Being Vegan

There are many, many great resources for all that is vegan and those are posted below, but first we need to break the myths and stereotypes!

Vegan Food is…..real food!  

There is nothing “fake” or strange about vegan food because vegan food  is real food. An apple is vegan. So is a lemon, rice, oats, all-purpose flour.  It’s all vegan, because it all comes from plants. And we all eat these things every day.  So vegan cooking is just substituting some ingredients and changing the way we think about food.  It’s not scary or hard and there is no magic vegan dust (except nooch, but we will get to that).

Protein!  Will I get enough?!

First, let me just say two things: 

  1.  There are a lot of vegans in the world, and none of them have ever dropped dead from a  protein deficiency.  
  2. None of us are worried about the amount of protein we consumer either.

What I am saying is we aren’t consumed with worry, our exercise of choice is not hand-wringing, and we aren’t having health problems because of protein levels.  Eating a diet that consists of a wide variety of foods is going fuel your body the way it needs and it will set your mind at ease. (Warning: this might not alleviate this concern from friends and family.  They will always think you are going to die any minute because of your protein-deficient state of vegan-ness.)

But here is some news for you.  Guess what has protein? Kinda like everything that grows from the Earth!  Yes, my friends, it’s true. All plants have protein, the ones you are eating already do too.

Here are some mind-blowing examples: 

  • A banana has 1.3 grams of protein
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli has 4.2 grams of protein
  • An avocado has 4 grams of protein

So, if for your lunch you had an avocado wrap with spinach, hummus and red peppers, a cup of broccoli with some vegan ranch dip and a banana you would haul in about 13-15 grams of protein (depending on if your wrap was whole grain).  But wow, right?! And we haven’t even talked about the protein in quinoa, beans, tofu and other yummies you will be eating or are already eating!

Ok, glad we got those worries out of the way!  Phew! 

I’ll have to start over and learn a whole new way of cooking and eating!

Okay, this may be partly true depending on how you are eating now.  If you can’t remember the last time you ate a vegetable, the support group is tomorrow at 6 pm, show up with a salad to share. I’m joking, but in this case, yes, you will probably experience a whole new way of cooking and eating, but guess what?! You will probably surprise yourself by experimenting and eating foods you never dreamed of.

Why do I think I know so much?  Because I once couldn’t remember when I ate a fruit or vegetable!  Yes, it’s true, now we are going to delve into some deep therapy or past life regression or something new age-y like that. 

In my 20’s I ate a lot of processed food.  I ate burgers and chicken wings and potato chips (no one person should ever eat that many potato chips) and Oreos and Teddy Grahams and frosting out of the can (Hey, no judging here! This is a safe place!) (Footnote: joke was on me though, Oreos and Teddy Grahams are vegan – accidentally – but we will get to that!)

So I go vegetarian in my early thirties and I’m like oh shizzle! What am I to eat?  Well, I’m gonna tell you the truth. I didn’t like beans all that much and I just started experimenting with broccoli and I didn’t like spinach and asparagus and lots of other veggies.  I still don’t like mushrooms or olives, but I’m still a fantastic vegan! 

I went to the library and loitered in the cookbook section and found any and every vegetarian and vegan cookbook I could carry. (It was a lot, I wasn’t protein deficient yet!  Sorry, a little vegan humor.) Then I brought them home and spread them all out on my living room floor and found recipes that sounded appealing and changed out the veggies for the ones I actually liked.  I didn’t have a ton of cooking skills, but I found that cookbooks are full of education as well as recipes. They can tell you what flavors pair well together and also how to caramelize an onion or how to chop one up first in order to do so.  

After awhile I started trying new spices, and new veggies and new flavor combinations and, well, I got more daring.  And I kept checking out (then buying) but most importantly, reading cookbooks! The education that came along with all of that reading still goes on for me today.  I still read vegan cookbooks cover to cover and I have an extensive collection and I still check some out at the library.  

So, that was a long answer to the concern above, but if you are already a person who likes to try new things, loves farmers markets and the produce section, then you will only have to learn substitutions. Where ever you are in the journey, I am here for you!

Oh I can’t live without cheese!   

You don’t have to.  I sure as heck don’t! 

 “Wait, what?!” You say?

I make and buy and eat vegan cheese on the daily!  For years, my advice to new vegans was to give up dairy cheese for a good month, like the October kind with 31 days, before even trying to eat the vegan version.  Any vegan version. But now, with the vegan cheeses on the market (and some are damn close to whole food) and the ones you can make yourself (which are whole food) you can start now and give up cheese first!  Really. I sometimes shock myself when I say it.  

Soon you will experience vegan cheese like you have never imagined!

Vegans are self-righteous and preachy.

Look, it’s not for me to say what kind of vegan you want to be (but you better not be self-righteous and preachy!), but just be kind to yourself and to others.  It’s the only way. I always say that people need to help people help animals, so if you are doing things for animals and for yourself, just be kind to everyone around you in the process. Stick to the facts, and give them delicious food and everyone will be okay!

Ok, now that we got all of the judge-y stuff out of the way, let’s start cooking!  

Great vegan resources:

Vegan Street: Great info about all that is vegan complete with guides to vegan living, interviews, recipes, memes and a novel with a vegan superhero!

VegNews: An online and offline magazine with loads of recipes and lots of product recommendations, my favorite magazine to read cover-to-cover

Paid recipe sites/apps:

Meal Mentor – A comprehensive meal planning app with shopping lists and the ability to check off ingredients as you cook. New recipes appear on the app Friday mornings so you can plan your shopping and prepping (if you choose to) over the weekend for the following week. Most recipes are gluten-free or have a GF option. Most recipes are soy-free or with a soy-free option. No oil and healthy!

Forks Over Knives – Recipes, meal plans, success stories and cooking classes! This is one of the best resources for healthy (think reverse disease, lose weight) vegan lifestyle.