i am not going to cast hate or negativity on all of them. In fact, my positive message has turned many (formerly angry) omni friends into much more understanding and loving omnivores who may take a second look at the food on their plates.

    I am not out throwing blood on fur coats. I don't "look down" on anyone; how could I? I ate meat for longer than I have not. I simply state what my experience is. Ask almost any vegan if they have anger pointed towards them for their choices and I think you would be surprised by their answers.

    Not all vegans are nice to everyone. Not all PEOPLE are nice to everyone. However, this is my experience... Hope you can understand!

  5. I may not be as in tune with hatred toward vegans as you are, but a lot of the examples you gave don't really seem like an expression of anger so much as just idiocy. Server rolling their eyes at a restaurant? Not necessarily because you're vegan - more likely because servers are busy and anyone asking detailed questions about anything can be a nuisance. Lectures from family about how a vegan diet will be "so difficult"? Sounds more like confusion and lack of knowledge than anger. Countless comedians who criticize vegans? I guess I don't listen to enough stand-up. And mainstream society criticizing vegans for being crazy? I have seen more pro-vegan press lately than anything - a full episode of Oprah, constant talk about how celebrities are on vegan diets, etc. Not denying that there are angry people out there, but you have to realize it goes both ways.

    I read your blog because I enjoy seeing your take on things, but there have been many times that I've held back from commenting when I've felt as if a post (or part of one) was a little insulting to meat eaters. Maybe it's the disparity between reading words in print and hearing them spoken. Maybe I'm taking away a tone and an implication from your writing that isn't intended to be there. But dubbing a vegan lifestyle as the compassionate choice and emphasizing it as being cruelty-free seems to put you on a pedestal above the masses of mean, heartless omnivores. It comes off as a generalization that's a little "my way or the highway." Like I said, food is a very touchy and complicated facet of our lives. Eating animal-free may be the way you feel you can best live out your convictions, but eating meat and living a compassionate life are not mutually exclusive.

  6. I see your point Caity, although I don't agree with all of it.

    There has been a tremendous of positive press recently for vegans, if only that was really the norm. Remember, reading my blog and knowing me probably makes you a little hyper sensitive when you see those things in the media. If someone was talking about vegans 5 years ago, you probably would never have even noticed.

    Unfortunately, there is still so much anger towards vegans. Maybe my examples weren't the best for you, but they are real. There are many, many more but these are just a few that I have heard.

    I do think you hear my voice as much harsher than it is intended. If I really had such a problem with meat eaters I wouldn't live with one.

    I appreciate you reading my words and opinions. It is nice to have people like you to challenge our beliefs, if not only to make us work even harder to justify them.

    Love and tofu-

  7. OK, CV, one last comment because I'm a nitpicky control freak.

    A. Your living with a meat eater is a moot point since, no matter what Lady Gaga tells you, you were not born this way and your vegan epiphany occurred after you and "husband" were already well into your domestic bliss. Though you may no longer share his love of all things fleshy, a difference of opinion in the eating arena is probably not toss-yo-ass-to-the-curb-worthy.

    B. I don't think you have a problem, per se, with meat eaters. What I'm trying to get across is that when you proclaim yourself compassionate and cruelty-free because you don't use animal products, the unspoken implication is that those who do are just the opposite. I care deeply for animals and attempt to live what I consider to be a kind and compassionate life, so I resent the implication. That is all.

    Love and cage-free eggs-

  8. Try this with green lentils and a couple of tins of tomatoes instead of tofu and soup. Maybe stir in half a stock cube or a bit of marmite. Also mash in some parsnips with the potatoes...

  9. First off I love your blog I have made several things on here for my wife and kids and they have all been hits! Just made this the other day but replaced the tofu with vegan hamburger crumbles and replaced the tomato soup with a brown gravy and it was outstanding everyone devoured it. We also added corn, green beans, carrots and lima beans to the mix.

  10. Re: Caity ---The meat and dairy industry are very cruel indeed,people like you who purchase their products keep them in business therefore you help keep the cruelty going--you may not like the label ---sorry if the truth hurts!!!

  11. Awesome recipe! I made Shepherds pie the other day, and it wasn't vegan but you could adapt it to be! I was going to make it with red beans, but my husband insisted that we have meat (lean ground turkey) that night and I was cool with it. ^_^ Anyways, I did the ground turkey, 2 medium crookneck squash, 1 large red bell pepper, 1 medium green bell pepper, 1 large shallot, 1 small sweet onion, and mashed sweet potatoes

    I did balsamic vinegar with some ginger and salt/pepper to taste. It was super tasty. I didn't even think about thickening it, but I might try it next time!

    Thanks for the awesome recipe and review!

  12. I just need to put my two cents in here.... the picture you have of the ingredients above??? Well, the potatoes have a green tint to them. Never buy potatoes with a green tinge to their skin. That means they were exposed to light and produces a substance called solanine, a glycoalkaloid, which has been shown to be toxic. Yes, it's toxic in large quantities, but it does have the ability to give you a nice stomach ache and is not dispersed through cooking with high heat......

  13. I would substitute fresh or frozen peas instead of canned, because of the lack of nutrients in canned foods. Also, a homemade or store bought low-sodium veggie broth would be far healthier than canned tomato soup. For the meat, I'd totally use tofu, but I'd add a bit of nutritional yeast and vegan (probably homemade) Worcestershire sauce and crumble it after pressing. I'm totally with you on sweet potato substitute! Yum! And fresh herbs would go a long way toward making this really "kick"! Fresh tarragon, rosemary, oregano, etc. I'm making my self hungry here. Gotta go cook something! It's finally getting chilly here, and shepherds pie seem s like just the thing!


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