What's for vegan dinner?

Traditional what-I-had-for-dinner blog photo, this one from Christmas 2013, the vegan lasagna from The Vegetarian Soul Food Cookbook by Imar Hutchins and Dawn Marie Daniels (Epiphany, 2001).

Hey, Happy Day After Christmas, and welcome to the new blog V for Vegan.

If you know my biweekly column V for Veg in the Daily News, you know why I'm here. If not -- very briefly, I've been vegetarian since 1985 and went vegan in 2000, the same time I started working at the Daily News. My motivation is living in accordance with my ethical worldview, though as a corollary I have also improved the healthfulness of my diet.

At any rate, during the past decade I wrote a dozen or so Features stories for the Daily News about vegan eating in and around Philly as 'vegan' went from a crazy fringe phenomenon to something everyone's heard of, even if they haven't tried it. Yet.

Launching in July 2011, "V for Veg" allowed me to cover this beat on a regular basis, while becoming better acquainted with a community of readers, eaters and activists who share an interest in animal-free lifestyles. It's to the credit of the Daily News' pugnacious "attytood" (and my editor Laurie Conrad!) that a big-city daily tabloid in the city of cheesesteaks even runs a vegan column, but it also speaks to the growing appeal of vegan eating among different kinds of people for health, ethics and environmental concerns. So yeah, V for Veg is still going strong and will bring you the latest big news every other Thursday.

Meanwhile, though, the Sherwin-Williamslike spread of veganism and interest in it increasingly generates many bite-size plant-based news nuggets, and not all of them can find their way into a column on a given topic at a given time. That's a key reason we launched V for Vegan.

In addition to providing an outlet for those news bites that fall outside the schedule or theme of V for Veg, I'm looking forward to bringing you "breaking" vegan news more promptly; to showcasing some of the conversations that come up in the column but get cut for space; to keeping track of local and national vegan media milestones as they happen (when I submitted my column I still didn't know if by today Jay Z and Beyonce would still be vegan! I know!); to promoting vegan-oriented events; and most importantly, as Philly-area eateries add more vegan offerings, to creating along with you the most complete picture of plant-based living in the Delaware Valley.

Of course, our main concern, as always, will be food, so it makes sense to start there. It will surprise no one to hear that I had no turkey, goose or ham for yesterday's Christmas dinner. My family (hey, I did all the spinach-chopping!) made our quasi-traditional lasagna out of the Vegetarian Soul Food Cookbook by Imar Hutchins and Dawn Marie Daniels. The recipe is quirky, and it has one or two odd glitches (like failing to mention lasagna noodles as a necessary ingredient) but it's still the best vegan lasagna I've ever made - OK, helped make! It involves a freshly made plum tomato sauce and a flavorful tofu Ricotta. For ours (pictured), we used Daiya mozzarella instead of the oh-so-outmoded "soy mozzarella" listed in the 2001 recipe.

If you had a special plant-based dinner yesterday, whether for Christmas or otherwise, feel free to compare and contrast - or just to say hello. V for Vegan is a place to catch a couple news bites or fill up on vegan topics. Welcome!

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