Vegans are often under the misconception that we eat nothing but plants all day, but there are so many exciting ways to eat our favorite foods without including meat, eggs, and dairy. To your surprise we aren’t gnawing on stems of kale or forcing ourselves to enjoy the taste of tofu. When people notice I am not eating meat they get a look of confusion on their face and ask ‘So what do you eat?’ For all the skeptics, soon to be herbivores, or current plant based warriors under constant question, I have created a list to prove there is diversity in our day to day meals.
Fruits and Veggies
This may be a given however, they are essential in any plant based diet. Since my paleo, carnivorous days, I’ve noticed I’ve eaten much more fruit and veggies than I ever have, as goes for most vegans. Fruits and veggies don’t have to be boring, you can roast them, sauté them, season them, whatever you like. Adding fruits and vegetables to every meal will do wonderful things for you such as: improving your mood, skin, digestive system and so much more. When you’re eating fresh fruits and veggies you don’t have to worry about reading labels or ingredients, just give it a rinse and you’re eating clean!
Whether it is beans, lentils, or peanuts they are an essential for most vegan meals. They’re high in protein, fiber, and vitamins. You can pair them with almost anything and they taste delicious. There are so many different kinds of beans that it is hard to get tired of them. They pair well while trying to recreate any international meal. It is true that beans are the magical fruit, with that being said make sure to pay close attention to your body and how it reacts to different legumes, some have more effects than others.
Seeds, Nuts and Nut butters
Seeds, nuts and nut butters were a gift from nature, in just a handful (or spoonful) there is enough action in there to keep our appetite and bodies happy! They curve your appetite for hours, stimulate brain function and, have essential fatty acids and vitamins to give us substantial nutrients. For example; pumpkin chia, and hemp seeds are known to be high in protein, Iron, and fatty acids. These are not only a great source of fiber, but also an anti-inflammatory.
Mock Meat or Meat Substitutes
Mock meat is a great way to help you stay sane while all your friends and family are devouring steaks and cheeseburgers during a barbeque, holiday dinner, or just for a change from your average bean and kale salad. Most “meats” are made from; Tofu which is made from soybeans, Tempeh is a fermented soybean (makes it easier on your digestive system) and Seitan which is from wheat gluten. These options can taste like chicken, sausage and even fish, there isn’t a flavor that we herbivores could be missing out on. If we want to stick to the natural way of eating these meat substitutes, the three of the options can be marinated and seasoned to the taste or theme of your meal.
Smoothies and Juices
Smoothies and Juices are a fun and refreshing way to get your nutrients in for that meal. You can have a totally green smoothie that have all your favorite nutrient dense leafy greens, a protein packed smoothie, or a fruity smoothie bowl. There is no wrong way to make a smoothie, have fun with it. You can add a plant based protein powder for post workout or to keep you full longer. A thick fruit smoothie bowl first thing in the morning can help you feel refreshed and ready for the day. Add exciting toppings like chia seeds, shaved coconut or cocoa nibs for extra flavor. If you want to still drink your meal and not have all the sugar (of course it is the good sugar) flowing through your veins a Juice is just as delicious. Although some people agree they aren’t as filling, they can be used to detox and heal your gut, and get your veggies in for the day. If you aren’t a fan of the taste of watered down vegetables try adding a small amount of fruit or pair it with a sweeter veggie like carrots. Juices and Smoothies are a vegan’s best friend, an investment in any blender will be worth it.
My personal recommendation and the best seller on Amazon.com is the Magic Bullet NutriBullet. It is a convenient way to make single servings of smoothies and Juices without a huge mess to clean up. This set comes with different serving sizes so you can share your creation or have some left over.
Grains are the primary base for many plant based meals. There are numbers of delicious grains to choose from and all have a distinct flavor; Rye, millet, buckwheat, and oats to name a few. There are naturally gluten free grains so they can be suitable for any vegan if they have gluten sensitivities. Quinoa is a vegan favorite because it is a complete protein, that means that is has all of the nine essential fatty acids; it is also high in iron which can often be a decency in a vegan diet (along with any animal food diet). Oats are another common grain in the plant based way of eating. It is high in dietary fiber, decreases the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, and can be delicious in any way you eat them. You can make overnight oats, toast the oats, or add your favorite nut milk and fruit to it. Like legumes, many grains pair with international meals or you can you can get creative and create your own recipes.
In a nutshell, Vegans eat exactly what the rest of the world eats minus the animal products. Don’t be afraid to try new recipes with foods you never thought of trying. Being plant based may requires you to be more creative with your meals, but keeping it exciting will keep you successful in your vegan adventure. Also, don’t be surprised when you actually end up gnawing on kale stems because you actually think it tastes good.