This is a topic that I’ve been pondering how to discuss for a few days now, hence the delay in posting time.
I believe that cooking is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. It is an expression of self love in the highest degree. By taking the time to prepare each of the ingredients by hand (or with a gadget, as the recipe requires) you ensure not only that “you know what’s in it,” as is often said, but that the dish that comes out at the end is a creation that is uniquely yours.
This was true for your parents or other family members that cooked when you were young. Holidays like Thanksgiving or Easter (or Passover) centered around the unique creations of your family members. Family recipes and secrets were shared across the table, passed down through generations. Why should that be reserved for a special night every year?
Cooking can also be a spiritual experience, a way to connect with the world around you. When you begin to cook the subtleties of your food become more and more apparent. An heirloom tomato picked at its peak in June and sold at a farmers market tastes very different from a hothouse tomato picked in September, and both taste much better than a hothouse tomato shipped in January to a grocery store and gas ripened. You may find yourself gravitating naturally toward leafy greens, spicy salsas, fresh fruit salads and soy or cashew ice cream in the summer, then diving headfirst into delectable squashes and root veggies in the fall.
I know that every year when the artichokes come in to the supermarket I pick up 5-7 of them, steam them, and eat them with a cashew aioli! There’s just nothing like that fresh taste. Vegetables Wellington (which features asparagus as a key ingredient) just doesn’t taste as good any other time of the year as it does in late March and early April.
If you have the space and inclination, a garden will open wondrous possibilities in your cooking, as heirloom crops abound that can only be found in seed catalogs. I grow Yin Yang beans, which are similar in flavor to black turtle beans, almost every year in my backyard. It’s a ton of fun to can them when I’m done shucking them and they make an amazing chili!
Some people see taking time off from cooking, like going to a restaurant, as a reward for their hard work for the week. While going out might be a nice reward for yourself on a special occasion, if you do it too much it stops being memorable, and therefore stops being truly worth it. You end up spending significantly more to have a chef prepare you dishes that may or may not be seasonal and are prepared more to make a profit than to nourish or enrich you.
Besides all of that though, cooking becomes a true act of self love when you decide that you are worth prioritizing it for. Because you deserve fresh, delicious, seasonal food. Because cooking is a form of self-expression when we have time for few others. Because your body deserves the nourishment you get from the effort you put out to attain it. Because there are more options than ever to take as much or as little time as you need to, from slow cookers to pressure cookers to old timey all day casseroles. Because as a vegan, you’ve decided to cause as little harm as you can in this world, and that includes yourself. And because activism requires a strong body that is well loved and well nourished, whatever its size.
So prioritize time to cook. Because you’re worth it.