Why every meat eater should try to eat a 100% plant based diet for a week at least once.
Why? Well, why not?! Eating a 100% plant based diet might not be for everyone. Even a vegetarian diet is not suitable for all. However, we need to honor the climate and the season we are in, as well as the unique needs of our bodies. And there’s only one way to find out if going vegan agrees with you – try it!
You may ask: What if I am hungry all the time? What if the food doesn’t taste good? Fair questions. But what if you feel better, physically? What if you have improved energy? What if you discover new veggies and fruits? What if you try new recipes and actually love them?
So we challenge you to be vegan for a week! Here are some insights for your 7 day discovery.
There are a few approaches to this…
- Junky vegan – frozen vegan burritos, vegan pizzas, over processed veggie burger patties and potato chips, mac & cheese, french fries, cookies, donuts, muffins, the list goes on and on, there’s plenty of vegan junk food. Just because it is vegan doesn’t automatically mean it is good for you. You won’t feel good, your body won’t get necessary nutrients – not recommended on daily basis.
- Ambitious vegan – cooking everything from scratch is great if you have lots of time, have a week of less commitments, but might leave you frustrated and defeated as you try to flip that veggie patty and it turns into a scramble. You don’t have to do it all.
- Healthy vegan (ideal) – focus on whole foods, include lots of veggies, grains, legumes, make one pot meals and load up on healthy snacks. When buying prepared foods, check ingredients – the less the better!
Eating out will be a challenge. HOW BIG of a challenge depends on where you live and what you like. Use things like Yelp, Happy Cow, and good old internet searches for vegan friendly places near you. Some common places that make it easy are Chipotle, Panera Bread, Jamba juice, and even Whole Foods’ hot and salad bar. Indian, Asian and Italian menus are quite manageable. Pizza without cheese is not that bad! (Seriously… try it!) If you live near a Veggie Grill or other vegan establishments, you are in luck! Explore! Be prepared and pack snacks to take with you, I promise this will make it easier. Pack things like apples, bananas, raisins, nuts, dark chocolate and protein or granola bars just for emergencies.
It’s true, many veganized versions of more common foods are just not tasty. Cardboard, rubber or hockey puck-like qualities are just a few descriptions from vegans and meat-eaters, alike. But there are some substitute foods that I have found in fridges of non-vegans – Veganaise, Just Mayo, vegan ice creams (so good), and cultured coconut yogurts that please everyone! Discover them for yourself!
Although it might not seem so at first, there is PLENTY TO EAT.
Sandwiches. So many options. Who can resist avocado or hummus (or both), any veggies you love (tomato works great!), maybe a little veganaise. Stick some tempeh or Gardein patties, add salt and pepper – YUM! Choose whole grain bread to keep it healthy and nourishing. Don’t be afraid to add green onion, herbs and spices for flavor. Simple hint: Peanut butter & jelly is usually vegan. For variety there are almond, hazelnut and other nut butters, and different breads. But be careful: make sure to check ingredients, some breads are not vegan!
Stir fry. Cut up your new favorite veggies (mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, bell pepper is a good place to start), add in some tempeh or tofu (try flavored first) and delicious stir fry sauce (read ingredients), cook and voila!
Burritos and Wraps. Very easy and delicious, you just need to replace the protein, leave out cheese and sour cream. Try Chipotle’s burrito with soffritas for inspiration, you won’t complain too much.
Tofu scramble. The key is to add spices for flavor and a dash of turmeric to turn pale tofu bright yellow. This is a great replacement for eggs.
Salads. They don’t have to be just leaves. Add other veggies, quinoa, fruit and other yummy ingredients! Check out this quinoa power salad for ideas!
You might receive a lot of questions, scrutiny or teasing from your friends, family or colleagues. The best way to deal is to share your newly-found delicious foods with them. You might discover that food is more than just food. It is a very social and personal thing. When you turn down your mom’s best meat dish, it can get a bit complicated. You might also notice all the unattractive ingredients by paying more attention to ingredient labels.
You don’t have to turn into a hippy, tree-hugger, or animal ethics advocate to enjoy the nourishment of a plant based menu. For inspiration: here is a list of Olympic athletes who are either vegan or vegetarian, insight from vegan marathoners and answers to very common questions about the vegan diet.
I promise it will be an adventure, you might even enjoy it and learn something new about yourself. If you see it as a punishment, it will feel like one. Keep your mind and mouth open, and enjoy! I have a feeling it won’t be as bad as you think.
By Zita Resnais-Dattilo
(Happily fueled by plant-based/vegan diet for a while now)