There are many reasons to adopt a whole-foods, plant-based diet, but often times people just don’t know where to start! I have been a vegetarian for half of my life– so going vegan was easy as 1-2-3.
Some people have a easier time changing their eating patterns than others. You have to find what motivates you and work with that! Perhaps you are concerned about health or your future health? The health of your children or family? You are passionate about animals or the environment issues? Or maybe you recognize how your food choices play apart of a much larger ecological food system (see TedXManhatten)!? Use your motivation as a driver for action!! Don’t wait until you have a disease or chronic health condition to decide to change! Don’t wait until the ecosystem is completely destroyed to change! PREVENTION and ACTION start now— it starts today!
Pick one meal and transform it and/or find foods that you already enjoy that don’t have dairy, cheeses, meat/fish/poultry, animal fat (e.g. butter, lard) in them …. (e.g. peanut butter sandwiches, quinoa salads, oatmeal, vegetable soups). Adapt foods you already love (chili, split-pea soup, pasta dishes), and work towards incorporating new whole-foods, plant-based options into your weekly menu. When I moved from vegetarian to vegan, my whole family and I realized we were eating such a wide variety of foods….. and we were using them in ways we never would have imagined! Cashews used as cream cheese!? Cauliflower used like chicken!? Our taste-buds and our minds have expanded! I am not saying you need to go vegan, but moving towards veg, incorporating more plant-based meals into your life can come with some great health benefits (see Why I became Vegan, Oldways: Plant-based, the cheapest form of healthcare, What’s good for you is good for the planet!, Blue Zones, TMAO and Chronic Disease, Red Meat Consumption and Mortality, Healthy Aging and Increased Longevity with Plant-based).
Here are a few good pointers on ways to switch-out animal based products with plant-based products. I also have provided recipe ideas to get you started!
1. Animal milk/ creamers–> plant-based milk/ creamers (almond, soy, rice, hemp, coconut)
2. Yogurt—> coconut, soy, almond based yogurt or try chia pudding.
Homemade banana cashew cream is one of my favorites!
3. Cheese—> Veg cheese products, nutritional yeast, butternut squash, nut-cheese , creamed cauliflower, homemade “tofu” ricotta, Cashew cheese, creamy avocado , jumbo stuffed shells, alfredo , hummus , coconut milk cheddar
5. Butter–> coconut oil/ butter, olive oil, nut butters.
When baking, just find vegan recipes on the internet! There are plenty out there. See a few of my favorites listed below!
Seitan Broccoli with BBQ (pictured above with my plant-powered bro!)
Smoky BBQ Chili (pictures above)
Lentil “meat” balls (pictured above)
Lentil walnut loaf (pictured above)
Pistachio-crusted tofu (pictured above).
Veg chili (pictured above)
Portobello Mushroom and Cashew Cheese Burger (pictured above)
Falafels (pictured above with a homemade tofu dressing)
Indian Veggie burger (pictured above)
Pad Thai (pictured above)
Vegan Sweet potato chili (pictured above)
Miso Soup (add, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, lentils and/or mushrooms!!!)
(A homemade raw carrot cake with cashew frosting)
Sometimes veg-eating is as simple as mixing leftovers together– like my mix of veggies, beans, squash, tomato sauce, avocados, and nutritional yeast pictured above ….. creativity, people, creativity!!!
More Tips and Resources:
- Oh My Veggies: How to make almost any meal meatless
- NY Times: Some tips on going veg
- Happy Cow: Find Veg Friendly Dining
- Oh She Glows: Tips for Eating Out as a Vegan
- Vegetarian Nutrition from the Dietitians
- Vegan Health
- Raising a Vegan or Vegetarian
- Healthy Veg-kids: Pediatric Position Paper
- Check your Carbon Footprint: Nprint
- Check your Water Footprint: Water footprint
Maybe you will find that being 100% vegan (or even vegetarian) isn’t for you, then check-out Mark Bittman on “VBS: Eat Vegan before 6“, TedTalk on “Why I am a weekday vegetarian” ….Perhaps a 90/10 ratio of plant-based to animal-sourced foods is better for you? If you do consume animal-products, opt for higher quality….. (see my blog post “The Myths of Protein“).
When I was in 4th or 5th grade, I decided pigs were PIGS not food. They were juts too cute! Perhaps it was that baby pig I fell in love with on a summer road trip that made me stop eating pigs….. I wanted to take him home with me so bad.
In good health,
Updated on June 30, 2014