Are you a vegan? Or perhaps not, but just trying to shed some pounds after all the holiday indulgence? Or even simply trying to cut back on the meat and aspire to a healthier lifestyle, like me? Tight for time? Well, if any of these applies to you, this quick, delicious vegan raw salad is for you, my friend! It’s a true razzle-dazzler — for both the palate and the eyes!
Our vegan raw salad involves no cooking, can be prepared in 10 minutes or less, is low in calories, and is high in fiber and protein. It is made with fresh mixed greens, cucumbers…
… grape tomatoes…
…either vegan cheese or regular feta for the non-vegan — and dressed with a citrus vinaigrette.
It’s a dish with different textures and a combination of varied flavors such as bitter, salty, sweet, tangy, and spicy. I am hooked!
Believe it or not, 8% of the Brazilian population (more than 15 million) identify themselves as vegetarians as of 2012. That number may have increased even more by now, and includes all the different groups of vegetarianism such as veganism, ovo-vegetarian, lacto-vegetarian, macrobiotic, and so on. Vegetarianism, the practice of abstaining from the consumption of meats and/or animal by-products, is on the rise all over the world. My home country of Brazil is no exception! Its percentage of vegetarians places it behind only a handful of other countries such as India (31%), Taiwan (13%), Italy and Sweden (10%), Germany and Austria (9%), and the UK (7-11%).
That is saying a lot considering that we have the largest commercial herd of cattle in the world (more than 200 head per person) and a huge tradition of beef consumption and grilling of meats (barbecue or churrasco).
If you are a vegetarian planning a trip to Rio for the upcoming Olympic games or to the rest of Brazil for other purposes, don’t worry! You will have great options there — from sit-down and buffet restaurants to fast food chains. Yes!!! You heard me right.
Of course, the reasons for the growth of vegetarianism in Brazil — as in the rest of the world — vary from person to the next. Some include health-related, political, religious, ethical, environmental, cultural, aesthetic, or economic reasons. Studies have shown that compared to omnivores, vegetarian dieters have lower overall mortality rates and benefit from a reduced incidence of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cerebrovascular disease. Many also look to this lifestyle as a way to cut back on the fat and get or stay slim.
Are you a vegetarian? Why? Or why not?
I confess that I am not. I love a good chunk of beef and especially churrasco (barbecued meats). But still I have cut back my meat consumption considerably for health reasons.
May this be the year of your best self!
Vegan Raw Salad
- For the vegan raw salad:
- 3 oz Organic spring mix and baby spinach (Half & Half Mix) or other fresh greens of your choice
- 1 medium to large cucumber washed and sliced into rounds
- 1 large watermelon radish washed, sliced into rounds, and then quartered
- 12 or more grape tomatoes washed
- 1/2 to 1 cup soy feta cheese dairy-free almond feta cheese, tofu, or other of your choice, crumbled or chunked (Cooked quinoa also makes a great substitute for vegans. If you are not vegan, you can use regular feta cheese, shaved Parmesan cheese or other of your choice)
- A few leaves of fresh basil to garnish optional
- For the citrus vinaigrette:
- 3 tablespoons olive oil or other vegetable oil of your choice
- 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange or lemon juice
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
- 1-2 teaspoons maple syrup or agave nectar (if you are not vegan you can use a pinch of sugar instead if desired)
- Place greens on a serving plate, and arrange the other vegetables on top of the greens as follows: cucumber rounds along the upper-rim of the plate, quartered radish distributed on both sides, and tomatoes along the lower-rim.
- Prepare the vinaigrette by placing all ingredients into a small jar with lid securely fastened and then shaking well until homogeneous. Alternatively, place juice, salt, pepper, and maple syrup into a small bowl and whisk while pouring in the oil slowly. Whisk well until mixture is homogeneous.
- This vegan raw salad should be dressed right before serving, or served on the side. Yield: 2 if served as main dish, or 4 if served as a side dish.
Suggestions: Depending on your diet or needs/likes, roasted nuts, hard-boiled eggs, or shrimp/fish can be added to the salad or simply used as a substitution for cheese.